Adventure into Romance with Shelley Munro
News About Shelley Blog Books Extras Contact Small Font Large Font

Archive for the 'Potpourri' Category

Terms of Endearment

Endearments

“Hello, darling.”

“Stop right there, sweetheart.”

“Lookin’ good, babe!”

“Sugar-pie, honey bunch, you know that I love you.”

“Aw, snookums.”

Endearments and pet names have always been part of our vocabularies. They appear in movies, on television, we see them in books and magazines and hear them in our daily conversations. Some are cute. Some are private, kept for tender moments between lovers. Some are over-the-top saccharine-sweet and make us cringe.

As a romance writer, I sprinkle sweetheart or babe in my dialogue. It’s a good way of adding characterization. A man might use the casual “babe” because a woman’s name escapes him and he doesn’t want to look stupid. Our male character might never utter a sweetheart or love until he meets the one. Perhaps the first time the heroine hears an endearment she realizes our hero is serious about their relationship. The ceasing of endearments could be the signal that the relationship is important, or it might mean it’s over and the person doesn’t care enough to use a pet name.

I’m not averse to the odd sweet nothing. A sweetheart or love works for me, maybe babe in some situations, but if anyone calls me snookums they should watch out!

When I’m reading, I don’t mind endearments as long as they’re not overdone. If they’re used on every page I want to yank them out of the book. Violent, much? But it’s true. They can bug a reader if they’re used too often.

What do you think about endearments? Do they irritate you or make you smile? Are there any that make you cringe?

The Ladder for Spirits

At the very top of the North Island of New Zealand is a point called Cape Reinga. This is a special site in Maori mythology. According to the tales, an old pohutukawa tree grows on the cliff, and it is said that the roots of this tree provide a ladder for spirits to descend into the tumultuous waters and the final underworld below.

A non-stop procession of spirits travels through the far North to reach Cape Reinga and the ladder path to the underworld. The northern Maori tribes used to hear the rustle and passing of countless people and especially after a big battle when many warriors were slain.

All the ingredients for a fictional novel, I think!

Cape Reinga Lighthouse, New Zealand

This is the lighthouse at Cape Reinga. The ladder for the spirits is supposedly on the cliffs beyond.

Source: Favorite Maori Legends by AW Reed, revised by Ross Calman.

Breakfast at Twenty 8 Acres, Sydney

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. It is an easy meal for a vegetarian, yet there is plenty for the meat lover too.

During our recent trip to Sydney, we checked Trip Adviser while flying over (Air New Zealand has a cool in-flight app) and came across a cafe called Twenty 8 Acres. They specialized in breakfast and lunch, and we decided to try them out since the reviews were excellent.

When we arrived, the restaurant was packed—a good sign. We waited ten minutes before securing a table. The owner/cook is Irish and the breakfast menu had an Irish flavor.

Mr Munro went straight for the full Irish Breakfast while I decided to try the Botanist and we ordered a pot of Irish Breakfast tea. The owner, with his Irish accent, was charming and efficient, a trait possessed by the rest of the wait staff. The service was excellent.

The meals were delicious. Mr Munro enjoyed his breakfast of black and white pudding, sausages, eggs, beans, potatoes and toast immensely. Mine, which was greens with poached eggs, avocado and toast, was enjoyable but there was a bit much kale for my liking. I hadn’t tried kale before, despite its current popularity, and to be honest, it’s not a vegetable I’ll ever want to have on a desert island!

Irish Breakfast

Hubby’s Irish Breakfast

Irish Breakfast Happy Hubby

A happy hubby.

Botanic Breakfast

My The Botanist breakfast with eggs, greens, avocado and seeds.

I’d be happy to visit Twenty 8 Acres again, but I’d try something else on the menu since I’m not a kale fan. Other offerings include fruit and cereal, eggs done in numerous ways. The full menu is here.

The seating area isn’t large, so I’d suggest going early, since Twenty 8 Acres is very popular with the locals for breakfast. They also do lunch. The rating on Trip Adviser is well-deserved, and I certainly recommend this restaurant.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

Happy New Year!

Depositphotos_32074213_original

Happy New Year! Best wishes to all of you for a happy, prosperous and safe 2016.

I don’t make resolutions for a new year, but in 2016 (on the very first day), I intend to make a list of the things I want to achieve in my writing life for 2016. On 1st January,  I also like to add words to my work-in-progress, and start as I mean to go on for the rest of the year.

Are you a resolution person or do you just like to go with the flow?

Merry Christmas

happy couple with Christmas hat

Merry Christmas! I hope you have a lovely day full of friends, family and laughter. Fingers crossed that Santa hides a book or two in your Christmas stocking.

Christmas in New Zealand

Christmas falls during summer where I live in New Zealand. While I was growing up I always heard about New Zealanders who spend Christmas day at the beach. Not true in our family!

Christmas to me means:

1. Warm days, sometimes with rain since we live in a subtropical zone.

2. The pohutukawa trees come out in bloom with their bright scarlet pom-pom flowers.

3. Our daylight saving is in full swing so the days are long to make the most of the good weather.

4. All our local towns and suburbs hold their Christmas parades.

5. Christmas carols start playing in the shops and malls.

6. The towns and malls bring out their Christmas decorations.

7. We have a family discussion about who will host lunch on Christmas day.

8. The kids all break up for Christmas holiday – about 6 weeks off school.

9. Office parties!

10. Shopping for presents.

11. Filling up the pantry and freezer with Christmas treats.

12. Fresh strawberries and asparagus. Pavlova!

13. Family.

14. Excited and tired children.

15. Christmas trees and the decorations we add to every year.

16. Christmas stockings.

17. Shortbread.

18. A glass of Pimms with fruit and mint garnish.

19. Smoked salmon sandwiches.

20. Homemade truffles.

21. An advent calendar.

22. My husband and his brother go to purchase fresh oysters.

23. Barbecues!

24. Staying up late to walk around our neighborhood to view the Christmas lights.

25. Watching our neighbor take two weeks to put up his Christmas lights.

26. Reading Christmas romances. I have some to suggest – Merry & Seduced, Festive & Seduced or Christmas is Coming, all by me. Open-mouthed smile

What does Christmas mean to you? Do you enjoy reading Christmas romances?

A Black Cat Crossed the Road

Cats

What do you think when you see a black cat?

Do you mutter about superstitions and run screaming in the opposite direction or do you rub your hands together and watch approvingly while the black cat prowls past?

Is a black cat good luck or bad luck? I decided to research the subject for a definitive answer. Detective Shelley is on the case!

In Egypt all cats, including black ones, were held in high regard. Laws protected cats and when a pet died, the entire family would mourn. Both rich and poor families embalmed their deceased pets. Archaeologists have discovered entire pet cemeteries with mummified black cats fairly commonplace.

Fast forward in time to the Middle Ages. Cats overpopulated all the major cities. Any woman who owned or fed a stray black cat ran the risk of accusations of witchcraft.

Throughout history, black cats are blamed for causing disasters ranging from blasphemy to plague. Even today black cats get bad press and conjure up images of witchcraft and magic. Poe wrote about one, Hollywood makes movies and television series about them. Heck, even I write about them with my Middlemarch Mates series.

There are hundreds of superstitions associated with cats, probably because cats and humans have lived alongside each other for thousands of years. Let’s look at some of them.

A cat sneezing is a good omen for everyone who hears it. ~ Italian superstition.

If a cat washes behind its ears, rain is coming. ~ English superstition.

If a cat mews and appears cross, the ship and its passengers will have a hard voyage. ~ Sailor’s superstition.

A strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity. ~ Scottish superstition.

If you wash a cat, it will rain. ~ Indonesian/Malaysian superstition.

If you dream of a white cat, you’ll have good luck. ~ American superstition.

If you kill a cat, you’ll have seventeen years of bad luck. ~ Irish superstition.

In tasseography (tea-leaf reading) a cat signifies false friends and deceit or someone lying in ambush.

In the Netherlands cats were banned from rooms where private family discussions were taking place.

In Egypt it was thought the life-giving rays of the sun were kept in a cat’s eyes at night for safekeeping.

And of course during October, the silhouettes of black cats decorate many houses and shops for Halloween.

So what about black cats? Are they good or bad luck?

Well, it seems it depends on where you live in the world. For example in Britain and Japan having a black cat cross your path is considered good luck. If you live in the USA or in European countries you definitely don’t want a black cat strolling by because bad luck will surely follow. Now if you live in New Zealand, near the town of Middlemarch, seeing a black cat mightn’t be such a bad thing, especially if you’re a single girl looking for a man!

Note from Shelley: Look for My Scarlet Woman, book 1 in my Middlemarch Shifters series, which is coming soon. This is a reissue with some new content and brand new covers.

What do you think about black cats? Do you think they’re good luck or bad luck? Do you have any cat superstitions to add?

The Little Black Dress

The subject of clothes has been on my mind recently, since I often think of clothing during the polishing stage of a manuscript. I’m working on Seized & Seduced (Jannike’s story) and Jannike has spent most of the story wearing the same blue tunic and black trews with boots. She does have a set of lacy red lingerie that she picked up during her vacation on Earth, but that’s it when it comes to the clothing stakes. I’ve been thinking she needs an occasion to wear a little black dress.

In Captured & Seduced the women of the Indy get new dresses to wear to a ball. Here’s a short excerpt to give you an idea of what I’m dealing with when it comes to Jannike.

The gowns were the same style although different colors to suit their complexions. They required a base garment beneath to yank in their waists and force their breasts upward.

“What was Ry thinking?” Jannike wheezed. “I can’t breathe. How the devil do I fight in this?”

“I don’t believe you’re meant to fight,” Mogens said in his dry way. “It’s a ball. You’re meant to dance.”

“We can always poke out eyes with our fingernails,” Kaya said cheerfully.

“Or stomp on people’s feet,” Camryn added. “Although maybe one look at our hands will do the trick.” She held them up for inspection. “I scrubbed for half an hour and couldn’t remove the dirt.”

“True. My fingernails might work.” Jannike lifted the skirts of her long hunter green gown to inspect one shoe. “The shoes don’t look robust enough for kicking. I’ll need to stick to stomping.” She scratched the back of her neck, unused to the ornate hairstyle as much as the unaccustomed finery.

“This is a dance,” Ry said sternly from the doorway of the hotel room they’d rented. “There won’t be any need to fight.”

It’s said Coco Chanel was the instigator of the little black dress. In 1926 one of her designs for a simple black dress appeared in Vogue. Vogue said the dress would become a staple in every woman’s wardrobe—a black dress that would fit every occasion and make a woman feel good about herself. Something classic that a woman could dress up or down.

Karl Lagerfeld famously said, “One is never over-dressed or under-dressed with a Little Black Dress.”

Follow Shelley Munro’s board Little Black Dress on Pinterest.

I have a Pinterest board for Little Black Dresses, but the truth is I don’t have one of my own. When I was younger, I didn’t suit black. Now that I’m a little older, my skin tones have changed and I do sometimes wear black. I’m on the lookout for a little black dress and maybe one day I’ll find one I adore.

Do you own a little black dress?

Ice Blocks and Electrical Goods

We’ve had another hot day here in New Zealand. The weather people keep saying it’s going to rain but it hasn’t happened yet. Bella has taken to sleeping on the tiles at the front door (which is generally open) or she sleeps upside down with all her legs sticking in the air.

Bella and her ice block

In the middle of the day we’ve been giving her an ice block to help her cool down. I blogged about ice blocks for dogs a few years ago. You can find the dog ice block post here.

My sister murders electrical appliances. It’s becoming a family joke. She’ll purchase a phone or a television or a computer and something goes wrong with it. The battery dies, it blows up or mysteriously stops working. She’s never rough with her gadgets, but for some reason they whimper and die after living at her house.

Last year my husband purchased a new iPad, and he gave his old one to my sister. She hadn’t used it until this week when her Android tablet stopped charging without warning.

She rang me up and said, “My tablet has stopped working. I’ve charged the ipad. That seems to be working, and I’ve turned it on but now I can’t turn it off. How do I turn it off?”

I said, “You push the off button.”,

“I’ve done that.”

“Oh,” I said, and I was thinking her electrical voodoo has struck again. “Well, you can let it turn off on its own.”

“All I want is a gadget to read my books on,” my sister said.

So I talked her through how to delete hubby’s books and get her books onto the iPad. The next problem was a wi-fi connection because that isn’t working either at my sister’s place. I tell you – she’s hell on anything related to a gadget or appliance. Their phone is very unpredictable too!

Today she rang me to let me know she’d managed to download all her books. The off button still wasn’t working but the ipad flicks off after five minutes. She’s a happy camper.

We’ve decided I need to write a character who suffers from the same malady as my sister, and I think I have just the heroine. I feel sorry for her now! Smile

Do you have problems like my sister with gadgets? Do you know anyone else with the same problem?

A Lady’s Handbag

© Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime Stock Photos

As my age advances, I’ve started on the road to a handbag obsession. I’m almost frightened to admit it, since Mr. Munro will read this blog and use my admission as evidence to hold against me at a later date.

I own four bags at present – a black Guess bag, a pink Guess bag, a small black clutch purchased from a local chain of stores called Collette and a black canvas briefcase that my husband received from his employer. I commandeered it and have used it so much the color has faded, but it’s perfect to tote around my laptop and iPad.

Now four handbags aren’t many in the scheme of things, but each time I go to the mall I visit Collette store and check out the new arrivals. There are so many pretty colors. I have to hold onto my credit card very tightly because it’s busy whispering seductively to me. “Let’s buy it,” my credit card is saying, but so far, I’ve remained strong.

So what do I carry around in my handbag?

At present, I’m doing a lot of writing and I’m mostly using my briefcase. It contains:

  • my wallet
  • my prescription sun glasses
  • my Kindle
  • my library card
  • a container of TicTacs
  • a small makeup bag with a comb, lipstick, lip gloss and tiny mirror
  • a couple of paper napkins
  • my netbook
  • my netbook charger
  • a backup thingie
  • an umbrella since it’s winter
  • some business cards
  • a pen
  • a small notebook
  • my cell phone
  • small spray of glasses cleaner

Quite a lot of stuff when I see it in a list. No wonder my bag is wearing out.

How many handbags do you own? What do you carry in them?