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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?

O is for One Night of Misbehavior

O

Titles are hard things to pin down—at least I find them difficult, and I can ponder and panic about finding the perfect title for a book for weeks. Titles also don’t begin with an O, but bear with me.

Cinderella is my favorite fairy tale. I guess it’s the romantic in me, but I like the idea of a prince searching the kingdom for his special woman and finding her in the most unlikely place. When I wrote the book that became my first self-published title, I decided to take the tale of Cinderella and give it my own special New Zealand spin.

And that’s when my title problem rose up like a many-headed snake. I thought and wrote lists, I pestered my husband for ideas then promptly said, “no, no, no,” because none of them were right. For a long time I called my story One Night With Zorro, which I really liked, but I worried about the Zorro part of the title and copyright.

Then, one day it hit me—the perfect title.

One Night of Misbehavior.

Here’s the blurb for One Night of Misbehavior, my Cinderella inspired romance, which is set in New Zealand.

One Night of Misbehavior

He wears his scars on the outside. She keeps hers safe inside.

Charlotte Dixon ignores her stepmother’s edict and, in an act of disobedience, attends one of the social events of the year—a masquerade costume ball. Charlotte’s naughtiness escalates when she dances and smooches with a sexy mystery man. The night of anonymous passion that follows makes her yearn for a different life, but the next day she’s back to her dull routine of household management.

Advertising tycoon, Ash Marlborough is about to set a private investigator on the trail of his nameless princess when she waltzes right into his place of work. Charlotte is shocked to meet her masked man in the flesh, and even more perturbed when he asks her out on a date. Despite craving another night of sexy loving, she doesn’t have time for a man, not when she wants to reinvent herself and grasp a new, improved life with both hands. But Ash knows what he wants, and he’s determined to win the heart of his princess. Let the dance of seduction commence.

Warning: Contains a conniving stepmother, selfish stepsisters, a grandmother with fairy godmother tendencies and a sexy masked man who is willing to face them all for the love of a good woman.

What is your favorite fairy tale? And authors out there, do you have trouble with titles?

Love and Weddings

Hubby and I attended a wedding over the weekend. We had such a great time. The weather was beautiful, the company great, and it was a gorgeous setting looking out over Karioitahi Beach.

 

Once in awhile,

Right in the middle of an ordinary life,

Loves gives us a fairy tale.

~ Anonymous

        Shelley Dressed For Wedding  Flowergirl

        View Karioitahi Beach  Cutting The Cake

Cute Wedding Guest and Rose Petals

How was your weekend?

Fast Train to Shanghai!

Fast Train, Shanghai

When we visited Shanghai everyone in our group was eager to experience the fast train. It’s a high-speed magnetic levitation train.

The train travels the 30 km (18.6 miles) in seven minutes and twenty seconds. All I know is that it was incredibly fast. The scenery blurred and the speedo inside the train went up to 431 kilometers. I didn’t feel safe, but then I hate speed. I’m much happier when my feet are planted firmly on the ground. I was very happy to get off at the other end.

Later today (12 Feb) I’m doing a chat about at Coffee Time Romance at 9.00 pm EST. I’ll be talking about my Middlemarch Mates series (feline shifters) and my upcoming Middlemarch Capture series.

I’m taking part in The Romance Studio’s Valentine’s party. You can take part here and win some great prizes.

And finally, don’t forget to enter my contest in the Share the Love blog hop. You might win an Amazon gift certificate!

Have you traveled in a fast train? Do you like speed?