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Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
Shoo Fly! Shoo!

Thursday Thirteen

It’s mid-summer here in New Zealand, and everyone is complaining about the flies this year. They seem to be worse than normal. My husband takes the appearance of a fly as a personal affront because he works in pest control. Normally our house is a bug-free zone but the flies are leading him a merry dance and presenting a challenge!

1. Musca domestica Linnaeus, the common house fly is a well-known pest and is found where there are humans. They transport disease causing organisms.

2. This common fly originated on the steppes of central Asia, but now occurs on all inhabited continents, in all climates from tropical to temperate, and in a variety of environments ranging from rural to urban. It is commonly associated with animal feces, but has adapted well to feeding on garbage.

3. It has a distinct egg, larva or maggot, pupal and adult stage. During the winter months it lives in the pupal stage under manure piles or other protected areas.

4. Each female fly can lay up to 500 eggs in several batches of 75 to 150 eggs over a three to four day period.

5. Adults usually live 15 to 25 days, but may live up to two months.

6. Without food, they survive around two to three days. Longevity is enhanced by the availability of suitable food, especially sugar. They live longer at cooler temperatures.

7. They require food before they will copulate, and copulation is completed in as few as two minutes or as long as 15 minutes.

8. Flies are inactive at night, with ceilings, beams and overhead wires within buildings, trees, and shrubs, various kinds of outdoor wires, and grasses used for overnight resting sites.

9. The more commonly used control measures for house flies are sanitation, use of traps, and insecticides.

10. Sanitation is the most effective and important step in controlling house flies. Dry and wrap organic waste before placing it in the garbage can. Seal garbage cans with tight fitting lids. Screen windows and doors to keep pests out.

11. Commercial pest control companies spray for flies, but the flies only die if they settle on the sprayed surfaces. Surfaces should not be wiped, so if a vigorous cleaning program is in force, spraying defeats the purpose.

12. There are many herbs and spices that can be used as home remedies, and that work to repel flies from the home.

Growing basil in flower pots or placing fresh-cut basil in vases and places where it is needed, will work as a natural repellant and flies will be apt to invade the home. Eucalyptus leaves can be burned outside, and used to repel flies as well as mosquitoes. Growing certain plants around the periphery of the home can make barriers. The plants will look nice while deterring nasty flies from entering the home, and even the yard. For flies, mint and basil should be grown to repel them, and keep them from entering the human household. These plants may smell nice to humans, but they are absolutely disgusting to house flies.

13. When I was a kid my grandparents used to own a fly swat. We used to argue about who would have the honor of weilding the fly swat. Great fun!

Do you have a favorite method of getting rid of flies?

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
Try a Free Read Today

Recently I’ve added some free reads to my website in the hope of attracting new readers. I’ve been surprised by how many extra visitors these free stories have brought to my site already because I haven’t advertised them yet.

My free reads are available here: Interplanetary Love and Live the Moment

I thought I’d do a little promotion on behalf of my fellow writers at Romance Divas since many of them also have free stories available on their websites. The genres and sensuality levels differ so check these first before you download the stories.

Here are some free reads from Romance Diva authors, in no particular order:

James Buchanan
Debbie Mumford
Diana Castilleja
Jennifer Colgan
L.K. Campbell
Midnight Moon Cafe – on the righthand sidebar.
Kelly Jamieson – has an ongoing serial on her blog.
Sela Carsen
Leah Braemel – on the sidebar.
Jennifer McKenzie
The Samhellion – free reads from some of Samhain Publishing authors.

Enjoy!

Friday, January 16th, 2009
Politically Incorrect

Political correctness (commonly abbreviated to PC) is a term applied to language, ideas, policies, or behavior where people seek to minimize offense to gender, racial, cultural, disabled, aged or other identity groups.

Two members of the British Royal family have been in trouble recently because they’ve used words some members of the public think are out of place. Prince Harry used the word “Paki” when talking about a fellow cadet from Pakistan, and His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales called one of his friends, “Sooty”. The man he called Sooty is of Indian descent and has been known by this name for years. Here’s a link to the story.

Prince Harry apologized for his remarks, which were recorded in a private video three years ago, while the Prince of Wales’ friend Sooty has said he wasn’t offended by the long-standing nickname.

Here’s another link to a series of print ads from the past. Most of them are not very kind to women. They actually made me chuckle when I saw them, although I’m not sure I would have approved if I had been around at the time.

In New Zealand I’ve heard of children being taught alternative words to old and popular songs because the original songs are deemed inappropriate. e.g. Baa Baa Black sheep being changed to Rainbow sheep. Here’s a link to a story about the song at an English nursery.

Sometimes I just shake my head because I believe we try too hard to be politically correct. Sometimes we are too sensitive to words or ideas and forget to have a sense of humor. It must be a nightmare for people in the public eye, eg. the Royal family or political figures who have to walk the tightrope of correctness all the time. I’m not saying we should go around and use racial slurs or the like, just that we should use a bit more commonsense when it comes to political correctness.

What do you think? Do we go too far sometimes? Ladies, what did you think of the print ads?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
Looking to the Past

I heard on the news this morning that the 1911 census of England and Wales has been released to the public and is available online. Evidently enterprising people have already checked out David Beckham and Amy Winehouse’s ancestors.

Pre-writing days I was very interested in genealogy and have done quite a bit of research on my family. My father’s family came from Cheshire in England. There’s also a bit of Irish ancestory there as well as Welsh. My father’s family were farmers and until my generation that trend continued. My brother is an engineer while I went into accountancy before I started writing full time. My sister lives on the farm and is closest to being a farmer, but she works full-time as a banker as well.

My mother’s family came from England – Warwickshire to be exact – and were farmers. My mother’s side of the family includes ancestors who were shipped to Australia as convicts. John Fawkner was a convicted felon, transported for receiving stolen goods. He took his family with him to Australia on board the HMS Calcutta. John’s son, John Pascoe Fawkner was one of the founders of Melbourne. I have in my bookcase a very interesting biography written by CP Billot about his life. He was a bit of a skelliwag and got into trouble as well.

Here’s the link to the 1911 census.

And to finish off – here’s an ad from New Zealand that proves it’s not always a good idea to look to the past!

Are you interested in genealogy? Have you researched your family history?

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009
5 Heart Sweetheart Award

I was very excited to learn TEA FOR TWO won the 5 Heart Sweetheart award from The Romance Studio this week.

Tea for Two This week’s 5 Heart Sweetheart…

“Ms. Shelley Munro is quickly becoming a must read author. I enjoy her style and her approach to her varied plots. These two main characters were certainly no exception. The storyline was full of secrets (from both Hayley and Sam). The more time the couple spent together, the less likely it became that Sam would buy into his family’s theory that Norville’s fell in love at first sight. Ms. Munro has such an appealing way of revealing her story that it is impossible to put down the book.” – Brenda Talley.

Thanks so much to The Romance Studio and all the readers who voted for Tea For Two!

Monday, January 12th, 2009
The Curious Series of Events

This is a bit of a story, so grab a coffee and get comfortable.

Mr. Munro went to pick up Scotty from the kennels on Sunday. The kennel assistant came out with Scotty and a basket that didn’t belong to her. Hubby said, “That’s not Scotty’s basket.” But evidently Scotty had slept in that basket the entire time we were away. (Let’s call this event one)

The kennel people ran around looking for Scotty’s tatty basket and couldn’t find it. It is tatty with the stuffing showing through the fabric but she doesn’t like the new ones we purchased for her. She likes the old one. They looked high and low and finally said hubby could take the basket Scotty had been sleeping in. Subsequent investigations i.e. looking at the label says this basket belongs to a dog called Dexter. (Let’s call this event two)

Hubby and Scotty went off to collect a chainsaw from a friend so he could cut down a tree. When he went to load the chainsaw into the car he discovered the wee dog had had an accident of the smelly kind. Hubby assures me he didn’t shout at her, but I don’t really believe him. Scotty is very good but sometimes she can’t move fast enough to reach the great outdoors. In this case she was trapped inside the car. (Let’s call this event three)

Hubby and Scotty arrived at home. Scotty went straight into the tub for a wash and shampoo while I put her new basket (the one that used to belong to Dexter) into the washing machine and cleaned out the car. (Let’s call this event four)

Scotty went outside to dry while hubby prepared for his tree chopping adventure. I went inside to check my email and think about writing, housework and the like. I heard sudden shouting and swearing in the garage and went racing out to investigate. While hubby was washing Scotty in the tub, she knocked the washing machine outlet pipe and it dropped to the ground, unnoticed by hubby. When the washing machine emptied, it emptied out into the garage and we ended up with a flood. (Let’s call this event five)

Hubby and I frantically mopped and wiped up water, shifting stuff in the garage and panicking in case the water seeped through the wall into the house and wet the carpet. (Let’s call this event six)

Now: I’m going to leave you on a traditional hook – Will the Munros save their carpet from becoming wet and moldy? And will Dexter turn up to reclaim his basket?

It struck me while I was mopping frantically and running the weird series of events through my head that this was typical plotting. It’s what writers try to do while plotting a book. They try to make each crisis bigger and more alarming to test the characters. Yep, I’d experienced a lesson in plotting all in the space of an hour. It actually served as a reminder. I need to be a little meaner to my characters in my current Middlemarch book. They needed to suffer just as Mr Munro and I suffered.

Do you think some authors overdo the series of events and torture their characters too much? Do you think that characters aren’t tested enough and we authors let them off too easily? What are your thoughts about plotting?

Saturday, January 10th, 2009
Why Didn’t Someone Warn Me….

…that a person uses different muscles climbing up and down mountains to when they cycle, walk and run?

OR:

…to take better care of my big toe – the same toe that I injured while ice skating when I was in my teens, the same toe the Goal Attack or Goal Shoot managed to jump on every netball season after that. I’ve given up counting the number of times that toe nail has bruised and dropped off. Another one coming up to add to the number.

I Hurt. :cry:

Thursday, January 8th, 2009
You’re so Vain!

I’m sure I’ve written about vanity plates on cars before. A lot of people have them in New Zealand. Today when I was driving home from my writing session at the coffee shop, I passed a car with the number plate BIG RAJ.

Now I don’t know if it’s me and my erotic romance writing but my mind immediately dropped into the gutter and I thought about the male anatomy. No way would I drive around in a car with that number plate. It’s just wrong. Heck, it smacks of vanity.

I’ve seen some good ones, and I think they can be a good business tool. Others make me cringe. I think if I had one, I’d go for something plain like SHELL. Yep, boring but not cringe worthy!

Question: What do you think of vanity plates? Do you have one? If you could have any vanity plate you wanted what would you have? What’s the worst one you’ve seen?

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009
Are They Old Enough?

I’m off on my mini-vacation today, but I’ve scheduled some posts, and I’m posing some questions for you all while I’m away. And don’t forget that Emily Bryan is here on the 9th giving away her upcoming release. You don’t want to miss that!

A few years ago, I read an interview with Linda Howard. She was talking about her MacKenzie series. (The first book in this series is called MacKenzie’s Mountain and it’s just awesome. I remember the characters clearly, even though it’s years since I read the book. The first line is “He needed a woman. Bad” and Linda Howard hooked me right there.)

Readers, including me, were clamoring for books about the MacKenzie children. I remember Linda Howard saying that she couldn’t write the story because the characters were children in her mind. She needed to give it time, at least a few years, before she could think of them as adults. Huh! I thought. How silly. This is a fictional world.

Fast forward to a few years ago. I’d written several stories in my Middlemarch Mates series, but the story for the two youngest Mitchell siblings, Joe and Sly, just wouldn’t gel for me. In my mind I thought of them as unruly teens and way too young for the naughty goings on that I wanted to write for them. My solution was to write other stories while they grew up. I packed them off to University while I waited for them to mature. They make a brief appearance in Leticia’s Lovers (coming in Feb) and to my surprise they have grown up. Oh, they still like to tease their oldest brother, Saber, and in Leticia’s Lovers they were plotting and trying to think of a suitable sex toy gift to embarrass their sister-in-law Emily and by extension, Saber.

I’m thinking that 2009 is the year for Joe and Sly to meet their match. They won’t be laughing quite as much by the time the heroine and I have finished with them.

I started thinking about this subject again because I’m reading a book written by Pam Crooks. In the first book the mother is the heroine and in the second book, the child is the heroine. I haven’t finished them yet but it will be interesting to see how I feel when I’ve read them both. (note: there was a publishing gap with the books coming out in different years)

Question: Do you agree with Linda Howard? Do you find it difficult to write/read about characters who were children in a previous book?

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009
Interview with my character, Jonno Campbell

Would you like to meet Jonno Campbell from Cat Burglar? He’s visiting…maybe I should say flirting with Alyssa Brooks today.

Here are the links: MySpace and at Alyssa’s website.