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Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
Penises in Paranormals

Okay. I’m totally borrowing/stealing this topic from Nicola O.

Nicola mentions in her post that penises in some paranormals are different from the norm. I’ve run across this phenomenon before. Most notable are Lora Leigh’s Breed books where barbs and knots appear during the sexual act, locking the hero and heroine together for long minutes. I remember reading this for the first time and thinking, well. That’s interesting. I’m glad it’s not me. Since this happens in nature I can accept it in a book, but it does make me squirm and not in a good way.

I remember reading ebooks written by Brenna Lyons (Kegin series) where a similar thing occured. In Brenna’s books, the heroines were a little astonished. Yep, that would be me as well.

I’ve also read a couple of sci-fi romances where the hero has two penises. For the life of me I can’t think of the title or author, but I remember that I had to read the paragraph twice. It could have been an EC book. The title will come to me, if I think about it for long enough.

Recently I’ve been reading some of Shannon McKenna’s romantic suspenses. I really enjoy Shannon’s books, but I’ve noticed that her heroes are all very well endowed and that they’re good with foreplay. They have to be because of their size. She also mentions the term “girl juice” several times, which just cracks me up.

In a more recent post Nicola also mentioned that her blog stats went crazy after her paranormal penises post, so I just had to experiment you understand and try my own penis post.

Now in my own writing I keep the size vague. I don’t go into great detail about length but I might mention appearance. My feline shapeshifters don’t have this mysterious barb, although the more I think about it, the more I want to introduce one. :grin: Watch this space.

Writers – I know most of my writer visitors write erotic romance so what do you do with the size and appearance thing?
Readers – what is your opinion of the barbs and knots and extra dangly bits? Do they make you go eek or do they just make you giggle? Do you skip those paragraphs?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
Ladies, A Plate

Growing up in the New Zealand countryside you wouldn’t think we’d socialize much, but as a child I remember going to fetes, socials and parties on a regular basis. The invitations always came along with the instructions for the ladies to bring a plate. I remember thinking this was a silly thing to ask for. I mean, wouldn’t they be better asking for food?

My mother explained to me that “ladies, a plate” was an expression and our hosts expected us to take a plate with food sitting on it, not an empty plate. She said I shouldn’t worry. There would definitely be food where we were going. That was a big relief because I like food, and unfortunately, I haven’t grown out of my liking for sweet treats!

I thought about this expression recently because there’s a new cookbook out in our local bookstores called Ladies, A Plate. It’s by Alexa Johnston and contains recipes for cakes and biscuits I remember eating in my childhood–-recipes such as Kiwi Crisps, Anzac biscuits, Afghans, Pikelets, Neenish Tarts, Butterfly Cakes, Custard Squares and Cinnamon Oysters.

Many of the recipes were developed in New Zealand and a few borrowed from Australia. In fact there’s a good-natured rivalry between the two countries when it comes to deciding which of the two countries invented some recipes.

These days baking seems to be a dying art. My mother taught my brother, sister and I how to cook and at the weekends, we’d all choose something to bake, filling the cake tins for the following week.

Do you have the expression ladies, a plate where you live? Do you have childhood memories of baking or special sweet treats? What were/are your favorites?

Monday, January 26th, 2009
Engagements: Long or short?

I have a quick question for you today, brought on by a family drama. I’m feeling all “Carrie Bradshaw” as I type this:

Do you favor long or short engagements?
How long is it before an engagement becomes simply living together?
And as for a party celebrating the event – do you think an engagement party should be held shortly after the announcement or is a large time lapse okay?

My own experience is this: Hubby and I had a short engagement of just under five months, and to be honest, if I remember it all in my next life, I’m going to elope. I found the entire experience very stressful because of all the family baggage I had to juggle. Yep, if I had the time over I wouldn’t bother with the hoopla and would head straight for the honeymoon.

What was your experience?

Saturday, January 24th, 2009
New Zealand: Tongariro National Park

I thought I’d post a few photos of my recent trip to Tongariro National Park. It’s a beautiful spot in both summer and winter.

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This is a shot of me and the Overlander trainer at National Park township. It’s a very small place!

Formed in 1887, Tongariro National Park was the second National Park in the world after Yellowstone in USA. It’s a volcanic area with three volcanoes, which are visible for miles. Mt Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro are all active with the most recent activity taking place on Ruapehu. A lahar raced down the mountainside last year when the ice and mud surrounding the crater lake at the top gave way, spewing out mud, water and rocks. Luckily, there are warning systems in place and they worked to plan with no injuries or unexpected surprises.

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This is a shot of Mt Ngauruhoe, taken from our hotel, The Chateau.

During the winter months skiers flock to the park and there was still a little snow on the mountain tops, despite the fact we’d arrived on one of the hottest days of the year to date. It was so hot the road was melting.

We stayed in Whakapapa Village at The Chateau, a hotel at the base of Mt Ruapehu that has been a holiday destination since 1929. The Chateau is a grand old building that looks like a classic mansion, and apart from the added wing, I imagine it looks much the same as it did when it was first constructed. We sat in the lounge and gazed out over the tussock lands to view Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe. Mt Ngauruhoe is a perfect cone. During our visit, it appeared silent but I have seen it with plumes of smoke pouring out the top.

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This is a shot of The Chateau with Mt Ruapehu in the rear of the photo.

When I was twelve, we had a week long school trip and stayed at a motel up the road from The Chateau. During our visit, my friends and I sneaked into The Chateau and had a fine time playing in the elevators until unappreciative management kicked us out. Hey, we were country kids who didn’t see many elevators. Anyway, I made a point of using the elevators during our visit and took a perverse pleasure in it!

On our second day, we drove up Mt Ruapehu to The Top of the Bruce where the road ends. It was a gorgeous sunny day and perfect to ride the chairlifts. Once we ran out of chairlifts, it was time to use our feet. We walked until we reached the snowline. Thank goodness for sunglasses because it was very glary! After playing in the snow for a while, we retired to the café for a well-earned drink before walking the six kilometers back to the hotel. One thing I noticed was the bird song. I heard the native tui singing its guttural song and beautiful bellbird song. We took time to study the plants and admire the sweeping views across the tussock lands before heading back to the hotel for a long soak in the spa bath. I’ll admit I felt my muscles the next day, but the fresh air and fun we had was a good exchange for the pain of seldom used muscles.

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This is a shot of me on Mt Ruapehu. As you can see there was a bit of snow around.

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Here’s a shot of the mountain daisy we saw when we were walking down the mountain to the hotel.

The next day we caught the train back to Auckland, arriving home relaxed and refreshed.

Friday, January 23rd, 2009
Romance on the Web.

Today I have a selection of interesting tidbits for you from the world wide web.

The first is at Romancing the Blog and it’s about books and censorship. This post shocked me. I dislike censorship of any sort and feel that adults should have freedom of choice. I can borrow erotic romances at my local library. They’re labeled with large stickers that state the book contains explicit content. It’s my choice to check out a book with spicy content. I presume this also alerts the librarian if a minor tries to check one out. That’s all the oldies need on their library books – a sticker stating the book contains salty language or explicit content. They can then choose to read a particular book or leave it on the shelf.

Emily at EREC has a post about Everything Old. It’s about the universal problems faced by authors. They’re ageless problems!

I’m blogging over at The Samhellion about Sleeping with the Fishes and routine. I forgot to mention it yesterday. Oops!

Sign up to receive a free copy of Night Hawk, a short story by Lora Leigh.

Download a free copy of Roxanne St. Claire’s Bullet Catcher novella.

And of course, if you haven’t checked out my free reads, go there straight away!

Do you have any interesting posts to share?

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!