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Monday, May 12th, 2008
Fishing up New Zealand.

I enjoy some of the Maori myths and legends. This one, telling of Maui and the birth of New Zealand, is one of my favorites. As with all legends, there are a few variations.

Maui was a demi-god who possessed magical powers. Not all his family knew of his magical powers, and he used this to his advantage.

One day, he hid in the bottom of his brothers’ boat in order to go out fishing with them. Once out at sea, Maui was discovered by his brothers, however they weren’t able to take him back to shore because Maui made use of his magic powers and made the shoreline seem farther away than it was in reality.

The brothers continued rowing, and once they were far out into the ocean Maui dropped his magic fishhook over the side of the waka (canoe). After a while he felt a strong tug on the line. This seemed to be too strong a tug to be any ordinary fish, and Maui called to his brothers for assistance.

After much straining and physical effort, up surfaced Te Ika a Maui (the fish of Maui), known today as the North Island of New Zealand. Maui told his brothers that the Gods might be angry about this, and he asked them to wait while he went to placate the Gods.

However, once Maui had gone his brothers began to argue about the ownership of this new land. They took out their weapons and started pounding away at the catch. The blows on the land created the many mountains and valleys of the North Island today.

The South Island is known as Te Waka a Maui (the waka of Maui). Stewart Island, which lies at the very bottom of New Zealand, is known as Te Punga a Maui (Maui’s anchor), as it was the anchor holding Maui’s waka as he pulled in the giant fish.

So, there you have it – the story of the origin of New Zealand.

Do you have a favorite myth or legend?

Today it’s my turn to blog at The Danger Zone. Check out my post about my adventures in Rwanda while viewing the mountain gorillas.

Thursday, May 8th, 2008
Classic Romance Plots

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Plus Classic Romance Plots

The secret of writing a great romance is to take a classic plot and twist it to make the story unique. Here is a list of the classic plot tropes used in romances:

1. Secret Baby – a pregnancy results from a romance and the father doesn’t know about it.

2. Cinderella – a rags to riches story.

3. Beauty and the Beast – one of the main characters is physically marred in some way.

4. Good Girl/Bad Boy – opposites attract. This can also be reversed with a bad girl/good boy.

5. Stranded – a couple is stranded together and the enforced intimacy leads to more.

6. Marriage of convenience – an arranged or forced marriage leads to love.

7. Family feud – think Romeo and Juliet.

8. Mistaken Identity – one of a couple isn’t who he or she appears to be on the surface.

9. Lady and the Cowboy – a class difference sets a couple apart.

10. Secret – a secret stands between romance.

11. Twins – lots of possibilities here.

12. Kidnapping – an abduction.

13. Business competitors – two people fighting for the same prize and only one can win.

14. Friends to Lovers – a friendship leads to more.

15. Masquerade – pretending to be someone else.

16. Amnesia – where one of the characters has lost their memory.

Which type of plot is your favorite? The one you most dislike? Have I missed any from my list?

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!
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Thursday, May 1st, 2008
Quips with Mae West

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Quotes from MAE WEST

During the last couple of weeks I’ve tripped across lots of quotes by Mae West. Wow! She was a fascinating lady, and one who has left a legacy of some great quotes that cut straight to the heart of the subject, whatever that may be.

1. Mae West was born Mary Jane West on 17 August 1893 in Woodhaven, New York, US. She died on 22 November 1980 at age 87 in Los Angeles, California, US. West made a name for herself in vaudeville and on the stage in New York before moving to Hollywood to become a comedian, actress and writer in the motion picture industry. Here’s a link to some photos of Mae West. She was famous for her large number of quips, some by herself and others by her characters. Below are some of my favorites from the lady who said, “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”

2. His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.

3. Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution yet.

4. A man in the house is worth two in the street.

5. When I’m good, I’m very good. When I’m bad, I’m better.

6. Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can’t figure out what from.

7. I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.

8. I’m no model lady. A model’s just an imitation of the real thing.

9. Look your best – who said love is blind?

10. Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home, I’m tired.

11. I like my clothes to be tight enough to show I’m a woman… but loose enough to show I’m a lady.

12. Men are my hobby, if I ever got married I’d have to give it up.

13. You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

Have I missed any of your favorites or is your favorite one of the above?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!
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Wednesday, April 16th, 2008
Loving the Love Scene

My special guest today is Ashlyn Chase. She writes sparkling comedies and has had an unusual upbringing…she was kidnapped by gypsies as an infant and left on the doorstep of the Massachusetts home in which she grew up. Oh, wait! That’s what her older siblings told her. It seems that story telling runs in the family.

Her most recent release is Death by Delilah, the story of two Navy lovers. Can two Navy lovers, equal in resolve but not in rank, secretly live together off base, without discovery causing one of them to be transferred to the Middle East? Read Death by Delilah to find out!

Today Ashlyn is discussing a very important component of writing a romance – the love scene. Without further ado, here’s Ashlyn…

Erotic romance authors are often asked how they write hot love scenes. It isn’t easy! In fact, it’s one of the hardest things to write well. I happen to write erotic comedy but when it comes to sizzling sex, I’m deadly serious. I don’t write porn. I’ve been in those sleazy bookshops with the blacked out windows and bought a couple of their books to “see what I was missing.” Not much! Just some terribly written plotless stories with absolutely no romance by authors in need of an anatomy class.
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Thursday, March 27th, 2008
I Put My Blue Jeans On….

Thursday Thirteen

Most people own a pair of jeans. Finding the right fit can be an exercise in frustration and after many years of trying on jeans, can I say dark rinse, mid-rise, boot-cut. That’s me, baby. I’ll admit that having found my style I’m now feeling suitably smug. I did, however, take a moment to ponder about jeans and their history. IMO there’s inspiration to be found while checking out men in jeans, although if you repeat this to my hubby, I’m denying all!

So, in honor of jeans and the clever man who invented them:

THIRTEEN THINGS ABOUT JEANS

1. The word jeans comes from a type of material made in Europe. The material, called jean, was named after sailors from Genoa in Italy, because they wore clothes made from it. The word ‘denim’ probably came from the name of a French material, serge de Nimes: serge (a kind of material) from Nimes (a town in France).

2. During the eighteenth century workers wore jean cloth because the material was very strong and it did not wear out easily.

3. In 1853, the California gold rush was in full swing, and everyday items were in short supply. Levi Strauss, a 24-year-old German immigrant, left New York for San Francisco with a small supply of dry goods with the intention of opening a branch of his brother’s New York dry goods business. Shortly after his arrival, a prospector wanted to know what Mr. Strauss was selling. When Strauss told him he had rough canvas to use for tents and wagon covers, the prospector said, “You should have brought pants!,” saying he couldn’t find a pair of pants strong enough to last.

4. Exhausting his original supply of canvas, as the demand grew for his long-wearing overalls, Levi switched to a sturdy fabric called serge, which was made in Nimes, France. Originally called serge de Nimes, this name was soon shortened to “denim”. And, with the development of an indigo dye, the brown color was soon replaced with the now familiar deep blue, the trademark color of most jeans made today.

5. One of Levi’s many customers was a tailor named Jacob Davis. Originally from Latvia, Jacob lived in Reno, Nevada, and regularly purchased bolts of cloth from the wholesale house of Levi Strauss & Co. Among Jacob’s customers was a difficult man who kept ripping the pockets of the pants that Jacob made for him. Jacob tried to think of a way to strengthen the man’s trousers, and one day hit upon the idea of putting metal rivets at the points of strain, such as on the pocket corners and at the base of the button fly.

6. These riveted pants were an instant hit with Jacob’s customers and he worried that someone might steal this great idea. He decided he should apply for a patent on the process, but didn’t have the $68 that was required to file the papers. He needed a business partner and he immediately thought of Levi Strauss. In 1872 Jacob wrote a letter to Levi to suggest that the two men hold the patent together. Levi, who was an astute businessman, saw the potential for this new product and agreed to Jacob’s proposal. On May 20, 1873, the two men received patent no.139,121 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. That day is now considered to be the official “birthday” of blue jeans.

7. Jeans can be worn very loose in a manner that completely conceals the shape of the wearer’s lower body, or they can be snugly fitting and accentuate the body, specifically the buttocks. Historic photographs indicate that in the decades before they became a staple of fashion, jeans generally fit quite loosely, much like a pair of bib overalls without the bib. Indeed, until 1960, Levi Strauss denominated its flagship product “waist overalls” rather than “jeans”.

8. The orange thread traditionally used to sew Levi Strauss blue jeans was intentionally selected to match the copper rivets that doubled the durability of the jeans.

9. How many pair of jeans do you own? According to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™, each American woman and man own eight pairs of jeans on average.

10. What kind of jeans are you? Take the test.

11. One of the best as well as easiest things you can do to protect your jeans in the laundry is to turn them inside out before washing.

When possible, use cold water to wash your jeans along with a small amount of vinegar added to the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener. The cold cycle is much easier on your blue jeans and helps to prevent fading. The vinegar is an added touch to preserve the color.

Another way to preserve the color of your jeans is to buy a detergent for dark colors such as Woolite Dark Laundry Fabric Wash. This detergent is made especially to help preserve dark colors and works very well for blue jeans.

12. Choose a style that’s right for your body type. A slim figure is well-suited to low-rise skinny, straight or boot-cut jeans. The latter two cuts are more flattering on muscular, athletic shapes. If you are pear-shaped, try low-rise boot-cut or flared jeans for balance. A higher-rise is recommended for curvier girls, as it better conceals love-handles. However, every figure is different and it really is best to try on many different cuts. To make your butt look perkier, choose a jean with low-set back pockets that are closer to the center.

13. I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes. ~Yves Saint Laurent

Do you like to wear jeans?

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
You Had Me At Halo…

You Had Me At Halo My guest today is Amanda Ashby. Amanda lives in New Zealand, or rather she’s just returned to New Zealand from the UK, and we’re happy to claim her back. You Had Me At Halo is Amanda’s first book. It’s a funny paranormal with a unique slant and has garnered great reviews, including a nomination for the RT Reviewer’s Choice award in the contemporary paranormal romance category. It had me grinning. Amanda is currently immersed in the world of zombies as she works on a young adult novel. She has an interesting life. :grin:

CONTEST: see the details below to enter. We’ll draw the winner’s name on Thursday so don’t forget to check back in the comments section to see if you’re the winner.

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Saturday, March 22nd, 2008
The First Date

Writing a book is like dating. There’s the first excitement of the new idea where you wonder what to wear, how to approach the shiny new relationship. It goes well and there’s a second date. The liaison seems full of promise but suddenly the guy doesn’t ring…

What on earth has gone wrong? you wonder, trying to frantically rethink the relationship, obsessing about what you should have, could have done differently.

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Thursday, March 20th, 2008
It’s All in A Smile

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about SMILES

Smile

1. Definition of a smile – to have or take on a facial expression showing usually pleasure, amusement, affection, friendliness, etc., or, sometimes, irony, derision, etc. and characterized by an upward curving of the corners of the mouth and a sparkling of the eyes

2. It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. Not true. According to Snopes.com this is an urban legend.

3. According to Wikipedia a smile is a facial expression formed by flexing the muscles most notably near both ends of the mouth. The smile can be also around the eyes. Among humans, it is customarily an expression of pleasure, happiness, or amusement, but can also be an involuntary expression of anxiety, in which case it can be known as a grimace. There is much evidence that smiling is a normal reaction to certain stimuli and occurs regardless of culture. Happiness is most often the cause of a smile.

4. Among animals, the exposure of teeth, which may bear a resemblance to a smile, is often used as a threat or warning display – known as a snarl – or a sign of submission. In chimpanzees, it can be a sign of fear.

5. The BBC have a quiz you can do where you rate smiles. How good are you at telling if a smile is genuine? Me – I learned I’m not very good at judging smiles. Here’s the link.

6. A genuine smile is addictive, especially if accompanied by laughter.

7. To keep a nice smile it’s a good idea to use a toothbrush. It is important to change your tooth brush every 2-3 months or sooner as it becomes ineffective when worn out. Adults should choose a small or medium size toothbrush with soft or medium multi-tilted, round ended nylon bristles. The head should be small enough to get into all parts of the mouth. Children need to use smaller brushes but with the same type of bristles.

8. A smile confuses an approaching frown. ~Author Unknown

9. People seldom notice old clothes if you wear a big smile. ~Lee Mildon

10. Start every day with a smile and get it over with. ~W.C. Fields

11. Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been. ~Mark Twain, Following the Equator

12. Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important. ~Janet Lane

13. Wear a smile – one size fits all. ~Author Unknown

Have you smiled today?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!
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Thursday, March 13th, 2008
The World’s Greatest Navigator

Thirteen Things about CAPTAIN JAMES COOK

There’s a really good documentary playing on our TV at the moment about the life of James Cook. It’s fascinating and these are some of the things I’ve learned during the last two weeks of viewing.

1. 1728: Born at Marton (near modern Middlesbrough), Yorkshire, Britain. He was the son of a farmer.

2. 1736: Family moves a few miles to Great Ayton, Yorkshire. He attends the village school and shows great promise.

3. 1744: He moves several miles to the coastal village of Staithes and is apprenticed to a shop keeper.

4. 1746: He moves south to Whitby, where he works for Captain John Walker on his ships. They’re not allowed to drink, gamble or associate with loose women!

5. 1755: Joins the Royal Navy as an ordinary seaman.

6. 1759: Takes part in surveying the St. Lawrence River in Canada. He’s fascinated by a new method of surveying and is excited by the possibilities.

7. 1760-67: Surveys the islands of Newfoundland, St. Pierre and Miquelon off the east coast of Canada. His map was so accurate it was still being used over 200 years later.

8. In 1762, James Cook married Elizabeth Batts at Barking, just to the east of London. They were married for sixteen years and had six children. They spent only four years of their marriage together. Elizabeth Cook died in 1835 while in her nineties, living longer than all her children. Elizabeth burned all James’ papers and letters shortly before she died.

9. 1768-71: First Voyage round the world in the ship Endeavour. 1772-75: Second Voyage round the world in the ships Resolution and Adventure. 1776-80: Third Voyage round the world in the ships Resolution and Discovery, completed without him.

10. As a result of his experiences of astronomical observation and obvious skill in navigation and cartography, Cook was appointed leader of an expedition to observe the transit of Venus from Tahiti organised by the Royal Society, in association with the Navy Board and funded by King George III. The Admiralty were less interested in astronomical observation than in the opportunity such a voyage offered for the secret exploration of the south-west of the South Sea (Pacific) for the Great South Land—Terra Australis Incognita. When the expedition returned in July 1771, the transit of Venus had been observed, an unprecedented number of botanical and zoological specimens collected, and though no Great South Land had been found, New Zealand and the east coast of New Holland (Australia) had been charted and claimed for King George III.

11. On 7 March 1776 Cook was admitted to the Royal Society for his success in defeating scurvy amongst his crew during his voyages and his paper on nutrition aboard the Resolution was awarded the prestigious Copley Medal, judged to be the best experimental research of the year. Elizabeth accepted the award however, as Cook had left on a third voyage in 1776 to search for a Pacific entrance to the legendary Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific, believed to lie north of Canada.

12. Following Cook’s death in 1779, the Endeavour journal of James Cook is thought to have been held by his wife Elizabeth. There is no record of the journal’s movements following Elizabeth Cook’s death in 1835 until its appearance in 1923 when it was offered at auction by its owners the Bolckow family of Yorkshire. The family were unable to explain how they came to hold the journal. It had apparently been in the family’s library ‘for upward of fifty years, having been purchased by the late Bolckow’s uncle, but from whom and in what circumstances is unknown’.

On 21 March 1923 the Australian government purchased the Endeavour journal for £5000 for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library.

13. James Cook died in 1779. His last voyage was characterised by violence. Cook meted out increasingly severe punishments to indigenous peoples following the theft of various articles whilst at the Friendly Islands (Tonga), St George’s Island (Tahiti) and the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). And on 14 February 1779 Cook and four marines were killed on the beach at Kealakekua Bay while seeking the return of the Discovery’s large cutter.

James Cook was a great leader of men and his skills in navigation led him to rise from ordinary seaman to a position of rank. Many of his charts were in use until recent times and were very close to satellite images of the land masses.

Thursday, February 28th, 2008
The Care and Feeding of Candles

Thirteen Things about CANDLES

In case people haven’t guessed I visited my local candle shop in the weekend. It’s called RETREAT and for those who live in New Zealand, they have stores in Glenfield, Newmarket, Sylvia Park and Manukau.

1. Candles convey messages of warmth, romance, spirituality and brightness and they are embraced by lots of different creeds, religions and nationalities.

2. The Egyptians have been credited with soaking reeds in animal fats for rushlights. But the truth is all civilizations have a history of illumination.

3. Tealights are tiny candles, encased in a thin metal or plastic cover. The candle liquifies totally while lit and burn times can vary from four to nine hours.

4. Votives need to be placed inside a tight-fitting holder to maximise burn times.

5. Pillars are free-standing and are long-burning, available in a round or square shape. They can have multiple wicks and are excellent for grouping with other sizes and accessorizing to add the final touches to home or office.

6. Floating candles create light in a bowl, fountain or pool. These are specially designed to float on water.

7. Do not leave a burning candle unattended.

8. Trim candlewick to 5mm EACH time before burning.

9. Burn for 1 hour per 2cm in diameter. Noe: a candle has a memory. That is, it will only burn to the same diameter it was last burnt to.

10. Candles make great decorations and provide good mood lighting, but cleaning up dried wax drippings is never fun. Here’s a video about removing candle wax.

11. Never touch or move a burning candle when the wax is liquid. That means not playing with a burning candle, Mr. Munro. :mrgreen:

12. Flickering candles are one of the simplest and yet most magical ways of adding atmosphere to a scene. Ask your local candle shop about home decorating, color coordination, aromatheraphy, home fragrancing and everything candle. They’re the experts! The staff at RETREAT are certainly very knowledgable.

13. Think about personalised candles for a gift. RETREAT will design special candles for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, memorials, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s day and any other special event. They can be decorated with text, ribbon, graphics and photos. Your imagination is the only limit.

What do you think about candles? Do you like them? Do you have candles in your house?