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Sunday, May 19th, 2019
Background Research: Black Moon Dragon, a paranormal romance

Black Moon Dragon, my New Zealand-set romance, contains dragons or taniwha. In this particular book, I’ve used more Maori mythology than usual and terms that are perhaps unfamiliar to those who live outside New Zealand. I’ve solved this by including a glossary with links to a Maori online dictionary for those who’d enjoy hearing the proper pronunciation.

One scene in the book contains a powhiri, which is the ceremony performed to welcome visitors onto a marae. A marae is a meeting place. Sometimes the collection of buildings around a courtyard where the meetings take place are also defined as a marae.

This video below describes a powhiri and it is an excellent depiction of what a visitor might expect when they visit a marae.

Black Moon DragonBlack Moon Dragon is the third book in the Dragon Investigators series. It is due out on 21 May.

Her life has taken a turn to Crazy Town. She has caught a weird disease. Now, this scary big dude is offering help. There’s trouble here somewhere, right?

Available wide. Get your copy here: https://books2read.com/u/38xWa6

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019
Hobbiton, Part Two

This is a continuation of my post about my visit to Hobbiton in Matamata. Part one is here.

Pheasant in the Vegetable Garden

I was busy taking photos of Hobbit holes and my surroundings and saw something moving. It took me a moment to realize the pheasant was real and it was busy feasting on the vegetables.

The Frog Pond

This is the frog pond. During filming the frogs made it challenging to hear the actors. Sir Peter Jackson paid someone to catch all the frogs and relocate them elsewhere so filming could continue without issue. The frogs found their way back…

The fake tree

This tree, which grows above Bilbo Baggin’s home in Bagshot Row is the only fake tree. All the rest are real. A few days before filming Peter Jackson visited the site and decided the tree’s leaves had faded to the wrong color. A man spent two days spraypainting each leaf. The trees are resprayed every few years.

Bilbo Baggin's Home

Bilbo Baggins is one of the more prosperous hobbits. We know this because his home has lots of windows, and Hobbits are taxed by the number of windows in a dwelling.

Shelley and the Hobbit Hole

There are two different sizes of Hobbit holes. I think the guide said they were 60 and 90 respectively. The Hobbit characters were filmed in front of the large doors, and the tall characters such as Gandalf were filmed in front of the small doors. I’m standing in front of a small door.

Each of the Hobbit holes is empty inside since the interior shots were all filmed at studios in Wellington.

Green Dragon Inn

This is the view of the Mill and the Green Dragon Inn. We walked across the bridge to the Green Dragon and finished our tour with a drink.

Drinks at the Green Dragon Inn

The drinks are all brewed especially for Hobbiton. I tried the apple cider, which was delicious.

If you’re ever near Matamata, I recommend a visit to Hobbiton. It’s pure fun and whimsey, and I loved every moment of my visit.

Monday, May 6th, 2019
A Visit to Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand

I’ve wanted to visit Hobbiton in Matamata for ages, and yesterday, I finally got to explore the home of the Hobbits. In order to visit it’s necessary to plan and book ahead. My tour was for 10:30 and Hobbiton central was very busy with tours going out every half an hour.

Map of Hobbiton

This is the map of Hobbiton, given to each visitor. Hobbiton itself is situated on the Anderson farm, which is an operating beef and sheep farm of 1250 acres. The land in the Matamata area is gorgeous full of green rolling hills and perfect for Hobbiton. Sir Peter Jackson discovered his home for Hobbiton after flying over in a helicopter. After the Lord of the Rings movies were completed, Hobbiton was dismantled. When it was decided to film the Hobbit movies, Hobbiton was rebuilt in permanent materials and kept as a tourist attraction once filming was completed.

Welcome to Hobbiton

There are 44 Hobbit holes and seven maintenance men and women keep the 12-acre site in pristine condition. What I loved about the place was the attention to detail. Each hobbit hole has a theme or a clue as to the occupant’s occupation. There is a beekeeper, a fisherman, a painter and so forth.

A Hobbit Hole

Smoking Chimney

This one even had a smoking chimney. There were lines full of washing, and I loved the vegetable gardens.

The Fisherman's Home

Hobbit Hole

Shelley and the Hobbit Hole

I enjoyed my visit so much and took heaps of photos. There are too many for one post. Come back tomorrow for part two.

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019
Interview with author Anya J Cosgrove #paranormal #witch

Interview Anya J Cosgrove

Today, I’m excited to welcome Anya J Cosgrove to my blog. Anya J Cosgrove lives in Québec with her husband, her beautiful son, and two mischievous cats. She works as a veterinarian by day. What would Buffy do? Kick ass!

Hi, Anya. I understand you’re a new author. Please tell us a little about yourself and what made you decide to start writing.

Hi, Shelley! Thank you for having me on your blog! I’ve published my debut this January, but I’ve been writing stories ever since I was fourteen. I started with fanfictions websites and the like but decided a few years ago to get serious about it and researched self-publishing. English is my second language, and it took me nearly ten years when I switched from French to English to get good enough to write an entire novel.

Your blurb for Shadow Walker includes this snippet. A love triangle to die for! Heart-pounding suspense, two sexy, mysterious men, and a strong-willed, snarky heroine. Nothing stays black and white in a world full of shadows. This sounds awesome since I love the tension a triangle brings to a romance. What did you find was the hardest thing about writing a love triangle?

The hardest thing was for the heroine not to appear too casual or too annoying. It’s a fine line when the heroine is unsure which one to pick. As the author, I want the sexy drama to unfold without the heroine being mean/feeble. In Vampire Diaries, it was very well done, but Elena was clearly with Stephan at the start and stayed with him for a long time, so it’s different.

Shadow Walker is a slow-burn romance. How would you define a slow-burn romance? What made you choose this type of relationship for your novel?

I love slow-burn romances. For me, it means the sex/physical stuff isn’t at the center of the relationship and is delayed. My trilogy is action-packed, and there are plenty of twists, but it does take longer for the characters to rip each other’s clothes off. I love to see the attraction and drama unfold— to revel in the uncertainty and longing that comes with waiting. But I think the longer you wait, the more explosive and incredible the ending must be, and I worked hard to do my characters justice.

Ask any author, and they’ll tell you writing is hard work. What do you like most about writing a book? What part of the creative process makes you want to tear out your hair? *grin*

I don’t plan everything, so I love to discover the characters and the story. Sometimes, they take me somewhere entirely different than what I originally thought.

I’m a slow writer, so it takes me months to write a book. I write all the good stuff first, so by the end, I get stuck with some scenes. I’m working hard to increase my speed and efficiency and not keep all those difficult scenes for the end.

I understand you have a free story called Lost Boy, which is the prequel to Shadow Burn. How do readers get their hands on this?

They can get it free through my newsletter (and can unsubscribe at any time.)
http://bit.ly/anyaslair

What is the best place for readers to learn more about you and your upcoming releases?

My newsletter: http://bit.ly/anyaslair
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnyaJCosgrove/

Shadow Walker Here is the blurb:

A newborn witch is hunted for her blood. Two smoking-hot brothers teach her how to survive. Can she unravel their dark secrets?

Demons. Magic. Fear.

I never believed in witches until I became one. I thought monsters existed only on television screens. I was wrong. And naïve.

Thom Walker saved me, but I don’t trust him. His brother Liam is one of them. A demon. He almost devoured me.

Desire. Secrets. Forbidden love.

Witchcraft isn’t easy, and my sparring sessions with my two saviors/jailers are distracting as hell. My feelings must be laid on ice before I end up dead. And I need to find out if I can actually lose my soul, or if it’s a weird metaphor.

Liam says I should embrace the darkness. And the darkness is coming…

A love triangle to die for! Heart-pounding suspense, two sexy, mysterious men, and a strong-willed, snarky heroine. Nothing stays black and white in a world full of shadows.

Purchase Shadow Walker (available in Kindle Unlimited)

Monday, April 29th, 2019
Recipe ~ Vegetarian Chili

Adventure 2019

I’m still on an adventure kick and trying as many new things–big and small–as much as I can this year. This week, I tried a new recipe for vegetarian chili, which I discovered on The English Kitchen blog. It was a complete success, and I’ll be adding it to my recipe repertoire. This recipe is chock-full of vegetables, and I bet even you meat-lovers out there will enjoy it.

Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients:

2 x onions
2 x carrots
1 x green pepper
1 x green chili
1 x kumara (sweet potato)
2 x cloves of garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
salt
pepper
1 x can red kidney beans (drained)
1 x jar tomato passata (about six cups)
1 teaspoon liquid honey
coriander leaves
1 x square of dark chocolate

Method:

1. Peel carrots and dice finely into small chunks.
2. Dice onion, kumara, green pepper.
3. Deseed the green chili and dice.
4. Chop the garlic.
5. Add the oil to a large pot or frying pan.
6. Once heated, add all the vegetables and cook for around eight minutes until the vegetables are softened.
7. Add the spices and fry off for about thirty seconds.
8. Add the passata, kidney beans, and honey.
9. Also, add a little water – about 1/2 cup.
10. Add salt and pepper to taste.
11. Cook for around 1/2 hour, adding a bit more water if necessary.
12. Add the square of chocolate a few minutes before serving and let it melt into the chili.
13. Garnish with fresh coriander.
14. Serve with rice or with tortillas, sour cream, and guacamole.

Shelley’s Notes:

1. I didn’t have any fresh chilis to hand, so I just used the chili powder, and that worked out fine.
2. The original recipe said 1 tablespoon of mild chili powder. We only have the hot stuff. I reduced the amount to 1/4 teaspoon and that was perfect for my taste buds.
3. That looks like an egg on top, but it’s a spoonful of plain yogurt with a little mango chili sauce on top.

This chili was delicious, and I’ll definitely make it again.

Monday, April 22nd, 2019
The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, New Zealand

Whenever we have friends visiting from overseas, we take them to the Waitakere Regional Park. A short drive from the inner city and you’re in the middle of nature. The views from the visitor center are gorgeous, and it’s an interesting place for kids of all ages!

Waitakere View from Lookout

This is the view from the lookout at the rear of the visitor center. On a clear day, you can see for miles.

View of Auckland

It was a little hazy on the day I took this photo, but you can make out the Sky Tower and the other highrise buildings in the central city.

Native NZ trees

These are some of the native trees. The punga ferns were striking and pretty this day.

About the kauri tree

A Young Kauri Tree

A young kauri tree. This native tree is in danger from kauri dieback. It’s incurable, and currently, many of our tracks in the park are closed in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.

The bush and river

Another view of the bush and the river.

Maori carving

Maori carving

Maori carving

These are some of the Maori carvings at the visitor center.

Shelley at Waitakere

And finally, this is me hamming it up with a view of the bush and sea behind me.

I’ve used the Waitakere area in my book Black Moon Dragon, and the heroine lives on the coast at Piha, which is not far away.

I highly recommend a visit to the Waitakere Ranges if you’re a visitor to Auckland. You won’t be disappointed!

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
Behind the series: Dragon Investigators Series and the Moon Titles

Dragon Investigators series

When I wrote the first book in the Dragon Investigators series, the story was for an anthology, and the book had a different title. It was a fun one-off that I enjoyed writing since it was set in New Zealand and I made a foray into Maori mythology.

A few years later, I started thinking about Hone Taniwha who was one of Jack’s co-workers and a friend. Blood Moon Dragon was the result of all that thinking. At the end of the book, I left Hone’s cousin Manu in a difficult predicament, which took a bit of consideration and more pondering. Recently, I wrote the third book in the series, Black Moon Dragon, and it is due for release on 21 May 2019.

The moon plays a big part in my Dragon Investigators series, hence my choice of titles. Before I started writing I had no idea there were so many types of moons. I know better now.

Here are the definitions for the types of moons I’ve used in my titles:

Blue moon – a blue moon occurs when there are two full moons during a calendar month. In Blue Moon Dragon the hero Jack’s control is tested during the upcoming blue moon.

Blood moon – this occurs when the moon is in eclipse. The moon’s orbit places it behind the Earth and in Earth’s shadow. The Earth’s atmosphere bends light into the shadows. The blue colors are scattered until only red remains, so we get a blood moon. In Blood Moon Dragon the blood in this romance is literal rather than an eclipse of the moon.

Blood Moon

Photo by Robert Wiedemann on Unsplash

Black moon – this occurs when there are two new moons during a calendar month, and this is relatively rare. In Black Moon Dragon our hero and heroine are both experiencing new things, which made this title perfect.

What’s next? Well, I’m not sure, but there are lots of other moons to choose from.

A wolf moon, which the tribal Indians named because wolves called during January. Source: Farmers’ Almanac.

A snow moon, which occurs during February when the full moon lights up the snowy panoramas.

There are pink moons, worm moons, harvest moons, frost moons, super moons. I’ve discovered loads of inspiration for the future and rather fancy working a frost moon into a story because I like the sound of a Frost Moon Dragon.

Watch this space…

Thursday, April 11th, 2019
Black Moon Dragon Available For Pre-order

At long last, the Dragon Investigators series has a new addition. I had a lot of fun writing this one, and I absolutely adore the hero and heroine together.

There is suspense, humor, dragon politics, and Maori mythology along with romance. If you’ve read Blood Moon Dragon, book 2 in the series, you’ve already met Manu. You’ll realize the predicament Manu was in at the end of Hone’s romance. In Black Moon Dragon, Manu finally gets his happy-ever-after.

Black Moon Dragon

Check out the blurb:

Her life has taken a turn to Crazy Town.

She has caught a weird disease.

And now, this scary big dude is offering help.

There’s trouble here somewhere, right?

Manu Taniwha. A billionaire inventor. Leader. Tattoos, bossy attitude, icy control. Man by day. Dragon at night. Magnificent. Oh yeah.

But what’s his angle?

Jessalyn Brown. A daypack of possessions. Debts. Half-blood with huge, fiery problems. Her only wealth is an old pendant.

She’d be crazy to trust this man, yet every instinct is propelling her to say yes.

What if he turns her into the cops? Or has nefarious plans for her body? She’s no dummy even if she is new to the city.

Finally, Jessalyn agrees to stay with him, but if this dragon gets out of line, she’ll leave in a heartbeat. Her way or the highway.

Stand well back because her flames are hot!

You’ll adore this dragon romance because it contains a grumpy billionaire taniwha with his mesmerizing tattoos and his dislike of, dragon politics, plus the strong, sassy woman who is about to burst out of her cocoon and kick dragon butt.

Pre-order at:

Amazon | Apple Books | Kobo | Nook |

Monday, April 1st, 2019
Interview with Paranormal Author L. Danvers #vampires

Interview with L. Danvers

Today, I’m excited to welcome L. Danvers to my blog. Hi, Ms. Danvers. I’ve been checking out your website and you say, “My goal as an author is to offer you an escape from reality—one where you can explore new worlds, go on daring adventures, fight the bad guys and fall in love… all from the comfort of a cozy chair.”

This sounds right up my alley! Please tell us a little about yourself and what made you decide to finally push the publish button?

So, the first book I ever wrote was Stellix (later retitled Conspiracy Unleashed). I had left my job as a news producer, and even though the style of writing was entirely different, there was a part of me that just needed to write.

Months later, after binge-watching an embarrassing number of episodes of Ancient Aliens, I came up with the concept. I jotted down the idea, and my own curiosity about how things would play out led me to writing more and more. I never just sat down and said, “I’m going to write a book today.” It all happened very organically. (Of course, I’m sure it helped that I’ve always enjoyed writing!)

As for what led me to publishing, I’d chalk it up to an uncharacteristic amount of courage. Beta readers enjoyed the story, and I told myself that if they liked it, others would, too. A successful indie author graciously offered her time to advise me about self-publishing, and the rest is history.

Curses and Crowns is a vampire romance while in the past you’ve written fantasy and sci-fi. Why did you venture into paranormal romance?

Funny enough, it started with me watching The Vampire Diaries on Netflix. I am one of the few millennial girls who didn’t read Twilight as a teen, so I never got into the whole vampire craze.

But last year, I decided to give The Vampire Diaries a shot, and I realized I’d missed out on a fascinating genre. I read a bunch of vampire romance and urban fantasy books and realized just how much I loved the stories.
An idea quickly came to me, and it has been an absolute blast to write in this new genre.

Your vampires sound gritty and dangerous. What is it like to be a vampire in the world you’ve built in Curses and Crowns?

In a word: dramatic.

Now, there are various vampire kingdoms presently veiled from the human world. But in Crescent Cape, where the story takes place, there is a blood slave village where humans offer weekly blood donations so that the vampires have access to a consistent food source. However, the vampires are permitted to venture out on hunts in the mountains beyond the boundary.

Meanwhile, Prince Aiden, one of the most menacing vampires when on the “real stuff,” has given up human blood entirely and only drinks artificial blood crafted for him by a witch from a local coven.

Add in three vampire siblings, an older brother who’s an immortal werewolf and a tempting human who has an unusual hold over the prince, and we have one heck of a wild story.

Having said all of that, though, my books are YA-friendly. So while the vampires are dangerous, the story is not gory and does not go into unnecessary detail.

The genres you’ve chosen to write all require lots of worldbuilding. What is your favorite thing about building a world for your characters?

Honestly, I do a lot of the worldbuilding as I go. I love discovering the world I’m creating as I’m writing it. My stories are fairly fast-paced and full of action because that’s what I enjoy as a reader. But, of course, the rules of the world the characters live in play an important part in what drives them.

If you could spend a day with a fictional character and decide what to do, who would you choose and where would you take him or her?

Oh my goodness. That’s a hard question! I’m going to have to go with Doctor Who on this one (preferably as played by David Tennant) because he could take me ANYWHERE in time or space. I’d let him surprise me!

I understand you have a free story called Blood Heirs, which is the prequel to Vampires of Crescent Cape. How do readers get their hands on this?

Yes! It’s a bite-sized origin story and gives readers a glimpse into how the vampire siblings, the Blood Heirs, and their immortal werewolf brother came to be. Readers can grab a copy here: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/j2dl7bb4hr

What is the best place for readers to learn more about you and your upcoming releases?

They can join my Readers’ Group at www.ldanvers.com/subscribe. They’re also welcome to join my fiction and fandom Facebook group, Gather with L. Danvers.

Thanks, Ms. Danvers!

L. Danvers is the author of YA-friendly paranormal romance, fantasy and science fiction. She writes what she likes to read, so her books include memorable characters, tons of action and are real page-turners. And, of course, there’s plenty of romance in there, too!

Curses and Crowns Readers, here is the blurb for CURSES AND CROWNS. Check it out today.

A cut-throat competition.
A romance to die for.

Danielle Parker’s life was a dream. Until it became a living nightmare.

Ripped of her memories of how she was kidnapped from her family, Danielle is whisked away to the mystical Crescent Cape—a kingdom ruled by vampires, where she is to live out her human life as a blood slave.

She’s not going down without a fight.

But her plans are thwarted when she’s selected to compete for the prince’s heart.

The winner will be turned into a vampire and taken as his bride. And the losers’ blood will be fed to the princess-to-be to complete her transition.

As much as she’s disgusted by the idea of the competition, and as dangerous as Prince Aiden is, she can’t deny her attraction to him—or to his troubled brother, Julian.

Will she be able to resist the brothers’ charms? Or will she find herself pulled into the dangerous world of the vampires of Crescent Cape?

A romantic and thrilling new series that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for fans of The Vampire Diaries, The Originals and The Selection.

Purchase Curses and Crowns, Book 1 in the Vampires of Crescent Cape series (also available in Kindle Unlimited)

Monday, March 25th, 2019
Exploring Ponsonby, Auckland

This week, I decided to do my writing session in a different place. I ended up in Ponsonby.

Ponsonby Road

Ponsonby is an inner-city suburb, around 2 kilometers from the city center of Auckland. The origins of the name Ponsonby are a bit murky, and my search didn’t produce a definitive answer on how the place got its name.

Ponsonby is one of the original suburbs of Auckland. In the 1950s and 1960s, the area was a low-cost housing area, but these days, things are very different. It’s a thriving suburb with expensive property and lots of cafes and restaurants.

Huge mature trees grow on the grass verges, casting shade while the pedestrians get glimpses of the harbor and the Sky Tower. I particularly loved the wooden bungalows and villas that lined some of the streets—a reminder of an earlier time with their white picket fences.

Row of Bungalows

Wooden Bungalow

Bungalow

Mature Trees

The mature trees that grow in the area are beautiful and the shade is welcome during the hot summer.

Old wooden church

This old wooden church is a Samoan church these days.

View of Sky Tower from Ponsonby

The Sky Tower is visible from many parts of Auckland. This is the view from Ponsonby.

I had a fun morning exploring Ponsonby, and I managed to get lots of work done too. Win-win!