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Exploring Stewart Island, NZ

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that my visit to Stewart Island inspired the book Protecting the Bride. Mr. Munro and I had lots of fun during our visit and many of the things we did found their way into Protecting the Bride.

View over Oban township

Cullen and Grace sat on this same balcony and enjoyed the view of Oban township plus a glass or two of wine. We sat here and watched the native wood pigeons and the tui squabble over tree-sitting rights.

Fishing for Blue Cod

Cullen and Grace went fishing for blue cod, which is something I did, too. Blue cod is one of my favorite fish to eat, and I ate more than my fair share during our visit. Blue cod is a cold-water fish with firm white flesh, and it isn’t as readily available or as fresh up in Auckland. This photo is of me sitting on the boat and getting ready to fish for my dinner. Yes, we caught quite a few and took fish home.

Sunset Rock

This is Sunset rock, a spot Cullen and Grace visited, but during the day and not for the sunset. Mr. Munro and I watched the sunset and slapped at hungry mosquitoes the entire time. Not my idea of a good time!

Ulva Island

This is Ulva Island, home to lots of our native birds. As you can see, the island is small, and the distance from the mainland isn’t great. I loved wandering through the native trees and searching for native birds. Some of them are very shy and don’t enjoy posing for photos. Grace and Cullen walked the same paths we did and loved the experience as much as I did. Ulva Island is a wonderful place to visit.

Read an excerpt of Protecting the Bride or order your copy today!

Protecting the Bride: The Inspiration

Much of Stewart Island is uninhabited and still covered with native bush, making it a haven for many of our native birds.

Ulva Island is a bird sanctuary where some of our most endangered birds have been released and are thriving. It was a thrill and a privilege to wander through the bush and spot some of our rarer birds.

Ulva Island

The beach near the boat landing on Ulva Island.

Weka

A weka strolling along the beach.

Black Robin

A black robin, an endangered NZ bird.

Ulva Bush

The Clematis is a vine that climbs through the trees, and it is a member of the buttercup family. The flowers are white.

Shelley on Ulva Island

Shelley hugging a rimu tree on Ulva Island.

Native wood pigeon

A native wood pigeon.

Bellbird

Bellbird

The bellbird, one of NZ songbirds.

Tui

The tui is one of New Zealand’s more adaptable birds, and it is common in most parts of NZ. It’s still a very cool bird, and there were lots of them on Stewart Island.

Stewart Island is also one of the best places to go kiwi-watching. We went out at 9:00 pm and traveled to an uninhabited part of the island via boat. It was just amazing watching and hearing the kiwi feed. They didn’t seem to notice us and were unaffected by the special red light the guides use to help people spot them.

Kiwi

In my upcoming release, Protecting the Bride, Cullen and Grace visit Ulva Island to go birdwatching. They also spend an unforgettable evening looking for kiwi.

Protecting the Bride is available for pre-order and is out on 17 August 2021.

Stewart Island, Inspiration for Protecting the Bride

Stewart Island is the third-largest island in New Zealand, and it sits around thirty kilometers south of the South Island. Mr. Munro and I visited in 2020 and enjoyed our visit so much that I decided to set a book on the island. After percolating the idea for a few months, PROTECTING THE BRIDE sprang to life on the page.

Plane at Stewart Island
Transport to the island is via ferry across Foveaux Strait, which can be decidedly rough and rocky and not for the faint-hearted or poor sailors. The other method to get to the island is a quick fifteen-minute hop on a plane.

We traveled by both methods, taking the ferry over and the plane back to Invercargill. We had fantastic weather and didn’t experience the rock and roll that can give even those with a strong stomach big trouble.

Oban, the only township on the island, is small and quaint with a pub, a museum, a supermarket, a few other shops and tourism-related companies, a school, a café, and the Kai Kart, which does takeout food. It takes minutes to walk from one end to the other, but the setting is pretty with a white sandy beach and lots of native bush.

Pub and Oban township

Kai Kart for Delicious takeaway food

With only thirty-two kilometers of road, there aren’t many vehicles on the island. We walked a lot and learned to take a torch with us at night since the streetlamps are also limited.

Our accommodation was at the top of the hill. We had an incredible view of the township, the bay, and the sea beyond. The only downside was the steep hill that we had to climb each time we returned from sightseeing. I suspect my fitness levels improved during our holiday.

The steep hill

I used lots of our experiences in PROTECTING THE BRIDE, including that steep hill. Since I had to huff and puff up this hill, so did my heroine! Protecting the Bride is due for release on 17 Aug. Learn more details, read an excerpt, or pre-order here.

Grab a Copy of LONE WOLF on Sale for 99c #paranormal #romance

Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf, my gay paranormal werewolf romance is currently on sale for 99c. To read the blurb and for purchase links check out the Lone Wolf book page.

A New Cover For Middlemarch Shifters, My Plan B

Last month, I decided it was time for a new cover for MY PLAN B, book 11 in the Middlemarch Shifters series. This book features an older hero and heroine, and I’m thrilled with the end result.

My Plan B by Shelley Munro

Here is a short excerpt from the book:

“I’ll follow her,” Jacey volunteered. “You said that the logical place for her to stay is in the holiday cottages. Why don’t you two go back to the vehicle and bring my clothes?”

Leo gave a decisive nod. “If she glimpses you, she’s more likely to assume she saw a dog. If she sees me, Saber and the Feline council will get pissed because a sighting might spark rumors of black cats again.”

“You’ll pick me up near the holiday cottages?”

“Yes,” Leo confirmed.

“See you there? Henry, you’re taking Geoffrey?”

“Yeah. I’ll whistle for him once you’re closer to her.”

“Plan,” Jacey said, and seconds later, he sneaked from behind the schist in his wolf form, every sense focused on the orange-blossom woman. Behind him, Henry summoned Geoffrey, had a whispered exchange with Leo before the pair, too, shifted to animal.

Jacey used the available cover, a few longer clumps of grass and smaller schist rocks, to creep closer to the woman. The scent wafting from her filled his senses, filled his thoughts with unexpected ideas of seduction. He wanted a clearer view of her face.

She scanned the panoramic view in front of her, her gaze flitting over him. Jacey dropped and froze in position, praying she hadn’t glimpsed the paleness of his belly and chest. As a youngster, his fur had been a glossy black. These days, a fair amount of white decorated his belly and chest. In his human form, his hair and stubble when he didn’t shave was silver.

His heart pounded, a fraction faster than normal, and he frowned as he absorbed the information. Strange. Something in this human woman pulled at his senses and drew him. Part of the reason he’d volunteered for this job. Curiosity and the urge to regain his balance.

The woman stood and shoved the white pad—a plastic bag—into a pocket. Her coat and winter gear still hid her identity and shape, giving him peekaboo glances of her profile and flashes of blonde hair, but her scent…
Jacey breathed deeply, his wolf and his human part wallowing in orange blossom. Now that less distance separated them, there was an underlying earthiness to her aroma. A familiar wolfish scent. No. That made little sense. Another wolf would have scented them, become aware and likely bristled at their intrusion into her solitary state.
No, the woman was human.
This imaginary mystery scent was a puzzle to fill his mind with business. He liked puzzles.

She walked with her shoulders hunched, her head bowed. She sniffed and dragged a hankie from her pocket.

He couldn’t see what she was doing, but seconds later, she thrust the hankie back into her pocket and hurried along a narrow path that wound through a stand of native bush. Or at least, Henry had told him the trees were native to New Zealand. Their pungent scent made him want to sneeze.

The path turned, and he glimpsed her face as he followed. She swiped the back of her hand over her eyes with an impatient sigh, knuckling away moisture.

The woman was crying. Ah. That accounted for her absently snapping photos. Her mind lay elsewhere, treading in misery.

Sympathy engulfed Jacey. Empathy. He’d wanted to cry for Henry’s loss, for his son’s obvious pain. Without a second thought, he let out a doglike whine.

The woman’s head snapped up, her shoulders tense, even beneath the heavy jacket. She whirled around, and he glimpsed her blotchy face. The woman was older than his first guess, possibly ten or fifteen years younger than him. Blue eyes like his. Blue eyes swamped with unhappiness.

He whined again, trying to making himself smaller and more doglike. A handy skill. He wagged his tail, wriggled his body. Without taking his gaze off her, he inched closer and tried not to scare her.

“Hey, boy.” Her soft voice caressed, even though it held a layer of tears. “Do you belong to the farm or are you lost too?”

Read the blurb and another excerpt. Check out Plan B!

A Visit to Grytviken, South Georgia

The island of South Georgia was first discovered in 1675. It was named Roche after Anthony de la Roché, the ship’s commander who found the island. In 1775 Captain Cook made the first landing, renamed the island after King George III, and it subsequently became a British territory.

The first whaling station was founded in Grytviken in 1904 by Norwegian Carl Anton Larsen. Grytviken was one of seven whaling stations on the island and the largest. During the summer months, from October to March, up to 300 men worked at the station.

By 1960 whalers had depleted the area of whales, and the station became unviable. Grytviken closed in 1964. Much of the equipment and several ships still lie where they were left.

These days, Grytviken is a popular stop for cruise ships. There is a museum, a shop, and a post office, and the cemetery here is the last resting place of the famous explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Rusted ships at Grytviken

Old Rusted Ships.

Equipment for the Processing of Whale Blubber

Old Storage Tanks

Some of the Local Residents

View of Settlement

View of Grytviken Settlement and the Locals

A view looking back toward Grytviken with some of the locals.

Shackleton's Grave

Frank Wild

Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Wild, his friend, are both buried in the Grytviken cemetery.

Shop and Post Office

The shop and post office do a brisk trade with the tourists.

The Church

The church.

Shelley

A pic of me exploring the area beyond Grytviken. As you can see it’s very barren and craggy. I loved our visit to Grytviken, and it turned out to be an inspiring one, because I used the settlement as the setting for my recent release. While it’s difficult to travel to South Georgia, try an armchair visit and check out Snow Moon Dragon today!

A New Book in the Dragon Investigators Series

Yay! At long last, I have a new addition to my Dragon Investigators series: Snow Moon Dragon. My trip to visit Antarctica and the island of South Georgia gave me the inspiration for this story, but as always there is also a touch of my home country New Zealand.

Here is the cover, designed by the wonderful Kim Killion at Killion Publishing.

Snow Moon Dragon

The blurb:

Love is a curse but also a blessing…

Dragon shifter Nyree Wirihana escapes an abusive relationship and travels to the far-flung island of South Georgia for a fresh start. No more dating for her. She’s finished with men. Instead, she’s content to work and explore the island while photographing the cute penguins and seals.

Dragon shifter Tāwera suffers from a curse, and for hundreds of years, he has lain in a rock pool with no hope of escape or revenge on the brother who turned him to stone.

A chance encounter changes everything, and suddenly Nyree is experiencing unique problems. Dragon problems. Romantic problems. Her peaceful man-free life becomes complicated, then danger strolls into her sanctuary and the situation becomes so much worse.

You’ll enjoy this dragon romance because it contains a sexy tattooed warrior from the past plus a strong heroine who has regained her mojo and isn’t afraid to kick dragon butt and face threats head-on. Sit back and enjoy the sensual sparks.

Snow Moon Dragon is available for pre-order from your favorite online store, and releases on 18 May 2021.

Meet the King Penguin: Ten Facts About the King Penguin

One of the things I was most looking forward to seeing when we visited the Antarctica region was the penguins. Penguins are fascinating birds, and I never tired of seeing them or watching their antics.

A king Penguin Colony

Facts about King Penguins

1. They’re the second-largest species of penguin.

Close Up of a King Penguin

2. They weigh up to 15kg and grow to around 3.1 feet in height.

3. It’s estimated there are around 2 million breeding pairs, but some say there are far more than this.

King Penguins on the Beach

4. The largest colony is found on the island of South Georgia, although they also live in Antarctica and on the south coast of Argentina.

5. King penguins eat fish and squid.

6. Penguins have two chicks every three years, and their varied breeding season means that there are always a few chicks within a colony.

A King Penguin Chick

7. The penguin chicks have wooly brown coats before they molt and the adult feathers grow. Early explorers thought they were a different species of penguin.

King Penguin chicks and adults in the background

8. King penguins don’t make nests but carry their eggs around in a brood patch.

9. King penguins will change partners for each breeding season.

10. Leopard seals hunt the adult penguins while the skua bird attacks both the eggs and chicks.

Source: Cool Antarctica

King Penguins on South Georgia

Some of the many King penguins on one of South Georgia’s beaches.

Snow Moon Dragon, book 4 in the Dragon Investigators series, is coming out soon. Snow Moon Dragon is set on South Georgia and King penguins are mentioned a time or two.

A Visit to South Georgia Island

South Georgia is a small island in the southern Atlantic Ocean. It’s a British territory, and the island’s nearest neighbors are Antarctica and the Falkland Islands.

Until I visited the region in early 2020, I’d never even heard of South Georgia. Now I know what I missed out on! South Georgia is a nature lover’s paradise and will be forever linked with Sir Ernest Shackleton, the great explorer since Grytviken is his final resting place.

It’s not an easy place to reach, and we visited as part of our journey to Antarctica. My upcoming release, SNOW MOON DRAGON, is set mainly in South Georgia.

Our first stop was Fortuna Bay. We went ashore via zodiacs and watched some of the thousands of residents. The air is so crisp and clean, although you do get a whiff of penguin poo. It’s quite a unique scent, but I didn’t mind the aroma. I was too busy checking out the local characters.

Fortuna Bay, South Georgia

This is the view of the bay from our ship, Le Soleal, which is part of the Ponant fleet.

Seal pups hanging out on beach

We saw lots of Antarctic Fur seal pups. They hang around on the beach and in the shallows, playing together and waiting for Mum to come home. They’re cute and very curious. It was very hard not to get too close since they seemed to have no fear of the two-legged creatures wearing bright orange coats.

King Penguins

We visited Fortuna Bay to see the King penguins and see them we did. They are magnificent birds. On land, they can be clumsy, but they are graceful blurs of speed in the water. Very difficult to get a photo of a speeding penguin!

King Penguin

A close-up of one of the handsome penguins. They are striking with their yellow coloring.

Penguins and glacier

The scenery is gorgeous, despite the lack of trees. Grasses and lichen stud the lower slopes while craggy peaks, some of them covered in snow even during the summer, tower above. In the distance is the König Glacier.

König Glacier

A close-up of the glacier at Fortuna Bay.

King Penguin colony

This is a photo of the King penguin colony at Fortuna Bay. It’s said there are over 7000 pairs that make this area their home.

King Penguins

Several of the King penguins strutting their stuff with our ship in the background. Access to the area is limited to one ship and a maximum of one hundred people ashore at the time. We took care to clean our boots and make sure our clothing and footwear were free of foreign seeds and anything that might harm the pristine environment.

Boot Cleaning

Boot cleaning in action. This also helped limit the “penguin pong,” but after a day ashore, we’d all leave our boots outside our doors. The passages continued to hold the penguin fragrance!

Snow Moon Dragon will release on 18 May 2021.

Operation Flower Petal Now Available for Pre-order

Operation Flower Petal, Military Men #6

Operation Flower Petal, book 6 in the Military Men series is now available for pre-order at all online retailers.

Read an excerpt here.

Purchase links here.