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Background Research: Meet the Alpaca

Background Research Alpaca

Love at first sight. That was me and the alpaca. “If we ever purchase land, we’re getting alpacas,” I told my husband.

Fast forward quite a few years, and I still don’t have any alpacas. Some of my characters, however, do own alpacas.

Facts about farming alpacas:

1. They’re closely related to the llama, although they’re not as large.

Alpaca at Sydney Royal Show

2. They are grazers. While they can survive in harsh conditions, they do better with quality pasture or hay.

3. Fencing suitable for sheep works for alpacas. While they don’t tend to jump, if they’re stressed by for example a dog, they’re very capable of leaping over a fence.

4. They should have trees for shade.

5. They require fresh drinking water.

6. Shearing takes place once a year, usually during the spring.

7. Most alpacas are shorn while lying down. They are shorn on one side and turned over to complete the shearing.

8. Alpaca fleece is soft and durable and highly prized.

9. Alpacas come in many colors—white, fawn, brown, gray and black. Their color does not usually change as they age.

10. They are usually fairly disease free.

11. They make good pets although they don’t generally enjoy being held, especially on the head.

Chocolate Brown Alpaca

12. Alpacas do not usually bite or kick, but it can depend on the individual animal.

13. They do, however, spit. The spit is regurgitated or recently chewed grass, and it’s normally stinky.

14. Alpacas are herd animals and do better with company. They can be run with sheep or goats, but they prefer other alpacas for company.

15. Gestation is 11.5 months. The cria is around 6 – 8 kilograms at birth and stay with their mother for around 5 – 6 months.

16. They seldom have twins.

17. High quality breeding alpaca can be very expensive.

Alpaca

Stranded With EllaDillon Williams from Stranded with Ella farms alpacas. Ella, the heroine of Stranded with Ella is learning to spin. She wants to spin alpaca fleece rather than sheep’s wool.

Stranded with Ella is book 4 in the Military Men series, and can be read as a stand-alone.

Stranded With Ella – A tale of a ghost, a landslide, and pink hair…

Stranded with Ella by Shelley Munro

 

Stranded With Ella, book 4 in the Military Men series is out today!

 

Why should you read this book?

It has a quirky heroine with pink hair.

It has a grumpy alpha soldier hero.

There’s a ghost.

It’s set in New Zealand.

There is danger.

Romance and spicy love scenes.

A happy-ever-after ending.

Grab your copy at your favorite online book retailer.

Cover Reveal: Stranded with Ella, Military Men #4

At long last—a new addition to the Military Men series.

The Military Men series features three NZSAS soldiers who met during training and became close friends. There is love, adventure and a good dose of humor in the first three books. The heroes are all military men and their heroines are equally strong with a side of sassy determination.

I’m really excited to show you the latest cover in the Military Men series. Stranded with Ella features Dillon Williams (Summer’s brother) and Ella Liddington-Walsh, a woman with pink hair and a love of vintage clothing.

And NEWSFLASH, there’s a giveaway to celebrate my cover reveal. Scroll down for details!

STRANDED WITH ELLA

Military Men, #4

Release Date 20 March 2019

Stranded with Ella by Shelley Munro

Here’s an excerpt from INNOCENT NEXT DOOR that introduces Dillon and his brother to the reader. Note: There are a few F-Bombs in this particular excerpt.

“Summer!” a masculine voice hollered. The angry sound echoed and bounced off the walls in a too-familiar manner.

“Oh, no,” Summer muttered. Somehow, she didn’t think closing her eyes and pretending she was asleep would solve this one.

Nikolai slithered from the bed and pulled an ugly-looking gun from under the bed.

“Don’t go. Did you lock the bedroom door?”

“No.”

“Summer!” The second voice sounded a shade deeper but just as angry.

“Shit, there’s two of them,” Nikolai said, and he grabbed his jeans and yanked them on.

“Unfortunately.”

Nikolai cast her a strange look, but the thump of heavy boots outside the bedroom forestalled his questions.

“Don’t come in!” Summer shrieked. “I don’t have any clothes—”

The door burst open and crashed against the bedroom wall. Two huge men paused at the threshold, and the four of them stared at each other with varying reactions.

“Fuck,” Nikolai said in a fierce undertone.

Summer nodded.

Yep, this was a situation that called for a stronger word than “shit”.

She tugged the covers up to her chin and considered crawling right underneath to hide. She thought about it for all of two seconds and cast away the cowardly idea. Someone needed to referee. She was the lone candidate.

“What the hell are you doing?” Dillon, her oldest brother, roared. He balanced lightly on his toes, his biceps bulging beneath his T-shirt. His dark hair stuck up, appearing as ruffled as his temper.

Josh, her other brother, folded his arms across his broad chest. He didn’t smirk but the glint in his baby-blue eyes said he wanted to. “Oh, it’s obvious what they’ve been doing,” he drawled, confirming her supposition. The louse thought this was funny.

“Tarei.” A pulse throbbed at Dillon’s temple, and he looked as if he wanted to haul Nikolai from the room and beat him to a pulp. “Jake said Summer was here. Didn’t expect you too.”

“Sex,” Josh added helpfully.

Summer swallowed despite her best efforts to keep her anxiety contained. Her week just kept getting better. Murder, a little sex, and a fistfight chucked in for good measure. She had it all. Who needed to read the Sunday tabloids?

“I don’t want to think about my sister and sex in the same sentence,” Dillon snapped.

“Especially with him.” Josh shifted his weight and clenched and unclenched his fists. The ever-present humor in his baby-looking face riled Summer. Time to take control.

“Out,” she snapped, trying to ignore the fine tremor of nerves that shook her limbs.

“Fine.” Dillon glared at Nikolai. “He can come with us.”

“I don’t think so,” she returned sweetly. If they laid one hand on Nikolai, so help her… She would Tae Kwon Do her two soldier brothers. “Nikolai stays with me.”

Dillon and Josh exchanged a glance.

Summer narrowed her eyes. “He stays with me. He’s seen me dress before.”

“I don’t think they want to hear that, sweetheart.”

“Fuck, no.” Dillon jerked his head toward the door. “Out, Tarei. You’re coming with us.”

“You do know Nikolai?” Summer glanced from brother to brother. Their hard faces gave away little, but she guessed they weren’t telling her something big. Fine. She’d worm the information from Nikolai the minute she got rid of her brothers.

Summer sat and made a show of grabbing the covers. The sheet slipped dangerously close to flashing her nipples.

“Aw, Summer!” Josh said, starting to back away. He grabbed his brother’s arm and yanked.

Dillon resisted until Summer made another move. “The kitchen in five minutes,” he ordered. “A second longer and we’ll come back and drag you out.”

Her brothers exited the room, their remarks to each other peppered with enough swear words it was a wonder her mother didn’t make an appearance with her bar of soap.

The Giveaway:

One reader will win a paperback copy of Enemy Lovers, a cute plus Kiwi, and an olive soap that comes complete with an Evil Eye good luck charm all the way from Greece. (It’s the bar of soap Summer needed for her brothers!)

The giveaway is open to all readers including International. Complete the rafflecopter below with at least one of the options and you’re in the draw!

Stranded with Ella Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Owls ~ The Research and Maori Lore

For the last year, I’ve been obsessed with owls. I have no idea why, except that I like their cute faces and huge eyes.

Owl

Photo by Rúben Marques on Unsplash

My current work-in-progress is Black Moon Dragon. I was writing away, and suddenly, an owl appeared. Since this dragon romance is set in New Zealand, the owl was a ruru or morepork as they are more commonly known. An owl made an appearance in Journey with Joe (this was a pink owl) and I also wrote one into Stranded with Ella. None of this was conscious, but I clearly have owls on the brain!

In Maori mythology, the owl is a bird of the Underworld. The Maoris thought this because the morepork is a nocturnal bird, it has big, round eyes, and is a silent hunter.

Before the arrival of the white man in New Zealand, the Maori considered the arrival of the ruru a bad omen—a sign of death. They dreaded its powers and the people thought the bird was connected with witchcraft or makutu. Rumor said the ruru ate dead men’s fingernails and these became part of the owl’s eyes, which is why no one ever ate an eye.

The Taranaki Maori used to eat owls, thinking that by eating the birds they would prolong their lives. They did not eat the eyes. The Maoris in other areas considered eating owls distasteful.

While some tribes thought the bird a bad omen, others considered the appearance of an owl a family protector. They could protect, warn, help and advise on important matters.

One last thing about the owl—the first Maoris viewed the owl’s big, round eyes and adopted this wide-eyed look for their hakas (war dance or challenge).

While visiting England, my husband and I had a chance to fly owls, and we held a morepork. They are a small owl, much smaller than I’d realized. It was a rare privilege since although we often hear the owls call, they are seldom seen. Read about our visit to the Exmoor Owl and Hawk Center.

A morepork’s call is very distinctive. Early European settlers thought the birds where calling More pork. More pork, hence the owl’s common name.

Source: Maori Bird Lore by Murdoch Riley

Shelley and a Morepork (New Zealand owl)

This is a photo of me holding a morepork (ruru) during our Exmoor visit.

Writing Update for February: What Is Coming Next?

Writing Update

2019. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll know I started with a holiday, but writing was never far from my mind.

This is what I’ve been working on and these projects will be available for readers very soon.

So just how did the Mitchell family from my Middlemarch Shifters series get to Dunedin?

My Scottish Lass is a prequel to the series and answers this question. In this novella, you’ll meet Rory and Ainslie, ancestors to the present-day Mitchell family. This prequel will only be available for those who subscribe to my newsletter. If you’re already signed up to receive my newsletter, watch this space. Currently, I’m waiting for the cover.

Stranded with Ella, book 4 in my Military Men series:

I’ve just delivered this manuscript to my editor. It features Dillon Williams, brother of the heroine from book 1 in the series. We meet Ella Liddington-Walsh who is the opposite of pragmatic Dillon, yet they fit.

Currently working on:

Last week, I started working on Black Moon Dragon, which is book 3 in my Dragon Investigators series. The hero for this one is Manu Taniwha who we met in Blood Moon Dragon, book 2. The heroine is Jessalyn Brown who is part human and part dragon, although this comes as a huge surprise to her.

A freebie:

If you’re a contemporary romance fan, check out Secret Lovers. This is the first book in the Love and Friendship series and it is set in Auckland, New Zealand. Right now, you can get this book at your favorite retailer for free.