Adventure into Romance with Shelley Munro
News About Shelley Blog Books Extras Contact Small Font Large Font

Archive for 'Travel'

Shopping and Separation Anxiety with Jenyfer Matthews

My special guest today is author Jenyfer Matthews. She’s talking about a very special challenge she’s facing this week as well as her new release, Separation Anxiety.

You know how it is, you go on vacation and you buy things. Maybe you’re even going to a place where you expect to shop so you travel light going.

Now imagine that you live in a country that not only doesn’t have good malls or decent mail service, but where you can’t even find quality socks when you need them. That’s me, in Egypt.

I’m an American who has lived abroad for eleven years (where does time go??). It wasn’t so bad when I lived in the United Arab Emirates – Dubai hosts an annual Shopping Festival, after all. But even there, in the land of shopping malls, there were still things you couldn’t find easily, like good socks or books (gasp).

Every summer I come back to America with light suitcases and a long shopping list. I’ve got it nearly down to a science now. Each child has their own ticket and we’re allowed two checked suitcases apiece, each weighing 50lbs. I’ve gotten very good at packing things – for instance, I pack all the heaviest items in the smallest suitcase, on the theory that it won’t go overweight because it will be full before I get too much in there anyway. In all my years of bringing back a year’s supply of miscellaneous stuff for a family of four, I’ve only once had to pay an overweight charge. Not bad on average, all in all.

This year, however, I’m worried.

I not only have several large but light, bulky items, but I also have a couple of very heavy things including a Separation Anxietymuch-larger-than-I-expected jewelry chest and a lidded cast iron soup pot that once belonged to my grandmother. Unique challenges to my packing skills to say the least. I travel back to Egypt on Sunday so I’ll have to get back to you on how it all goes.

I’ve traveled a lot in the last decade so I suppose it’s no surprise that I would write a book where the heroine starts traveling after a major life crisis. I have to admit that I when I wrote SEPARATION ANXIETY I was indulging in a major fantasy exercise because not only wasn’t my character dragging two small children in her wake, she shopped as she liked and simply shipped her excess and unneeded items home ahead of her. Bliss.

I’m happy to say that SEPARATION ANXIETY is available in multiple digital formats from Smashwords.com as well as other major ebookstores, including Sony and Apple. SEPARATION ANXIETY is also available in paperback from Amazon.com.

BLURB

Sometimes running away is the first step toward finding yourself.

Aurora has spent her entire married life transforming herself from a regular, middle class girl into the perfect society wife. Life seems perfect until she is unceremoniously dumped by her philandering cliche’ of a husband just before Christmas – and their tenth wedding anniversary. Devastated and unable to face the social ostracism or the holiday parties, Aurora and her best friend Kat plan a trip to Amsterdam for a weekend…then decide to keep going. Aurora attempts to drown her sorrows with wine in Amsterdam and Frankfurt, finds her anger in Athens and Cairo, and reclaims her sexuality in Dubai. By the time she and Kat reach Bangkok at the New Year, Aurora is ready and eager to move on with her life.

Planned as a way to escape her pain, Aurora’s travels instead become a journey to a new sense of self and a whole new world – post-divorce.

EXCERPT

I am standing in the kitchen debating on whether or not baking some gingerbread would be overkill when I hear a car door outside.

My stomach flips and I run to the window to peek outside. It’s Bryce.

I press my hand to my stomach and try to slow my breathing. Hyperventilation and hysteria is hardly the alluring look I’m going for.

I go back to the kitchen, check my lipstick in my reflection on the window, and finger comb my hair. I whirl around and try to appear casual when I hear Bryce’s key in the door.

“Aurora?” Bryce says as he lets himself in.

“Good morning, Bryce,” I say, walking toward him and giving him a big smile. “Good to see you.”

He looks at me with some suspicion as he stands uncertainly in the foyer.

He’s not as impeccably presented as usual. His shirt is wrinkled and he doesn’t look as if he’s slept much. He certainly doesn’t look like a man who is happy with the decision he’s just made. I can feel my hopes rising just looking at him. This might be easier than I expected.

“Don’t just stand there,” I say, “This is your home, come in. I made some coffee. Sit down and have a cup. Can I get you some breakfast?”

“Thanks, but no,” he says, putting his hands in his pockets. “I really don’t have much time. I have an early appointment this morning. I’ll just go up and get my things.”

My smile fades. He’s deviating from my mental script of how this will go. He’s supposed to sit down, have breakfast and snap out of whatever spell Audrey has him under. “What? Just like that? Can’t we even talk about this? About us?”

I hear him sigh. “We already talked last night. What more is there to say?”

“We didn’t talk last night!” I take a deep breath and try to regain my composure. Bryce doesn’t like scenes so screeching at him will hardly win him over or gain his ear. I start again. “We didn’t talk. You made an announcement. I’d like a chance to discuss things with you. Privately.”

“I don’t really have much more to add, Aurora. I’m in love with Audrey and it doesn’t seem…kind to draw this out any more than we have to. I think it’s best to make a clean break.”

“So that’s it? After ten years together? How is it ‘kind’ to just walk out on me with no warning? Aren’t we at least supposed to try counseling?” I ask him as I follow him up the stairs to our bedroom.

Bryce is pulling suitcases from the back of our walk-in closet. “I don’t want to go to counseling.” He pauses to look at me. “I’m sorry.”

I stand there, stunned. He’s not repentant or regretful. He hasn’t realized his mistake. He’s merely uncomfortable with the situation. With me.

How has this happened? Yesterday things were normal. I was buying him an anniversary present. How can he be leaving me today?

He turns and begins to put things in the open suitcases. Shirts, pants, suit jackets, ties. I cross my arms and watch him silently. He picks up a small satchel and turns to cross to the bathroom. He squeezes my arm as he passes me. He is still my husband but already his touch seems foreign.

I can hear him opening drawers and dropping items into the bag. When he comes back out I want to catch his eye — to make him look at me! — but he’s looking down.

“You can’t leave without at least talking to me,” I try again. “You owe me that much at least.”

“I can’t see how talking about this will be helpful to you,” Bryce says, opening a dresser drawer and tossing socks and underwear into his suitcases. “I don’t have much time and endless discussion will only serve to hurt you more.”

“Oh my god — is she outside?” I ask. “Is she waiting for you in the car?” I run to the window to look out, trying to see into his car.

“No. I wouldn’t do that,” Bryce says. “I wouldn’t bring her here. This is hard enough as it is. On all of us.”

I can’t help but wonder whose feelings he is trying to spare because it certainly doesn’t seem to be mine.

It’s getting hard to maintain my composure when things are spinning so far out of my control. But this doesn’t make any sense to me. The situation does not compute. I have to have better answers than he’s giving me.

“What…” My voice breaks. I clear my throat and try again. “What did I do wrong? What do I need to do to fix this?”

Bryce sighs again. He stops packing for a moment and puts his hands on his hips. Finally he looks up at me.

“You haven’t done anything wrong,” he says. “Things just…happened. I’ve changed. I want different things. Neither of us is getting any younger and life is too short not to take happiness where you can find it. None of this was your fault. It’s not you, Aurora, it’s me.”

When I don’t answer him, he turns and starts packing again.

I can’t believe it. It’s been a while since I’ve heard it, but I’m pretty sure my husband of a decade just dumped me with a string of clichés and the old it’s-not-you-it’s-me line.

CONTEST – Jenyfer is giving away a PDF download of Separation Anxiety to one lucky reader. All you need to do to enter the draw is comment on this post or ask Jenyfer a question.

No Problem, Man! by Lisabet Sarai.

I’m thrilled to welcome author, Lisabet Sarai as my special guest today. She’s discussing two of my favorite topics–travel and paranormal romance. I’m always ready to travel, be it virtual or the real thing. Add a little of the woo-woo factor and I’m hooked. So sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of exotic Jamaica with Lisabet.

I want to thank Shelley for having me as her guest today. When I asked her what sort of topics she preferred for her blog, she suggested I browse through previous entries. One thing became immediately clear―she’s as much of a travel fanatic as I am! So I thought that I’d talk a bit about Jamaica, which just happens to be the setting of my upcoming release Fire in the Blood.

As I’ve shared in other blog posts, my husband seduced me in a Burmese restaurant with tales of his own international adventures. Jamaica was the first foreign destination we visited together. This was almost thirty years ago and I haven’t had the chance to go back, so readers should recognize that my impressions are a bit dated. Nevertheless, I suspect (from my research and reading) that the country has not changed that much, especially not physically.

We got a cheap deal on a package―round-trip airfare and a week’s hotel in Montego Bay. Actually, the resort where we were booked was a good ten miles outside the city. It had a lovely beach but was quite isolated from Jamaican culture. Fortunately, the tour was cheap enough that we felt comfortable using the hotel as a base of operations and making overnight excursions to locations elsewhere on the island. We also took in some tourist activities around Montego Bay. I recall a trail ride into the mountains above Montego Bay (brilliant blue sky, blazing sun, the smells of horse and growing things). I vividly remember a night-time swamp cruise that concluded with a party on an island―reggae music, dancing and lots of Red Stripe beer!

We took a bus eastward to Ocho Rios, famous for its waterfall. Jamaica Ochos Rios That side trip also included a tour of an old plantation, buried in the forest. I remember the sense of the past hovering over those quiet ruins. The country has a bloody history. Britain, Spain and occasionally France all had commercial interests in the island, with its rich soil and strategic location. Slaves labored to produce sugar, coffee and other valuable commodities. Frequent revolts led to draconian responses from the Jamaicans’ colonial masters. Fugitive slaves called Maroons waged guerrilla warfare from the inaccessible, jungle-clad heights.

Later in the week, we traveled to Negril, the westernmost point on the island, where sheer cliffs of lava rock plunge into the turquoise sea. These days Negril has been developed into a major tourist destination, with five star resorts and so on. At that time, it was quite remote, with a couple of thatched roof bars looking out over the ocean and a few simple cottages. After more than thirty years of travel, to every continent except Australia, I still recall the scenery and atmosphere at Negril as extraordinary.

In addition to our sightseeing, we also met some local people: an American woman (whom I’ll call Jill) who was making her living as a performer (dancing with a live boa constrictor!), her Jamaican boyfriend and their social circle. We had the chance to hang out with Jill and her guy in their simple two room house made of concrete blocks, near the railroad tracks in Montego Bay. They didn’t have much, but their whole attitude was laid back. There was always music playing. There was always the scent of ganja in the air. No one seemed to worry about the future. “No problem, man,” was the response to every concern.

Fire in the BloodI started writing Fire in the Blood in response to a call for Halloween vampire stories. I wanted to create something really different. Almost all my stories are set in specific locales―atmosphere plays a big role in setting the scene for me. I thought back to our long ago trip, the sparkling sun of Jamaica and its dark history, and decided that a Jamaican vampire might be just the thing. When the publisher read the resulting tale, they asked me to expand it into a stand-alone book, which will be released on August 16th. The book is all fiction, of course, but it incorporates snippets of my own experience: a trail ride into the mountains, a ruined plantation, a naked midnight swim in the volcanic grottoes of Negril. I like to believe these contributions make the book more vivid. I hope that my readers will agree.

Here’s the blurb for Fire in the Blood
M/M/F vampire erotic romance from Total-E-Bound.

Maddy and Troy hope that a carefree vacation in tropical Jamaica will re-ignite the passion in their five year relationship. On a scenic mountain trail ride, Maddy’s horse bolts and carries her deep into the jungle. Injured and lost, she is saved by a seductive giant of a man whose mere presence kindles unbearable lust. By the time she understands his dark nature, it is far too late for her to escape.

Bitter and alone, Etienne de Rémorcy haunts the forest around the ruined plantation of Fin d’Espoir. He has sworn to never again taste taste human blood, but when slender, raven-haired Madeleine begs him to take her, he cannot resist.

Troy is hugely relieved when Maddy makes her way back to their hotel after her ordeal in the mountains. But he finds her greatly changed―fiercely passionate in bed, restless and disturbed at other times. The tall, elegant stranger he meets on the beach holds the key to her transformation―and soon has seduced Troy as well. Even Etienne’s most potent magic can’t extinguish the fire in Troy’s and Madeleine’s blood.

You can read an excerpt here.

Fire in the Blood goes on sale Aug 16 at Total-E-Bound

Bio

LISABET SARAI has published six novels, two short story collections and dozens of individual tales. She also edits the single-author charity series “Coming Together Presents” and reviews erotica for Erotica Readers and Writers Association and Erotica Revealed. Visit Lisabet online at Lisabet’s Fantasy
Factory and Beyond Romance.

Do you have any questions for Lisabet? Have you visited Jamaica before? Do you like vampires?

Taming Toddlers During Road Trips with Kathleen Dienne

Thursday Thirteen

This week, I have a special guest–Kathleen Dienne, one of my fellow Carina Press authors. When I asked her to do a guest post, she volunteered to do a Thursday Thirteen. I think road trips with children sound quite interesting… :grin: Don’t forget to check out Kathleen’s new release Her Heart’s Divide!

Thirteen Things I Didn’t Know About Road Trips With Small Children

by Kathleen Dienne

Hello, Shelley readers! Your hostess, whose mountain of marvelous books is impressing the socks off this beginning author, was corresponding with me over author resources. She kindly invited me to contribute to this community.

To be honest, I’m kind of awkward in new communities. I didn’t used to be this way, but I decided to go pro with my writing (http://kathleendienne.com) at the exact same time that my sweet and tractable baby decided to become a toddler. As all you working moms (and if we’re moms, we’re working!) can attest, your world can get a little narrow when you’re trying to keep up with everything. I sure appreciate Shelley bringing me out of my cave to meet you :)

After my first book launched last month (Her Heart’s Divide), my husband and I decided to go on a family vacation. We hadn’t taken one since our son was born. We love road trips and living history, so the inaugural family trip was an eight hour drive to Dearborn, Michigan, and the Henry Ford museum and village.

All of you experienced parents are already laughing.

For those of you with no kids, read on.

1. Raisins seem like a wonderful car food, but they are not.

2. Anything that becomes sticky when you grind it into upholstery is a bad car food.

3. Especially bananas.

4. One should not feed a diaper-wearing toddler nothing but fruit for two hours.

5. If a small toy is dropped, you can find it by identifying the one spot no one in the car can reach without pulling over.

6. Every rest stop in Ohio looks identical. This will comfort your toddler and cause him to associate the graceful little dome with “getting out of the car.”

7. A child who sees the little dome as it passes by his window can be astonishingly loud.

8. There are a lot of eighteen-wheelers on our nation’s highways, and a toddler can say “Bye bye big truck!” to every… single… one of them.

9. You don’t think you can sing Old MacDonald’s Farm more than twenty times in a row until you’ve done it.

10. A child who wakes up if an ant sneezes can sleep through a storm beating down so hard that every vehicle on the road is forced to pull over and stop on the shoulder.

11. The hotel’s minifridge is just as fascinating as a costumed interpreter running a loom.

12. It is good to make time for a toddler to just run across a big lawn and shriek with glee.

13. If you’re genuinely trying to keep your kid happy and behaving well, pretty much everyone in the world wants to help you… so let them.

What are your favorite tips for toddler travel? Got any good disasters to share?


Her Heart’s Divide

Lila was a faithful, loyal wife.

Ryan was her sexy, loving husband.

And so was Jack…?

Jack, however, was her boss, not her husband—why was he claiming her as
his own? Lila had been passionately happy with Ryan for more than
seven years. Yes, there’d been a moment when she’d first been attracted to
Jack, but then she’d met his best friend, Ryan. They’d fallen in love and married.
Jack claimed that in his world, their attraction had led to the altar.

And now she was caught between two men—two husbands—in the wildest situation Lila could ever have imagined. But what she wasn’t imagining were the two men touching her, pleasing her, caressing her…

Purchase from Carina Press

Elephant: A Great Way to Travel

Camera Critters

Elephant

My photo this week was taken in Phuket, Thailand.

To see more animal photos visit Camera Critters

A Tick Off The Bucket List

One of the things that hubby and I have wanted to do for ages is drive around in a convertible. We didn’t want just any convertible. We wanted to drive a Mustang convertible. In fact a Mustang was my husband’s dream car when he was a teenager.

Fast forward to our stop in Hilo, Hawaii. We hired a nice fire-engine red Mustang convertible for the day.

Photobucket

It was a gorgeous day, and we had great company (another couple we met on board the Dawn Princess). We drove from Hilo up to the Waipi’o Valley.

Photobucket

Did I mention we drove a Mustang? It was a really smooth ride, and according to hubby, great to drive.

The Waipi’o valley is beautiful – the road ends and you look down on a wide, flat valley. There’s a black sand beach and the surf crashes onto it. Here’s a photo of me (in the hat I purchased at the Sydney Royal Easter show) with the valley behind me.

Photobucket

It was a fun day, and we have one less thing on our bucket list.

What is one thing that’s on your bucket list?

All Roads Lead to Walmart

There were almost 2000 passengers on our cruise ship with most of them coming from Australia. A few days before the ship reached Hawaii, we all started to talk about the excursions we wanted to do while stopping at our four Hawaiian ports.

The number of passengers who said they were going to Walmart astounded me. I mean Hawaii is a beautiful place—one of my favorite island destinations—with so many interesting things to see. Volcanoes. Sea horses. Snorkeling. Whales. Turtles. Gardens. Waterfalls. And the list goes on.

We arrived at Kona (our first stop) and, to my surprise, there was a special bus that transferred people from the ship to the nearest Walmart. Passengers returned to the ship loaded with Walmart shopping bags. Really, in some instances I thought the shopping bags were walking by themselves because I couldn’t see the person carrying them!!

Our next stop was Hilo and the word had spread about the bargains available. Everyone was desperate to visit Walmart, even the crew who wanted to stock up on toiletries and small items etc. It became a sort of a joke on the ship. Have you visited Walmart yet? ( In our defense—we don’t have a shop quite like Walmart in Australia or New Zealand.)

And if you’re wondering, did I visit Walmart? Why yes, I did. Just briefly to get something for my cold and sore throat (to combat the buggy thing I picked up on the ship) and to check out the Sony ereaders. I didn’t stay for long though, since there was a Borders nearby. I left my husband and friends to their wandering in favor of checking out the latest romance releases.

Do you shop at Walmart? And, out of curiosity, what do you tend to purchase there?

Spotlight on Tonga

The first stop of our cruise was the Kingdom of Tonga. The group of islands is known as The Friendly Islands and the people we met were lovely. It was pouring with rain during our day in port, and I have to admit that this wasn’t my favorite destination. Most of the islands are volcanic in origin. We visited Nuku’alofa on Tongatapu and Vava’u. I liked Vava’u best since it was more picturesque. It’s a very popular place with boaties and there were many yachts moored around the port.

Fishing Boat, Tonga

Fishing boat.

Taro, Tonga

Taro, at roadside stall.

Carving, Tonga

Carving outside home in Vava’u.

Flower

Flower after the rain.

Pointy Toilet Paper

During our recent cruise, Edward our stateroom steward used to service our room in the morning and do a turn-down service at night, complete with chocolates on our pillows. As part of his visit to our room he’d make the tissues and the toilet paper pointy. Every time we went into the bathroom, he’d folded the toilet paper to a point.

When we arrived home, I complained to my husband that I wanted to be on holiday again and boo-hoo – my toilet paper wasn’t pointy. I wanted pointy toilet paper!!

I know most hotels and motels make their toilet paper pointy, and I wondered why. It came up in conversation when my brother-in-law and his wife came for dinner a few nights ago. My sister-in-law used to work as a Meticulous Maid and she said they made the toilet paper pointy so they knew they’d cleaned the toilet.

Yesterday I went to the restroom and low and behold, my toilet paper was pointy. I looked around for Edward, who I seriously loved and wanted to bring home with me, but alas the paper folder was my hubby. He knew how much I wanted pointy toilet paper and had crept in and done it for me. He’s such a sweetie, and he definitely made me laugh.

What is your theory on pointy toilet paper? Why do you think the hotel room attendants fold the toilet paper to a point?

The Best Holiday Ever

Thursday Thirteen

Since I’ve just returned from holiday I thought I’d use my Pacific cruise holiday as my topic for this week’s Thursday Thirteen.

Thirteen Things I Did During My Cruise Holiday

1. I tried Line Dancing for the first time ever.

2. I went to my first art auction.

3. I went helmet-diving in Bora Bora, Tahiti. I didn’t think I’d like it, but it was fun looking at the fish face-to-face with nothing but water between us.

4. I went to a series of lectures by a marine biologist and inspiration struck for one of my stories. The lectures were great.

5. I sat under the stars on a lounger, watched some recent movies on the big screen and ate popcorn. My favorite movies were Sherlock Holmes and The Time Traveler’s Wife.

6. I went to the Apple store in Honolulu and played with an iPad. I want one!!

7. I went to the gym every morning.

8. I took some Photoshop classes.

9. I climbed and descended lots and lots of stairs. It was 107 steps from the Patisserie (where I had my mid-morning coffee) to our stateroom and 140 steps to the Horizon buffet at the top of the ship.

10. I went to the casino and donated $5 most nights. Last of the big spenders, that’s me.

11. I met the captain and several of his officers when we visited the bridge. These days the security is high and security guards accompanied us.

12. I went to a theatre show every night and saw singers, dancers, comedians, ventriloquists and magicians. Some were better than others, but my favorites were the Princess singers and dancers with their excellent stage shows.

13. I visited 13 ports and explored Tonga, Tahiti, Hawaii, Samoa, American Samoa and Fiji. We also had two nights in Sydney and attended the Royal Easter show and explored the central city and Darling Harbor.

Your best holiday ever – where did you go?

Back From Holiday

I’m back! The Pacific cruise was wonderful–relaxing, full of new experiences and fun times. Quite frankly, I don’t think I’m ready to face the real world again. In the real world I have to cook, do dishes and make my own bed. Hubby had to drag me onto the plane to fly home from Sydney. Once we emptied the suitcases, the pile of laundry was downright scary, but thankfully that’s almost under control now.

Here’s a sample of what we saw on our holiday. This is the island of Moorea in Tahiti. The photo was taken from the ship. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Moorea sunrise, Tahiti