Guest Blogger — Shelley Munro

Earthquakes, Art Deco Napier and New Zealand

Earthquakes have been in the news recently in my home country of New Zealand, since another large one struck Seddon in the South Island yesterday. Aftershocks rippled through the region and into the Wellington area of the North Island. Luckily for me, I live in Auckland and have yet to experience the earth moving in this manner. We have fields of volcanoes in my city, but that’s another blog post!

Napier-Masonic Hotel exteriorBack in 1931 at 10:47am an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the seaside town of Napier in the North Island of New Zealand. Fires broke out and soon destroyed the buildings that had survived the earthquake. 157 people died in Napier due to the earthquake and the resulting fires.

Instead of rebuilding the Victorian-style town immediately, the locals formed a planning committee and made a careful plan for their new town. After much research, they decided to build in the new Art Deco style. This was a practical decision because the buildings were square in shape and robust. Most desirable should there be another earthquake! The Art Deco style was also cheap to build, which was a must in the current economical climate of the depression. The third reason for choosing Art Deco was that it was very fashionable.

Napier-Colenso BuildingThe Market Reserve building was the first of the new Art Deco style structures to be constructed after the quake. The builders were instructed to use rivets on the steel frame instead of welding in the normal method. The planning committee wanted as much noise as possible to send a message of hope to the residents. Rebuilding had commenced!

These days Napier is a modern town, but the Art Deco buildings remain as a feature and bring lots of tourists to the area. My hero and heroine in my contemporary romance, One Night of Misbehavior visited the Napier area for a weekend, and like me, the heroine rather liked the plain, blocky style of the buildings and the decoration that comes from intricate zigzags, starbursts and Egyptian and Mayan designs on the facades.

Napier-MusiciansMy hero and heroine visit the Art Deco store to purchase clothes to wear to a 1920s costume party. The Art Deco flavor of Napier is enhanced with music, souvenirs, cars and costumes. Even the fountain is an Art Deco design to blend with the town buildings. Visitors can take a walking tour around the different buildings or do a self-guided tour. It’s a pleasant walk with lots of cafes and pubs along the way when you require a break. There’s also a long stretch of beach to amble along, and if you’re a fan of wine, the local wine-growing region shouldn’t be missed.Napier-vintage car

If you’re ever down this end of the world, I highly recommend a visit to Napier, or if a trip to New Zealand isn’t on the cards, grab one of my New Zealand set books and do some armchair traveling instead. J

New Zealand is a beautiful country. If you were to visit New Zealand what part would you visit first? What would you like to do first?

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Shelley Munro is tall and curvaceous with blue eyes and a smile that turns masculine heads everywhere she goes. She’s a university tutor and an explorer/treasure hunter during her vacations. Skilled with weapons and combat, she is currently in talks with a producer about a television series based on her world adventures.

Shelley is also a writer blessed with a VERY vivid imagination and lives with her own hero in New Zealand. She writes mainly erotic romance in the contemporary, paranormal and historical genres for publishers Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing. You can learn more about Shelley and her books at the following links:

WEBSITE: http://www.shelleymunro.com

BLOG: http://www.shelleymunro.com/blog

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/ShelleyMunroAuthor

GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/ShelleyMunro

PINTEREST: http://www.pinterest.com/ShelleyMunro

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/ShelleyMunro

NEW ZEALAND SET BOOKS: http://www.shelleymunro.com/books-by-theme/#newzealandsetting

 

One Night, FINAL200x300Shelley’s Latest book: One Night of Misbehavior

He wears his scars on the outside. She keeps hers safe inside.

Charlotte Dixon ignores her stepmother’s edict and, in an act of disobedience, attends one of the social events of the year—a masquerade costume ball. Charlotte’s naughtiness escalates when she dances and smooches with a sexy mystery man. The night of anonymous passion that follows makes her yearn for a different life, but the next day she’s back to her dull routine of household management.

Advertising tycoon, Ash Marlborough is about to set a private investigator on the trail of his nameless princess when she waltzes right into his place of work. Charlotte is shocked to meet her masked man in the flesh, and even more perturbed when he asks her out on a date. Despite craving another night of sexy loving, she doesn’t have time for a man, not when she wants to reinvent herself and grasp a new, improved life with both hands. But Ash knows what he wants, and he’s determined to win the heart of his princess. Let the dance of seduction commence.

Warning: Contains a conniving stepmother, selfish stepsisters, a grandmother with fairy godmother tendencies and a sexy masked man who is willing to face them all for the love of a good woman.

Purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CB8801A

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Travel vs. Moving

I love to travel, which is probably a good thing, because I’ve spent all my life moving, from one place to another. I’m going to give the short blog, list version of my travels….

Long Island to Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fort Lauderdale to Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids to Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh to Manila, Phillippines [a side trip to see the Pope and visit distant family there]–a once in a lifetime opportunity that I earned by writing an essay. Paid-for-trip by the Knights of Columbus… I always stick a dollar in their Tootsie Roll fundraising. 😀

In here, I travelled the country with a mission group, stopping in many states of the western side of the United States–MN, WI, KS, OK, TX, NM, CA, CO…

Pittsburgh to Fairfax, VA

Fairfax to Steubenville, OH [for college, where I got married]

Steubenville to Denver, CO [for husband’s post-grad]

Denver to Steubenville, OH [back to our old stomping ground to start off “real life”] ***also where I started writing!!

Steubenville to Fairfax, VA [where we lived with my parents and husband studied for the CPA exam]

Fairfax to Decatur, IL

….and then we joined the ARMY! haha.

Moving vs. Travelling

There are always two sides of the moving coin. The excitement of starting off new, of tweaking behavior, trying something different. And the sadness of leaving friends and family behind. I think what I love about moving around so much is the chance to grow more roots, make new friends. Find something different to make my life fuller. Maybe the truth is…I’m not much of a traveller at all. I like being home. Maybe that’s why I’m destined to move so much.

Now, if I could just get the Army to move us to Belize! or Ireland! or Spain–for a season! 😀 Have a great weekend, folks. Enjoy where you are.

And don’t forget to comment for a chance to win this month’s prize.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

It’s All About The Experience, Right?

California.Lake

Campsite views

Sometimes a travel idea just doesn’t work out exactly like I planned.

When my boys were little I thought it would be a great experience to go tent camping in the mountains of southern California. In my mind I had visions of campfires, hikes and relaxing by the lake.

The reality? It was over 90 degrees, our campsite was perched on the side of the mountain where the ground was so hard, my husband broke three of our tent spikes just putting up the tent. The incline of our site was so steep, if I could have found a rope to tether my kids to a tree, I would have. We couldn’t go boating on the lake BECAUSE it was 90 degrees and they only had aluminum boats for rent. Fried children on the lake – no thanks.

But it’s an experience we won’t forget.

Tubing on the Colorado River, Yuma, Arizona

Tubing on the Colorado River, Yuma Arizona

A few years later I was talked into another trip I thought my boys would love…boating on the Colorado River in Yuma Arizona.

The night we pulled into town it was 103 degrees at 8pm!

Not being a water girl, I planned to spend my days under an umbrella on the shoreline with my young daughter while the boys and hubby did their water-skiing and boating.

When the temperature climbed to 116…the water started looking good, even to me. At which point I was talked into tubing.

Another experience I won’t forget.

Whether we write small town contemporary romances, paranormals, historicals, time travels or romantic suspense, there is always an adventure to be had. There is always something that our characters experience that adds to the fabric of their backstory or their current journey toward their HEA.

Over the years I’ve touched electrified fences in Amish country (because I didn’t believe they would HAVE electrified fences!) I’ve walked down a mountain in Vermont carrying my skis after running over my husband and he had to be taken down the mountain by snow-mobile stretcher. I’ve watched my kids swim with sharks off a LaJolla cove because I was too chicken to join them. And all those memories of adventures are sitting there waiting to be used in a story somewhere.

Because life really is all about the experience.

Have a funny experience you can share with me? Your comment just might win you a free digital download from the Decadent Tease line!

 

About Debora Dennis

A believer in second chances and that time should never be an obstacle to finding love, Debora writes time travels with modern snark and spice! When she's not writing, she's spending time with her family, reading or trying to figure out a way to get chocolate into every dish she serves.

Traveling Romance

ArizonaIf you subscribe to this sort of thing, I must have been a nomad in another life. I just can’t wait to find out what’s over the next hill. Or see what the shining lights are across that stretch of plains. If I’m home too long, I get the itch to travel. I get grouchy. I feel deprived. Weird, huh?

But I never leave home without my trusty ereader loaded with my latest TBR’s. After all, there might be some down time. It would be a shame to waste it not reading.

I read my first romance at twelve. It was Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I’m fairly certain it was the first thing I read that included any descriptions of England, islands, pirates, ball gowns and the way someone else might have lived that was so different from the way I lived. It truly swept me away. I’m still awed by the work she put into her novels. Although it wasn’t written for my age group, her attention to detail, her vivid and thorough descriptions were captivating. As a published author, thinking about them still makes me go, wow!

San FranciscoAnd when I travel, I try to catch those little details that will bring my work to life. The way one small town differs from another, the way one big city is so opposite another. The architecture, the landscaping, the town squares or skyscrapers, and the accents of the citizens. I look at houses or buildings and wonder who lives or works there. I want each thread carefully woven together to resonate with readers in the same manner as hers did with me.

SONY DSCBefore I could afford to travel, I went lots of places through romance novels. People can scoff as much as they want, but if all of the writers I know are any indication, you can pretty much count on the settings being based in reality, and the details being accurate. Not that we don’t have our way with a plot thread, but it is fiction after all. When I think of reading or writing, I think of big sweeping stories, and grand adventures that change lives. But with that grand adventure, I want the details that bring the setting to life.

The novels I’ve written thus far are set in America because that’s the place I’m most familiar with. I won’t say it’s easy, but it’s comfortable. And it’s a big, diverse place. Every time I travel I come up with more ideas for stories. I’m constantly taking pictures out the car window to keep for inspiration.SONY DSC

Do you have a favorite location you enjoy reading or writing about?

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for this month’s swag!

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in the hills of Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City, in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

Where’s your writing spot?

DSC_0149.JPGStop!

Take a deep breath.

Do you smell the air? The scent of flowers teasing your nose or maybe the aroma of barbeque floating from the nearby street stands?

Do you hear the sounds of the rolling waves? Or the toot of the ship docking by the pier?

DSC00772How about the stillness of mountains? Or do you feel the texture of sand between your toes?

Now reach for that drink…and open your eyes.

It’s amazing where your imagination may take you but wouldn’t the real thing be so much better?

I’ve traveled so much in the past few years and find that different places have sparked different ideas for my writing. No matter where I go, my imagination always brings me back to Hawaii–to the white beaches, blue waters, sweet smell of ocean air, and corn grilling on stands on the side of the road.

Depending on my mood, I always find that I write best when I can relax and push all my everyday life worries out of my mind. Yes, it may take a lot of wine for that to happen, but Hawaii has always given me that freedom to let my muse run buck wild.

I love sitting on the beach with my notebook and spending the afternoon plotting or lounging on my back porch with my laptop while I watch the sunset. Sometimes I used to walk the golf course in my backyard and count the exotic birds that would stop by or fly above my head while I’m outlining my stories in my mind (Of course, I’m running away the minute I know they see me…).

DSC01047I miss the days of peace and quiet, of being able to take the time for myself. Whether or not I’m still in Hawaii, my mind always brings me back to where I’ve found the most joy and peace.

So go on that trip you’ve always wanted to and venture to wherever your heart brings you. Experience it. Say it’s research.

Find your writing spot. Where do you envision it to be? Where do you most want to go?

Mine would have hot men climbing trees down the street…

DSC00750

 

About Clarissa Yip

Constantly on the run, Clarissa leads the life of adventure and mischief. When she's not getting herself in trouble, she's usually busy studying the art of eating and curling up with a good book or spending numerous hours reading and writing. It's really hard to find her in one place for too long...

Guest Post — Gina Conkle

How Do You Feel About Adventures?

Years ago my oldest son asked that question while we ran errands.  He was near the end of kindergarten and summer stretched before us. But, his simple question started a family tradition that we all love — The Adventure List.

Every summer and Christmas break, our family makes a wish list of things we want to do on poster-sized paper.  Sometimes our quests are simple: see the latest superhero movie, day at the fair, or go-karts.

Once in a while, we get brave and go big.

Our latest plan?  Tallinn, Estonia for Christmas!

Maybe you’re scratching your head…Estonia-where?  Then you consult a map and see how close Estonia is to the Arctic-freakin’-Circle!

But here’s a few gems to consider:

iStock_000011311558Small-Tallinn Old Market Square decorated for Christmas*Tallinn, Estonia’s home to one of Europe’s best preserved medieval old towns.  Why not celebrate the holiday at the Christmas Market on Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square) decorated for the season in Middle Ages style?

Tallin_Tavern*Need to keep warm? Try Black Pepper Schnapps in one of Europe’s oldest still-in-business taverns.  That ceiling? It’s over 700 years old.

*Like variety? Explore a multi-cultural mix of architecture: German built castles, Russian Onion Dome churches, and Baroque Kadriog Palace (when Peter the Great ran Estonia) all in the same city.  But, if that’s not old enough for you…

Old town of Tallinn Estonia*Talinn’s Old Town is 62 square miles of antiquity ready to be explored.  A UNESCO site, the Old Town boasts archaic shops with people still living in medieval buildings.  And the pharmacy? Opened in 1422 and famed for everything from marzipan to “powdered unicorn horn” (for male potency)! Even Russian Tsars ordered medicine from that very shop.

iStock_000004151112Small-Pepper Pot turrets, Tallinn*Do you like wi-fi and a cappuccino with your history? Tallin’s counted among the top ten digital cities in the world. You can experience the past with present comforts. While sipping your hot beverage, meander past pepper pot turrets, architecture that was all the rage in castle building from the 13th century through the Renaissance.

 

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral*But if that’s not old enough for you, learn about war-like Oeselians (Estonian Vikings) whose relics are thankfully found only in museums.  Ptolemy wrote about them in Geography III (2nd century BC), and famed Viking skald Snorri Sturluson recorded their antics in Norse Sagas.

Now, we’re getting to time periods I love.

Archaeologists recently uncovered a rich Viking grave site (a two ship burial) on the Estonian island of Saaremaa, and I plan to visit those Norse artifacts in toasty, warm Tallinn museums.

Not a bad list of offerings for a place once described by a Muslim cartographer as “a small town.”

Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes, but sometimes going off the beaten path yields the best treasures.

What’s on your Adventure List?

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19129_255294294601511_2017641803_n_(397x349)Gina’s a lover of history, books and romance, which makes the perfect recipe for historical romance writer.  Her passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations.  Good thing her husband and two sons share similar passions, except for romance…that’s where she gets the eye roll.  When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found in southern California delving into the latest adventures of organic gardening and serving as chief taxi driver.

On my website: http://ginaconkle.com/

On twitter: https://twitter.com/ginaconkle

On Facebook: http://on.fb.me/180kL1y

On Pinterest: http://bit.ly/180l9gu

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Norse_Jewel-800pxDon’t miss Gina’s Latest release, Norse Jewel

A stolen woman of rare qualities…
Helena, a captive woman, wants her freedom. The Frankish maid wasn’t born a slave but marauding Danes have taken her and she’s desperate to escape their camp.  Her savior comes as a fierce Norse chieftain, Hakan, who takes her far north.

A hard Norseman who’s lived by the sword…
Hakan wants to lay down his sword and live a peaceful farmer’s life. Betrayal left him cold to other women, yet his heart thaws to clever Helena. She lures him with kindness, weaving happiness that’s short lived. Deceit and old loyalties vex the warrior, calling upon his sword arm.

A clash of cultures amidst a kingdom in transition…
War erupts…a kingdom’s in the balance. Can Hakan defend his homeland and save the woman he loves?

 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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