Here is a little bit about Shelley -
Do you enjoy stories that are based on fact or do you enjoy stories that are pure fiction best?
Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand and loves to write about feline shapeshifters. To learn more about Scarlet Woman and the other stories in Shelley’s Middlemarch Mates series, read excerpts, see family trees and other background information visit her website.
Read till the end of the guest blog for a peek into Shelley's new book 'Scarlet Women' and to enter the contest!
Hi! My name is Shelley Munro, and I’m here to talk about my feline shapeshifter book, Scarlet Woman.
From the moment I saw an article in the New Zealand Herald about sightings of a mystery black cat in Canterbury, South Island, I knew it would make a good story. I cut out the article and kept it for about three years while I wrote about other things such as talking dogs, aliens and military men. It wasn’t until I saw a human interest story on our local television about a small South Island town called Middlemarch that I recalled the cat article. Evidently, the town of Middlemarch had a severe shortage of females and to help the young farmers and other men in the area find partners, the town intended to organize a dance.
The two ideas blended inside my head and a story idea bloomed about a community of leopard shifters who lived in Middlemarch and suffered from a shortage of women of marriageable age.
The first book in the series, Scarlet Woman, was one of the most difficult stories I’ve ever written. It started life as a short story. My editor liked it but thought there was too much story for the length I’d written. She suggested that I lengthen it, which I did, although my characters kicked up a fuss. So did my muse. I’m pleased I persevered because it’s now one of my favorite stories.
I’m currently working on the ninth book in my Middlemarch Mates series. I’m not sure why I enjoy writing about feline shifters so much. Maybe it’s because my husband isn’t a cat fan and we have a dog instead. My cat of choice is the black leopard, although both lions and tigers have recently arrived in my Middlemarch stories.
Here are a few leopard facts:
• Leopards are the most widespread of all big cats.
• They are also the most secretive.
• They live in different habitats ranging from rocky country to savannah lands and forests.
• Leopards are nocturnal and hunt at night.
• They usually sleep all day in a tree.
• Their spotted coat is excellent camouflage in the patchwork of light and shade in the forest.
• A leopard’s spots are actually small rosettes.
• Leopards are loners and only come together to mate.
• The mother brings up the cubs until they can fend for themselves.
• They are built for bursts of speed and for climbing trees.
• They have strong jaws, chests and front legs and can move an animal as big as themselves.
• Leopards like to ambush their prey, waiting in a tree for an animal to walk underneath.
• Leopards drag their meals up into trees to keep it safe.
• Black leopards are often called panthers. They are the same species, but their spots blend with their dark coat. They are more common in Asia.
In my Middlemarch series, I’ve taken some of the above facts to use in my stories and also given my own personal twist. Middlemarch leopards mate for life and they are a close knit community. They’re alpha characters but are putty in the hands of the right woman. To learn about the real town of Middlemarch, where the dance takes place on a yearly basis because the first was so successful, follow this link. http://www.middlemarch.co.nz
Thanks for having me to visit today.
Excerpt from Scarlet Woman:
Maggie’s brow crinkled in distress. “You’re not the Emily Scarlet I know. I don’t think Michael—”
“Michael is dead.”
Pain darkened Maggie’s face. “It’s only been six months. Don’t you think you should take some more time before you make changes?”
Emily bit back the cutting reply that leapt to the tip of her tongue. Michael had cheated. He’d lied. The morning of the car accident, Michael had told her he intended to leave her for his secretary. Boring little Emily didn’t compare favorably with the glamorous Tessa. Too frumpy. Too predictable for Michael’s taste. He hadn’t even given her a chance!
Impotent anger grew when she replayed the painful scene. Emily gripped her black clutch bag so tightly the box of condoms inside buckled beneath the pressure of her fingers and the cellophane wrapping gave a telltale crackle. She relaxed her grip and inhaled slowly, trying to push away the ugly past.
Bottom line. He hadn’t loved her.
Emily fixed a smile on her mouth. She didn’t want to argue with Maggie or blurt out the truth about Michael in a burst of temper. Not after keeping quiet and protecting the family’s illusions for all this time. They had loved Michael, and she wasn’t about to hurt the people she cared for even if their son and brother was a dirty, cheating scumbag. She’d suffered enough for them all.
Emily spied a tall, dark-haired man standing with a group just inside the flower-bedecked marquee. Her gaze strolled the length of his body, coming to rest on a very touchable butt. She sighed with appreciation and wished he’d turn around so she could check the whole package. He remained standing with his ass pointing in her direction. Delectable. She put him on her mental list and glanced back at Maggie. “Coming to Middlemarch is about having fun.”
The line moved forward and Emily tugged two tickets from the depths of her clutch bag before draping the long strap over her shoulder.
“It’s all about sex,” Maggie snapped. “They have a shortage of women in Middlemarch. I’ve read the papers. This isn’t a dance. It’s a meat market.”
“Yeah, great, isn’t it?” Emily chuckled, attracting the attention of the same group of men she’d just ogled. She winked at them before turning back to Maggie. “You didn’t have to come with me. I told you I was happy to come on my own. I promised to turn into a pumpkin at midnight, catch the train back to Dunedin and stumble into a taxi at the other end, tired and all danced out like a good Cinderella. But you insisted on coming. The least you can do is enjoy yourself. Dance. Let your hair down. Come on, you know you love to dance.”
“I don’t know you in this mood. You’ve changed.”
Laughing, Emily gave Maggie a quick, reassuring hug. “I’m just the same. And tonight we’ll dance the night away with some cute country boys before heading back to the big, bad city. Okay?” She handed over their tickets with a bright smile toward the elderly woman sitting behind the wooden desk at the entrance to the marquee. Maggie was right. She had changed. She wasn’t the same doormat Michael had walked all over before discarding. No longer the little homemaker. The drudge.
This Scarlet woman planned on having a little fun.
Shelley has said that the winner of this weeks contest can choose any e-book download from her Middlemarch Mates series. All in all there are eight books to choose from. So if you haven't had the pleasure of reading any of her work you can start at the beginning! If you already know her work and want to get the next title...well that is ok too!
To enter you need to check out some of Shelley's free reads here and check out the series guide here! Then tell us which of Shelley's books interests you the most or say what you thought of one of her stories!
No Interest = No entry!
Earn another entry for each place you link this contest on the net. You can post of Facebook, Twitter & MySpace but make sure you add links here for me to confirm your entries!
You can also earn extra entries by emailing your friends about the contest. Just make sure you send a copy of your email or receipt to me at Amberkatzes_book_blog at gmx dot net.
Keep the contests going by using the Amazon links below and around the site!
The contest will stay open until Sunday 14th of February 2010 4pm CET and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.