Who Is Mistral Dawn?

Mistral Dawn is a thirty-something gal who has lived on both coasts of the US but somehow never in the middle. She currently resides in the Southeast US with her kitty cats (please spay or neuter! :-)) where she works as a hospital drudge and attends graduate school. Taken By The Huntsman is her first effort at writing fiction and if it is well received she has ideas for several more novels and short-stories in this series. Please feel free to visit her on FaceBook or drop her a line at mistralkdawn@gmail.com

Friday, April 28, 2017

#NewRelease #Announcement: A #Symphony Of #Heart Strings By T.E. Hodden!

T.E. Hodden:
My story, A Symphony Of Heartstrings, is a return to familiar territory to me. Not just because it is short, romantic, and has a fantastical slant, or because it plays around with the rules and conventions of the Romance Genre (a game some would say I over indulge in), but because in a more literal sense, it is set in London.

I should explain. I grew up in Kent, an hour and a bit from London by train. I can not pretend to be a native to the city, but I have visited, as a tourist, for job interviews, and for work. I have visited often enough that I should have had the sheen dull, and to start to lose the feeling of being awed. But I never quite have. Even as London becomes more familiar, I always know I am just passing through. I have to admit, I am just a little bit in love with the city. It lends itself to Romance.

Symphony is the tale of the man behind the scenes of every Romance you ever read. For hundreds of years he has roamed the city, plucking on the invisible web that binds us all, encouraging all the little coincidences that make the right people bump into each other. In essence it could be in any city. But for me it had to be London. It would be folly to try and explain all the locations and influences in one short blog spot, so instead, I hope you don't mind if I concentrate on just three aspects of the city, that make it resonate quite so perfectly for the genre.

1: Cities in Cities, and wheels within wheels.

You probably know that when we talk about London, we are mostly talking about Greater London, the Metropolitan area. The City of London itself is a square mile, the Square Mile in fact, called the City, and is essentially the financial centre of the UK. Tradition has it that London was founded by an escapee from classical mythology called Brutus. As the city has grown it has consumed other cities, like Westminster, along with towns and villages. Like very many other cities around the world it is this tapestry, this patchwork of influences, that makes London beautiful. Like other cities, it is not just the streets that have their own identities, there are many different cultures within London, from many corners of the world. They have had time to put down roots, and to be woven into the fabric of the city. London is not a city of chimney sweeps and cockneys, it is not a city of one identity, it is a city of people, and of peoples. It is a complex knot of history, culture, myth, legend, and stories. If you try to learn about Jack the Ripper, you will end up learning about sweatshops and Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe. Try to learn about tea, and you will learn about The East India Company, and the Empire.

Start walking from the Houses of Parliament, along the banks of the Thames, and you will see landmarks that are testament to the railway, the Great Fire, the City Of London, the Arts, the Docklands, and a relic of Ancient Egypt. Speaking of which...

2: Free Museums.

There is a reason why so many stories have dates in Museums in London. There are an awful lot of museums, and some of the greatest are absolutely free. You can walk into the British Museum, the Science Museum, or Natural History Museum, and some others, and just start exploring. You have to pay to see some exhibitions, but there is a lot you can see without spending a penny. (You should of course make a donation, or buy something from the gift shop, but... the simple pleasure of history is free to you). They are a legacy of the Victorian age, and more specifically to Prince Albert. He had a grand vision of an area of the city purely for informing, and educating the population. Some would argue that London itself is a museum. There are buildings of all ages, from many different periods, rubbing shoulders and jostling for space. There are strange monuments, statues, blue plaques, and buildings that are scattered through the city. Stray into a park, and you might find concrete dinosaurs, or an observatory. Wander around the river, and you will see a renovated sailing ship, or a retired battle ship. In dark alleys you might find an antique lamp post, or some curious relic of the building of the Underground.

3. The Underground.

I know people who hate the Underground railway system. I love it. I love that many of the stations fit a modern system in antique buildings. I love how quick it is, and I love being able to get from the centre of the city all the way out to Ealing Broadway. I love the map, I love the design, and I love the trains. I hate rush hour with a passion, and will do anything to avoid the crushing crowds, and if I am completely honest, I would rather walk than take a train. But, when you have to use transport, in London I will descend into the labyrinth rather than take a bus or a taxi. I can't quite put a finger on it. I have no reason to assume the trains in New York, or Paris, will be any less charming, or any more comfortable, and lets be completely honest here: Travelling the underground is a "warts and all" kind of experience. But it's one of those things. To me it is one of the threads that makes the city complete. Without it, London would not quite feel the same.

So, there you have it. Three threads in the tapestry, that help make the city fit my story. It is a cliché to say that the city is a character. But it is worth considering things become cliché because they are so often true. I have absolutely no doubt that many of the writers I have the honour of occasionally chatting with, will feel exactly the same about the cities they inhabit with their fictions. I can not claim, and would never claim, that London is any more of a character than Edinburgh, or Paris. I have seen the character of those cities for myself, and I know how vibrant and beautiful they are. I know how well they lend themselves to the stories of others. No. London is not a bigger or better character, it is just one that I know a little of, and that resonates for me.

I hope I have allowed that character to shine through some of my works.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

#APC #Spotlight: #Lust With A #Bite By Brenda Stokes Lee!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I've got Brenda Stokes Lee in my APC spotlight, today!  Brenda is an active and supportive member of the  Authors-Professional Co-op Facebook group and her erotic, paranormal short story, Lust With A Bite, looks great! Here's the description:
Leo and Jan Harmon were very much in love with each other, but sometimes they needed the warmth and comfort of other lovers to keep them passionate and satisfied. Recognizing this early in their relationship, they agreed to maintain an open and honest marriage. They had a unique marriage which allowed them to freely fuck whomever they wished... There was just one stipulation. The other partner had to know about it.

Life held too many wondrous opportunities to share and experience pleasure. So, the Harmons resolved to love without limits, but remain faithful to their commitment to each other. Sex was sex, but what the two of them shared transcended that by miles. This mutual understanding and truth was instrumental in allowing their love for each other and their marriage to grow stronger with each passing year.
Leo was ecstatic when their wealthy neighbors invited to a sexy party. Jan was leery, but the sexy couple graciously accepts. Little do their neighbors know the Harmon’s were hiding a secret. Nor did their hosts know the couple had something a bit more sinister and kinky in mind than wife swapping. Find out what happens when you invite strangers to a sex party.
If you think this sounds like a story you'd enjoy, go ahead and grab your copy here:

Thank you all so much for stopping by! Happy reading! :-)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

#Agent Thoth's #Personal Log: Day 539

Hey Everyone! :-)

Agent Thoth discusses more of the trials and tribulations associated with living with hominids. Incidentally, if you've missed Agent Thoth's earlier entries, you can find them here: Thoth's Journal

Department for the Preservation and Confirmation of Intelligent Life (DPCIL)
Agent Thoth's Personal Log

Day Five-Hundred-Thirty-Nine:
My hominid-servant keeps a collection of paints with which she decorates the epidermis of her face. I consider this a strange habit, but have concluded she feels the need to compensate for her lack of proper facial fur. Many of these paints are stored in containers that make for a pleasant distraction when they are rolled across a flat surface. However, in spite of their tempting form, my hominid-servant has made it abundantly clear that she does not approve of her paint containers being used in such a way.

Today, while I was napping on the lap my hominid-servant recently restored my access to, the infant felid uncovered her store of paint containers. He also discovered the amusement value inherent in their construction and availed himself of it with abandon. The result was the floor covering in my hominid-servant's sleeping chamber becoming irredeemably stained with a multitude of types and colors of paint.

When my hominid-servant discovered the results of the tiny pest's activities, she vocalized extensively in her loudest and shrillest tones and chased the creature from one end of my domicile to the other. I observed the uproar with a sense of both glee and vindication. Once she caught the irritating beast, my hominid-servant locked him in the same small box she uses to express displeasure with my behavior.

Though I know it is petty, I feel a strange satisfaction when I think of his expression when he realized he was unable to escape from the box. Perhaps my extended exposure to the creatures on this backward planet is having a deleterious effect on my maturity level. Still, it remains an undeniably pleasant memory.

Ha! Seems like Agent Thoth is just as immature as the rest of us. ;-) You may have noticed that Agent Thoth has a new look. I hope you like his new picture as much as I do, but I'd love to hear your thoughts, either way. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments. ;-) Happy reading, everyone!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bombing For #Peace...

...is like fucking for virginity.

Hey Everyone!

I'm sure you've all heard that old saying before, and it seems to be particularly relevant now. Honestly, I'm kind of disgusted with the leadership of my country right now, and I'm not really in the mood to write a long rant. So all I'm going to do here is quickly point out a little bit of recent history.

In the 1980s, Reagan helped fund and supply the Mujahideen in Afghanistan so that they could fight the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union left Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden -- you all remember him, right? -- took over that well-armed, well-trained, combat-experienced group of religious warriors and formed the Taliban.  And then in 2001, he used that US-supplied jihadist militia group to carry out the largest foreign-born terrorist attack on US soil since the British burned DC in 1812.

In 2003, the US attacked Iraq and toppled the Hussein government. The excuse for this was that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Then, when that turned out to be false, it was that Hussein was aiding al Qaeda.  Then, when that turned out to be false, it was that Hussein was a bad dude. Well, yeah, Hussein was a bad dude, no question. But when his defeat created a power vacuum, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi rose to fill it. al-Zarqawi organised al Qaeda in Iraq. Later, after al-Zarqawi was killed and a series of other events took place, al Qaeda in Iraq split off and became ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Now, the US under Trump is trying to topple Assad, another bad dude, and is funding and supplying rebel groups in Syria, who are mainly comprised of various jihadist groups including ISIS. At the same time, Trump is bombing ISIS in Afghanistan. The only reason ISIS is in Afghanistan is because they are fighting the Taliban there.

So...given the last forty years, or so, of history concerning US involvement in the Middle East, what would you say the likely result of Trump toppling Syria's bad dude coupled with sticking our nose into the conflict between two Islamic jihadist groups will be? Any guesses?  Personally, I don't think you need a crystal ball to see that it's not likely to be good.

Does that mean I think Assad is good for Syria? No. I don't. I also don't think that it's the US's place to unilaterally decide to remove him from power. If the people of Syria want a different leader, then they certainly have every right to replace him with someone more to their liking. But it's their prerogative to make that decision, not ours.  As for ISIS fighting the Taliban, can anyone tell me why we would want to stop that? They're both enemies of the US, I say let them fight. Maybe they'll get it out of their system and they won't be so eager to send suicide bombers to our shores.  At the very least, it will give them something to think about other than getting revenge on America.

Anyway, that's my two-cents worth.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Something Worth Watching?

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I'm back today with another video I wanted to share. This shows a clip of an interview with Bernie Sanders and Tom Perez, and I think the host's analysis is spot-on. Please take a few minutes to watch it, and I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. :-)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

#Crockpot #Strawberry #Jam #Recipe!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

Since it's springtime and the strawberries are starting to ripen, I thought I'd share my easy, crock-pot strawberry jam recipe. Enjoy! :-)

4 lbs fresh strawberries
3 tbsp fruit pectin
1.5 cups sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

Wash the strawberries, remove their stems, and cut them in half. Then place the halved strawberries, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice in your crock-pot, stir together, and cook on high for three hours. Use a potato masher to mash up the strawberries. Transfer the jam into the container, or containers, you want to store it in, and then place it uncovered in the refrigerator to cool. Cover and store in the refrigerator or freezer to avoid spoilage.

Now, go get your jam on! ;-)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

#Spring Into #Reading #Giveaway! $100 #Cash #Grand #Prize! #Free To #Enter!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

There's a new giveaway for spring!  Please take a moment to check out the Spring Into Reading Giveaway!!  There are lots of awesome books and prizes!! :-)  It's free to enter, there are over 60 prizes, and the grand prize is $100 cash payable through PayPal!! :-)  Now isn't that worth taking a few minutes to check out? ;-)   Here are all the details:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much for stopping by today!  And don't forget to check back tomorrow for the next installment of Mistral Dawn's Musings! :-)