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

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Scorching #Reads #Summer #Giveaway! $100 #Cash #Grand #Prize! #Free To #Enter!


Hey Everyone!! :-)

There's a new giveaway for Summer!  Please take a moment to check out the Scorching Reads Summer Giveaway!!  There are lots of awesome books and prizes!! :-)  It's free to enter, there are over 66 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! :-)





Friday, August 30, 2019

How Long Can We Play Russian Roulette Before We Lose?


Hey Everyone!!

I watched the National Geographic series, The Hot Zone, a couple months ago. I had read the book when I was a kid along with another book by the same author, The Demon in the Freezer. And I'll get it out of the way, as good as the series was, the book was better. But watching the series reminded me of something I wrote a couple of years ago when there was a lot of speculation in the news about the healthcare legislation the Republicans were so ashamed of that they had to hide it from the American people for weeks. It occurred to me at the time that, in this country, we have set up the perfect set of circumstances to ensure that the next time a dangerous pathogen pops up, it will turn into a runaway epidemic virtually overnight.

There are millions of people with no health insurance, and millions more with such shoddy insurance that they might as well have no insurance. And all those people probably won't go to the doctor when they get sick. Because who wants to bankrupt themselves to be told they have the flu, drink plenty of liquids and stay in bed? Especially when staying home from work isn't an option if they want to keep their jobs. Because those tend to be the same people who have little to no sick time and bosses who are anything but understanding when it comes to illness. So they'll likely go to work anyway. And their jobs probably either involve direct contact with the public or working in a closely-packed cubicle environment, possibly even sharing a desk with one or more co-workers. All of which will give the pathogen plenty of opportunities to spread.

And, remember, once those sick people start making their way to emergency rooms, no one will know what's going on, at first. I've worked in a hospital laboratory; I've seen first-hand how often sanitary procedures are neglected by overworked, under-staffed hospital personnel when handling specimens that contain biohazardous material. After all, if you're an ER nurse and your patient is bleeding out, and the doctor is screaming for test results, are you going to take the few extra seconds to check to make absolutely sure the specimen container is properly closed and sealed in a plastic bag before sending it through the pneumatic tube system? Every single time? Even after you've worked your fifth 14-hour shift in a row on your feet the whole time? All it takes is one mistake where infectious material leaks and becomes aerosolized. And, again, no one will know what they're dealing with at the beginning.

Then there are all the cuts in budgets for government agencies and the appointment of people whose only goals are to dismantle the agencies they've been put in charge of. Something the current administration excels at and has made a habit of. So, any efforts by public health personnel to institute containment protocols will be severely understaffed and underfunded, and will also lack competent leadership and direction.

Periodic outbreaks of disease are inevitable. Microorganisms evolve constantly and, eventually, something will manifest that is dangerous to human beings. The first few days, weeks, and months in dealing with an emerging infection are crucial in determining whether or not it can be contained. Proper monitoring, which health professionals are a big part of, and swift and effective mobilization of resources can be the difference between a handful of cases and a pandemic.

No one can predict what the next deadly outbreak will be caused by. It could be something as familiar to us as a particularly virulent strain of influenza, something known but uncommon like ebola virus, something that makes its way into new territory thanks to climate change expanding the territory of a vector species like hemorrhagic dengue fever, or something we've never seen before. But what should be obvious to everyone is that, right now, we have such a perfect storm situation for a public health disaster that it almost sounds like the plot for a movie or a book. If it wasn't so terrifying it would be hilarious.





Thursday, August 29, 2019

#APC #Spotlight: Sigrun (Bandamann Saga Book 1) By Deidre Mapstone!


Hey Everyone!! :-)

I've got Deidre Mapstone in my APC spotlight, today! Deidre is an active and supportive member of the  Authors-Professional Co-op Facebook group and her young adult, family history, Atlantis, fantasy novel, Transitory, looks great! Here's the description:
The Lundgrens own and operate Sigrun: A family restaurant on the shores of Mount Desert Island, Maine. They are a hard working, every day, American family. But like every family, they have their secrets, some stranger than others. The way these secrets unfold may surprise you. 
Their tale begins with a familial ease considered unique to most, but their seemingly perfect relationships are ordinary compared to what hides beneath the surface.
 If you think this sounds like something you might enjoy, go ahead and grab your copy here:


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



Wednesday, August 28, 2019

#Agent Thoth's #Personal Log: Day 995


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 Nine-Hundred-Ninety-Five:
The juvenile felid has, I believe, been attempting to renegotiate the hierarchy of our domestic arrangement. His actions indicate that he seeks to assume dominance over me, and I believe this is due to his desire to establish unchallenged control of the baubles. Anytime I enter the space beneath my hominid-servant’s sleeping platform, he growls and hisses. His verbal discontent isn’t aimed directly at me, as he refuses to make eye contact with me when he does it, but its occurrence does correlate with my proximity to the bauble stash he maintains.

The little idiot has also taken to ambushing me at random intervals as I move through my domicile. During these attacks, the tiny pest makes every effort to force me onto my back and pin me down. Thus far, he has refrained from engaging in true violence during these wrestling matches. Though, I’m uncertain if this is because he does not wish to escalate the matter that far or if he is simply afraid of my hominid-servant's reaction to actual bloodshed.

For her part, my hominid-servant rarely takes note of the diminutive annoyance’s actions, and when she does it is only to deploy the H2O spray against us both. I find this lack of concern to be most aggravating because the youthful moron’s behavior is wreaking havoc on my ability to conduct my research. Naturally, as I am the most superior life form on this planet, the possibility of actually submitting to my irrational companion is out of the question. So, it seems I am doomed to be plagued by this foolishness until the ridiculous nincompoop loses interest.


Arrrgh!! A pox on unruly felids! ;-) 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, August 27, 2019

Comparing And Contrasting...


Hey Everyone!! :-)

Here's a little bit more of the third installment in the Petri Dish Chronicles! As always, the disclaimer is that this is a draft and, as such, it's unedited and likely full of errors and is subject to revision, revamping, and being completely scrapped and rewritten. But, with that in mind, I'm reasonably satisfied with the basics of it, at least at the moment, or I wouldn't have bothered posting it. Enjoy! :-)

Excerpt from the third Petri Dish book:
Life on Zanzibar was similar to life on Upworld in some regards. There were spectator sports that provided quasi-violent entertainment similar to, but less than, what the snuff houses in Under City had offered. Participants in the sports might be injured, but there were rules and protections in place, with medical treatment given afterwards. And anyone who participated did so of their own, free will. There were mind and mood-altering substances available for the populace to amuse themselves with, but they were manufactured under carefully controlled and regulated conditions with strict adherence to guidelines regarding potency, so the often extreme and bizarre side effects suffered by the customers of the dust houses on Upworld were absent. Zanzibar had its dollies, but they were unionized and protected under the law. A world that guaranteed sex workers rights was a particularly pleasant surprise for Petri. All the same drives and desires were present, Petri guessed they were just universal to most intelligences, but they were all just…softened. All the harsh, hard edges of things on Upworld had been rounded and smoothed on Zanzibar.

It had taken her a while to figure out why, when people clearly wanted the same things, there was such a difference between the two worlds. But it wasn’t until she spent several weeks wandering the streets of Zang, Zanzibar’s capital city, that the reason dawned on her. There were no real slums here. There were parts of the city that had larger homes and other parts of the city that had smaller homes, parts of the city where the apartment buildings were older than the buildings in some of the other parts of the city, but everything was well-maintained and in good repair. And the city was clean. Not just free of garbage littering the ground, but truly clean. The air was fresh and free of pollutants, the water was pure and sweet, and there were no vermin infesting the structures or streets.

The people themselves were taken care of as well. There were no sick or injured people to be found lying in gutters or alleyways waiting for time or those who preyed upon the weak to end their suffering. Everyone had a home and enough to eat. People who required medical assistance were taken to hospitals and received the treatment they needed.

It wasn’t that it was impossible for people on Zanzibar to have bad luck or make bad choices and end up in trouble; it was that there was a limit to how deep that trouble could get. The society the people on Zanzibar had created provided a safety net to catch those who stumbled on their path in life. There were still rich people and people who were not rich, but no one on this planet was destitute. And since there were no deep pits for people to drag themselves out of, it was much easier for those who wanted to work to pull themselves up the ladder of success.






Monday, August 26, 2019

Something Worth Watching?


Hey Everyone!! :-)

I'm back today with another video I wanted to share. This dropped a couple of weeks ago, but I thought it was worth sharing. Our man, Bernie, had a chat with Cardi B to talk about the issues that her fans want to know about. It's a fun discussion, but also substantive, and I think you'll all probably enjoy it. Peace!





Sunday, August 25, 2019

Smoothie Out Your Week #Recipe!



Hey Everyone!! :-)

Today, I thought I'd share one of my favorite summertime breakfasts.

Ingredients:
2 cups unflavored Greek yogurt
2 tbsp honey
1/2 banana sliced and frozen
1.5 cups frozen mixed berries (your choice of berries)
1/8 tsp salt

Put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If it's too thick, add a splash of orange juice to thin it out. Serve in a tall glass and refrigerate any leftovers. If you'd like to turn this into an after-dinner, adult beverage, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your favorite liqueur. Cointreau works wells, as does limoncello.

Bon Appetit!



Saturday, August 24, 2019

Scorching #Reads #Summer #Giveaway! $100 #Cash #Grand #Prize! #Free To #Enter!


Hey Everyone!! :-)

There's a new giveaway for Summer!  Please take a moment to check out the Scorching Reads Summer Giveaway!!  There are lots of awesome books and prizes!! :-)  It's free to enter, there are over 66 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! :-)





Friday, August 23, 2019

Exciting #Opportunity! #Halloween #Giveaway Signup!


Hey Everyone!! :-)

If you're a fellow author and/or blogger, and you'd like the opportunity to grow your social media following without spending a lot of $$$ on advertising, check out the details in the image above. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, click the link below and answer the questions. Happy writing! :-)

Thursday, August 22, 2019

#APC #Spotlight: Emergence: A Space Opera (Hypostasis Book 1) By McCallum J. Morgan!


Hey Everyone!! :-)

I've got McCallum Morgan in my APC spotlight, today! McCallum is an active and supportive member of the  Authors-Professional Co-op Facebook group and his space opera, action, adventure, sci-fi novel, Emergence, looks great! Here's the description:
I await thee, Iara—the Book of Elem 
A planet said to be heaven itself is about to appear in the firmament. The armies of the Empire and rebel factions prepare to stake their claims but an ancient evil has emerged and its eyes have been fixed upon Iara for millennia. 
A runaway and a cult apprentice will both find themselves drawn into the core of this conflict. Their destinies are tangled with those of the Empire, the rebellion, the Church of Elem, a menagerie of monsters, and the universe itself.
Heresy, fellowship, valor, and darkness will all emerge—and be tested to the breaking point.
If you think this sounds like something you might enjoy, go ahead and grab your copy here:


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



Wednesday, August 21, 2019

#Agent Thoth's #Personal Log: Day 982


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 Nine-Hundred-Eighty-Two:
The local weather patterns continue to become increasingly turbulent. This planet is deep within the portion of its revolution around the local star where the part of the planet on which I am stationed typically experiences the highest temperatures. As a result, the convection currents in the atmosphere have an excess of kinetic heat energy fueling them. Unfortunately, this has translated into violent storms that have caused quite a bit of destruction to the property owned by the local hominids.

Thus far, I have been fortunate in that my own domicile has escaped damage. However, my hominid-servant has been kept busy, of late, in providing aid to those who have not been so lucky. Since anthropogenic climate change is clearly responsible for the exacerbation of extreme weather, I would have thought my hominid-servant might be prompted to discuss the matter further. But, so far, there have been no obvious signs that the connection has occurred to her. I will continue to monitor the situation and report back on any further developments.


Poor Thoth, he's surrounded by the obtuse. ;-) 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, August 20, 2019

Is That A Bubbler?


Hey Everyone!

Today, I've got a story for you. The story is from my youth but, unlike most of those years, this was some time that wasn't misspent. It's a little long, so please bear with me; I promise there's a point. ;-)

When I was a teenager, I had a kitty that got hit by a car. His jaw was badly broken and he needed surgery to repair it. Since I was just a kid, I didn't have the $1,000+ it cost for the surgery and the several days of care he required at the veterinary clinic afterwards. And my parents sure as hell didn't have it, either. But the vet was a kind old man, and he made me a deal. He treated my kitty, fixed him up good as new, and he let me work off the bill after school and on weekends.

It took several months for me to work off that debt part-time for minimum wage, but it was a great experience and I learned a lot. Doc worked with both large and small animals, so I got to see a variety of ailments and how they were treated. And the people he dealt with were often more of a challenge than the patients, which I'm sure isn't much of a surprise for anyone who has ever worked with the public.

On one memorable occasion, Doc took me out to a call for what he called "a bubbler." It turned out "a bubbler" was a cow that was pregnant and the fetus died inside her. She was unable to expel it on her own, and it rotted inside her. Bubbles of putrefaction were running out of her vagina and down her back legs. Hence the term "bubbler." The stench was truly beyond description.

Well, being the experienced vet that he was, Doc just sighed, got out his tools, and gloved up. He had me glove up too, and hold an enormous, industrial strength garbage bag open for him. He told me not to try to hold it up, just let it sit on the ground, but to make sure it stayed open. Then he went to work.

Doc took what looked like a long metal pipe with a loop of wire inside it and stuck it up inside that cow. It surprised the hell out of me, but she barely reacted. He then put his other arm up there and somehow -- don't ask me how, I'm not a vet -- got the wire looped around part of the dead fetus. Without cutting his fingers off, which I thought was the really impressive part. Then he pulled the loop tight from the other end of the pipe and sliced off a chunk. Which he then pulled out of the cow and chucked in the bag I was holding.

This process was repeated until the entire fetus had been removed and put in the bag except for the skull. It turned out the reason the fetus died was because it had been conjoined twins. And the reason the cow hadn't been able to expel it was because the skull was actually two skulls fused together and it was too big to fit through her pelvic girdle.

In order to get the skull out without cutting the cow open, which Doc didn't want to do because of the risk of infection, he had to break the skull into smaller pieces. What he did was get out this tool that, I swear to god, looked like a slightly smaller, elongated Jaws of Life on a pole. How he managed to wedge it up that cow, I'll never know. I get sympathy pains just thinking about it.

But he did it, and Doc reached up her and maneuvered it around until he had the skull in it. When he pressed a button on the handle, it made a horrible grinding sound followed by a sickening crunch. After that, it was just a matter of making sure all the shards got removed without slicing her up inside, flushing and suctioning her out to get rid of all the remaining ick, and stuffing her full of antibiotics.

So why did I treat you all to this lovely story? Hope you weren't eating dinner, by the way. ;-) I wrote this because I remember that after it was done, I looked down into the bag and thought it looked like a demented axe murderer had gotten loose in a cow barn. I mean, there were all these random, hacked up cow parts oozing blood and other fluids everywhere. The fetus had been almost to term, and there was almost two of them, so there were a lot of parts and they looked pretty recognizably cow-like.

But they weren't a cow. They had never been a cow, and they were never going to be a cow. And that's just the way the genetic lottery crumbles. If it had been a human woman who had been pregnant, what I stood by and watched Doc do -- and corralled the remains of -- would have been called a "partial birth abortion." But if it had been a human fetus in that condition, it would have had no more of a chance of ever becoming a human than that cow fetus ever had of becoming a cow.

And that's heartbreaking for the women who have to face that reality, but it's the reality, nevertheless. The only thing that would have happened if Doc hadn't been allowed to remove the rotting fetus is that the cow would have died too. Slowly and painfully. But just looking at the pile of parts, that wasn't obvious. It looked like someone really sick had done something terrible to a poor, defenseless animal.

So try to keep that in mind the next time someone shares a "horrifying" video or "sickening" pictures of an abortion. Because unless you're a medical professional who was onsite and able to assess the situation yourself, you really have no idea what you're looking at. And what's in those images may just have been a bubbler.






Monday, August 19, 2019

Something Worth Watching?


Hey Everyone!! :-)

I'm back today with another video I wanted to share. This is one you may have already seen, but it's exactly why we need Medicare For All, and why electing another neoliberal shill who will just kowtow to the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations isn't something this country can afford. But I'll let the video speak for itself. Peace!





Sunday, August 18, 2019

#August2019 #IndieBooksBeSeen #Indie #Author #Books #Monthly #BookReview!



Hey Everyone!! :-)

It's the 18th again, so time for my #IndieBooksBeSeen monthly indie author book review!! Enjoy! :-)


Augmented by Stuart Kenyon:

Imagine being alone in a wasteland that was once one of humanity's shining achievements. That's the situation John finds himself in; a British exile living not far from New York City when the apocalypse struck. He has spent a year learning how to survive with only the aid of his wits and the mechanical companion he constructed. But a chance glimpse of video changes his outlook from one of futility to one of hope, when he discovers he's not the only human left alive on the planet. Will he find the strength and resolve to brave the dangers infesting a once civilized enclave to connect with his fellow survivors? You'll have to read to find out!

I really enjoyed this book. Stuart Kenyon has a gift for crafting characters whose flaws make them so realistic a reader might expect to meet them on the street. His heroes aren't perfect and his villains are such not because of some over-the-top evil within them, but simply because they allow themselves to succumb to the most banal of human vices, sloth, greed, jealousy, etc. It makes his good guys relatable, and his bad guys far more frightening and real than if the harm they caused sprang from a more dramatic motivation.

The themes this story addresses are also both timely and well-illustrated by this story. In an age when there is legitimate concern about how, and whether, human beings will adapt to technology that is becoming more and more sophisticated at an exponential pace, this peek at a possible application of that technology is fascinating. Taken on a more metaphorical level, it's reasonable to ask if we've already gotten to the point where we've allowed our computers and social media to make zombies of us all. Whether you want to consider the theme literally or metaphorically, there is certainly enough food for thought in these pages. And if you just want an exciting adventure story about regular people finding ways to work together to defend themselves against threats and find solutions to the unique challenges they face set against a post-apocalyptic backdrop, this ticks that box as well.

As I said, I really enjoyed this book, and I can't wait for the next installment in the series. Five stars, and please keep them coming, Mr. Kenyon.






Saturday, August 17, 2019

Scorching #Reads #Summer #Giveaway! $100 #Cash #Grand #Prize! #Free To #Enter!


Hey Everyone!! :-)

There's a new giveaway for Summer!  Please take a moment to check out the Scorching Reads Summer Giveaway!!  There are lots of awesome books and prizes!! :-)  It's free to enter, there are over 66 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! :-)





Friday, August 16, 2019

Delicious #Summer Wrap #Recipe!



Hey Everyone!! :-)

Today, I thought I'd share an easy, tasty wrap idea.

Ingredients:
8 corn or flour tortillas
1 cup shredded carrots
2 cups broccoli florets
1 20 oz package sliced button mushrooms
1 bell pepper seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped
1 cup cabbage chopped
2 onions chopped fine
1 brick extra firm tofu cubed
2 ears of corn
6 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup adobo sauce
2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
2 cups unflavored hummus
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Grill or broil the corn until slightly blackened. Cool and then cut the kernels off the ears. Set the corn aside. Brush both sides of each tortilla with olive oil and heat them on the grill or in a skillet until they are toasted. Cool and spread one side of each tortilla liberally with hummus. Set aside

Put the onions in a skillet with the remaining olive oil and cook until they're translucent. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook them until the mushrooms wilt. Add the remaining vegetables, tofu, sauce, and seasonings and cook them until the vegetables start to soften, stirring often. Add the corn and remove from heat.

Spoon the vegetable mix into the tortillas and fold the tortillas into wraps. Serve warm or chilled. You can grill the bell peppers before adding them to the skillet to give your wraps a bit more of a charred flavor. Also, you can obviously replace any of the vegetables with others that you prefer. As always, I prefer my wraps without meat. But you can add cooked strips of steak or chicken to your wraps, if you'd like. If you do, please make sure the meat is cooked thoroughly because food poisoning sucks.

Bon Appetit!



Thursday, August 15, 2019

#APC #Spotlight: Transitory By Ian Williams!


Hey Everyone!! :-)

I've got Ian Williams in my APC spotlight, today! Ian is an active and supportive member of the  Authors-Professional Co-op Facebook group and his space exploration, time travel, science fiction, action, adventure novel, Transitory, looks great! Here's the description:
Nate Maddox thought his vacation to a distant moon would be a chance to relax. He was wrong.

There, visitors venture into their own memories for entertainment. With the help of an ancient race of space-dwelling aliens, they can revisit their fondest moments, see lost loved ones again, repeat their greatest achievements, or even return to their childhood.

But what starts as fun for Nate soon turns into a deadly nightmare. He enters the rift and witnesses his past, only to find it replaying in a different way. Has he remembered it wrong, or is something far more disturbing happening?
 If you think this sounds like something you might enjoy, go ahead and grab your copy here:


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



Wednesday, August 14, 2019

#Agent Thoth's #Personal Log: Day 978


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 Nine-Hundred-Seventy-Eight:
The adolescent felid has been guarding his cache of baubles so assiduously that I have temporarily abandoned the plan to use them to facilitate communication with my hominid-servant. Instead, I have taken the opportunity to study the little idiot, himself, to see if I can determine what, exactly, he seeks to gain by amassing the trinkets the way that he has. It seems unlikely that my hominid-servant will confiscate them, as she is the one who presented them to us in the first place, and they certainly will not wander away on their own. So I am puzzled as to who it is he seeks to protect them from. Hopefully, my observations will yield some enlightenment, however, I have not dismissed the possibility that my young companion is simply irrational. Which may be an inescapable byproduct of being a native of this planet.


The strange logic of young felids. ;-) 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, August 13, 2019

Keeping Promises Is Important... ;-)


Hey Everyone!! :-)

Here's a little bit more of the third installment in the Petri Dish Chronicles! As always, the disclaimer is that this is a draft and, as such, it's unedited and likely full of errors and is subject to revision, revamping, and being completely scrapped and rewritten. But, with that in mind, I'm reasonably satisfied with the basics of it, at least at the moment, or I wouldn't have bothered posting it. Enjoy! :-)

Excerpt from the third Petri Dish book:


Chapter One

Consciousness returned slowly as Petri realized she had been staring blankly at the ceiling for quite some time. Sleep was always a challenge, lately, between the lingering nightmares and the constant background “noise” of other people's thoughts that her increase in powers made difficult to shut out. Sighing, she turned over and looked at the human woman sleeping beside her.

Despite Petri’s efforts to put the experience of her rape behind her, and Chessie’s constant comfort and reassurance, Rodney’s ghost still haunted her. She had taken men to bed since their arrival on Zanzibar but, even though none of them had been anything less than respectful and accommodating, there was always an edge of anxiety to those encounters. Petri had always been flexible in her sexual appetites, but before Rodney her preference had generally been for men. It bothered her that she was now more comfortable sleeping with women; it seemed almost like she had surrendered part of herself to her rapist. The fighter in Petri balked at that notion, and so her inability to truly relax around men ate at her.

But Wema was a special case. There was no conflict in Petri’s feelings about enjoying Wema’s company because it was impossible for anyone to be in Wema’s company and not enjoy it. The woman was several years Petri’s senior, but she had a joie de vivre that made her seem young and vibrant. Petri was so used to a constant struggle just to survive that Wema's ability to simply take in and appreciate all of life's experiences was something of a revelation. There was no calculation in Wema, no working of angles or searching for an advantage. There wasn’t even any expectation. Wema took people as she found them, and accepted everyone for who they were. Being with Wema was like putting down a burden Petri hadn’t even realized she'd been carrying.

Petri gazed at her lover, studying her features. In her sleep, Wema lay on her side, facing Petri, and her face was slack, lacking the glow and vibrancy of her personality. Things that one never saw when her sweet exuberance radiated from within became apparent. Her nose was long and a bit crooked, her cheeks wide and heavy of bone, there were fine wrinkles at the corners of her eyes and mouth, her lips were thin and pale, and her jowls had begun to soften and sag. As someone who, out of necessity, had made a study of how society viewed beauty, and the consequences one was likely to face for failing to meet those standards, Petri couldn’t help but note such details.

However, like Petri's own magnetism, Wema’s charm wasn’t tied to simply being the sum of her parts. When she had worked as a dolly, Petri had made an art of being exotic. She played the siren and lured clients in with the promise of something new and exciting. That persona gave Petri the ability to pass her non-standard features off as something different and interesting, rather than just flawed and unattractive. But Wema’s appeal wasn’t a fa├žade the way Petri’s had been. If it were, it never would have worked; no one was that talented an actor. Wema's magic lay in the fact that she was genuinely thrilled by each new experience and person life sent her way. It was the unstudied nature of her enthusiasm that made it work for her; that drew people in. Wema actually liked everyone she met, and so everyone she met tended to like her.

Shifting her focus, Petri considered her lover’s closed eyes. Unlike the rest of her face, Wema’s eyes were exactly what society dictated eyes should be. They were large, but perfectly symmetrical and centered. Her eyebrows were arched and fine, but not too fine, and her eyelashes were long, thick, and dark where they lay against her pale skin. But, even here, in sleep those eyes couldn’t compete with the sparkling blue/green fire that her waking eyes were when they flashed with fun and shone with goodness.

Reaching out her hand, Petri ran it gently down the side of Wema’s body. Noting the generous, social convention might say too generous, curves and soft skin; skin that was peppered with stretch marks, moles, small scars, freckles, and other imperfections, but skin that never failed to be soothing and inviting, nonetheless. Wema’s eyelids fluttered and her body shifted towards Petri's, like a flower turning towards the warmth of the sun, but she didn't wake.

Sighing, Petri rolled onto her back and studied the ceiling. It was different from most of the ceilings on Zanzibar, which tended towards plain white and industrial, Wema had seen to that; with long, twisting vines writhing across it, suspended here and there from bright, colorful hooks. The peeks of rainbow through the riot of greenery reminded Petri, somehow, of the dreams she used to have. Dreams that contained warmth and safety; dreams she missed even though her waking circumstances had greatly improved.

Petri craned her neck to look around the room. It was early morning, and the star Zanzibar orbited was starting to show over the horizon. The soft rays painted the small room in stripes of light and shadow. Natural light was still a novelty for Petri, and she couldn’t help but smile when she raised her hand and allowed a sunbeam to play across her fingers. She marveled at the gentle heat in it, different from the heat her lover’s sleeping body was generating next to her, but pleasant and reassuring in some vague, indefinable way. Snorting softly at herself, she rolled her eyes. However much of her was human, it seemed there was enough that she was still subject to her ancestral race’s affinity for sunlight. Psychology or physiology; the line was often far more blurred than people liked to admit.

She allowed her hand to fall to her nearly flat chest and breathed deeply. Wema’s love of plants ensured that the air in her apartment was always fresh, if a bit humid and tainted with a slight scent of mildew. Petri supposed there were tradeoffs for everything, and a bit of mustiness was worth it if it meant she got to enjoy Wema’s cheerful, little slice of jungle. After all, it was certainly a much less offensive smell than the pervasive stench of decay and desperation that was Under City’s perfume.

Turning her head back to look at Wema, she saw that the other woman had woken. Her ever-inquisitive eyes were studying Petri and, when Petri turned her way, her thin lips pulled back to display crooked teeth that could only be endearing in such a wide, radiant smile. “Good morning.”

Petri returned her infectious grin. “Good morning.”

Wema stretched luxuriously and Petri enjoyed the sight of her lover’s body as her muscles flexed and relaxed. She finished the movement by bringing her arm down and resting her hand against Petri’s cheek. "Did you sleep well?"

Turning her face into Wema’s caress, Petri gently kissed her palm. “Amazingly well.” Reaching up, she took Wema's hand in hers and brought the other woman's fingers to her lips. Nibbling lightly, she said, “I always sleep well when I’m with you.” Smiling coyly over the tops of Wema’s fingers, her eyes darkened with mischief. “Any idea why that might be?”

Wema laughed, a full-throated belly laugh, and moved closer to Petri, slipping her leg over Petri’s thighs and nipping gently at her lover’s shoulder. “Hmmm… I don’ know. Maybe it has something to do with the amount of energy you expend when you’re here."

Laughing, Petri replied, “Could be." She captured Wema’s lips with her own, before trailing kisses down her chin to her throat. Pushing gently on Wema’s shoulder, Petri urged her lover onto her back and slid over to straddle her waist. Running her fingers lightly over Wema’s breasts, Petri played with her paramour’s nipple until it stiffened. Petri traced her tongue down Wema’s neck to her breast and sucked and nibbled until the other woman was gasping and moaning in pleasure.

Sliding her hand down Wema’s stomach, Petri’s intended to see how wet her lover was, but Wema clearly had other ideas. The larger woman took Petri’s wandering hand in her own, and wrapped her other arm around Petri’s back. Rolling them both over, she positioned Petri on her back on the bed and leaned up on her arms. “My turn to go first."

Petri’s laugh quickly turned into moans of pleasure as Wema captured her left nipple in her mouth as her left hand toyed with Petri’s right nipple. The older woman took her time, building Petri’s passion until she was almost ready to beg her inamorata to move lower. Wema kissed and licked her way to Petri’s mound and looked up the length of Petri’s body until she caught her lover’s eyes. Petri smiled down at Wema until the other woman covered Petri’s sex with her mouth and Petri's eyes rolled back into her head.

Wema tasted each of Petri’s folds before plunging her tongue inside her. It was all Petri could do to keep from grabbing the other woman’s hair and pushing her face closer to where she needed it. It was still an unfamiliar sensation for Petri to be on the receiving end of pleasure, instead of the one pleasuring someone else. Somehow, she found it both freeing and unnerving at the same time. But with Wema, everything they did seemed right.

As her consciousness shattered in a crescendo of bliss, Petri reminded herself to hold back and not allow herself to completely let go. Her powers were not a danger to those around her unless she lost control, so even in climax Petri had to maintain a certain amount of restraint. When she came back to herself, she found she was gasping for air. Though whether that was from the force of her release or her efforts to make sure she didn’t release her powers along with her pleasure, she wasn’t sure.

Wema’s head was pillowed on Petri’s shoulder, her fingers playing lightly over the sweat-slick skin on Petri’s chest. Petri turned her head to lay a gentle kiss on Wema’s forehead. Shifting to the side, she put a hand on Wema’s stomach and urged her onto her back again. “My turn.”

Wema grinned and lay back. Petri knelt between her legs and moved Wema’s foot onto her thigh to massage it. The older woman groaned in pleasure as Petri worked her fingers over the arch and up Wema’s ankle. Switching to the other foot, Petri rubbed it and kneaded her way up to Wema’s knee. She placed a soft kiss against the back of that knee before switching back to the other leg and alternating back and forth to kiss her way up Wema’s thighs.

Petri’s lover’s giggles turned to moans and then pleas. Grinning, Petri took mercy on Wema and put her mouth where the other woman was begging for it to be. Sucking Wema's clitoris between her lips, Petri slid two and then three of her fingers into Wema’s channel. She massaged her lover inside and out until Wema convulsed and her cries of pleasure permeated the room.

It was the moment when Petri would have fed the deepest in the past; when the person she was in bed with was so lost to sensation they wouldn’t notice the glow in her eyes. But she didn’t feed on Wema now. She had the night before¾not because she had to, but because it increased the pleasure her lover experienced¾ but Petri no longer had to restrict her feedings to during sex for fear of taking in emotions from others that she couldn’t control. And she wasn’t willing to risk Wema’s health by feeding on her too often.

When Wema’s eyes opened again, they were sparkling with humor. “You certainly delivered on your promise,” she gasped.

Petri smiled back, puzzled. “Promise?”

Wema leaned up and kissed her; Petri could still taste the saltiness of her own pleasure on the other woman’s lips. “Of a good morning. You promised a good morning, and you delivered.” Wema grinned impishly.

Laughing, Petri kissed her back. “Ah, well, then, so did you."

Wema flopped back on the bed and closed her eyes, her smile never fading. “I always try to be a woman of my word.”



I also like to be a woman of my word, so I hope you enjoyed the first chapter that I promised you last time. I'll continue posting excerpts on a biweekly basis, hopefully, until the entire book is finished. In the meantime, thank you all for checking out the beginning of this final book in the Petri Dish Chronicles, and don't forget to stop back tomorrow for the latest in Mistral Dawn's Musings. Happy reading!! :-)



Monday, August 12, 2019

Something Worth Watching?


Hey Everyone!! :-)

I'm back today with another video I wanted to share. This is about a story in the NYT that provided a visual representation of where the Democratic primary candidates are drawing their support using the measure of number of individual donors. As expected, Bernie dominated and Elizabeth Warren also showed widespread support. This just goes to show, we really do have a chance to elect a president who will truly represent us. The power structure of the establishment is pushed back hard, and they'll use every dirty trick to thwart the will of The People. But we have the numbers. Let's use them. Peace!






Sunday, August 11, 2019

Light, Easy Tomato Sauce #Recipe!



Hey Everyone!! :-)

This is a really easy, light tomato sauce you can throw together in a few minutes to serve over pasta. It only takes a few minutes, so you won't be stuck standing over a hot stove for long in the summer heat.

Ingredients:
4-5 tomatoes chopped (about 3-4 cups total volume)
1 yellow summer squash or zucchini chopped
1 20oz sliced button mushrooms
2-3 onions chopped fine
7-8 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
1/2 cup water (if needed)
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the onions, salt and pepper, and olive oil to a deep-sided skillet and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and zucchini or squash and cook until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomatoes and water (if more liquid is needed) and stir together. Simmer for a couple of minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Stir in the basil and then remove the sauce from the heat. Stir in the parsley and serve over your favorite cooked pasta.

Buon Appetito!




Saturday, August 10, 2019

Scorching #Reads #Summer #Giveaway! $100 #Cash #Grand #Prize! #Free To #Enter!


Hey Everyone!! :-)

There's a new giveaway for Summer!  Please take a moment to check out the Scorching Reads Summer Giveaway!!  There are lots of awesome books and prizes!! :-)  It's free to enter, there are over 66 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! :-)





Friday, August 9, 2019

The Reasons Behind The Reasons...



Hey Everyone!! :-)

Since I've moved on to writing the third Petri book, and so I'm not sharing Alyce excerpts on regular anymore, I thought I'd give you one today. For old time's sake. ;-) Enjoy!

Excerpt from Answers From Alyce:
"Are the police part of the ruling elite in your society?" asked Squid-boy.

I shook my head. "No. That's part of the genius of their strategy. Cops are just working stiffs, like the rest of us. Most of them are good people and they become police officers because they actually do want to help others and keep them safe. But the way the powerful have structured the legal system makes it almost inevitable that the police will end up at odds with the communities they're supposed to serve. And that means that regular people end up viewing cops as 'the enemy', and so cops end up returning the favor and viewing regular people as 'the enemy', too."

"When, in reality, it's the people who are pulling the strings who are the enemies of both groups," murmured Yax.

I pointed at him. "Bingo. That's it, exactly."

"But how does your legal system set up such a dysfunctional dynamic?" asked Squid-boy.

"Oh, there are lots of ways. One is the drug laws we talked about before. They criminalize normal human behavior and then selectively enforce those laws. People will take drugs because it feels good to them to take drugs, and it doesn't really matter what the laws say. The people in power know this; that's why they make such laws. And they're careful to only criminalize the drugs that poor people tend to prefer; the drugs that are more common among the rich are either not illegal or there are less severe penalties associated with possessing them."

"So, they set up a situation where police feel they have a right to peer into people's private affairs," said Yax.

"Yep. And, let's be honest, just making laws like that is a huge overstep of authority by the government. After all, it's one thing for the government to regulate the manufacturing of goods or to mandate certain warnings be issued about the likely effects of a given substance. But who are they to tell consenting adults what they may or may not put into their own bodies? Why should free citizens allow their personal, private behavior to be controlled like that?"

"So, the laws surrounding these mind-altering substances only exist to create tensions between law enforcement officials and the rest of the community?"

"Pretty much."

"Then why do your people allow these laws to exist?"

"Well, that goes back to the divisions that have been created between people with different skin colors and between people from different parts of the country. Again, the drug laws aren't enforced equally and they don't apply equally to all drugs. The government uses propaganda to make it seem like some drugs are more dangerous than they are and those are generally the drugs that are typically used by people who are poor or who have darker skin or both. Which makes people with lighter skin or people with slightly more money start to think that the people in the communities that are associated with the drugs the government has convinced them are dangerous are dangerous themselves just because they live in those communities. So, they vote for politicians who want to keep the drugs illegal because they think that will protect them from the people who use those drugs. Also, the corporations that manufacture pharmaceuticals want other drugs to be illegal because they are competition for those corporations. And, so, the corporations bribe politicians to keep those laws in place. In other words, there’s more than one reason for the laws."

"But can't the people who live in the communities that are most affected by these laws organize to change them?" asked Squid-boy.

I nodded. "They can, and some of them have started to do that, but it's not easy. Those tend to be the communities that are the most disenfranchised. The laws we talked about before that keep people from voting tend to affect those communities the most. Plus, they are generally poor, which means most of the people who live in them work two or three jobs just to put food on the table, which doesn't leave them with a lot of time or energy for political engagement."

Yax frowned. "That seems awfully convenient for those who are in power."

I snorted. "Of course it is; that's how they designed the system. Also, you have to keep in mind what happens when the people in those communities finally do come together to protest." I pointed at the robots dressed like militarized police in the exhibit we were standing in front of. "This doesn't usually end well for the protesters."

"So, they are protesting because of the laws that keep them from voting," said Squid-boy.

"Like I said, yes and no. That's part of what got them here," I gestured at the scene. "But the specific thing they're protesting is the fact that police have repeatedly murdered unarmed civilians in their communities and then haven't been held accountable by the legal system."

"What?" the two aliens chorused.

I nodded. "Yeah, it's a complicated issue; everything ties into everything else."

"But how can law enforcement authorities be allowed to murder members of the community they're supposed to protect and not be held accountable?" asked Yax.

I shrugged. "Think about it. The system is set up so that police are constantly inserting themselves into the private lives of citizens without invitation or any real legitimate cause. Which, naturally, breeds resentment against them in the community. Being no more than human, the police respond to that resentment with resentment of their own. After all, from their perspective, they're just trying to do their job and enforce the laws. Also, keep in mind that police are often recruited from the communities that have been propagandized by the government into thinking that the poorest communities and communities that people with darker skin live in are dangerous. So, they're predisposed to distrust the people they're supposed to protect. Add to that the selective enforcement of the laws, which tends to reinforce their prejudices, and you have police who view the people they're supposed to protect with fear and contempt."

"But there must be some law enforcement officials who come from poorer communities."

"Yes. And they're inducted into the culture that's fostered in the police force to protect each other at the expense of the communities they're supposed to serve. Add to that the training that most police receive that teaches them to automatically regard other people as threats and to always take action to protect themselves and not take any risks, and police officers who come from the communities that tend to have an adversarial relationship with police usually either shift their loyalties to their fellow officers or they quit."

"Again, that seems like a system that has been set up specifically to cause trouble," observed Squid-boy.

I shrugged. "It has. And it's succeeding admirably. Again, most people who become police officers are good people who only want to help. But the way the system is set up, they're almost guaranteed to find themselves at odds with the public. And, of course, law enforcement is a dangerous job; there are a lot of people who have bad intentions and who are violent. It's not unreasonable for the police to want to protect themselves from harm when they have to deal with the most vicious members of society on a regular basis."

"Logically, it seems as if members of law enforcement would do more to protect their own safety if they formed good relationships with the communities in which they work. They would be far more likely to receive assistance and information about threats if the people they worked amongst didn't fear them more than they fear the predators."

"Yep. That would make sense, Squid-boy, and it would result in those communities becoming safer for everyone, not just the police. But that wouldn't serve the interests of those in power, so it's not likely to happen."


If you want to read more of Alyce's answers, and you haven't already done so, you can grab your copy at the link below. Happy reading!! :-)