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

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

#Agent Thoth's #Personal Log: Day 1112

Hey Everyone! :-)

Happy April Fools Day! :-) 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 Eleven-Hundred-Twelve:
My hominid-servant has spent the day setting up silly pranks for my fellow quadrupedal residents of my domicile and myself to fall victim to. For instance, she set up a device that projects laser beams at random. She did so knowing that the dancing dots of light would prove completely irresistible to any living being whose instincts haven’t been dulled to the point of nonexistence by the type of overly-controlled, artificial environment hominids seem to prefer.

After my youthful companion and I had exhausted ourselves chasing the ephemeral lures, my hominid-servant deactivated the machine and bellowed the words “April Fools!” as if they were an incantation. She similarly tricked the canid by miming as if she had thrown a bauble the canid is particularly fond of. When the idiotic creature dashed away in an attempt to follow the nonexistent treat, my hominid-servant made the same declaration, “April Fools!"

April, in case anyone there at Agency Headquarters is unaware, is the designation the hominids from the part of this planet that I’m stationed on have given to a certain portion of the planet’s revolution around the central star of this solar system. However, the connection between astrometry and my hominid-servant’s foolishness escapes me. Once again, I find myself despairing over the increasing unlikelihood of ever finding definitive proof of intelligent life on this planet.

Hominids can be so illogical! ;-) 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, March 31, 2020

Plausible Deniability...

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I just thought I'd share a little snippet from Alyce's adventures. If you're looking for a rabbit hole to explore, this one might suit your taste. Enjoy! :-)

Excerpt from Answers from Alyce:
It was pretty clear what the exhibit was trying to portray even without the narration that was playing in the background, especially when combined with what was going on in the forest scene. Part of the forest had already been razed and giant earth-moving machines were digging up the ground with large pipes being laid in the troughs that were created. The rest of the forest was being cut down and the trees loaded onto large, smoke-billowing trucks. A little farther down, where the pipes had already been buried, black sludge was pouring out of the end of one and into a river.

It was all so real I thought I could smell the water and the chemicals polluting it. "How do you make it look so realistic?" I gestured towards where the river seemed to simply disappear into a wall.

"It is a hologram with supplemental environmental control equipment to complete the experience."

"So, I really am smelling the river? I thought it was just my imagination because the image was so real."

"Yes. Scent stimuli are incorporated into the exhibit so that the effect is complete. Some species rely more on their sense of smell than they do on sight or hearing."

"That makes sense." I gestured at the office scene. "So that's supposed to be a politician taking a bribe from the company that is causing this destruction?"

"Correct. We thought that displaying the two scenes side-by-side would help make the connection between them obvious."

"Well, the end result is what happens, but it's not quite as obvious as just shoving a bunch of cash at someone. Usually, the closest most politicians come to taking cash for favors is if they own a business and someone¾generally a corporate lobbying group or a rich individual who wants a favor¾chooses to patronize the politician’s business, which results in them giving the politician money. But it’s under the guise of being a customer and receiving a product or service for their money. Though, under those circumstances, it’s fairly common for the price of the product or service to be quite a bit higher than comparable products or services from other vendors, conveniently enough. Then the politician might look favorably on legislation that might benefit their valued customer or unfavorably on legislation that would be detrimental to them. But even that's not the most common way people bribe politicians. There are other ways that are even less likely to come under legal scrutiny."

"What do you mean?"

I pointed at the office scene. "There are laws prohibiting that kind of thing, and even the type of laundered bribery I just told you about is iffy. Some politicians might break those laws, but there are ways around them that don't carry the risk of going to prison, so that's usually what they do."

"Can you elaborate?"

"Well, the most common way for people to legally bribe politicians is to make campaign contributions to them. They give them money the politicians can use to help them get elected again. But there are laws limiting how much money people can give directly to politicians so, a lot of the time, corporations and rich donors who want favors from politicians will give money to PACs¾Political Action Committees¾that work to help get politicians elected. Technically, politicians aren't allowed to be directly involved with PACs or to coordinate election strategy with them, but they can usually get around that because it's hard to track. Not that anyone tries all that hard."

"So wealthy people give money to these PACs and then politicians allow them to pollute your planet? And why does no one attempt to investigate if a politician is not following the laws regarding these PACs?" asked Squid-boy.

"Mostly no one investigates because the investigations would be done by either law enforcement or the media. Law enforcement works for, and is controlled by, politicians. And almost all politicians skirt those laws, so they don't want to encourage investigations of that kind. Large corporations that sometimes want to be able to legally bribe politicians own the media; at least, they own the media that has the largest audience. So, they don't allow their employees to pursue investigations into violations of those laws, either. Or, more often, they just don't hire people who would be interested in doing those kinds of investigations."

"As for your first question, it's not quite that direct, either. It's not so much that politicians allow certain companies to just pollute, usually. That can happen, but it's not how it's usually handled. What they do is either repeal or refuse to pass legislation that would regulate manufacturing practices, limits on emissions, and waste disposal. So, since there's no law against dumping chemicals in rivers, and it's cheaper to just dump the chemicals in the river than to dispose of them safely, corporations end up polluting. Because from their perspective, there's no reason not to."

"But don't your people wonder why their representatives allow such a lack of regulation when it results in danger to your populace and damage to your planet? How do they justify not having those laws?" asked Yax.

"Well, that's kind of complicated, too."

He gave me his Devil's grin again. "We have time."

Want to find out what else Alyce has to say? Grab your copy at the link below! Happy reading! :-)

Monday, March 30, 2020

Something Worth Watching?

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I'm back today with another video I wanted to share. So... Y'all ready to die for the benefit of Wall Street? I mean... I can't with this. I just can't. Just watch the video.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Versatile Pasta #Salad #Recipe!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

This is one of my favorite pasta salad recipes because it's something you can serve either warm or cold. Enjoy! :-)

1 lb Orecchiette or Farfalle pasta
4 cups asparagus cleaned and chopped
4 cups crimini mushrooms sliced
1 bell pepper chopped
1 onion diced fine
1/2 cup green onion chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup parsley chopped
1/4 cup basil chopped
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano grated
1/2 cup olive oil
1.5 cups Italian salad dressing (your choice of brand or homemade)
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the pasta in boiling, salted water and cook until just tender. Drain and set the pasta aside. In a large skillet, place the olive oil, salt and pepper, onions, pepper, garlic, mushrooms, and asparagus. Saute until the vegetables start to soften and add the basil and parsley. Stir to combine and remove the vegetables from the heat. Toss the vegetables with the pasta, cheese, and salad dressing. Serve warm or chill and serve cold.

Buon Appetito!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Slow-Rolling Disaster In Progress...

Okay, I'd like to take a minute to talk about why a Biden nomination will mean a second Trump term. Yeah, yeah, I know, heresy. I'm going to tell the truth anyway.

First, no one is excited to vote for Biden. He's completely uninspiring. The only things he brings to the table are knowing Obama and not being Trump. Now compare that to Trump's base and how rabidly fanatical they are. That's what we're up against, and Biden just doesn't measure up.

Now, Trump voters don't make up the majority of the country. Not even close. They don't even make up the majority of registered voters, which is still a smaller number than the number of US citizens who are eligible to vote. The thing is, neither do registered Democrats.

So... A quick summary of the way our political system works, so you can understand why a Biden nomination hands Trump the election even if Biden wins the primaries. There are two major parties in the US, Democrats and Republicans. There are also a handful of other parties, but it's rare they have any real impact on national elections, though occasionally they win in smaller, local or state races. But even that isn't terribly common.

The majority of the people in this country *despise* both major parties. There are three main ways to register to vote in most states. You can register as either a Democrat, a Republican, or an independent/unaffiliated voter/third party. And, again, that doesn't even get into the people who don't register to vote at all but could if they wanted to.

Now, of the people who are registered to vote at all, more people are registered as independent/unaffiliated than as a member of any party. And the reason for this is, as I said before, most people *despise* both major parties. For the majority of Americans, there doesn't seem to be much difference between the two parties.

And, unfortunately, for the most part, they're correct. Both parties serve their rich donors, and they both screw over regular people. Which means, unless a candidate offers something different that gives people hope, most Americans don't bother to vote in most elections.

Now, when parties run primaries, in most states, only the people who are registered to vote as a member of that party can vote in their primaries. There are exceptions to this, but that's how it works in most states. This means only a very, very small percentage of voters choose who runs as the nominee for the major parties.

Then, and this is the crazy part, once the parties have locked the majority of Americans out of the process in selecting the candidate, they then turn around and demand everyone they told to screw off during the primaries show up and vote for the candidate they didn't get a voice in choosing. Predictably, this often does not go well.

How does this translate into Biden losing to Trump? Well, right now, Democrats are in the process of choosing their nominee. There are two choices left in the race. Bernie, who whatever you think about him, indisputably has an enthusiastic base of support to rival Trump's. And Biden, who no one but oligarchs is excited about.

But, since it's those oligarchs who are controlling both the primary process and the mainstream media narrative, Biden is doing really well. In the primary. But once the primary is over, if he's the nominee, he'll have to win the general election. And he won't be able to do that.

Why? Well, several reasons. First, as I've said, no one is really excited about Biden. Some people are excited about getting rid of Trump, but the majority of people really just aren't all that engaged in politics. The system is broken, probably beyond repair, and most regular people just don't have the time and energy to invest in something that is designed to frustrate anyone who wants to challenge the status quo. Not when everyone is so busy just trying to survive.

And, as is human nature, when a problem doesn't seem to have a solution, most people just check out. They turn their attention elsewhere and try not to think about it. Because what good will it do other than to make their lives even more unpleasant?

So, taking all of that into consideration, what's going to happen if Biden is the nominee? Well, first, Trump will clobber him with Ukraine and his son's involvement there. That will be a major focus of the election. And Trump will have the advantage of being correct, Biden's son being put on the board of an energy company when he had no qualifications for it, and being paid ungodly amounts of money, is corruption.

It doesn't matter if it's illegal. It doesn't matter if it's a common form of corruption that all the oligarchs engage in. It doesn't even matter that Trump is guilty of much worse corruption because his base doesn't care and pointing that out just makes most people shrug and say, "Okay, there's no difference between them, so why should I take the time and trouble to vote?" This means the only people voting will be the people who are enthusiastic about Trump, no matter what.

Then Trump will run compilation videos of all the times Biden has sounded incoherent and confused. Like when he didn't know what state he was in or whether he was running for the presidency or the Senate. Or when he didn't know his wife from his sister. Or when he forgot Obama's name. Or one of dozens of other examples. Trump will say this is evidence that Biden is in the early stages of dementia. And he might be right about that.

Then Trump will bring up all the times Biden lied egregiously. Like when he said he participated in civil rights organizing, he didn't, or when he claimed he was arrested for trying to see Nelson Mandela in prison, he wasn't. And, again, it doesn't matter that Trump is a notorious liar himself because his base doesn't care and all bringing that up will do for everyone else is reinforce the idea that there's no difference between the parties. They're all liars, so why should anyone exert themselves to vote?

And Biden can't even use policy positions to argue his case, because Biden has been on the wrong side of almost every major piece of legislation for the last forty years. Trump will run videos of Biden saying he wants to cut Social Security and Medicare, defending segregated schools, pushing for legislation that made it harder for regular people to get themselves out of debt, crafting legislation that led to the incarceration of millions of people of color for minor offenses, arguing in favor of trade agreements that were devastating for working people, arguing against legislation to protect unions, and arguing in favor of the Iraq war.

Trump will also attack Biden's character. He'll bring up the fact that Biden didn't believe or protect Anita Hill. That Biden seems to have a hard time keeping his hands to himself, especially with young girls. Trump will use all that to paint Biden as a misogynist a pedophile. Trump will say that Biden's record of defending segregation and pushing the Crime Bill that resulted in the mass incarceration of people of color proves that Biden is a racist. And, while Trump might not say it himself, the GOP slush fund PACS will run ads with videos about how Biden said he didn't think women should have the right to choose what we do with our own bodies. Which just happens to have the advantage of being something he actually did say.

Again, it won't matter that Trump is also wrong about all these things. His base *doesn't care*. Either they see him as an agent of change and they're willing to overlook anything if it means their lives might get a little easier, or they are racist and love the fact he's persecuting the people they hate, or both. And Biden won't be able to defend himself. He'll babble about Cornpop, or letting little kids play with the hair on his legs, or he'll make up stories about himself that never happened. Or he'll just forget what day it is, and where he is, and what office he's running for and come off as completely addled. And if he avoids the public entirely or hides behind a spokesperson, he'll look weak and like he's hiding something.

And if you're a Democrat or someone who is deeply engaged with politics, it doesn't matter if you think this is a fair representation of Biden and his history. Though, I would argue that at least some of it is completely fair. But, regardless, it's what will be said and how those things will be perceived by most people who aren't paying close attention. And, at best, those people will decide they were right, there's no difference between the parties, and they'll stay home. At worst, they'll decide Trump is the lesser evil and show up to vote for him.

So, what's the good news? The good news is that Biden isn't the nominee. Right now, Biden and Bernie are both still very much in this race, and there are a lot more primaries to go. So, it's still entirely possible that Bernie will get the nomination.

Now, if Bernie gets the nomination, will Trump attack him? Abso-fucking-lutely! Mercilessly and relentlessly. But Bernie has something Biden doesn't have and will never have: a base of support that's just as enthusiastic and unrelenting as Trump's supporters. And Bernie has another advantage against Trump that Biden doesn't have: he can speak to the policies.

Unlike Biden, Bernie has been on the correct side of most legislation over the past few decades. So, he's consistent and that gives him something else Biden lacks: credibility. When Bernie offers voters hope, they have reason to believe he means what he says and will fight to make it happen. And that's something that penetrates down even to some of the people who don't really pay attention to politics.

Bernie, unlike Biden, has the ability to make people think there might actually be a difference between the parties. That taking the time and trouble to vote, and it can be a lot of time and a lot of trouble, might be worth it. Because it might be a chance to make their lives better. And when you combine those voters with the voters who would walk across hot coals to vote for Bernie and the voters who will vote for anyone because they detest Trump so much, the prospects in November start looking quite a bit brighter.

So, if you're in a state that hasn't had your primary yet, and you're registered so you can vote in the Democratic primary or have the ability to so register in time for your primary -- check your state's election rules to find out, if you don't know -- think about what you want to happen in November. And vote accordingly.


PS: There are also multiple credible accusations of sexual harassment against Biden and Tara Reade has accused him of raping her when she worked as his staffer. #BelieveWomen

Friday, March 27, 2020

#CoverReveal: Destiny Series By Victoria Saccenti!


Is proud to reveal the NEW book covers for the epic Destiny saga.

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Book Description: 


DESTINY’S PLAN An empty seat and a love that can withstand the trials of fate… When Raquelita Muro takes the empty seat on the bus to avoid sitting beside her mother, she doesn’t expect to find the love of her life. But as the hours pass by on the journey from Texas to Florida, Raquelita knows that Matthew Buchanan is the one for her. But fate, the US Military, and an interfering mother stand between the young lovers and their destiny. Exchanging letters in secret is their only hope as Matthew ships off to Vietnam and Raquelita and her family make a new life for themselves in Florida. And when tragedy strikes they will each be brought to the edge of what they can survive. The course of true love never did run smooth, but will Matthew and Raquelita find each other again when half a world and an ocean of pain stands between them?

Editorial Review Destiny's Plan is a romance novel by Victoria Saccenti and the first book in the Destiny's Series. Set during the Vietnam war, the plot recounts the first meeting of Raquelita Muro and Matthew Buchanan just as he is about be recruited and sent off to Vietnam. These innocent and idealistic young lovers encounter a world that seems to no longer believe in love, and their relationship is tested by war, distance, hardship, and family interference. Through it all, however, they try to remain strong, and it's up to them to see whether they can handle what fate throws at them, or whether it will tear them apart for good. An innocent tale of love at first sight takes a serious twist as war looms. Victoria Saccenti has created a charming and naïve heroine in Lita, who learns the harsh lessons of the real world and grows up through the readers' eyes. The Hispanic culture is vividly presented with lively characters that make up Lita's family, and though Destiny's Plan is quite a long book, it is easy to read and keep turning pages. Matthew's hardship and shocking consequences of his time in Vietnam presented a really interesting and unexpected twist to the story, and I can safely say that the plot line is not what you would usually expect from a historical romance. The political backdrop of 1960s America takes a back seat to the secrets in the Muro family, the two atmospheres combining in a very satisfying and engrossing way.

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DESTINY’S CHOICE He’s older, his PTSD wounds run deep, and doesn’t believe in second chances. She does... As a naïve young woman, Marité Muro nearly drowned in a maelstrom of confusing emotions stirred by two very different men. One whose tortured soul tugged at her heart, another whose scorching touch made her innocent body want…more. Vietnam left scars on Brian MacKay, some visible, some invisible—and nearly impossible to heal. His war buddy’s sister-in-law has ripened into a tempting, irresistible woman, but their age difference makes her forbidden fruit. After four years in a Spanish prep school, Marité’s come home ready to fight for the man she’s never been able to forget. But when Michael returns out of the past, he threatens everything Marité and Brian have started to build.

Editorial Review: Destiny's Choice is Book 2 in the Destiny's Series by Victoria Saccenti, a riveting tale of a love that is as powerful as it is dangerous. Marité Muro might have been infatuated with Brian MacKay when she was very young, but after four years of prep school in Spain, she comes back to Florida different, feeling mature and sure of what she wants, and if there is anything in the world she'd die for, it's to be enfolded in the arms of Brian MacKay. Things could have been easy if MacKay hadn't served with her brother in Viet Nam. Brian Mackay might be a war hero, but now he has to face a new kind of war; he has to wrestle with the powerful emotions the young Marité Muro stirs in his heart. He knows he shouldn't want her, but all his defenses are being weakened. How long will he keep up the fight before he finally crumbles under her charm? You'll love Destiny's Choice if you're into romance and if you love the kind of setting that mimics the world of Eden, with a serpent tugging at the hem of your clothes and a forbidden fruit that is infinitely inviting. Victoria Saccenti creates beautiful characters and tactfully draws readers into their minds through her powerful and vivid descriptions. Marité Muro is one of those characters readers want to follow in their growth process. She is stubborn and reckless, the kind of character who'll do anything to get what she wants, but she's come a long way. The psychological conflict is well-developed in the story, and while it helps the plot to move fast, it also allows readers to connect easily with the characters. It's a very entertaining and engaging read, a hard-to-put-down kind of book for romance lovers.

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DESTINY’S WAY One disastrous night rips the lovers apart. All is lost, until Fate intervenes. Brian’s love for Marité burns with the heat of an eternal flame. However, when Michael makes a play for her, Brian’s PTSD-fueled demons convince him Marité’s better off with someone younger, less damaged—anyone—but him. Anger tears at Marité’s heart. Anger at Brian for giving up so easily. At Michael for trying to reignite an old infatuation. Mostly, anger at herself for her part in the debacle and for not having the strength to fight for the only man she’ll ever love. But Destiny is not quite finished with the lovers…

Editorial Review: Destiny's Way is the third book in Destiny's Series by Victoria Saccenti, an absorbing contemporary romance that will provoke the most compelling and powerful emotions in readers. When Brian McKay inadvertently catches Michael, his cousin, trying to kiss the love of his life, his jealousy boils over. In a quick moment of insanity, he boards a plane and flies to Round Rock. Marité Muro, the woman he'd loved passionately, would be better off without him, so he thinks. Meanwhile, Marité is left devastated as she moves to her home in Abuela. She hates Brian for leaving. She blames herself for not taking control and acting maturely, and Michael for not being able to set the limits. Read on to discover the delightful twist in the story and the surprising and powerful workings of love. Destiny's Way is a story that brilliantly highlights the power of love, a story with a strong conflict centered on characters that are beautifully explored. I enjoyed the way the protagonist, Brian, is imagined. A character with a serious personality flaw -- his anger is aggressive and he seems to be haunted by his past. But the transformation that takes place within him is what stunned me. I enjoy books in which characters grow and positively evolve, and this is one such book. The other elements of the storytelling craft are beautifully accomplished -- the vivid settings, the fast-paced, gripping plot, the strong conflict, and the awesome writing. I loved the prose and excellent paragraph breaks which create strong, dramatic ripples. Victoria Saccenti has the gift to make each character's emotions come alive and this aspect of her writing will allow her readers to easily connect with the characters. This was an enjoyable read.

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About the Author: Award-winning, multi-genre author Victoria Saccenti picked up pencil and paper the moment her childhood book heroes started conversing with her. Sounds a little crazy, but there’s no rhyme or reason for inspiration. She writes romantic women’s fiction, contemporary romance, and paranormal romance. Her stories explore the twists and turns of human interaction, the many facets of love, and all possible happy endings. After thirty years of traveling the world, she’s settled in Central Florida. However, if she could convince her husband to sell their home, she would pack up her computer and move to Scotland, a land she adores.

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 Tour hosted by Author Assist 14192123_291374887905084_8934348183651967026_n

Thursday, March 26, 2020

#APC #Spotlight: Wolfgang (The Wolfgang Trilogy Book 1) By F. D. Gross!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I've got FD Gross in my APC spotlight, today! FD is an active and supportive member of the  Authors-Professional Co-op Facebook group and his gothic, vampire, horror, fantasy novel, Wolfgang, looks great! Here's the description:
Sixteen years have passed since the death of Lord Egleaseon, the vampire lord who sought to be human again, defeated by the famous noble lord, Wolfgang. One day after cleansing the surrounding countryside of vampires, Wolfgang returns from his latest expedition only to be faced with the horrible reality that everything he held dear to his heart has been taken from him. His wife is dead, his home is burned, and his son is nowhere to be found. Only the smallest inclination leads him to believe his orphaned servant is somehow responsible.He is desperate and provoked, and will do anything to get his son back, even if it means journeying the path of darkness. Thus begins the story of Wolfgang.
 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! :-)