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

Monday, October 31, 2016

Where Do #FairyTales Come From?

"Up the airy mountain, Down the rushy glen, We daren't go a-hunting For fear of little men."
-William Allingham, The Fairies

Happy Halloween (or Blessed Samhain, for those of you who celebrate) Everyone!!! :-)

I don't know about all of you, but Halloween is my absolute, all-time favorite holiday! There are a lot of reasons for this. First, it's Fall, which is my favorite season. I love, love, love the cool, crisp weather and the changing colors of the trees. I love the stick-to-your-ribs food and sitting around a fire pit with friends enjoying cider and smores. I love the early sunsets and the fact that I can stand outside and actually enjoy them because all the bugs have gone back to Hell where they belong. I even love the rainy days and longer nights. Honestly, I don't think there's anything I don't love about Fall.

Halloween, of course, just epitomizes all that is fabulous about Fall. With Halloween comes good food, good fellowship, and spooky good times! There's candy, hayrides, bonfires, parties, haunted houses, and the sharing of scary stories.  In fact, I think it's that last that I might enjoy the most.

I love listening to scary stories and I often wonder what the inspiration for some of them was.  Of course, since a lot of the stories I'm thinking about are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old in origin with unknown authors, there's no way to ever find out for certain. But it's fun to speculate.

One story in particularly is something I'd love to know how it got started. It's not necessarily a Halloween story, but I first heard it sitting around a campfire with friends on Halloween, so I associate it with Halloween. There are tons of versions of the story with details changed here or there, but, basically, it goes like this:

"Every night, fairies wander the human realm looking for fun, food, and mischief. If they pass a doorstep where someone has left out a little bread and milk, they'll eat the offerings and pass by without causing harm. They might even leave a blessing on the house or do a little work in exchange for the food. But if they pass a home where no offering is left, they'll cause mischief and do harm to those who dwell within. They have even been known to steal children and leave changelings in their place to punish those who fail to show them the proper respect. So always leave a little bread and milk on your stoop for the fairies that your home might be blessed with good fortune."

This story, in particular, intrigued me because there are people who actually do leave bread and milk on their porch for the "fairies." It's not as common a superstition as it used to be, but I have known people who do this.  One woman informed me that it must be true because the bread and milk disappear every night, and who else could be eating them except fairies?

Good question! Who else, indeed? Who do I know who just loves a little treat of bread or milk? Is there anyone, anyone at all, who enjoys bread and milk and who has no problem at all helping themselves to any they might happen upon? Hmmm...let me think.

Yeah. And from the perspective of someone living in a time before refrigeration, canning, plastic containers, and other modern methods for preserving food, it would definitely be a blessing to have someone to help keep the rodents out of the grain stores. Of course, cats aren't the only possibility for who might have been eating the bread and milk. There are plenty of nocturnal animals who are comfortable enough around humans to hang out around our houses and who would be happy to take advantage of any food they didn't have to work for. But, me being me, my mind, of course, turns to cats first. ;-)

So, then I began to speculate exactly how this particular story got started. Again, it's so old I'll never know for sure, so I just made something up. Why not?

Like many stories, my story starts off with a poor couple living in a small cottage. They don't have much, certainly not enough to feed a pet, but the wife loves cats and pines for one of her own.  Her husband, however, is unsympathetic, and he has a violent temper.  Desperate for the companionship of a friendly kitty, the wife starts leaving a little bit of food outside at night. She hopes that if the stray cats that are around find something to eat on her porch, they'll start spending more time hanging out around her home.

At first, the wife just leaves a little milk out for them. Maybe it's just the leftovers that the cream has been skimmed from. Maybe it's a day or two old and too sour for humans to want to eat. Whatever the reason or excuse, she figures it's so insignificant a "waste" that her husband won't notice the loss.

Her plan works and, after a few weeks, there are several stray cats who are spending time hanging out around her little house. While her husband is away during the day, she pets them and talks to them, and they become her friends.  After a few weeks, the wife notices that she isn't losing as much of her stored grain to rodents and so she has more to make bread with.  She knows she owes this good fortune to the cats, so she starts sharing a little bread with them at night as well as the milk to "pay" them for their labor.

Unfortunately, one day the husband gets up before the wife and finds the empty plates on the porch before the wife can pick them up.  He demands to know why the wife left food out for animals when they have so little for themselves, especially after he had forbidden it. Mindful of his temper and fearing that he might hurt her if she tells the truth, the wife tells him the first story that comes to her mind.

She isn't leaving food out for animals, that would be wasteful as her good husband said. No, she was just paying respect to the passing fairies, and the small folk had blessed their home in payment for her offering. She shows her husband the stored grain and points out that there is more than there would normally be, and tells him that they have the fairies to thank for their good fortune.

Since everyone knows that fairies are real and can either bless or curse humans, as they choose, the husband is satisfied with this explanation.  He gives his wife permission to continue. And the wife gets to keep her kitty friends.

Is this story true? Maybe. It's certainly plausible that something like this was the origin of the story. But then it's just as possible that this story has nothing to do with how the superstition got started. I'll leave it to you to decide if I've correctly guessed how the story started...or if all I've done is tell you a fairy tale.

Have a deliciously spooky All Hallows' Eve! :-)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Another Fall Favorite! :-)

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I'm back today with another one of my favorite Fall dishes. :-) One thing that the cooler weather makes me crave is spicy food. I've already shared several chili recipes, so now I thought I'd share a recipe for curry.  Like other dishes, I prefer my curry without meat. And I know there are lots of different curries and I don't make any claims to authenticity. If you don't think this recipe qualifies as a curry then call it something else. Just make sure you call me for dinner if you make it. ;-)

Curried Vegetable Stew:
2 cups vegetable stock
1-2 14oz package(s) white button (whole or sliced) mushrooms cleaned
1 14oz package of baby bellas cleaned
1 14oz package of shitake mushrooms cleaned
2 medium onions chopped
2 large carrots peeled and cut into chunks
1 bell pepper chopped
6 large potatoes cleaned and cut into chunks
1 14oz can chickpeas (optional)
1/2 cup white wine
3-4 tablespoons curry paste (your choice)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cayanne pepper (optional)
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 can coconut milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
2-3 teaspoons of chunky peanut butter
Salt, pepper, and parsley to taste

Put all the ingredients except the peanut butter, coconut milk, and parsley in a crockpot. Turn the crockpot on high for 5-6 hours. Stir in the peanut butter, coconut milk, and parsley. Serve by itself or over rice or quinoa.

Yep, that's it!  Another crockpot wonder for the lazy cook. ;-) Like most of my recipes, to be honest. If you don't have or don't like any of the types of mushrooms I listed, you can change up the mushrooms to whatever you prefer. You can also use canned mushrooms if that's what you have on hand.  Also, and I didn't know this until recently, you can get chopped, frozen onions from a lot of grocery stores, so that might be another time-saver if you don't like to chop onions.

The flavor of the frozen onions isn't quite as strong as fresh onions, and they are mushy even before cooking, but if you're in a time pinch or don't have any onions in the house they might be an option for you.  If you have the time, and you use fresh onions, you can caramelize the onions in a skillet before putting them in the crockpot. This will add more flavor and deepen the color of the curry. Just put them in a skillet with the butter and olive oil and cook them until they caramelize. If you add the curry paste and turmeric to the onions in the skillet, it will help develop the flavor of the spices a bit. Add the garlic when the onions are almost done and then put the contents of the skillet in the crockpot and deglaze the skillet with the wine.

If you feel like it, you can also add some extra firm tofu. Just cut the tofu square into small cubes, fry the cubes in oil, salt them, and then add them to the curry at the end.  If you don't like alcohol or don't have any wine in the house, you can use 1/4 cup red wine vinegar instead. There are also things you can add to this curry to make it richer or to get more vegetables in your diet.  I've found green, leafy vegetables tend to make broths richer, so you can add spinach, kale, or even broccoli if you'd like.  You can also add for peas for color. If your curry is a little runny, you can make a slurry by mixing a little cornstarch with cold water and stir that in to thicken it up.

Bon appetit! :-)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

#Spooktacular #Giveaway! $100 #Cash #Grand #Prize! #Free To #Enter!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

This is a reminder to take a moment and look through the the Fall Spooktacular Author Giveaway!!  You can enter to win lots of awesome books and prizes!! :-)  It's free to enter, there are over 100 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, October 28, 2016

#NewRelease Announcement: 1000 Kilos By Ted Jonsson!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

Today, the fabulous Karina Kantas it taking over my blog to talk about a hot new author she's discovered. Karina, take it away! :-)

Blurb for 1000 kilos
Yasmin Spiteri is a professional business woman to most. Smart and beautiful, men easily full for her charms. But she is also the queen of deception.

As a luxury liner approaches Valletta harbour, a small unmanned submarine slides out from the double hull and heads for Kalkara. It doesn’t make it as it veers off course and right into Yasmin’s path.

On board is 1000 Kilos of cocaine belonging to the Russian Mafia, with a street value of a BILLION EURO’S.

As the Mafia start to kill indiscriminately in a race to find the drugs, Yasmin manages to dodge the bullet, staying one step ahead by playing everybody.

But as the turf war escalates, things get very personal for Yasmin when her daughter Cydel goes missing. She soon realises that it’s not just the Mafia she should worry about, as her complex web of lies comes back to haunt her.


About the Author
Formerly in sales and marketing for most of his career, Ted is now semi-retired and living in Malta in a small village on the east coast called Xghajra. (It took him three months to learn it is pronounced ‘Shira’)

His debut novel, 1000 Kilos, is a modern day thriller and of course it made perfect sense to base the story around his new home in Malta.

Ted is currently working on a YA fantasy fiction series, Chasing Reality. And has so many ideas and plans there’s just not enough days in the week.

Twitter - https://twitter.com/stoffia1


Thursday, October 27, 2016

#APC #Spotlight: The Miyran Heir By Rebecca McCray!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

Today, I've got Rebecca McCray in my APC spotlight!  Rebecca is an active and supportive member of  the  Authors-Professional Co-op Facebook group and her young adult, science fiction, adventure novel, The Miyran Heir, looks pretty interesting. Here's the description:
Marked at age 16.
Forced to leave home.
You become the hunted.
Could you survive?

The mark means honor. The mark invites death.
On a distant planet, Eros thrives in the Human settlement he calls home. Raised to follow his grandfather's noble footsteps, he studies the details of each species that co-exist here. But when the mark appears, he's called to fight, which changes his life forever.
Forced to abandon his home, the mark makes him the hunted. He's attacked the night he arrives in the city. A tough, street fighter named Kenrya saves his life. When they join others on the same journey, her cynical attitude drives a wedge between the group.
Given the perils facing them, can they put aside their differences and trust each other long enough to survive?
Discover this epic adventure where an individual's unique abilities can change the course of the future.
Sound interesting? Great! You can grab your copy here:

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

#Agent Thoth's #Personal Log: Day 356

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 Three-Hundred-Fifty-Six:
I have noticed that sometimes I have an irresistible urge to run from room to room in my domicile as fast as I can while knocking over as many objects as possible. Sometimes, I even feel compelled to howl while I do this to increase the amount of noise I am capable of making. I'm not entirely certain why I have these feelings, but they are quite strong.

My hominid-servant, of course, objects to these interludes, though they do not often last long. Like many hominids, she inexplicably eschews activity during the time between when the local star sinks below the planetary horizon and when the place we are located on the planet rotates back towards it. Naturally, these are some of my most active hours as much can be learned about an environment when the light levels are reduced.

When one of my manic spells strikes me during this time, my hominid-servant reacts rather violently. Often, she even throws objects at me, though the objects are soft and light, and her aim is rather poor. I have yet to discover a way to explain the situation to her but, as her behavior is rather amusing, I don't believe I will concern myself about it overmuch.

Ha! Agent Thoth is more devious than he lets on! ;-) Now that you've all gotten to know him a bit, I was wondering what your opinions might be as to how he looks? The poll to decide his breed is in, and the consensus seems to be that he is a Maine Coon. Now you all need to tell me what color he is. Again, I'll put a poll up on the side of this blog to pick his color and I hope you'll all weigh in. Once we've got the particulars settled, I'll look for a picture to match. :-)

To vote in a poll, either vote directly or comment with your vote on any Agent Thoth post with your choice for his color. :-) Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What #Scares You?

Hey Everyone!! :-)

With Halloween coming up in less than a week, I thought I'd share an excerpt with you that touches on something that I consider to be one of the scariest things in the world: religion run amok.   Don't misunderstand, there are a lot of truly wonderful people who identify as belonging to one religion or another. And the vast majority of religious people are just normal, lovely people who would never harm anyone or even want to. But, as I'm sure you're all aware, there are also fundamentalist fanatics in every religion who do want to hurt those who disagree with them, and that's what I'm referring to by saying religion run amok.  In this excerpt, Petri encounters the Upworld version of this phenomenon.

Excerpt from Rainbow Dreams, book one of the Petri Dish Chronicles:
Sitting up, Petri looked around, trying to figure out what was going on. She immediately realized where they were. A Janus wasp hive!

The hives were something of a curiosity. Those that had been abandoned were often used as tourist attractions by enterprising underworlders to entertain adventurous Upworld citizens who enjoyed the strange and macabre. But all sane individuals avoided hives that were active until the houses could organize a hive-burning.

The Janus wasps, also known as JWs, were a doomsday cult. The adherents of the cult were required to separate themselves from any non-believing family members and dedicate themselves to Janus. They marked themselves with unfashionably conservative grooming and clothing, but sometimes they still managed to blend into crowds long enough to ensnare the unwary.

The beliefs of the cult centered around Janus, the two-faced god of beginnings and endings, who they believed was on the cusp of bringing an end to human suffering and lifting his wasps up to paradise. But in order to motivate their God to action, the JWs believed they needed to convince him that the world was sufficiently bad to require a new beginning. In order to prove that there was too much pain in the world for the faithful to endure, they placed human sacrifices on the altar of Janus and cut out their still-beating hearts. They hoped that the pain of their victims would attract the God's attention. Some of those who were sacrificed were volunteers from among the faithful, but many were people who blundered into the clutches of the cult.

The houses were pretty ruthless in their suppression of the wasps because their indiscriminate selection of victims was bad for business. But somehow, they never quite managed to eradicate the cult entirely. Petri believed that might have something to do with the fact that JWs were happy to take commissions for who they should sacrifice and, as paid assassins went, they were relatively inexpensive. Something the houses were not above taking advantage of when it suited their purposes. However, the containment efforts by the houses did force cult members to be somewhat circumspect in their activities.

Normally, once a hive became large enough to be noticed, the houses would organize a hive-burning. The purpose of these was to kill the cult members without damaging the structure that housed the hive or the furnishings within. The more authentic a hive was, the more the rubes would pay to tour it. Therefore, the "burning" of a hive was figurative. House enforcers and, sometimes, freelance mercenaries were sent into the hive to kill or capture all the members of the cult. This was always done with as much secrecy as the houses could manage because the JWs had the tendency to set off explosives if given the opportunity. Even when the burning party was successful in preventing the wasps from obliterating their hive, they still defended themselves ferociously.

Any victims who had yet to be murdered would be sacrificed by the high priest on-the-spot, and the rest of the JWs would fight to their dying breath to protect the ritual from the burning party. Once all of the sacrifices were complete, the remaining wasps would commit suicide. There were rumors that the JWs even practiced for such eventualities, running drills among themselves on a regular basis.

Wasps who the burning party managed to take alive, and bodies that weren't too old or damaged, were generally turned over to the grinders for processing. However, occasionally the houses would take a particularly attractive or distinctive individual to be used for other purposes. No one who had ever been a JW, or at least none who had ever been identified as a JW, would ever be allowed to assimilate back into society. They were considered too dangerous. Janus wasp hives only occurred in Under City. The surveillance in Upworld was sufficient to detect any hint of the cult before they could establish themselves, and the Upworld government was much more thorough in their suppression of the wasps. In spite of this, sometimes an Upworld citizen would be seduced into joining the cult. If they weren't killed in the raid, and if they didn't commit suicide, the houses turned them over to the Upworld government to be dealt with. In such rare cases, unless the person's family was extraordinarily influential, they were just disposed of quietly.

Hmmm...religion run amok meets corporately owned government ruthlessness. Enough scary to go around, don't you think?  Both lack humanity and mercy. Great for Halloween story-telling, but I hope I never meet either in person.

If you haven't read Rainbow Dreams and you want to find out what happens next, you can get a copy here:

Thank you all for stopping by today, and don't forget to check back tomorrow for the next edition of Mistral Dawn's Musings! :-)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Something Worth Watching?

Hey Everyone! :-)

I've decided to start a new series on this blog that I hope you'll all like. If you read this blog regularly, you know I watch quite a bit of new media. So, I thought I'd start a series with some videos from YouTube that catch my eye.

Today's videos will be politically oriented, but that won't be the case for every video in this series. The videos I choose to share will be whatever catches my eye. They could be political in nature, but they might also be animals, food, entertainment, or anything else that seems interesting, important, or amusing to me.

I hope you enjoy this series, and I'd love to hear any thoughts you might have. Feel free to leave comments down below. :-)

So, on to today's video.

As some of you might know, there is currently an oil pipeline under construction in North Dakota. The pipeline is under dispute because the pipeline goes through land that belongs to the Native American Standing Rock Sioux tribe.  The pipeline will also go under the river that the tribe uses for drinking water and almost certainly, based on how prone oil pipelines are to spills and leaks, poison the water and make it impossible for the tribe to use it.

There have been massive protests over this that have gone on for months, but there has been a near-total blackout of news about this on mainstream media.  Over Labor Day weekend (the first Monday in September for those of you outside the US), the company that is building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, hired "security guards" (mercenary soldiers) to run interference against the protectors as the company construction crews destroyed a Native American burial ground.

These mercenaries had dogs that they sicced on the protectors. The dogs bit several people and the incident was filmed by Democracy Now!'s reporter, Amy Goodman.  A warrant was issued for Amy Goodman several days after Democracy Now! released the footage that they had recorded.  As a journalist, Ms. Goodman shouldn't be subject to arrest for doing her job. The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees a free press in this country. And yet, Ms. Goodman is being charged with trespassing and inciting to riot for simply recording what happened. The very definition of journalism.

Now, the charges against Amy Goodman were dropped. They were so outrageous that the judge wouldn't even hear the case, he simply refused to sign the document giving the prosecutor authorization to bring them against her. But just the fact that she was charged at all is something that should concern everyone who values the First Amendment.

Also, Amy Goodman isn't the only person who has been arrested in connection with this pipeline. Peaceful protectors have been arrested as well, and their families harassed by police.  One protector who was arrested is Shailene Woodley, the actress who played Tris in the Divergent movies, and she has made several public statements regarding her arrest, including the fact that she was strip-searched even though the only thing she was charged with was trespassing.  In short, the government is colluding with private corporate interests to deny US citizens their constitutionally guaranteed rights.  And yet, mainstream media remains silent.

I'll leave a link to a couple of Amy Goodman's videos below, and I would definitely recommend that you subscribe to Democracy Now!'s YouTube channel if you're interested in hearing something other than the propaganda put out by cable news channels.  But the video I'll be featuring today is by Jordan Chariton from TYT Politics, a channel on The Young Turks network, which I'd also recommend you subscribe to. This video is about the latest goings on at the Dakota Access Pipeline.

And, as promised, here are the links to Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman's videos:



Thank you all for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed today's post and that you'll also like the next video I feature. :-)  Peace!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

#RRBC #Spotlight #Tour: #Vigilante Annie Scarlotte By Robert Kimbrell!

What If We Had No Choice But To Suck?

The other day I chose to let my imagination go for a bit, because lately I have been feeling rather creative. And many of you know, that feeling of creativity can be very liberating-even addicting.

I began to wonder what our world would be like if we were all vampires. Imagine this: an apocalyptic scenario. You are citizen of a vampire clan of maybe two to three hundred. Scarce resources have pushed all of you to the underground permanently. You must hide from the violent evildoers above ground. Yes, you could chose to fight (at night), but you have the need to preserve the few remaining lives left in your line of bloodsuckers.

When dynamics become strained, as with any group of beings, conflict ensues, complicating everyone’s daily existence. Amid the hunger and deprivation and the feeling of imprisonment, there is one choice left. To survive, each member must become a surrogate. Used to being the bloodsucker, each individual must now become a source of blood for another. The point is this: (The impetus to set up the story being only relevant for setting up the questions.) How would sharing among each other change their lives? How would interactions change? How would their world change by tasting each others blood?

I’d like to think the intimate act would bring them all gradually closer. Constantly depending on another for life. Touching…feeling…giving…taking. A new respect would be born. In essence, “Yes, here. Bite me, suck from me, let me give you life. And I know you will give me life someday.”

"Yes. Thank you, my friend."

It would be hard to hate, hard to have a divisive attitude or even pick a fight with someone whom you would feed from in the future. You would see and come to appreciate the person you see on the outside, and be reminded each time that they are all the same as you on the inside.

Book Blurb:

Because Annie has no recollection of her birth parents, her life is full of unknowns. Still, she seems relatively content with her simple existence in Washington, DC. Marcus, her new Italian boyfriend, adds much desired spice to her life despite secrecy about his position at SecureVest. But when Annie becomes mysteriously ill, it is the catalyst for a life far from simple.

Seemingly by luck, Annie discovers that she is maturing into a dhampir (a vampire/human hybrid), and to survive she must feed on fresh human blood. With Marcus fully aware of Annie's predicament, they concoct a scheme: find the evil living among us and act where justice does not.

Vigilante Annie is born.

Amazon Link:

Author Bio:
An only child, (in the seventies, mind you), little Robert could be seen running in the backyard playing superhero, with a bed sheet serving as his cape. He also spent many hours drawing or writing in his mid-sized Ohio town. Having also battled depression earlier in life, Robert now sees how his low points have brought him to a more creative, stronger sense of being. Now he is where he wants to be, and is telling the stories he is meant to tell. His other interests include reading, motorcycle touring, fitness and classic movies.

Twitter: @VAAuthor

Saturday, October 22, 2016

#Spooktacular #Giveaway! $100 #Cash #Grand #Prize! #Free To #Enter!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

This is a reminder to take a moment and look through the the Fall Spooktacular Author Giveaway!!  You can enter to win lots of awesome books and prizes!! :-)  It's free to enter, there are over 100 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, October 21, 2016

When Is #Enough, Enough?

Hey Everyone!! :-)

Today, I'd like to talk about different types of writing. As I've said before, I was a science nerd long before I started writing novels. Through most of my school career, I hated English classes and avoided them as much as possible. Instead, I loaded up my schedule with science and math classes, which I loved.

My antipathy towards English classes wasn't because I didn't like to read. I did. But the books that my English teachers assigned were often not books that interested me, and I hated having to write essays and reports about them. Part of the problem I had with writing essays was the style of writing required.

Unlike with lab reports, which I enjoyed writing, essays require that you expound upon and explore a theme. This was a concept I had trouble with, especially when the subject matter didn't interest me, and I had more than one disagreement with an English teacher over whether an essay was detailed enough where my argument amounted to, "But I answered your question!"

The trouble was that I had answered the question, but I hadn't explored all the implications of either the question or the answer. I treated essay assignments the same way I treated lab reports, a statement of the question, a factual description of the methods used to find an answer, a statement of the raw data observed, and an analysis of that data supported by fact-heavy sources.  But that's not what an essay is or is supposed to be.

Essays, even essays that discuss matters of fact and not opinion or philosophy, are just that, discussions. The purpose is to explore a subject, not simply report observations and attempt to place them into context. Unlike with lab reports, in essays it's not only permissible to roam beyond the realm of recorded observations to speculation and opinion, it's encouraged. In essays, analogies, metaphors, and similes can be used to both enrich the reader's experience and clarify a point. That's not true of lab reports.

When reporting on the results of a scientific experiment, it's important that the writer sticks closely to what was observed and only report what is supported by the data. One does not speculate on what might have been; one only reports what one sees and measures.  If an experiment leads to more questions, then further experiments need to be conducted to explore those questions. But it is not permissible to invent answers that one does not have data to support.

In essays, one is absolutely allowed to explore possibilities and speculations. Opinions lend a human element to the writing that helps engage readers. And descriptions can and should be colorful and in-depth. Unlike science, which should ideally be entirely divorced from emotion, essays seek to provoke an emotional response. Essays pull readers towards a conclusion; lab reports simply state the conclusion the data supports.

It was this fundamental difference that I failed to grasp while in school, and that's something that I regret now as I think I missed out on many opportunities to fill in gaps in my writing skills. What's really maddening to me is that one of my favorite parts of both reading and writing, world-building, would have benefitted greatly from developing the very descriptive skills that essay writing depends on.

There's more than one author whose work I read solely because I love the worlds and places they create. The word-pictures they paint let me see, feel, hear, and smell planets and realities that only exist in the pages of a book. I love that. Even when those authors don't have the same skill when it comes to plot or character development, I'll still read their books just to discover new and exciting worlds. It's my absolute favorite part of speculative fiction. The possibilities limited only by the imagination of the writer.

If you've read my books, you know I indulge in that same creativity when it comes to my stories. I love to imagine and write about the details of a place that only exists in my mind. I often spend days trying to get my descriptions just right, and I'd happily go into even more exhaustive detail if I didn't think my readers would hate me for it.

You see, unlike in my youth, I now face the opposite problem, when is enough enough?  I laugh to think back on how my English teachers used to have to drag every detail and description out of me. I drove one poor woman almost to the point of frustrated tears once when I obstinately refused to expand on a particular aspect of a literary theme that didn't interest me. I had answered the question, that was enough!  I could kick myself for not taking advantage of her expertise to learn and improve my descriptive techniques.

Because a sterile answer, lacking any humanity, isn't enough. Human beings respond much more readily to emotional appeals than they do to cold facts and figures.  Even when writing about factual matters, couching them in emotional terms increases the likelihood that people will understand and absorb what you are saying. If you don't believe me, feel free to research the psychology of persuasion and advertising, but I bet you'll end up reading essays on the subject rather than journal articles. ;-)

As a novelist, my primary goal is to entertain. It's great if my readers learn something from my stories, but that isn't what their main purpose is. And in entertainment, emotional appeal is even more vital than it is in essays.  I need to connect with my readers and get them invested in the fates of my characters. Am I successful at that? I don't know. You'd be in a better position to judge my abilities in this area than I would. But there's always room for improvement and I wish I had taken the opportunity to hone those skills when I had it.

But I can still learn, and I strive to continue to do so. As much as I love world-building, I've learned that there is such a thing as too much. After a while, readers cease to be fascinated and become bored. Does this mean I'll stop writing detailed descriptions? Nope! I like them and to some extent they're necessary to speculative fiction, the science fiction and fantasy genres. But it does mean that I'll strive to find a balance in this regard, and I'm always happy to hear your feedback on the matter. So, I'll ask again, when is enough, enough? ;-)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

#APC #Spotlight: Zombie Zero: The Last Zombie By J. K. Norry!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I've got J. K. Norry in my APC spotlight, today!  J. K. is an active and supportive member of  the  Authors-Professional Co-op Facebook group and, with Halloween coming up, I thought it would be appropriate to feature his Zomibe tale, The Last Zombie. Here's the description:
The smell of hope is burning flesh…

The howlers are eating each other. What is left of humanity has a chance to breathe at last. Each group that forms has to consider how they will begin anew. They must come together on how to take care of the remaining monsters, grow food, teach kids, and deal with their dead…or fall apart in the pitted wasteland left to them by the zombie apocalypse.
Can humanity get it right this time?
Or will the last human become The Last Zombie?
Sounds perfect for reading in the dark, right? ;-) If you're interested, you can grab your copy here:

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

#Agent Thoth's #Personal Log: Day 348

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 Three-Hundred-Forty-Eight:
My hominid-servant and I are having a disagreement about the proper place for sharpening claws. She does not seem to comprehend how important it is that I keep my claws sharp and ready for climbing and defense. She also does not seem to know that the action of sharpening my claws helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles in my legs and back, thereby keeping me limber and in good physical condition.

There are many objects scattered around the domicile that do quite well for claw sharpening activities, but my hominid-servant becomes irate when I use almost any of them. There is only one object that she condones as a medium for sharpening my claws but, while it is ideal for this purpose, the object in question is in an out of the way corner in a seldom-used room. How am I to use such an inconveniently placed object while still maintaining my research schedule?

Poor Agent Thoth, humans can be quite impossible at times. ;-) Now that you've all gotten to know him a bit, I was wondering what your opinions might be as to how he looks? The poll to decide his breed is in, and the consensus seems to be that he is a Maine Coon. Now you all need to tell me what color he is. Again, I'll put a poll up on the side of this blog to pick his color and I hope you'll all weigh in. Once we've got the particulars settled, I'll look for a picture to match. :-)

To vote in a poll, either vote directly or comment with your vote on any Agent Thoth post with your choice for his color. :-) Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

#October2016 #IndieBooksBeSeen #Indie #Author #Books #Monthly #BookReview!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

It's the 18th again, so I'm back with my monthly #IndieBooksBeSeen indie book review! Enjoy! :-)

Chicanery by Barbara Chioffi

Horror Has Never Been This Fun! Killer clowns, soul stealers, maniacal shape-shifters, and more!  Chicanery takes you from one wild ride to the next with characters and story lines that will suck you in despite the brevity of the prose. This is the second collection of horror short stories released by Barbara Chioffi, and once again she mixes horror with intrigue and romance in a seamless fashion. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!

Dragon Moon by Julie Nicholls:

Have you ever had a such a vivid dream you weren't sure where reality ended and the dream began? That's the situation Scarlett is in and to add to the confusion, she's told that the survival of the people around her depends on her!  As the only living Dragon Mage, Scarlett is the only one who can communicate with dragons and that turns out to be even more important than anyone knows. Will this confused 19-year-old girl be able to rise to the challenge?  You'll have to read to find out! :-)

I really enjoyed this story. Scarlett is exactly like many of us at her age, confused, overwhelmed, torn between the child she was and the adult she is becoming. As such, she's incredibly relatable and it's easy to empathize with her as she faces the challenges presented to her, finds her first serious romance, and evolves from girl to woman. This book is a complete story, but it's clear that there are more stories about Scarlett to come. Ms. Nicholls walks the fine line between a cliffhanger, which I hate, and leaving her readers wanting more, which I love. Five stars and I can't wait for the next book!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Is There Such A Thing As Too Much #Information?

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I'm back today with another peek at what Petri is up to. Have you ever had so much information dumped on you at one time that you didn't know where to start with it?  It seems that Petri has that problem right now. Take a look. ;-)

Excerpt from book two in the Petri Dish Chronicles:
"Do you know what they want, hun?"

Petri nodded. "Sort of. They want to know if I'm able to become one of them."

Chessie, Sadaka, and Daji just looked at her with stunned expressions on their faces. After a few heartbeats, Chessie ventured, "Why?"

"I don't know everything yet. It's hard to understand and I have to sort some things out in my head first."

"What do you mean, 'sort things out in your head'?" asked Daji. "Did they tell you or not?"

Giving him an irritated look, Petri replied, "Not." Turning back to Chessie, she continued, "I joined minds with them, but it was confusing. I know I picked up more information than I've made sense of, but I don't know what it is yet."

Chessie nodded. "Like a data dump."

Daji cocked an eyebrow at her an inquiring expression on his face. "Data dump?"

"Sometimes during a diddle you only have a short span of time to access data. If there's a system update that takes down some security, or if a reset diverts a data stream to a less secure part of the rainbow, something like that. You have to grab what you can while you can, so you just download it all and sift through it later." Chessie explained.

Petri nodded. "Yeah, it's a lot like that."

Hmmm...seems Petri has some thinking to do. I hope she figures things out soon. If you want to know if she does, check back often to catch the latest peeks and clues. ;-)  Thank you all for stopping by today!! :-)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

#NewRelease #Announcement: #Atlantis: A New #Beginning by Lisa Kulow!

Hey Everyone! :-)

Lisa Kulow is here with us today to tell us about her new book, Atlantis: A New Beginning! Lisa, take it away! :-)

Prince of Atlantis, Kyrian, has moved into his new kingdom in the Amazon with his soon to be queen Yew’ll. He is ready to start his new life with the love of his life and live happily ever after but other forces and evil people had other plans for Kyrian and his kingdom. There happily ever after was interrupting by unforeseen events that would leave you shook. They didn’t realize that greater trials await them and they would have to go through a lot of storms to get out of the problems that arose. This group of four people will face great love and heart wrenching threats to their love and new home. There are many Atlanteans gifted with impressive powers of the mind with the ability to create, conjure, shape shift and heal. Yet some choose to serve the Darkness by using their gifts to increase their own power. As a result, terror and sickness return to reign over the land again. Shea, Kyrians servant and friend uses his final gift from Atlantis to try to save his love and the world as they know it. In that process he learns where the Atlanteans went and what some of them are now including himself. Can the Atlanteans come together to keep their race alive? Or will the once great empire be doomed to fall yet again?

It is free on KU or 1.00 to buy. It is book 1 in a trilogy.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

#Spooktacular #Giveaway! $100 #Cash #Grand #Prize! #Free To #Enter!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

This is a reminder to take a moment and look through the the Fall Spooktacular Author Giveaway!!  You can enter to win lots of awesome books and prizes!! :-)  It's free to enter, there are over 100 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, October 14, 2016

A Closet Full Of Clothes And Nothing To Wear. ;-)

Hey Everyone!! :-)

With Halloween close at hand, I've been going through my clothes to see what kind of costume I can come up with. I don't know about you, but sometimes I like to cobble together everyday clothing to make something unusual. It's a challenge and it makes me look at ordinary things with new eyes. While experimenting with combinations the other day, I thought of this this passage in Captivated By The Winter King, and I thought I'd share it with you.

Excerpt from Captivated By The Winter King:
Kate hadn't had much in her suitcase and, while everything was stylish and of good quality, none of it seemed to represent the person she thought she was becoming. The clothes were serviceable enough, but none of them conveyed the air of authority she wanted to cultivate. They were perfect for the old, quiet, reserved Kate she had been; but not what the new, confident, assertive Kate she wanted to become would need.

"Clothes make the woman," she murmured to herself.

"Indeed, your majesty," called a doleful voice from the door.

Jumping, Kate spun to find a Duergar female she was unfamiliar with standing there. Feeling a draft, she looked down and realized her robe had gaped open. Clutching it closed, she looked up and blushed. "I'm sorry for that."

The small Fae bustled into the room, waving away her apology. "Not at all. I'll need you bare if I'm to take proper measurements." She looked up as if a thought had just occurred to her. "I did knock, but there was no answer. I thought you might be too far from the door to hear, so I just came in. I'm sorry if I presumed, your majesty."

Recovering, Kate smiled. "That's okay, I was probably in the shower," she indicated her still-damp hair. "You must be Elatha?"

Bobbing a quick curtsey, the Fae responded, "Yes, your majesty. Luiseach said you wished to order some clothing?"

"Yes, I'd like some clothing more appropriate for someone who intends to rule over others." She gestured at the open wardrobe, "What I have is too subdued. I'd like some items in brighter, bolder colors and more assertive cuts. Can you help me?"

"Of course, your majesty." Elatha studied her. "You are quite tall, for a human, and your features are sharp. Striking. Yes, the right clothes will help give you the commanding presence you will need." Tilting her head to the side, the Fae continued, "You seem to understand the subtle power inherent in clothing. Would you like to design the items you require, or would you prefer I deal with the details?"

Thinking about all the things she had to do, Kate grimaced. "I'd love to collaborate, but I just don't have the time." She gave the Fae a searching look, "I think you understand what I need. I'll trust you."

"As you wish," Elatha nodded. "Please remove your robe so I can take measurements. For the type of clothing you describe, the fit will have to be exact."

Taking a deep breath, Kate did something that before last night would have been beyond painful for her. She dropped her robe and revealed her body to the stranger before her. As Elatha moved around her in a business-like fashion, recording the information she needed, Kate stepped even further from her comfort zone and described some specific things she wanted.

So what about you?  Do you believe in the "subtle power inherent in clothing?" Do you enjoy dressing up and experimenting?  I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments!

Thank you all for dropping by today, and don't forget to check back tomorrow for the latest in Mistral Dawn's Musings! :-)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

#APC #Spotlight: Eternal Curse: Giovanni's Angel By Toi Thomas!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

Today, Toi Thomas is in my APC spotlight!  Toi is an active and supportive member of  the  Authors-Professional Co-op Facebook group, and her paranormal romance novel, Eternal Curse: Giovanni's, sounds really interesting! Here's the description:
“You have plenty of time to change your mind. You have not yet seen the monster I can be.”
Giovanni has been waiting his whole life to meet someone like Mira, someone from the outside world who might be able to help him. He wonders if there really is help for him as he continues to hold tightly onto dark secrets and even darker memories. Giovanni wants to be hopeful and he wants to accept Mira’s help, but first he has to look himself in the mirror and face what he truly is- and that is a reality no one is quite ready to accept.
Searching for new purpose and meaning in her life, Mira meets Giovanni online and an exciting and, in some ways, scary friendship is developed. Mira decides one day to meet Giovanni in person, at his secluded country home, in order to aid him on his journey of self-discovery. What these two are able to discover will not only test their strength and will, but it will stretch the limits of their minds and catapult them into a world where earth, Heaven, and Hell collide.
Giovanni’s Angel is the story of a man who may just be the answer to a spiritual war swiftly heading his way- but for now, he just wants to be a man.
Sound good? Great! :-) If you're interested, you can grab your copy here:

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

#Agent Thoth's #Personal Log: Day 341

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 Three-Hundred-Forty-One:
One observation that I have been remiss in reporting is not about the hominids, but about the canids. In spite of the fact that the canids seem to dictate the schedule for physical exercise to the hominids, in all other matters they are unquestionably subservient. What's more, they are inexpressibly dumb.

Oh, canids are affable enough. It's not difficult to bend them to one's will and it is sometimes amusing to lead them astray. But I don't believe they will ever be suitable for consideration as members of DPCIL. Still, the canid that resides with my hominid-servant has proved useful.

The creature does not have enough of a sense of self-preservation to be wary of the treacherous white substance. In fact, I have been able to observe through the portals the canid interacting with the substance at length. It has made for fascinating study.

To date, I have not observed any long-term ill effects of the white substance. The canid does not appear diminished in mass when it returns to the domicile after such excursions, so if the substance does feed from living beings it is being cagey about it. Still, I believe further research is warranted. The canid is undeniably wet after wallowing in the substance, so perhaps it infiltrates a creature's body by seeping through the skin and feeds from within. I will continue to report my observations.

Ha! Looks like Agent Thoth isn't above using those around him to further his goals. ;-) Now that you've all gotten to know him a bit, I was wondering what your opinions might be as to how he looks? The poll to decide his breed is in, and the consensus seems to be that he is a Maine Coon. Now you all need to tell me what color he is. Again, I'll put a poll up on the side of this blog to pick his color and I hope you'll all weigh in. Once we've got the particulars settled, I'll look for a picture to match. :-)

To vote in a poll, either vote directly or comment with your vote on any Agent Thoth post with your choice for his color. :-) Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Okay, Are You Ready For This? ;-)

Hey Everyone!! :-)

Today, I'd like to talk about the election that's coming up in November for those of you living in the US.  I know I've written an awful lot about the Presidential election, so I'm not going to rehash all of that now. My opinions haven't changed and if you want to know what they are, read What's Good For The Goose...Just How #Scary Is The #TPP?, and Is That A #Fact?

But as important as the Presidential election is, it isn't the only election that will be happening on the 8th of November this year. There are also state and local offices up for grabs, ballot initiatives, and you may even be voting on a US House Representative seat. So I urge you to do your homework and pay attention to everything that's on the ballot next month.

How do you do that? I'm glad you asked! It's actually very easy.  All you do is call or email your local election office. I found mine through the very complicated process of typing my county and state into a Google search along with the words "election office." I know, terribly difficult. Just make sure the link you click on has a .gov extension, and then just follow the instructions on the site.

The details will vary from election office to election office, but for many of them you can check your voter registration status, what's on the ballot, who the candidates are, where your polling place is, and more. If any information that you want is missing, the email address and phone number for your election office should be listed. Just give them a call or send them a quick email and ask for the information you want.  They'll tell you. It's their job and information about what you'll be voting on and how to do so isn't a secret. So just ask.

What should you know?  Well, first you should confirm that you're registered to vote, and if not you need to get registered ASAP. Deadlines will pass soon, and you don't want to miss your chance. Second, make sure you know where you need to go to vote. Map Quest is your friend, if you aren't familiar with the address. ;-)

But you also need to know what you'll be voting on. Find out what offices are being filled and who the candidates are.  Do a Google search of their names and find out what their records are. Have they held political office before?  What's their record. Does their voting record reflect your values and interests? Have they written anything about what they believe?  Is it what you believe?

Don't just vote on party lines, do some research and find out who the best candidate is for you!  I know, we're all busy, but it really doesn't take that long. Just set aside half an hour one evening and spend a little time on Google. It's one of the most valuable ways you'll spend half an hour all year.

Also find out about any ballot initiatives, bills, or proposals you'll be voting on. Read them and make sure you understand what they mean and what a "yes" vote and "no" vote means. Sometimes--deliberately so at times--they are worded in a way that makes it hard to know if you are voting for or against it, but if you can't figure it out ask your election office. Again, that's why they have jobs, so don't be bashful.

It takes a little time to be prepared, but it's incredibly important that you take that time and know what you're voting for. Ask yourself, are you happy with the political situation in this country right now?  Because if you aren't, the only way to change it is to educate yourself, be informed about the candidates and issues, and vote!  Only by voting for the changes we want and the candidates who represent those changes will we get the political system we need. If we stay apathetic and uninformed, all we'll get is the political system we deserve. I know which I want. Which do you want?


Monday, October 10, 2016

#NewRelease #PreOrder #Sale #Announcement: #Dragon Moon By Julie Nicholls!!

Dragon Moon Release!!

Hey peeps!!

I’m happy to announce that my (Julie Nicholls) latest Young Adult Fantasy, Dragon Moon is available for pre-order at the fabulously low price of 99c! This is a huge saving because from Thursday 13th October, the price will be $3.45 so get it while it’s on offer!

You want to know what the book is about, right?

Save the dragons, unite the races, no sweat.

I’m nineteen and wish I had a clue about my future. Instead of my own bed, this morning I woke in the strange land of Lur Neval. My name is Scarlett, but the Nevalese call me Dragon Mage. Seems it’s my job to preserve the all-important dragons and oh, while I’m here, bring peace to the warring clans. Piece of cake if I can outwit Madoc, the manipulative, evil seer who wants every dragon destroyed. Whatever it takes, I’m here to fulfill my destiny under the light of the Dragon Moon.

…and of course, you want a sneaky peek…right?

Along the entrance way are the usual rows of tents and caravans where the gypsies promise to read your future--for a price. The inclination to visit a psychic has never been on my to-do list. It’s not that I don’t believe it’s possible to see the future, but I’m skeptical that it would be of any use. I arrive at the end of the strip and conclude the best, and probably most expensive, place to set up tent must be back at the start of the road. The last tent is tatty, faded, and quite frankly looks like a couple of old bedspreads thrown over a wooden frame. The lettering on the board leaning against a block of wood is barely readable. I can just make out a name in gold and red faded paint.
Dizelli - Psychic & Fortune Teller.
“Come in, child.”
A woman’s voice speaks from inside the tent. I don’t want this. Rudeness isn’t something I practice, but I don’t want to pay for a string of lines that start with “Your destiny waits.”
“I know what you are thinking, Scarlett...come inside. I have something for you.”
Now she has my interest. After moving the large purple rug hanging across the doorway to the side, I step inside and wrinkle my nose. That smell is not by Dolce & Gabbana.
There are candles burning all around in holders made from what looks like bones. Not attractive, I can tell you. It’s a bit dingy but there’s no way I can miss her, or I should say her hair. And I thought I had problems!
The plump lady is sitting in the middle of the floor on top of fur rugs and cushions. She’s dark-skinned and has the craziest hair I’ve ever seen--black with silver streaks. It’s wild and looks as though it’s never had a brush or comb through it.
I can’t stop gawping around the tent. There are various bones and objects dangling from the walls and ceiling. Claws. Very big claws are all tied together and I think teeth too. They’re huge so they can’t be real, right?
She points at the floor in front of her and I hesitate because, well...who knows what’s crawling in those furs.
“Do it!”
She’s a bit bossy, but I’m intrigued how she knows my name so, with my chin held high, I sit as commanded.
“Your destiny awaits, Scarlett, and we have no time to lose!”
Here we go.
“Time is not on our side and you must embrace your future,” she continues.
“Okay. Is it going to be good?”
“Good is not a word I would use; however, if it is excitement you long for, you shall have it.”
You know how I roll my eyes when my mother speaks? Well, I have the same desire to do it now.
I’m fascinated, though, by the way she’s swaying from side to side with her head wobbling like one of those dogs you have on the dashboard of your car. Uh-oh...wait for it...
“You are special, Scarlett.”
“I know you are skeptical, but you should listen to my words.”
She puts her right hand into the box by her side and pulls out a long gold chain with a medallion hanging from it.
I’m listening.
“This is for you. It is ONLY for you.”
“I really don’t have the money to pay for an obviously expensive gold necklace.”
“There is no charge. It is yours, by right.”
“Really? What’s the catch?”
We all know there is one, don’t we?
“Take it, Scarlett. Wear it when you take to your bed tonight.”
“Is it going to make my neck turn green?” I’m sorry. I just couldn’t hold it in anymore, together with a giggle.
“You will see...do as I say.”
She’s dangling the pendant right in front of my nose, and I’m drawn instantly to the image of a dragon flying over a circle on the side facing me. She twists it around and on the other side is a rearing horse, and the circle behind it is definitely the sun as it has rays coming out of it. It’s quite beautiful and not tacky at all.
“Take it!”
I do, reluctantly, because I’m still waiting for the “cross my palm with silver” line, but it doesn’t come. Instead she pushes up from the floor and sweeps the covering over the door to the side.
“Leave. Now.”
“Go and await your destiny, Dragon Mage. We will meet again.”
I do as she asks and step outside. Glancing over my shoulder, I’m about to ask what she means by Dragon Mage, but she isn’t there and has returned inside. The pendant in my hand glimmers, and I toy with the notion of wearing it. I stash it quickly into my bag instead and try to put it out of my thoughts.

Don’t forget it’s available at the ridiculous price of 99c until release day which is 
Thursday 13th October, 2016

Go get it!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

#Animal #Rescuer's #Guide To #Staying ( #Relatively ) #Sane! #Free! :-)

Hey Everyone!! :-)

Just a reminder, for those who haven't checked it out yet, I've collected all my animal rescue/care posts together and published them as a small book.  If you'd like, you can download the book for free from Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, Kobo, and iTunes.

Thanks for stopping in today, and don't forget to check back tomorrow for the next installment of Mistral Dawn's Musings! :-)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

#Spooktacular #Giveaway! $100 #Cash #Grand #Prize! #Free To #Enter!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

This is a reminder to take a moment and look through the the Fall Spooktacular Author Giveaway!!  You can enter to win lots of awesome books and prizes!! :-)  It's free to enter, there are over 100 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, October 7, 2016

#Interview With P. J. Benney

Hey Everyone!! :-)

PJ Benney is here with me today to talk about his book Déjà Moo! PJ, can you tell us about yourself and how many books you have written?

PJ: I am a twenty-something creative writing graduate from Essex, England who loves coffee, rollercoasters and singers who write their own songs. My first book Déjà Moo was very recently released on Kindle.

Me: Congratulations! What inspired Déjà Moo?

PJ:  Déjà Moo is a comic-fantasy set in present-day London, and it's about a celebrity cattle trader who gets mixed up with a coven of witches when his prize-winning mascot disappears. It started off as a university assignment but I continued to develop it long after graduation out of sheer determination, and it kept growing in depth - and length! - with each successive draft. Here's the blurb:
When a prize-winning Holstein vanishes from Hyde Park, a witch, a celebrity and a detective find themselves at the centre of a conspiracy that threatens to destroy their futures - and rewrite their pasts. With a loose werewolf stalking Camden Market, a coven controlling London's biggest news channel and a reporter desperate to expose a public scandal, it's only a matter of time before the city discovers both the fate of the bovine superstar, and the existence of magic itself...

Me:  A celebrity cattle trader? How inventive! :-) What are you working on now?

PJ:  Two projects - obviously a sequel, because, how could I not? The sequel is entitled Bovine Intervention and it picks up about three months after Déjà Moo ends. The characters have all gone their separate ways and moved on with their careers, until a single event draws them all back together. But before that I've got to finish my sci-fi novella about parallel universes. Still untitled, but it features some of the characters from Déjà Moo and ties into the ending of that book and the start of the next one quite nicely. It's going to be out within a few months!

Me:  Wonderful! What authors, or books, have influenced you?

PJ:  One great name I can think of is Jasper Fforde. I don't really know how big he is outside of the UK, but he's hilarious. His Thursday Next series is about a detective who investigates "literary" crimes inside books, such as the kidnapping of Jane Eyre, or Dickens' Miss Havishamdoing illegal drag racing. It starts off utterly absurd, but once you buy into it, and suspend your disbelief, it starts to make a weird sort of sense. That's totally the inspiration for Lawnmowers, Inc., the fictional cattle-trading company at the centre of my book. Daniel hires out cattle to tend public parks because it's cheaper than staff and machinery. It started off as a bit of a joke to me, but as I persevered, it too started to make a sense and I began to take it more seriously.

Me:  Ha! Sounds like a hoot! What are you reading now?

PJ:  I'm in the middle of two books. The View from the Cheap Seats is a collection of non-fiction by Neil Gaiman. Essays, speeches etc. Each section leaves me feeling inspired - he writes a lot about the importance of literature, books, reading, and libraries. The other is Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye. I'm only about a third of the way in but her writing style is incredibly vivid, much sharper and clearer than most writers I could think of. Just please don't ask me what it's about, because I'm not entirely sure I'm supposed to know the answer to that question yet!

Me:  How mysterious. ;-) For those who might consider reading your book, what would you tell them to expect?

PJ:  Laughter and tears in equal measure? I always say that I like to toe the line between comedy and tragedy. It starts off absurd, and silly and ridiculous and colourful, but it also explores some darker subjects too. That attitude, I lifted from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That show starts off fluffy and weird; a schoolgirl fighting monsters and cracking jokes. But once you get into it, you get the absolutely devastating episodes that catch people off-guard and reduce them to blubbering wrecks. I tried to encapsulate all of that in Déjà Moo.

Me:  Sometimes the only way to deal with the hardest subjects is through humor. What is your favorite part of being an author?

PJ:  Finishing. I don't enjoy writing. I enjoy having written. It feels good to have accomplished something; doesn't mean I won't moan and groan and sigh and procrastinate and stare out of the window while I'm writing! (I only have myself to blame, really.)

Me:  Ha! Yeah, sometimes focus can be elusive. ;-) Do you have any other hobbies as well?

PJ:  My favourite things are all story-focused! I draw a lot of inspiration from books, movies, TV and even video-games. I love examining story-arcs in all sorts of media and learning from them that way. I guess that's the general definition of an armchair critic! But I never like to put-down anybody's hard work, even when the plot twists throw me. I always think, they got paid a lot of money to broadcast/script/publish/programme this, so why did they really do it that way?  Outside of that, I love rollercoasters, hedge-mazes and cooking. Not all at once though.

Me:  Sounds like you enjoy twists and turns of all kinds. ;-)  What are the hardest and easiest parts about being a writer?

PJ:  Hardest - perhaps the writing part? Only joking. I guess the scheduling. Going home after work every day, booting up my computer and continuing to work. I think some of my colleagues think I'm a bit crazy, but I honestly don't know what I'd do if I didn't write.  Easiest - I actually love naming characters. I pick the names first. All of the magi (magic-wielding) characters in my novel have culinary names because they draw their power from food. Cherry Cinnabon, Coriander Sprigg, Hickory Briskett. They're literally defined by what they eat.

Me:  They sound like really interesting characters! What genre do you place your book in?

PJ:  Predominantly urban fantasy. It's about magic and it's set in present-day London. There's a big overlap between the worlds of magic and the media, and the papers and reporters play a huge role in the mystery. But because people class time-travel as a staple of science-fiction, it's also listed under science-fiction > timetravel on Amazon. The fact is there's absolutely zero science involved, but no one's objected to it yet!

Me:  There's lots of science fantasy out there. I think Amazon should add the category. ;-)  Is there anything else you'd like to tell your readers?

PJ:  Yes! Déjà Moo is free to read at www.dejamoo.co.uk! I'm posting the story in bi-weekly installments. As of 24th August, I've just posted Chapter 10 of 20. Another six weeks and you can read it in its entirety, for free. If you're sure you can wait that long to see how it ends... So if you're not sure you want to buy, visit the website and give it a look!

Me:  How generous! And so these fine folks can find your work, are there any links you'd like me to post?

PJ:  There are three incredibly handy links no sensible reader should be without.   The first is obviously my website, where the book is FREE - did I mention this already? - FREE to read. www.dejamoo.co.uk

The second is my twitter page - everything gets shared there. You can't miss it. https://twitter.com/pjbenney

The third and final is obviously a link to the book. You can buy it in the US here, Déjà Moo: A Lawnmowers, Inc. Novel. for $3. If you search your native Amazon page you should find it there too. Thanks for reading!

Me:  And thank you, PJ, for joining me here today.  Thank you to everyone else to stopped by as well, and don't forget to check back tomorrow for the next edition of Mistral Dawn's Musings!! :-)