Who Is Mistral Dawn?

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

Friday, 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! :-)