Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Book promo

If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. A COMMISSION IS EARNED FROM EACH PURCHASE. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*

FROM M.C.A. HOGARTH: An Heir to Thorns and Steel (Blood Ladders Trilogy Book 1)

Morgan Locke, university student, has been hiding his debilitating illness with fair enough success when two unlikely emissaries arrive bearing the news that he is prince to a nation of creatures out of folklore. Ridiculous! And yet, if magic exists…could it heal him? The ensuing journey will resurrect the forgotten griefs of history, and before it’s over, all the world will be remade by thorns and steel….

Book 1 of the Blood Ladders trilogy, an epic fantasy with sociopathic elves, vampiric genets, and the philosophy students mixed up in the lot.

FROM SABRINA CHASE: Sky Tribe (Guardian’s Compact Book 3).

Engineers always find a way!

Jens-Peter Oberacker thought the secret research facility for magical craft would be peaceful and quiet–the perfect place to finish his engineering research paper. He didn’t expect a violent gang of thieves to have their eyes on the ships, or having to escape to save his life. Worse yet, he’s now being blamed for the entire thing!

On the run in the last, badly damaged ship, an unexpected encounter with a housemaid on a mansion rooftop saves him from immediate disaster. But why would she lurk on a roof at night? And where did she learn her utter fearlessness of heights?

Perhaps unwisely, Jens-Peter ignores these questions—and the housemaid’s unexpected knife—desperate to find someone, anyone, who can clear his name. And let him finish his paper…

FROM LAURA MONTGOMERY: The Gear Engages (Martha’s Sons Book 4)

It takes more than a single terraformer to start a new world.

The human colony on the lost world of Not What We Were Looking For faces fracture and schism. On one side of the river, the settlers from Earth remember what it means to live in a free society. In the Marss-controlled city, the governor cancelled elections long ago and strives daily to cement his grip on the inhabitants.
Thaddeus Dawe and the Hudson cousins, including the one who agreed to marry him, save the colony’s last terraseeder from the governor’s political grandstanding, and head for the secret northern enclave started by Thaddeus’ brother. But all Thaddeus’ careful planning takes a wrenching turn when not one but two parties race in pursuit.

Thwarted in his original goal, faced with repairing the consequences of what he does to escape arrest, and besotted by the discovery of newspapers, Thaddeus wrestles with new ventures and roles in which he dare not fail. He must save not only Earth’s microbial legacy but its knowledge base as well. Not to mention, he’s getting married.

But when the governor’s chief of staff decides to weaponize Thaddeus against both the city’s farmers and the newspaper’s publisher, Thaddeus must fight the governor’s attempts to steal the farmers’ land even as someone destroys everything Thaddeus himself tries to build. In the end, he must do what he can to save those his own betrayal put at risk.

Picking up where Under the Earthline left off, The Gear Engages is the fourth book in the gripping science fiction colonization series Martha’s Sons. If you like action, political machinations, and a driven hero, you’ll want to dive in heart-and-head first.

Pick it up now to join the fight for a lost world!

FROM ELLIE FERGUSON: Danger Foretold (Eerie Side of the Tracks Book 5)

Mossy Creek, TX is not your normal town. For more than a century, it’s been a haven to Others, people with special “talents”. Magic and shapeshifting are normal there. Others and Normals co-exist as friends, neighbors, lovers and family. But all that is in danger of being destroyed as an untold evil comes to town, determined to destroy not only those sworn to protect the town and all who live there but the very town itself.

Mossy Creek’s wayward children have returned, one by one, to town. Annie Grissom Caldwell, Quinn O’Donnell, and Meg Sheridan are back and determined to do all they can to stand between their town and the oncoming danger. Dr. Jax Powell, the Rogue, leads them and, in her role as one of the town’s Guardians, will do whatever it takes to keep everyone safe. But another of their group, Maddy Reyes, may very well hold the key to victory.

But can they trust her?

Do they dare?

FROM ROBERT BIDINOTTO: HUNTER: A Dylan Hunter Justice Thriller (Dylan Hunter Thrillers Book 1)

“A masterwork of thrills and suspense.” –Gayle Lynds, New York Times bestselling author of The Assassins

#1 KINDLE BESTSELLER in “MYSTERIES & THRILLERS”

WHO IS HUNTER? WHO IS PREY? WHO WILL SURVIVE?

Award-winning true-crime author Robert Bidinotto makes his stunning fiction debut with a gripping vigilante justice thriller that has earned more than 500 “5-star” rave reviews from readers.

Two people, passionately in love.
But each hides a deadly secret.
He is a crusading vigilante, on a violent quest for justice.
She is tracking this unknown assassin, sworn to stop him.
Neither realizes the truth about the other.
And neither knows that a terrifying predator is hunting them both….

FROM KAREN MEYERS: The Chained Adept: A Lost Wizard’s Tale.

MEET A POWERFUL WIZARD WITH UNANSWERED QUESTIONS–AND AN UNBREAKABLE CHAIN AROUND HER NECK.

Have you ever wondered how you might rise to a dangerous situation and become the hero that was needed?

The wizard Penrys has barely gained her footing in the country where she was found three years ago, chained around the neck and wiped of all knowledge. And now, an ill-planned experiment has sent her a quarter of the way around her world.

One magic working has called to another and landed Penrys in the middle of an ugly war between neighboring countries, half a world away.

No one has any reason to trust her amid rumors of wizards where they don’t belong. And she fears to let them know just what she can do — especially since she can’t explain herself to them and she doesn’t know everything about herself either.

Penrys has her own problems, and she doesn’t have any place in this conflict. But they need her, whether they realize it or not. And so she’s determined to try and lend a hand, if she can. Whatever it takes.

And once she discovers there’s another chained adept, even stronger than she is, she’s hooked. Friend or foe, she has questions for him — oh, yes, she does.

All she wants is a firm foundation for the rest of her life, with a side helping of retribution, and if she has to fix things along the way, well, so be it.

The Chained Adept is the first book of the series.

FROM ROBERT WOERNER: The Facts of Roses.

Side A: Current events, the world is falling apart
Side B: Pop culture
Side C: A discussion about Cerebus

As always, little tidbits are included in-between each essay. With current events, they’re news headlines. With pop culture, they’re random jokes I threw in. The essays on each side are in chronological order, the headlines/jokes are in chronological order but the two do not mix.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: BABIES

Decades of Decadence

Sure, okay. We’re decadent. Why not? I’ve been hearing it my entire life so it must be true (giggle and since I was born in the sixties, nooooo, it was totally not Soviet Agit Prop. That’s Un-possible. Our top men would surely see through that!) but let’s talk about what decadence is and what it looks like.

I’ll start with the image I picked, that of an incontrovertibly lost civilization. Weirdly, despite all the “decadence” of Greece and Rome what caused the ruins wasn’t that they slept with one too many unapproved partners (look, for Greece is that decadence) but that they were invaded, conquered and dismantled.

Most of the images when you look up decadence on pixabay are of…. Cuba. So, I’m going to guess that the definition is actually “invaded, conquered, dismantled” because that’s what communists do, even if they theoretically are from the same culture they’re taking over. Because their assumptions and goals are antithetical to any real human civilization.

Yes, sure. I hear any number of you gnashing your teeth on that side of the screen: the soft living, the snowflakery in — mostly — our universities, the demands that everyone cater to them, people being completely terrified of a bad cold. Oh, yeah, rampant crime and bad sexual morals. We’re OBVIOUSLY decadent. How can I make fun of it?

Very easily.

For one your gnashing of teeth rhymes eerily with Romans gnashing of teeth for millennia, long before Rome was anywhere near ripe to fall, and in fact while Rome was the bad ass of the world. Second, it echoes even more eerily all of the Christian explanations of why Rome fell, which curiously also echoed the Christian beliefs in the loss of paradise.

“Decadence is sinfulness, and then comes the end and only G-d can save you” is the narrative there. Which is fine, in a spiritual sense, and completely bonkers insane when it applies to cultures and history. But it served the nascent theocracy that replaced Rome quite well. One of the things it served was to explain why life was now much, much harder. Because you know, abundance is what leads to decadence. Life is too soft, you don’t work hard enough and …. bam! suddenly you’re in the middle of an orgy or worshiping a goat or something. Never you mind that the Romans pretty much did that all along, even when they were the badasses of the world. It’s really easy to shape the history of a fallen civilization so it suits the purposes of its successor.

Which brings us to the fact that Communism is a Christian heresy, complete with paradise — the supposed egalitarian and property-free pre-history (it’s also really easy to shape a period that left no account of itself that we can find) — until greed — and in one version PATRIARCHY and in another “whiteness” WTF that means — kicked us out of it. Now we must force the perfect human (Homo Sovieticus!) to emerge, so we can go back to living in caves in (sing it) perfect harmony. (Yeah.)

The complaints of decadence I heard as a young woman were mostly Soviet Agit Prop. Yes, yours were too. They ranged from incoherent to frigging insane. Some of it was a very old rhyming chorus: Americans were decadent because they were too rich. They had too many choices. They were too immoral. They never had enough, and would commit crimes to be richer. They ate too much, drove too much, slept in too comfortable a bed, and in general were DECADENT. Just like Rome before it fell. (If you realize the actual structure of Imperial Rome was closer to the Soviet Union’s, a plunder culture that could only survive by stealing, the whole thing will take your breath away with its chutzpah.

The fact that our (even though at the time it was your, as I was a foreigner at least in some ways) entertainment and art echoed these crazy accusations only made the whole thing stick, so even the right, American loving side (which anyway always has a vast side of puritanism in America. And speaking of puritans, let’s talk about what some of them did to…. turkeys? If weird sexual kinks are a sign of decadence, we’ve never been non-decadent) bought into it. I mean Spartacus (the novel) portrait of the decadence of Rome was meant to echo how bad America was. What’s that I hear? The author was a communist? You. Don’t. Say. I think I sent my shocked face out to be mended, but I won’t be a sec while I retrieve it.

In a more personal sense, my own family told me Portugal too was decadent. Why, unlike mom, I didn’t have to walk beside the train line to pick up enough coal for the family to cook. We had butane bottles delivered, even if they were super expensive, so we often cooked on a petrol lamp in the patio, if the weather was fine.

Decadent and soft living, I tell you. Sure, the bathroom was outside, but it was a bathroom, with running water included. JUST like Rome before the fall. How much longer till we started screwing Nightingales’ Tongues, eating Bear Sausages and electing horses to congress (I think in America we’ve been doing that all along, too. Though I’d prefer if every now and then we elected the front half of the horse.)

Yeah, so, I took packed and irregular trains to school, but I didn’t walk both ways. (Dad never tried to claim he did so in snow. Let’s be grateful for that, because given the rate of snowing in Portugal, I wouldn’t have believed him.)

But Sarah, you’ll say, we’ve really gone decadent, compared to our founders and their principles.

Decadent? No. I mean, look, guys, there was a miracle in (Filthy fuming) Philadelphia in how our founding documents were worded and that has kept us weirdly safe despite the rest of the world, and an evil conjunction of technology and ideology that has almost destroyed humanity several times (but not without our paying a price in liberty, and more on that.) But the people, themselves, were not some mythical giants of liberty. If you went one on one, without the media in between, more people are likely to understand individual rights and their importance now. Look, we have some experience of them. Most people back then simply didn’t.

Unfaithful to our founding and squandering liberty? Sure. But that’s because we’ve been invaded and propagandized by an enemy ideology for decades now. (Close on to a century.) Which, frankly, we’re holding up admirably against, because America retains a dose of horse sense that is the despair of the world. (And no explanation of why we send horse halves to congress, but that’s something else.)

It has bloody nothing to do with decadence and/or a falling in morals.

It has to do with having our problems diagnosed as the wrong thing, and more poison prescribed — which is part of what this post is about — because our institutions have been co-opted, taken over and weaponized by people who hate everything we are and do.

But SARAH! Screwing everything that moves! And letting criminals out of jail. Oh, and the heartbreak of psoriasis. (Okay, I made that last one up.)

Sure. Look, Americans have always been extreme. We have extreme trends. We create extreme art. We even dress in extreme — meaning not all the same — ways. That is a foreign complaint about us, that has been going on a long time.

Sexual immorality? Yeah, there’s plenty of that to go around all over the world. Our media makes much of it, though honestly, part of what shocks me about leftists is how little joy they derive from their sins. If you’re not going to have fun screwing that turkey (we’re looking at you, Hillary) why do it? But they seem to have co-opted the French idea of all sex, no pleasure. It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for them.

Most of the most visible and atrocious behavior in America is either created, enforced or propagandized by those same institutions that have been taken over by the leftists. Yeah, I know, it’s touched some of your own families, etc. But that’s because public schools and mass entertainment are two of those institutions (Thank heavens losing power.)

As for divorce, which in America is almost the norm (Husband and I are weird as we were each other’s first spouse, and are chugging on at 36-almost-37 (for the Summer anniversary) years of marriage) there are tons of reasons for that, which have bloody nothing to do with culture or decadence.

Oh, sure, Hollywood normalized divorce, but 6 of one, half a dozen of the other, let’s talk about longer life spans, smaller families, dual careers, etc.

We were talking in a group the other day about how to stay married you must choose to grow together. (And even then transitions like from parents to empty nesters will try you) but no one mentioned how much harder that is, when each of you functions as an independent economic unit, in a different environment from your spouse, which was in no way the norm throughout history or most of the world even today.

While the feminists are crazy-go-nuts about how women weren’t allowed to work in the past (Also full of sh*t, but that’s par for the course) the fact is that throughout most of history people couldn’t choose not to work (Their idea of history is wealth Victorian families, and then the imaginary fifties.) But families usually worked together, or in the same field, or — as my grandparents did — in different crafts, but in the same house, so each was intimately acquainted with the other’s business/contacts.

Now, weirdly, this work at home brought on by the covidiocy might bring the later condition back, and slow down the divorce rate. Maybe. Because the major issue remains: our marriages are really, really long. Because we live long, healthy lives. (Eh, TPTB are trying to mitigate that too.) And being married for 25 years, happily is one thing. For 75 it’s a whole other ball of wax.

Fact remains most of the people I know who get divorced don’t do so because they must have some strange (oh, there’s always one or two, but those are usually super-young) but because their whole life just doesn’t “fit” or “work” anymore. (It could be argued the husband and I move, instead. But since I’m hoping not to move much for at least 10 or 15 years, I hope not.)

But! Soft. On. Crime.

Uh…. sure. We’ve seen that before in the seventies, haven’t we? And it does make all of society WAY more dangerous.

So– decadence?

Oh, bullshit. You tell me which Americans, i.e. every day people, are demanding that murderers be let go to save them from Covid.

No. This is more of TPTB which are not Americans (no matter where they were born) but Marxists trying to destroy America. I suspect their being ridiculous on crime (Truly? Public camping for feral homeless?) is their attempt to make us look decadent according to the propaganda of decades. I’m not sure they know why, either, or what it means except that Make America look decadent = ??????? = Communist paradise.

Yesterday at Legal Insurrection there was a post saying “If the left controls everything, why are they so scared.”

Well…. because things aren’t working out as they expected.

Look, — cues Sympathy for the devil — if they weren’t such despicable creatures, I’d feel sorry for them. Or at least for the ones who are true believers.

Like the rest of us they’ve been propagandized on the “decadence” of America and how we were falling and then…. the Soviet Union fell? Those who are older than I are still in shock, and the younger kids are convinced there was some evil capitalist trick.

To make things worse, they don’t think much, so they’re not cognizant of what’s happening.

You see, communism as we know it didn’t die as the crackpot brain child of Marx because it hit at a time when mass communication became a thing. And it’s an ideology that appeals to crackpot grifters who are likely to be “Journalists” and “novelists” and “media executives.”

So the left has been able to shape the narrative, particularly so after they took over education.

Which means everything they know — everything — is things that aren’t so.

And when things stopped working — oh, to an extent, and to some effect — in the late nineties, and the wheels really came off in 2016 they didn’t know what to do. They ran around in panic, doing crazy things.

I’ll admit the covidiocy has been…. breathtaking in its stupidity. What has most interested me is how the rest of the world fell for a con that was designed to f*ck with the elections in America. I’m still not absolutely sure if their leaders did it, because they too feel the terror nipping at their heels, or because they simply assume if Americans are doing something there must be a reason, because the future comes from America.

I can almost guarantee that for most of them it’s not “the great reset” or if it is each of them has a different view of it. (Mostly because in Europe none of their leaders really trusts the other countries.)

And yet, despite everything, the American people hunched their shoulders, lifted their middle fingers, and voted for Trump in numbers that made the left have to fraud in front of G-d and everyone, at the last minute.

And despite their lavish praise of ice-cream-Joe, we made Let’s go Brandon! go viral.

That’s why they’re in a panic.

And you could say they’re decadent in the ways that count.

What? Well, yes, there is a way you can go decadent, and the American public is at risk for it –though less now that public schools are losing power and parents are becoming aware of what’s been going on for fifty years or so, in those hallowed halls — which is where you lose the skills that made your ancestors great, so you can’t keep civilization going, no matter how you try.

The American public at large is at risk for this, to the extent our kids aren’t even being taught to read. But as Dave Freer said, years ago, America has lousy primary and secondary education. It’s the largely self administered tertiary that’s superb.

He’s not wrong. And the kids are all right. I’d like to claim my generation started the great re-learning, in some ways, trying to learn to do things “from scratch” and do for ourselves. The kids are even more like that. Oh, not all of them, but a good percentage. And again, the crazy lockdowns accelerated that. And dear Lord, what Americans will do for fun. I have more friends with backyard forges than makes any sense.

We’re all right. Sure, the overculture is trying to decadence us in the only meaningful sense — invade and destroy — but they’re losing. And they know it. Which is why they keep going crazier.

It’s going to get rough, but we’ll innovate, create and learn our ways out of it.

The overculture though– yeah, they lost the skills their ancestors had — none of them are a patch on FDR (And those of you who think of his time as the pinnacle of America should take a good look at it, then take an emetic, because it will make you sick.) He knew what he was destroying, even if his vision of glory was cockamamie and based on the idea that “mass everything” was the future.

They have no clue. They’re half propagandized, half indoctrinated and all ignorant.

They keep acting as if the media still provided them full coverage for their insanity (which has always been florid) and are always shocked they’re doing things out in the open, in the age of cell phones and peer-to-peer.

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. But the communist model depends — always has always will — on tightly controlled communications.

And that means they have already lost. The mop-up is just going to hurt US like a bitch.

It will hurt worse if we confuse ourselves with them.

Sure, they’re decadent. They have lost or never had critical skills their ancestors had. This is largely because — thanks to Mass Media and the charming commie habit of only hiring their own — they’ve had it soft. Being a “liberal” (What an interesting euphemism for Marxist!) was living life on the easy setting. They’re not ready for anything else.

They’re decadent. But what does that have to do with us?

They don’t understand us, and tell lies about us constantly. Some of them old, old lies from the Soviet Union propaganda (some of which was designed to keep the happy people of brutopia happy they weren’t rich.)

You’re not required to aid and abet them. In fact, if you want to avoid decadence, you’re required to do the opposite.

In the end we win, they lose. Because when they scream “decadent” they’re projecting.

It’s going to take all our skills, all our determination, all our invention. But if it were easy, it wouldn’t need Americans.

Go and get her done.

Glutton By Ken Lizzi

*Ken offered me a fiction story, and I think frankly you guys need something fun. Or maybe I do.
Now there’s a small problem: since I am blocked from posting at Facebook for seven days (for joking with a friend over his truly horrible pun. FB decided it was “coordinating harm” — note Statist Josh didn’t complain.) I can’t propagate his story. Could you guys do so? – SAH*

Glutton By Ken Lizzi

The first baked potato went down nicely. It always did. Loaded with all the toppings, the pillowy starches glistening with melted butter, white hummocks of sour cream speckled green and brown with chives and bits of bacon. He chased it with another before switching to a plate of au gratin for a change of pace, just warming up for the main event: the steaks. He figured he’d have one of each cut, maybe experiment with different levels of doneness. A delay occurred between the New York cut – rare, dripping red with succulent juices, nearly fork tender – and the medium rare filet mignon. He filled it with another appetizer, shrimp cocktail, each little coral-hued morsel slurped down noisily. So good. At intervals he swilled a glass of red wine – a chateau something-or-other, he could never be bothered to remember the appellations, simply trusting the sommelier, waiter, or bar-tender to recommend the appropriate accompaniment – swishing each mouthful vigorously to dislodge any stray bits of protein or strands of vegetable matter. The top sirloin, medium, he found a trifle tough, but gobbled it down contentedly enough with a few healthy dollops of steak sauce for lubrication. He knifed through the medium-well chateaubriand, which he found tolerably tasty though he suspected a certain amount of flavor had been cooked out. He waived away the well-done bone-in rib eye not out of satiety but boredom. He could still eat. He still had room. He always had room.

He called for the desert cart and indicated that each selection would be acceptable. While waiting for the server to deliver the crème brulee, vanilla cherry tart, chocolate three ways, and apple crumble ala mode he retrieved from the briefcase beside his chair what was, despite his personal views about the status of the steaks, the actual main course of the meal. Sealed into lubricated condoms were the broken down components of what he assumed, though certainly had not ascertained or inquired about, was a handgun. He examined the dimensions of each. One or two looked a bit tricky but still within his capabilities. A couple bottles of brandy or port might help relax his jaw and throat muscles enough to get the parts down. Even with the three bottles of wine and the pair of aperitifs he had only the barest buzz going. Inebriation wasn’t as impossible for him as a full stomach but it still took some doing.

Assisted by fortified wine and the assortment of desserts he earned his living, the tangible evidence of some malfeasance or other disappearing permanently.

#

Marcus Unger was a glutton; a man who’d never experienced a surfeit, heartburn, indigestion, or even an uncomfortable sense of bloat. He didn’t appear out of the ordinary. If anything he was on the thin side. His childhood appetites were certainly normal but his anxious parents, with the assurance of exasperated, even disbelieving pediatricians, wrote off his prodigious consumption as a healthy appetite and a robust metabolism. Marcus himself grew up considering himself entirely normal. It wasn’t until after high school that the ribbing and half-serious queries of his friends ginned up enough curiosity within him to consider making his own inquiries. That curiosity he shelved after a visit to the family general practitioner and glimpsing an estimate of the price of consulting specialists. The unsolved mystery cost him no sleepless nights; complaisance was second nature, one might even grant it primacy.

It wasn’t until a stint in the Navy – the armed forces seeming to Marcus the path of least resistance – that another impetus to investigate his gift arrived. He was on leave in San Francisco, wandering aimlessly through Chinatown, grazing through one buffet after another. Passing by a narrow storefront his attention was drawn by a hand-painted sign claiming that a certain Doctor Wong, practitioner of ancient and mystic Eastern healing arts could diagnose infallibly, among other things, “digestive tract ailments of whatever nature, source, or symptom, no matter how esoteric or unknown to Western medicine.” While Marcus did not consider himself to be suffering from any ailment, he was willing to concede that his symptoms were uncommon.

To a tinkle of little brass bells he entered a cramped chamber of wonders, a dim space packed with oddities and large glass jars and carboys whose contents were revealed by pasted-on calligraphied labels. Not, of course, in English. From behind a beaded curtain emerged a venerable, bespectacled figure in black silks who seemed composed primarily of white beard. Marcus submitted himself to examination by Dr. Wong (for it was the great man himself) an examination consisting primarily of prodding by a stiffened, arthritic finger, grunts and mumblings from deep within the beard, and about a dozen cups of fragrant tea.

It was thus that Marcus learned the facts that were to set his feet on a new and utterly novel career path. “Only a small portion of your stomach opens to your intestines,” Dr. Wong informed him. “The majority of your stomach is a conduit, a portal to a place located nowhere in Heaven or Earth. Little of your meals are digested. Most goes – elsewhere.”

Marcus did not immediately formulate a plan upon absorbing this information. Initiative, drive, ambition were foreign to him. His was not the entrepreneurial spirit. It was not until after he’d completed his active service that he stumbled upon his future. He was lazing one evening at the home of his friend and purveyor of marijuana when their repose was interrupted by the peremptory demands of the police for entry. Recalling the words of Dr. Wong, Marcus volunteered to dispose of his friend’s stash. By the time the police gained entry he had gobbled down all traces of contraband. A toxicity analysis of blood, urine, and saliva samples that he acquiesced to provide were free of any taint of cannabis.

Word spread. Demand accumulated for his services from a class of clients possessed of uniquely compelling needs to dispose of items quickly and irretrievably. It was not an overnight success of course. A certain degree of distrust had to be overcome from a category of humanity that already tended toward suspicion. But satisfied customers who appreciated Marcus’ incuriosity and nearly bovine complaisance served as valuable word-of-mouth advertisers.

And so Marcus Unger began plying spoon and fork rather profitably. His contractual stipulations were few: cash payment and an evening at a fine – and discreet – restaurant. First time clients were often surprised at how similar the two outlays turned out to be. But they did not complain. Marcus delivered. He swallowed numerous firearms, broken down into manageable components. He downed thumb drives, hard drives, ledgers, wallets, footwear with distinctively worn tread patterns. He didn’t care what. He only noticed the makeup of the main course incidentally to the act of consuming it. Once he gulped down, wedged into the filling of cannoli, what he suspected were human fingertips. It did not even give him pause. The mascarpone was smooth and delicious, and the prosecco he washed it all down with was fruity and delightfully effervescent. Life was a banquet and the courses never ceased.

#

Marcus leaned back in his chair, conjuring up a belch of satisfaction in celebration of an excellent meal and a job well done. He beamed with his accustomed contentment, a svelte Buddha. The fee should keep his feedbag full until the next contract came along.

He belched again and frowned. That belch was not artificial. Strange. When he swallowed air it simply vanished down the rabbit hole along with most everything else he consumed. Why –? His abdomen convulsed. A discomfort settled in his gut and spread. That was new and he didn’t like it one bit. A hint of pain followed, accompanied by an equally novel sense of unease. Complaisance, long unchallenged, was dethroned, usurped by accelerating dread. So many years of dumping things through to someplace else. And now…. Something stretched within him, something thrust upwards.

He gagged, then transitioned to sustained, agonizing retching, horrified as he realized that the conduit was not just a one-way passage after all.

End

The Semi-Autos and Sorceryseries is available from Aethon Books. It is also available, along with most of my published works, at Amazon. Keep current with my nonsense at kenlizzi.net.

When Life Interferes

I decided to let you know I’m not worse. In fact, I’m markedly better. But I got up late and had a podcast interview with the Worldshapers podcast, which ran till now because I talk way too much.

I will link it here when it goes live (should be this weekend.)

Havelock cat, as usual had opinions and things he wanted to interject, as well as running back and forth across my lap for no reason anyone could figure out.

Health wise, I’d say I’m almost okay, though the way this thing keeps coming back, I make no bets.

I’m going to grab a snack and then work on Bowl of Red.

Tomorrow I have a guest post, which is a short story by Ken Lizzi, because I have amazing friends.

The other thing I should say is that I — finally — have a world bible for Witchfinder, so Witch’s Daughter and then Rogue Magic will resume episodically on Saturdays, but not this week, because I’m still trying to finish Bowl of Red. (Yes, I know. It was the stupid whateverthehell this was that interfered.)

After that it’s Deep Water (Magis) which opens with “I owed a debt to the Loch Ness Monster….” And apparently has cannibal mermaids. Eh.

Anyway, I’ll now go back to paying work, after I eat something. I just wanted you to know I’m okay.

Plastic

The left hates plastic.

No, seriously. They hate plastic. And no, I don’t think it’s because of how difficult it is to throw away/get rid of/etc.

I think — and remember that I grew up in leftist circles, or at least went to school in them — it’s an aesthetic thing. It’s part of their rejection of modernity.

And right here, I’m going to come clean and say I prefer to store things in glass jars. I prefer wicker baskets to plastic ones. But I am aware it’s aesthetic and that it’s the result of my having grown up at a time and place where the “rich” kids had plastic toys, while we had long-inherited, old stuff.

But heck, I grew up playing with legos inherited from cousins and brother. And at various times, when the cheapest utensil was plastic, we used that.

Also I love plastic bags in the grocery store, that I don’t have to remember to bring in (ADD, remember?) And I love straws.

But the left has lost their frigging minds. “Garble, brabble, plastic in the ocean. Great man made islands of trash” has been the little drum they’re beating for years now.

The Denver zoo exhibit on plastics in the ocean made me frown, because those plastics, including the pseudo lego-pieces were in no way western. Turns out the garbage for those cool “Ocean mammal sculptures” was almost all collected from Chinese and Indian shores.

But even there, I understand, there is nothing much in the way of plastic out to sea.

In fact, if this article is correct the “plastic” in the sea that people are terrified of are a few particles that can’t be seen with the naked eye.

I kind of suspected that because I know people who sail intercontinentally and none of them has reported floating islands of garbage. In fact, our very own Foxfier has looked at the pictures of these islands and identified them as carefully cropped debris from various tsunamis.

But in the name of this, the left is hoping to ban plastic from our lives. Mostly because it hurts their aesthetic sensitivities and because of course they don’t want us to have nice things.

Also, maybe they’re just a little scared if we’re familiar with plastic, we’ll spot their astroturf.

Me? I will use plastic when convenience dictates. And if the left hates plastic so much, they should take a good look at their posturing. Because nothing is faker and more plastic than that.

PS – I have the most generous fans in the world. And I hate to bother you with this, but I have a friend in dire trouble: A New Life

Spielberg’s West Side Story Isn’t What You’ve Heard – by Anonymous

Spielberg’s West Side Story Isn’t What You’ve Heard – by Anonymous

Steven Spielberg has recently released a new version of West Side Story, as many people have doubtless heard, and many have feared. I confess, I worried that this remake would be a travesty against the original, as so many are. The words “Music Man remake” are nigh unto profanity in my family for how terrible that remake was. So it was with trepidation that my family waited for the movie to be released.

The first of us to see it was one of my brothers, who was so enamored of the original as a child that he almost had every line memorized. (No one ever said we were normal). If any of us would hate this remake, he would be the one. He didn’t hate it. To our surprise, he declared it the definitive movie version. This was a surprise to all of us.

The readers of this blog will doubtless have also heard how “woke” this remake is. After all, it cast native Spanish speakers as Puerto Ricans (though many were not Puerto Ricans themselves, like Ziegler, who is half-white and half-Cuban and plays Maria), and because Spielberg made some rather odd remarks about choosing not to subtitle the Spanish segments of the movie. I honestly find the wording of his comments rather stupid, though I do not entirely disagree with the decision not to subtitle the Spanish. More on that later.

I have now read multiple articles, as well as the comments (if Oedipus Rex took place today, it wouldn’t be the guilt that made him gouge out his eyes, it would be reading the comments), and one thing is obvious: the people hating on the movie didn’t actually watch it. They heard that they actually cast Hispanics as Hispanics, and they heard that there were no subtitles, and bam! “IT’S WOKE AND STUPID!” Perhaps the articles should have had trigger warnings for the readers’ sensitive feelings?

So, I will start with the point of the lack of subtitles. I watched the movie with my family and a friend. Only two of us understand any Spanish. I won’t call either of us fluent, but I have taken Spanish proficiency tests, and my listening comprehension was rated “Limited Professional”. So I understood most of the Spanish sections. The other one who knows some Spanish understood about the same amount as me. The non-Spanish speakers left the movie considering it better than the original. In fact, we all said that it was better. The lack of complete comprehension did not detract from the movie. In fact, it placed the viewer in the position of observer. The viewer found that he did not have all the information, and perhaps didn’t understand everything. Rather like real-life, that. In real-life we often find ourselves unable to understand others due to lack of knowledge, so this is hardly the worst thing in a movie. And even without understanding every word, the actors conveyed the information with their actions quite well. Chino calling Bernardo an idiot for getting involved in gang warfare while the other Sharks mourn him was still completely understandable to the non-Spanish speakers, despite their not knowing the exact words, though “Bernardo” and “estupido” were enough to get that point across.

Now, the strange complaint (seriously, casting Hispanics as Hispanics is not woke [I think it was more Spielberg’s insistence on only casting LatinX. That final x was the issue-SAH]) about woke casting. At least one no-name internet pundit says there is no way that Ziegler has the grace of Natalie Wood. Frankly, I disagree. Ziegler plays the role flawlessly, and convincingly. And, she plays the character of a Puerto Rican girl freshly arrived in America more convincingly. And, while I do not intend to slight Natalie Wood, Ziegler is more capable in her role, performing her own singing rather than being dubbed over in post-production. The same goes for Tony, by the way. Tony’s actor does his own singing in this movie, and does it extremely well. And this Tony can dance. As a tangent, Tony and Maria’s first dance in this version was remarkable to me, as the movement and footwork was strongly reminiscent of a knife fight, which was appropriate foreshadowing for what that dance led to. 

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I’d like to talk about the movie itself rather than rail against snowflakes who scream at the thought of Hispanic actors and no subtitles. This might be the blog post that kills the readership of the blog, but I stand by it, and if you don’t like it, well,  I don’t have plans to make any more posts about it. [I don’t think it will kill the readership of the blog. They know they can throw rotten fruit at any given guest post. – SAH]

The original West Side Story movie really was more of a stage production on screen. It was quite well done, and I still enjoy it, but the way it was shot and acted is closer to the stage than the screen. The new West Side Story was adapted to fit the screen better, and also took some great pains to create a more complete story. The old West Side Story was shot in the emptied slums that were about to be demolished to make way for  Lincoln Center. The new one is set in those same slums, but all around is destruction and demolition. The Jets are no longer cast as the good guys or protagonists as they were in the original. The new Jets are cast as what they were always supposed to be: juvenile delinquents, hoodlums, thugs, gangbangers, and victims of their parents’ abusive behavior. Gone is the attractive gymnast Riff of the original, replaced with a psychopathic thug. The Tony of the original, who we are told “has a rap sheet bigger than the whole West SIde” yet doesn’t seem to have ever seen the rougher side of life, is replaced with a young boy who is barely out of prison, on parole for nearly beating one of the Egyptian Kings to death in a street brawl. He no longer seems like a pretty boy who’s never broken a rule yet supposedly has an endless list of crimes to his name. He now seems like a young boy who discovered what he really was, and is terrified of the terrible things he has done, and is afraid he will lose control again. This Tony has demons, and they haunt him through every scene. This Tony spends every scene yearning for the light, while grappling with his own darkness. I liked this Tony.

Maria is mostly the same character, though she is definitely the young girl she is supposed to be. Her behavior is much more like the 18 year old she is supposed to be in both original and remake. Ziegler plays her role quite well, and she has a voice. I enjoyed every note of her singing.

Chino was the surprise role of this movie. The Chino of the old movie is, frankly, forgettable. He doesn’t even make an appearance until the 2nd Act in which he famously tells Maria “HE KILLED YOUR BROTHER!” This Chino surprised me. He makes an appearance in the opening scene in which he shouts at the Jets after they stole the sign from the store where he works as a bagboy. That scene alone sets the stage well for the movie. The stolen sign declared in Spanish that the store sold groceries, while the sign underneath was faded and bore a four-leaf clover, representing the changing human geography of the slums of the West Side. All at once, you see that this is a story of the old-timers versus the newcomers, with the Jets, as Lieutenant Schrank puts it as “the last of the Can’t Make It Caucasians”. He details the other groups that had come through those slums, and how those groups worked hard and rose out of the slums, and now live in nice apartments and have nice daughters the Jets would love to date, but the Jets don’t want to do the hard work to get out of the slums. My apologies for digressing. Chino, in this movie, is present from the beginning, and he is not a Shark. He is a long time friend of Bernardo’s, and wants to join the Sharks, but Bernardo has other plans for him. Chino is going to night school to learn accounting (and adding-machine repair) and he has a future. He is no tough, he is a hardworking man that Bernardo sees bringing his sister out of poverty and giving her a stable household with a steady income. But Chino looks at Bernardo, this young tough boxer who protects their community against the depredations of hoodlums, and wants to be tough like him and join the Sharks. The Chino of the original was little more than a set piece. This Chino is a man. He has goals, dreams, ambitions, and he changes through the story, until he makes the fateful decision to shoot a man in the back to avenge his dead friend, and realizes his mistake when he sees the woman he hoped to marry sobbing over the corpse of her love.

Elaborating on my previous comment about old-timers versus newcomers, this version of West Side Story is not so much a story about the evils of racism, but the evils of tribalism, factionalism, and identitarianism. I submit that this movie is not only not woke, it is anti-woke. The movie featured multiple decision points where if anyone could have seen past their tribe, they would have realized they were not enemies, and they could have avoided the tragedy of three homicides in a single day.

One small but significant change is this version is less anti-police than the original. The original we hear Lieutenant Schrank complain that the Puerto Ricans have made a bad neighborhood worse, and he even attempts to recruit the Jets as his personal enforcer squad and offers their help if they get in a rough spot. The new version of Lieutenant Schrank is against the violence and disorder the gangs bring to the street. And this Sergeant Krupke is tired of the Jets and past his prime, rather than the old version who is little more than a tough with a badge.

One more character surprised me in this version. In this version, Doc’s Druggist is no longer run by Doc, but by his widow, a Puerto Rican woman named Valentina, played by Rita Moreno, who was Anita in the original. Say what you want, but that casting choice was perfect, and her rendition of Somewhere was heartbreaking, especially as she gazes at a picture of herself and Doc together in front of their store. Photoshop does have some good uses. She plays the only responsible adult in the life of the Jets and other hoodlums, trying to redeem those she can, and even giving Riff a chance, despite him having stolen from her store since he was six years old.

Now, a few other interesting notes. Several songs change places in this version of the movie. Where the stage production has Officer Krupke in the second act, and Cool in the first, the original reversed that order, and the remake places both of them in the first act. Officer Krupke takes place as the hoodlums are being questioned about the Rumble prior to the fight, and ends with them trashing the station when the cops foolishly leave them alone to chase after another kid who assaulted one of their number. And Cool in this version changed drastically, and for the better. This version of Cool consists of Tony attempting to take away Riff’s gun, which he purchased from a bartender who was an acquaintance of his criminal father, as Tony attempts to tell the Jets that they shouldn’t be warring over turf anymore, and that a gun (a S&W Model 10 in .38 Special the dealer tells them) will only get them into trouble. He fails in his attempt at disarming the Jets, and the final “pow” of the song is delivered by Riff, not singing, but telling Tony that he is no longer a Jet, and nothing will keep Riff from the Rumble.

There is one and only one concession to wokeness in the movie. The character of Anybodys is no longer an extreme tomboy, and is now played as Trans. It’s not loudly shouted, nor played up. The character is just androgynous, and says they’re a boy, while the Jets says they’re a girl.

Perhaps I have done a poor job convincing you, but I will leave my final suggestion: watch the movie, and actually watch it with your eyes and not with the commentary from glib pundits who are as hair-trigger and sensitive as any wokie I’ve ever met. Just watch the movie. You will enjoy it.

Right For All The Wong Reasons

Since the Covid panic porn has managed, if nothing else, to scare my mother, she recently accused me of thinking I “am smarter than everyone else.”

(Because in her mind everyone else is panicked and terrified of the new variant from France, and– and she won’t listen when I tell her that if it were needed to be as locked down/careful as they are over there, everyone in the US would be dead with the possible exceptions of CA and NYC, but that’s not what the numbers show.)

Of course I don’t. My super-power, if you can call it that — most of the time it’s a pain and a headache — has nothing to do with being smarter — though frankly reading everything from everywhere and retaining a weird hodge podge of facts does help, for values of help — but with never looking in the expected direction.

Back in the nineties, when people were talking about thinking outside the box, I realized I couldn’t even find the box, and often what I was doing was tacking towards the box from outer space. This means I very often have absolutely no clue why people are worried about something, because I’m worried about something completely different.

But it also means — as was obvious through my schooling career and in business meetings when I had an office job — that I often home in on the one thing that no one else saw, because they were so busy looking in the other direction and debating other things.

And this often means I find problems with things that people on the right are “trooping all together” convinced this is the answer

Such was the case recently with “Mass Formation Psychosis”. There’s a brief history here, and the video is linked.

Okay, yeah, I know, Twitter has banned people for talking about it, and youtube banned Joe Rogan over it and and and….

Look, I’m not saying that this process isn’t what the left thinks it’s doing. I’m just saying that it’s not for the reasons given, and that none of it makes much sense, besides bringing up “you kids get off my lawn” memories starting when I was really young.

Let’s start with the video I linked, which annoyed the living daylights out of me by appearing be trying to hypnotize. (I don’t look at the images and had it on 2x the speed, but when I checked on the progression, that’s the feel I got.)

And then let’s move to the theory: the theory is that when people feel disconnected from each other, and people feel things are going wrong, a determined media campaign can create a reality in people’s minds completely divorced from reality.

The examples given are pre-Nazi Germany and…. 2019?

Now, I don’t know about you, but 2019 didn’t impress me as a particularly fractured year. Yeah, the woke were gamboling through the media, as they’ve done…. oh, the last 20 years. And yeah, people were getting cancelled for political reasons, as they have my entire adult life (at least now it’s in the open.)

So, I had no clue what the heck the guy proposing the theory thought was so bad about 2019. You can tell he doesn’t either, because he tries to bluster his way past it, by talking about kids always on their cellphones…. yeah. No. If anything the kids are hyper-connected.

Also, as far as I know there as no disconnection in pre-Nazi Germany, until the Nazi propaganda created it, so that too is insanity. I guess it was those kids, always on their radios or something, uh?

There was poverty, confusion, rapidly changing circumstances — which frankly is more like now than 2019 — but not “disconnection.”

So it sounds to me like having identified that “When you drive people crazy by mass media, they go crazy” this person tacked on a prelude and came up with the solution of being more local and making friends locally and– (Not that I think there’s anything wrong with that. I just don’t think it has anything to do with the problem. It’s like “Oh, your hair is falling out. Eat more pumpkin, because it’s always good for you.” Not a lie, (maybe, not fond of pumpkin) but not a remedy.)

What both epochs have in common is massive shifts in communication. And if you look at it from that point of view, you see they’re not the same thing, but brackets on the end of the mass media age.

Mass media — radio, mostly, but documentary movies also– were used to create a reality more compelling than reality itself for the German people, which is why they let their “leaders” do horrible things. Because what “everybody knew” was being fed to them from media that they were convinced carried “reality.”

Arguably this is still happening in Europe, and to an extent even in Australia and other parts of the rest of the world. (DEFINITELY Canada.)

The big exception is the US, which, as the last elections showed, is out of the mass media era by a hair’s breadth. I.e. despite the most concerted mass media campaign against Trump, people still voted for him in numbers such that despite all the fraud laid in, they had to fraud in front of everyone at the last minute. And despite their attempts at keeping us terrified, most of the country has had enough of Covid theater. And despite their attempts to make the Junta the bestest thing ever, we’re not buying, and despite–

Why? Because we are in the realm of personalized media, with blogs and various peer-to-peer coms program that allows groups to talk and dissent, and realize they’re not alone.

Now, the rest of the world has dissension too, but it necessitates face to face interaction, which the covid nonsense was designed (still is) to prevent.

The left was losing the train, as shown by Brexit and Trump’s election, and they are making a final hail-mary play to get the total control they want.

Only in the US…. it’s not working quite as planned. Enough to make us super-uncomfortable, but not enough to make us obey.

Mass Formation Psychosis? A fancy term for “Concerted mass media propaganda campaigns work, if relentless, all over the world and shrill enough.”

They work…. for a time at least.

But they don’t work everywhere, even for a time. And it doesn’t seem to work for us, or not as advertised.

Is the whole thing what the technocrats think they’re doing? Possibly. For them 2019 MIGHT have seemed like the world coming apart, as things Trump did proved their conceits wrong. For us? Revelatory, but not like that.

This might explain, btw, why the panic bit the left harder. WAY harder.

So, is the way out going local and making local contacts, and–

Uh…. why?

I mean, sure it can be. Particularly for us, political junkies, just going to the park and seeing people walk around can help (If in a non-masked area.)
But is that the way out? Again, why?

To a great extent the Covid nonsense has isolated us enough locally that many people don’t have contacts anymore, and that you can rebuild.

But why should you eschew online contacts and forums, other than the fact someone doesn’t like “Those kids on their cell phones?”

I think what they perceive as division is that we no longer trust the narrative of the one (largely leftist) media megaphone.

That’s too bad, so sad.

It could be argued that any people who speaks or thinks of current events in one unified voice is by definition not a free people.

Approach information your own way. Find your own answers. Stop looking for “unity” with a bunch of complete strangers. If you need unity and love that much, get married. Or join a group with the same goals (A small one. Large groups don’t work on that.)

If we’re not all looking in the same direction, it’s impossible to become fixated on the same things.

We’ll get out of this the only way one can get out of it: by rejecting mass information and the one true narrative.

Let’s be individuals, and fail to organize. We’ll each take a different path in dismantling this ridiculous, overarching illusion they’re trying to impose on us.

That’s the one thing they never count on: free individuals.

They won’t know what hit them.

Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Book promo

If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. I ALSO WISH TO REMIND OUR READERS THAT IF THEY WANT TO TIP THE BLOGGER WITHOUT SPENDING EXTRA MONEY, CLICKING TO AMAZON THROUGH ONE OF THE BOOK LINKS ON THE RIGHT, WILL GIVE US SOME AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR PURCHASES MADE IN THE NEXT 24HOURS, OR UNTIL YOU CLICK ANOTHER ASSOCIATE’S LINK. PLEASE CONSIDER CLICKING THROUGH ONE OF THOSE LINKS BEFORE SEARCHING FOR THAT SHED, BIG SCREEN TV, GAMING COMPUTER OR CONSERVATORY YOU WISH TO BUY. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*

FROM LEIGH KIMMEL: Technoserf

The Madrian Empire rules worlds as numerous as the grains of sand on a beach. When the Madrians conquered Roby’s homeworld, they brought him to this godforsaken lump of a world, to toil at their will.

Now the Gate has failed, leaving them without communications or transport to the rest of the Empire. When Roby identifies the problem, he’s offered a chance to fix it.

Roby now faces a quandry. Even if he can repair the damage, should he? Will he be better off reunited with the masters’ metropole? Or will he only complicate a difficult life?

FROM DWIGHT R. DECKER *translator*: Ini: A Novel from the 21st Century

First published in German in 1810 and never before translated into English, Julius von Voss’s INI: A Novel from the 21st Century is a long-lost classic utopian novel. The setting is the world of the 2090s as imagined by an author writing nearly 300 years before, when the Industrial Revolution was just barely getting started. Teams of trained eagles pulling balloons, whales harnessed to a floating island, a gigantic umbrella sheltering an entire city… the marvels keep on coming. INI is also a love story, as the hero spends the novel striving to make himself worthy of the title heroine in the most literal way. Much of the novel is a tour of the world of the future: after traveling through Europe and then North America, the hero meets with disaster in the Arctic and finds himself marooned at the North Pole. With its detailed vision of history and science for the next three centuries, INI is considered by some to be the first German science-fiction novel. While a product of its time for better or worse, it is sometimes whimsical, sometimes eccentric, and always imaginative. Long hidden behind the language barrier and known only by its title from a few scattered references, INI is now available in English to science-fiction historians and others interested in early fantastic fiction. Includes vintage illustrations as well as historical and translation notes that put the story in context.

FROM ANNA FERREIRA: A Capital Whip: A Pride and Prejudice Sequel

An invalid for much of her life, Miss Anne de Bourgh has precisely one accomplishment: carriage driving. She is proud of her skill with reins and whip, and justifiably so.

But when another young lady moves into the neighborhood, and challenges Anne’s place as the most accomplished driver in Hunsford, Anne must prove to herself, to her beloved horses, and to her family that she is worthy of the name de Bourgh, and she does not shrink away from a challenge.

FROM NATHAN C. BRINDLE: Autumn’s Smile: A short fantasy (Seasons Book 3)https://amzn.to/3FewE8G

“Maybe it won’t be so difficult to believe someone who used to be a pagan Norse Valkyrja, and still acts in the capacity of a Norse semi-demi-hemi god at the orders of Odin All-Father, is going to tell what’s more or less a Christmas story…”

The former Valkyrja Sigrdrifa, now the very American pioneer wife Sarah Randall — who just happens to be the Queen of Autumn — tells a story of the historical Deep Snow of 1830-31 in the American Midwest, as she and two other former Asgardians attempt to control the runaway heavy weather that began in the fall of 1830, while out of the woods come four children from a neighboring homestead with a tale of woe.

Will a visit by the Ancient Wanderer cheer things up as the Solstice approaches?

FROM ELLEN KEENAN: Delta.

“Her piercing eyes cut into Beth’s facade, exposing her fear. The tension in the air was fierce, but the weather of the new location remained unchanged and mild. It was like an eternal springtime. Surrounding them, the roughly painted delta radiated with power that seemed almost electric.”

The life of 16-year-old Beth is relatively normal. Until one day, her reality is shattered, and she awakens in a strange new world. At first, it seems perfect, almost too perfect. But as Beth adapts to her surroundings, she finds nothing is as it seems. In a society where secrets are buried in the soil, Beth must learn to fight, lie, and possibly even love.

FROM CHRISTOPHER WOERNER: The Facts of Roses

Side A: Current events, the world is falling apart
Side B: Pop culture
Side C: A discussion about Cerebus

As always, little tidbits are included in-between each essay. With current events, they’re news headlines. With pop culture, they’re random jokes I threw in. The essays on each side are in chronological order, the headlines/jokes are in chronological order but the two do not mix.

FROM D. JASON FLEMING: Jules Verne’s The Vanished Diamond

In 1880s South Africa, French chemical engineer Victor Cyprien has discovered the process to create a synthetic diamond, creating a very large diamond that gets christened “The Star of the South”. When it is stolen, he and his compatriots pursue the thieves across the African veldt.

This lesser-known classic by Jules Verne is remarkable not for its science fictional speculation, but for its singular portrait of its main character.

FROM ALMA T. C. BOYKIN: Wolf of the World: The Elect: Story the First

One searches for oil. The other searches for revenge.

Gregor watches Americans searching for oil in Carpathian Poland. As the Americans grow frustrated by their lack of success, Gregor grows fascinated by Linda, the petrogeologist. His master, Lord Ivan Bethlán, shares that fascination, and demands that Gregor bring Linda to him.

Linda just wants to find oil and get home to Houston. She does not care for being watched – or stalked – and confronts the large black dog haunting the woods near the survey team’s camp. Taken by his politeness and excellent German, Linda starts to wonder. Why is he so well-spoken? And who is the master who Gregor will not name?

A geologist and a Calvinist werewolf must join forces to stop a monster.

A dark fantasy with romance elements.

FROM BECKY R. JONES: Night Mage

After fighting a demon in the middle of Philadelphia, Zoe O’Brien wants nothing more than to return to her normal, if stress-filled, life as an assistant professor of history at Summerfield College. But she’s an Elemental mage and that means when there’s potential magical trouble on campus, the squirrels come to her.

Who or what is the dark presence moving around campus? Why is it here and what does it want? Zoe struggles to come to terms with her mage powers and the leadership role her colleagues have given her. Complicating everything are all the papers that have to be graded, classes that need to be prepped, and most importantly, cats that require attention. Oh, yeah. She might actually have a boyfriend as well.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: CORAGEOUS

SLEEPING ON THE JOB

Yesterday, on younger son’s advice I decided to try something new: sleep when tired.

This started out as being up for half an hour and sleeping for two hours, until nighttime when I managed to be up for almost three hours…. then slept for 12.

I woke up feeling WAY better. Cough is gone while standing — though I know I’ll need cough syrup when I lie down — and I’m only sluggish, not permanently tired.

So, I thought I should tell you guys, so you don’t worry.

Younger son and only husband are also doing better, and now drinking lemon tea.

This thing of sleeping when tired is revolutionary, and frankly I’m not sure I trust it, but who knows? It might continue working.

Should be okay for promo post tomorrow, and working too.

Don’t set fire to the blog while I’m sleeping.

Hello? Lord? What Am I Supposed To Learn From This?

One or my favorite scenes in any movie is in Lady Hawk when the thief, having done something that’s morally bad and it works, starts yelling at the sky, “Lord? What am I supposed to learn from this?”

I’d be yelling that, if my throat didn’t feel like it was on fire, and if I had even a little bit of energy.

For a week now, I’ve been having this cold. It’s not the world’s worst cold, except it came in with really high fevers. How high? Well, I don’t have a thermometer (This is a lie. I do, but it’s in a box, somewhere) but it’s that level of fever where you feel like this:

You feel like you’re roasting to the level it’s near-painful, your eyeballs feel like they’re sweating, and if you self-combusted it wouldn’t even surprise you a bit.

And then I got a little cough, and I was okay. ….. maybe. I mean my throat hurt like hell, and the cough kept getting worse and worse.

Yesterday was like “Am I getting better or worse?”

Today answered it. The day has defeated me with one hour of being awake. The throat pain has diminished some, or at least is responding to pain killers. I’m just SO tired I can barely carry a thought.

It’s been almost a week. What the heck? I don’t take this long to kick colds.

And the worst part? This is the second time.

First time? 2020, last week, I made a plan for what to write/when. I was all set for my most productive year yet, and then I caught what was probably the Wuflu first week of the year. And it flattened me for a month. I got nothing done. Just as I was getting ready to work the world went insane.

Lord? I know I have a plan for what to write. Look, I’m only mortal. I need these things.

But that’s no reason to visit Son of 2020 This Time It’s Annoying on me.

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO LEARN FROM THIS?