Belated Promo by Free Range Oyster And Sunday Vignettes by by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

*Vignettes at the bottom.*

J.M. Ney-Grimm

Devouring Light

Mischievous Mercurio guards the planet Mercury – his sacred charge – with quirky devotion. He loves the oddball chunk of rock, with its illusion of retrograde motion and its out-of-sync orbit and spin.

Almost as much as he loves playing pranks.

But when Earth’s guardian Gaia bids Mercurio to organize a circus act for Sol’s birthday celebration, the joke’s on him.

While Mercurio wangles his way around the captious refusals of his would-be stilt-walkers and clowns – “No, no, and no!” – the somber guardian of Pluto plots a darker scheme.

With the subtle delight, clever misdirection, and teasing wordplay that Mercurio himself enjoys, J.M. Ney-Grimm tells a tale of steeply rising stakes in a clockwork solar system ruled by the gods of ancient Rome.

Also available from these fine booksellers:

Laura Montgomery

Out of the Dell

Waking Late Book 2

On the planet Nwwwlf, in the lost colony of First Landing, the original settlers carved out one sylvan valley, a lone outpost where humans flourish. But their bright hopes and best intentions devolved over centuries into a rude replica of medieval feudalism.

Gilead Tan, who had been held captive for centuries in his sleeping cell, survived treachery and pain to free a small group of sleepers. But he and his friends now face the perils of life outside First Landing’s sanctuary—without their powered armor, their tools and technology, or anything else they need save for a few chickens.

Gilead must establish a safehold for his crew, but the alien environment does not welcome them and petty bickering threatens their meager resources. He hopes that a trace of smoke – spotted above a distant ridge – beckons them to a better place.

It doesn’t.


Sunday Vignettes!

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.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is


44 thoughts on “Belated Promo by Free Range Oyster And Sunday Vignettes by by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. Life among the tree people was rarely simple for humans. Conversations demanded extreme patience, for one thing, and even more stamina. There were, of course, advantages. An abundance of nuts and various fruits, ample shade, and, in the event of attacks by orcs, it was possible to hide in differ ents.

  2. Mr. Brownington spread his elegant hand. “Perhaps I should be more aware of whatever horrible sufferings have turned this man’s mind and caused him to believe such delusions. Perhaps in time I will. However, what I have suffered at his hands has brought me to a spirit of total indifference.”

  3. “Sir, are you voting Q or S?”

    “No idea. Might as well flip a coin this year.”

    “Really? You’d just flip a coin?”

    “This time, sure.”

    “What might change your mind?”

    “Well, in four years if the QNC or the SNC decides to run the front end of the horse.”

          1. I realized that just as I hit the ‘Post’ button. No way to edit your own posts in WordPress. 😦

          1. Ambitious. Looking at the current race, I’d settle for the half with a brain, even if it doesn’t use it rather than the two four manure spreaders currently on option.

            Of course, I might be persuaded to change my opinion …

            (What – you expected a scene from The Godfather?)

    1. Sitting here studiously not watching the debates, I reflect on what could possibly happen that could cause me to become positively engaged with either campaign. ‘Candidates collapse, moved to hospital, prognosis uncertain.’ I think Johnson or McMullin might be the only hope of beating Clinton. Lord, have mercy on us.

  4. “Despite hastening our death, you have all been pulled from the line for our last desperate gamble. Mechanical shamans tell us of a hostile entity. The highest agaeanist ratings contribute to it least. Shamans surveyed the past. Go back, strangle environmentalism in its crib, and make the entity stay indifferent.”

  5. The difficulty did not lie in the fact that both of his choices were so similar. No, it was in the difference between them, as it was perfectly asymmetrical, if such a thing could be said to exist.

    Choosing between a five-legged stool and a three-legged stool was so hard.

    1. “Eh,” she said, “I don’t care which one you sit on, but I want to sit on one myself.”

      She gave him a good shove. Hard than she had intended, because he ended up falling between two stools.

      So she sat on one and used the other as a footstool.

  6. Engineer slowly approached Leader, so as not to attract a potentially lethal startle reflex. They both observed the blue-green-white globe on the monitor.

    “Shall we relocate the native population, or just sterilize it before we begin mining?”

    “Meh. I don’t really care. Which way is cheaper?” buzzed Leader.

    1. Very nice. Virtually a complete story in 50 words. I really like the embedded subtle implications.

      “They both observed” is a little awkward. Might be a better way to make that more of a vivid and active description of what they’re doing.

  7. “Should I wear the green dress or the blue one?”
    “Either looks good on you” he said, without looking up.
    “So, which one looks better?” she insisted.
    This time he did look up. “I can’t help you. I care about who is in the dress, not what color it is”.

  8. The screaming has stopped. Captain Stewart demanded I restore life support. But reserves are low.

    “Don’t you care, Chet?”

    I did, before becoming the ship. I loved – and feared.

    Three weeks until I trigger the device, destroying the enemy’s world and fleet. Then I join the crew.

    Nothing matters, anyway.

    1. Ah.. the positive benefits of indifference. Very nice. Do I detect a trace of Card in there towards the end?

      Pretty good structure. You might consider a change in tense and order to make it more actively immediate.

      1. I was just thinking that our emotions are heavily influenced by our hormones. Remove the hormones, then what happens to the emotions? Would a man who became a ship AI feel compassion or go HAL and place the objective above all else? Or would there be some vestige of feeling from nothing more than mental habit – and would it come back to haunt him?

  9. “A few of those Chicago kids came through here once. I didn’t bother to ask how they got passed the walls.”

    “You help them out?”

    “Hell no. What do I care about Chicago? That’s not how my genes roll, man.”

    “What did you say your Faction was again?”

  10. The stars had gone red and died out, space radio cold and the last galaxy has retreated from sight. I had watched it all from within my event-horizon fortress. Fear, and then indifference had kept me here, and now the final night has come.

  11. The valiant Knight of White and the fiendish Troll of the Black were locked in a death struggle. Their hours long fight had killed dozens of villagers, destroyed the town mill, set fire to the tavern, and scattered the hostlers livestock.
    As they tumbled into the old quarry, armor dragging them under the surface of the black water, the watching villagers couldn’t bring themselves to care.

  12. I don’t care enough about the prompt this week to write something in response. Tired of seeing my stories ignored when I do post them.

    No response, no real comments, nor actual suggestions for writing improvement. Not many actual stories. Become more of a short joke contest. What’s the point?

    1. For the record (and to avoid confusion), that’s a 50 word fictional (mostly… hint of truth) story in response to the prompt, not just a meta comment (which is what this comment is). Thank you for your time, you may now return to your normal vignette reading duties.

      1. Dude, I felt the emotion in that one! It was an almost visceral, acidic kind of indifference.
        Well done.

    2. I figure I don’t have anything useful to say about the other vignettes.

      I’m finding the exercise helpful, and appreciate the group aspects.

      Yesterday I wrote three on the theme, and posted the one I thought best. (The others were about the indifference of physics towards human will, and the indifference of a news viewer to a series of stories that perhaps manage to be more horrible than what we are seeing now.)

      The response to Ox does not in my mind count.

      1. It is interesting to see how wildly different (and sometimes the same!) people respond to the prompts. I think any of them you read which trigger a reaction in you, the writer may benefit from you sharing that reaction, especially if it’s something positive you can call out, or something specifically constructive to mention.

        I haven’t put that much effort into my Sunday responses, but I set a specific goal to work on ahead of time, write it and post it, then read the others and reply as I can, especially to vignettes with no other replies.

        At the risk of explaining too much (something our type is prone to doing):
        Week 1: Worked on vividness… not quite what I wanted, turned out more poetic, although I like the end result.
        Week 2: After seeing a great example in week 1 from Pam Uphoff, worked on using M-R pattern and creating an actual scene – Worked well, had to cheat the pattern only a little to get to the exact 50 word count.
        Week 3: Write emotionally (indifference) and get a reader reaction (anger at indifference?). Some success (you tell me…really, please tell me!), but in retrospect lost a clear M-R pattern in the process of moving to first person and my vignette/response assumed too much about the context of the blog post, rather than including it in a self-contained story, which I consider a bit of cheating (it’s a way around the 50 word limitation).
        Week 4: Goal: Try first person again, but this time combining M-R pattern with evoking emotion. We’ll see how that goes.

    3. I’ll admit the last couple I’ve committed (I suspect that is the correct term for them) have been jokes. That’s sort of how I look at/deal with the world. (“You’re silly.” “No, the Universe is silly. I just notice.”) And I seem to do pure dialog – no description at all. If I were attempting to write “for real” there would be some truly serious work to get up to tolerable, let alone something approaching good.

      1. In real life (as opposed to within fiction) I don’t actually mind the jokes. Most of them are pretty funny, even the puns. There does seem to be something about such a short length which draws people toward going for the punchline, though.

        My understanding of the purpose behind the super-short exercise is the difficulty of fitting a story into XX words, forcing you to become very economical with your words, in turn developing the skill to capture the essence of characters, locations, emotions, attitudes and actions by using their key representative characteristics.

        So instead of two paragraphs of describing the queen, your word budget only affords something like “rich-bitch queen”, wherein you hope to convey something about the queen while also conveying the attitude of the observer toward the queen using the exact same words.

        I find it an interesting exercise, but I’m also three months into a new job where I wrangled more time available to do non-job-related activities (Going from 24x7x365 on-call to a few hours every 7 weeks on call really helps with that!), so I’ve focused recently on improving my writing skills.

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