Promo Post by Free Range Oyster and Vignettes by Mary Catelli, Luke and ‘Nother Mike

Promo Post by Free Range Oyster and Vignettes by Mary Catelli, Luke and ‘Nother Mike


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:


Hail and well met, my friends! I return at last with a blessed batch of beautiful books. So go, read! Review! Give constructive feedback and sheckels as appropriate! If you have books for the next promo, please make sure to send them to my email as soon as possible. Happy reading!

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster

Word polisher, code monkey, and proud member of Hoyt’s Horde of Huns

John Van Stry

The Hammer Commission

Mark’s job seems pretty dull to others, but that’s just the window dressing. He’s actually an elite member of a thousand year old secret society that hunts down devils, demons, and other evils: he’s on the front lines of the secret ongoing war between Heaven and Hell that has been raging for millenniums.

For decades now, things have been at a stalemate, but all of that is about to change…

On sale for 99¢. You can find the other books John has on sale this weekend at his website.

Tom Simon

Angel Keep

Where Angels Die Book 1

‘A demon is the spirit of a bad idea. The Taken are just its victims. If they kill you, you lose. If you kill them – you lose. The only way to win is to kill the idea itself. That’s where we come in.’

Enter Revel Enfield: paladin, exorcist, Knight of the Covenant of Justice.

Every enemy is hidden.

Every friend can be turned.

Even the Angels of Life can be killed.

This is his war.

Kal Spriggs

Renegades: Out of Time

The Renegades Book 3

The Renegades are running out of time.

Captain Mike Noguchi has led his band of Renegades out of the heart of a interstellar war, forged them together into a privateer crew, and has learned of an ancient alien facility that may hold clues to a conspiracy which seems bent on his crew’s destruction.

But that facility is on a planet conquered by the Chxor. The Renegades will need to slip across the battle-lines, infiltrate a conquered world, and find their way inside a facility which has kept its secrets for untold generations. Along the way they’ll need to fight genetically engineered monsters, a psychotic military commander, and an entire army of Chxor.

Yet even if they manage that, some secrets may be too much for them to handle. Their enemies have already done terrible things with the knowledge found there… can the Renegades survive secrets from outside of time?

K. M. O’Brien

The Sculpted Ship

Starship engineer Anailu Xindar dreamed of owning her own ship, but she didn’t find the courage to actually go for it until she was forced out of her safe, comfortable job. She goes shopping for a cheap, practical freighter, but she ends up buying a rare, beautiful, but crippled luxury ship. Getting it into space will take more than her technical skills. She’ll have to go way outside her comfort zone to brave the dangers of safaris, formal dinners, a rude professor, and worst of all, a fashion designer. She may even have to make some friends… and enemies.

“The Sculpted Ship” is set on the outskirts of an interstellar empire where FTL travel is commonplace but intelligent robots are rare and expensive. Though the Iris Empire has stood for a thousand years, a talented individual can find plenty of opportunity. But the nobility of this empire guards its privileges jealously.

Alma Boykin

Three Winter Tails

A Cat Among Dragons Story Set

Faith, Hope, Love, and bar-fights.

“Peace on Earth, good will to all” doesn’t apply to Rada Ni Drako and Yori dar Ohrkan. At least, not without close adult supervision, as these three winter-themed stories reveal. Colonel Adamski may lose all his feathers from stress-molt before spring finally arrives.

Mary Catelli

Journeys And Wizardy

Drunken mermaids – a clan cursed to become crows – a magic book that even the Nameless Necromancer fears – and more in this reprint collection of thirteen stories and a poem.

Now in print

69 thoughts on “Promo Post by Free Range Oyster and Vignettes by Mary Catelli, Luke and ‘Nother Mike

  1. At the center of the devastation, a dragon sits mournfully.

    He asks “was it my singing or the song I chose”?

  2. “Ooh, that sounds so.. scratchy, and.. tinny?” complained Bob.

    “But it is the song, yes?” asked Ted.

    “Yes, low quality, but yes.”

    “The bet wasn’t about quality. You said I couldn’t record it without electronics, so here it is, pure mechanical phonography.”


    “Any other history you care to dispute?”

    1. I used to listen to a public radio show called (as best I recall). Audio Oddities and Antiquities. Host played a record from the ’20s (acoustical recording, not electrical) and noticed a low rumbling from time to time. Found date and location of recording, looked up weather report–thunderstorms that day. As an antiquity, played one from about 1913, a song from a Castrati.

      This has been your odd fact(s) of the day.

      1. Once upon a time, when The Doctor Demento Show was still on the radio, Dr. D. played a record of some tune.. recorded in 1926 or early 1927, and then a record of the very same tune, recorded later in 1927. The earlier one was purely mechanical. The latter benefited from the invention of the negative feedback electronic amplifier. The earlier record wasn’t bad, but it was obvious why the recording industry adopted the new technology with great speed.

  3. The official title of the squad leader was still “drummer”, although the traditional drum had been long since replaced with a rugged electric piano keyboard worn on a sling across his chest. As he marched he played, a simple, repetitive melody that was amplified through the weatherproof speakers on his back. His squad marched in neat formation around him, dead but animate, the fungal parasites that kept their bodies moving responding to the song of the dead.

  4. ‘What is that hideous noise?’ ‘It is those near bilateral things. The ones that are just off of two levels of fractally five in numerous subtly wrong ways. One of their internal bladders pumps gases in and out a narrow opening, which can be very loud.’ ‘Make them quiet, now.’

  5. ”Stille Nachet, heilge Nachet”</i

    “What’s that?”

    Sam grabbed a periscope and peered over the earthwork. “It’s a hun.”

    Further down the trench, another voice joined in. “All is calm, all is bright.”

    It was Henry, walking toward the hun.

    Other sang now as they joined them in No Man’s Land.

  6. “What on earth is that noise?” Tomlinson asked.

    Walters cocked his head, listened for a moment, and paled. “You know how the major’s music reflects his mood as he goes into battle?”


    “Well, I think we’re punishing war crimes today.”

    “Oh, nuts,” Tomlinson replied as “Killing Ground” thundered out.

  7. “Is it safe?” said Halley. “The song?”
    “Yes,” said Corridon. “This far from water, the singers are only a danger when they might lure you to dance. They aren’t dancing, there’s not even indirect danger in luring you to watch.”
    “Some of these aren’t a danger even dancing,” said Artos.

  8. The voice came like velvet.
    Cal froze where he stood. He might be even more vulnerable than a person without powers. His hearing picked up the song, when no one else about him even blinked. So much for his powers working only when needed. He did not need a lure.

  9. “Sing a Song of Mike Pence, a jigger full of rye…” The bar went quiet. DANG, I was in a Hillary bar.

    1. Then I heard the firecracker-like sound of crayons snapping, and felt the pressure of tear-filled eyes upon me – next thing I knew, the cry of “Saaad Puuuupy!” rang out.

        1. They don’t grovel
          When you call
          They don’t fear
          SJWs at all
          Sad… Puppies… aren’t much fun
          Oh no no….

  10. The notes drifted over the hill, a tantalizing melody of a half-remembered song. Colleen turned to follow it, straining to catch the rest, until she realized she had wandered into the rolling hills. Men had been lost to confusion on those verdant mounds. And still, the unseen musician played on.

    1. Ah yes — it is well known how easily men become ‘mazed, oft losing several standard deviations off their IQs, by sight of verdant mounds.

  11. Done, finished. He looked at the completed musical score and breathed a sigh. Perfection. He sat there playing the pieced in his mind. Too perfect, He started tearing at how it would sound as he played it for the King. Then he had a glimpse of his future. No more roaming, no more seedy taverns with yeoman, no more freedom.

    Carefully he went back, took his knife, scraped off two bars and rewrote the notes. Better. Good, and not perfect. Dusting it with fine sand he left the score on the table and snuffed out the candle.

  12. A cheerful song before going ashore in search of victuals:
    (To the tune of “Paper Moon”)
    It is only a blood-red moon
    hanging over a graveyard sea
    but we won’t all starve to death
    if we can eat zombie.

  13. “Cool tune,” said Larry. “Where did you get it?”
    Vince shrugged. “Downloaded it.”
    Their dorm room door crashed open. “RIAA collection agents! Hands on your head.”
    ‘Let Freedom Ring’ played ironically through abandoned speakers, while the two were tried, convicted and sentenced in record time. The RIAA didn’t mess around.

        1. I found on YouTube a rendition of Kathy Mattea’s song. Given the vignette, it would have been more appropriate if its origins were more dodgy, rather than having been uploaded by the Universal Music Group. 🙂

  14. “The secret of all happiness,” the wizard promised, “yours for a pittance!”

    All happiness?” asked the maid. “That sounds too good to believe!”

    “All – and it can be yours for nearly nothing.”

    “What, pray tell, might be this pittance which you ask?”

    “Why, just your song, nothing more than that.”

    1. Hearing the low volume rapid-fire voice associated with an asterisk next to secret, “Offer not valid in six of Dante’s nine circles. Actual amount of happiness gained may vary depending on the recipient’s own actions. Secret may not actually be in a usable condition for all recipients. Song merchants are not responsible for exact use of secret by recipients. Your definition of happiness may vary. All rights reserved.”

  15. Brunhilde pulled her broadsword and its baldric out of its compartment and settled the belts around her waist and shoulder. She pulled out her 20mm tri-barrel rifle and slung it on the opposite side, ammunition pack on the ground. On her, it looked like a bullpup rifle but it was still six feet long. She put her winged helmet on and tightened the strap. She picked up the five hundred pound ammo bag like a clutch purse and dangled it negligently from her hand. As she strutted forward like a runway model, the chorus of the song kicked in.

    One hundred yards up the street was a line of soldiers, plus more surrounding a Grizzly armored car. The Argyle and Sutherland Highland Regiment had been assembled, armed and turned out to face down nobody-knew-what on Main Street. They gripped their weapons nervously, but none of them budged from their positions. Sitting in the middle of the street was an enormous Golden Retriever, proudly holding the front wheel of the Grizzly in his mouth like it was a Frisbee. Brunhilde arrived next to the dog and put her hand on his head as the last power chord died away.
    There was silence. Had there been a tumbleweed anywhere in the whole province, it would have blown across the street.
    “Hello, boys!” said Brunhilde in her most sultry voice. “Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?”

      1. Eventually. It is waiting for publisher acceptance/rejection. 3 books so far. Number Four is on the lathe, being turned from a lump of wood into a slender candlestick.

        From an hour or so ago:

        “Who dares summon an afrit of the desert sands?” he demanded in a loud voice. “I am here! Look upon me and despair, mortals, for I am your doom!” His announcement concluded, he thrust out his chin belligerently and stood displaying his muscles, fangs and claws.
        Apart from the humming of the railgun drones and early morning bird chatter, his declamation was met with silence. The four meditating figures did not stir.
        “That went well,” remarked one of the spiders. “Perhaps you should try flexing your chest muscles a bit more. That’s sure to catch their interest.”
        The large attack vehicle circling lazily overhead quacked like a duck. The smaller, hovering ones snickered among themselves.
        The afrit ground his teeth but did not move. The longer the silence lasted the more ridiculous he looked, but to admit it was to lose face. He held the pose.

  16. She came in the Midnight, glowing in the full moon. Her presence forced him to his knees. He stammered, “Wh-wh-what would you of me, Lady?”

    She stood a moment and gazed as if through him, then replied in a voice like the tinkling of silver bells, “I heard your heartsong.”


    Wowsers! Paring things down to 50 words can be a doozy!

    1. Oh yeah. Afterwards it may be useful in the tricks learned in how to make words jump through flaming hoops, but it’s a doozy while you do it!

      1. Yeah, getting down to exactly 50 is the hardest part. Sometimes turns into more butchery than paring for me, but getting better at budgeting words for sure. 🙂

  17. The orange-brown ‘turf’ heaved. Meter-long tendrils slide up from the ‘ground’ around him, twitched, shook, then vibrated ever faster. A rumble, audible overtones of deeper sounds, provided a bass; the vibrating tendrils produced a dissonant chord. Baritone notes, like horns, voices, cellos, swelled from all directions.

    The planet sang.

    (with 1 word to spare.)

  18. It was a copy of a copy, the antique recording medium so fragile that just passing it through the magnetic retrieval mechanism risked destroying it. Even after hours of agonizing work to read the analog signal in the magnetized iron oxide particles, it was impossible to eliminate all the noise, the irregularities in tone and balance. Still, its recovery was still a coup for the team from Kennedy University: the only known recording of the first public performance of Peter Caudell’s “Lunar Christmas.”

  19. Professor Ford projected an orchestra in the air, “Ever consider why we have mostly duos and trios nowadays?”

    I raised my hand, “Economics. Same ticket price, but the gate is split between fewer people.”

    A fiery portal appears. A Mystic Knight grabs my sleeve.

    Damn. Going to miss class again.

    1. Quick question for feedback on something I spent more time debating with myself (ok, 3 minutes) than writing the rest: What do you think about the switch in tenses in the third line? Jarring inconsistency which sounds wrong or used to good effect? I’m torn, but I also really hated to use “grabbed” in the sentence.

      1. Inconsistency.

        then, I’ve invariably found present tense annoying until the story picked up enough for me to ignore it, so it had no effect.

  20. Sweat beaded on his forehead and trickled underneath his shirt collar. The main antechamber was too overstuffed with rapt audience members, shared body heat mingling with the roiling heat from the fireplace. His clothes, carefully chosen for their formality, now chafed his throat as he carefully worked around each note in the song, and constricted his chest as it carefully pushed and pulled at the air around him to craft the volume and resonance.

    To an onlooker it looked effortless, but to Andrew, every muscle tensed and strained to make sure the performance was perfect. Too much was riding on this, any missed note might mean that he would be missing his head come the next morning.

    (A dozen words over the limit, but I couldn’t thing of a good way to pare this scene down without losing it)

    1. Oh darn and then I realized that I misread the challenge and thought it was 100 words, not 50. Maybe this story is just begging to be continued.

  21. SingleSky – answering a question you may not have asked, I attempt an edit to 100 words or less –
    Yes, I know that editors are demons, fiends and ghouls, and I only aspire to such heights. JPDev ; { insertions }

    Sweat trickled { down } his { neck }. The antechamber was stuffed with { courtiers, } body heat {compounding the } heat from the fireplace. His clothes, {selected } for formality, chafed his throat as he {cherished } each note in the song, { controlling his wind } to { perfection } .

    { It } looked effortless, but { his } every {fiber } strained to {ensure that } the performance was perfect. { A } missed note { could cost him } his head .

    The insertion of the word “courtiers” was an assumption that a tyrant was the chief auditor ( and no – he is not too short to be an Imperial Auditor), as your tale threatened to execute the minstrel immediately, apparently without trial.

    Down to 63 words, YMMV as to whether the tale was preserved.
    Thanks. JPDev

    1. I would quibble on how you changed the description of how he was singing, but looking back, that does seem to be where I use most of my words in description. Thanks for the fresh set of eyes.

    2. Technically… although one’s diaphragm and breath control are part of voice production, the notes come from one’s vocal folds/cords vibrating together when they are closed against air, and the resonance comes from one’s skull and entire body as well as the lungs. (That’s why a breathy voice is usually a tiny voice, and why singing breathily causes various vocal problems if you do it habitually for long periods.) Control of what note one produces is mostly done by various involuntary muscles in one’s throat which control the rate of vibration in the vocal folds.

      I wouldn’t normally write all this out, as it’s really nitpicky. But the idea that one’s notes are pushed out by breath is not only incorrect, but can be harmful. (It encourages pushing your vocal folds up and down to control vibration length of the folds, which is a kludge in the short term and harmful in the long term.)

      However, this was not well understood during parts of the twentieth century, thanks to deficiencies in the scientific tools available for studying the voice in action. Prior to the twentieth century, there were all sorts of theories. So as a period piece or a world with incorrect info, it’s fine.

      There are also all kinds of cool vocal effects you can do by visualizing your voice coming up from your throat into various parts of your head and out from there, or out from your throat and back into your head. (Usually the point is to avoid visualizing bits of your head that make you sound nasal, but some people have real fun with it.) I’ve heard that some people do the same thing with visualizing their voice coming from other parts of their body, but I never really noticed anything happening from that. (Although clearly babies are truly able to use their whole bodies as stereo speakers.)

  22. This is not an on-topic comment: A few months ago there was a book recommendation either here or at Instapundit from a classic sci-fi author who had been a merchant sailor himself and written multiple space-faring sci-fi novels. In one, I believe the main character was the captain of a wealthy, spoiled lady’s space-yacht. I cannot for the life of me recall who the author was or the name of even one of the books, and at 2AM it is driving me crazy. Does anyone recall the author or books I can’t? Or is it just that I ran out of coffee an hour ago and this is some nightmare. At least it’s better than the one where I can’t get the trigger to pull.

      1. I’ve only read maybe half of Chandler’s lengthy Grimes series, during which the main character was in a space Navy. I must find the series again and continue reading (misplaced about 8 years ago during a move).

        The rich lady’s yacht part also reminds me of the first three books of Elizabeth Moon’s Herris Serrano series, but Moon was a Marine, not a merchant sailor.

  23. YES!

    Now if I could just figure out the name of that TV show from the 80s… eh… time for sleep.

    Thanks nothermike!

      1. Manimal! Nope? Phoenix! Nope? Misfits of Science! Nope? Whiz Kids! Nope…?

        I sometimes think it was a good thing our family didn’t get a VCR until well into the 1990s.

  24. Congrats on being name-dropped by Bill Whittle at this week’s “members only” Right Angle, even if it took Steve Green to set him right.

  25. “Damn!” thundered Kane, slamming the tabletop as the song faded out of the conference room’s speakers. “That was dope! Who laid that down?”

    Mouth tight, his partner handed him the photo. Kane’s eyebrows shot up. “Naw,” he said in disbelief. “Her?” He slapped it down, glaring at the pale, bespectacled, unsmiling face under its dark curls. “How the hell’d she write a track like that?”

    “She didn’t.” Curtis hunched into himself, looking like he’d been gutshot: pain, anger, confusion, all layered like tracks in a riff. “Kane, she wrote a goddam program. And it wrote the track.” He looked up. “We got forty artists all scrambling like hell for the next breakthrough. What’re we gonna do when this gets out?”

    Kane opened his mouth, but had no time to answer. Both men’s phones chimed simultaneously. And the text message across both was identical:


  26. The rest of the team was walking into the woods, following the bus driver.
    “What?” he signed to Bradley, the only player left in the bus.
    “Siren song,” he signed back, one ear cocked out the window, nodding his head to the beat.
    “Why not you?”
    “I prefer heavy metal.”

    (50 words exactly.)

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