The State of the Writer by Sarah and Sunday Vignettes by Mary Catelli, Luke and ‘Nother Mike.

The State of the Writer by Sarah and Sunday Vignettes by Mary Catelli, Luke and ‘Nother Mike.

So, what is the state of the writer?
Having caught con crud at Cosine because the room was unheated for over 24 hours, while it was 18 degrees outside, we’ve been battling it for about two weeks.  It’s possible it was the flu or something weird.  At any rate, I’ve been almost well twice, then the disease did a u-turn and I was suddenly almost dead.

For the last two days I’ve been ALMOST well enough to write, which is the most frustrating part of this.  Yesterday Dan tempted me from dozing on the recliner (you can always tell when I’m ill because not only do I stop long enough to sleep, but naps seem like delightful ideas.  Normally you have trouble making me think of sleep.  I’m like those babies who fight it, it’s always less interesting than whatever is going on) to go see the mummies exhibit, on its way out at DMNS.  But when we got there it was so crowded I told him I couldn’t, in good conscience go in, for the same reason we’ve been avoiding restaurants and parties: I wouldn’t give this to my worst enemy.

So we went for a stroll in city park.  Objectively it should have made me MUCH worse.  There was a cold wind blowing which if nothing else should have kicked up my asthma.  Weirdly, it cleared my head and seems to have made me feel much better.  Still sick mind, but more on the level of normal head cold than “oh, my heavens, I know this won’t kill me but it feels like it would.”

Right now I’m feeling the need of a nap (I’ve been up 2 hours) but believe it or not that’s an improvement, and there’s some expectation I CAN write after the nap.  OTOH for the first time in 20 years we’ll be missing “the old grope”‘s Superbowl Party, which will break Dan’s heart.

I hope so.  I have delivered Darkship Revenge, and so far the comments from the betas is that it’s very, very good.  I thought what came next was Darkship Defiance, but I started getting this other book dictated to me.  And it goes between the two darkships.  (Sigh.)  See excerpt at bottom.

I have the Magical Lewis and Clark (look, bunnies, if I felt better I’d write out the whole title.  Fargin mouthful, trust me) to finish with KJA.  I should be able to have a draft to him sometime next week (supposing I stop actually turning back into severe illness.)

Witch’s Daughter, the follow on to Witchfinder is getting edited and made readable.

Then there’s Guardian, with Larry (It’s already scheduled for Jan. next year.)

And THEN I should be able to get to this.  Which would be good, since the stupid character is dictating in my mind, every time I start to fall asleep (Oh, and this is not the book of someone impaired.  Not for the entire book.  In Darkship Revenge, Fuse is in the process of being healed.  Which means his troubles have JUST begun.)

Hacking the Storm

Sarah A. Hoyt

Book 3 of the Earth Revolution






In the beginning there was darkness.

In the darkness there was chaos.

Flashes broke the chaos, randomly, blindingly, with the force of  revelations visited onto an unsuspecting world.

My name is Ajith Mason.  But really, that’s my father.  Good Man Mason.  I’ve been called Fuse as long as I can remember.  I don’t know why.

Darkness.  I was lying on something soft.  My wrists hurt.  I pulled at them, and felt straps.  Straps at my ankles.  At my middle.  I heard a moan and realized it was mine.

How did I come to be here?  Where was I before?

There was a memory, bright and clean.  I needed materials for a boom.  There had been a negotiation for materials to make a big boom.  I had got a tip from a broomer lair.  I–  I couldn’t get anyone to help me.  There wasn’t Athena.  Athena had left.  I went by myself.

A trap.

I fought against the bonds, and dark took over.  Another flash,

“He’s fighting.”

“His mind is coming back. He’ll remember.”

“I don’t think he’ll remember.  Not yet. Takes time.”

“He’ll remember.  I want him sedated.”

The second voice.  My mind sought and found a word for that voice Father.

I couldn’t remember a face, nor a name, nor who my father was.  But one thing I was fully sure of: he was trying to kill me.

There was something over my eyes.  I couldn’t see, but I could hear.  I’d always been really good at hearing.  I heard two sets of breathing in the room.  One was still, the other was moving around the room, touching something that sounded like glass.  A vial.  Father wanted me sedated.  They were going to sedate me.  And then Father would kill me.

Oh, hell, no.  That wasn’t going to happen.



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:


75 responses to “The State of the Writer by Sarah and Sunday Vignettes by Mary Catelli, Luke and ‘Nother Mike.

  1. Hacking the Storm“, following your vivid descriptions of the travails of con crud, seems an ominously apt title.

  2. Simpson was horrified at his deed. Of one thing he was sure – there must be no witnesses to his act. He’d eliminated the maid, the dog, the parrot, his mind awhirl calculating what other witness there could be. He noticed the night stand’s Bible and he realized … one left.

  3. Christopher M. Chupik

    The corpse of Dr. Werner slumped out of the Schrödinger Chamber, a knife in his heart.

    “Are there any witnesses?” The inspector asked the other scientists afterwards.

    “Well . . . yes . . . and no.”

    • “Who’s the main suspect?”

      “It’s the cat. Dr. Johnson gave the cat to Dr. Werner to skin… but the cat came back the very next day.”

  4. “The job?” asked Thomas.

    “Is done.” replied Edward.

    “Any witnesses?”

    “None, of course.”

    “I know your reputation, which doesn’t mean that I know you. Anyway, here’s the payment.” he said, handing over the briefcase.

    Edward opened the case to inspect the bills. In a flash there really were no witnesses.

  5. Sinking his last shot, Masters couldn’t believe his luck! On a cold, wintry Sunday morning he’d done the impossible. Eighteen holes, eighteen holes in one! Just wait until he hit the Nineteenth Hole to brag about this! Then he looked around at the empty course.

  6. He drew back the knife, a drop of blood rolling along the edge to the hilt and falling on his boot. The body, wide-eyed yet dead, fell invisibly down the mountain’s shrouded face. The cloud began to swirl and coalesce. “We stand in condemnation,” whispered the voice of the wind.

    (50 on the button.)

  7. “At any rate, I’ve been almost well twice, then the disease did a u-turn and I was suddenly almost dead.”

    John Ringo writes fiction, not suggestions.

    • For further reference… If your room has no heat, camp out in the lobby. Explain to everyone that your room still has no heat. Magically, you will get a room with heat.

      Alternately, tell concom. They should have let you stay in one of the con rooms, con suite, etc., or found you a hospitable friend.

      • We didn’t realize it till the middle of the night. Because we hadn’t been in the room, so middle of the night we find we’re in our day clothes, with coats, under covers and still cold…

      • SheSellsSeashells

        I had an uncle who worked as more-or-less a secret shopper for high-end hotels. He was infamous in the family for getting snubbed when he showed up at a fancy London place in T-shirt and denim cutoffs. Upon being informed that they would not be able to find his reservation until he showed up appropriately dressed, he cheerfully replied “That’s okay, I’ll just use the lobby until then.” Kicked off his shoes, bundled into a bathrobe, and was in the process of brushing his teeth in the central fountain when they found his reservation.

  8. “Objection!”
    “Your honor, the robot witnessed the murder.”
    She’s a sexbot! She’ll say anything to please!”
    Mike turned to the robot, stunning in even in business clothes. “Honey, will you tell the truth?”
    “Does that please you?”
    “It does.”
    The judge paused. “Overruled.”
    Honey rose, and took the stand.

  9. Mom, why do we spend every Saturday at the soup kitchen? You work all week, and we hardly ever see you!

    Honey, you know I love you, right? And you know God loves you, too. Some people have never felt His love. We have to be kind for His sake.

  10. Okay, I went over the 50 words (I almost always do) but I think I got a good hook from “Witness”.

    “I don’t get what I’m supposed to do.”
    “Just live normally. Try not to look at the cameras.”
    “Live normally. And I get this place rent-free, and an allowance?”
    “That’s right.”
    “But what does she want? It’s not like I am going to be bringing girls home for wild sex every night.”
    “No, we’re well aware of your habits. My patron prefers to observe simple, ordinary people.”
    “Observe them doing what?”
    “Just living. Read, watch TV, do whatever you would do anywhere else.”
    “Okay… I’ll take it.”
    “There is one thing—if you leave before five years, you will be liable for all past rent, at the market rate, and a repayment of your stipend.”
    “So I’m stuck here for five years.”
    “You’re welcome to leave any time. You’ll just need to repay the firm. After five years we waive the rent and stipend and you can stay or leave with no obligations.”
    “How many people stay the full five years?”
    “I’m not at liberty to say.”

    • Hey, we’re not draconian.

      • Well, not *most* of us.

        • Nah, none of us. Some draconic ones, but no draconian ones.

          • You have not seen me after grading essay tests. I can be quite draconian. “But Miss Reeeedddd, why can’t I have an extension? I forgot to study because of the [optional recreational event] and I need two more days before I take the test.”
            “Does that mean no?”

            • I had to request extensions twice in college. Twice were because management at work decided that a project needed to be pushed to conclusion by such-and-such a date, overtime required, to satisfy client demands… at the same time large end-of-term projects were supposed to be worked on, of course. I was quite thankful the professors were willing to grant the extensions.

              Of course, I would have been just as happy to turn a dragon loose on whoever decided to futz with the project schedule at work (first instance) or waited until the last minute to tell us the requirements existed (second instance).

  11. BobtheRegisterredFool

    After cleaning a cult, police found the team, which was then recruited into another illegal government conspiracy. Sent through an artifact to another world, the team and helpers plot to steal alien technology. During the heist they find another underground cult performing a geometric ritual. SOP is kill the witnesses.

    • SOP for which side?

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        The team.

        Somebody recently reminded me that in Star Gate the NID were running star gate teams for a time.

        I’ve also been reading up on the Delta Green government conspiracy setting for Call of Cthulhu. Their three man cells were compatible with my inspiration. Two bits of DG official suggestions are a) PCs don’t have legal immunity for their crimes b) IC advice to conduct raids at night, so there are fewer witnesses that they are obligated to kill.

        I have the germ of an outline for the fanfic, and hastily tried to condense part of it here.

        • Free Range Oyster

          Unsolicited recommendation: if DG and CoC are your speed, you should check out Moe Lane. DG, In Nomine, Esoterrorists, 7th Sea, he turns out really cool material for all kinds of stuff. I don’t even play most of the games he does and I love reading the item/character/location “seeds” that he posts. I was sad when he retired from politics, but it’s meant so much more awesome geekery.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            His link to the shotgun scenario contest stuff is what got me into reading about Delta Green this binge.

  12. Alan covered his eyes with the palm of one hand the taste of vomit at the back of his throat. He closed his ears from the screams, and whimpered. In the hidden passageway, he huddled on the floor as small as a mouse.

    No, he hadn’t witnessed a thing. Not one thing.

  13. “Why did the marriage rate go up so abruptly?”

    “There was concern about date rape, so more elaborate sexual consent structures were promulgated in law. Eventually, it was decided that nothing sexual could occur without monetary bonds, elaborate legally binding promises, a third party mediator, third party witnesses, agreements about children and estates, and a public place attended by the kindred who might otherwise make accusations. But it was decided that consent could continue indefinitely until rescinded.”

    “And suddenly they realized that a one night stand had become marriage.”

    “Exactly. And it got to be such a pain that people usually only took a bonded partner once, their whole lives. So much for the Sexual Revolution.”

  14. “We will wait here,” said Belsante, gesturing at moss beneath a stream-side oak. “This is not a maying expedition, though we hunt for flowers.”
    Silence fell. The knights looked abashed.
    “There are no witnesses,” she said, tartly. “No one will gossip of you.”
    There’s the rest of us, I thought.

  15. The executive looked them up and down. His voice was very soft. “You are witnesses,” he said. “You can be compelled to testify. It’s your civic duty.”
    What he witnessed was cold, hostile faces looking toward him.
    “Don’t see what’s the point to our testifying we couldn’t see,” said Jack.

  16. “You haven’t got any witnesses,” said Grainne. “No one will believe you if you tell them that that girl could tell one pixy from the next, or even whether they were pixies. Fresh from the mortal world. No doubt stood there gaping and saying, ‘They’re green!’ or something equally fatuous.”

  17. “They managed one thing well,” said Tristan, dryly, his voice resounding down the empty metallic corridor. “They left no witnesses to their crime.”
    For a moment, their echoing footsteps were the only sound.
    “Then,” said Talia, even more dryly, “they might have put themselves beyond prosecution by more permanent means.”

  18. The afternoon dragged with the teacher’s droning voice. Ren fought back weariness. He knew all this stuff. His old school had covered it two years ago.

    And then the teacher asked, “What are the three witnesses of the divinity of the Blessed Elvis?”

    Ren just about dislocated his shoulder getting his hand up. No, don’t wave it around. “Attention-getting behavior” was a sure way to get passed over.

    And then the teacher called on him.

    Now to show them all he wasn’t stupid, just because he was still struggling with skills kids out here learned before they went to kindergarten, like how to transition between different gravity zones in the spin habitat.

    “The survival of his music in spite of every effort of a dozen regimes to eradicate it. The sparing of Graceland in the Great Quake of 2169.”

    And then the memory deserted him. The word was on the tip of his tongue. He could even see the holo of those shiny metal circles in his mind’s eye. But try as he might, he simply couldn’t bring it forth.

  19. “Bloody hell, Professor, nobody will ever believe this,” James said, staring at the now-collapsed mouth of the cave. “We haven’t got any witnesses – none still breathing, anyway, and the tale is just too fantastic.” The officer commanding the cavalry troop that had arrived, just after the nick of time, had looked at them incredulously as they’d told the tale.

    “Perhaps not, my boy, but we know–”

    And then the mountain exploded.

  20. Are robots considered witnesses to an event? I balance the data in my CPU, and I determine that such robots must be sentient and function to qualify according to current law. All the ones in front of me were dead; in order for me to be a witness, I must not lose power.

  21. An eldritch pounding echoed. He went to open the door. Standing in the light of the crimson sky, face covered to guard against the sulfurous stench in the air, a mis-shapen creature offered him a copy of Dark Tower. He asked, “Who are you?”

    The creature’s partner hissed, “Cthulhu’s Witnesses.”

  22. “Repent! The end is near!” He breathed out fire to warn them. His companion stopped the rain falling on their coarse clothing.

    1,260 days later, the rioting mobs killed them both and celebrated their bodies laying in the dirt.

    3.5 days later they stand. A Voice, “Come hither, witnesses.”

  23. Sarah,
    On an unrelated related story, when we had a child whose throat was swollen to the point of preventing swallowing and almost preventing breathing, we called the family Doctor and she said “Not swallowing saliva? Go to the ER immediately!”
    The short trip in the freezing winter air reduced the swelling to the point where the ER Doctor said, “Epiglottitis? Don’t be ridiculous! Child is fine, just a croup.”

    After refusing to leave the ER, an hour later my wife could point to everything drenched in saliva and ER Doctor had a sudden change of heart (“Could have died if you went home” was mentioned), resulting in a two day hospital stay and an IV full of antibiotics.

    Anyway, short version, if your current sickness improves with cold, it may involve inflammation and other swelling-reducing treatments (i.e. ibuprofen, ice pack to the area, etc…) might be beneficial.

  24. “We need that warrant now!”

    “Not negotiable. The Inglubinator needs fifteen minutes.”

    Foster rubbed a nicotine-stained thumb between her eyes. With the dog dead and the cat missing, they didn’t have a choice: a little time, luck and the right fish might get them a signature.

    Or laughed out of the judge’s office.

  25. Slipping from the hotel into the cold gray dawn, Suzanne gave a small satisfied sigh. Her fifth lover of the night and he may have been the best. Pausing to wipe the knife’s blade, she tossed it into the river. After all, a girl’s got to think about her reputation!

  26. “I felt like I ought to be here,” she said. “But I don’t know why.”
    Many of us nodded in agreement.
    “We’re witnesses. To that.” Gabe gestured skyward.
    “Oh my g…” The sentiment was shared, even if words weren’t.
    Gabe cut the speaker off. “Don’t blaspheme. Not here. Not now.”

  27. “Hmm… That’s it? No more? All gone? Ok, let’s try this again: Let there be light.”

  28. I put the tip of the quill in the ink well, ensuring there is just enough on the nib. I moved my hand to the parchment. The final events must be witnessed. Who better to bring them forward to future generations then I. I who was the last witness at the death of the last tyrant.

  29. “How? How could the Xrim destroy so much of Houston in front of so many witnesses but no one see a thing?”

    “They did it during the commercials, sir.”

    • LOL. I always wonder what would have to happen in this world before it would come to American attention during the Superbowl.

      • Anything that would make them break into the TV with a special announcement.

        whatever that is.

      • Heh. I just flew from SF to Taiwan on business. On a flight that overlapped with the Superbowl. For some strange reason, the plane was about 1/2 empty…. 😉

  30. richardmcenroe


  31. The Terran faced the twelve Imperial representatives, three present by video only, due to incompatible environments.

    “I’m ready to discuss your surrender,” he smiled.

    “Charming,” began the Speaker, “but-“

    Suddenly, all the vessel ‘s viewscreens showed the entire Armada surrounding Earth exploding.

    “What you witnessed today should convince your leaders.”

  32. There was a small puff from the suppressed .22.

    No witnesses.

  33. trailing wife

    Witch’s Daughter, the follow on to Witchfinder is getting edited and made readable.

    Whatever happened to Rogue Magic?