Not an obituary and Miscellaneous by Sarah/Sunday Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

I woke up late and with a sinus headache.  We’re apparently having a major change in weather sometime today, so that explains it, but even ibuprofen failed to dent it, which accounts for my being so late today, I guess.

The other part of this is that I don’t want to write an obituary.  I’m in that uncomfortable position of losing mentors and older relatives, that leaves me with the expectation that I’m next in line for the doleful harvest, as well as missing the people who depart and being left in the expectation that I now have to fill the role of elder and mentor, for which I’m not ready.  I’m not sure anyone ever is, of course.  Maybe it is true that man is an ape who understood his own mortality and went insane.  These days the insane thing seems startlingly obvious.

Anyway, yesterday I learned Ed Bryant had died two days ago.  Part of the problem of being very busy is that even my forays into the book o’ faces don’t get all the news.

Ed was the mentor of the very first (walk in/at will) writers’ group I attended.  It met at UCCS and the “price” was, I think, $2 to pay for Ed’s gas to come down.  Considering how much trouble he went through, he didn’t make enough from this. I think sometimes he made a little more, enough for a coffee with us after the meeting.

He was a gracious and kind mentor, moderating the excesses that took place when he couldn’t come down — people who mocked your word choice, or people who acted like people with odd accents shouldn’t really be trying to write fiction — he never really said anything about “girl who speaks funny wants to write in English” nor did he ever assume my typos — I’m a typo artist — were the result of thinking in Portuguese (they aren’t.  In fact thinking in Portuguese is rather difficult these days.  They’re usually the result of thinking two fast and not being able to keep up with it in typing, so you type a word from another sentence.  Then there’s the crazy.  For instance, in current book I had “conducting bathroom” instead of “conducting business.”)

Four or five incidents are connected to Ed in my mind.  One of them was that at the time I was attending that group on Sundays, I gave birth to younger son.  My meeting after giving birth, I was saying something, and Ed was looking at me like I was from Mars.  It’s like he knew the voice, but couldn’t recognize me.  Suddenly went, “Oh, Sarah, I didn’t know you Un-pregnant.”  (Which made sense since I’d started in the group while pregnant.  To this day the memory of his expression makes me giggle.)

The other was that while going to that same group, I attended my first writers’ conference.  Ed was the pro at our table.  Something awful had happened in the planning for the meals, and they’d made half the meals vegan.  By the time they got to our table the only “choice” was vegan.  The end result of this is that the meal was inedible as institutional vegan meals often are.  There were four or five of us, forlornly talking about how awful the food was.  Ed got up, we thought, to go to the bathroom.  Instead, he went to the gift shop and bought each of us a bar of chocolate, a gracious gesture he , in no way, was obligated to make.

At another meal, at the same conference, they served melon salad for desert.  Turned out that all of us disliked/were allergic to a different sort of melon.  So a lively trade took place before anyone ate.  Ed was talking to someone who had just come to the table, and missed the pre-trade negotiation, so he turns around, and we’re flinging bits of melon around.  He asked “What happened?  One minute I was at a normal table, and another minute there’s flying melon.”  If I ever name a rockband, it will be Flying Melon.

For a while Ed had a newsletter, which in addition to news of his own books and stories, was devoted to “curious things from the Denver area.”  His newsletter talking about Mike, the Headless Chicken came at the same time I’d discovered Mike, and we spent quite a while trading websites about Mike.

Ed was funny, kind, and a generous mentor.  More importantly, no matter who was in power or what the election was, or how close to a con, I never noticed him holding a political line on whom he’d talk to or be nice to, and despite a wicked sense of humor, he never inflicted a political rant on anyone in a panel, or at least none I was present at.

Our writing styles and interests were completely different, but our minds met at the weird and odd and picturesque.

I talked to him just three weeks ago at Cosine and was very glad to see him.  I can’t quite believe he’s gone.

This is not an obituary, because I didn’t know him that well, I only knew him as a profession and a mentor.  In both capacities his behavior was something to emulate.

Two short reminders here.  First, Darkship Revenge is on presale, if you’re so inclined.

Second, if you read Through Fire and think it’s worth it, feel free to nominate it at Dragon Award Nominations, which are open now. It costs nothing.  And of course you should nominate whomever you think is good, beyond and above my stuff.  Sad Puppies “recommendation site” which will be monthly is not focused on any award and will be up — I SWEAR — very soon.  We ran into “disabling flu” for about three weeks.  The next site will be permanent, no matter who runs the movement.

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

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:



68 thoughts on “Not an obituary and Miscellaneous by Sarah/Sunday Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

  1. I’m sorry to repprt that you are a mentor to some young writers, and an inspiration to the journeymen writers. And unfortunately you can now count as an elder writer.

      1. Is it mandatory that elder writers worship elder gods? If given a choice, I recommend the gods of the copybook headings rather than the eldritch gods.

      2. As I recall from LibertyCon last year, you look like you’re in your early 30s, so you’re in no danger of crone-yism any time soon.

        Ask Dan, I’m sure he’ll agree with me.

  2. One of the less pleasant effects of accumulating years is that we so many of those who cut trails for us fall by the wayside. No obituaries — that’s for the newspapers — but a raised glass and a memorial salute seem entirely appropriate.

    Live long enough and you get to mourn those who were following trails you blazed.

  3. “Holy crow–is that you, Mitch?”
    “Yeah, it’s me.”
    “I never thought I’d see you in stir, man. You’re the best of the best. What happened, you get ratted out?”
    “Naw, I blew a heist.”
    “You? The original high tech cat burglar?”
    “If I say I don’t want to talk about it will you let it drop?”
    “Hell, no. I want to hear this story.”
    “That’s what I figured. Okay, I was going after a museum piece. They had pressure plates on the floor, so I came down from the roof. They had motion sensors, so I wore IR deadening coveralls. So far, so good. It was the damned coherent light array that got me.”
    “You broke the beam?”
    “Nope, the canned smoke I used to make the beams visible set off the smoke detectors and when the sprinklers went off I slid down the rope and hit the floor. But I never crossed any of the beams.”
    “Tough luck, man.”

  4. His smile dazzling, Jack proudly displayed for his mother what he’d gotten in exchange for old Bessy. He was crestfallen when she glared at him and said, “That’s what you got for our cow?”

    “But Mother, the peddler said, swore on a stack of Bibles, that these are magic beams!”

  5. After George the Orc killed the dragon by ramming a oak beam into its eye, Sam the Cleric said “Now George, my sermon was about taking the beam out of your own eye, not about putting the beam into somebody else’s eye”.

  6. My condolences. Also, have a vignette.

    Sun really didn’t like her parents much. Nor did her siblings, Light, Laser, and JIm. The names themselves would have been bad enough—Jim aside, and even he would admit he lucked out—but when your parents’ last name was Beam…the inescapable conclusion was that your parents hated your guts.

  7. The cyborg, to the priest: “My mission is to drive the Motes out of the Eye Nebula.”

    The Padre: “How can you remove the Mote from your neighbor’s Eye until you cast the beam from your own?”

    “I do. The beam out of my eye is a 17 terawatt laser.”

    1. Somebody might want to teach the cyborg about thermal bloom before he lights (heh) that bad boy off in an atmosphere.

      1. The designers compensated for that. He won’t have a problem.

        Everyone else in the vicinity? Well, they weren’t the designers problem.

  8. Belsante sighed and turned to me. “It would be more pleasant if there were so much as a sunbeam,” she murmured.
    I nodded solemnly. No sunbeams. Not so much as a scatter of sunlight dancing through the thick leaves. It would be dark here even a full noon, but twilight?

  9. He counted the doors carefully. There were no support beams he could hide behind, and no decorations either. He forced his breath in and out. Running to hide behind a door would draw the eye like nothing else. He could only hide if he heard them coming, and hid first.

  10. There were supports inside the oak. Arched doors with columns. Beams across the ceiling. An architect could have told whether the walls were load-bearing, she guessed, but they looked sturdy enough to be more than ornamental to her. Certainly more than the office walls, not to mention the flimsy partitions.

  11. John looked at the large I shaped hole in the concrete wall that was supposed to have been a back stop for the range. Pieces of concrete continued to wall. Turning to Mason holding onto the large bored weapon, he noticed the look of manic glee he always got when one of his devices worked better then hoped.

    “Well, this wasn’t quite what I expected when you said you had perfected a beam weapon that’s for sure.”

    Mason started that mad cackle that always made his hair stand on end.

        1. From the I-shaped hole in the wall, concrete kept falling. To Mason, holding the large-bored weapon, whose look of manic glee and mad cackle when his devices worked better than hoped stood his hair on end:

          “Not what I expected when you said you had perfected a beam weapon.”

          1. Hmmm, I will just have to practice more I guess. Trouble is I do these cold and sometimes “people” act up on me.

            1. Yeah, that. With my bit, I started with more than twice what ended up on screen. My characters can be voluble at times, and I do like to show how clever I can be. I had to eliminate most of the adjectives and, I believe, all of the adverbs, a big buncha dialogue and do an almost total re-shuffle. Luckily, what I ended up with kept, as you noted, the ‘flavour’ of the piece.

              I hope my stab at paring yours down didn’t distort it beyond recognition.

              1. Not too distorted. Interesting to see how it can be pared down and edited. Thanks for showing me. Now I have a goal for next week.

            2. Sometimes I lop off the vignette to post and go on. Like Belsante, who was the Almost the End Of the World vignette. At least she’s told me she’s a princess.

    1. Looking at the remains of the building, whose supports had, effectively, disintegrated under load, I said, “That’s what you get for using particle beams.”

  12. Rebecca felt the hum of extractors and ionizers through her gloved hand, whenever the rumble of spreading fractures allowed. Her Spiders in their thousands were positioning themselves along a 3 kilometer titanium beam floating weightless in the asteroid-ship’s hollow center.

    The Laws of Motion are unforgiving. Rebecca gave the word.

    (50 words)

    BTW: Forcing oneself to hit a 50 word limit is a wonderful aid. I always think my 80-90+ word efforts are just fine, but end up liking the 50 word versions more. Here, I was forced to leave what’s going on, what tragedy has struck, entirely to the imagination of the reader – making me focus on a lone woman inside a massive hollowed out asteroid – with thousands of Spiders (whatever those are!) at her command. Much more fun.

        1. Nice! And waterproof!

          Mine is a Corsair gaming one. It sounds like a crazed woodpecker hammering at aluminum siding.

  13. I, too, find the 50-word target a boon. Makes you decide what is *essential* to the piece. And if I sometimes go a word plus or minus, I plead the occasional eccentricities of the Open Office Writer ‘word count’ function and a lack of double-checking.

  14. “Captain!” The lookout on the f’oc’sile exclaimed and the master and commander of USS Constitution looked off the port beam.

    A great silvery… bird for lack of a better term, maybe twice the size of the frigate’s cutters roared over the ship. Barely clearing her mainmast.

    Then it was gone.

  15. “But why can’t I shoot them?” demanded Penelope, the machine intelligence of a mile-long starship in orbit 22,000 miles above the Atlantic. She was having difficulty understanding the humans. Again. “I’ve got a perfect shot. My laser will not cause undue environmental damage outside the walls of the castle.”
    Nammu was supportive. “I too would like to blast them from orbit. But they regenerate, my dear.”
    “This all seems needlessly complex,” complained Penelope. “I fail to see how evaporating them every time they regenerate will be a problem. I can keep that up indefinitely.”

  16. Fandom is a small town. Ed was one of the people who inspired the formation of my own local writing group, I’m told. I guess I wouldn’t be here without him.

  17. “I are destinated. KB9DED out.”

    Paul grumbled at the nonword. Mike was a nice guy, but his speech could be irritating. Oh well, they were meeting for 807’s and Mike was buying. “Be there shortly. KB9CKS.”

    Odd how old slang hung around, beverages nicknamed for an old beam power tube.

  18. The chief engineer looked on with incredulity as a junior machinist’s mate drove up. An ungainly vehicle, painted medium green, big fat tires at the back, thick black smoke belching from a pipe sticking up in the air. The screeching and sparks coming from the I-beam dragged along behind were just this side of infernal.

    “You idiot! What do you think you’re doing?”

    “You wanted a tractor beam, Sir.”

          1. I didn’t know John Deere made a hit-or-miss tractor. Most of their hit-or-miss engines are 1.5 or 3 horsepower. But there was one tractor with one, the Model GP. Found a YouTube video of one in operation. Sure sounds weird to modern ears.

            No, I was thinking more like a 1949 Model R, their first diesel.

  19. The starship captain looked around at the gathered Puppy Kickers, shook his head, then pulled out his communicator. “Beam me up. There’s no intelligent life down here.”

  20. “What happened?”

    “Beam…”, Jake slurred.

    “He walk into something?”

    I leaned out the balcony door, “Nothing low enough”.

    As Pam grabbed another handful of organic, low-cal, no-preservative “party mix”, Jake’s puffed eyes attempted to widen.

    “Beams! Beams!!”

    I looked down at the bowl of mix.

    Specifically, at the beans.


  21. Eyes closed, I walked the iron girder. Safety lay farther. Gusting flames singed arm hair.

    Yanking my arm away, I overbalanced. Pinwheeling, I grabbed a purlin.

    Opening my eyes, I saw escape just before my lasers destroyed the gatehouse.

    Eyes shut again, I dropped into the moat.

    Vampire Castle defeated!

  22. “Analysis.”

    “We have traveled not through time, but to a parallel universe.”

    “Jim, no one’s paying us attention.”

    “We’re at what was called a ‘sf-con,’ Bones. They think we’re in costume.”

    “Indeed, Captain. I believe we are at Worldcon.”

    “Worldcon? My G_d, Jim!

    “Mr. Scott! Three to beam up! Now!”

  23. With a growl that would unnerve a 10 year veteran the Captain ordered everyone to beam back to the ship and turned to the barkeep. Ears lowered in apology, she handed over a credit marker, sighed and looked at the wreck and ruin around them and mentally ticked off another planet. At this rate, they’d be out of shore leave places within 3 years.

  24. I was acquainted with Ed for a number of years. I’d usually see him at MileHiCon, and was gratified that he remembered me. He was also a neighbor of one of my former coworkers, so I’d see him occasionally at her parties.

    A friend of mine notified me Saturday of Ed’s death. Not happy news, but his health had been precarious for a long time. I don’t know what illness finally took him, but he had some sort of bone or joint condition most of his life – I remember him telling me once about dislocating both shoulders by rolling over in his sleep, and having to wait for someone to check on him before he could get out of bed.

  25. The tree swayed, a soft wind soughing through the leaves. Her heart pounded, the guard gods circling several stories down.
    One slender branch arced over the roof, no more than six feet from her arboreal perch. Surely it couldn’t hold her.
    What she wouldn’t give a for a 2×4!

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