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


Book Promo

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com.  One book per author per week. Amazon links only.-SAH*

LAURA MONTGOMERY: Early Spaceports

In the late 21st century, orbital industry floods the world with riches, riches which can wash up against the unsuspecting just as readily as they accrue to those who reach for them.

With his love for his girlfriend, his passion for the law, and his situation in a good firm, Eli Fisher possesses all that a man could need at the start of his legal career. He doesn’t expect it to change when a billionaire who runs orbital powersats hires him for an art project.

But this art project comes with all kinds of strange, and it requires a pawn.


CYN BAGLEY: Dark Moon Rising.

Owen Wulfe has a vendetta and he needs Mari Cantor to lead him to the man who kidnapped his nephew and killed his sister and her husband. Mari wants nothing to do with Owen or his revenge. In the meantime EJ is sent on a diplomatic mission to the werecat clowder as the Alpha’s representative. Of course nothing goes right.

Instead of cowboys, this Western world is filled with shapeshifters, trying to live in a world of humans.


RUSSEL NEWQUIST:  Secret Stairs: A Tribute to Urban Legend.

You mustn’t talk about the stairs.

There they stand, surrounded by nothing but forest, pristine as the day they were built. No sign remains of any other structure around them, no ruins of long forgotten buildings. They look… wrong. They feel wrong. Bad things happen if you get too close. Horrible things.

You must never, ever ever talk about them.

Thirty-four of today’s best up and coming writers provide wonderfully unique interpretations inspired by the urban legends of the Internet age. Tales range from science fiction to fantasy, horror to mystery, and one writer even penned a romance!

But you must never tell anyone about the stairs!

[It contains a story by William Lehman!]


J L CURTIS:  The Grey Man- Twilight.

Never count an old man out, even when he’s hanging up his hat!

Deputy Sheriff John Cronin is looking forward to a quiet retirement, working on the ranch, and handing it off to his granddaughter Jesse. And he’s got to pass on a generation worth of investigations, but it’s not as easy as handing over the case files and the keys. First, he’s got to train Aaron Miller to fill his role, from the way to dress for rural juries to the finer points of stakeouts and murder investigations, Texas style.

Between the oil patch workers and the cartel’s drug runners, there are plenty of loose ends for him to tie off… or terminate…

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.

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: Stick


77 thoughts on “Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike & Book Promo

  1. Angry Master Wizard: “Simon, I told you to stick with your staff work. I didn’t tell you to stick your hand to your staff!”.

    Simon: “I’m an idiot.”

  2. Not far from the store, a man was throwing a ball for George’s dog Spike. His name was Arthur. He was a bit clumsy, his throws not as good as one might expect, his running was like that of a child, but he was clearly having fun. The dog was also having fun, grabbing the ball, playing keep-away, prancing with his tail high in the air. The only thing about the scene that was odd was Spike was the size of a polar bear. He was chasing a soccer ball.
    Two ladies looked on as the pair chased each other out on the field. Paula Oakley, formerly of the Hamilton District School Board, presently employed by Angels Incorporated as an “educational consultant.” She was kitted out in the Angel’s black body armor and helmet and looking pretty good in it for a 55-year-old ex-school board bureaucrat. Since her experience being taken over and used as a drone by a Machine Empire official, she had been getting medical attention from Ninmah and physical training from Nammu Chen. Part of that training had been with weapons.
    Accordingly, Paula had a fighting stick slung over her back and a svelte black pistol nestled behind her right hip, just the grips showing. Nammu Chen was an understanding but unyielding task master. Her iron rule was never bring a stick to a gunfight. Her students were always armed whether they liked it or not. Paula, given her background, was fundamentally against carrying weapons. Until George had showed her footage of his swordfight with an armored zombie on the front lawn of the provincial parliament in Toronto. The zombie had soaked up fire from multiple plasma guns, a 20mm chaingun, and one of Brunhilde’s one-shot laser head missiles. George and Sun Phoenix had chopped it to death with swords, but not before it stuck a sword all the way through George and broke Sun Phoenix’s titanium spine.
    So Paula wore her little plasma pistol and her armor, and didn’t complain about it. Publicly, anyway.
    Arthur’s mother, Constance Greene, was the other lady. She was likewise encased in the powered Angel’s armor, but unlike Paula she had no reservations about going armed. She carried her fighting stick across her back, but instead of a little pistol she had the biggest plasma gun a human could safely shoot. It came with its own self-extending blast shield, in case the operator felt the need to fire it at full power. Mrs. Greene had seen the zombie video too and taken a very different message from it than Paula. Why bring a little gun to a gunfight when you can bring a really BIG gun? She also had a sleepy dart pistol, in case someone annoyed her that she shouldn’t vaporize.

    [Okay, more than 50 words. ~:D Its a snippet, not a vignette.]

  3. STICK
    Sometimes we look too deep and
    Too hard, digging far deeper than necessary.
    It’s true and we all know this, though it is
    Certainly most often misunderstood but
    Knowing is often just enough.

  4. The prompt is stick, which has me stuck, which curiously has me coming unglued as I cannot conceive of what to do to stick with it, or stick it to the prompt. I’m stuck. It’s a sticking point. But nothing stacks, nor stecks, let alone stycks. Stick? Out of stock.

      1. I’d recite that crossing backward through the Stooks of the Dead Women. (J.M. Synge down the pub with the poteen, biye!)

  5. Leaf litter and dead sticks lay everywhere. She hurried them along the path, having chosen a direction almost at random. She thought it was away from where they landed.
    It came up to a hill. A stone arch led into the hillside.
    She stopped. The path did not go on.

  6. It’s my stick. I found it. I dragged it all the way home from the park. It’s tasty, too. I’d share it with you, but it’s my stick. You have to let me bring it in the house.

    Wait, you have tennis ball? That you’re throwing? Weeeeee! Stick? What stick?

    1. Ah.. see folks, this ‘Artificial Intelligence’ thing? That might well be the easy part. Getting the AI system to maintain focus… have an attention span measured in minutes or hours rather than sub-second divisions, that might be the real challenge. Which might be as well. An utterly scatterbrained ‘evil overlord’ is perhaps the only tolerable kind.

  7. It’s about the width of my hand. I hold it loosely, the black enamel coating smooth as it bounces a little as I move it through my fingers. Technically a stick, but really a weapon I can hide in my purse.

    “I’ll take it.”

  8. Grandma set me on her knee.

    “Now, Amy, I want to you remember, the most important skill in life is never giving up. Stick to it!

    Sure, people will tell you that you are wrong, or foolish, or wasting your money. But you have to trust yourself. You know what’s right and what’s wrong.

    Stick to it!

    Everything I have I owe to that. And one day my entire collection will be yours. So follow my example no matter what people say.

    Because one day Communism will prevail and my Beanie Babies will make you wealthy beyond measure.”

  9. “What do we say?”
    “We hate Venice!”
    “Say it louder!”
    “Right. I’ve brought the rotten vegetables and when he rides by we’ll get him! Call the roll.”
    “Edward Farley, Clarence Wright, Peter Stick, Quincy Vanderleun…”
    “Here. Here. Here…”
    “Wait — where’s Peter?”
    “Don’t know.”
    “Drat! He was to have thrown the beets. Oh well — Ed, you take the tomatoes. Clarence, you take the cabbage. Quincy —”
    “Excuse me, sir. Peter couldn’t come — he’s ill.”
    “Who are you?”
    “I’m his little brother, Johnny.”
    “Great — you can take his place.”
    “Hold on — he’s only a boy. Besides, he’s not even a member!”
    “That’s all right — any Stick will do to beet the Doge.”

      1. By ICBC? Inter Continental Ballistic Carp.

        They started life as a raw ingredient for Grandma’s gefilte fish. But the Engineers of Marshall in Huntsville were the victims of a delivery mix up. Not being cooks, let alone Jewish cooks,. they saw the delivery as new testing supplies. This is how we ended up with a fish on the moon instead of a cow.
        Suddenly the old man’s wife came out of the house he’d been leaning on. “Here you are, wasting time telling stories. When you should be cleaning the yard.” She then commenced to beat the old man about the head and shoulders with a stick

  10. “Okay. The stick that is normally attached below the bell…”
    “That’s called the slider. And it isn’t always below the bell.”
    “Well, being attached it moved when the bell turned and it hit that other stick…”
    “That one is called the slider.”
    ” … so hard that it broke. It might have been partially sawn through. The other piece of wood that seems to be used to immobilize the clapper …”
    “The silencer.”
    ” … wasn’t involved. And lastly there was a long pointy, wooden object arranged to jump the rope off the wheel in case the stay didn’t break.”
    “Long, pointy, wooden … Oh, you mean the stick.”

    Too many words …

  11. With acknowledgement to Elmore Leonard for his fine creation and to Timothy Olyphant who brought the character to life on the screen, I present the following vignette:

    ‘Three, two,’ he counted, his eyes gleaming in anticipation.  He was going to jam that knife through the damned Feds hand while the man’s pretty woman watched in horror.

    There was a loud noise.

    ‘One,’ said Raylan.  He used his non-dominant hand to stick his gun back in its holster.

  12. I know you don’t get your callsign until you get to your squadron, but as if someone named Shade would get anything other than “Ghost”?

    And Lead is really chatty for this evolution. And it’s way longer than 50: Hey, if your not cheatin’, you’re not tryin’.

    “Ghost, you’re low, and dragging. Get it together.”

    Sally “Ghost” Shade shook her head angrily at herself and gently nudged her stick to get back into formation, while bumping the translation control to match speed with her flight lead. The turn was coming up as they passed Deimos, using the gravity of the tiny second moon of Mars to slow to near the orbital velocity of the carrier, and after that the run in to the break to enter the recovery pattern back at the boat. Thinking ahead, she knew her position in the formation would put her inside the turn, so she’d have to anticipate her lead falling back relative to her as she effectively cut the corner, so she’d have to reverse thrust slightly into the turn as they whipped past, the rocky surface and lights of Navy Station Deimos flashing past her canopy, and then she’d have to thrust forward again coming out of the turn to keep from lagging behind on their new course.

    And after that everything depended on how you looked in the break at the boat. Well, that and how your landing was scored by the LSO for this hop, her graduation exercise.

    Just a few more minutes, then a nice break, a clean approach and good 3-wire trap, and she’d graduate advanced space aviator training and get her assignment to a fleet squadron. She hoped her solid classroom grades plus a reputation as a hot stick would get her a good assignment, but she couldn’t think about that now – she had to nail this hop.

    Sally concentrated on the guidance in her HUD as they completed the turn. “Looking good, Ghost. Lets nail this.” She clicked her mic button in reply, making tiny corrections to her stick and translation controls to tighten up the formation as she and her lead approached the break.

    1. Sooo? What did the LSO say? Did she get a good 3-wire trap? Did she graduate advanced space aviator training? What was her assignment?
      Inquiring minds want to know!

  13. Jenny stopped abruptly next to a tree at the edge of the woodlot and leaned over to pick up a stick, perhaps an inch in diameter and a foot long, its smooth bark still intact. Shahanna immediately sat at her feet, waiting patiently to see what her mistress would do with it.

    For a woodturner the stick held potential. Although a bit thick for a whistle, it could be bored for a simple flute. It was long and fat enough for a tall box that could hold crochet hooks, maybe. Or two shorter ones. The pith was off-center – perhaps she could make one of those natural edge goblets with the impossibly long thin stems that swayed at a touch. So many possibilities.

    At a soft whine, Jenny looked down into Shahanna’s pleading eyes. The Afghan knew what a stick was for.

    Jenny patted the silken head. “You are right, of course.” She lifted the stick by one end and threw it as hard as she could out over the pasture. “Fetch!” Watching the hound leaping joyfully over the uneven ground, thin tail curled high and long coat riffling in the wind, she smiled. There would always be more sticks.

    200. Critique welcome!

    1. I like it as it is.
      But in case it amuses you… Here’s my fifty-four word version.

      Jenny bent and retrieved a stick, long, thin, smooth bark. Shahanna waited next to her mistress. The stick had potential: a flute? a box? a thin goblet? A soft whine interrupted her thoughts.

      “You’re right of course. Fetch!”

      The hound leaped joyfully, coat riffling in the wind. Jenny smiled. There are always more sticks.

      1. > Jane, this is an interesting condensation. All the (inter)action elements of the scene are present in the shorter version, while the setting has been removed, and Jenny’s thoughts about the stick have been changed from creative musing to a quick evaluation of potential. This in turn seems to shift perception of her mood from an artistic search for raw material to a simple romp with her dog.

        Makes me wonder just how much the editors at Reader’s Digest Condensed Books altered the authors’ original presentations. 😉

        > Phantom, I have turned some beautiful small pieces out of other people’s firewood, like the curly Koa waste blocks a friend in Hawaii sent me a few months ago. 😉

        1. That goes along with cutting your first three words … Jenny stopped abruptly … That is the setup for the artistic search and I lost it. I knew I was losing things I really enjoyed in the original but I had no words for what was happening. Would you have to lose the dog to get to fifty? Then you lose your ending twist. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Penny stared beadily into the trailer. I glared. “All right, horse,” I said. “We ARE going to this show, which means you ARE getting on this trailer. You can have the carrot-” a handful of grain- “or the stick.” I held up the whip in my other hand. “Which is it?”
    Penny chose the carrot. Smart horse.

  15. She let her breath out. A more conventional portal, perhaps. She walked to it, and he trailed behind. Through the arched doorway and onto a floor of wood — enormous planks, as if sawed by some giant.
    The sky was gray. Or was that some kind of uneven plastering on a distant wall?
    They trudged.
    Hours later (or did she imagine that much time?), they saw a book, lying open on the floor. Birds twittered as they flew. A cherry tree stood in full bloom, with a bench under it.
    The tree that spread about was green though not lush. On it stood a woman dressed in black and white, with her little dog, also black and white.
    She swallowed and trudged onward. It did not look like you could walk into this portal and never go back to the world that had looked outside it, but it so seldom did.

  16. Apparently, I’m going through horse withdrawals:

    Skype leaped underneath me when Tom hit the ball. My life flashed before my eyes as I went airborne, but Skye was already cantering and I landed back in the saddle with a thud.
    The rest of the chukkar was uneventful, and as we walked our ponies out of the arena, Tom slapped me on the back. “Nice job sticking to that horse!”
    “Thanks,” I said, “but does it really count? She threw me so high, my feet were above her withers!”
    “You didn’t fall off; that’s all that matters,” Tom said. We both laughed.

    *Names changed to protect the guilty, but this is a true story. Even fat old polo ponies like Skye are still polo ponies, and pretty darn athletic. Dear Lord, that mare could buck like a bronco.

      1. It’s melting veeeeerrrrrrrry slowly. The paths are clear, but we’re supposed to get more this week. Go figure. This is the one year I need winter to go away, and it’s determined to hang on as long as possible.

          1. I’ll happily send you a truckload. Or more. This area used to be known for the ice trade; maybe it’s time to revive that custom.

        1. I feel your pain. I was looking at my motorcycle today and wanting to trail ride. Around here, the snow is mostly gone and the first two inches of ground is thawed.

          Meaning that it is the Season of Mud. It looks nice, but you will need a winch to move your bike after the first 100 feet.

    1. I immediately thought, ” My feet were above her, Withers! ”
      I’ll stick around and see what I can do with that.

  17. Spring is getting truly sprung in the Northland. Friday, I heard three woodpeckers drumming in the woods along the path in the park. This morning, I discovered Oh, (literal, and liberal) Crap, that the geese are gaggling. In the garden crocuses are starting to stick up above the remaining snow.

  18. Woomora had been crafting quality boomerangs for over 60 years. The ones he had for sale were perfect.
    “Woo, you ever make a mistake on these?
    “What kind of mistake?”
    “Not come back. Not boomerang.”
    “Not a boomerang? What do you them when they don’t come back?”
    “A stick.”

  19. “Wow! Look at all these wands! And there’s a whole counter of rods on this side. Oh, and over here he’s got 2 aisles of staffs too! This is going to be so cool!”
    I looked at Finn and gave him the eye.
    “They’re all just sticks with great expectations.

  20. “Stick to the plan,” Genevieve muttered. “”We need to…”

    I could feel the local prana levels jump and an explosion in the distance.

    “Okay,” I said, running towards the explosion, “We’re on plan M? N?”

    “Plan Q,” Sayuri replied, “Maybe Plan R.”

    “I hate Plan Q,” I half-yelled back. “Being on fire is never fun.”

  21. “Do that thing with the stick,” said Oog.

    “What thing?” asked Gloog. “What are you talking about?”

    “You know, that thing. Where you throw that stick and it travels away through the stars.”

    “Not in a million years,” said Gloog. “Now go dance around that tall rock with everybody else.”

  22. “When the $#!+ hits the fan, stick with the plan.”

    “But why? They say that no plan of action ever survives contact with the opposition.”

    “A *good* plan contains contingencies to encompass enemy action, or reaction. And, of course, the *best* plans include the coda, ‘When all else fails, improvise.’*”


    *Thank you, Joel Rosenberg.

  23. [GROWL] I’d the basis of a vignette but been fighting the computer’s OS all [REDACTED] day! Windows 10, engaging in the never-ending update, reboots my computer whenever I turn my head, then claims it can’t install the updates without rebooting. They can stick their updates where the modem don’t buzz.

  24. Yanchi Siloan looked over Ligonier Rafferty’s shoulder. “What have you found out?”

    Ligo’s lips curled into a thin smile. “We’ve got the goods on Gorlath.” He looked at Yanchi’s scaled and clawed hands and the expression of satisfaction subsided. “Although it may be academic. When you’re dealing with a dark-magic wizard who doesn’t hesitate to use it, how can you make anything stick?”

  25. “You know what they say,” Bob said. “Up with the rocket, down with the stick.”
    Mike sighed. He looked up at the sky, where the dot resolved itself into Mary, riding a… “Yeah, but how in hell are we going to report this? The astronaut survived the explosion by riding a broomstick down?”
    “I guess,” Bob said. “We’ll have to stop lying to people and let them know the space program uses magic.”

    1. Are you saying that in the engineering flow charts, wherever those boxes are labeled “here magic happens”, it really does???


  26. Two men, ransacking the room. ” Walk out now, ” he said quietly.

    ” Or what, man? ” the taller said, grinning. ” That cane ain’t much of a stick. ”

    Calmly he said, ” Someone will carry you out. ” His left hand came out of the robe pocket. The 45 boomed twice.

  27. I walked along the shore to where there was a small sandbar. Laying down my gear, I grabbed a forked stick, sharpened the end with my knife, and shoved it into the ground. Next, I baited my hook and cast downstream to where there was a deeper pool, then rested my pole against the stick. Pulling the folding chair from my back, I sat down and heaved a sigh of relief for my respite from the office.

    Then my phone rang.

    1. *This* is why I don’t take a phone fishing. This, and the chance of losing it overboard,or riverside, or . . .

  28. Perianne had spent six hours using the firm’s best AI dataweaver to try isolating the cause of the accident, and failing, but she only knew that HQ had given up on her when the Hawk came in. That he looked like a beachcomber vagrant didn’t help. But the most infuriating of all was when he simply watched a 2D video of the accident some twenty or thirty times in a row (and that was difficult enough to have playing behind you, knowing how many hundreds had died), then got up and went out to the hangar where they were keeping the wreckage. Nobody could be that intuitive. Abandoning her holobank, Perianne pursued him, seething.

    “If you think you can take one look at all this and know the answer,” she shouted at him, as he walked up and down the rows of debris, “when our best datacores can’t find it, then — ”

    He held up a hand, silencing her, then peered more closely at one brake unit. Then he detached one of the internal circuit blocks, turned, and presented it. Perianne gasped. The laser score across it was unmissable once the block was out, but would never have been seen otherwise.

    “Train flipped over its front end at 500 klicks an hour with a decel of over twenty gees,” said the Hawk, effortlessly matching the AI’s figures without ever having seen them. “Only one way to do that. Stiction-suspender field in the brake unit fails. Requires three factors: cut line to main power, drained backup battery, and failed or spoofed system check. Which means — ”

    Perianne stared at him in horror. “Which means this wasn’t only sabotage. This was an inside job.”

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