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


Book Promo by Sarah

*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*

FROM MARGARET BALLA Pocketful of Stars.

Thalia Kostis will be the first to tell you it’s not magic, it’s theoretical math when she walks a Möbius strip through walls to her office at the Institute for Applied Topology. CIA Case Officer Bradislav Lensky doesn’t care what it is, as long as she can help track down a smuggling ring and the terrorists in their safe house in Austin. The other magicians nearby don’t agree, and don’t care for new rivals either!

Now Thalia and the rest of her misfit crew are in a race against time, terrorists, common sense, grackles, and their graduate advisor to save the day!

FROM BRUCE BRETTHAUER:  Setosha: The Beating Heart of Empire.


The Colandran Empire struck back with brutal efficiency, occupying one of the three Families planets, and sending death squads after Families commanders, including Corey Andersen. Ambushed and injured, Corey fights back, trying to protect herself, her sib-sisters, and her new neices. But a greater challenge awaits her, the Imperial Main Fleet is nearby, poised to put an end to the Families in a final decisive battle. The Eldest of the Families Navy turns to her to lead the fleet, outnumbered and outgunned, to liberate Setosha and drive the Imperial Fleet away.

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: wrench

67 thoughts on “Book Promo by Sarah and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. “I wrenched my thoughts away from purchasing Alma Boykin’s newest Cat Among Dragons book but I’m afraid that my thoughts would become unwrenched.” 😉

  2. “What,” he said, gesturing at the sobbing woman his assistant had brought in, “am I supposed to do with this?”

    “Beats me,” said his assistant. “I just brought what you asked for.”

    “What I asked for?” he said “I said to get me a ratchet wrench, not a wretched wench!”

      1. If thinking along the same lines as me persists for more than four hours, call your physician.

  3. You see some pretty gnarly people when manning a coffee stand at 4am – the guys who are trying to sober up and haven’t managed yet, the cabbies who just don’t care because it’s been far too long a night, guys working mids who’ve gotten into something that demands going offsite for lunch and blowing off steam…

    I wasn’t expecting a werewolf, though, I gotta admit. He’d come up to the coffee shack on foot, and didn’t even try to speak through the fangs and fur, just pointed at the menu for a latte. “Extra shot?” I asked him, because werewolves are supposed to be fiercesome, not bedraggled with drooping ears and whiskers. It wrings your heart something terrible to see a monster looking worse than velveteen rabbit.

    He looked hopeful, and held up four clawed fingers. “Four extra shots?” A nod, with something that might be a smile in those tired yellow eyes. “Can do. With whip?” A nod, and something that might be a smile, showing a glint of fangs.

    I was wondering about payment, but he came up with a wallet in one clawed hand, and dropped it on the window ledge. I picked it up, fished out a ten, and rang it up. The bills went back in the wallet easy enough, The change, though – I held it out. “Got a pocket?”

    He tapped the tip jar. I smiled. “Thanks.” And set to pulling six shots for a latte. When I turned around with the drink ready in its little cardboard holder, I found him fishing more dollars out carefully with a clawtip. “Here you you.” I handed it over, waiting until he’d gotten the weight so it wouldn’t spill. If my heartbeat picked up at little at those claws, well, I’m a barista. My heartbeat tells everyone I absorb caffeine through my skin as a consequence of work. He didn’t snatch or wrench it away, just very carefully held it like it was precious.

    I looked back over at the money – another couple bucks. “You want a second drink?”

    He took a long drink of the latte, oblivious to the question. I knew that look – it might be something like my first drink in the morning, when there was too much blood in my caffeine stream. You could watch it hit him, too – werewolf body language is about as expressive as it gets. He looked a lot more bright eyed and bushy-tailed, even as he lowered the cup to breath. After a moment, he shook himself slightly, recalling my question, and then grinned at me, fangs gleaming. A couple claws scrabbled the extra backs up, and dropped them in the tip jar – almost as much as the cost of the drink! “Dude, thanks!”

    He nodded, and loped away into the night.

      1. I blame Tom Rogneby. He threw a writing prompt at me last night. I might have snarled something about still working on the current story, and not needing another. Of course, my back brain didn’t care…

        I should go throw another writing prompt at him, and distract him from his current WIP, too! Unless it’s the sequel to Via Serica. I want to know what trouble that lost Roman Legion is going to get into next…

      1. That IS a short story.

        Perhaps it needs some company to be wrapped up in “Tales from the Big City” sort of work.

  4. The mumbled words from under the car incensed her. She grabbed the mechanics legs and hauled him out from under the car, “That is the most rude and patronizing term that I have heard today! You do know that I am a lady. No need to use such an archaic derogatory term to describe me. I also have a name you know!”
    The mechanic stared up at her waiting for her to finish her tirade. Once done he gestured by her foot and said, “I was just asking where I had put my wrench.” He picked it up and slid back under the car and continued to work.

  5. “And then what?” Andy inquired.
    Jake sipped his diet cola. “Then Emile grabbed the prop wrench off the top of Tex’s tool box and went after him.”
    “Did he now?”
    “Yep. They both went over the airport fence, the low part, check airman in the lead and Emile gaining.”
    Andy nodded. “I’d have used the one-inch wrench, myself, but I’m not an engine man.”

    [based on a true and expensive story]

    1. Wait, wait… was it just the crowfoot-wrench-looking part, or was the nice, expensive torque wrench still attached?

      1. I spent too much time in theatre tech – “prop wrench” read as “wrench from prop box, will probably break if he hits anything with it” 😉

  6. George looked around at the tools, picked up a torque wrench, and waved it at Jason. “Look, Jason, would you use this as a hammer?” Jason gave him a horrified look. “To remove a stubborn lug from a wheel?” No! “As a pry-bar to help lift a heavy engine stuck in place?” Never!
    “And why not?”
    “That’s an expensive precision instrument. To abuse it like that would ruin it!”
    “Precisely, Jason”. George looked at Francine, who could be seen through the office window, still sobbing after Jason’s foul-mouthed and vicious tirade.
    He turned back to Jason.
    “But I pay more every month in Francine’s wages than I would for that wrench. She is well qualified for what I have her doing. My people are my precision instruments, and I won’t have them abused. You’re a fine mechanic, worth a great deal to this shop’s bottom line, and Francine is merely office staff so maybe you think you can treat her like a common woman of the street, but you don’t know bat guano about how to deal with people. I know you think you’re in line for a promotion, but you just showed me that you aren’t qualified as a supervisor. When you show me that you can treat the last and least person in this place at least as well as you do that torque wrench, I might reconsider. But that won’t be this month, or next. Go home, Jason. Come back tomorrow. In the meantime, think about how you’re going to make it right with Francine. You are dismissed for the day.”

  7. Jeff pulled an adjustable spanner from the toolkit and, to his shock, all the natives of the planet fled with urgency. “…the blazes was that about?”

    “This is the ‘Maun-Key Werx’ in the native tongue. And that wrench… looks like the local symbol of unreedemable evil.” replied Jake.

    “Oh, crud.”

    1. Just after it slips off the bolt head and thereby skins my knuckles, I tend to agree with the locals!

    1. Unless you need a torque wrench, that’s the best kind for lots of work. 🙂

  8. I was making the turn onto 3rd when someone blew through the STOP sign. This was it, the last straw in a haystack of indignities. “God damn you for a fool!”, I cried. The moment those words escaped me, I felt a wrench as if in my very own soul

  9. “Yes, Mrs. Johnson. I’m sorry to hear about Timmy’s injuries. I hope he’ll recover soon. Yes. Yes. My lawyer is expecting your call. Good day.”
    Art looked over at Ed, of Ed’s Fine Auto Repair. “Let me guess. Timmy paid Lucy to soup up his fancy new Bimmer, eh?”
    “Looks that way. And now he’s in the orthopedic ward. Might be there for a few months.” Ed slurped down some vile black liquid that had been masquerading as coffee, hoping the faux stimulant would make the next part of his job easier.
    “So now what?”
    Ed eased his bulk out of the overstressed office chair, and headed for the garage area. “Now, I have to go have a talk with my best mechanic and figure out how long I have to bench my best wrench wench.”

  10. Marty looked at the foam cut out, where his 2′ Stilson wrench usually sat. It was empty. Someone had taken one of his tools!
    He turned, and came nose-to-nose with Ed, the shop foreman. “Ed, I was just-”
    “-coming to see me. Marty, you have got to be the dumbest asshole I’ve ever hired.”
    “What?” Ed never cussed.
    “Now, I know where your Stilson is now, and I hope I know where it’s going to be, in about 5 minutes. But, just in case, I have the hospital on speed dial.”
    Marty protested, “Hey, now, that’s my favorite..”
    “I know that. and she knows that. That’s why it went missing. You were supposed to go ask her if she’d seen it, just like you do with Hank, and Elmer, and Aelbert. Then, you’d get your wrench back, and a cup of coffee, and the ice would be broken, and the two of you could get this ’emotional tension’ handled like normal people, and I could get some work done around here.”
    Ed was not a talkative boss. Marty felt like his world had just shifted, and he was unsure which way it was going to fall.
    “But, no, Mr. Mighty Handy Marty had to blow up and scream at everyone, disrupting my customers, slowing down repairs, and I’m missing my soaps. So you are going to stand here, and shut the hell up, and when ‘Irv’ gets here, with your wrench, you’re going to say “Thank you, Minerva” and not interrupt for at least 5 minutes. Or you’re fired.”
    Marty’s jaw dropped. “You– you can’t do that! I have–”
    “You have what?” it had been years since Ed had been on the floor, but the huge hairy hand he wielded just under Marty’s nose left no doubt he still had the muscle to enforce his will in his shop.
    “Um.. uh.”
    “That’s right. My shop, my rules. You have the right to remain silent, and you’d better have the ability to, or you’re going to screw up the best thing you’ll ever have going for you. So start with the shutting up, NOW!”
    The last was said with enough force to shake the walls behind them. Marty got it. He nodded, and zipped his mouth closed, with a gesture.
    “Good. Keep it that way. Except for what I told you earlier.” Footsteps outside the tool locker said someone was approaching. Ed turned, and left, pinning Marty in place with his glare.
    “Hi, ya, Irv. Nothing like getting a brain-dead mule’s attention like a 2′ Stilson, is there?”
    “Hi, ya, Ed. Sorry for the trouble.”
    A grunt, and he could almost see Ed pick Minerva up, and hug her-a huge teddy bear hugging a porcelain doll. “No worries. Now, put that thing to good use, you hear me?”
    A giggle. “Is that an order?”
    “Get on with you, girl.” A smack, a squeal and Ed’s footsteps tread away, echoing in the quiet garage.
    Tap. Tap. Tap. Marty knew that sound. it was the sound of a heavy wrench, slapped into the palm, promising the listener than mayhem was inbound.
    And then she entered the room.

  11. Mac opened the side panel on the mech with a sigh, “Piece of… What is with you and your damn hangups?” Knowing the mech couldn’t answer, he reached in and started the BIT check running as he opened the other maintenance panels. Using his taclight, he checked the innards, looking for anything loose or bound up. This old model had a known issue with fairleads and binding control bundles. The BIT completed and came up with an error on the extractor head. “Dammit! The one thing that isn’t a spare.” Rummaging furtively in his tool box, he found his illegal foot long crescent wrench. Looking around, he didn’t see anyone nearby, so he pulled the wrench out and smacked the hell out of the extractor head with it. It gave off a loud BONG, and he quickly threw the wrench back in the bottom of the tool box. Looping the BIT, it came up good, and he shut all the panels with a smile.

  12. If she had known how it would wrench their lives, how it would toss them into a cascade of worlds, she, she, she —
    Would have guessed at how they were first thrown into the air as they were? She still didn’t know how that had happened. It might not even have been a trap.

  13. Inspector Wiley pointed to the companion’s body. “Is this one of your company’s?” he asked.

    Nigel Slim-Howland frowned. “From here, it’s impossible to tell. Each one’s different, you see.”

    “Isn’t there anything you can do?”

    “I shall summon a skilled technician. I’m just a company representative, not a wrench turner.”

  14. A green thing materialized in my office at the National Clickbait.
    “You bastard,” it bleeped.
    “Huh?” I asked.
    “How did you know?”
    “Know what?”
    “That there were aliens in the sewers under Cleveland.”
    “Oh, that. I heard one or two things and thought I could make a story of it. You mean it’s true?”
    “You made it up?”
    “You squicky protolasmoid, you threw a monkey wrench into our plan. For forty-seven years we’ve been there, studying you. Another three weeks — three weeks! — and we could have revealed ourselves. We would have been benefactors to your species a thousand times over. Now every UFO nut from five hundred miles around is converging on Cleveland. We’ll have to return to Alpha Centauri.”
    “Well, gee, I’m sorry.”
    “Apology not accepted,” it bleeped, and dematerialized.

  15. The intern opened the door and entered the hangar dragging a bemused looking young woman through by the arm. I rolled my eyes, and then did a double-take – that was Britney, err, what’s was her name? The pop singer.

    “Here you go boss!” He said, beaming proudly, nearly skidding to a stop.

    “OK, we’re going to schedule a hearing test for you if you want to keep working here, Jim. I asked you to go grab me a Prop Wrench.”

  16. Addie handed the wrench to Ansel and her heart went with it. Their eyes locked and then he turned and left. When he finished using it his section of the ship would tear loose and the nearby space freighter would take it in tow. She and the captain along with three other crew members would be aimed for deep space. Their guidance system was inoperable and there were only four working space suits left. She had calculated the drift of the nearby asteroid and they were matching its speed. The plan was to maroon the four people with suits while the fifth …..

  17. Last night my parents had a big fight. Dad likes pretending he’s an artist, right? so he took his collection of Chinese cookware and built this cool tower in the middle of the living room. Then Mom came in, got all pissed, and threw a monkey wrench into the woks.

    50 and ducking!

  18. Uplifting chimps and orangs had expanded ‘woke’ horizons markedly. Case in point – a memo from the State apprenticeship board: “Due to the potential of offense to some of our newest apprentices in the plumbing and pipefitting fields, the adjustable tool will no longer be referred to as a ‘monkey wrench’.

  19. This bench was built by one man: George Doufusz. Every piece of wood is different; no two are alike. It’s bolted together, and yes, he made all the bolts and all the nuts differently, so again, no two alike. There are twelve bolts, so there are 24 individual wrenches, and there are individual boxes for each wrench. I suggest you take this Doufusz bench and these Doufusz wrenches and either burn it and melt the bolts and nuts, or give it to your worst enemy.

  20. Purple Pansy gloated, “This is the most powerful military aircraft in the world. Totally unstoppable. It will destroy your entire country. There’s nothing you pathetic heroes can do to stop it!”

    “You think so?”

    “I know so!”

    “Okay” Major Michelson replied, as he tossed the wrench into the engine intake.

    1. I hate to rain on your parade, but that really only works when the engines are running.

  21. With a wrench, the world turned sideways. Crates and forklift accompanied her slide across the deck, tumbling to the far bulkhead.
    Rolling nimbly between the forks, Trill braced herself. The rumbling of the avalanche grew in volume as the far wall approached.
    The crash into the new “floor” was not enough to cover the sickening “crack” of her leg breaking; or the pop of her shoulder and elbow dislocating.

  22. Somebody has apparently been busy clearing their folder before the month end.

    Of Refugees, Borders, and Invaders
    By Sarah Hoyt
    Apparently the “caravan” of Central and Middle Americans that was headed towards our Southern border, still is headed towards our Southern border.

    Sure, Mexico has stopped openly lending support, and the lawyers accompanying the merry band have stopped telling them it’s a shoe in, but they’re still coming.

    The truth of the matter is that Mexico might not be lending open support to this attempt to test US borders, but they are in fact lending it their support, by not arresting these illegal aliens on their soil (Mexico has much tougher immigration laws than ours) and not offering them asylum there. Instead, they let what must be a significant and large multitude continue towards the US border.

    Why are they doing it? The answer is fairly obvious. From the linked article:

    The Central Americans, many traveling as families, on Sunday will test the Trump administration’s tough rhetoric criticizing the caravan when the migrants begin seeking asylum by turning themselves into border inspectors at San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing, the nation’s busiest.

    They’re coming to test the “Trump administration’s tough rhetoric”. In effect, they’re coming to test our borders and our decision to uphold their integrity. …

    1. BTW, on a point Sarah touches upon: “Open Borders” are a contradiction in terms, they are NO borders, just as an “open window” which cannot be closed is a frickin’ HOLE in your house.

      Anybody spinning people up with such phrases is selling a boy band of one sort or another, and that means you’ve got Trouble, (trouble, trouble, trouble) Trouble with a capital-T right here in River City.

        1. grrr… and photobucket wonders why people are abandoning it.. between them killing 3rd party hosting and the pop over pop under pop up pop down pop sideways ads…


    2. Perhaps, to throw a monkey wrench into invaders and their enabler’s plans, what is needed is not so much a wall as a firewall. By which I mean, a wall of fire. Stone and concrete is readily climbed or such, given enough other material. But a great jetting intense flame? That’s a problem to cross. A nice big gas main, a few offshoots here and there, a short field of hot-as-h*** flame. Of course such would require a lot of fuel, but fracking gives us that. And the CO2 would aid plant growth and help avoid The Coming Ice and all that. That environuts and klimate kooks would be wetting themselves at it is pure bonus, really.

      (It’s a Good Thing that I am Not Evil. ♉ )

      1. Reactivate the Trans-Pecos igneous zone, the San Bernardino Volcanic Field, Pinacate Volcanic Field, and Sentinel Volcanic Fields, and the southern California volcanic region. That should discourage illegal immigrants quite nicely.

        1. Volcano! (1997, Anne Heche, Tommy Lee Jones)
          If only. If Only!

          “Traffic on the 405 is backed up til 2029; lava currently flowing down the LA River. Alternate routes suggested. FEMA slow to respond; Bush widely blamed. Governor Brown suggests deploying more chem-trails.”

  23. Chandler Armitage flinched the moment Dr. Thuc touched his shoulder. Just a little — he was trying hard to hide it — but she could feel as much as see the twitch of his muscles when she hit the tender spot.

    “Just as I thought, you wrenched that arm when you tried to wrestle that cart into place. You’re going to need to rest–”

    “Then I’m grounded?” He might be able to maintain his mask of stoicism when it came to physical pain, but there was no hiding the alarm at the thought of having his Class I ticket pulled, even temporarily.

    “Until you heal up, yes. You need to rehab those muscles and joints or you run the risk of permanent damage that will ground you for good.”

  24. A Pocketful of Stars was fun enough that I felt it deserved a review after I read it. The main POV character charmed me similarly to how Dyce does in Sarah’s Daring Finds series, so if you like that you might like this.

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