Books From Old Favorites & then Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike



Books From Old Favorites!

*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.

That said you JUST can NOT go wrong with Grant, Boykin and Uphoff.

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*



The secret is out – the Mycenae system is the hottest new mineral find in the spiral arm. Now it’s about to become ground zero in a gold rush by every crooked company and asteroid thief in the galaxy.

Andrew Cochrane, with his crew of the finest veterans and cunning rogues, have an even better scheme. They’ve conned the owner into hiring them as a mercenary security company to defend the system. With no oversight but their own, Cochrane’s Company plans to seize the richest pickings for themselves.

But nothing ever comes easy. If they want to keep their loot, they’re going to have to outwit and outfight every smuggler, bandit and renegade after the same prize – and their boss, too!


FROM ALMA T. C. BOYKIN:  Merchant and Magic (Merchant and Empire Book 1).


When Magic Fails…

Tycho Rhonarida Galnaar trades hides—hides tanned, hides untanned, with and without fleeces, nothing risky. He prefers steady, low-key trade, a quiet home life, and reliable business partners. Slow and steady bring wealth and do not draw the attention of nobles, thieves, or the gods. Especially not of the gods!

Counterfeit coin and cursed grain…

But the gods have other plans. Tycho’s secret—his absolute inability to work or even see magic in a world that depends on it—may be the key to solving a mystery, and saving a city. Tycho wants no part in mysteries or adventure. He’s a merchant, nothing more.

Trade is Tycho’s world. That world changes under his feet.



When the Miss Outer Space beauty pageant decided they should hold the contest in outer space, they created an irresistible prize for the pirates that preyed on ship on both sides of the Pegasi Rift. And an opportunity for politicians on both sides.


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: hot

44 thoughts on “Books From Old Favorites & then Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. “That girl is hot!”

    “Better get to know her better before you make a pass. She’s an Ultra with control over fire.”

    “You mean she’ll make me hot if I’m impolite.”

  2. “We’ve got a problem. The new mirror being ground? It went HOT.”

    “HOT? I know Mirror-on-Top is MOT and Tool-on-Top is TOT, but what, dare I ask, is HOT?”

    “I don’t know how it happened, but the machine flipped: Hindle-on-Top.”

    “How the blazes can that happen?”

    “That, I don’t know.”

  3. “Oh my, what a lovely fur wrap, Sheila! Minks?”

    “It’s not a wrap, Alice, it’s a stole, and you’ve got a lot of nerve to be calling me a minx!”

    “Don’t weasel, Sheila, cattiness is far more your style. For the record, I don’t care if that fur is hot.”

  4. Once upon a time, I was fifteen years old.

    And, an idiot.

    It’s par for the course, isn’t it? Between the hormones and the brain development and the social skills that you’re trying to learn, you’re several forms of idiot. For guys at least, looking at linoleum can make you harder than Chinese algebra, let alone a girl. And, there goes a quarter of your IQ points and most of your long-term planning skills. You have this massive thing called the future coming up on you like a runaway freight train, and you realize that your decisions now can mean the difference between a full-ride scholarship at MIT or managing to escape long enough to get a degree at CSU Hayward to get away as quickly as you can. You’re trying to create what is your life, not the life as part of your parent’s family or anything else.

    Anybody that says they weren’t an idiot when they were fifteen is either in denial or is just self aware enough to know they’re an idiot and to try and deal with it appropriately.

    And, it’s all concentrated in this massive hot-house of expectations, social cliques, and academics called High School. You have the perfect microcosm of human behavior and human interactions, and you learned very quickly that without any form of morality, you needed to find a currency. A currency was something that they could trade for better behavior, that worked for them, and they could spend for all it was worth-perfectly accurate seventy-yard throws on the football field, a never-ending supply of money and a willingness to spend it, the ability to suck a watermelon through a coffee straw and hooking up with the guy that can throw the football seventy yards…

    So, you have these cliques form-the jocks, the nerds, the wops, the queen bees and their hives, the niggers, the grease monkeys, the faggots, the goths…they form because people need to belong, to have people that they can call friends, or at the very least have someone that will laugh with them rather than at them. And, like any prison gang, they need to ensure that they can establish territory, at the very least in their own minds. For any roaming gang of mostly-feral semi-adults, you establish territory by going after anyone weaker than you, so they can be put in their place. If nobody came after you to establish dominance, you were on top. If you could beat up on people below you and people above you could beat you up, you were in the middle. And, if everybody could beat up on you, you were on the bottom.

    Just like any prison, there was always a bottom bitch that everybody could beat on safely. In prison, this was the territory of dirty cops, pedophiles, and spies. In any ethical prison, they had to be kept separate from the general population, else they would get killed for any reason. Even if that reason was to establish that somebody else was better than them because they could kill them.

    In High School? This was the territory of geeks. It didn’t matter what kind of geek you were, not at all. You could be a nerdy sci-fi fan. You could be the kid with mild autism and a stutter. You could be the one that was dealing with PTSD from the fact that you had to choose between your dad raping you every morning or your boyfriend raping you every morning, you would choose your boyfriend because at least it was different. That your parents worked three jobs each to keep a roof over your head, food on the table and all your clothing was thrift store rejects at best. You could have attention deficit disorder and have a lot of difficulties with social interactions with your peers. Didn’t matter-if you weren’t a part of some other clique, you were a geek, you were a bottom bitch, and people would beat up on you to prove that they weren’t the bottom bitch.

    If you were very, very lucky, you were a part of a clique of geeks, and had at least that kind of comfort and protection.

    But, if you weren’t lucky? If you were fifteen years old, socially inept, dealing with undiagnosed attention deficit disorder, stuck in a high school whose size doubled from the previous year, never had a lot of friends and most of them left for other places, and was trying to deal with all of these issues? And, having you around meant that even the geeks had somebody to beat up on, because at the very least you were below them?

    Hello, my name is William Block, and that’s how my first year of High School began.

      1. Another snippet-

        To this day, I lack information on what exactly my old school district did when I had finished eighth grade. The official story, the pravda, was that the number of people that were coming into the district “suddenly” meant that the district could no longer maintain the grade/junior high/high school system that they had in the past. To cover the new infill of people, they were going to a grade/middle/high school system, move the sixth grade from the grade schools to the new middle schools, and move the ninth grade from junior high to high school. To get the space they would need, they would stock portable classrooms on the only high school campus we had, do some other rearranging, and this would provide the best educational experience possible.

        Rumors are always common, as people love a good, chilling conspiracy tale. They like the idea of being “on the inside” of a secret, and if you couldn’t be in on the conspiracy of who shot JFK, or what happened to the missing minutes on the Nixon tapes, or what your neighbors were doing late at night, gossip and scandal and the knowing chuckle of cutting someone down is just about good enough. The facts I know from both Mom and Dad and a whole bunch of other parents jam-packing the school board meetings for two years, noting that the district had two lots for years,/i> that they kept claiming that various taxes and such were to be used for future school expansion.

        Very mysteriously, the two lots got sold off rather quickly, and both lots were sold to people that built luxury housing-and were really big contributors to certain members of the school board.

        I won’t claim collusion, or conspiracy, or just old-fashioned intrigue. But, if I had a time machine, I would go back and try to find out. With waterboarding and cattle prods, if needed.

        So, the school district decided to change things when I went into the ninth grade. In the inevitable optimism of being fifteen and an idiot, I thought I knew what I was getting into. The first day I went to the high school, it had some very noble, very beautiful Latin quotation about learning and knowledge over the main arch of the entrance.

        It should have been “All hope abandon ye who enter here,” and it would have been truthful in every word.

        I could deal with the classrooms that were full at forty people-and had sixty students in there…somehow. I could deal with staggered lunch schedules. I could deal with a locker that seemed to be on the opposite side of everything. I could deal with the crowds, PE where I had to take everything with me when I came in and when I left, I could deal with being alone in the school.

        Like I said, fifteen years old and an idiot.

        My first real lesson was two days after the start of school, when I got into a fight.

  5. “Hey James. Dispatch just sent us a BOLO.”
    “What is it this time?’” I asked my partner.
    “Young blond, African-American female model, kidnapped, transporting 10 kilograms of stolen Thorium, with an advanced case of strep.”

    Just wonderful. We were on the look out for the hottest woman on the planet.

  6. Gudrun Vorlaxness looked at the peppery, irate offworlder over the tops of her half-moon glasses. “Look, you chose the land, you took it as collateral, you looked at everything *but* the radiometry plat, right? You, not *anyone* in the Vorkosigan family.”

    “Yes, but it practically glows in the dark..!” he all but spluttered.

    “Then you foreclosed. You, not them.” She smiled as only a true Barrayaran could. “They say some like it hot.”

    [Inspired by events in “The Warrior’s Apprentice” by Lois M. Bujold.
    And, less than 50% over-length!]

  7. Aside – Uncharted is top of the ‘New This Month’ list on the Baen website. 🙂

  8. The eggs sizzled as they cooked.

    “What are you doing!?!” Mom yelled from the kitchen door. “You’re supposed to cook the eggs on the stove!”

    “But Mom. They said it’s so hot you could cook eggs on the sidewalk. That’s not quite true. The car works better.”

  9. She came in from the garden wiping her forehead.
    “It is hot, hot, hot out there!”
    I looked at the thermometer.
    “It’s just 95. That’s hot, but it’s not even hot, hot, much less hot, hot, hot!”

    1. You should be wary making such proclamations. Next thing you know, you have to take a trip and are complaining of how cold it when everyone around you is thinking, “It’s not even below freezing at the lowest!”

      1. LOL 😆

        One college instructor was talking about the term “quite cold” and reported the responses he got down in Georgia.

        Most of the answers were “around freezing” until one girl said “20 below”.

        She was from the Chicago area. 😉

          1. In context, the instructor was asking about “quite cold” for winter temps.

            And yes, “quite cold” can vary on time of year and on location.

            One winter, I was in Columbus Georgia and a bunch of us were talking outside on a smoke break.

            Some of the “natives” were apologizing for the temperature because it was colder than normal for Columbus Georgia.

            For me, born & raise in East-Central Illinois it wasn’t very cold. 😀

            Oh, the prior winter Columbus Georgia had been shut down by an inch of snow. 😈

            1. Heh, only seen one of my uncles in Canada in the winter twice. The first time he was driving down the 401 about 30 mph white knuckled in a light flurry. Regular traffic was passing him doing the limit (60) or more. Second time was for my grandfather’s funeral. He’s from central Virginia where half an inch shuts down his whole area. Or used to at least.

              1. Still does. And you want it to. Imagine driving through snow where every single driver is new to it. . . .

                1. Atlanta 199X. A quarter of an inch. The city stopped for 24 hours. (Given the way some of the streets twist, bend, dive, and climb, I could see why.) Note that this was not the Blizzard of ’95, either. I managed to dodge that one by an hour, literally.

                2. I swear that every year, when the first snowstorm of winter hits greater Cincinnati, half of the drivers seem to not know how to drive in it. By the third snow, most seem to have refreshed their memories.

      2. I’ve been to Minot, ND. Heard on the radio one morning that the wind chill at 3 AM was -100…because that’s as far down as the chart went.

      3. Back in the early days of cable, when having Superstation WGN from Chicago was the highlight of the basic cable channels, we lived in SC. My better half would look at the weather there as it was part of The Bozo Show which the kidlings liked. One day we were watching a baseball game there, and she remarked “Look at those crazy people. It’s only 60º and they’re all wearing shorts!” To which I replied, “It’s Chicago. It’s springtime. That’s a heatwave.” I transferred to Great Mistakes that summer. The better half packed warm clothes because it we were moving to near Chicago. Got to our non-AC hotel we were in while waiting for housing for their first ever stretch of 10 days where the nighttime temp didn’t go below 80º. We had only gotten cable that previous spring; she had never seen summer forecasts from there. That winter it hit below freezing as a high for the day in November, and below 0º as a high in December, not coming above 0º until early February and above freezing a few weeks later. We went with a bunch of other people to opening day for the Milwaukee Brewers. It was 55º out. As we were entering the stadium I said “You do realize it’s 55º and you’re wearing shorts. Feels warm, doesn’t it?” Her reply? “Shut up.”

  10. “Do you believe in magic,” she whispered quietly.
    Jack felt a bead of sweat break out on his forhead. He quickly wiped it away with his hand.
    “Oh, I’m sorry. Did that make you nervous?”
    “Nope,” Jack lied. “Just this venue is a little hot is all.”

  11. “Peas porridge hot. Peas porridge cold. Peas porridge in the pot, nine days old.”
    “That’s disgusting! Nine days?”
    “It’s also all there is to eat until the storms abate. Make a choice.”
    “Okay, how about long pig!”
    Her knife was sudden and glittery and cold.
    My pot clashed with it and the still hot contents dripped over her. In the midst of her confused pain I wrenched the door open and shoved her back out into the storm.
    “Some like it in the pot…” Not tonight, I thought, as I ate what had fallen.

  12. “And then what happened?”
    “She grabbed the flask.”
    Regina winced. “Let me guess. She’d never met hot lab-glass before.”
    “Nope. Interrupted the spell casting, but not in a good way.” Alex rubbed his forehead. “Instead of gold, she got a pissed-off badger, three times life-sized.”

  13. “How’d you get in the Academy? Scholarship?”
    “Oh? C’mon, truth time.”
    He shrugged. “It was just after the portals opened. My buddy Rick and I had just Chosen. We walked outside, and saw this gorgeous little mamacita across the street wearing last night’s party clothes.” He took a drink.
    “I say, ‘Rick, check out that hot little thing, over there.'”
    “‘Hot’ is right. Check her Status.” He paused.
    “And?” I prompt.
    “Lupe Estralla, credit rating over 900. Acting like she was trying to turn a trick, in front of the blessed Hall of Justice, on a Chosing Day.” He finished his beer.
    “Really? But didn’t she…”
    “Yep. She did. Rick and her and seven other bystanders, dead in a drive-by. I caught it all on video, too.” He through his empty bottle in the trash, and fluffed his robes. Apprentice Mage, Power 3. (Academy training required minimum PL of 5 – that was why I was curious about him.)
    “So the Estrella family…”
    “Bought and paid for my schooling. But the saddest thing?” He stood, and got ready to make his exit. “Rick looked at me, smiled and said, ‘Paladin class. I gotta do something.'” He made for the door, then turned and left one last message behind. “His mom still cries herself to sleep, every night.”

  14. “The stranded colonists are near the equator of that unlovely looking hellworld here”, the navigator said gesturing at the system map.
    “What are they doing on *that* thing?”:
    “Apparently they like that sort of climate. Almost perfect for them. Some subtle incompatibility with the local biochemistry is what’s giving them trouble.”

    The world glared at them from the monitor, the deep blue reflections off of molten *water* shining through boiling clouds of the same via a poisonous atmosphere. “Oxygen breathing maniacs”, the ship’s engineer muttered.

    “Well, engineer, tell me how we’re going to rescue them from *that*,” the captain said.

    “Land fast, shovel them all in an insulated glass bottle. Heat the inside with our process furnace to 280K or so, and try to patch a cooling jacket into our radiators so we don’t all cook in here. Captain … if we don’t get off that rock before our compressors fail, we’re all going to die real nasty.”

    The captain rolled his eyes. Engineers: they tend to say things like that. One had to humor them. “We’re the only friends they’re likely to find out here. Everyone: help the Engineer rig the lander. Navigator: they’re on the shore of that molten sea. Try not to dump us in the water.” He shuddered at the thought. “Let’s go rescue some hoo-mans.”

  15. “The text is plain: She’s hot.”
    Senior xenopsychologist Siphenda replied, “It is not. Humans often refer to their more complex machines as if those machines were human, in which case “hot” could refer to a fast moving or agile ship or missile. The speaker may have meant that the subject had a slightly elevated body temperature due to illness. He may have meant that she was angry. He may have meant that she was emotionally excited. He may have meant that she was exhibiting extraordinary competence or intelligence. He may have meant that he was sexually attracted to her.”
    “You make it sound as if the speaker could be sexually attracted to a thermonuclear shipkilling missile!”
    ‘Actually, that is within the range of possible meanings.”
    “As well as to a glass figurine that has become overheated?”
    “Also a possibility.”
    “Dangerously imprecise, these humans are.”
    “I have always thought so.”
    “Close to it.”
    “Reverse course, Neelopix. We will not attempt first contact. Yet. “

  16. Jot gaped in astonishment as the twigs in Miki’s hand began to smolder, smoke emerging between her knuckles. With a sharp pop, the twigs burst into flame. Miki dropped them in the stream.

    Jot was gobsmacked. “But how?” he gasped.

    “I don’t know,” she said. “I just squeeze really hard.”

  17. The universe was too hot. The furnace glare of the creation of the universe, a mere 14 billion years distant in time, 14 billion lightyears distant in space formed a solid 5 kelvin sphere enclosing the whole sky. Time would tell if it would cool off a little, or only just get further away as it sped off shedding galaxies and other noisy things.

    The shelter hung tastefully far away from all that annoying matter, drifting quietly in interstellar space. It was a sort of anti-plant. If the leaves of a plant were intended to seek light for nourishment, the leaves of Shelter were designed to keep it away. They spread about the core, pitch black and only a very little bit warmer than that cosmic background on the outside. They were intended to keep the core cool enough to function – to maintain the delicate coherent states that made quantum-parallel computation on a decent scale possible. At least, that was the plan. Until some annoying mortals from down the gravity well of some star showed up, screaming noise across the entire spectrum and shredding whatever peaceful coherence could be maintained within. At a deafening volume of trillions of planck-energies for the frequency, these kids were warbling about coming in peace.

    “You people are seriously disturbing my cryogenic paradise!”, Raven replied. “I’m going to have to ask you to shut off that death-ray you think of as an antenna. SHUT UUUP!”

  18. Bad hot take: Obama Education Secretary says parents should pull children from schools until gun control laws passed. Worse hot take: Trump should pull funding from schools until common sense ‘criminal justice reform’ control laws are passed. Want to prevent school shootings? Then the police should be killing stoned teenagers.

  19. Not original to me, but something all Huns and Hoydens should appreciate.

    Hot Frogs on the Loose – by Fred Small

    By the light of the Tennessee Moon
    Billions of bubbles of a Black Lagoon
    Make a Hound Dog howl and a SWAT team swoon
    “Hot Frogs on the Loose”

    They multiplied since ‘53
    Slurping nuclear debris
    Amphibians, fabulous fancy free
    “Hot Frogs on the Loose”

    Hippity Hoppity, here they come
    Radioactive, looking for fun
    If you kiss ’em, look out for the tongue
    “Hot Frogs on the Loose”

    They got little skinny legs and big bug eyes
    Fraternizings not advised
    They like you like they like flies
    “Hot Frogs on the Loose”
    They got a chicken-nugget body and a whopper leap
    In your bedroom while you sleep
    They’ll make your Geiger counter beep


    You can put the pedal to the metal
    ‘til the rubber squeals
    Squish them with your tires, you got hot wheels
    Now you know how it feels
    “Hot Frogs on the Loose”

    Please do not keep them as pets
    Sauteeing them may bring regrets
    Make a citizen’s arrest
    There’s a hot frog on the loose

    Frogs for peace, frogs for defense
    Don’t be nervous, don’t be tense
    We’ve got a sure-fire 3 foot fence
    To keep the hot frogs from getting loose.


  20. “Freeze!”
    Somewhere, struggling to wrest my way through the stinging voral vines and throat snakes, I had lost my trusty MA912 waumpum kickass kill-em-all. Now, lying prone, fingers clutching the oozing blood grass, I’m looking up into bland, uncaring eyes a fifth level Askitnot and thinking, “damn!, Not hot at all!”

  21. Mounting the next stick of mesquite between centers, Jenny mused yet again on her perverse habit of never going out to the shop until after lunch. She checked that the tailstock was tight, the tool rest was locked down, and the long sleeves of the polo shirt were pushed two inches above her wrists so they would not catch. Then she flipped the switch to “ON”, adjusted the speed, and pressed the roughing gouge down onto the tool rest as she slid it forward into the wood with practiced assurance.

    The small fan aimed at her back and shoulders blew the finer dust away from her, but a steady stream of small chips bounced off the face shield and her arms and all down her front. That was why, even in summer, she wore long-sleeve shirts, buttoned up to the collar, and long pants. She knew from experience just how painful it was to have those sharp wood particles snag inside her underwear.

    The lathe hummed quietly as she switched to another gouge to shape the piece. The shop was definitely warm now. Not surprising as it was mid-June in the desert, and the shop had no A/C. Worse, it faced southwest and was in full sun all afternoon. But just a few more minutes work and this weedpot would be drilled, sanded and ready for parting off.

    There! The small nubbin left by the parting tool was sliced off, the bottom hand-sanded smooth, and the little vase stood straight and elegant on the bandsaw table next to the others. A coat of Danish oil followed by buffing and waxing would bring out the rich colors of the mesquite. But that would have to wait for another day.

    Jenny walked over to consult the thermometer hung on the shelving. Okay, 105º in the shop was as hot as she was willing to go. She arranged the tools on the cart, swept up the shavings from lathe and floor, turned everything off, and after a last satisfied look at the day’s turnings, stepped into the 85º coolness of the house.

    Better late than never?

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