Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Sunday 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*



FROM DOROTHY GRANT:  Shattered Under Midnight.


Raina escaped to Freeport with a tour booked under a stolen ID, and a plan to lose herself in the city. Instead, she found a city in revolt, and now both sides are after her to control the alien gifts engineered into her DNA.

Her only ally is an offworld investigator trying to get to the bottom of the explosive mix of on-planet and alien politics… but his secrets are even deadlier than her own.

From the back alleys of the souk to the depths of alien ruins, they’re now in a desperate fight to stop the revolution before everything is lost!

FROM J. D. BECKWITH:  Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1: A Space Adventure Anthology.



Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:


The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

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: open

40 thoughts on “Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Sunday Book Promo

  1. Not a mere 50 words, but all the way to 76. That’s the spirit!

    You change writing implements at strange times. What gives?

    Most letters I can write to my satisfaction with most anything, but the 15th letter of the alphabet has long been problematic. I finally found one implement that lets me write it just exactly as I want it written. Alas, it is long out of production and there’s nothing like it, so I must conserve it and use it only for that.

    So, it’s your… “O”-pen?


  2. “Trump’s presidency makes it more important than ever we maintain open minds,” declared the country club’s president.

    “So you are willing to consider blocking illegal immigration, treating trading partners as they treat us, and being more confrontational with our foes?”

    “Good grief, no! We mustn’t be open to bad ideas!”

  3. Hellebore the scribe opened the book he’d been given, scanned the headings, and looked dubiously up at the scruffy-looking woman who’d hired him. “An Annotated History of the Empyrean War?”

    “There’s a ghost in our headquarters,” said the thief. “Family curse, long story…anyway, he cases targets for us, but it’s not like he’s got any use for money. We pay him by reading to him instead, but that thing’s too boring for any of us. So we hired _you_.” She treated him to a sparkling and slightly unnerving smile.

      1. Sounds like it would make a good short story for the next Monster Hunter Anthology.

  4. “They quarantined the entire region?”

    “Emergency. Disease hit multiple systems, quickly, no obvious transport between them. Paranoia seems to be called for.”

    “Quite understandable. We divert and don’t put ourselves at risk, either. It’s a curious thing, though.”

    “Medically, ye-”

    “No, besides that. This is now a closed open cluster.”

  5. The wizard in the typical peaked hood and long dark blue robes mumbled in his beard, while waving his hand round and round like a beauty queen in the Corn parade. There were all kinds of weirdos in the park this morning.

    He must have been drinking the corn liquor they passed out after the parade. I laid my head on the redwood picnic table–the wood warm against my cheek. I was too tired with hangover to be surprised when he finally yelled, “Open Sesame seeds.” Then he threw his arms wide in a victory signal.

    I must have drank too much of that liquor because a slit appeared in front of him and he leaped through. My head pounded so hard that I closed my eyes and vowed to never drink again.

    1. I tried that. I just can’t seem to get the doggone inter-dimensional gateways to open through, or even halfway into, the Void. Maybe I’m mumbling the wrong cantrips?

  6. “The Great Secret is Boring Sameness?” Quilthar asked.

    “No secret.” James replied, “It’s open, for any and all to see. Sure, mass production means you and your neighbors and their neighbors all have the same things. But you all also get a high standard of living. Boring Sameness… with benefits.”

  7. Coach Smith watched the ball sail over the top of the backboard again. His only consolation was that the other team was equally pathetic. This might be the first basketball game to end 0-0.

    “Come on, guys,” he yelled. “I haven’t seen scoring this pathetic since the 2018 U.S. Open.”

  8. Seems to be a good day for the Spirit of 76:

    “I thought open-pit mining was forbidden on this world, but the facility you’re sending me to look at-”

    “Is in all-caps for a reason. OPEN-PIT stands for Opal Pearl Emerald Nuumite – Peridot Iolite Tourmaline. And no, we don’t know how that combination all wound up in the same place. Our exo-geologists have been having migraines for some time. Also, no I don’t know what Nuumite and Iolite are in any detail. I have headaches enough.”

    1. That’s got to be the composition of either Darkovan matrix crystals, or Arisian Lenses.

  9. Thanks for the promo, Sarah!

    “Don’t come in here!” The warning growl from the sewer grate was enough to put anyone’s hair on edge. Most sensible people would have turned and run. Me, I had a soul to save.
    “Do I look like an idiot? I know better than to shove myself in a cornered person’s space. Especially when there’s fangs, claws, knives, or mothers-in-law involved.” I stood back, and looked around the alley. the dumpster had been knocked askew some time ago, blocking any attempt to get through or get to it. People were doing the best they could, piling the garbage bags at its base, but that the place really was a stinking pit. I flipped a lid back, and started picking up the most recent, bags, tossing them in.
    “What are you doing?” The rattles, bangs, and wet squishy thumps had drawn his attention.
    “Cleaning up.” I stopped to put a hand to my aching lower back. “When I’m done, I’d appreciate if you’d put this back so the garbage truck can get to it.”
    “Why bother? Everything goes to rot and ruin here! We’re all monsters!”
    I sighed, shook my head, and kept tossing bags. “Why bother? I’ll tell you why. Someone been whispering in your back brain that the world is an awful place, full of suffering, and it’d be better if you just took yourself out, right?”
    The answer was slow, sulky, and wary of the trap he couldn’t see. “What of it? You going to give me some cheesy feel-good shit or lecture me that I’m stupid?”
    “Nope. The world is pretty screwed up. But kid, have you ever seen a suicide that made the world a better place for everyone who had to deal with the body, and the folks they left behind?”
    “It’s true!”
    “Is it? That gal in your class who hanged herself – was your day better when she kicked off?” I let that lie a while. “And the suicide by cop kiddo, how you think the poor cop felt about shooting a kid?”
    “You’re being lied to. Your brain lies to you. Mine lies to me. There’s evil out there, and it screws this world up. And then it tells us we’d be better checking out. But it lies, because getting us to check out is just part of how it screws up the world for those left behind.” I tossed the last bag I was willing to try in, and it stayed mostly-sorta-contained. “There. I’ve made this little bit of the world a little bit better, which will piss the evil right the hell off. Wanna get a shower at my place, some food, and piss off evil even more just by living, and fighting another day?”
    There was a silence, then, deep and profound, with a life hanging in the balance. So I tipped the scales.
    “I can’t grill worth a damn, so it’ll have to be steaks, and bacon-wrapped tenderloin in the oven. Unless you can grill.” I looked up at the sky over head, keeping my back to the sewer grate, and waited.
    The voice was quiet, breathy, and right behind me. “I can cook over fire okay. I’m a guy.”
    “Good.” I grinned at him. “Then let’s shove this dumpster back in place, and go do fire and meat. And bacon, which deserves its own category.”
    “You’re weird.” He laughed, and shoved the dumpster with one hand, palm out, moving it easily.
    I grinned despite the appalling screech of metal on asphalt, and shrugged. What was there to say? It was a good day.

  10. The first thing I remembered as I woke up of was someone shaking my leg and saying, “Adelaide, you need to wake up now.” Before I am fully conscious, before I am awake and aware, my fingers are around Kiokyo’s present under my pillow.

    Four days after we had arrived in New York, Kiokyo had taken me to this tiny shop in a basement in Queens, which looked like it had been carved out of an ancient castle in Japan. An old, grizzled Japanese man in a worn but well-cared for black kimono had looked at my hand, gave me several sticks to hold, and then talked with Kiokyo in whispers in an obscure dialect of Japanese that I barely could make out one word of four. Two days later, Kiokyo had come to my room after lessons and brought a package wrapped in a hand-painted silk wrapping, tied off with a black silk cord.

    I had untied the cord and opened the wrapping to reveal a long, curving wood cylinder of a black hardwood of some kind, carefully lacquered and with brass fittings. My fingers touched the short end of the cylinder and Kiokyo put her hand on top of mine for a moment.

    “Adelaide-dono,” she says, falling into highly formal Japanese, “this is an honorable gift from one that a Solist like you is obliged to. It is given to you for that reason.”

    I knew what my reply was, “I am thankful for that gift,” and I waited as Kiokyo removed her hand from on top of mine. My other hand grasped the longer end of the cylinder and I drew my hands apart.

    What came out was a tantō blade of the Kissaki-moroha style, with a perfect forge line. I looked at Kiokyo and she smiled. “The smith who made this regarded his life’s goal to make the perfect blade. He learned his traditional smithing arts in Japan, and traveled to world to learn from every single forge he could find that would teach him. He made everything from claymores to katanas to rapiers to jians, and he made this blade for the daughter of his best friend. She would have worn it on her wedding day,” and here Kiokyo’s face fell into sadness, “on August 7, 1945, in Hiroshima. The smith was going to open up his own belly, in fear that he had been the cause of her death, when a kami told him that one day a worthy wielder would hold that blade.”

    I examined the blade and looked at it very carefully, never touching the blade itself. “You will need a dagger,” Kiokyo commented quietly. “It will stay under your pillow when you don’t need it immediately.” She extended a small, lacquered wooden box across my sheets. “What you will need to clean and care for it. I will teach you what you need to know.”

    I knew that I had much more dangerous weapons at my beck and call-but, for some reason, that dagger and the knowledge that I had it was a sort of formality that worried me.

  11. Brian had told the Montclairs that Blue Rapier and Firefly would be joining them. He

    hadn’t told them that they would be in full flight suits, with helmets under their

    left arms. Stephanie tensed up even more at the sight, but Anna latched onto Blue Rapier –

    who was in front – with the open curiosity of a not-quite-ten-year-old meeting Powers for

    the first time.
    “Good Morning, Anna!” Blue Rapier cheerfully returned Anna’s frank regard with the ease

    of practice. She’d had plenty of opportinuity, for her symbiont not only included long

    bulges on the outside of her forearms but a network of blue lines all over her fair skin

    and her eyes.
    “Good morning.” Anna was more tentative.
    “My name’s Maureen St. James. I know, it’s very English.” – that to Stephanie, who was

    monitoring. She added: “My trade name is Blue Rapier,” pointing to the logo on the suit’s

    chest, a picture of the weapon over a broad ring, with the color matching the lines on her

    Brian cut in. “Blue is on maternity light duty right now, so she was available right

    away. Firefly is based in Hamilton, closer to your home.”
    “How many?” Stephanie asked Blue.
    “Two, now. A girl and a three and a half year old boy. Al?”
    Firefly took his cue. “Two boys, 13 and 16. The age where they give their parents gray

    hair.” He had only a little, on his temple, but it showed clearly on his dark skin and

    short natural. He had been talking to Matt, who had brought up the rear.
    Blue turned back to Anna: “Do you have any brothers or sisters?”
    “One brother. He’s five.”
    “And I’ll guess he’s the little brother a lot, too.”
    “I have one too. They do grow out of it.”
    Brian could see that Anna’s mother was starting to fidget. “Go ahead and find some

    seats.” He waved towards a cluster of chairs, tables, and love seats near the windows.

    “Then we can start answering your questions.”
    “I think you’re hungry” Blue said to Anna. It wasn’t really a question.
    Anna nodded.

  12. “Open your hand,” demanded Jot. Miki complied, revealing a perfectly roasted yam.

    “Where did you get that?” Jot knew he was about to hear a lie.

    “I just found it.”

    “You stole it from that farm we passed an hour ago!”

    “But I cooked it for you,” countered Miki. “Look!”

    1. That didn’t really work, did it? Miki is supposed to be able to heat up (or burn) things with only her hand. Let’s rewrite it thusly:

      “Open your hand,” demanded Jot. Miki complied, revealing a perfectly roasted yam.

      “Where did you get that?” Jot knew he was about to hear a lie.

      “I found it.”

      “You stole it from that farm an hour ago!”

      “But I cooked it for you,” she countered. “In my hand. Look!”

      Still comes in at fifty words…

  13. “Hey man. Look, those fools left their front door open!”
    “Grab the bags, we’re gonna make a haul tonight.”
    Gisele smiled to herself as she watched the would-be robbers approach the house. She was counting on the greed of these low-life predators to bring them in with such simple bait.

      1. Ah, so a good hook then? I try to adhere to the 50 word rule. I’d go with more, but I couldn’t decide whether Gisele was a monster preying of human trash, or a heroine catching bad guys.

        1. I’d say “yes” but humans get a bit testy even when you only go after the bad ones… seems they want to deal with those themselves… or rather, don’t want anyone else to do it, even when they don’t seem to be doing anything. It’s all rather confusing, really.

  14. At last Toni emerged from behind the washing machine and set the multimeter on the dryer. “We’ve got an open circuit in there somewhere. Now the question is whether it’s worth another hour or more for me to track it down, and then trying to run down parts for it, or if we’d be better off replacing the whole thing?”

    Cather looked from the washer to his wife. He’d seen Toni rebuild old computers with parts she’d snagged from Weird Stuff Warehouse, just like he’d fixed their cars more than once with parts from the Pick-a-Part junkyard. But neither of them were all that familiar with the used-parts market for household appliances.

    On the other hand, buying this place had left them house-rich and cash poor. Consumer goods might not be as expensive as they’d gotten back in the Energy Wars, but buying a new washing machine would be a big hit to the budget. Even a used one would leave a dent in the checkbook, since they’d also have to budget renting a truck to get it over here and the old one to the junkyard.

    “How confident do you feel about fixing it once you’ve tracked it down?”

    Toni laughed. “Cather, I’m an electrical engineer. If I can troubleshoot a space probe in the outer system while sitting at my desk at the Lab, I’d better be able to fix a washing machine. At least with this thing, you can find information on the ‘Net, maybe even some U-Tube videos. It’s a lot better than spending two weeks helping the Galileo team troubleshoot a communications problem only to find out it’s an undocumented peculiarity of NASA’s space communications network that goes all the way back to the original Gemini missions.”

    Cather laughed, recalling that one. If he hadn’t mentioned it to his ur-brother, JPL might still be struggling to identify the problem. But even after all these years, Roger still remembered one of his first projects as a member of the astronaut corps.

    (Yes, the Grissom timeline has its equivalent of the notorious Thor Power Tool ruling).

    1. I note BobtheRegisterredFool has already provided the link, but here’s the context. It is always bad when you lose track of your core mission.

      Dear Catholic Church, Your Founding Document Is Not Mao’s Little Red Book
      By Sarah Hoyt
      The Catholic Church in America appears to be a schizophrenic entity, possessed of a deep-seated death wish — exactly like all the other mainstream churches and most institutions in our western culture. This week, the Church is celebrating Freedom of Religion week. You’ll see the little flags if you walk past one of the churches.

      I have absolutely clue zero — and in fact am a little afraid to consider — of what other parishes and sermons might make of this, but our priest segued incoherently from telling us that like St. John the Baptist confronted Herod we are supposed to confront and oppose a president who “has had more than one wife” and who “mistreats the least powerful and smallest of our people” to enjoining us to come to church a great deal and have daily mass for the week, to celebrate Freedom of Religion Week.

      I didn’t actually facepalm too hard, because I might have knocked myself out and people might stare.

      But it is a sad documentary on the state of the Church. …

      1. Eh, there never has been an era where one had the slightest difficulty in demonstrating the parable of the wheat and the tares from real life.

        It’s far from the only one where one sees a lot more of the tares than the wheat.

  15. The new Lieutenant cringed in the foxhole as another mortar round impacted nearby. Heavy automatic weapon fire laced the tree line where his troops were pinned. An extremely lucky, or very well-aimed, shot had taken out the comm. He turned to the platoon sergeant. “Top, I’m open to suggestions.”

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