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*



In the near future, the drug cartels of South America establish their own criminal nation, Cordillera, and proceed to flood the world with cocaine and political corruption.

America responds by using the new science of nanotechnology to produce microscopic machines – “nanobots” – to eradicate such drugs once and for all. But these tiny devices can also be used to create new kinds of drugs inside a human body – a “pharm” — or to devour it from within.

After a catastrophic nano-plague, a new and powerful drug lord, El Hombre – “The Guy” – uses nanobots to set up a worldwide drug ring, harvesting new drugs from human bodies and enforcing obedience with threats of devourment.

Jerry Gade, a nano-engineer with a horrific secret, fights back.

The struggle between Gade and The Guy takes place in both the human domain and in the invisible world of their own nano-creations.

The outcome of their battle will determine the future of the human race.

FROM MARGARET BALL:  An Annoyance of Grackles (Applied Topology Book 3).


Problems come not as as single corvids, but as full flocks…
Life at the Center for Applied Topology is never precisely normal, but Thalia Kostis, Brad Lensky and their coworkers have been enjoying a brief run of peace, quiet, and optimizing the theorems that allow for teleportation and camouflage. Everything is within parameters, until they get saddled with an intern who’s convinced that he’s God’s gift to math and that their applications of topology are illusory.
A rebellion is brewing – but bigger problems are afoot. Their old enemy, the Master of Ravens is back, and has teamed up with a mercenary with a grudge over the Center’s recent disruption of a profitable contract. Together, the two are planning on taking out the Center – and everyone in it!

FROM BLAKE SMITH:  A Short and Sweet Regency Romance.


Marianne Stanhope is in trouble. Her family is urging her to accept the attentions of a most odious suitor, so she turns to a gentleman of her acquaintance for aid. But Mr. Firth has his own reasons for assisting Miss Stanhope, and it falls to her childhood friend Mr. Killingham to convince her that she’s made a dreadful mistake.

FROM L.A. GREGORY:  Hawkwing: A Novel of the Bitterlands.


Kestrel’s land is scarred in ways its inhabitants cannot begin to understand, built on long-poisoned earth and menaced by twisted plants and animals. Farmers, hunters, and magic-users fight a long battle to create safe havens and reclaim lost ground, but their casualties mount over generations.

Kestrel knows little and cares less about the patterns that shape her world. She’s a shapechanger and healer who has spent the handful of years since reaching womanhood cleansing the wildlife of her blighted land with medicine and magic. Sure of her place and confident in her skills, she takes care of her own and doesn’t poke at things that don’t concern her. But when she returns from a routine journey with her brother to find her home ransacked and empty, Kestrel must gather her remaining family and search for new allies before old magic and older hatred rob her kin of their freedom, their lives, and possibly their souls.

FROM K.M. O’BRIEN: The Sculpted Ship.


She dreamed of adventuring across the stars as captain of her own sleek ship. Then Anailu Xindar grew up.
She didn’t lose her dream – she changed it; made it practical. She became a starship engineer; she saved her money; she earned the skills and experience a starship captain would need.
She still didn’t feel ready to go out on her own – but then her safe job went sour.
With her newly minted Imperial Shipmaster’s License in hand, Anailu just needs to find and buy a cheap, reliable freighter. Instead, she ends up making a crazy deal for an impractical, rare ship that’s long on beauty – but short a few critical components.
She’s determined to get her crippled ship back out among the stars, but her technical skills won’t be enough. Anailu will have to brave the dangers of a planet on the edge of the empire: safaris, formal dinners, rogue robots, and a fashion designer.
She may even have to make a few friends – and enemies.
The Sculpted Ship is set on the outskirts of a thousand-year interstellar empire, where a young woman with ambition, skill, and manners has a chance to achieve her dreams.

(newly edited and revised October 2017)


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: picture.

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

  1. Picture a Gaggle of Grackles. Calling sweetly, they sound like . . . a car wreck, during a train wreck, as an airplane crashes into the scene.
    Of the things about Texas I miss, grackles are not among them.

    I don’t know if a flock of the beastly noisemakers is called an annoyance, but that is a brilliant title.

    1. The things I call grackles cannot be said on this blog. I have impugned their ancestry and questioned their odds of achieving salvation on many occasions.

    2. I always found grackles to be hilarious, though I admit I never had to try to sleep under a hundred or so of them.

      When I was younger we used to make annual camping trips to central Ontario. The concessionaires had snack bars. The parking lots had grackles. The grackles would try to beg for scraps. They … aren’t built for it.

      1. They are not around here for whatever reason. We make up for it in Crows, Ravens, Seagulls, and Blue Jays. Around the house I do have many robins, and the occasional woodpecker or mourning dove.

  2. “I wouldn’t call that a pretty picture. That woman looks like the imaginings of a fifteen year old boy”.

    Zaridza sighed “I was a fifteen year old boy when I created her”.

  3. I typically eschew questions of this type, but I can’t help asking it here: in the cover of Blake Smith’s The Flight of Miss Stanhope, is that woman pregnant? It might only be the cut f the gown but she seems to have a noticeable abdominal swelling in that picture.

    N.B.: yes, fifty on the button.

    1. It’s the cut of “empire waist” dresses. Part of why I don’t wear them… and pregnant women do. Very flattering to an extremely limited range of body types, all heavily corseted.

      1. This. I personally dislike that style- my waist is the trimmest part of me; I’d be stupid to hide it. But certain body types would look fantastic. Or any woman trying to hide a pregnancy. There’s a story about Napoleon’s sister- I think it was Pauline- who gave a gigantic party to celebrate his birthday when she was eight months pregnant with an illegitimate child. No one even realized she was pregnant, just because of the cut of her dress.

        1. My waist has gone to waste, and such fashions as I featured in my youth are wasted upon my midsection now. Even so, with ample hips and bosom, the empire bust’s pattern proves an ill-flattering picture upon my frame.

    2. You can’t tell. I wore an Italian Rennaissance dress cut like that, and observation was as likely to be that it made me look pregnant as that it was lovely. Of course, being pregnant was very fashionable at the time, so soon after the Black Death.

  4. Martin had wanted to be a fighter jock. He was almost good enough to be one. He convinced the Fleet nano-neuro-surgeons to carve a tactical avatar out of his brain. Their hubris convinced Martin to let them carve an analytical genius out of his psyche.

    They carved a little too far, now, Martin’s gone, replaced by the fighter jock, the analyst, a licentious smooth talker, and an utter psychopath. The only thing they agree on, is that Fleet can’t learn the whole picture of who is running around in Martin’s head.

    1. Hmm, my comment is awaiting moderation. Can anyone see this? How long should I expect to wait?

      Long time reader, first time commenter.

      1. I let it languish because someone with your name linked naughty videos just before that comment. Now it could be sometime of bug, but… you should know that.

      1. Oh. I don’t know who made that happen. Not the first impression I was shooting for. If I’ve been hacked and allowed, that my apologies. So far, I can’t find a virus.

  5. She spotted Davak Kuoar on one of the benches, and decided to ask him. He would be an excellent witness: a semi-retired, wealthy owner of several city lots, and dignified almost to the point of stuffiness. He had held city offices both before and after the Revolution and contributed to the public works. No one would attack his character.

    She set the drum-case down first. “Freeman Kuoar?” She bowed. “May I beg a minute of your time?”

    “You may.” Bowing instead of curtsying had stiffened him. “Proceed.”

    “Freeman, my name is Renpola Tuvor,” she said, using the adult form of her name. She was conscious of the picture she presented: young, neat, clean, and plain, of little means. “I have been taking drum-mage lessons with Master Gelan, though I have been unable to afford being officially enrolled. My judgement is that I am ready for my trail and the making of my first drum. I intend to approach mage-smith Matran for the construction of the counter-hoop for this drum. Since I lack the funds to pay for it now, I must offer him my pledge for coin or service, if he will accept it. I inquire of you if you are willing to serve as my witness to this pledge, though I expect you will have questions of me first.”

    His face was hard but not angry. “I do indeed have questions for you. Sit there,” he gestured towards another bench, “and we can begin.”

  6. Paul Sanders held up the camera and tilted his head. The young woman in the Chun Li costume nodded and struck a pose, but when the shutter clicked, she wandered off, dull and lifeless. He smiled again. Dragon Con was the perfect hunting grounds. A few dozen more pictures and he would have captured enough souls for the Summoning.

  7. Lady Astrid examined the small tile Jot gave her. On it he had scratched out a recognizable portrait of a young girl.

    “I can’t draw,” the boy said. “I only made that because I was afraid I’d forget her if I didn’t.”

    “But you won’t,” smiled Lady Astrid. “You won’t.”

  8. “I begin to see why my house was ransacked and my correspondence stolen,” said Duncan. “This picture isn’t Jessamyn so I’m supposed to believe she isn’t who she says she is. But though the originals from her letters are gone Simon scanned them into my computer long ago. Let’s have a look.” The woman called Jess turned white.

  9. So this was the painting that had everyone in such an uproar. Esther examined the canvas that dominated the formal dining room. Unusually large, the sort that was usually produced only at the request of a patron, it portrayed a snow-covered landscape at night. Over the distant mountains hung a silvery-white disc, mottled with dark patterns that did not form the familiar bands of Menarion’s primary.

    Because it wasn’t a gas giant planet. It was a moon, specifically the single moon of Terra Ixilonica. Although Esther had learned the basic facts of the eight worlds of Ixil-sun’s system as part of officer training in the Lord Protector’s Own, it felt alien, unnatural.

    How would you navigate to something that moved through the sky instead of remaining a fixed beacon? Would your great-swan lose its way over open water?

    “My sister did it shortly after she returned home from New Rome.” Cardinal Vallon came over to stand beside Esther, his bulk making her feel even smaller. “She was hoping to enter it in an exhibition, win a prize that would have freed her from the financial burden of repaying her scholarship. Instead she couldn’t bring together the entry fee and ended up having to sell it for a pittance to make her rent.”

    Try as he might to keep his tone neutral, professional, emotion still colored his voice. How much of it was anger at the suffering his sister had gone through, and how much was survivor guilt at his own role in putting her into a situation in which a cultural misstep could spiral into disaster?

  10. Gee, in between the moments that I wanted to strangle him, got Cee to do a few portraits of me in girl form, in several artists styles. I had to admit the John Cassady one (in full Regalia) was beautiful, the Gilbert Hernandez one was on the ragged edge of kiddy porn, and had enough space left on the bottom of each portrait for the Servants to write what would be a good name for the girl in the picture. Some of the names were hilarious, some of the names were embarrassing, some of them were really good, and one particular namer with this absolutely beautiful calligraphy hand came up with names that were almost right.

    (I wanted to ask whom that particular writer was-and if they were a girl-because every time I saw that writing…you could easily see the erotic fantasies of being a human book under their brush with each stroke being very valid. As long as it was just brush strokes with ink and not the edge of a ritual knife, it was so very tempting. But, asking would be problematic, because they were Servants and my curious request could very easily be considered an order…)

    But, we hadn’t hit the right name yet. Gotten very, very close (I had a list), but nothing that had sung out “perfect” yet. At this point, I was choosing between Sophia, Elizabeth, and Sarah, and I was going to just have the Servants vote for the name if I couldn’t decide by the end of the day on Saturday.

    It sure as hell beat trying throwing darts at a dartboard to figure out what to call myself.

  11. The Sculpted Ship Is an excellent read and I think it fits well in the YA category.

    I keep hoping for a sequel.

  12. “Jim! You’ve got to come here and see this one! It’s amazing!.”

    “Sure Frank, be there in a moment”, I said with a decided lack of enthusiasm.

    “Now what’s so interesting?”

    Frank pointed to the small, glassed-in frame.

    “See that? It moves!”

    “Frank, that’s not a picture, it’s a mirror.”

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