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


Sunday 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 links to books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com.  One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Please do not send me: the entire book; book descriptions; or newsletters.  JUST send me the Amazon link-SAH*


FROM PETER GRANT:  The Pride of the Damned (Cochrane’s Company Book 3).

The shadow war started as a simple contract to defend a system against asteroid thieves. The harder Andrew Cochrane and Hawkwood Security fought, the worse things became. Now they find themselves embroiled in an interstellar war with an entire mafia!

Worse yet, the proceedings are so profitable – not to mention bloody – that they’ve attracted the attention of some of the worst criminal organizations in the galaxy. If Hawkwood is to survive, it’ll need all the wits, cunning and ingenuity it can muster – and the unwavering courage and dedication of its people.

The galaxy’s not big enough for both sides. One or the other will go to the wall.



FAA attorney Terrence Rogers dreams of space, but he spends his days on informed consent for space tourists. Young foreign service officer Hal Cooper faces real change with the arrival of an alien spaceship, but it means something else for Terrence.

A short story.


FROM ALMA T C BOYKIN: The Scavenger’s Gift

Of all the gods, men fear the Scavenger the most. Wise men and women take pains to avoid His notice.

When Osbert Manns’hillda ventures into the mine called Scavenger’s Gift, the Dark One takes notice. Or does he?

Short story: 5000 words


FROM ROB HOBART:  The Sword of Amatsu (Empire of the Sun and Moon Book 1).

For four centuries, the Empire of the Sun and Moon has been torn apart by war as its samurai Clans fight for the empty throne of the Emperors. The Gray Wolf Clan is one of only six Clans remaining, but faces a deadly threat from the more powerful and ruthless Jade Dragon Clan. Yet the greatest threat to the Empire is not the bloody ambitions of its samurai. The shadowy followers of the Cult of the Mask, worshippers of foreign demons, burrow through the Empire’s society like worms in rotten meat, growing in power year by year.

As battles rage and conspiracies fester, the fate of the Empire will turn on the actions of a handful of samurai. The young lord Ookami Akira, trained by monks to be a master of war but desperately ignorant of the Empire’s civilization, must learn to be the ruler of the Gray Wolf Clan or he and his people will perish. Kuroi Kaede, a naïve girl forced into an unwilling marriage to Akira, must master the courts if she is to survive. The lowly magistrate Kobayashi Mitsui is the only one in the Empire who recognizes the true scale of the threat from the Cult of the Mask. And the murderous wandering swordsman Kenji may hold the fate of all in his blood-stained hands…


FROM STEPHANIE OSBORN:  Definition and Alignment (Division One Book 7).

When another enhanced human, Mark Wright, unexpectedly shows up at the Agency, Alpha One discovers that they still aren’t done with Slug’s machinations and levels of planning: Wright is there for Omega, and the NEXT generation of assassins will be GENETICALLY programmed to kill Echo! Thus begins a bizarre, inverted manhunt as the telepathically-brainwashed Wright chases Alpha One across the planet, using the pre-programmed mental link that Omega can’t fully block, to follow her anywhere Echo can take her…

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: valuable




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

  1. “Ah, but what is valuable?” said the dragon. “To a mermaid captive to a sailor, escape to the sea; to a sailor captive to a mermaid, escape to land. A phoenix loves fine spices. . . .”
    Margot said nothing. One valuable piece of knowledge: dragons who philosophize are out to cheat you.

  2. Sarah suddenly rose from her computer left her writing lair, ran in to the kitchen and grasping a small jar off the shelf she held it tightly to her heaving bosom.

    When asked why all the excitement confusion and commotion she quietly replied; I just realized, my thyme is valuable.”

  3. Just as a note, Travis Corcoran’s The Powers of the Earth (the first volume of the Aristillus series) has just won this year’s Prometheus Award for best novel. This is an account of a lunar independence movement trying to fight off a massive invasion from Earth; it’s both an intentional tribute to Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and a critical reexamination of its assumptions. Both volumes are currently available at Amazon as paperback or e-reader versions.

    1. Bought it on your recommendation. (And the Kindle version is listed at only $0.99, a good speculation price!)

  4. I learned several valuable lessons that afternoon.

    First, the concept of discrete and golem are diametric opposites. Unless you can explain to them every step, they’ll just go for the most straight and simplest way to handle things. And, for hunk of enchanted stone and silver and ghost-spider silk the size of a very large and angry gorilla, “straight and simple” usually means “through walls.”

    Second, never make out with your girlfriend without setting up some spellware to warn you of threats. Such as a disapproving father that wants you to keep the relationship at “extremely discrete schoolgirl lesbians” until she graduates and the right marriage/company merger is arranged. Such as the fact that your normally quiet and subtle Japanese girlfriend is an extremely loud screamer in contralto when she’s on the bottom (and soprano on top, and mezzo-soprano sideways and in the shower…). Such as the aforementioned golems.

    Third, explain to your golems early the difference between “happy screaming” and “angry screaming” and “scared screaming”. Without this important distinction, they will focus on “screaming” and to a golem, “screaming” means “threat.” And “threat” means “pound thing threatening our Solist like a full-sized Voldemort pinata packed full of $100 bills and £50 notes.”

    (Horror movie with golems involved-supernatural villain makes the girl that the golems like scream in terror. Golems come and pound villain into the ground like a tent stake. Think Loki and the Hulk in “The Avengers” with a lot more swinging and hitting against solid objects like walls. Girl washes gore off golems, gets out the wire broom, and pets them. End movie.)

    Fourth…they do have enough judgement to not go through major structural members. Just enough. Barely. We had to use a couple of wall spells to keep something from collapsing until we could get some proper lumber in.

    And, fifth and finally, for something that doesn’t have a “face”, the “I tried to do the right thing, I did something wrong and I don’t know why, you are angry, I am sad” body language of a golem is enough to make even the hardest, angriest heart feel like a tiny little shit when you see four golems trying to figure out what they did wrong. It makes you want to explain to them as quickly as possible that you’re upset with what happened, but not with the loyalty or the emotion behind the act. That they were doing the right thing as they knew it, and that we’d have to explain what was going on.

    (Oh, and sixth, explaining sex to golems is an absolutely hilarious thing as well. You need at least two white boards and a lot of hand-waving and the explanation of sex-for-reproduction and sex-for-fun is like watching Robin Williams at his prime for gut-pulling laughter.)

        1. Spelt both ways, actually, depending on whether one is describing something mathematical or behavioural. I’m forever bumping into that in both directions.

  5. I looked at the handful of change I’d just been given. Thin little disks, so light they felt more like a child’s play money than actual coins.

    In some ways, Codyland’s coinage was harder to get used to than their paper money. We Maroans are not complete savages. We have letters of credit, so I had a frame of reference for a dollar bill with Cody’s fat, bespectacled face looking dourly up at me. But coins should be precious metal, not these tokens.

  6. Sarge looked down at the young Titan groaning on the ground.

    “Let me give you some valuable advice. Bill Stevens accepts being called Troll as a code name but dislikes being called that when not on duty. He especially dislikes being called Troll by young idiots especially if they are attempting it as a joke. Fortunately, he only gives such lessons in manners to people who can survive the lesson.”

    The young Titan groans and says “I’ll remember it”.

  7. It didn’t make sense. Of course, the Lizard-bugs were incomprehensible, but even allowing for that, it still didn’t make sense. All four motherships and their auxiliaries were headed away from him on what was likely the most efficient course to a translation zone. The location of that zone was more valuable than the T4 dwarf they were abandoning to him.

    And they didn’t have to do it.

    The force disparity was such that they could simply bluff him out of the system without revealing their entry zone, for there was no way his eighteen scout cruisers could stand up to even half that force. As a trap it was pointless, for the counter was what he had just done; order the flotilla to decelerate to zero relative to the primary and send one ship back through his own entry zone.

    Well, they would find out what the enemy thought of that response in another fourteen minutes.

  8. “You were sent on a quest to retrieve stolen jewelry findings.” A flat tone, full of disbelief.

    The two young men traded resigned glances. The elder brother spoke, suppressed irritation in his voice. “Not exactly. Our quest is to learn why vicious thieves would steal something of so little value.”

  9. “We’re here.” The transport slowed, and finally groaned to a stop, the engine winding down to silence for the first time in days. Sara looked up at the grizzled sergeant as he held out a hand, and carefully clasped his wrist, letting him haul her to her feet.

    He didn’t let go, but kept both hands on her shoulders even as she carefully maneuvered the grating underfoot littered with spent casings and wrappers for hygiene wipes and ration bars. The makeshift splint rubbed against spots already raw as she limped to the hatch, where the sergeant was already ahead of her, catching her around the waist and lifting her down to the ground. “I can walk.” She breathed it softly, barely carrying to his ears, as he slung her arm over his broad shoulder, and wrapped a thickly muscled arm around her ribs.

    “Yeah, but you can’t brace.” He muttered softly. There was a disturbance in the general flow of men and equipment, and a spearhead of officers burst through, headed straight for her.

    Jake saw the sling and splint, and slowed from a run to a soft embrace, hands hesitating slightly as he sought a safe place to hug her. She buried her head in his chest, breathing in his familiar scent. “Missed you.”

    He stepped back just far enough to lift her head, and kiss her carefully. He looked terrible, she thought – sunken eyes, heavy stubble that rasped against her cheeks… but the soft look in those eyes was filled with warmth that made everything all right. And she couldn’t complain; she knew she looked and smelled worse. He studied her, nodded, and stepped back. “Good job, men. I’ll take her from here.”

    As they limped back across the floor, she said softly, “You didn’t have to send so many men after me. I would have gotten through the lines eventually.”

    He snorted, and stopped, waiting until she was steady to turn to her, eyes urgent as his hands on her shoulders. “I am not having my heart hostage behind enemy lines!”

    “Oh.” She smiled, then. “I love you, too.”

  10. “The question really is why this ram in particular is so valuable that someone is risking arrest for theft or even manslaughter in order to gain possession of it.”
    “I think it’s the other way around.”
    “What does that mean?”
    “I think someone tried to steal or even to borrow the ram first, and hitting Duncan didn’t change the need, whatever it is. It just upped the stakes.”

  11. This blew up into a chapter – perhaps too long to post. Delete it if it’s obnoxious.

    “I don’t get it”, James said, eying Raven across the table. “The Transcends, at least according to the elders, are supposed to be some sort of vastly powerful twisted robotic demigods. Why would they suddenly show up out of nowhere and attack a human colony?”

    Raven arched her eyebrows. “What do you think the colony had that a Transcend would want?”

    “I thought the whole ‘vanishing into the fringes of interstellar space’ thing was because there wasn’t anything you needed from humanity anymore.”

    “Don’t think need, think want.”

    “Neksikan was a sparsely settled agricultural world. Don’t tell me they were on a beer raid? I dunno … heavy metals?”

    Raven rolled her eyes and sighed. If she was what she had just claimed to be, that was unsettling in itself for being entirely affected. “James, you yourself could get an arbitrary amount of heavy metals dropped on your head by any passing asteroid miner. You could luxuriate in a self-heating solid uranium bathtub if you didn’t mind the neutrons. That a Transcend would violate a 1000 year taboo and cross lightyears to invade a colony for their metal is only marginally less stupid than doing it to steal your water. Atoms aren’t valuable – they just one medium for expressing the things that are.”

    “Valuable… some kind of physical anomaly we aren’t aware of?”

    “You humans still think of value in terms of the problems of survival and providing for yourselves. That’s because you’re mortal, nevermind your newfound lifespan. In this, you and I are *not* alike. Matter, energy, and all the tedious things I need to do with them to persist are as autonomic to me as your heart beating is to you. Our problems aren’t the problems of solving problems, James. Our problems are the problem of finding problems to care about.”

    “So you’re like some kind of super-gentry, then? Untethered from need and slowly going crazy in some kind of random-walk for lack of anything better to do? But then you wouldn’t care.” It would fit, in a way. It would explain why they’re all supposed to be decadent and insane, and why Father Poroseva ranted about Transcends as the next most corrupting influence to demons from hell. James scratched his head. “Life is rare. And it’s complicated, and varied. Neksikan is a beautiful lifeworld according to the reports.”

    “But life, while rare, isn’t rare *enough*, is it? There are 100 billion stars in the galaxy. Of all the billions of years of the history of Earth, your lost homeworld, only a few millenia really qualify as *interesting*. You know what the Sirens wanted on Neksikan.”

    “Humans then”, James said, finally cornered.

    “But what about humans?”

    “Our culture?”

    Raven snorted. “You poor bastards are still using those things as a crutch.”

    “Our brains?”

    “Pound for pound the most incandescently complex thing in your world, for given definitions of complexity, some boring, some not. But I haven’t thought with a lump of protein, or dug trenches with a screwdriver since the Transcend Apocalypse.”

    “Our souuuuuls”, James intoned half in mockery.

    Raven smiled. “Your patriarchs did warn you about us. Yes, James. Of all the dismal barrenness of the lifeless universe, of all the mindless struggle of the living universe, of all the banal triviality of your politics and your intrigues, one thing that we might find valuable is your souls. The limits of what something that isn’t my sock-puppet, James Szabo for instance, would do. The boundaries of what you are and are not, all the things you could become with mentorship, or corruption. Screwing with your mind is worth the trip.”

    “And apparently for the Sirens, worth an invasion”, James said frowning, mind racing through the implications. This was bad. He needed to tell Ms. Polzin what he had learned right away, regardless of revealing his blatant contact with what he was beginning to believe could really be a Transcend. “I wasn’t worried about you claiming to be a Transcend, you seemed sane and nice enough …” But now all the chilling legends seemed more real and less like crazy spacer-tales, and the calm human looking figure sitting across the table seemed more menacing in aspect.

    “And I’m not worried about you suddenly heeding your elders, running and hiding and never seeking me out again”, Raven said laughing. “I’m not worried because you’re curious. When you tell your dear old great-aunt about the sorts of company you keep, I’m afraid she’ll be on the warpath. But you’ll find me again.”

  12. “I do not understand why you should be involved with police work,” complained Agnes Slim-Howland. “You remember what Father said: ‘Nigel’s to involve himself with nothing valuable!‘”

    “But Agnes, darling,” replied her brother, “Someone’s got to help Inspector Wiley with his unidentified android, and besides, I’m so very, very bored.”

  13. I watched the old prospector swirl the water and mud in his pan, sloshing the dross over the edge, and occasionally picking at the remains in the pan.

    “Find anything?” I asked.

    “Buncha iron. Nothing valuable” he replied.

    “No gold?

    “Hell boy. I’m panning for rubies and emeralds, not gold.

  14. The Evacuation Officer checked off the name and looked at the woman in the tattered uniform in front of him. She was standing, no, leaning on a crutch, her other arm strapped immobile against her chest. “You have fifteen minutes to pack your gear and any valuables and report back here for the next transport, Lieutenant. Weight limit is 100 pounds. Any questions?”

    “When is the transport after that one, sir?”

    “Unknown, Lieutenant. We are evacuating all wounded and other personnel that will fit now. I suggest you hurry.”

    “Yes, sir.” He watched as she made her way out the door to the barracks, and shook his head. Fifteen minutes was barely time to stuff a duffel bag with clothes, even with two good arms. He motioned to the next person in line.

    He was confirming that all names were checked off when he heard her voice again. “Lieutenant Ames, reporting with valuables as ordered, sir.” He looked up and was startled to see a second, much smaller woman, a civilian who appeared from the bruises on her arms and face to have been harshly treated, standing next to the Lieutenant and holding a small bag of clothes. The Lieutenant carried nothing but her crutch.

    “What is this, Lieutenant?” he asked, but not harshly.

    “My valuables, sir. She is a volunteer who was caught in the prisoner sweep and held with the rest of us. She is a friend, she weighs 97 pounds with clothes, and she saved my life, sir.”

    He did not hesitate, but reached for a green tag, stamped it, signed it, and motioned the woman to hold out her arm. He gently tied the tag to her wrist. “Valuables acknowledged and permitted, Lieutenant. And, safe journey home, both of you.”

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