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


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 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 ROY M. GRIFFIS:  The Big Bang: The Lonesome George Chronicles Book.


In this page-turning post-apocalyptic thriller, Roy M. Griffis explores an alternate timeline in which America falls victim to a coordinated attack by Islamic jihadists and Chinese Communists. It’s 2008 and George W. Bush is still president. Three years later, the man called “Lonesome George” is in hiding, leading the resistance from a secret location.

Multiple plot lines skillfully braid the tales of resistance fighters in various parts of the country. Whistler is the hard-bitten commander of a military unit in Texas. Karen, a former congressional aide, stumbles through the radioactive rubble of Washington DC. Molly, a leftwing columnist in San Francisco, finally puts her talents to good use on the underground radio as the voice of the resistance. Alec, a famous Hollywood actor, loses his wife and daughter in the nuclear attack on Los Angeles and becomes a legendary fighter, inventing the gun that bears his name.

A vivid imagining of an America gone horribly wrong, written in gripping detail.

FROM ASHLEY R. POLLARD:  Bad Dog: Military Science Fiction Across a Holographic Multiverse (Gate Walkers Book 1)


In 2071, Sergeant Tachikoma leads a Marine combat armor squad. She knows the Corps never promised her a rose garden, only the chance to fight for her country.

Now, she faces her greatest challenge, two terrifying alien pillars that trapped her into reliving the same day again. The day she dies.

Today, she needs every ounce of courage to save her people from annihilation.

Based on cutting-edge theories on the nature of the universe, this white knuckle military SF thriller contains drama and mystery.

“This story is great, with a very firm grasp of the Marine Corps lifestyle.”
Sgt D. Barrow, USMC



Science tells us that there are an infinite number of possible universes and nearly as many versions of you. Imagine if you had to be all of those lives. Imagine all the things you could ever be, good, bad, lover, fighter, benevolent or evil. Imagine if all the possible threads of your life became roads you had to walk. . .

WARNING; this book contains Adult material and Mature content and is not recommended for younger readers.

BY MEDRON PRYDE:  Forge of War (Jack of Harts 1).


In 2205, we learned the answer to one of the oldest questions of all time. Are we alone? They brought medicines with them that nearly wiped out diseases, and extended the human lifespan into the centuries. They helped us study advanced technologies, and expand our colonies hundreds of lightyears from Earth. It was a golden age that many thought would never end.

Jack grew up in a world at peace, his only interests, partying and girls. But when a sneak attack killed millions of Americans, and wiped out almost everything and everybody Jack knew, he volunteered to serve and get some payback. But the Marines want more than people looking for revenge, and cybernetic partners demand a higher commitment. If Jack wanted to earn his commission as a Marine Corps fighter pilot, he had to let himself be forged into something stronger than he’d ever felt the need to be. A man willing to live up to the name of his squadron. A Cowboy.

Historical note: The Marine Corps fighter squadron that is a central part of this story was named in honor of the real life Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112, the Cowboys. Because of these aviators, and everyone else who has served, I am free to write this story. I will never forget.


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: live

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

  1. “Who the hell are you and how did you get in?”

    “I’m the Ultra Thief know as Grey Cat and I’m here about your Succubus case.”

    “What do you know about her?”

    “She’s was one of my minons and I thought I killed her when she came alive. Now, she’s killing men to live.”

  2. The fiesty young star troopers bellied up to bar in the Dank Dirty Dive at the edge of the universe.

    Sargent Spook raising his glass toasted; “Live long and frost her.”

    Hence Lieutenant Kirk, downing his drink, casually turned, shooting Martha The Mad Martian Mollusk with his trusty ice blaster.

  3. It is early morning and the moon follows me, trailing clouds at his feet. In Norse mythology, Mani likes to linger to watch and maybe interact with human woman. If he lingers too long Skoll chases him. I know that if the wolf catches him, we will end. Mani is so irresponsible. I imagine him laughing as the wolf nips his heels.

    Mani is following me. Even when the moon is only a slip of light, my hackles rise. I don’t like that feeling so I stare down the moon.

    The golden brass sun reaches its zenith. Then I frown. The moon slowly disappears below the horizon.

    I remember the last words he said to me when Odin threw him into the sky, “At least we are alive.”

  4. The first rule of teleportation portals is comedy.

    Namely, the portal end kept displacing itself in the only safe direction possible.


    Over the trees that have grown over the trail between the time the satellite photos on Google Maps was taken and now. About, roughly speaking, twenty feet off the ground.

    Which I only learned when I had step through the portal, and my foot missed the ground…and the ground was twenty feet below me.

    I had moved at a pretty quick pace, under the “pulled bandaid” theory of dealing with issues (i.e. do it immediately, so all the problems could be resolved right there and then) through the portal. By the time I realized that this wasn’t a good idea…I was going head over heels and realized that this was going to hurt, a lot.

    And then, with my feet hanging in the air and about to do a very involuntary forward flip…I had stopped. Floating in mid-air, I looked down, then looked at Whisper. “Okay, what just happened?” I asked.

    I think you triggered the flight system in your Regalia, Whisper replied. Which is very interesting. Can you control it?

    “I didn’t even know that I could fly,” I sighed, shaking my head carefully as all the blood flowed to my brain. “Let me try…,” and my voice trailed off as I managed to rotate myself, carefully, into a feet-first position in mid-air. “It seems like I’m being supported, or the thrust, is coming from my center of mass,” I note, observing what had happened. I find the right way to control and move, and carefully lower myself through the foliage to the ground. I can feel the weight settle onto my feet and I land, and as I come down fully, I cut the flight spell out and feel the last twinge as my weight is fully on my legs.

    “We really need to have An cough up a list of the things I should be able to do,” I mutter. “Learning by trying when something is trying to eat our face is not a good way to live to retirement age.”

    Oh, I fully agree, Whisper noted. And, before you ask, I don’t know all the things you can do. I’m not quite as in the dark as you are, but it seems like there’s more you should be able to do that you don’t quite know yet how.

    I nod, and pull up my menus to find if something has been added. And, yes, the flight system is there-nice for breaking several laws of physics. As long as I have access to prana, my only real limitations for acceleration is the speed of light and my shield capacity. That would limit me to a total velocity of about ninety percent of the speed of light, before my shield would be overwhelmed (the issue isn’t a power issue, but a rate-of-creation issue, with my shield only charging faster at a certain point, not providing actual more protection). Acceleration is through my center of mass, and completely by how I wish it to go. I look at the numbers for how much prana I can put through the flight system and I blanch, and make very good use of the Regalia’s water recycling ability when I wet myself a bit.

    At 75% of my total normal intake of prana, I can accelerate at a thousand gravities. 9.8 kilometers per second per second. That is a terrifying number, as I am also protected from my own acceleration and trying to do this wouldn’t instantly turn me into anchovy paste. It isn’t so much this acceleration rate that worries me, as the idea of one hundred and thirty pounds of me hitting a planet at 90% the speed of light is only briefly terrifying. Nor is the idea of damage I could do just flying straight up, as I could hit massive multi-Mach numbers (and sonic booms) before I reached the edge of space.

    What scares me is what else I could use that 75% of energy. Prana doesn’t exactly map to watts or joules of energy, but the mental calculations start getting very scary, very fast.

    Assuming I was smart enough to avoid killing myself with thermal bloom when doing so, my ability to discharge energy offensively is nearing the scale of mid-sized tactical nuclear weapons. Defensively? That’s a bit more complicated-I could probably tank a small nuclear weapon with a few seconds warning, but if somebody was to shoot me with enough high-powered rifle rounds or a few very fast ones, I would be in trouble.

    (The issue is not as much case of energy, but point of impact. Slapping someone doesn’t do as much damage as if you were to slam an ice pick into the same location with the same amount of energy. A nuke would produce a lot of energy, but it would produce it over a large area, which would be easier to take than a single M829A4 round with zero angle of incidence. Or a lot of depleted uranium .50 BMG rounds. Enough concentrated machine gun or rocket propelled grenade fire would be enough to overwhelm my shields and Regalia.)

    There was this sudden feeling as the universe slammed into my soul again, and I just had to stand there for a moment. Less than seventy-two hours ago, I was worried about being employed again and how I was going to cover my bills. Now, I’m figuring out how much kinetic energy it would take to shatter a magical barrier and penetrate armor made of several materials that DARPA would kill for. And, how to find five teenagers to help me out to defeat monsters.

    I can feel Whisper twitch in my grip, and say Are you okay?

    “I’m…just getting used to the idea of what happened,” I reply, and look around at the woods. “Let’s get the spell cast.”

    I pull out my tools, and put down the map and get out the compass. Whisper floats into the air, and I cast the spell.

    And Whisper pivots to turn due East, and stays there.

    “I’ve got to be doing something wrong,” I comment after a few seconds.

    Let’s try it again, Whisper offers.

    Whisper doesn’t twitch a single bit when I try again. My fingers go through the maps and I find the map of the United States, and draw the line on it from the bearing I have. My new line now crosses the first line from yesterday, and they both cross on New York. “This is…not what I expected,” I note as the next line is drawn. “New York?”

    There are some good reasons why your Companions could be there, Whisper answered cautiously.

    “I know,” I grumble. “But, that means moving to New York. While there are times that I think we could crucify half the government of the State of California and be better off, I still love living here.”

    Rope, or nails? Whisper asks curiously.

    “Oh, nails,” I remark cheerfully. “You save rope for the particularly witty people, like pedophiles, rapists, traitors, perjurers in the first three, and people that try to remake classic movies without at least trying to respect the originals.”

    I take a third attempt at the spell, and check my numbers. “Well, at least we have maps of the Eastern seaboard,” I point out mock-cheerfully. “We’ll just have to find a second location in New York to do a shot.” My eyes look up through the trees, and I activate the flight spell to lift me up comfortably to the portal.

    This is going to be an interesting conversation when I get back.

  5. The lights came up and the cameras started rolling.
    The director looked around at the crew and said, “OK, we’re live.”
    In a manner of speaking, I thought, as the rest of the zombies lurched into their assigned parts, moaning the traditional call of “Brains! Brains!”.

  6. “So these nematodes are 40,000 years old. And they live?”
    “Well, as much as nematodes are ever alive. It’s not like the life of a nematode is a particularly exciting one.”
    “Yeah, but still…” she trailed off, unable to complete the thought. What would these visitors from the past bring?

    (Sometimes the real world and the prompt just align so well…)

  7. A short while past the junction and her newest cairn, she was caught up by a deerhound, red and black, who stopped on seeing her, uncertain of the ragged stranger.

    “Greetings, dog.” Running was ridiculous. She put out a hand.

    Reassured, he stepped forward for a sniff, showing a numbered collar-tag. Registered hunters, then, not poachers or bandits.

    She had made it. She would live.

  8. Doctor Garland raised his head from the microscope. “It’s alive! It’s ALI-“ SMACK! Rubbing his head, he asked, “What was that for?”
    “If that fungus sample is alive, then the antifungal medicine didn’t work!” I snapped at him.
    “Oh, well, yes,” he replied, “but I always wanted to say that.”

    HA! 50 words on the first try!

  9. The man with the fake-thick Austrian accent said, “Come with me if you want to-“
    “Stop. If you say ‘live’, we’ll have lawyers and guardians chasing us.”
    The man blinked. “-Elope?”
    Grandma with the sixth sense said, “Accept your first proposal.” Did this qualify?
    It did. I’ve never regretted it.

  10. “Moderation?” I never agreed to moderation. This is an outrage!”
    Dealing with prima-donna egos was part and parcel of my day job.
    Wearily, I pointed to the contract. “No one goes live anymore. The FCC fines are way too high. But it’s your choice.”
    “Your lawyers will hear about this!”

  11. It’s good advice as far it goes, to find out where the creature lives. But it only goes so far. The golden blackbird, like other birds, does not live in its nest, only broods its eggs there.
    The firebird does not even know the meaning of a place to live.

  12. Surrounded by most of the party goers she sat at the piano playing a lively tune.  Some were singing along with her, others were laughing.  They all were enjoying themselves.

    He sighed deeply.  He loved her, but he was not sure about if he could live with such a live wire.

    1. there are. And boy, do they suck. Baen is okay. The others? SUCK.both for readers and writers, amazon offers the best deal. that’s why they’re gigantic. free market.
      Smashwords is so clusterf*cked I don’t think they CAN keep track of what they sell, much less pay writers with any semblance of accuracy.
      Both book view and Baen are exclusive and only for members/people they buy/have deals with.

        1. See, the issue is that writers can’t put their books up if they want to at Baen or Bookviewcafe.
          As for every other one than Amazon, they suck for writers. So, Amazon is dominant i the market. That’s why I ask for Amazon links. That and because I have an associate’s link, though that’s not as important.

    1. See my answer before. No, they’re not replacements for AMazon.
      As a writer, also, let me tell you EVERY OTHER SITE IS A NIGHTMARE TO PUT THINGS UP IN and Smashwords is the pits. I abandoned it long before Amazon offered incentives to publish with them only. Barnes and Noble is a pain. And sells almost nothing. Kobo is all visually oriented, because, you know, writers are visual (rolls eyes) and I had to get younger son to pub things up for me. The other also rans are even worse.
      Give us the credit as writers and readers of not being completely stupid. Thank you.

  13. Ouch! Yes, that was a live wire all right. What was the use of telling me I could have fresh garden peas if he had surrounded the plot with electric fencing? I started walking the perimeter where amaranth and Black-eyed Susan growing close to the fence smothered old pots and unidentifiable junk. Did I see an old tricycle? A shimmering picture of a waterfall? a live cat? The cat fled at my approach but he had already shown me that this part of the fence was dead. Ha! The peas were going to be mine and I was going to leave three pounds of live zucchini under his zucchini plant just to teach him a lesson.

    1. “You dirty rat! You killed my brother! I’m gonna get you!”

      “Pal, I didn’t mean to; it was an accident. Plus, you’ve been after me and making my life miserable for thirty years now. Isn’t it time to let bygones be bygones?”

      “Live and let live? I don’t think so . . .”

  14. Reginald Waite watched the digital clock over the sound booth clock tick away the final seconds. When it went to 12:00:00, he flashed a thumbs-up.

    Ken Redmond threw the ceremonial knife switch, which on retrospect looked a little too much like it belonged in the set of a Frankenstein movie, not an Internet radio station. But there was no time for regrets, not with the On Air light illuminated and the dj making the first-ever station identification.

    Steffi looked up from her tablet and gave her own thumbs-up. The website had gone live at the same moment as the audio stream. Shepardsport Pirate Radio was now a done deal.

  15. “Sir, the situation just went L.I.V.E.”
    I rolled my eyes. Government organizations and their damn acronyms. Didn’t matter whether they were civilian or military; they all had their own jargon.
    “Live? What the heck does that mean?”
    “Sorry Sir, I forgot you’re new. L.I.V.E stands for Lycanthrope Infested Vampire Environment.

      1. I’m going to blame that on Larry Correia and John Ringo. I’ve still got Saints floating in the recent memory.

        1. Funny thang… I have not a one of Correia’s books in my tablet library….. Even tho he’s mention here SEVERAL times, funny that. I’ll need to check him out.

  16. Agnes was squealing like a teenager. “I’ve got ’em! I’ve got ’em!” she cried. “I’m gonna see the Beatles!”

    “A splendid coup, Madam,” said Jenkins, examining her tickets. “I’m told these seats are much coveted.”

    Nigel Slim-Howand refused to interrupt. Was a Companion performance really indistinguishable from the real thing?

    1. This really does need to be expanded upon, so here’s another fifty:

      Agnes was enraptured – the Fab Four, all long gone, but accurate to the last detail! Nigel Slim-Howland didn’t know who built them; he knew it wasn’t his firm. The hall was packed with actual flesh and blood, although Nigel was sure the screaming gels up front were Companions as well.

      Hope that helps…

  17. I don’t have a story of my own, but did want to mention that I read Mr. Griffis’ book The Big Bang recently. Apocalypses are generally not my thing, but this book was gritty, very emotional, and scarily plausible. The chapters devoted to the ordeals of “Molly” and “Alec” are the best Real-People Fanfiction I’ve ever read.

  18. July was the month I annually waged war on the house crickets. I never could figure how they got in, but they would appear in my room, sometimes three or four over the course of the evening, and I would have to take the plastic swatter and stun them, gently so as not to mess the carpet. Then I could pick them up in a tissue and flush them down to oblivion. It got to be routine after awhile, but still an annoyance.

    I was lazier in the kitchen. When a cricket appeared as I was reading in the wee hours of the morning, I would simply take a cottage cheese lid from the convenient stack and drop it on the hapless beast to trap it, then push it out of sight under the unused chair. Probably cruel, but anything that invaded my domain was fair game. Every few days I would lift the lids and sweep up the dead bodies.

    Once as I sat at the table absorbed in my Kindle, I heard a rasping sound, repeated only two or three times, coming from the far corner of the living room. Not a cricket – most likely one of the big clumsy Palo Verde beetles, totally harmless but bearing a shudder-inducing resemblance to a giant cockroach, and NOT a creature I wanted to face down at two a.m. I rationalized that it was probably under one of the sofas, and far away from my room or me, and of a sedentary nature anyway. So I opted to let it live without hassle, figuring it would die of starvation soon enough, and resumed my reading in peace.

  19. What’s xi going on about?

    Make The Made Up Pronouns Stop!
    By Sarah Hoyt
    When I gave birth to #1 son, husband and I were beyond broke. He’d quit his job so he could stay home and look after me through a bad case of pre-eclampsia and this landed his finding-jobs attempts right in the middle of the 91 jobs depression which seemed to make all programming jobs vanish from Charlotte, NC where we then lived. We paid our Visa with our Mastercard for six months until he found another job. Which when you have a brand-new-infant born under COBRA, for whose complicated birth you owe around 20 thousand dollars is … scary. Took us three years to pay off the baby (amid jokes he’d be repossessed of course) as well as the financial damage of that time.

    Which is why when #1 son was three months old, and I got an invitation to attend a – what the heck did they call it? — paid survey session (I think) on baby naming and why we’d named our baby what we had, I jumped at it. It netted us $50 (I think) with which we bought toilet paper and rice if I remember correctly.

    For all that, I think they got precious little from me. When they asked my baby’s name and I told them “Robert Anson” the entire group (100 parents, plus interviewers) stared at me in shock. They asked, hesitantly “Is he named after a grandfather?” and I thought furiously how to explain, then said, “Yeah. Let’s go with that.” After which they ignored me.

    I was the discordant note in a perfect chorus up till then, though. I don’t know what some marketing company wished to know about baby-naming habits, but I’m sure the resulting end was that they were delivered a page that said in really big letters: Everyone is trying to make their kid different by being like everyone else.

    Because I sat there through a couple of ours of outlandish names I no longer remember, save a likely blond (her parents were) named Rwanda (her parents seemed quite unaware it was a country, and thought it was a creative spelling of Rhonda), a weirdly spelled Genesis, where the parents didn’t know this was a book of the Bible, and the truly amazingly spelled Aeaehraeon (pronounced Aaron.)

    And every time the parents were asked why they’d named the child some kind of spelling abortion, they said: “I want him/her to be unique.”

    Because I am a horrible person – who studied languages (and language) in my misspent youth – I kept thinking “Brother (or sister) if that’s your child’s only possible claim to uniqueness, he/she’s going to be a sad little clone.”

    But by then I was already familiar with people’s strange inability to tell label and object apart. …

    1. With her second daughter, my mother decided she didn’t care how common Mary was, she wanted a Mary of HER OWN.

      And then it was Jennifer (after me) who got the name that was everywhere.

    2. It’s like they don’t understand the purpose of pronouns.

      At this rate, we’ll end up calling everyone Rufus Xavier Sasperilla.

    3. The strangest name I have encountered was that of a classmate of The Daughter’s.  The little girl had been saddled with Charstevedril (sp?, I only ever heard it spoken) as a first name.  I was told that she was named after men folk in the family, but never learned more.  I figured the ‘Char’ was from a Charles, and the ‘steve’ from a Steven, but for the life of me I never did come up with a satisfactory explanation for last section.

      Because of my own name, which proved that Momma and Daddy did not consult anyone’s baby name books of that or any other time, which has produced a set piece story which I reserve for in person telling – The Spouse and I choose a name for The Daughter that would not create so much interest/confusion. While not among the most popular names of her generation there were four students out of the twenty-eight with a variation of that name in one of her classes. That created its own confusion.

      1. Wow! I don’t think I have ever had a comment awaiting moderation before.  Wonder what I did to earn the distinction? 

        1. I don’t know if WP may have left information on what caused it for Sarah, but I looked over that comment pretty carefully to see if I could figure it out, and I can’t see anything, UNLESS it might be (without quoting) the first six words in your second sentence. They may be freaky enough in their filter settings to flag that phrase as indicative of child abuse/pornography.

                  1. No more of a biggie than the normal level of federal tyranny. I’ve known I’ve been on their watch list for the past 10 years.
                    Hi guys! What are you going to send the U.S. Marshalls after me for the next time?

  20. Reverend Watkins looked at the range and at the officer showing him around curiously. “I thought you said you would be doing a live fire exercise?”

    “You misheard.” He explained, “What need is to be exorcizing a fire that is live.”

    “Living fire?” he asked in disbelief.

    “Elemental, Watkins, Elemental.”

  21. The corner, far away from the celestial ceiling and all its front-and-center glory, had been shadowed and empty. With a flicker of light and a twist of dark, its half-gloom curdled and swirled till it was evident the slim girl with the short dark hair and the odd-looking bag on a strap had been there all along.
    She listened almost visibly, like so many, to the rolling announcements on the speakers; but when she heard “…everyone moves to his, her, or hir train as…” the rapt attention drained quickly from her face.
    And within seconds, her oddly-obscure presence had been eclipsed by a swirl of dark and a scatter of light, and the corner had clearly been empty all along.

    Elizabeth Angelique Eszter Bennett stood in another Grand Central Terminal, the heavy leather strap of her paratime machine and trompeur-l’oeil and a few other things secure on her shoulder, her hand on the switch and her mind on the trigger, liking what she’d heard. “*Got* to be a place where a girl can retire the old Patented Progressive Pod People Protective Persona and just *live*,” she said under her breath, moving swiftly but unremarkably across the floor toward the exits. The “New York Times” might always show its world through a glass darkly, but it was almost always available just outside.

    She smiled brightly, but not with as much relief as one might have thought.
    For though no one here was likely to recognize it, the song she was humming with such softly fervent delight was called “I Was Born Under a Wand’rin’ Star.”

    (with a tip o’ the hat to Sarah Hoyt, for recent inspirations, and to H. Beam Piper, because obvious, and to Algis Budrys too [“Michaelmas”])

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