Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and 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 at outlook dot com.  One book per author per week. Amazon links only.-SAH*

FROM BLAKE SMITH:  In Pursuit of Justice: A Novel of The Garia Cycle.


Garia and the East Morlans have been on increasingly rocky terms for years, and when Téo and Zara ran away together, they touched off the powder keg of war between their kingdoms. Now they have to fight for their lives while learning to live in a foreign land.
In the Morlans, Hanri and Alia are facing their own sets of problems. He must control and divert the single-minded vengeance of his father King Reynard, and she must sort the gold of information from the dross of gossip in a palace swarming with rumors. It could mean the difference between life and death for all of them

FROM PAM UPHOFF: External Relations (Wine of the Gods Book 37)


The Granite Peak Colony has been discovered, lost rediscovered, fought over . . . And now the Department of Interdimensional Security and Cooperation has informed all parties to come to an accommodation peacefully–or they’ll impose one.

Izzo Withione Alcairo had been appointed Director of External Relations and told to clean up internal corruption and nepotism. Now it looks like he’s going to have to do it while engaging in cross dimensional diplomacy. With a pregnant wife, a gothic horror of a residence, and a sexy young princess throwing herself at him, it’s going to be an interesting first year.

J L CURTIS:  The Grey Man- Generations.


A new generation carries on the legacy of service in the latest Grey Man novella…

Marine Corporal Jace Cronin, a scout/sniper, survived insurgents in the Philippines, only to be handed an even greater challenge: the Naval Academy. He won’t be headed in alone, though. Esme Carter got her own slot and is ready to go head to head with him over who’s the best. They’ve got their eyes on lieutenant’s bars and pilot slots, and woe betide anyone who gets in the way!

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: useful

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

  1. “Well, that was useful.” he said as the mushroom cloud raised over the city in the distance.

  2. “How many minions do you have?”

    “Truly thinking ones? Eight with this rogue minion. I only create thinking ones if they’ll be useful in the future. If they can think, then I don’t want to kill them. Of course, as the rogue minion shows, I’m not sure if I can kill them once they start to think.”

  3. The witch strode across the well-kept, manicured lawn, casting attack spells as she approached. Her flying monkeys were a constant distraction, attacking from above as we tried to defend ourselves.
    “Guns aren’t working! Don’t we have any useful weapons?”, the sergeant yelled.
    Inspiration struck – I turned on the sprinklers.

  4. Pam –

    I assume that’s Izzo depicted in the cover art of External Relations? Because I had a different picture in my head, so when I saw him I thought, “Huh. I didn’t know he’d be played by Martin Freeman in the movie.”

  5. “But I’m just a pizza delivery guy,” I protested.
    “Too bad for you. You will be useful in my research. Inventive enough to get past my guards, traps and moat, you are ingenious. You’re not my usual test subject, I admit, but you can still be of some use, fool!”

  6. Actually from a chapter in the first book!

    The 3×5” card exercise was “interesting,” in the sort of way that involved possible future therapy. After Lucinda takes the cards away, she tells us, “Come back here after lunch. You have to have lunch with your partner, and the cafeteria staff knows who your partners are.”

    As Sayuri and I walk towards the cafeteria, I ask, “Would you mind if we found a friend of mine and had lunch with her?”

    Sayuri considers this and replies, “Not at all, Taylor-san. This is only my second time on campus.”

    Not sure how to respond to that, we go into the cafeteria and get lunch-an unimpressive bland “burrito” that is more like a sandwich wrapped up in a tortilla-and I start looking around to find where Emily is. I can see Emily’s hand in the air, and the two of us come over to the table, where Emily is sitting with her partner.

    Her partner being Madison Tropolie, who was grinning like a madwoman with her best friend Kimberly and her partner sitting beside her. “Ade!” Madison grins and waves at the open space in front of us, “And her new friend. How are you doing today?”

    I remind myself that if I get in enough trouble, I’ll be expelled. And it’s difficult to recruit people when you can’t get access to where the people you are recruiting are. “Pretty good, just got started with my Tutor. My apologies, Miss Tropolie, this is Miss Suisha. My friend here is Miss Meeks and Miss Tropolie’s friend is Miss Townsend.”

    “A pleasure to meet you, Sui,” Madison smiles and I can feel Sayuri stiffen up beside me. It’s feels like slowly colliding with a wall to my left as Sayuri has her name said improperly.

    “My full name is Sayuri Suisha, Miss Tropolie. I prefer to be called Miss Suisha,” Sayuri replies coldly.

    Madison looks at Sayuri, giggles, and says, “Sure, Say. I’m glad to have met your friend, Ade, we’re going to be roommates this semester!”

    And, just as I was about to take my first bite of the burrito, I know it was going to taste like ashes in my mouth. “Congratulations,” I reply as calmly as I can. “I’m glad that you and Miss Meeks will be spending the semester together.”

    “Thank you,” Emily says just loudly enough over the noise of the cafeteria. I’m trying to eat as Madison tries to draw Sayuri out, and Sayuri is just ignoring her. Occasionally, I’m fielding a question from Kimberly and her partner, Emma, about myself, and the half-hour passes quickly. I put my tray and plates in the right bins, and Sayuri is waiting for me outside of the cafeteria.

    “How do you know Miss Tropolie,” Sayuri asks as we start walking back to the dorms.

    “We were at the same table for lunch during testing,” I replied. “I haven’t heard or seen her since, and she had my phone number.”

    There’s a long, drawn out pause and I suspect that Sayuri is thinking about what she is going to say. “Taylor-san,” Sayuri begins in Japanese. “In what would be for an American the third grade, I was at a boarding school in Kyoto. In my dorm was a girl, Hasegawa-san, and she was a very, very friendly girl. If she found you to be useful. If you did not, she would destroy you with rumors and lies and bullying. I saw her do it, and it was like looking at Hasegawa-san again when I saw Tropolie-san.”

    She paused for a moment, then continued. “Meeks-san…she looks like a victim waiting for somebody to use her.”

    “Emily is my friend,” I said. “Do you have any advice on how to help her?”

    “Assassinate Tropolie-san?” Sayuri says in a tone of voice so deadpan that I know she’s playing with me.

    “It would probably get both of us in trouble with the headmaster,” I shrug.

    “Which would get us both kicked out of the Lycée,” Sayuri notes.

  7. Fifty, shmifty.. this happened:

    The Hemingway Daiquiri calls for grapefruit juice. It takes the juice of, at most, half a grapefruit. And that flavor is masked by rum, sugar, and lime. $HOUSEMATE, for some bizarre reason, cannot taste the innate evil inherent in grapefruit. “Yummy grapefruity goodness” he declared. I took a slug of Jeppson’s Malort, useful for clearing that vile idea from the mental palate. “This tastes better,” I explained.

  8. “I’ve confirmed it, skipper. All of the new plants are contaminated with Phytophthora. The hydroponics will have to be dumped, sterilized, and reseeded.”

    “Is there anything useful in the cargo?”

    “No. It’s all reference samples, for algae.”

    “I see.” He keyed the bridge. “Alexis, this is the captain.”

    “What can I do for you, skipper?”

    “We have to divert. Set up a course for the nearest trade base or emergency station, please.”

  9. “It would have been useful to specify which SIZE of dragon you turn into,” Lonnie grumbled, peering at the grimorie. “Now how am I going to defeat the library warlock? Gnaw his ankles off?”

    1. “Ah, here’s your problem” said the older wizard.

      “The Old Wizard Language has different words for different types of dragon. The word you used is better translated as mini-dragon. I’ll write out the words you need for larger dragons along with how big the dragons were. You don’t want to turn into a dragon larger than the library.”

  10. “Is studying fairy tales considered useful?”
    “Oh, no. Just interesting. Like the Slovak Rumpelstiltskin is a beautiful lady who spins the gold from her own hair, and light from it fills the cave where she lives.”
    “It doesn’t sound the same at all.”
    “All I can say is the Slovak woman who talked about it said it was the same. But consider what they do with the girl who wants human feet in Rusalka. It’s the prince who dies!”

  11. We are, of course, bound by treaty to discover why so many dragons suffer severe dwarfism.
    But it is useful. They hold down clerical jobs, for salaries in gold. They may look oddly small compared to the furnishings, but they can climb the drawers if necessary, and their handwriting’s good.

  12. Jot watched Miki raise her arms in the dusk. A gentle green glow appeared among her fingers, gradually brightening to yellow. Presently, hundreds of fireflies, attracted by the glow, orbited both of them.

    “Beautiful, huh?” Miki giggled.

    “I suppose,” said Jot, “but why –”

    “Must everything be useful?” said Miki.

  13. “I’m puzzled by the way Gwendolyn looks at me,” said Nigel Slim-Howland. “It’s almost as if she’s, well, making eyes.”

    “I’ve not noticed, sir,” said Jenkins patiently. “I do not believe she ever received updates for affectionate behavior. Gwendolyn, like myself, was designed to be a useful servant, nothing else.”

  14. Sometimes a witch didn’t have as much in the way as magical advantages as the other women, especially when one is stuck in traffic, in the rain, in an SUV, with a colicky baby in his baby capsule, and a massive pile of groceries bagged up in the trunk.

    “I wish teleportation spells were more useful.”

  15. He stared in awe at the racks of left- handed screwdrivers and golden rivets, the shelves filled with tins of striped paint and elbow grease…and was that an actual sky-hook in the corner? And a salute trap!

    “And they said hunting you wouldn’t be useful,” he said to his companion. The snipe, its leg caught in one end of a Chinese finger trap, just gave him a resigned warble in reply.

  16. “I think,” Aaron said, “That given all the possibilities, we should both carry a survival kit.”
    “I’ve always been okay . . .” Paige said.
    “Something we can pawn for whatever currancey a world uses,” Aaron said, running a hand through his already rumpled hair.
    “You think Father can mess up money?”
    “Something always useful: old silver. And yes, judging from evidence, Father can mess up anything.”

  17. “What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen dragon?”
    “What do you mean? Eastern or western dragon?”
    “Why do you ask?”
    He carefully kept the package hidden behind his back. “No reason in particular. It would just be useful to know.”

  18. Once upon a time there was a young boy who wanted to become an engineer. He wanted to invent, design, and build things that were useful to people. Alas, the poor lad lived in a country where the leaders determined whether something was useful or not; not the people themselves.

    1. “You shall be a sweeper of streets” his career counselor informed him.
      “But I hate using a broom” the young boy replied. “I’ll build a machine that I can drive that will sweep the streets faster and better than anyone with a broom.”
      “You are not allowed to do so” intoned his counselor. “it is against the law.”
      “Then I’ll have the law changed” said the young man.
      “You can not.” Replied the counselor. “Smarter people than you have decreed it must be, and there is no way you can change that.”
      “Then I’ll go somewhere else where I won’t have to be a street sweeper.”
      “I am sorry. But you will not be allowed to leave, for someone must sweep the streets, and you are the only one who has been chosen for that job.”
      “I’ll leave anyway. You can’t stop me!” exclaimed the young man.
      The counselor sighed. Every so often he got someone like the young boy. Head-strong, determined, far too smart for his own good. It never ended well for them. And frequently, the job they were chosen to do would go unfilled until the next generation was old enough to do it.
      “On the bright side” mused the counselor, “Maybe my family will be chosen to have another child to replace this one when the state disposes of him.”

  19. It was a dark and story night, but that bears no relevance to the tale ,simply fills it to fifty words.
    “Hey Mario, have another slice of da pizza” he said.
    I shook my head.
    “Come on pizon, have another”
    I shook my head again
    “What’s da matter, youse full?”

  20. I hope that none of my fellow sorcerers ever have an apprentice like Figby. The grief he caused me…

    There was the love philter. Needless to say, he got the proportions wrong and half the young men and girls of the town found themselves before the magistrate for assorted breaches of the peace.

    And then there was his attempt at the Philosopher’s Stone. Being Figby, of course he couldn’t simply fail — but really, turning lead into…tapioca pudding? (I loathe tapioca pudding.)

    The last straw was his (unauthorized) foray into black magic. Not so much dealing with the Devil — that was to be expected — but to be given a rhinoceros as his familiar? The damn thing ate me out of house and home and in the end it took three exorcists, an archbishop, and a gang of men from a traveling menagerie to get it off the premises.

    So I put a shrinking spell on him, and a flesh-to-stone spell, and now Figby leads a useful existence as a paperweight.

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