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

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


*First, a brief announcement/forewarning: if I don’t put out a post tomorrow morning, do not be alarmed.  I have a fairly harmless and routine procedure at 8 am, which will necessitate leaving the house at something like 6 am.  Now, because I’m very slightly nervous — I always am — I’ll be up probably in the VERY cold light of dawn. So I might put a post up.  Or I might not.  There is no telling.  It’s also possible I’ll put a post up later, or just sleep.  The doctor tells me I’ll probably just sleep. But I never react normally to things.  So…  If you don’t see me here tomorrow, rest assured nothing catastrophic has happened (probably) and I’m likely all right just asleep in the easy chair in front of British Mysteries, which I understand are bad for you, but are my main form of  video entertainment – SAH*

Sunday Book Promo

*Note that 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 DAVID L.  BURKHEADRoaming the Universes.


Epic journeys through space and time

Whether exploring the solar system in the near future or venturing to worlds of magic and mystery, these fifteen stories take you on a journey to other universes.

Included are stories from the FutureTech Industries series, from the Knights of Aerioch, and an assortment of stand-alone tales.

The stories may be short of length, but they are not short of wonder.

So climb aboard and see what these other worlds have to offer.

FROM ALMA T. C. BOYKINImperial Magic: Merchant and Empire Book Three.


*From the author: More than anyone really wants to know about… fur. Good fur. Bad fur. Falsified fur. Exotic fur. I wonder if the merchants in Novgorod ever got tired of inspecting squirrel pelts? that was Russia’s greatest export in the 1100s-early 1400s. (Yes, I know, now I want to read it too – SAH)*

The Great Northern Emperor Returns!

Ewoud Rhonarida needs experience, or so his father insists. Tycho sends his son east, to the trading center of Kehlibar vlee. There, Ewoud must learn to balance deference with duty. When he fails, it costs one man his life and endangers more.

But Ewoud attracts the attention of the Great Northern Emperor. This could be a boon. Or it could signal the undoing of the Galnaar family.

Tycho labored to remain unnoticed. Will his son’s fame be the family’s ruin?

(Also, will the author please stop being goofy?  72k words is NOT a short novel in today’s parlance.  That’s 50k words and under.  72k words is a novel-novel.  Heck, it was even in trad pub.  I had a friend who consistently delivered novels under 70k.  The publisher sighed, made her print slightly bigger and added some bonus stuff at the end.  Seriously.  over 60k no one will argue is a novel.  You indie kids are driving me bonkers.  Also, get off my literary lawn.  Or rather don’t.  I like y’all But start listening to your “elders” dang it. – SAH)

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: cakes

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

  1. No writing prompt for the Vignettes? 😦

    Oh well, I’ll take the top picture as the prompt. 😉

    The boy saw what he accidentally created and thought I really need to get control of my power especially when I’m reading.

    1. He envied his sister. When the creatures demanded cakes, it took less time, and once the batter was mixed, she could do things while they baked.
      Those that wanted him to read a bedtime story were much harder. All the more in that you had to go to their bedside.

  2. The Advocate finished dining with a brandy and dessert while reviewing the applicable laws and rulings on the holoscreen above the table.

    He turned, remarking to his client: “This is truly a wonderful century to be a lawyer as, in today’s world one can have their cake and edict too.

      1. Mizz Red, the schoolmaster reported that the rest of the carp are on a field trip, courtesy the pool-monster and his loch-picking set, so we’ll have to settle for carp-cakes. We stole acquired several cases from Davy Jones’ scratch-n-dent sale, so feel free to launch at Will, as soon as you see him.

  3. Tom wiped the crackling layer of dirt from his face as he asked about breakfast, “Flapjacks?”
    “Be easy as pie, but if you’re in a hurry, have dessert first. German chocolate.”
    “I’ll wash up first. Hey, where’s the soap?”
    “Out of the bars. You’ll have to use the liquid stuff.”

  4. “Cakes, why do you have that knife in your hand?”
    “Why I’m cutting up,” he said. “And I’m ready for surgery.”
    The look I gave him could have killed dinosaurs. “Wouldn’t it be easier to use a blaster?” I asked as I looked at the huge green alien that looked suspiciously like a creature from the Mesozoic era.
    Cakes was on its dead back and getting ready to cut.
    “And, ruin all of this meat?”
    I left him to his fun.

  5. So, I started to create Adelaide Jeanne Taylor, from the ground up.

    Fifteen years old and the child of an expat British banker and an expat American sociologist and an only child. Her name came from her mother’s beloved aunt and her father’s only living cousin, and it had come all from love. The amount of time she had spent in England or the United States could be measured in months at best. The rest of the time? Places with many, many exotic names-Dubai, Luxembourg, Shanghai, Zurich-and life in apartments with square footage measured in thousands of feet and all either with original furniture or rented furniture.

    Did she grow up uniquely? Oh, yes she did.

    Never long enough in any place to really go to a “school”, this was the reason why Charlotte Villeneuve had come into our lives. If you could imagine Mary Poppins with a Rive Gauche accent and a possible work history with the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure as a field agent, long brunette hair with the hint of frost making her all the more exotic and all the more fascinating, and a body that still looked good in her mid-40s, you had a good idea of what Charlotte was. By the very definition of the term, she was my Governess, the tutor and teacher in letters and numbers and history and languages and music. She deplored over my skill with the violin, but was overjoyed with my talents with the harp.

    (Seriously. A few days later, we tried out a violin and I wasn’t bad…but I wasn’t good. But, the store had a full concert harp and I went over to it and before I even knew what I was doing, I was in the middle of playing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Spooky indeed, almost as spooky as “Enter Sandman” on the bagpipes. But, very interesting sounding.)

    Adelaide wasn’t quite a tomboy, but by the time she had hit seven years old, men with hard bodies and flat sleepy eyes tended to be a major part of her family’s life. And, they sort of adopted her, and she kind of adopted them back. And made each of them cupcakes on their birthday and remembered their names and everything. While Charlotte was firm about teaching her pupil how to defend herself in all circumstances, she learned from those men and women how to fight. They let her shoot a nice little Ruger Mk II .22 LR pistol when she had passed her Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française PRIM and JPLT N3 test at nine, (comically) try firing an MP-5 when she hit ten, and a few weeks later shot up quite a few targets with a M4 carbine.

    (Before, I had never been good with languages. After? Ladies and gentlemen, if you wanted a sexist, patriarchal language that makes Mandarin Chinese look loose and sloppy in comparison, learn High Imperial. EVERYTHING ELSE is liberal and polite in comparison. Also, conversely, you develop a really good skill at learning other languages. Picked up French and Spanish in less than two weeks, at the same time I picked up Japanese and Russian and German and Latin and the three major dialects of Chinese.

    (Hilarious comedy note, High Imperial is extremely precise in it’s terms and definitions, in what you can expect for a language that has earned the title of “the language of magic.” A single word in High Imperial can easily be a six word descriptive sentence in English. Just a simple phrase like “I love you” could be translated from High Imperial to about seventy different sentences, from “I adore and think well of my parents” to “I want to passionately take you sexually in every hole you have in alphabetical order.” And, the structure of the language is such that you have to build your sentences right, or it doesn’t work. If you’re speaking in High Imperial, you have to say exactly what you mean. High Imperial love poetry ranges from beautiful platonic adoration to outright violent pornography-and the porn is beautiful in how it flows.

    (Anybody that can pun in High Imperial is a dangerous, dangerous person indeed.)

    Why was she in New York and trying to get into a Catholic high school? Combination of factors-her father had landed the job. A major job with a very high-end (and discrete) investment firm in New York City, which meant they would be there for at least five to ten years, if not longer. And, her parents had promised her that if they could, she would be able to go to a real school, with children her own age, if they could in a country where they could. The experience of her in the first grade in Zurich was one that they did not want to repeat-even if it was a case of “never start a fight, always finish a fight.” And, to have a real home with a real lawn.

    Oh, and to have a pony, but she gave that up when a pony bit her when she was eight.

    (In fairness, it was more of a really hard nibble. But, when you’re eight, that’s kind of shocking.)

    So, they asked around, and someone suggested that they try to get into Saint Thomas of Aquinas Lycée, as it had an excellent academic program, the school had a great record, and it seemed to be the sort of place where a young girl could find peers, friends, and start moving confidently into her life as an adult.

    And, I had to wonder how much of that was the hopes that all the torture was worth something.

  6. Hines glanced over at Egan, “You want cake?”
    Egan stared at the dessert rotisserie, then finally said, “Pie, third rack, on the left.”
    Hines pulled it out, then grabbed a piece of cake off the top shelf, “You don’t like cakes?”
    “Not out of the dessert dryer. At least pie has a little moisture left in it. That cake is going to taste like stale cardboard.”

  7. Always take care when you arrive through a gate, wherever you arrive. Arrive at a bakery and find it full of delectable cakes: vanilla, chocolate, black forest, red velvet, sunshine, splendor, delicacy. Check that the last are metaphorical before you eat if you ever want to leave that bakery again.

    1. It seems to go back a little farther, but became common in the 90s. Part of it was the Clintonian rise in paper costs, and readers wanted more words for their money if they were going to have to pay $7.99 instead of $3.99.

      I include word count in the blurb because a few people have asked me to do so. They will not pay more than a certain amount if the book is too short. Apparently they got burned by authors charging fat-novel prices for short books.

  8. As it happened making that cake was the last action of my old life. As I placed it on the table, freshly frosted, a knock at the door was answered by Duncan. A tall man in a business suit and a faintly familiar blonde woman entered.

    “Mr. Vester, I am Mr. Cole, here as Jess Archer’s lawyer.”

    I looked up surprised. “I don’t have a lawyer!”

    Mr. Cole ignored me and said, “This is Jess Archer, Mr. Vester.” The blonde woman smiled at him and held out her hand. Duncan didn’t move. “She came to me because she was concerned that you have an imposter in your house. Someone claiming to be Jess Archer.”

    Claiming? I had thought my troubles were over after sending my so-called friends away. I was utterly disoriented.

  9. “What a delicious cake”! She said.

    “Thank Jarvis. He did all the work. Oh, he prefers that you take your time tasting his work.”

    “Really? Well it is worth the time.”

    “True, but while he won’t do it to a guest like you, he served me a very “special” cake because I was wolfing down his cakes”.

    “Special cake?”

    “Yes, he served me a cake made from dog dung and I had taken several bites before I tasted what he had done.”

  10. For those really interested in medieval Russian furs and the fur trade, the book is Janet Martin’s _Treasure in the Land of Darkness_. (The novel has a bibliography).

    1. Was recently reading Russia Under the Old Regime which had to discuss the fur trade (some) because of its vast importance.

      1. That’s an excellent book. I’m so glad that I read that before I started reading “academic” histories of Russia and the USSR.

  11. “…And when did you start to suspect that there had been a materials translation problem, ma’am?”

    “When the customer complained about the texture, and said that his order—a plain yellow cake—glowed in the dark.”

    T’mala winced. It was going to be one of those days.

  12. About 300 hours later, Urak and I were in the galley, having caught the baking bug again, when Ra’ing sounded the buzzer and asked for admission.

    “Wait one.” Urak called back. He’s the cook (and our electrician, among other things), so it’s his galley; I just help out. We finished moving the hot rack we’d just taken out to the cooling frame and swung the next batch into the oven. “Come ahead.”

    “What are those?” she asked, pointing to the twelve-centimeter balls stuck to the prongs on the back of the baking rack.

    ”Raspberry sponge cakes” I replied. “An ancient spacer recipe.”

    “He’s not kidding.” Urak added. “At least one lost language has been recovered by translating this recipe. That’s the first batch, so they’re still too hot to eat.”

    “May I … ask another question?”

    “Ra’ing, you’re supposed to ask us questions. What would you like to know about my galley?”

    “Is that” – she pointed to the left – “also an oven?”

    “It is. That’s the spin-oven, for when we want to bake something that has to stay in the pan when we’re in free-fall. All those cookies over the last 200 hours were baked there.” Urak went on, describing the mixing station, which is closed to keep raw dough from drifting around, the spin-oven and common oven, and the cooling racks. “and on the other side, here, we have the pressure oven and the roaster.”

    As Urak swung around to the pressure oven, I could see that Ra’ing was having a problem. The galley, because of the need to move hot objects in free-fall, has a few semi-dead zones where if you’re pointing the wrong way, you have nothing in arm’s reach to grab on to. Ra’ing had come adrift and was in one of them. In her inexperience, she had forgotten the grab stick on her back and was beating her tail rapidly, trying to swim around. That tail didn’t have anywhere near the same purchase in the air as it had in water, which didn’t help.

    And there was real fear in her eyes. Not of getting hurt, I realized, but of being punished for her mistake.

    This clearly was not the moment for instruction. So, instead of reminding her of her grab stick, I hooked one foot into a spring-ring and bent out to her, holding out my left hand.

    “Take my hand, and I’ll haul you in.” I couldn’t say It’s a rookie mistake or We’re not going to hurt you. I didn’t think she would believe me. All I could do was offer my hand.

    After a long second, she took it, and I pulled her close enough to the bulkhead for her to position herself. As she did, I gave Urak a look: please do this my way.

    Urak nodded to me and continued as if nothing has happened. “The pressure oven actually runs at only ten kilopascals. It’s to hold some of the water vapor, so things don’t dry out. It has a vent tube…” he went on, going from the roaster to the regular pressure cookers and the thrust griddle.

    I tuned out since I knew all this, and concentrated on listening for the one-minute alarm and on Ra’ing’s expression. After a while the tension started to fade from her face.

    Soon the one-minute alarm sounded. “Ra’ing, that’s the timer on the oven. Stay here while we swap in the next batch.” Urak kicked off for a ring at the oven bay and I turned to follow, but Ra’ing touched my arm.

    “Thank you.” she whispered.

    “You’re welcome. We’ll be right back.”

  13. Ah, yes, cakes and ale! After the stresses of this weekend, those sound most delightful!

    In the shock of being faced with a third expensive car repair in six weeks, I made an impulsive decision to simply trade in the car for a newer one the mechanic had just finished extensive repair work on. Even went so far as to figure out how to pay for it, and to clean my junk out of the old one, prior to finalizing the sale tomorrow.

    But after 24 hours of sober reflection on the pros and cons, not to mention increasingly severe collywobbles and second-thoughts and wondering frantically where my towel was, I caved. I called my mechanic, said forget the sale, just fix my old one. Better to stick with a 21-yr-old BMW whose history I know, than take on the unknown problems of a 15-yr-old one. Besides, I might as well get some mileage out of the $$$$ I’ve already spent.

    The final decision made, the stress is now slowly receding. Sweet cakes and a bottle of Blue Moon should hasten the process nicely.

    Heck, on second thought, forget the cakes – just bring me two bottles of ale! 😉

  14. Sarah, may the procedure go well and be done quickly! And let the rest of tomorrow be a day of rest.

  15. With the introduction of cakes of yarn featuring long color changes creating color work projects became simpler.  Some are monochromatic progressions.  Others remind me of sunsets or gardens.  Then there are color combinations apparently achieved by reaching blindly into a huge box of crayons.  I often wonder what designers think.

  16. “You’re what?!”
    “Keep it down, Ray,” I hissed, looking about. Nobody was paying attention. “Yes — I’m taking it on the lam.”
    “If you don’t make it, Jack, it’s the outside crew.”
    “Tell me something I don’t already know.” No one lasted more than a year on the outside crew. There was a lot of hard radiation in the system and the Outfit didn’t like spending money on nonessentials like shielded suits.
    “How are you getting out?”
    “There’s a guy’s that been coming into Gertie’s lately — a recruiter.”
    “Who for?”
    That Philopolemos? The Colonel?”
    “But he’s a Zamboni. You know what they’re like.”
    “Sure — they’re all nuttier than a shipload of fruitcakes. So what? It’s still better than scraping clinkers out of ore ships.” The mass of agglomerate I’d been working on was almost loose. I swung the hammer one more time and the handle cracked. “Damn!” I said.
    “That’s coming out of your pay.”
    “And that’s why I’m running. Nobody has ever bought out his indenture from the Outfit. Mine still has twenty-three years to go. So I get offed in some crackpot caper — it’s still better than this.

    Next shift Ray came up to me. “I saw the guy last night — I’m running too, Jack.”

  17. And just that swiftly, the gold rush was on.

    Not the pretty but semi-useless (heat reflectors and chip-wiring all aside) Element 79, but the rougher, heavier-duty and far more potent Element 92, gritty yellowcaked darling of centrifuges and fast-breeders everywhere.
    And since here on Fincannon’s World the deposits were small and scattered but also very rich, the lucky prospector was instant royalty. Subject only to the well-stocked general store, saloon, and outfitter being their High King above.

    “But my mates back at camp want *real* tuna, genuine Albacore in oil in the can caught on Old Earth, and they’re willin’ to pay! They even told me, accept no substitutes.”

    Adrian Donnelly, Napoleon of his own vest-pocket Imperium, shifted his fat true-Havana cigar from one side of his mouth to the other. “Ain’t had any o’ that in for weeks. Got good herring from Denmark and sardines from Poland, mind. If your dust trips the Geiger fantastic, o’ course.”

    “Not good enough. Our claim is 70% oxide raw outta the ground, Oklo grade, prime yellow. They said it’s the real thing for them or nothin’!”

    Adrian shifted his cigar back and fixed him with a glare that could’ve drilled buckysheet like a femtopulse laser. “Then let ’em eat yellowcake,” he drawled.

    There were no carp in Donnelly’s, not so much as a tiny goldfish.
    But for an instant, Terra-pickled herring filled the air like downpouring rain.

  18. “Cakes?”
    “That’s what she said. She wants her next fifteen shipments in 63.5 kilo cakes.”
    “But we’ve been delivering mined lunar regolith as bulk powder in the three ton bin for the past 14 months to her operation from this pit. And the He3 separation hardware doesn’t care if it’s powder. Why does she want it fused into cakes? And 63.5 kilograms? What the frack?”
    “I have no idea. Umm – well, luweb says 63.5 kilos is 10 stone. Maybe a ‘10 stone cake’ is some sort of complicated pun. But HoytCo been our best buyer, and Sarah’s willing to pay a fair premium, so I think we should figure out how to do it.”
    Mark silently turned, hands on the hips of his EVA suit, shuffling in the lunar dust as he turned from glaring at the control room window to look out across the mining pit. He watched the Roomba mining bots moving back and forth as they scraped the pit incrementally deeper, pondering. “Okay, maybe we can sinter the ‘lith with one of the laser rigs. I’ll lock back in so we can try and figure out how to start baking some cakes.”

  19. “Agnes, you’re a dear sister and all that,” Nigel Slim-Howland started, “but…”

    “But what? hissed Agnes.

    “Well, your cakes,” he said. “Are they for consumption or construction?”

    “What’s wrong with them?”

    “There’s this writer from decades ago named Pratchett,” said Nigel, “who spoke of something called ‘battle bread,’ and – “

  20. Jot didn’t ask where she got the ingredients, but the batter Miki poured onto the hot rock gradually cooked into an oatcake. With a “spatula” of twigs, Miki flipped the cake into Jot’s hands. Jot’s cold and hunger left him surprisingly quickly, and he returned Miki’s expectant smile with gratitude.

  21. “I have decided,” Rath said, “to open a bakery.”
    “A bakery? What, you mean like bread, pies, cookies and all that?”
    “No, just cakes. I will call it ‘The Cakes of Rath’!”

  22. The mist had closed in, and the salty air felt icy on his exposed face. Sven paddled his kayak slowly, quietly through the still ocean, with nary a gurgle; only quiet thumps of ice cakes bouncing off the hide cover. His paddles slipping into the water with barely a ripple.

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