Vignettes And Books of All Sorts


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: Assorted.

Paper Books for Sale

Okay, so I couldn’t get the bookplates going (though I might give it one more try.  Will let you know if I can.  It’s mostly a matter of making it fit the labels for printing) but I have paper back books for sale.  The number of copies is indeterminate, as we keep finding boxes I stowed a way in weird(er than normal) places as well as finding boxes we thought were copies of one of the books are something else entirely.  I’m taking the rest of the day to figure out precisely what we have, but you kind of need this earlier.

So we’re going first come first serve and I’ll post here when I run out. I promise to get books in mail by Wednesday if ordered before then.  Keep in mind Media Mail might not get there for Christmas.  Proceed accordingly.

Trade paperbacks, signed (if you want it personalized, PLEASE tell me) are $15, unless you’re ordering more than 2, in which case they’re $12 each.  SHIPPING VIA MEDIA MAIL INCLUDED IN THE US.  SURCHARGE WILL APPLY FOR ANY INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING.  If you need them express to make sure you have them there for Christmas, please let me know and then when you pay add the price of shipping express from 80206 to your address.  We’ll ship them ASAP, but probably only Wednesdays and Fridays, (for reasons of my work time) so beware of that.

Mass Market Paperbacks are $6, except Night Shifters which is $10 (it’s massive.  Also shipping it will be expensive even media mail.)

Because I’m uncertain how many I have, (some a ton, some like half a dozen) and need to go to library downstairs and count some, the procedure is this: send me an email indicating the book or books you want.  Send it to Goldport Press At Gmail dot com.  (No spaces, and substitute at and dot, of course.)

I will answer each day, verify we have what you want and give you the paypal to send the money to.  I can also give you an address to send a check to, but that will slow down the whole process, so probably will make it difficult to have books for Christmas.

So, these are the books we have at least some number of:

Shifter series:


Which is an omnibus consisting of Draw One In The Dark and Gentleman Takes a Chance. Mass Market Paperback, but THICK. Price above.


Gentleman Takes a Chance, the second of the Shifter’s books.  Trade Paper Back.


Third of the Shifter’s Series. Trade Paper Back.


First of the Darkship Books. Prometheus Award Winner. Trade Paperback.


Second of the Darkship books, trade paperback.


Third of the Darkship Thieves Saga, first of the subseries on the Earth Revolution.  Both Trade Paperback and Mass Market Paperback.  (I’d prefer if the mmpb is part of an order of tpb, just for shipping, really.)


Fourth in the Darkship Saga, second in subseries on Earth revolution.  Trade paperback.


Fifth in Darkship Thieves saga.  Trade Paper Back.


Please note these are all I’m sure I have at least a couple of. When I have a chance to explore in the basement (don’t ask) I’ll list the others I might have some of.  I think I’m all out of Shakespeare trilogy, but I might have one or two besides the two copies husband likes to keep on hand.  Ditto Magical British empire, though I might have two or three of each.  Don’t even ask what I have in Musketeer mysteries until I figure out where they went.  I THINK I might have half a dozen of furniture refinishing mysteries, but ditto.

Note that some of those others not on this page have collectible value (as a regular reported he can’t find one cheaper than $50) and I’ll have to figure that out before I price, of course.  Because not totally daft.  So, keep that in mind. Will add to this and do another post, probably Tuesday.


Sunday Book Promo

FROM CYN BAGLEY (yay, she’s writing again):  Hero of Corsindor: Revised and Updated Edition



In the kingdom of Corsindor, the prince is lost, the king is dead, and the queen is holding the reins of government against disloyal nobles. They want a puppet to consolidate their power over the land. The queen has only one ally, who is not human.

There are rumors that the borders have been closed. Plus the long-lost prince, who knows nothing of ruling, is returning. Corsindor is being attacked from within and without by nightstalkers.

Shira, a foundling, trained by the Ahrah, Corsindor’s neighbors, is sent find out the conditions in Corsindor. Warrior and child of another world – her job is to confront the demons and reduce the chaos in the world. Will she survive?

Will she be tempted to take it all?

31 thoughts on “Vignettes And Books of All Sorts

  1. That Saturday, Ian and Kiokyo took me for a drive to Charles’ new workshop and lab in New Jersey.

    Once you get outside of the urban belt of New Jersey, it truly is the Garden State. We drove for about an hour to where there was a small industrial park on the shores of a large lake. Charles had chosen a good location-the corner of the park, two of the walls facing open space or the lake-and we pull up to the main door and come to a stop.

    Kiokyo follows behind me as we walk up to the door, while Ian parks the SUV. There’s a large doorbell switch on the outside and the sign above it says POUND FOR SERVICE. So, I give it a good, hard whack and the sound of what has to be a British submarine dive alarm roars through the quiet industrial park. A moment later, the locks on the door begin to unlock, and Charles sticks his head out, wearing a protective visor and enough grease and soot on his jumpsuit that you can barely tell that it was blue before. “Adelaide,” Charles grins. “Glad you got here early,” and leads us in, closing the door behind us.

    “I didn’t know you had this much space,” I say, seeing the massive amount of machinery he has here.

    “This place? Oh, I do quite a bit of work here,” Charles said modestly, “and use it to keep my cover up. But, the real work?” And here, he smiles a bit slyly and wanting to share the joke with us. “Follow me.”

    We go through the building, and he leads us into a locked storeroom, with one wall made up entirely of locked storage cabinets. “Here we are, it’s just a storeroom, isn’t it? But, if you do this,” and he flips the main lightswitch off, plunging the room into darkness except for what you can see from the window in the door, “you can do this…”

    And he pulls on one of the locked storage cabinets, which pivots smoothly and evenly on hidden counterweight hinges. Once he pulls it away, I can see that there’s a set of bolts in the floor that probably keep the cabinet closed when the light switch is thrown. Behind the cabinet is an active portal, eight feet wide and hissing softly with stored power. “You’ll love what’s next,” Charles smiles, and steps through. WIth a shrug, I follow him through and I’m now standing in a huge room, the ceiling easily twenty feet over my head and as open and as bare as an empty airplane hanger. Doors extend along the two long ends of the room, with very large and impressive signs.

    “Welcome to Vulcan’s Forge,” Charles smiles and turns in place with his arms extended, showing off the entire room. “We’re in the central area of a pocket dimension with a half billion cubic meters of space. Assorted hardware to maintain the dimension, including stealthing and active defense wards. And sixteen separate portals linking us to the outside world. So, if the BATF ever comes and asks us about our gun collection, we shut down the portal and go, ‘what gun collection?’. Don’t have a magical testing area capable of handling anything over five thousand prana-messing around with magic in pocket dimensions at that level is a Very Bad Idea, but I’ve got testing spaces for just about anything else.”

    He leads us down past a number of doors and starts to point out things. “That’s the main armory there, all NATO-gear. If we ever need to equip an infantry brigade, we have enough sterile rifles and machine guns and man-portable ordinance to do it. Body armor and support equipment? Right next door. The magazines have enough stored ammo for ninety days of combat, based upon very intense combat calculations. We’ve also got a full trauma center there, backed up by the best magical support systems the Dawn Empire ever had. If you can get them here with their brain and brainstem intact, we can pretty much give them their lives back.”

    The next set of doors are large. “Armored vehicle bay, all of them sterile. I don’t have any tanks-but give me time…,” and here, Charles get the sly grin of someone about to do something hilariously insane.

    “Charles, where in the hell are you going to get tanks from?” I ask. “And, why do we need tanks?”

    “We might need them one day,” Charles says with an “aw shucks” gesture-hands in his pockets, small little smile, and very interesting body language-that he only uses when he’s being very clever. “And, when we need them we’ll need them. I’ve got an in with the IDF Ordnance Corps, and they could make a good number of Merkava Mk IV tanks ‘fall off a transporter’ if we need them.”

    I stop for a moment. “What did you give them?” I asked, worried and with dawning horror.

    “Several software and hardware improvements to the Trophy anti-missile system,” Charles notes. “A couple of other projects, that Charlotte helped me to set up through the Mossad. That, and I might have done a back hack of the main Hamas cash storage system and was able to get about 90% of the cash there for them. Call it eight billion pounds sterling, little bit over ten billion dollars US.”

    I’m looking at Charles in shock. “Do I have to start worrying about car bombs and suicide bombers?”

    “Hamas thinks that the PLO stole their money and I made very sure to lay all the evidence at their door without turning it into an orgy of evidence,” Charles shrugs. “I won’t make promises, but I will say that they will find it hard to find us.”

    “If they try to blow us up, I’m blaming you,” I waggle my finger at him and sigh. “Okay, what else?”

    “Down this way,” and Charles leads me to a room with a double set of doors and marked FIRING RANGE. “I’ve got lanes for fifty, one hundred, two hundred fifty, five hundred, and a thousand yards in here,” he says as he waves around the room with his hand. “And, the air handling system can simulate everything from dead calm to a Class-2 hurricane with ease. Even multiple air currents. Backstop is a curved plate with gravity shear, so we can test anything up to about 30mm solid slug.”

    He leads us over to a table with several locked black gun cases and ammo containers. “Give me a second to wash my hands?” Charles asks. I nod and he vanishes into the bathroom for a few seconds, coming out with his hands washed and the sleeves of his jumpsuit cleaned off a bit. “Okay, one of problems you have is that you want something more…energetic than bow and arrow,” he begins his spiel. “Mind you, you have the advantage in your sheer strength-you can draw a two hundred and fifty pound bow and do it consistently and fast when fully in your Regalia, and there’s a lot more options for spell effects with arrows than bullets.”

    “Even the longbow that I’m carrying isn’t as good as a rifle,” I point out. “It’s quiet, yes, and I have spell arrows if I need them, but I don’t have the same sheer slam effect that guns do. And, all I need to happen is for me to get stuck in a SATAN field,” the acronym for a Space And Time Anomaly Nullifier, your best way to stop prana uptake, time machines, and allow you to juggle antimatter with your bare hands safely-”and my prana battery runs out and I’m not augmented anymore. And there isn’t a human that can draw a two hundred and fifty pound bow in combat consistently. Not without blowing out their shoulders after two or three shots.”

    “Very true, so I went to the fabrication bay, banged around on the CAD/CAM systems, threw some ideas at the wall, and came up with this,” and here he dramatically unlocks and opens up the smaller of the cases on the table. “This” was a very compact assault rifle or large submachine gun, done in black polymer and a carefully black-coated barrel in the front. The weapon was made of sensuous curves, with very few sharp corners on it, mostly the two rails up front for accessories. A top carrying handle had a holographic sight on it, and the weapon exuded careful manufacture and design. The design of it was so perfect that I could imagine without even trying where I would put my hands to carry it. “Behold, the MN-19 assault rifle.”

    “It’s tiny,” I point out, “if I had to make a guess it’s barely two feet long.”

    “Try twenty-six inches,” Charles pointed out, and pulled it out of the case. Now that he had, I noticed that it had an odd slick glisten to it, nothing obvious but the frame did seem to have the slightest bit of a shine to it, like it was made of threads of a sticky resin. “Barrel length is twenty-one inches and it fires a 5.56mm NATO bullet.”

    “Bullpup design?” I asked, looking it over in his hands.

    “Not exactly,” he says, offering it to me. “No magazine in the gun, action is clear.”

    It take it from him and notice the weight and the heft of it. I almost expect it to feel slick, but it isn’t. It’s almost like I can grip it and not lose track of it, but if I wanted to let go, I could. “Feels odd,” I point out, finger off the trigger and the muzzle pointing away from everyone at the ground.

    “Part of the resin material of the frame is ghost-spider silk,” Charles replies. “This lets it hook into your Regalia more easily and it makes it a lot stronger. The bullet is 5.56mm NATO, but the round is a custom one.” He reaches behind himself on the table and picks up a small grey rectangular block, one end being slightly darker. “The round itself is a caseless one-seven by seven millimeters wide and thirty-five millimeters long. Custom made here, but I’ll have a production line that can make a couple thousand a day.”

    “Like the G-11 rifle,” I said, referring to the experimental rifle built by H&K in the late 1980’s.

    “Well, they had access to ‘80s engineering, ‘80s metallurgy, ‘80s chemistry, and ‘80s CAD/CAM equipment,” Charles shrugged. “I’d like to think that my version is a bit better. The round, for example,” he taps the darker grey end with a fingertip, “this is the gas check and how the primer is held. When you fire it, the stub ejects while the weapon cycles, while the G-11 had some issues with that. Great thing about the stub, it degrades completely into a powder in less than a month after firing. Only thing that doesn’t is the primer and I’m working on it. And the powder is great fertilizer.”

    He taps the top of the weapon. “Has a standard magazine of forty-two rounds. The weapon’s charging handle is here,” and he pulls it off my shoulder to reveal a key in the back, inset in the stock. “Pull that out, turn it any direction one complete rotation, and the weapon’s charged. The MN-19 has a full-length suppressor, gas discharge is from the front of the muzzle, designed to reduce muzzle climb. What makes the barrel fun is that it’s enchanted-when the bullet travels down it, it rides the rifling like a maglev train, never touching but affected by it and also acts as a complete gas check. That way, the bullet never gets any rifling striations. And, if you stick it in a SATAN field, the enchantment fails and the barrel shrinks back to normal, and is fully functional.”

    “How many cycles did you test the barrel for and what’s the twist?” I ask, asking about how the rifling was done.

    “Did five thousand cycles though a SATAN field, in and out with variable duration at all the points of the cycle, and no failures. Rifling twist is one-in-seven, so you might have issues with lighter rounds. Mind you, we don’t use lighter rounds in the ammo we use. 100% mechanical firing action, no electronics, fully vacuum and zero-G rated, nothing that can be affected by EMP. Selector switch is here,” and he taps a switch in front of my forefinger. “Forward is safe, down is single shot, and back is three round burst. Cycle rate for the MN-19 is so fast that in three round burst mode, the third bullet leaves the barrel before the first round fully recoils.”

    He pulls out a full plastic magazine. “So far, I’ve got a nice selection of rounds for you. Got a full metal jacket round that’s pretty much a direct copy of the SS109 in both full power and subsonic, jacketed hollow point, jacketed hollow point with a silver core versus lead, a saboted 3mm silver round, banishment rounds with a built-in enchantment micro-engraved in silver, and a depleted uranium saboted round. The sabots are made of the same biodegradable material as the gas check. Magazines come in pure loads, and a couple of ‘mixed breakfast’ types. Magazine goes on top, from the front, and there’s enough spring loading that when you hit the release button, the magazine pops out without you doing anything.

    “Built-in iron sights, and a EOTech holographic sight on top, with two standard rails on the side. Got an under-barrel mount for an M-203 or M-320 or a FN40GL grenade launcher, but don’t count on that just yet. I might have a 30mm grenade launcher design that would work better, still playing with it and the grenades. This gun is laser-flat out to three hundred yards and I’ve done every torture test you can think of on this gun. Only issue it has is if you try to fire it upside down for more than one magazine,” Charles shrugs. “You fire more than a magazine upside down, the primer stubs will melt onto the action and you have to detail clean it clean the stubs off.”

    I check the feel of it and it feels perfect. “Okay, what are the other problems with it?”

    “You can’t reload magazines in the field, the round is too fragile. Also, every five thousand rounds, you have to do a complete detail clean of the barrel because of the suppressor. There is an issue with cook-off, but you have to put a lot of rounds through it. We’re talking in the range of a thousand round drum magazine on full auto before you get a cook-off. Last thing, it’s not cheap right now due to economy of scale. If I was equipping the JSDF, cost would go down a lot.”

    “And the other cases?” I ask.

    He opens the next biggest one. “MN-20 squad support weapon,” revealing a nearly identical weapon with a slightly longer barrel, a built-in folding bipod, and some minor design differences. “Pretty much a MN-19 with two more inches of barrel, heavier quick-change barrel, and designed to easily use a one hundred or two hundred and fifty round drum magazine. I mean, the MN-19 can use them, too, but it makes it a lot bulkier. Heavier, too, but it makes for a great squad support weapon. Selector switch goes from single shot to full auto, rather than three round burst.”

    The next case is a much larger rifle of the same design, with a scope on top. “MN-21 battle rifle, it’s the same weapon as the MN-19 except in 7.62mm NATO, and out-of-case accurate enough to be used as a designated marksman rifle. I don’t think you’ll be carrying it often, it’s not that light. Same ammo types for this weapon, including a full match-grade full metal jacket round. Got this one mounted with a NightForce NXS scope and we’ve done range testing with it-nail driver at nine hundred yards, easy.”

    Charles flips open the last case to reveal something like the MN-20, but larger as well. “MN-22 light machine gun. Basically the MN-20 in 7.62mm NATO, same ammo drum options and quick change barrel. Great support weapon if you need a good machine gun, and just as accurate.”

    Charles shrugs as he opens up the ammo cases. “9mm is the size limit so far for this design of caseless round, and can’t use a multi-barrel action with it. So, if if you wanted to have your own version of the 12.7mm sniper rifle, I’ve got every model of Barret in the armory you could want. And, don’t have a pistol caliber caseless weapon yet, still working on that.”

      1. Letting Milo and Charles work together would be fun to watch.

        From the Moon.

        (Milo is the mad scientist, Charles is of the “explain, explain, oh crap” school of engineering.)

  2. “You sure you want Johnny reading that? ‘Assorted tail’ sounds like it might be an orgy.”

    “It’s NOT ‘assorted tail’ you goof, but ‘A. Sordid. Tale.'”

    “Goof? Pshaw! I think we better read it first, ‘sordid’ means it still might be… problematic.”

    “Hrmm, right, maybe Johnny shouldn’t be reading it.”

  3. Hey, y’all! The actual real life sleuth of Colorado Springs, Lt. Joe Kenda, has his self-narrated autobiography on Audible. And today it only costs three bucks!

    It is pretty darned good, but your library may also have it for free. Either way, the man’s storytelling style is good, and some of his advice is priceless. Also he is something of an Odd who made good and even managed a good family life (partly because his wife is a tough lady herself), so check it out!

  4. “Hey, Miguel, Theodore Hanson here. I have a problem. I asked your sales associate to send me some custom manufactured alleles for my crop experiments. Today I got a package of Versace denim pants.”

    “I see, though you have to admit that you got designer jeans of a sort, Ted.”

      1. Having realized that the young man ahead of me yesterday was wearing one shirt with right side one pattern and left side another contrasting pattern (both colors and design), it is possible that the pants are indeed assorted. They have two legs, right?

  5. Even forewarned, even it beng (for once) her own free choice, Emma found it hard not to gasp or flinch as the Gate aperture dilated in front of her, the sun-bright thread of its boundary wiping up and across the timeless landscape of the world around her and replacing it with another.

    Light-years, surely, more likely hundreds or thousands or more. Traversable in a single step, perfectly unparadoxical thanks to (of all things) Isaac Newton’s “absolute and invariable time.” Making her a “walker between the worlds” in literal, physical fact, on her own two feet.

    Now she saw olive groves and well-tended fields and hills, and a great lake to the horizon behind them all, and a smiling woman in a green dress before.

    “I bid you welcome, Emma Lancaster, in the name of the Republic in Perpetual Exile, and offer you safe conduct here and free passage to return.” Her accent was light but sounded vaguely Italian, which made sense…

    “I accept your hospitality and vow my good conduct in exchange.” Even with Inga coaching her first, it was truly odd; and surprisingly easy.

    “And beyond that I ask you only not turn around or look behind you till I say.”

    “Why?” Emma couldn’t help being as blunt as her mountain blood led her.

    Which brought another smile. “For assorted reasons. Ones I think you’ll see.”

    “Done.” Somehow that came naturally too. As did the long stride that took her right through the plane of the Gate. (One small step for a graduate student, one more giant leap across space-time..?)

    The red-gold-haired woman’s smile was almost dazzling. “It’s good to meet you, Emma. I am indeed quite properly called Aurelia Antonia Patricia de Tyrrhenius, Senator Pro Tempore of the Republic of the City. But if it helps, you can follow the custom of your people and call me Toni instead.”

    Emma just smiled back; it seemed the thing to do.

    “And you,” she’d turned to Inga, “dread barbarian of the northern wastes, how’s life been treating you?” Who’d crossed through the Gate herself, meantime.

    “Most strangely since our estranged Norse cousins ripped the Veil from side to side, yet quite well overall.” She made it sound like thousands of years of carefully hiding the Daughter Worlds from Old Earth, uh, going up in smoke from a Gate-assisted quasi-Viking raid on Los Angeles, was no more trouble than your cat making a puddle on your floor. Ah, diplomacy, and diplomats.

    “Emma, by your leave I’ll dismiss the Gate.” It was so *odd* to be *asked*, by a New-Roman almost-Senator or not. She just nodded. If she couldn’t trust Inga by now…

    Who looked sideways at her and said, “Just think of holding a grapefruit at arm’s length in front of you. No, really, it’ll help.” For which Emma gave her a blank look to end all blank looks. As the Gate’s bounding singularity flashed softly away behind her.

    “Everybody else calls us New Rome, we do it ourselves a lot. Our first world is formally called Aeneas, our other homeworlds Romulus and Remus. This is Remus, these are my family’s holdings here. And all you need to do is turn around to see the other half of our Twins…” She looked impish but alert…

    And Emma looked over her shoulder. Then turned around as she almost, but not quite, ducked. And *really* wanted to “hit the deck” instinctively.

    Because hanging in the blue sky, just above the afternoon sun, was a world like Earth seen from some picture-taking spaceship or satellite.
    Just about as big as a grapefruit in your hand. Huge, a dozen times the full moon and more, far bigger than the dazzling disk of the sun.

    “Twin worlds,” said Emma, holding up a right hand filled only with a very well-imagined grapefruit. “Tide-locked, *gotta* be tide-locked 1:1, or else… bad.”
    In awe, even more than for the Gate, at the subtlety and majesty of the world.

    Toni’s smile now *was* simply dazzling. “24-hour mutual orbit, purely geostationary. Eclipse every day. Which you’ll see, if you wish.”

    “But *why*, uh, Toni? Why me? I’m just a mountain girl from up past Asheville.”

    “Oh, assorted reasons. But someday, I dare hope, you’ll be Earth’s ambassador to us.”

    (Yes, based on pre-existing characters and events. But at least I’ve been revisiting the world-building… including what that eclipse will look like.)

  6. “Just for you, a cross world cruise!” Aunt Ida smiled. “The good deal!”
    Jack looked at the description. “Assorted worlds.” The only thing you could count on was something that the ship could float on. But it might be liquid gold, or liquid helium.
    He resolved on a nasty flu.

  7. Would amazon be a decent place to publish my book? Certainly I’d have to create a website and take other steps to advertise it, since traditional publishing doesn’t work for me. I was merely looking for your thoughts on this subject.

  8. Currently restricted to snail mail & checks/money orders. Don’t see an applicable address here or at the Goldport Press website. Looking to nab trade PBs of Through Fire & DS:R. To where do I send my money, & to whom addressed?

      1. Just sent a large PO to the Goldport Press e-mail. I don’t need any of these before New Years so no worries about media mail.


        1. um… nothing in that one.
          Email goldport press at Gmail dot com.

          And I haven’t answered since midday yesterday. And probably won’t till tomorrow. (Am not at home right now. Also feel cruddy.)

          1. Not to worry. If I get what I want, it is well. If you sell out of ’em before you get to me, then mazel tov for you & I’ll catch ’em later. As I said elsewhere, heal Sarah 1st.

  9. The air shimmered and grew slightly translucent. A little thicker. Good. Broader. Broad enough to shield two, then three people. Just a little more! And with a hiss the air returned to normal, the spell broken, leaving Katrina del Mar vulnerable to whatever an enemy might throw at her.

    “Have you ever seen Hell boil out of the desert? “ belted out Master Talas. “Is that what you’re gonna do when it does?” It was a regular chorus of his, delivered at high volume. He followed up with a vigorous buffet with his padded cudgel. He was neither a terrifically inspiring nor inspired magics teacher. Katrina’s birth to a backwater knight guaranteed her a spot at university, but her family’s poor finances and her erratic magics performance, like the one just badly finished, had not impelled her into the top tier of instruction.

    Her family had not always been poor. Seven generations ago, her ancestor had begun a parabolic arc from commoner, through the ranks of the nobility to Grand Duke of Amarath. Her great-great-grandfather had succeeded as a one of Amarath’s twenty-seven dukes, but had not won a duchy for his heir. Her great grandfather, grandfather, and father had spent more effort enjoying the assorted pleasures afforded to counts, barons, and knights. Leaving Katrina with a tarnished legacy, a spot at university, a fitful control of magic, and the clothes in her trunk.

    Things could be much worse.

  10. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to be a burden on you.”

    “Everybody has to start their education somewhere, Ra’ing.” Dran spoke firmly. “And I don’t plan to have you idle, either. There’s always an assortment of odd jobs and three-handed tasks aboard ship. What I expect you to do, when lessons are over, is to visit occupied stations. You can ask questions about what you see, help out when asked, and try out the equipment – under supervision of course. We’ll find out what you’re good at, you’ll pick up skills that will serve you if you do decide to move on, and you’ll learn things you never had the chance to in that d—m fish tank.”

    She didn’t look like she believed us, but she nodded.

  11. It is hard to admit that your life has gone off-track, but that was what Tom concluded. His youthful thoughts of leading a life of wild adventure had turned into the reality of selling real estate.

    It was not that he wasn’t good at his job. “Buying a house is like auditioning back-up singers for a band,” he would tell his clients. “You are the leads, and you want a back-up that enhances your sound, not one that distracts or holds you back.” He seemed to have a knack for finding homes whose sound matched that of his customers, that matched their dreams and their aspirations.

    But it was always their dreams. Their aspirations. Their life. Never his.

    What did he want to do?

    And then it came to him: he wanted to be an author.

    Sipping tea in Parisian cafes. The travel to scenic villages. Watching punters on the Thames. The tea parties with the elite. Yes, that was the life he was meant to have.

    He resigned from his job the next day.

    He bought a proper tweed jacket, a scorched beechwood walking cane and, most importantly, an elegant fountain pen. He was all set.

    All that was left was the ideas.

    Neil Gaiman was doing quite well for himself, he thought, so he wrote a polite letter to Mr. Gaiman asking him where he obtained his ideas. Alas, after weeks of watching his letterbox, all that he received was a form letter thanking him for his note and apologizing for Mr. Gaiman’s inability to respond personally.

    It made sense, Tom thought. After all, he probably doesn’t want the competition.

    It used to be that the telephone company would put out these convenient books listing all the local stores indexed by what they sold. It would have been easy to just look up “Ideas”. Alas, those days have come and gone, and Tom found that the internet was just not as helpful.

    Publishing agents rudely told him that finding ideas was his job and refused to help. An ad on craigslist proved fruitless.

    Tom started to worry.

    One afternoon he spied from his bus a store entitled “The Idea Centre”. He eagerly dashed inside only to discover that the store was actually some kind of home decorating establishment. The sales staff became rather cross at him when he pointed out that their name was rather misleading. Truthfully, Tom was rather cross himself.

    Tom nipped into the corner store for a snack and there he saw it. On the rack of flower seeds, next to the begonias, there was a little envelope labelled “Ideas, assorted”. Five quid.

    Cane swinging jauntingly, Tom strolled into his new life.

  12. Totally off topic, but this was posted at yesterday.
    It’s the next to last line:
    Douglas DCDecember 9, 2018 at 10:45 AM

    Development brings education- education bring population reduction. Modern farming even if it is one person on a Kubota, makes for less children. Girls are educated. boys are educated. Less people are better more stuff to go around. Fracking is one of the blessings given to mankind. The Paris accord was to keep dark skinned people under the thumb of the Globaist UN.
    Their biggest fear is:Healthy, happy prosperous dark skinned people…
    Habibtat loss is moot if the Population is now reduced because you don’t need the kids to pull the plow…or Ma.
    Get that done we are on our way to the stars..
    Next- one day a robot or human explorer will kick over a rock on Mars or an Asteriod and exclaim;
    Great Mother of Heinlein! GOOOOLLLD!
    Now let’s light this candle…!

  13. If you just need finished art tweaked to fit a standard letter-sized paper/sticker paper (4 plates to a page) I can do that for you tonight. Just let me know the file format and resolution wanted.

  14. You want to find a sordid affair? Look no farther than a collection of ill-assorted stars from Hollywood; a wretched hive of scum and villainy only equaled by those in Washington D.C. You can often find the two sets comingled. Politicians can become entertainers, and vice versa, like Ronald Reagan.

    (Yea, I know. It’s a bit forced.)

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