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


First the announcement.

The Great 2018 Book Sale is officially closed.  I’ll process whichever of you emailed before today, as well as those who sent checks, BUT… lessons learned:

1- Packaging about 15 orders takes me one and a half days, one of them with son’s help.

2- Mailing costs way more than I remembered.  How much more? WAY more.  For 8 or so it’s $40 first class. Media mail couldn’t be selected for a bunch of them for other reasons.  For Canada 3 books START at $37.  (Yes, I’ll be talking with some of you, because it’s probably saner to refund your payment, unless you REALLY desperately want those books.)

3 – I think this is best done piecemeal, slower and with shipping built in.

So, at some point, in the next 3 weeks or so, there will be a tab with paperbooks for sale and prices and shipping.  They will be signed (OF COURSE) but there will be a two week or so leeway for shipping them.  (i.e. no last minute orders.)  They will include indie editions.  Every two weeks the son will pull them, get me to sign them, package them and mail them, so it impacts minimally on my time.

And that’s it.

Sunday Book Promo

FROM HOLLY LISLE: Tales from The Longview (6 Book Series).


MEET THE LONGVIEW – An Ancient Spaceship Resurrected To Transport Conspiracy

Inhabited by a crew of misfits fleeing nightmare pasts, with a cargo of Condemned slated to die at the hands of the highest bidders, and with a passenger roster made up exclusively of people NOT who they claim to be, The Longview serves the hidden agenda of an eccentric recluse bent on playing puppetmaster to all of Settled Space.

Author’s note: This story was previously published as ENTER THE DEATH CIRCUS.

EPISODE 1: When love is crime, who will save the guilty?

After falling in love and fathering a child, a young criminal refuses to voluntarily throw himself into a lake of fire to gain his community’s forgiveness. So he’s sentenced to death and sold to the owner of a spaceship that buys criminals like him. But the ship and its crew are not quite what they appear to be.

FROM ALMA BOYKIN: Stamme: Shikari Book Three.


Shikhari’s secrets hide in the stars and under the ground…

Auriga “Rigi” Bernardi faces adulthood with relief and trepidation – trepidation because her mother has Great Plans for Rigi’s introduction to society. A plague among the native Staré proves yet another legend true and threatens Staré society until Rigi inadvertently averts a cultural disaster. At the same time, the Crown Navy records communication signals coming from the wrong quadrant of space. Could the two be related? If so, than the ancient death that struck from the stars threatens not only the Staré but the humans of Shikhari as well.

Add in an off-world academic with too many theories and too few manners, and Rigi begins to suspect that adulthood and courtship are not quite as advertised.

Then the giant birds arrive…

FROM RAY ZACEK:  Appalling Stories 2: More Appalling Tales of Social Injustice.


“The dystopian counterpart to Amazing Stories, Appalling Stories 2 takes a grim, hilarious and no-holds-barred dive into the terrible social justice future and its even more terrible present.” –Daniel Greenfield, editor of Sultan Knish

The virulent disease of political correctness has infected the body politic from nose to toes, and even the field of literature isn’t immune. The best way to inoculate yourself against this Social Justice Warrior-carried malady is to read entertaining, old-school fiction that neither pulls punches nor takes prisoners.

That’s where Appalling Stories 2 comes in. The spiritual sequel to the top-selling anthology Appalling Stories, this new collection brings you ripped-from-the-headlines tales of short fiction written to make you laugh, make you cry, and even make you think. Just a little.
In these pages you’ll read stories of humanity’s terrifying First Contact with extraterrestrial life, the horrifying secret behind today’s radical feminist movement, what happens when the wokest man you know discards the last of his White Privilege, and more. From a far-future history of America’s decline to disturbing tales of gun control gone wild, you’re sure to find something that will stick with you long after you’ve closed the book.
And the best part is that you’ll be making an SJW so mad when you tell him/her/zir what you’re reading.
This edition features a foreword by Christian Toto, editor of
“These are original stories which offer humor that will offend our country’s militant social justice warriors. For that reason alone, every American who cares about freedom should buy this book!” –Jeff Crouere, Ringside Politics
“A quick, entertainingly grotesque and provocative read, with plenty of satiric bite ranging from sharp to subtle as its stories blur the line between the unlikely and the uncanny. Two trigger warnings recommended!” –C. S. Johnson, award-winning author and contributor to HollywoodinToto and StudioJake.
Each one of these delightful and thought-provoking narratives gleefully savages trite social justice tropes, leaving your brain steam-cleaned and free from any oppressive groupthink.” –Bookworm, Editor of

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: selection.

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

  1. Reporter: Sarge, you took down Multiple-Man very quickly. He’s an Extreme-Alpha level with multiple power-sets. How did you manage?

    Sarge: Selection problem on his part. He can only use one power-set at a time. I got him before he could select the proper power-set to handle me.

  2. It was twenty minutes, by the bells, before Rod knocked on the door of the ‘closet’ with the shop’s selections. He made two trips, carrying three and two.

    “These are all he half-deeps we have right now.” he explained. “They’re not very popular with the mages. Most of them are selecting standard depth.”

    “I know.” The half-deep was a compromise. She needed to work both healing cadences and artifices, for her first drum. Standard depth was good for the healer cadences, and most new mages preferred them, since they had a Master or a Proven supporting them. The basic healing cadences were easier than the artifice cadences and therefore safer for the candidates. She didn’t have that luxury.

  3. Katigern led, and Leofwin realized that he went to the Master Maximus’s Emporium.
    “This isn’t the cheapest,” he said.
    “This is no time to stint, Leofwin. The gold that pays for your funeral is better spent to prevent it. And no place has better selection this place. Enchanted swords, even.”

    1. That’s a good line: “The gold that pays for your funeral is better spent to prevent it.” Leofwin sound like he’s too cheap for his own good.

  4. Nothing pleased her more than the new assistant’s ability to put order in the room. Sometimes the — woman would grumble about mess, but there were books, notebooks, papers stacked up. And pens in little cans.
    Master Balthasar recommended humans to all his associates. The opposable thumbs made them an excellent selection.

  5. My opposable thumbs are opposing ME. This is just WRONG. And now my other fingers are .lkndfzlijew;jdfzlkfnjm;ladsif’;sdaflksdijf;ildas

  6. “Nothing comes for free. Holding a half hearted shield, curing a scratch, or casting a hangnail curse, you are consuming life essence. At this point, that’s coming from your own blood. Unless you are channeling the effort through someone else’s blood. You can do almost anything with blood. Some incantations require a more specialized selection of tissue. But not many people give up an eye or tooth. A few people who know they are going to die give up more vital organs. Your time at this university will not likely use anything more exotic than blood.”
    Katrina asked, “How does the tissue change if it is taken by force?”
    Master Talas responded, “We don’t know for certain that it does, and not the user.. But we separate ourselves from the demons by respecting those who enable our efforts.”

  7. The young man proffered the box nervously. The label read “Fine Selected Chocolates.” Gwendolyn’s firmware determined “blush event,” and tiny servo-pumps delivered pigmentation.

    Her unique, personalized software dictated her response: “Oh, I’m so terribly flattered, but –“

    “It’s because I’m flesh and blood, isn’t it?” the young man said despondently.

  8. “Mike! Our customers are mad as hell and hanging up on our phone system all the time.”
    “Why aren’t they waiting until the end of the message?” I asked.
    “Because, you dummy, you didn’t give them a selection to terminate the call regularly.”
    Oops. Another egg on my face moment.

  9. Charlotte had pushed the red panic button in her sensorium at the same moment that Syn had stood and drawn her pistol. Charlotte noted with approval that it was a steel .45 Colt Automatic, not a 9mm plastic fantastic.

    Her own pistol was a plasma gun, already drawn and pointed out the window toward the street. The Eldest was a little slower, rising and drawing his own .45 in a more deliberate, implacable fashion.

    “Not one of yours, I take it?” inquired Charlotte.

    “No,” said Syn, sighting down the slide of her gun. “We do not tempt the Fates by employing such technologies. Engines which strain the walls of the plenum lead to tears, tears invite demons. The Veil is there for a reason. Without it, we all die.”

    “I will have words with whoever is responsible for this,” said the Eldest. “Straining the division between planes like this is rare because it is a very bad idea.”

    “The time has come to abandon a bit of operational security, Eldest,” said Charlotte. “My girls Alice and Sylvia are leaving the building. Could I interest you in some larger weapons? I have a selection available downstairs.”

    “I’d be delighted with something heavier,” said the Eldest.

    “I want one of those,” said Syn, eyeing Charlotte’s black fighting stick. “That has possibilities.”

    “I shall provide such implements as we have on hand. My sisters have this anomaly covered, let us repair to the armory. Follow me, if you will, Eldest. Madam Syn.” Charlotte led them to the back of the store and down the stairs.

  10. “Come on,” the Director of Personnel insisted, “we selected for two meter height, maximum bench press, top physical endurance, you name it. He’s a perfect specimen! What more could you want”

    “But he’s dumb as sand,” complained the colonel.

    “Then send him to flight training. Make him a fighter pilot!”

    I based this off many years of USAF and ANG experience, plus a colleague who was once married to a fighter pilot…”

    1. Dunno about physical characteristics but a friend who once worked in local TV (behind the scenes unless things really went to H*ll.. I heard his voice on-air *once* and knew Something Was Bad at the station) had some.. choice.. things to say about the ‘Trans-American School of Broadcasting’ that was then or before then airing ads in the area. He changed it to ‘Transylvanian…’ and I suspect the Transylvanians have every right to be offended by the implication.

  11. Talk to your post office about “Media Rate”. You have to know about it, but you should be able to ship your books way cheaper then first class.

    1. I second that. I did a bit of checking using my own address as a reference. One book would be about $11 by priority mail and $5 by media mail.

  12. They rode, together but otherwise alone, gradually but steadily uphill through the thin morning fog and among the (mostly) dawn redwood trees, on a road that was never less than a wagon track or a gravel driveway, but quite often scarcely more. Climbing slantways up the side of a dimly-seen ridge, surely only one among its brothers and sisters, in a deeply, warmly familiar way.

    Emma found it one of the most restful and… comforting things she’d done recently. The mountains reminded her of home, which of course she hadn’t seen since the xenon and other things had first faded her consciousness away, on that show-offy skygoing almost-longship…

    No, that was wrong. Since the bright thread of the singularity had cut square miles of Los Angeles from the Earth like a cheese-slicer through cheese, back when the madness was just starting; swapping it like a changeling in a cradle for far stranger territory, native to somewhere (she now knew) off in U-space with a larger cooler redder sun.
    LA had never been home.
    Neither with nor without a very different new sky.

    At least Hart’s Field, here, was back in the F-space she’d grown up in. At least it was the same cosmos, or whatever, once again.
    Though those hours in that engine room, miles inside a U-space mini-planet with a heart of platinum and palladium, had been immensely healing too.

    But not like this. Not like climbing a mountain, in the cool (40s?) high air, the near-level rays of the sun shining down past the leaflets through the fog.

    “I can understand why you brought me here, Inga, after… everything. And I do have to thank you for that.”

    Ingeborg Blithgundsdottir, slightly ahead of her just now, turned in the saddle.

    “You’re completely welcome, and I’m not just saying that by habit, Emma. When a volva gets a set of, one of your writers calls it “marching orders’ in her books, there’s not much question about whether to follow the guidance. And I was pretty sure even on my own you *needed* something like this. Life” — and she gestured at the half-seen slopes around them with the hand not holding the reins — “is far more than just phoenikeia and walking from world to world.”

    Phoenikeia. Wonders. Like a Gate; or a knife with a gray blade so thin it simply disappeared when you looked at it sideways, far thinner than a wavelength of light (or so Inga said), able to cut iron chains like they were just more air.

    “What does that word actually mean, exactly? ‘Phoenikeia’?”

    Inga turned around again, and grinned. “New strange things. Wonders. Trade goods, like the Phoeniki have been bringing all this time. Sometimes it’s a bit more specific, to what Gates do, the openings themselves or some of their other effects. Generally it’s anything technological or clever, or even what a tinker might cry, pulling into some little village somewhere.
    “But originally and literally, it simply meant ‘Phoenician things’ — though even back on your world, a long time ago, it meant one of the things they brought, their alphabet.”
    And Inga actually laughed, briefly. “Way back when *that* was a new and a strange thing.”

    And a cool shiver went up Emma’s spine, at that, for reasons she only partly did understand.
    The world around her was probably part of it. What was that song, “Dreams in the Mist” or something? Like that. Eerie. Unco, as her mother called it.
    But the rest…

    “You talk like the Phoenicians are still around.”

    inga had slowed her horse’s walk enough, or perhaps Emma had speeded hers some too, that they could both face each other without looking back.

    “Of course they are, Emma. Trading from multiple worlds, now, instead of multiple home cities, and between the worlds and the stars instead of only over the sea. But yes, indeed they are, and many other peoples and places you’d think of as ‘vanished’ or even ‘forgotten’ — because the Weavers are a very *conservative* lot, it seems. Here in the Daughter Worlds, for instance, New Carthage is hardly ‘delenda est’ — and all despite that long-ago rumble between Hannibal and the Old Romans. Cosmic conservationism, so to say.”

    Inga turned and peered up the road into the fog, and after a long moment continued, still looking up the trail.

    “Do you know what their name means, Emma? Phoeniki, Phoenicians? Simply ‘People of the Phoenix’ — so if *anyone* ever is going to survive, or come back from seeming to disappear, surely it ought to be them. Right?”

    “Uh, the Weavers?”

    “The Gate Weavers is one of the names people use, have been using for a long time. At one level, simply like saying ‘Freyja’s Tears’ to mean gold. But as far as anyone can tell, and is also telling the rest of us, that’s what the name the Gate Weavers use actually means. Weavers. The actual word they seem to have used to everyone ever, period, as best will fit the phonetics or the writing, is Miinarii; but that’s the odds-on guess as to the translation.”

    And she turned and looked at Emma squarely, who’d herself been mostly trusting her horse to pick his own course up the open road. “And they really do seem to have been very concerned with, ah, cultural and ethno-social diversity in the real and literal sense, for a very long time.”

    “Thousands of years back to the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians?”

    “Yes, and longer. New Rome. The Second River Kingdom — think Egypt but the size of Europe, with its Second River draining land the size of Africa. It is truly amazing to stand there and just look across it. Téa-and-Tephi, twin worlds in a mutual-equilateral Trojan orbit, with a persistent Gate between, and a Celtic culture from about as far back as the founding of Rome. But it goes farther.”

    She laughed again, a chuckle that threatened to swell to a guffaw before subsiding, like an earthquake foreshock. “You could never do it, of course, but it would be hillarious to take one of those ‘Golden Paleo-Matriarchy’ scholars over to see the real thing. Their heads, as they say in that Buddhist story about the frog from the well visiting the seashore, would just explode.”

    “it’s that bad?”

    “No, really they’re good people. It’s just that *different* from… wild guesses.”

    And she looked thoughtful, then continued. “But to really answer the question I think you were really asking, there are the Valley People. They mostly do keep to themselves, and it’s also a bit hard to find anything to trade or talk about, but they should be a decent answer to ‘how far back’ — to, at least, the last Ice Age.”

    Inga looked at Emma, as if measuring the impact of her words. “Your name for them is almost the same as theirs. Neander Valley, Neander Thal.”

    “But why? I mean, how? No, I mean both.”

    “You ever seen a movie called ‘Paint Your Wagon’?”

    “Uh, yes?” (Oh My Dear Lord and Lady, Clint Eastwood actually sings in it! was Emma’s carefully-unspoken rest of thought.)

    “We’re the gold dust that falls through the cracks in the floorboards, or our forebears are. The people who would have died or wandered off into lonely obscurity and never been heard from again. In my case, mostly on Viking ships who got too lost to ever get home, or anywhere.
    “And the Miinarii are the tunnelers who catch it, us, and then give us a second chance, just a chance, somewhere else. As if we really were precious as gold.
    “Not a guarantee, a chance. Here you are, live or die. One or all.
    “And if you live, if you prosper, if you thrive… they talk to you, trade with you, invite you to be a part of this wonderful synagogue of Daughter Worlds.”

    “And if not?” Emma managed to repress a cold shudder.

    “If you’re dead, obviously you’re dead. Literally or culturally. Often there’s more than one culture to a physical world, a planet, but still… the Miinarii *are* the only ones who can, as the saying goes, Weave a Gate for you. And it’s not so common for them to have more than one ‘cultivated’ planet in a star system.”

    Inga looked up the road, towards the ridgeline that must be up there. And a bit farther too, maybe. “The real answer to it is, so far — we just never do know.”

    And looked right at her again. “Charles Darwin said, natural selection through the survival of the fittest. Your Niven and Pournelle echoed, ‘Think of it as evolution in action.’ The Gnostics’ Gospel of Thomas said, ‘If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you fail to bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.’ All of it wisdom.”

    And despite the intensity of her regard, her lips quirked in something much like a smile. “And your contemporary popular culture, rotten as melting ice as it is in way too many places, says ‘go big or go home.’ But of course, here you can’t go home again. So there it lies. Like a gauntlet thrown down in challenge.”

    And she smiled more genuinely, if a bit more ruefully. “And now of course, almost by definition, you’re talking to a survivor of that challenge. Odd as it might sound, in context, ‘We are the champions’ might just about cover it.”

    Emma tried hard to keep the disquiet she felt out of her voice. “But what if it’s not just *natural* selection? What if all this careful salvation is just… building a collection? Or even a, a zoo?”

    And looking into Inga’s gray-blue eyes was suddenly like looking into the heart ice of a glacier. “If it is so, then it is so. You’re not the first to think that. But if it is true, that we are specimens kept in cages made out of distance and your laws of relativity, and the only key to the cage is their ability to reach into the deeper dimensions below four-dimensional spacetime, what can it change?

    “There are some who have tried to be the cleverest monkey, the hungriest tiger, the fiercest badger. For show. It has not often gone well with them.

    “Because the Gnostics were still right in that. It’s *impossible* to bring forth something that never really was within you; and it’s still true that if you fail to bring forth what’s been within you all along, it will end by ending you instead.”

    And she smiled, a weary but triumphant smile. “And those who remembered it and did it, won the contest, even if we are nothing but their gladiators of Fate.

    “Nothing resists change for long, nothing stands ever completely still. But the substantial, like the mountain underneath us, like the ancient trees around us, endures. And so do we. Because we stand on the solid rock deep inside.”

    And Emma remembered that for the Norse ice was an element too; and the mist, that curled through the yawning gap between the primordial ice and fire, before most of the worlds were even made. Riding through fog, between the earth and the air above it just a little bit herself. Alongside the abyss, though not quite ever above it.
    And she half-stumbled through saying it, out loud, but she did.

    “There’s a saying about that, from the old sagas from before we left, that you may even have heard. ‘Courage is better than faintness of heart for anyone who ventures out of doors. The length of my life and the day of my death are known to the Three Ladies of the Well since long ago’.”

    And Inga looked ahead again. “The fog is really starting to clear, I think. Don’t get in a rush, but let’s see if we can reach the ridge top about the time it does. The view from up there is utterly amazing.”

    Emma realized a few things more, as she gently nudged her own horse into a faster walk to follow.
    Yes, history is written by the victors.
    But history is made by the survivors.
    More than ever since her life had turned inside-out, she wanted to be one.

    (Based on pre-existing characters, etc. And long, even for me. But “selection” is most of the answer to a friend’s comment / question about long-term cultural stability in this context: how and why it can be. So this prompt really was both well timed, and most useful.)

  13. The reason your Dyce Dare books are “no worries, whenever” is mom got a purty gift certificate from me in loads of time for 12/25. If you ever have a happy (for your readers) fit of madness and do this again, I’m happy to shoot you the printable certificate I made or a variant. It’s no trouble, and a nice warm up for trickier projects. Speaking of… Working at 600dpi for a cheapo home printer turns out to be… painful. There’s 15 hours I won’t get back.

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