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



FROM ALMA BOYKIN: Merchant and Empire: Merchant and Empire Book Four.


Do Not Waken the Gods…

Tycho Rhonarida spent his life blending in and staying out of notice. Now he travels with the Great Northern Emperor’s Progress, the only southerner in the company. The farther from the Free Cities they travel, the more and more corruption, warped magic, and unrest the emperor discovers. Tycho senses something very wrong, something coming from the kingdom of Liambruu, something only he can recognize. What has King Sanchohaakon done, that even the gods take heed?

Tycho Spellbreaker the emperor named him. Now, Tycho must balance his duty to the emperor and his desire for commercial success. He who has avoided notice for so long, the only man without magic, may be the only person who can see the truth and stop Liambruu.

When the gods of the north walk, the world trembles.

FROM DAVID BURKHEAD:  The Unmasking (Dhampyre the Hunter Book 1).


No sane person believes in vampires.

And that’s exactly the way the vampires want it. For centuries vampires have existed among us, hiding solitary in the shadows, preying on an unsuspecting humanity. Secrecy is their weapon and their security. In times past when humanity discovered them, vampires relied on their other weapon–fear–keeping humans too terrified to use their superior numbers and ability to walk the day to exterminate the vampires.

Dani Herzeg is a dhampyre, born to a vampire mother for the express purpose of serving as an aid and daytime guard. Instead, she hunts vampires. Only now some vampires are no longer hunting alone. Combining into gangs and going on bloody killing sprees, almost uncaring of keeping the secret of their existence from the larger world.

With Indianapolis police detective James Ware her only ally, Dani must try to stop the bloodshed before humanity learns the Secret and vampires launch a campaign of terror against the human world.

Or is it already too late?


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: winter

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

  1. so far here, Winter has been fairly mild. Though we got snow a few days back and it then rained for some time, then dropped to below freezing.
    Not fun. Yesterday, it was a fun rain shower that flash froze, My street and avenue were black ice. I got a thumbs up from a guy in Chevy for my keeping it off the curb when 14 mph was too fast for the corner. Was good warning to them the corner they were approaching was not as it looked.

  2. Idris Newman looked around the restored main hall of the Ancient Fortress in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

    Turning to the Meta-Servants Jarvis and Grannie Agatha, he said “while Georgia winters aren’t as bad as northern winters, I want my new home to be ready for winter”.

    Grannie Agatha nodded and said “We’ll get Newman Keep ready for winter. But winters now are nothing compared to the winters that the Keep got during the last Ice Age”.

  3. Oooh, more Merchant and Empire! *rubs hands together*

    After work. I shall read it as a reward after work.

  4. Ogier’s breath turned white on the air, but breathing did not hurt.
    He inched across the snow, which crunched under his snowshoes, but did not yield.
    It glittered in the sunlight. He made out the next gate and headed out before sunset could reveal how cold it grew at night.

  5. If the book had not shrunk, Snowdrop would have been set. She could just have pointed out that being shrunk to no bigger than the flower she was named for, she could hardly have opened a book.
    If it had shrunk proportionately, the work would not have been too bad to open it up and page through.
    It was the awkward size that did not make it impossible that she hated. Even when the butterflies did go free.

  6. The Sovereign Prince of Übergachelschmatterstein was unhappy. It was the depths of January, and he and his wife Rebecca were on the Riviera, far from the howling wasteland of their home. But he was unhappy. A waiter asked a family retainer why this was so. “De Fürst misses de winter.”

    50 words, and I apologize for this. 🙂

    1. I…That’s… wow. I’m not sure if we have carp large enough for that one. *goes to check in-house missile inventory and space-station supply list*

      1. Yes. We have carp large enough to make the Leviathan look like a minnow, and it’s not quite THAT bad.

        However, it is a real pain to load up.

      2. It’s been a long several weeks (protip; don’t stand on two layers of wet tarps if your back is sketchy at best), and I’m feeling really slow. Whatintheheck is the carpworthy pun I’m missing?

          1. Ah, thanks! I was going through my ancient German trying to find the pun. Managed to miss reading Rebecca. OTOH, after reading the plot summary, I’m not sorry to miss any of de Winters. 🙂

    2. I need a good necromancer to resurrect the 3 musketeers to send after Lady de Winter, again.

  7. Larum looked up from the wagon for a moment, since Haldo had the job of turning it through the switchback in hand, and looked, once again, at the falls.

    He hated the sight. Oh, they were pretty enough, with the river dropping fifty feet past the dark stone, now that the snow melt had retreated to the mountains. Once, before the kings fell – he’d been not quite a man then – a wedding party had come out from some city to just to have their guests look at it. They’d had a mage with them too, to keep the rain off of them with a shield of pure magic. Even now, he remembered the sound of the drums, as the mage worked his spells.

    But he still hated the falls, for they were the result of this cliff he and his two sons were inching down. The wagon, and the pack horse that Keremal was leading, were all they could take to town without hiring men, which would have eaten the profits. Four days they would have to pay the men for, and feed them.

    He turned mind and body back to the wagon, for Haldo had finished the turn and was ready to head down the other half of the cliff. His wife’s uncle had been killed on this road, when a wagon got away, and Larum had no desire to follow his example.

  8. The snow crackling under the sled’s runners were the only sound as Darcy raced across open country illuminated only by ringed Calmadon’s pale light. Any other time, the dogs would bark and howl, encouraging one another, answering the calls of dogs on other steam farms nearby. But tonight they knew all was not well, that silence was their best protection.

    Darcy looked over the wheelers’ heads to her team’s leader. When she’d suggested training him to respond to whistled commands as well as shouted ones, her father had thought it a joke. Now it might well save her hide, at least long enough to get past whoever might be watching for her.

  9. Winter here meant freezing rain last night and power out for about five hours today. Can’t much complain, as news reports said sixty-five thousand homes in this county lost power. I dream of the day when the portion of my fellow Americans demanding a retreat to “sustainable” power — the only truly sustainable power is no power at all — return to being a lunatic fringe.Meanwhile …

    To Dream The American Dream
    By Sarah Hoyt
    When I was an exchange student in Ohio almost 40 years ago, our history teachers told us that the American Dream was dead.

    They never explained what in heck they were talking about, so I don’t know precisely what they meant by that. They waved vaguely in the direction of Horatio Alger and assured us that the US was now on the way to becoming a wholly stratified society and that there was no escape.

    Over the dead corpse of the American Dream, our history book preached dreams of social justice. Only they didn’t call it that yet, and frankly, if any of us had used “woke” our advanced grammar teacher would make us rue the day. (As she should, says the ex-ESL teacher in me.)

    Yesterday I had a moment of deja vu.

    You see, I watch a lot of discussions among my leftist colleagues. I still belong to a lot of email lists where everyone has forgotten me and I have a lot of friends whose entire facebook circle is left (and who, helpfully, call on me to witness dumpster fires with annoying regularity.)

    Unless I have a lot of time and energy, which hasn’t happened these last few weeks, (replacing carpet with wood floors is work for younger and more fit people. Unfortunately the younger and more fit people are all busy) I don’t even try to participate. There is no point. The point of internet arguing is the spectators, but in my field — at least among those involved in traditional publishing — there aren’t that many spectators. There are just churchgoers in the church of Marx ritually making their responsorial sermons.

    To interrupt them is to do as the crazy people who periodically go to churches and start interrupting services with (normally completely irrelevant) screams or displays of public nudity. The churchgoers aren’t at a place where they’d debate their beliefs, and as for public nudity, I can safely say all of us religious people have seen naked people before and contrary to leftist beliefs the sight of one more pasty, flabby leftist body doesn’t explode our world.

    Anyway, yesterday there was this thread on Facebook exploring an interesting question of why so many imaginary worlds are feudal or hierarchical.

    The answers… You know the “never read the comments, thing?” Yeah, that. …

    1. Sib and Sib-in-Law were in the heavy snow band Friday-Saturday. Downed tree limbs, blown transformers, and five hours without power. They did prove that the new generator can run the kitchen (gas stove and oven), so they decided that it was pretty much a draw: weather 1 – humans 1.

      1. We’ve had a pretty mild winter so far. There’s been a fair amount of rain, then freezing, but little snow. I’m worried about the trench that I have across our sometimes creek (take an 8″ snowfall, then thaw. Instant creek.) I have conduit at the bottom and haven’t been able to back fill–the dirt got nice and wet, so it’s pumice/clay/ice when it’s not mud.

        I need to round up some sand and fill the bottom, then see if I can get some of that mud in.

        Winter construction is sooooooooo much fun. (Started the trench early November, then it rained for a couple of weeks, then froze solid. We’re getting a bit of warmer daytime temps, so I have some mud. Final fill will have to wait for spring.)

    2. “I can safely say all of us religious people have seen naked people before and contrary to leftist beliefs the sight of one more pasty, flabby leftist body doesn’t explode our world.”

      Lost lunches, on the other hand…

  10. “It feels like it’s been Autumn forever. And yet it’s mid-January. Hey, has anyone been fiddling with the weather machine?”

    “Had to chase Johnny away from it and explained that bad things could happen.”

    “Uh oh. This will take some time to fix properly. The ‘HUGO’ is engaged.”



  11. “You seem discontented. Are you not enjoying your vacation?”

    “No! I came to Phoenix expecting sunshine and blue skies. I got clouds, a day of rain, and two mornings I had to scrape ice off my car windows!”

    ”Oh, that was our winter. Tomorrow will be warm and sunny. Promise.”

    50 😉

  12. Kevin watched the furry aliens stuffing everything into heavily-insulated containers.
    “Kartoris,” he said, addressing their chief, “how cold did you say it gets here in winter?”
    “In your units, about thirty degrees”, Kartoris replied.
    “That’s not bad. Why all the kerfuffle for a temperature barely below freezing?”
    “Not Fahrenheit – Kelvin”.

  13. Seasons of Love
    All lovers meet in spring, the poets say,
    enlisting nature’s bounty in their art, and sending
    air-borne messengers to plead their cause.
    They stroll, fond couples, under star-flecked skies,
    admire their rippled smiles in mirror-ponds,
    and tryst in leafy bowers newly green.

    I say —
    Why should one season, only, speak of love?

    What need of lover’s whispered breath, when flower-perfumed breezes kiss your mouth?
    What need of lover’s fevered hands, when bright-gold sun-shafts warm your skin?
    What need to swim in phantom blue-eyed pools, when living-water lakes are full,
    or sigh for ruby lips, when poppies dance in scarlet fields?

    Cold winter is the time in need of love.

    Then should the lovers meet on frozen ground:
    two hearts that beat against ice-laden winds
    supply the absent heat of distant star;
    crack the blue-iced seas of solitude;
    and throw red flames across the virgin snow.

  14. “So you think you know what *real* winter cold is?”

    The man down at the other end of the bar, who’d been nursing his tumbler of New Glasgow single-malt whisky better than half an hour by then, sounded *exactly* to me like he’d finally managed to whip himself up into full-blown Cynical Oldcountry Scot mode. And proceeded to launch into a trademark impassioned diatribe on how a place called Apollo Forsaken was *surely* the coldest place a man could stand under all our wide black skies.

    “There they have *five* seasons, not four, and the fifth is deepwinter…”

    I just smiled behind my spoonfuls of soup or my cup of genuine Old Earth Indian black tea, and enjoyed the show. As someone who’d grown up in the rural “outback” of New Canaan (which for us holds most of our population, courtesy of modern communications and economics), I knew the type all too well, and how for *most* of them it was only a hard surface crust.

    But the greater part of why I *had* to smile was simply that I’d *been* on Apollo Forsaken myself, in the cold time in the cold part of the hemisphere where orbital-eccentricity seasons reinforce axial-tilt seasons (like the south Down Under on Old Earth, but with an orbit more like Mars). Recently as six months of Absolute Time ago. And though it was indeed *cold* there, more than a third from the freezing point of water down to absolute zero, the big secret of deepwinter is the stillness: as if the winds themselves had up and frozen, in the unmoving eye of a cold-core vortex where the clear still air just vomits the heat away to space, as unceasingly as Jack London says in “To Build A Fire.” No wind, no wind chill, just boundless languid gelid silence.

    Colder than the Siberian Pole of Cold or the Antarctic on Old Earth, yes. But not transcendentally so. There is a calm patient still… warmth, to the place.

    Past a certain point, these modern days, you just shrug on an environment suit anyway. These are no longer the times that made the Inuit or the old-time Icelanders. Our twenty-third century is not the nineteenth of Scott, and all the others who survived their own ill-luck, back before the turn of the millennium.

    And that’s why, if there is a real answer to the old conundrum of “the coldest place” at all, it cannot be measured merely by degrees on a thermometer. You have to be able to *feel* the cold, or it’s just something on the other side of an essential barrier against peril, halfway to an abstraction. So the real cold is felt deeply, more than simply present objectively. I’ve been far colder standing in a damp chill wind at the freezing point, wearing more, than I’ve been standing in a stiff dry breeze at over twenty (Fahrenheit) degrees of frost.

    And I’ve been far less comfortable standing on a spaceport apron in the sleet, feeling the sting of solidified rain biting relentlessly into my face, than I’ve ever been looking out a parka-hood into any Apollo Forsaken colder-than-dry-ice twilight. With my husband Richard reminding me the first time that his home world was even more infamous for that: “For Marquesas, God created a fifth element, sleet” echoing Napoleon I on spring campaign, on Poland and mud.

    But such things are tolerable, and in time even beloved. They grow to be the challenging but defining outlines of home. As another Marquesan by the near comic-opera name of April May Borgia would put it in the reforged words of an old song, a long-after time when Richard was dead and I was far colder,

    And didn’t you think we would trade
    All your green spring fields
    For our cold, steel rain?
    Sly smiles all in vain.

    Perhaps the chill and the love of the cold really *is* in my blood. My older last name is Verkooerk, Flemish which is (more honestly) to say Dutch; but the most of my ancestry is Piedmontese, North Italian from time out of mind and of the place that (back in the 1800s) made a unified Italy again by conquering the whole rest of it. (And my new last name is Langmuir, of the Langmuirs of the Five Houses of Marquesas that give that world either five governments or none, though Richard was always of an out-of-favor branch of the family.) So if there are such predispositions, that surely ought to be mine. Like the breath of the wind off the mountains and winter-frozen lakes of home.

    But as wise people have been saying since long, long before the turn of the millennium, blood is not destiny and soil is nothing more or less than the land you love. I’ve never set foot in Piedmont or on Old Earth yet, for all that the memory of her land and sea and air has been living in me right along.

    And for those of us whom real Destiny stalks like a tiger, love of the cold can be such a comfort. The winters of the spirit, of love and loss, can be so near to intolerable without it — or so I’d have to guess, never knowing such a lack.

    Thank God and all his agents of grace and ministers of glory I’ve not had to go anywhere near what Garibaldi and his Thousand had to do, back in their own long-past day. But what I have done, and had to do for me and mine by now, is more than plenty and enough for me, and never mind it was far from all bad.

    Back in the spaceport bar, listening to a conversation that had gotten far more congenial now that the malt-drinker’s attitude had thawed a touch, I watched the door open and a dark-haired man in a midnight-blue coat enter the bar.

    Richard Langmuir always was the kind of person who could light up a room just by walking in, but even more so could warm one like a turf fire by doing it. Not ever a blaze like a wood fire, but the slow simmering warmth of peat instead.

    He sat down and I handed him his own hot-mug of tea. And basked.

    Warmth in winter is so often the grestest blessing of all.

    (Based on pre-existing setting and characters. But a completely new scene with a new planet or two, and most revealing at least to me, of… new things.)

  15. Gallonmouth pointed his stick at the tree and shouted something incomprehensible.

    Suddenly, the air wavered as we saw the tree turn white, and with a loud snap, crackle and pop, the tree exploded as the sap instantly froze solid in it.

    “Surrender, or I shall reign winter upon you all!”

    1. Bleah. Three days of something niggling at me. I knew there was something wrong with this one. Should have been “rain”, not “reign”.

  16. Cold. Raudhflaith looked up to the beclouded skies as a second scrap of cold touched her. She reached out one hand and expended a tiny bit of magic and caught whatever it was. Snow? Purely human wonder suffused her. There was no winter underhill.

  17. On a promo note: Xen’s back – and there are black goats! Embassy World is getting crowded. I remember the British Empire on the Moon world, but where did 1960s Earth come from?

    I think you may have created another fork in the series: Xen’s Progeny. Give them all a puppy.

  18. Vignette: We drove through stretches of snowy forest as we made our way to the town which had a bit of interesting history. Long ago, a guy shipped an entire building worth of bricks through the US postal service. He used the bricks to build a bank that still stands today. (They changed the postal regulations after that stunt.)

    By the way, how do I get a book promoted here? It is called “Through the Mirror”. My son and I have co-authored the book, and it is available via Kindle at Amazon.

    Synopsis: “In Through the Mirror, Jason Whitelock and Ellie O’Connell are two high school seniors that live in the isolated and slightly mysterious seaport in Maine known as Eastmouth. The shocking discovery of a hidden room catapults Jason and Ellie into a clash with terrifying, Lovecraftian alien forces and shadowy government organizations. Stranded in an impossible situation, the two must band together to survive the odds and find a way to escape back into the semi-normal lives that they had greeted with boredom only days prior.

    This book should be of interest to fans of Jim Butcher’s ‘The Dresden Files’, Larry Correia’s ‘Monster Hunter Series’, and Rick Riordan’s ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’. It is the first entry in The Veil Series.”

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