Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and The St. Patrick’s Day Sunday Book Promo


The St. Patrick’s Day Sunday Book Promo (just pretend all the covers are green!)

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com.  One book per author per week. Amazon links only.-SAH*

FROM BLAKE SMITH: Hartington Abroad (Hartington Series Book 2)


Jeriah Hartington is far from home. Born into a wealthy family, he is now reduced to poverty. In desperation, he signs on to a ship headed for the planet XKF-36. Their mission? To search for colonists who’ve been lost nearly as long as Jeriah has been alive.

Jeriah fully anticipates an adventure as they travel into the unknown wilderness. He never expected to find living people, eager to tell the tale of their sufferings. But their hair-raising account could be the downfall of everyone on the planet, even their rescuers. For a villain lurks within the ship’s crew, and no one can say who he might be.



ORIGINAL STORIES SET IN JOHN RINGO’S BEST-SELLING BLACK TIDE RISING SERIES. The zombie apocalypse is here in these all-new stories from John Ringo, Sarah A. Hoyt, Michael Z. Williamson, Jody Lynn Nye, Travis S. Taylor, and many more. Sequel to the best-selling anthology Black Tide Rising.

Civilization had fallen. Everyone who survived the plague lived through the Fall, that terrible autumn when life as they had known it ended in blood and chaos.

Nuclear attack submarines facing sudden and unimaginable crises. Paid hunters on a remote island suddenly cut off from any hope of support. Elite assassins. Never-made-it retirees. Bong-toting former soldiers. There were seven and a half billion stories of pain and suffering, courage, hope and struggle crying out from history: Remember us.

These are their stories. These are the Voices of the Fall.

FROM ROY M. GRIFFIS:  By the Hands of Men, Book One: The Old World.


A soldier fights for his soul in the trenches of France.  A field hospital nurse battles death every day.  Are duty and honor enough of a reason to go on in the hell of a world at war?

A mere mile from the blood-drenched front lines, Russian refugee and nurse Charlotte Braninov encounters English Lieutenant Robert Fitzgerald, who helps her save the life of another soldier.  Robert’s calm, courtly manner lingers in Charlotte’s mind, a comforting memory amid the deluge of suffering that surrounds her when she returns to the hospital.

Wounded during an unauthorized mission of mercy, Robert Fitzgerald finds himself demoted to a Medical Supply Officer, where he once more meets the brave young Russian nurse.  When Charlotte volunteers to help the Lieutenant learn about his duties in this new life of service, a quiet friendship blooms and love grows in that harshest of soils, even as the war rages on.  But human cruelty and endemic disease claw at their lives.  Can love survive in a world torn by warfare, greed, and deception?

The Old World, a novel that readers are calling “deeply moving,” “stunning,” and “magnificent,” is the first volume of the By the Hands of Men series.  Epic historical fiction by Roy M. Griffis, the saga sweeps across four continents in a gripping tale of fate, loss, redemption, and love.

A truly remarkable historical novel– so finely rendered in period detail – that the reader becomes one with the plot and characters. – RICK FRIEDMAN, FOUNDER, THE JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB

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

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: obsolete.

67 thoughts on “Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and The St. Patrick’s Day Sunday Book Promo

  1. Wait, wait, “Voices of the Fall”> Hasn’t anybody looked at the calendar? It is mere days away from Spring. We need our Spring and Summer first before Fall. 😉

    1. Voices of the Fall would seem most probably a religious tract, depicting events in the Garden called Eden. At a guess, given the success Scientology has experienced the SF/F community has recognized a significant market niche and is exploring options for filling that.

  2. Professor Digby sighed, disconsolate. Bad enough schools abandoned the teaching of logic. Now? Social media’s ubiquity had eliminated thought of grammar or spelling, encouraging instead utilization of sigils and icons where words once served. He had known, intellectually, this day would come, but had never fully anticipated being made obsolete.

    That’s fifty – gonna spend the rest of the day trying to choose between Jameson’s and Guinness.

      1. I’d second that. I’d have to have my taste buds deadened somewhat before even considering attempting a Guinness. Though I actually prefer Bushmill’s, or even Power’s, to Jameson’s.

  3. “Weird. Looks like something ancient, obsolete, yet all very new.”

    “Remember, obsolete is relative. It might be new to the builders. Just because we have faster, more efficient means.. as you recall we used this stuff – worked for us.”

    “It just seems so..”

    “Second-best? Second best also goes boom.”

    1. “Gun-type fission? Obsolete, isn’t it?”

      “Second best also goes boom. Sure, it’s technically inefficient, but the target is hit pretty hard all the same.”

      “Is this right? What the… Np-237? Can’t be right.”

      “No goofy uranium isotope separators, no difficult implosion design. Simple all the way ’round. But still effective.”

  4. Not a vignette but related to Orvan’s vignette (and to the writing prompt), but I was remembering an older SF story.

    Two star-nations had be fighting a very long (generational) war.

    A captain of one of the fleets had gotten into some sort of “political problem” so he knew that the special duty that he was given was going to be bad but he didn’t realize just how bad.

    The enemy has a New Weapon which is un-stoppable and many modern warships had been destroyed.

    He is given an obsolete Museum Warship to command and is to lead a last chance fleet against the enemy.

    Strangely his fleet wins as the “New Weapon” doesn’t work against his “obsolete” Warship.

    Apparently, the “New Weapon” was really an old weapon that hasn’t been used in a very long time.

    And the reason that it worked now but was forgotten is that both sides had developed a “perfect defense” against the weapon but the “perfect defense” hadn’t been used since everybody stopped using the “Old Weapon”.

    Obviously, his Obsolete Museum Warship still had a working example of the defense against that weapon. 😈

    Oh, can’t remember the author or title of the story.

    1. The story was Christopher Anvil’s “The Ghost Fleet”.

      It can be found in the Baen Collection _The Trouble with Aliens_, 😀

  5. In the 78th Century, Supreme High Emperor Ohb rules the Local Group. Sapients from all over the Milky Way, Triangulum and Andromeda vie for positions in the imperial bodyguard, Ohb’s Elite.

  6. “.45 American Colt Pistol chambering, in a pistol design that dates back to 1903.”

    The disdain in his voice clearly told me his opinion on the subject. “But it still works!” I interjected.

    “Indeed. It is not truly obsolete, merely obsolescent.”

  7. I carefully un-knock the arrow and check the bow before I unstring it. I know that I don’t have to, not with a bow made by the Dawn Empire, but the habits of a three-year fascination with the SCA die hard.

    The bow, mind you, is beautiful. It’s a composite flatbow with a perfectly formed rectangular mid-section made of specially-engineered wood, ghost-spider silk, dragon bone, and woven silver wire, Seventy inches long unstrung, the bow has a two-hundred-and-fifty pound draw and I have to be wearing my Regalia to draw it with enough speed for combat. Outside of combat, I can draw it, but carefully and always with a glove.

    The arrows as well, fletched with either griffin or phoenix feathers, bound onto the shaft with silver wire, and using the same special wood for the shaft, are a beautiful example of the art. All of the arrowheads I’ve been using for practice are bodkin points made of sanctified steel, and I made very sure that the spell arrows were not in the same quiver.

    In most circumstance, I would call a bow obsolete. Guns are easier to use, easier to train for, and require less dedication to their training to make them practical on the battlefield. But, there are no practical spell bullets yet, because nobody has really been asking for them. Charles is working on spell bullets, but so far his only success is a banishment round that works against prana-based creatures and shields much better than straight copper or silver or depleted uranium. If I want to use a spell attack on someone and not cast it myself, a spell arrow is my only real choice.

    1. Plus, of course, it’s quieter. They were used by the Resistance during World War II for that reason.

      1. Bows don’t go boom. well one hopes so, anyway.
        I’d certainly prefer a hit from a pistol round FMJ that taking a single bevel broadhead to the torso or legs

        1. I vaguely recall somebody postulating body armor (force field?) being reactive to hyper-velocity projectiles but not stopping objects. A broadhead arrow could be slow enough to get through yet still be sufficiently lethal.

            1. Not sure if bow & arrows would work against the “shields”.

              When fighting with blades (swords or knives), the fighters couldn’t “quickly” attack the bodies of their opponents.

              IE The shields would hamper quick attacks with blades.

              If a quick attack with a knife or sword would have problems, the shields would easily handle the much faster arrows.

            2. Is that where I read it? Must have been. Wow – it’s been over forty years since last I read that. I quit after the second sequel. Thanks for the reminder.

              1. That’s probably where you remember it from, because it was fairly important in the early parts of the book, but I remember seeing the same concept in others (though they may have gotten the idea from Dune, too).

        2. That’s what you use spell arrows for. Not as powerful as if she actually casts a spell, but it has the advantage of being able to drop energy right on a target without doing it herself.

        3. Years ago, while flipping channels, I stumbled across a daytime talk show interview with a bugler turned security consultant. He was asked what weapon he had encountered in the hands of a householder that had scared him most. His unequivocal answer was a hunting compound bow.

          A gun of almost any kind could have been in the hands of somebody who had never fired it. A Bow? That was almost sure to be in the hands of an enthusiast.

            1. Lars is a laughing stock to a lot of the archery world. Don’t get me wrong, great tricks, but he is full of it, uses very light bows, and for some shots very slow shooting bows with heavy arrows (slower still). His research often is akin to AGW climate science too.
              Okay, maybe not total fabrications, but he tends to read more into some things than reality would allow.
              His fanboys litter comments sections like paulians back in the day with “Lars does x! I bet Byron Furgeson can’t do that!” Lets see Lars do what he claims with a 70# long bow, instead of the 30 pounder he favors.
              It is like cowboy shooting fast draw and multiple shots using light powder loads and wax bullets. Impressive, but close to impossible with actual loads with recoil.

              Sorry, went of on a rant there.

              1. Thanks. I was trying to think how to put it. Yes, he puts on a good show, but the things he does weren’t done by archers actually doing any war fighting. Maybe by someone hunting rabbits, if they are trying to get a second one before it gets away after the first.

              2. Haven’t done any research on Lars himself, just watched the videos, so thanks for the heads-up.

          1. When living in town New Orleans, off Washington and St. Charles, word got out my uncle had a bow and anyone trying to steal from the parking lot was going to get a Fred Bear point for their troubles.
            No issues until he moved out. Then petty theft started up again.

              1. Clearly the folks at WordPress misunderstood the saying “Everything in moderation.”

  8. “In the early ‘70’s the higher-ups decided that my kind of operative was obsolete. They were going to ‘retire’ me behind a desk, which incidentally would have allowed to boffins to poke and prod me a good deal more, trying to find out why I don’t age. I’d had enough of that in the ‘50’s, and I disliked the New Men anyway. So I went looking for abandoned ‘Black’ funds, and retired. They weren’t happy, but the money I ‘found’ would have been hard to explain if it were made public and I knew where a great many bodies were buried. Thus far nobody quite stupid enough to try it on has been promoted to a position of enough power to come after me. And as for the men who thought I was obsolete, they died of old age a while ago.”

    1. Isn’t “black ops noir” kind of redundant?
      That’s the “feel” I got, anyway.
      Sounds like a fun story to develop.

  9. Sarai sat in her forcing room, surrounded by all the beautiful plants that would shortly come into bloom, well in advance of the short and muddy spring with its inevitable flooding. She’d gotten the bulbs to sell the flowers early on the market, and use the proceeds to fix the shortfall in her budget.

    She looked up as Valentine came in, and dropped onto the bench next to her, all elbows and knees and youthful energy. He didn’t say anything for a long moment, then ventured, “Rough meeting?”

    “They’re cutting the power budget. Apparently the specific instructions during founding that these greenhouses be maintained are… obsolete.”

    “Obsolete doesn’t mean it’s not useful.” Valentine picked up an air quality meter, and laughed. “Shards, all of our high tech is obsolete down here. Old, can’t make it anymore, and if we didn’t use it, we’d be scratching out a living in a mud and log hut with a smoky fire that can’t keep your bath water from freezing by the time you’re scrubbing down the littles.”

    “What?” She looked over at him, and he shrugged, looking down at his feet before looking up again without any traces of a smile.

    “Things are rough out there, boss. And getting rougher.”

  10. “An old type of spell,” murmured Aurelie. “Obsolete. For good reason. Do not cast light spells here. They will stack. You can easily blind yourself that way.”
    “Even after a darkness spell?” said Gormain, dubiously.
    “They could cast darkness to trick you, and break it. Worse, they do it three or four times, and you never recover your sight.”
    “I have a spell to see in the dark,” said Rosine.”
    “That would be better,” said Aurelie.

  11. The holy insignia was beautifully wrought. In its four corners, it held crystals with a drop of water, a bit of air, a piece of stone, and a spark of continual flame, and the knotwork to bind them in and to each other was skillful.
    Illys felt so bitterly homesick that she thought she might cry.
    She accepted the insignia and thanked Melantha.
    “I suppose,” said Krisiana, “that back in your kingdom, they still have to reconsecrate them with candle flames and dirt and water.”
    “It is rather pleasant that someone is keeping up the old tradition, even at the price of inconvenience.”
    Illys did not say that they were not aware that these insignia were possible, but it was true.

  12. “Why do you still have these logos on the suits?” Stephanie wanted to know. “I mean, with LCDs, and computers, and all…”

    “The badges aren’t obsolete yet.” Seeing Anna’s puzzled look, Maureen switched her attention to her. “Obsolete means that the job something does isn’t needed anymore, or there’s something else that does the job better. Can you think of some places where we would need the badges?”

    By now, Anna was used to these questions, and knew she would be given time to think. After a while, she ventured: “Maybe you’re some place where the radios don’t work? Or you’re all smooshed together?”

    “Those are good reasons, and the first is a really good reason. There’s one more. We’re sometimes out in public when things are really bad, and the badges can tell people who we are, and what each of us can do. We’re all different, and do different things.”

    1. And by identifying oneself you’re saying “I’m not going to do something that I won’t want to be know doing”.

      1. True, but not something you want to emphasize to the youngest trainee ever, in front of her mother.

  13. I see one prominent award-winning author from the original Black Tide anthology not welcomed back. I wonder why? 😉

    1. Because his story was meh.

      Not terrible–I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time reading it–but it did lower the overall quality of the work.

        1. I read it so I could say in good faith that I have indeed read some of his fiction. Okay, I read the first few chapters of Old Man’s War before getting bored and annoyed with the obvious liberal-stereotype-of-what-they-think-conservatives-sound-like character.

  14. Emma Leclerc watched the orange-red explosions stalk their way across the city, with escalating horror and a deep-banked rage gone (like so much else in over seven years of war) a bit threadbare at the seams.

    The fitful sweep of the searchlights — mostly driven by greenish limelight fed their hydrogen by the gasworks, not the actinic blue glare of the arclights of the Union, or the same or magnesium in the Free States — still easily let her sharp eyes glimpse what lurked in the hgh air overhead. Union twinships, high-altitude bombers with stubby tiltable wings between their paired hulls that tipped downwards as they unloaded their cargo of drop-bombs, often just explosives but sometimes… worse.

    At least the keening of the sirens, cranking up slowly to their full-throated wail, held no trace of the modulation that meant gas, either the Green Menace or its even scarier close cousin Flossie Jean. Not that Atlanta was very efficient, yet, at proclaiming word of such things, or its people well-equipped against them.

    And there was no bluish, sun-bright glare from the magnesium-fuelled bombs that meant either many small fires, or else one huge one that night, hungry as the bad old days of centuries past in London.

    Like so many here, she’d danced in the streets the night the word came down, that Georgia had left the hateful demands of the North-dominated Union and its President behind. She’d celebrated the patent obsolescence of the United States of America, a little sadly and wistfully, but happily and looking forward to a bright future once the travails of independence were gone through and past.

    But that future had been deferred, derailed, and perhaps even debunked by now. The Old Union was split into three warring pieces, though the Free States fought mostly to be left alone and for the freedoms of the Old Constitution, and her Confederacy fought by now simply for its very survival. And she now looked back, when she dared, at the antebellum years as something of a lost Paradise, as a vanished Garden of Eden… it did no good to yearn for.

    Was the Confederacy obsolete the day it had been proclaimed, and the spark had first hit the powder lying ready in the priming pan?

    Or was it simply instead that her country’s invention of its own Confederacy had simply (and irrevocably) made peace itself obsolete?

    She shuddered a little, despite herself, as she gathered her shawl about her in the chill, and prepared to descend to the imperfect safety of the bomb cellar.

    (Based on a pre-existing setting and background.)

  15. “Gwendolyn, whatever is the matter?” Nigel Slim-Howland noticed his maid sitting, head bowed, at the kitchen table, and was immediately alarmed.

    Gwendolyn looked up; her emotion replicators made her eyes red and puffy. “Is it true, sir, that when the new models are introduced next spring, I shall be replaced?”

  16. This is your last flight ever, Baikal.

    Vitali Grigorenko blinked at the sudden moisture in his eyes, realized he was getting sentimental. Something a cosmonaut couldn’t afford, and especially not one in the commander’s seat.

    The Buran orbiters had been obsolete for several years — they’d been designed back in the last days of the old Soviet Union, based on half-understood plans for the Amerikanskis’ first-generation Space Shuttle orbiters. But there was still a heck of a lot of history in this old bird, and he’d flown several of those missions, including the rescue of the crew of the Falcon at the tail end of the Energy Wars.

    All things must come to an end, he reminded himself. And far better to fly one last excellent flight and let Baikal go off to a museum, to be replaced by the new generation of orbiters, than to keep flying it until some catastrophic failure.

  17. I am going to retire, as my knowledge is obsolete…but the obsolete items I know about are still on the shelves in the closets rarely opened. And still, highly effective. Which is to say, exceptionally dangerous to those who know little about them. They STILL go BOOM. (50 words, if my fingers worked.)

  18. “They told us you’re the best safe cracker in the business.”
    “That was true 20 years ago.”
    “We have a job no one else can do. Will you take it?”
    “Absolutely. I could use some cash, and some fun. Retirement is boring.”
    “The target is in an old bank that’s been turned into a club. Do you know the place?”
    “Absolutely. I’ve partied there a couple of times, until my doctor made me give up drinking.”
    “They put the payroll in every Monday morning, and hand it out Tuesday night. Can you snatch it in between?”
    “Absolutely. Once they close Monday night, we’re good, as long as I get a nap in the afternoon.”
    “Are you sure you know how to open that kind of lock?”

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