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


Book Promo

*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 ALMA T. C. BOYKIN:  Miners and Empire: Merchant and Empire Book Five.


Aedelbert Starken shapes stone, not magic. Or so he thinks.

The town of Garmouth depends on the mines for life. Aedelbert comes to the city with his partner Caedda Quaedel in order to build three new smelters for the ore. Aedelbert and Caedda, master stone-cutters, just want to work, collect their wages, and move to the next job. Nothing more or less.

To their chagrin, building smelters and training an apprentice pose the least of their problems. A noble with a grudge threatens the mines and the city, leading to a race between the men of Garmouth and the mines, the noble, and the forces of ice and water.

Aedelbert wants nothing to do with any of it. The Scavenger, however, has other ideas. And what He gives, He can also reclaim…


C.J. CARELLA: To The Strongest (The Bicentennial War Book 1).


The Warp Marines Are Back!

When an ancient foe returns to threaten the known galaxy, the United Stars of America’s Navy and Marines must rise to the occasion and fight the alien invaders to the death. Epic space and land battles against a species of deadly space nomads will determine the fate of humanity.

Jason Giraud: All he wanted was to become a Warp Marine but the Corps wasn’t hiring. When a bizarre accident grants him strange new abilities, however, Jason earns a place in the mysterious and secretive Wraith Marine Regiment. His life will never be the same.

Heather McClintock: She’s back with the CIA, protecting America from foreign enemies. Will her analytic – and telepathic – skills be enough to win the day?

Russell Edison: Retirement did not suit him. Russell returns to his beloved Corps, this time as a Critical Skills Operator instead of a regular infantryman. He soon discovers that Special Ops are even more dangerous than ground-pounder duties.

To The Strongest is the first book of a new series that follows the events of the best-selling Warp Marine Corps series that began with Decisively Engaged.

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: hair.

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

  1. “Recruit! What did I tell you about your long hair?”

    “That it’d get me in trouble Sir! But I didn’t expect a telekinetic to tie me up with my hair!”

    1. I think that last line should be “But I didn’t expect a telekinetic to be able to tie me up with my hair!”. 😉

      1. No, it should be “That it’d get this Recruit in trouble Sir! I didn’t expect a telekinetic to tie this Recruit up with my hair, Sir!”

    2. Fella I knew told me he showed up for Air Force boot camp with a crop of hair down to his shoulders. Upon alighting from the bus, the drill instructor took one look at him and yelled, “Hey everybody, Jesus is back! On your knees everybody! It’s JEEZUS!”

  2. Surrounding the eggs was…hair. Blonde tresses, brunette, grey, auburn, black….short and long, straight and way, but hair tenderly piled and woven into a nest cocooning and insulating the harpy’s eggs. We now knew why the bodies we found had been intact save for being scalped.

  3. “Damn! Not another bunch of.. that!” exclaimed Ted as the canister released a cloud of sound players. “What ARE they doing?”

    “Trying to annoy us into submission with the H.A.I.R. – Have Another Irritating Radio” replied Bob.

    (Dawning of the Age of) Aquarius started playing from.. everywhere. Yet again. “Argh!”

    1. “Would you rather Good Morning Starshine again?”

      “I’m sure it’ll be next. And those are the two better tunes of the damnable bunch. What’s with this nonsense?”

      “No idea. The whole lot screams whiny protest songs from the sixties.”

      “Can we send them this crap back?”

      “Oh, how I wish!”

      1. That is an interesting question: what is the worst song from Hair?

        “Frank Mills” and “Sodomy” would be my nominees.

  4. “It was a justified transformation, your honor.”
    The judge leaned forward and motioned for the defendant to continue.
    “Everything was fine, until I explained that I needed the wig while I was getting treated for medication-induced hair loss.” The witch sighed, “When the kid said ‘Hair today, gone tomorrow,’ I lost my temper and turned him into a frog.”
    Judge Wormington nodded, the lights gleaming off of his bald pate. “The court finds the transformation to be justified, and sentences the plaintiff to two more weeks in the amphibian enclosure. Case dismissed.”

    1. The kid’s lucky he wasn’t turned into a carp. Of course, that might be a bit more punnishment than would be appropriate. 🙂

      1. Yeah, but what do you think’s gonna happen to him when he gets transformed back, and promptly complains it wasn’t done right, because it wasn’t a kiss from a princess?

        1. Well, reminding him of the piscine alternative and pointing to the carpapult might dissuade him from carping.

        2. This has nothing to do with realism (even if it explains also realism). A completely real world can be constructed, in which asses fly and princesses are restored to life by a kiss, but that world, purely possible and unrealistic, must exist according to structures defined at the outset (we have to know whether it is a world where a princess can be restored to life only by the kiss of a prince, or also by that of a witch, and whether the princess’s kiss transforms only frogs into princes or also, for example, armadillos).”
          ― Umberto Eco,

          1. A completely real world can be constructed, in which asses fly …

            I take it, then, that he had met some fighter pilots.

    2. The kid was fortunate that the witch hadn’t been thinking of the children’s song “Little Bunny Foo-Foo.” That might have inspired two transformations: hare today; goon tomorrow.

  5. “Put the cheese on the cutting-table.” Tabayta said. “I’ll hang it up after dinner.”

    Larum did so, glad to get the smell out of his nostrils. “All went well. The leather sold for cash, prices were good on the rest, and our quarter-taxes are paid.”

    “There still be something to worry you, husband. What is it?” He shot her a surprised look. “You’re tugging your hair, so something is on your mind.”

  6. “I was thinking,” Raina said to Gunny Halvorsen across breakfast, “about cutting my hair.”
    Gunny stopped for a moment, leaving a forkful of what passed for eggs hanging in midair, and his eyebrows climbed his battered face toward the nonexistent hairline. “And just why would you do that, hon?” Despite his looming bulk, his voice was very soft, barely audible over the rest of the ship’s mess.
    “Because it’s not…” She hunted for the right word, and put her fork down on its tray, very carefully. Ship’s gravity wasn’t much off what she’d grown up with, but it was just enough to make all her movements clumsy. “All the women here have short hair.”
    “They’re all military, hon. They’re required to keep it short. You’re not. No need for you to follow someone else’s rules.” His eyebrows were sliding back down to their normal position, but his fork still held position.
    “But you do it for a reason, right? To make it easier to EVA, and for ease on ship’s plumbing, right? If I’m going to live out in the black instead of on a dirtball, then I need to do that, too.”
    “Not everyone does, especially on the stations. And the plumbing can handle itself.” He took a bite, swallowed, and said slowly, “Although, given you’re going to be posted with Chief Akrep, we’ll have to teach you how to move in null-gee, and work in a suit. Yes, we should definitely do that.”
    “Won’t I need to cut my hair for that?”
    “Nah, we just give you a bigger helmet.” He shook his head, and resumed plowing through his food. Raina started eating again, chewing over the idea. Every time she turned around, someone was training her one something else, and it looked like she’d just volunteered herself again. Gunny had finished his omelette and was well into his meat patty when he spoke softly. “It’s nice to see a woman with long hair around. Give us half a chance and we’ll keep you in skirts and gloves just for looking at.” He looked up at her, then, and gave her a small smile, crinkling the corners of his eyes and almost reaching down to his mouth. “You don’t like being noticed, do you?”
    She spread her hands and shrugged. “Getting noticed means we got…” she took a quick breath, and substituted, “killed.”
    Gunny nodded, the smile disappearing like it had never existed. “You’re safe, now, here.”
    “Until we dock?” Safety was always temporary, in her experience. There was always something worse right around the corner, and even escape from the creche only worked until they knew you were gone.
    “I can’t see your husband letting you be unsafe even then. Chief will see you through.” The smile came back, and even touched his lips. “Never thought I’d see him so head over heels. You’re good for him.”
    “You’re too kind.” She couldn’t stop the blush that climbed her cheeks.
    “Nah, he’s right.” The gravelly voice made her smile, and lean back for the kiss Akrep pressed against her lips. “Good morning, love. Gunny, what mischief are you trying to get her into?” He slid his tray onto the table next to her, and settled in.
    “Null gee maneuvers, Chief. Once she gets those down, we can get her started on walking outside.” Gunny nodded to Akrep, and her husband grunted.
    “Working up to boarding maneuvers? Sounds like you’re trying to get her prepped for Scout School.” That struck home, and Raina immediately resolved to figure out what scout school was. Akrep shook his head. “She’s a civilian, Gunny. Not a scout. You can lay off.”
    “I’ve read the after-action report.” Gunny got a bigger smile at Akrep’s sour grunt. “Besides, you don’t look like you plan to leave her on a starbase and see her every three years. Places we’re sent aren’t cakewalks.”
    “I’m planning on retiring. Taking her home.”
    “Heh. Good luck on that. ‘Needs of the Force’ and all, you think they’re going to let you go?” Akrep stiffened next to her, a muscle jumping in his heavy jaw. “It’s a good plan. We’ll just train her for Plan B.”

  7. All the king’s guards had hair cut shorter than anyone else she had ever seen before. Annike thought a bald man would be hard to pick out in their number.
    “Show-offs,” said Brandon. “They live in the city, they have no trouble getting their hair cut when it gets long enough to be trouble while still too short to tie back. But it’s still folly. You need to replace it with more padding for your helmet, to absorb blows. Better to use what nature gave you. Long enough to need tying back will do that.”
    Liliane smiled, and led on.

  8. The hair wasn’t always black, but it usually was. You had to look with care to see the scraps of skin that showed the blue, the purple, the green.
    One turned around to look directly at her. His face was as pink as a rose. “A dirt girl,” he said.

      1. I had a story idea, I developed the necessary background, I lost interest in the idea. . . we’ll see.

  9. WARNING! This is gonna be another long one.

    Whatever Mullins had called him in about was definitely something. Crockett couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen more than a single file out on the Sheriff’s desk. That afternoon, there were five. Mullin’s motioned Crockett to sit across from him.

    “You have any idea what you’ve gotten yourself into, Mike?” Mullins asked before Crockett could say anything.

    “Besides ending up on some uber-rich Chicago gazillionaire’s bad side?”

    “I don’t think you realize just who this Lockwood guy is.”

    “I did some digging,” Crockett admitted, “Fourth-generation banker. Family owns two banks outright and has members on the boards of something like a dozen others. Our friend Chuckie is the CEO of the family bank and a director of four Fortune 500 companies.

    “And he has incredible political influence, as my repeated calls to Chicago uncovered.”

    “Let me guess, you were told to shut up, go away, and mind your own effing business.”

    “By no less than the Commissioner and Chief of the Chicago PD themselves. I did, however, hear from the Deputy Chief of their Special Investigations Unit about your friends Kelly and Rosetti.” That got Crockett’s attention, and he leaned forward in his chair.

    “They’re actual cops.”

    “Yep.” Mullins nodded. “They are both highly-decorated law enforcement officers… and they’re both on suspension.”

    “No sh*t.”

    “Yeah, pending probable indictment on a whole host of charges.”

    “Chicago PD indicting two of their own?! What the hell did they do?”

    “Like I said, they’re each facing a whole laundry list of charges, but the short version is that they tried to frame a prominent vascular surgeon for murdering his wife.”

    “Holy sh*t!”

    “Yeah. Would’ve gotten away with it too if the doc hadn’t had a solid alibi: he was in the middle of an emergency surgery when the murder took place.”

    “Woah.” Crockett leaned back in his chair. “So what’re they doing looking for Celeste?”

    “I’m getting to that part. The doc thinks he was the real killer’s intended victim, and that he was targeted because he’d been raising high holy hell about his daughter’s disappearance.” Mullins opened one of the folders and spun it so Crockett could read everything right-side-up. There was a passport-sized photo clipped to the top of the stack of papers.

    “Mary-Ann Kimber,” Mullins said, “And don’t say ‘she looks like Ginger.’ I’ve heard that joke a half-dozen times already today.”

    “She does,” Crockett shrugged. Miss Kimber did indeed bear a striking resemblance to a young Tina Louise of Gilligan’s Island fame.

    “Anyway, she disappeared just over two years ago. Age twenty-seven at the time of her disappearance, though her family refuses to have her declared legally dead. She was pursuing an MFA in Directing at DePaul University, worked part-time as a model, and was in a relationship with…”

    “No, wait,” Crockett interrupted. “Let me guess: my new best friend Charles Robert Arthur Lockwood the Fourth.”

    “Winner winner chicken dinner,” Mullins nodded. “She was last seen alive with him, getting into the back of his Rolls as they were leaving a fundraising dinner for some politician.”

    “And her father pegged Lockwood for making her disappear.”

    “He and his now late wife were convinced he’d had something to do with it. He’d gone so far as to hire a team of ex-FBI agents to investigate Lockwood, and look what they turned up.” Mullins opened the other four folders and spun them around to face Crockett. They were four more Missing Person case files, all with pictures of the victim clipped to the top of their respective stack of papers.

    “They all have red hair,” Crocket couldn’t help but note aloud.

    “All redheads, all in their mid to late twenties, all physically attractive, all enrolled in Masters or Doctorate programs at prestigious schools in the Chicago area.”

    “And I’m guessing they all mysteriously disappeared after getting romantically involved with Lockwood.”

    “That would be correct.”

    “Any bodies turn up?”

    “Just these two.” Mullins indicated two of the folders. “His first two alleged victims. Cause of death was ruled the same: ligature strangulation, presumably with a pair of panties, though the exact instrument was not present when either body was found.”

    “Similar physical appearance… same demographic profile…” Crockett mused.

    “You thinking our boy Lockwood’s a serial killer?”

    “I’m thinking that I should’ve gut-shot the f***er and fed him to Albert’s pigs when he tried to bribe me with that Ferrari.”

    “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear you say that, on one condition.”

    “And that is?”

    “You pretend not to hear me say that I’d have helped you carry the sonovab*tch’s body.”

    “I didn’t say I’d have killed him, Sheriff.”

    Mullins gave Crockett a wary look for a long moment.

    “You know what, Mike?”


    “You can be a very scary man sometimes. But I’m damn glad you’re on our side.”

  10. Aidan sat by the tree. Carrigiana blinked as she looked up from the food, but the shadows made it clear. At first she thought it was just the hair, but his face was, too.
    “What is it?” said Roberto in annoyance.
    Her voice pitched very low, she said, “He’s glowing.”

  11. Bredon still looked weary to the bone, but they had healed his bruises, and cleaned him up. His hair had not only been washed from the dungeon grim, but combed out neatly. For all the stories her sister had told her when they were young, rats had not gnawed at his hair.
    Maker! Illys turned her face away, sharply, and felt the heat rising in her cheeks. If any elf had seen her studying him that closely, they would talk all over the kingdom that she had appealed for justice not for justice, but because she had fallen in love.

  12. Some of the hunters looked like they were scared of her. Scared of her? Each of them outweighed her, some by twice, and they had weapons as well. And here she sat, half-starved, with a stick for a staff, a broken saddlebag for a pack, a cut-up chincher for shoes, clad in the rags of her over-skirt and with nothing for her head or ragged hair since the storm and they were scared of –


    “I can promise you that I’m not Ululi the Wanderer.” She could smile; it was kind of funny, after all. She didn’t feel like a demigod.

  13. …A particular trademark feature that these women of a certain age sport is the anti-style expression of their hair: Graying frizz, unbound. Sometimes thin and scraggly like an aging Riff Raff, but more often a thick and dull coat like ruined mohair. Think of Bea Arthur’s shrubbery, if you will, but in terms of acreage…

    1. Er… mine resembles that right now, a horrible combination of my trying to save money and frankly the pred for three years having me with different “waves” of hair that aren’t even vaguely the same length. I’m waiting for the shortest to grown to where I can style it…
      But at least I BIND it, having bought a never-end of pretty barrettes to hide the ugly.

  14. It’s the Washington Post, so no link included — if you don’t mind their paywall then go ahead and read the whole obituary:

    Gene Wolfe, science-fiction writer with a literary touch, dies at 87
    He helped devise the cooking process for Pringles before writing acclaimed novels such as “Book of the New Sun.”

    I suspect his Pringles contribution will outlast his writing …

  15. Sevhan sighed, and frowned at the cringing apprentice before him, babbling near-incoherent, panicked apologies. “Do not fear, boy, I shan’t punish you for what was my mistake in the first place.”

    The elvish wizard-master had noticed that Havisham wasn’t at breakfast, so had gone looking for him, puzzled as to why the boy hadn’t come down as normal. He’d opened the door to the communal washroom to the startled yelp of “SHAVE!!!” and found himself sprouting a full-fledged beard and moustache, the kind any Tandarrii pirate would have been proud to braid and decorate.

    “You’ll just have to teach me that cantrip you created, since rather obviously, it worked perfectly on your youthful whiskers,” Sevhan said, scratching at his cheek. “How humans and similarly bearded folk can stand this, I will never know.”

    “Yes, Master Sevhan, I will.” Havisham rubbed his own cheek self-consciously. “I’ll get to it right away.”

    “No you won’t,” the wizard-master said sternly. “I’ve taught enough human students to know that when puberty hits them, they’re also especially hungry in the mornings. Have breakfast first, then bring me the spell to my office.” He shooed the boy off, then turned to the mirror with a sigh.

    “You’d think that after so many accidents, they’d learn to just use a razor,” his reflection quipped. Sevhan’s daemon-familiar chuckled.

    “It’s a rite of passage,” Sevhan shrugged. “I get off easy. Janeesha gets explosive spell-misfires whenever her students start their female courses. One of her hedge-mage students was working on a carnivorous plant when it hit, and instead of growing just enough to eat roaches, it grew so large it almost ate her. And unlike the males, they’ll always have odd power surges and reactions.”

    “I find it strange though that after five hundred years of teaching humans, no same shave cantrip works on every misfire,” the daemon mused. “It always has to be from the same apprentice that had the misfire.”

    “I think it has to do with the quirks of surging hormones.” Sevhan scratched at his face, and teleported to his office. He had no desire to hear the dwarven stonemage Brandig bemoan the waste of a ‘good beard any dwarf would love to have.’

  16. His tail shorn, the humiliated Labrador retriever stalked away behind the shed. Clem, horrified, tore into his cousin: “Delbert! The hayull wuz you tryin’ to do?”

    “Aw Clem,” Delbert drawled, “I got the worst hangover, and I heard –“

    “Ya heard wrong! That was one of them figgers of speech!”

  17. Kaylee kept vigil on the observation deck as the battered fleet returned to spaceport. She’d heard it was bad, but she was stunned how few ships actually made it back. As she watched, her hand clenched more tightly around the silk satchel containing a lock of Able Seaman Tristan’s hair.

  18. “You will need to move.” The landlady scowled at me. “Your lease stipulates that there will be no pets in this apartment.”

    “But I don’t have a pet.” My voice sounded small and frightened in my own ears.

    “Then how do you explain the cat hairs I found on the furniture?”

    I swallowed, hard. How could I explain that the cat in question was me, when most people didn’t even believe that shapeshifters existed?

  19. Medusan Petrification is a serious hazard. One, you have to look at them. Don’t look at them, you can’t be stoned. Two, their process is a whole head effect. Put out an eye, lop off her nose, you can’t be stoned. Lopping off her snake hair will save you too.

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