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

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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 MACKEY CHANDLER, NOW IN PAPERBACK:  Family Law.

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(I’m very proud of the wrap around cover for this print edition, btw.- SAH)

People love easily. Look at most of your relatives or coworkers. How lovable are they? Really? Yet most have mates and children. The vast majority are still invited to family gatherings and their relatives will speak to them.

Many have pets to which they are devoted. Some even call them their fur-babies. Is your dog or cat or parakeet property or family? Not in law but in your heart? Can a pet really love you back? Or is it a different affection? Are you not kind to those who feed and shelter you? But what if your dog could talk back? Would your cat speak to you kindly?

How much more complicated might it be if we meet really intelligent species not human? How would we treat these ‘people’ in feathers or fur? Perhaps a more difficult question is: How would they treat us? Are we that lovable?

When society and the law decide these sort of questions must be answered it is usually because someone disapproves of your choices. Today it may be a cat named in a will or a contest for custody of a dog. People are usually happy living the way they want until conflict is forced upon them.

What if the furry fellow in question has his own law? And is quite articulate in explaining his choices. Can a Human adopt such an alien? Can such an intelligent alien adopt a human? Should they?

Of course if the furry alien in question is smart enough to fly spaceships, and happens to be similar in size and disposition to a mature Grizzly bear, wisdom calls for a certain delicacy in telling him no…

The “April” series of books works from an earlier time toward merging with the “Family Law” series.

FROM PAM UPHOFF:  Guardsman (Wine of the Gods Book 43)

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Lucky Dave has survived, saved his Commander and his brother.

Now he needs to learn how to live a thousand years in the future. How to fit in.
How to continue to keep a Prophet alive in a world where the Prophets are nearly mythical.

And after that . . . he has to keep a new friend alive through a violent presidential race.
And learn more magic.
And fall in love.

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: graceful.

26 responses to “Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Book Promo

  1. If you have questions, feel free to ask.

    Questions? Why is there air? What is the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything? Is 668 tru;y the neighbor of the beast? Is there a graceful way to break off an engagement when you find your betrothed merely identifies as human?

    Hah! Fifty on the first draft, including the quote but not the gloat!

  2. I’m very proud of the wrap around cover for this print edition, btw.- SAH

    I guess the only way we’ll ever know is by buying the book.

  3. The “April” series of books works from an earlier time toward merging with the “Family Law” series.

    Critical note: This is slightly confusing to any not already buying the series mentioned. Given the OCD component of many book buyers’ natures a little expansion might help sales.

  4. Our first Irish Wolfhound was named “Shaya”. That comes from the phrase “S’diya shaya” in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover novels. It means “You lend us grace”. The dog was not graceful as a puppy – we figured he must have loaned it to somebody!

    Only 43 words, and not exactly a story, but that’s what first came to mind with the word “graceful”.

  5. It was the ugliest space ship he’d ever seen. It couldn’t be called graceful in any of the ten thousand plus known languages in this part of the galaxy. But there was a certain lethal symmetry to the outsized engines and weapons pods strategically mounted to the scarred, grey hull.

  6. Happy news! Solist At Large is at the Alpha phase for readers, which I’ll do once I set up the website and write up the NDA. So, a vignette/snippet for you all-

    Juliana was willing, she was graceful, she was knowledgeable by experience, and by God she was loud.

    Before the plane crossed the border between Nevada and Utah, she punched in her cell phone number into my phone.

    I hadn’t even left the airport when she sent me quite a few of her swimsuit photos. And her flight schedule for the next three months.

    And that’s all I’m going to say. Ever.

  7. Donald Stephens

    Mog walked over to Denya and gave the frightened woman a sniff. Satisfied, he flopped over for a belly-rub with the elegance of a dropped bundle of sticks. When Denya still didn’t move, he poked her with the nearest of his sprawled legs.

    Farshan grinned. “He likes you. Go ahead.”

  8. Florio grabbed her arm, dragging her attention from the fight. “Hide me.”
    Rosine nodded and cast the spell, cloaking him in shadow as weapons clashed behind her.
    Florio began to climb the wall, moving as easily as if walking. Rosine bit her lip. She hated the danger of that tactic.

  9. “Don’t you know how to dance?” said Mrs. Thorton.
    Rosa shook her head.
    “Very foolish,” said Mrs. Thorton. “They move the easiest who have learned to dance. And what if some king had ordered every eligible maiden in the kingdom to a dance, so his son could meet a bride?
    Rosa straightened. “A maiden whose family is so poor they can’t afford dancing lessons for her is not eligible to marry a prince. Those tales about marrying scullery maids are just tales, and she turns out to be a princess in the end.”
    “Not so,” said Mr. Thorton, looking up from his book. “Not always.”

  10. I was worried as we walked up the steps to the Winter Court, with the wisps of fog streaming down the marble shining in the will-o-wisp light. The dame on my arm was certainly dressed to stun, and even the past few hours hadn’t dimmed the way her dress made me want to peel her out of it. Staying alive was a stronger drive right now, but a man could have hopes, and mine were high.

    But we were about to enter the faerie court, when they spread glamour around like new money flashed a bankroll in a dive joint. She’d held up to werewolves, survived zombies, but the icy disdain of the winter court was a weapon all its own. The doorguard tonight was actually an elf instead of a redcap, and in full battle gear. I stiffened, and offered him a cautious nod, wondering what I was about to find within. “Depths Between Stars.” I greeted him like just another business associate, and gestured to Eliza. “Miss Eliza Bellamy. She is my guest, tonight.”

    He looked at her as she gave a graceful curtsy, and nodded. “Ma’am.” Barest acknowledgement, but it was all I needed to keep her safe within. When he turned back, he grimaced at me. “I would not linger, Kalevi. We prepare for war.”

    “Against whom?” I asked, because there were at least three options, and I wasn’t sure which was worse.

    “The Queen of Air and Darkness has not yet said. But there will be battle before the sunrise.” He flicked his eyes over toward Eliza. “You should send her somewhere safer; we offer no quarter tonight.”

    “There is nowhere safer for her than by his side. Who else would care for the humans than our Kalevi?” The guttural voice came from the darkened doorway, and we all turned to see the Ban-sidhe standing there in her flowing blue gown. “Come, you two.”

    “Ma’am.” I swept her a bow, because of all the fae I never wanted on my bad side, she was near the top. Darkness Between Stars stood well clear as we walked into the hall. “You are not at the river, tonight?”

    She looked over at us with milky eyes that only seemed blind. “No, not tonight. If you fail, not any other night. Something foul has crept into my waters, and threatens this whole city.”

  11. It wasn’t enough to be a boy, and it wasn’t enough that they knew he was a sorcerer, bound by law to fight monsters rather live in civilized lands, prince or not.
    He had to arrive at the city not in a gracious procession, but stumbling along as if drunk.

  12. She walked into my office with the practiced gracefulness of a woman well-versed in the art of seduction. I knew she was going to be nothing but trouble before she began to explain what the job was. But I’ve always been a sucker for a damsel in distress.

  13. He walked calmly up to the wall.
    “Master,” muttered Smith. “What on earth is he the master of?”
    How drunk do you have to be to not know that? thought Jack. “Watch,” he said.
    Smith gave him a baleful glance at the Master look over the wall. Then, he kicked.
    The movement was graceful, but the wall shattered before him. Smith gaped. Jack tried to fight down a smug look, but really, what did Smith expect? The man had earned the name the Master of Wonders and Marvels.

  14. He found the sharpest chip of stone he could, braced himself, and stabbed his finger. The stone bounced off like a rubber ball from concrete. He tested the edge and felt it again. It shifted from invulnerablity to senses so gracefully he could not detect it while looking for it.

  15. analytical-engine-mechanic

    She had to do it.

    Considered carefully, Sellina knew, rationally, coldly, soberly, it had to amount to an act of near-suicidal folly, trying to kill someone who’d put you in an iron cage you couldn’t budge from the floor (locked there by simple weight or well-hidden latches or magnets or even something more… archaic, she did not rightly know).

    But the same instincts, guidance, intuition that had brought her to the service in the first place, and then afterward kept her alive as a spy-assassin (or too often these later days, an assassin-spy) for the Republic, were positively screaming at her that she *must* do this, now or *very* soon.

    So she pulled the knife from her clothng, drew back visibly but silently (musing in a carefully-minimized corner of her mind as she did that she could now truly report she had at least seriously tried to take out her target, if she survived and returned and despite the questionable value of any such excuse), and…

    Let fly from a full-body wind-up with every drop of her strength and every iota of her concentration, right at the heart of the woman sitting with her back to Sellina, and — *knowing* — as she did the near-perfect certainty of a non-kill.

    Knowing as she did she would never regret the experiment, even if among its other effects was killing her quite dead herself. Even quite slowly.

    And the knife flew well and truly — a weapon of much use only on those either unaware or unskilled, most of the time — straight for the back of this Emma Longworth she’d been sent to kill, as Sellina’s perceptions sped up into a way of seeing few others had ever believed, observing.

    Her head came up, from the papers and — devices — on the table. Her right arm and foot pushed on the heavy table, starting to turn her in the pivoting chair where she sat, as her head came around even faster. But not in panic or even alarm, not the terrified way of moving that was as distinctive to Sellina as the motion of a spider across the room.

    She moved not just unworldly fast, but smoothly and all at once, with a kind of fluid grace Sellina had only glimpsed a few times before in training with the best teachers the Republic (and thus the world) had to offer. And she moved with a smile, no, a grin blooming on her face with the same uncanny speed, as if Sellina had just set ready in front of her the very meal she’d been dreaming of hungrily and yearning for all day. Not much like a hungry cat, pouncing.

    More as if a killing-sharp knife hard-thrown toward your back was a rare treat.

    Or like a master-teacher bringing his student up to a long-sought plateau at last.

    And she realized how surely the rumors that Emma Longworth was a rogue engineer, or even philosopher, *some* kind of independent beholden to neither far-off Union nor this Republic, *must* be true. Nobody capable of such near superhuman feats was working actively today for either. It would be obvious as the sun. Whether as artificer, spy, or… anything.

    By now she had turned her body nearly half around, and the knife had nearly reached her half-clenched left hand, which hammered it both aside and into rotation. Straight towards her open right, already pulling back fast and hard, which wrapped around it in a grip that continued to pull, even as her arms both pulled ever closer in towards her body. Grinning ever more as she did.

    Sellina realized, with still-waxing awe, that Emma was centering her actions perfectly, her own center of spin aligning exactly with the axis of the chair, her exertions of force containing no side forces that could try to begin to tip over the chair, or do anything else undesired or unnecessary. In a very real sense, seen with the balletic vision of slow-time, she was more gracefully dancing in midair than sitting supported by a piece of furniture.

    As she also realized, dimly, that she herself was one of the few people on the planet capable of apprehending the banquet of miracles spread before her.

    Emma had continued to spin faster and faster like a figure-skater on the ice, with only her right hand extended, but now, as she continued past a full turn, that hand floated, or snapped, forward. To give the knife she now threw even more velocity than a simple tangent to its circle of motion.

    It was more than long-denied fun, even more than merrily showing off, Sellina realized, obviously as both were true. It was also like a password-countersign exchange, a proof of genuineness — presented unambiguously as that story of the man of God nailing his new religion to the church-house door, hammering it into place as an integral part of the structure for the centuries to come.

    The knife turned over and over in the air, far more than the typical half-turn from hand to target, and she could already see it would fly feet to her left. It wouldn’t have been hard for her to avoid, in any case. Back at the table, Emma was already nearly braked to a stop in the chair, balancing forces that would surely have thrown most of the operatives Sellina had ever met to the floor.

    With that cat-got-the-cream grin still there, as if nailed stoutly in place itself, on her face. Sitting there as serenely as if her turn-and-a-half never happened.

    Her knife (Sellina was not hazy on that point) flew in through the bars of the cage, slipping near the edge of their circle where they surely presented more iron than air, flew through it a couple or three feet, then exited again the same way — showing off, indeed. Then stuck halfway up the blade into one of the heavy (oak?) timbers of the basement, with a sturdy sound like an anvil falling on a stump. As Emma’s eyes focused on her, green irises figuratively glowing like mythical lazer-cannon from some legendary battleship of the skies. Red hair glowing softly like burning turf afire on a hearth.

    “They used to call me Emerald, once upon a time. So now you could, too.”

    Sellina found herself, quite against all poise and much tradecraft, laughing heartily out loud. “Emerald? They sent me to kill *Emerald*?!?”

    Emma Longworth, now apparently also the legendary operative from two or so decades back, smiled rather than grinned. “I’m sure they didn’t *know* it, as ‘Emerald’ of the Republican Intelligence Service basically ceased to exist the hour I walked off that train two stations early — with the micro-printed wisdom of the Age of Stars ready to read in my pocket. And you know something now of where that led me, after.” And she gestured to the moving-picture screen, so like and unlike a magic-lantern show, where Sellina had watched five endless minutes ago the green-flash dawn of the Dawn Age — One small step for (a) man, one (g)iant leap for mankind — as the waiting multi-millions of Old Earth of more than a milennium past had (legendarily) done.

    “Ready to read? But it was enciphered. Supposedly.”

    “And ciphers can be solved. And I did. The old name is ‘index of coincidence’ but of course I didn’t know that till after. That week on the train, holed up in my compartment, I — I ‘put away all childish things.’ Do you love the Republic?”

    Sellina thought directly, not politically. “I love what it is much of the time and could be more. I hate its corruption, backbiting, all the stuff that goes back three millennia to the old days in Rome, not one to the American Republic.” Which might even still be there, lost out among the lost stars.

    “And the Union?”

    “It’s so much worse. Not as bad as the old Empire, but close.”

    “Bastard lovechild of Fourieriste socialism and Marxian socialism, I would not cross the street to spit on the Soyuz Sotsialistikh,” Emma said, using its Russian name in place of the usual French one. “But I might work very hard indeed to stick a knife in its back.” And *now* she looked just like a cat ready to pounce. “And there are people out there, like Walter de la Mare, who oddly enough agree with me. And might even like to see a bit of the Age of Stars come to life again here, to boot.”

    Oh, crap and the big horses to make it. This wasn’t an assassination, this was a recruitment.

    (Based on a pre-existing scene, characters, and setting. But really based on a strong reaction against the old saw, e.g., “Terminator” series, that we Have To Kill The Scientist And All His Works, since Some Things Man Was Not Meant To Know. Okay, so meet Emma.)

  16. Casting spells required more than intelligence; one also needed a certain panache and dexterity. Tatiana knew that, but at her young age, managing the latter part was unbelievably hard. Growing so quickly, she was all arms and legs, none of them cooperating, the least graceful apprentice mage in her class.

  17. Ailidh swam with unpracticed grace, like a seal or an otter. Kelby marveled at how the young woman seemed as at home on the waves as he himself did on land. She appeared wholly unconcerned with the fearsome creature the islanders insisted swam just off their shores. Unless, Kelby thought…

  18. “You shouldn’t have to be doing this,” said Arakyn, her arms folded and her foot tapping the lab’s flagstoned floor irritably. “They have theurges. There are Guild-sworn alchemists out there. Why has all this fallen to you?

    Ryan didn’t respond, only dashing from table to table around the lab. Arakyn had known he was quick and deft (especially with his fingers, whispered a naughty inner voice, and she fought back a blush), but had never thought of him as particularly graceful. Yet as he moved from alembic to athanor to burners, switching glass flasks from plate to plate and pouring them into larger ones together where they frothed and turned strange, luminescent colours, it seemed like nothing so much as an eerie kind of dance, infinitely more complex than any of the pavanes they’d had to learn for Court. For a moment she wondered if he’d even heard her.

    “Any alchemist good enough to make this much elixir this quickly,” Ryan said, without stopping, “had enough gold set by to get the hells out of the Citadel before they closed the gates. And even if the Archbishop had the stomach to defy His Oh-So-Cautious Majesty’s orders, there just aren’t enough theurges to treat all the victims out there. Not for a plague this virulent.” He grabbed two flasks from a burner and poured them into the central vessel, a wide flat glass bowl with runes carved into the rim, then set his hands to those runes and spat a series of sharp syllables. The runes glowed; the steaming liquid flared and flashed like heat lightning and sent a cloud of greenish vapour skyward with a whoomf. Ryan gasped and staggered back, all grace gone in fatigue. Reflexively, Arakyn leaped forward and caught him. He was dreadfully pale as he looked up at her, but managed a grin.

    “Now,” he rasped, “this city has a chance.”

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