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 BLAKE SMITH:  A Capital Whip: A Pride and Prejudice Sequel


An invalid for much of her life, Miss Anne de Bourgh has precisely one accomplishment: carriage driving. She is proud of her skill with reins and whip, and justifiably so.

But when another young lady moves into the neighborhood, and challenges Anne’s place as the most accomplished driver in Hunsford, Anne must prove to herself, to her beloved horses, and to her family that she is worthy of the name de Bourgh, and she does not shrink away from a challenge.

FROM ALMA BOYKIN:  Clearly Familiar: Familiar Tales Book Five.


Wandering wolverines, catfish in the sky, owls that can’t fly straight… Welcome back to the Familiar world, where magic and the mundane coexist (and collide).

These short stories introduce some new characters and revisit familiar (and Familiar) ones, including Morgana and Smiley Lorraine, Dr. William Lewis and Blackwell, and Shoshana Langtree. Sorcerers gone mad, heavy weather, and the thin line between insanity and magic, all standard fare in this Familiar place and time.

CEDAR SANDERSON:  Possum Creek Massacre (Witchward Book 2).


Renowned for her witch hunting skills, Detective Amaya Lombard knew that being summoned from the coastal rainforest of Oregon to the backwoods hollers of Kentucky meant the case was something special. From the moment she arrived at the magic soaked scene in an abandoned farmhouse she knew how bad it was going to be. She had no idea just how complicated it was going to get, professionally and personally. Now she must catch a killer before they catch her. The roots of evil plunge deeply into the past, and the blood soaked history of Kentucky’s witch warded houses and barns may hold the key to keeping her alive in the present.



May returned home from the Second Augment War having left parts of herself behind, emotionally and literally. An inventor at heart, she built herself cybernetic legs to regain her mobility, and then a suit of powered armor to regain a purpose in her life as the superhero Escuda.
But can she balance being a superhero with a love life?
The country’s most celebrated superhero, Steel Patriot, has moved to her town. Sure, Escuda will be able to work with him easily enough, but can May get his attention, while also dealing with a new breed of supervillain on the rise?



Some nights it just doesn’t pay to rise from the grave….Corbin wants to uncover the truth behind her death at a demon’s hands. But her memories have been shattered by the grave, and even with footloose Sighted mechanic Devon Fortunato helping her search for answers, a restless ghost is up against the darkest spells and lies of the living. If they can’t unravel who sabotaged the Cunning Folk circle’s spellcast defenses, the child Corbin meant to protect will suffer a fate worse than death. Corbin’s notes hold clues, but the broken circle would rather die than admit the truth….

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: time

(And yes, with illustration, because FB takes last illu and I don’t like giving some promo advantage for no reason.)

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

  1. “But Mom! I don’t have time!”.

    “I see Jimmy. You’re one of the fastest Ultra Speedsters your age in the US and you don’t have time to do your homework.” 😈

  2. I tried to send in my book, Bob’s Saucer Repair, for the promo post. Could you give a clue where I screwed up, please?

  3. The energies were insanely insane, by particle physics.. astrophysics standards. The assemblies were all just subtly wrong. The focus resembled a magnetic confinement trap, only it.. wasn’t magnetic.

    “Chronons. They were trying to make chronons – and trap them!

    “You mean?”

    “Yes, they were trying to save time in a bottle.”

  4. “I tell you, I’m from 2019!”
    “Okay, prove it. What’s it like in the future?”
    “Well, we have gay marriage, the Spice Girls are still touring, phones play movies and Donald Trump is president.”
    “Oh, come on. I mean, the Spice Girls? Really?”

        1. All sorts of strange things happen. Who, in the 1940’s, would have guessed that the big band still making a regular broadcast in the 1980’s would be… Lawrence Welk’s?

      1. Wiki says yes. (Second reunion, started in 2016.) Will Western Civilization survive?

        1. If it doesn’t, I don’t think it will be the Spice Girls that does it in.

          1. If they were doing it in California, I would blame them for the recent earthquakes, even if that’s a different kind of rocking than a hurricane.

  5. “But to let out the work, Larum? I’ve been mason here all my life, and my father before me, and not a word against our work. And then this?” Dahren’s voice was gaining an edge that worried Larum; he didn’t want the man bitter with him over this, and to let out was the only way to get the work done in time.

  6. “He has had time,” said the Hierophant. “Enjoying every tutor and trainer that his parents could hire him, he still had years more than ordinary children have. And their dream that training would change his fate is a dream. He remains a sorcerer. It remains his duty to fight monsters.”

  7. “”Thank you, Janet. Stand by for other questions.” In the meantime, my fingers were busy.

    “What are you searching for?” Phil asked. “That didn’t seem like much.”

    “Oh, it was enough for a good start. From Janet’s vision, I know it’s an urban light rail station, involves a lightning sprite or elemental, and is in UTC plus five in North America, or UTC plus four in South America or the Caribbean. That’s where it’s three o’clock and daylight.”

    “Couldn’t it be some other time? It is precognition,isn’t it?”

    “No,actually. It’s called precognition sometimes, but there is no way to predict what the elementals will do. This is something that happened just now – the visions are real-time.”

  8. “It will be time to rest soon,” said Edwin. “With all our efforts, it is unlikely that we will make it all in one day, and there is no need to press ourselves forever in order to make tomorrow as short a journey as we can. We need to rest.”

  9. “It will take time,” said Alba, coldly. “Much time. It is your duty to spend your time on that, and not on nursemaiding a silly little girl who goes walking in her sleep and ran away from home because some silly priest told her it was her duty.”
    Wolfe shrugged.

  10. Every muscle ached with anticipation. It was his last chance to prove himself and everyone was watching. With his eyes closed he focused and relaxed into the movement.
    “Wait! His finger twitched.” The voice silenced the room.
    “Just a reflex. He’s out of time.” The Doctor said. “Pull the plug.”

  11. “It helps,” said Goldborough, “if you have them all together. I know that in the elven lands, it’s deemed unwise to have a second child before your first is a century old and so well set on the world. But having your children human-wise, so they are young together, works.”

  12. Alara inched down the labyrinth.
    The irony of it was that that last two centuries, since the spell broke, had done the most to ruin the masonry and let damp seep everywhere.
    She hopped a streamlet.
    Before then, it had been preserved by magic. She would have to be a master history of their architecture to know how old it was.

  13. “Time, Gentlebeings, please.”

    As the last patron (at least, I think it was male) shalumphed out, I sighed in relief; I could secure the cryo bar. It frightened me to dispense fluids that could cost you an arm and a leg, but I despised the LOX that the Per’cellians relished.

  14. “Look, time-travel exists, but it’s not how you think of it, with some way of going back and forth to meet your grandparents and such…”

    “Well, how does it work, then…?”

    Rukh palmed her face. The girl knew so little of how things actually worked, and lacked so much context for things…

    “OK, right… It’s all macro-scale. Macro-macro, to be a little more accurate… You can’t fine-tune things enough to be able to go back to yesterday and fix what you didn’t do, but you can go back a few billion years and seed a stellar nursery with gravitational seeds, and then check in every few million years to see how things are going… Kinda. That’s how the Elders built worlds, like this one… When they found a likely stellar nursery they could get at, they seeded it with mass, and basically guided the way the systems all consolidated. Then, when they found paths through to later points along that system’s timeline, they seeded the worlds with Terrene life, and kept checking up on it periodically, guiding things along…”.

    “Wait… So, you can travel in time, but it’s like random, and millions of years at a whack…?”.

    “Simplified to its basic terms, yes.”.

    “Sooooo… What about causality? Continuity? All of that?”.

    “OK… Say I go through a transit point, and wind up somewhere in this universe, but a few million years ago in a system millions of light-years away… The light from whatever it is I do won’t even hit this system until millions of years from now: What possible impact could that have on anything we do in the here/now?”.

    “But… Couldn’t there be something that would influence things…?”.

    “As a practical matter, no… There are no continuity police to show up and say “Yeah, you’ve been pre-empted by whatever happened over here…”; you exist in the bubble of the here/now, and will continue to do so, for as long as you’re around to experience it…”.

    “That doesn’t make sense… If you travel in time and make changes before you were born, shouldn’t that impact what you are…?”.

    Rukh sighed. “Look… You experience time linearly, right? So, if at some point in the future, you do something that somehow changes the here/now, it’s meaningless–The changes don’t propagate. You’d have to pass through Transit space, which disconnects you from the reference framework of this universe; even if you come back into this universe a million years ago, and somehow triggered a cataclysm that destroyed this system before you were born, that trip through transit space disconnected you from it all; you’d be an orphan phenomenon, is all… No identifiable past, no precursor: You’d still exist from the point you exited transit space, though, as an entirely new and novel thing…”.

    “That’s confusing as hell…”

    “Welcome to the Totality. Nobody said it had to make sense.”

  15. With a turn of the key, the jowly, jovial, familiar face appeared on the screen, and the four red lights at its corners lit. “Greetings, Trader Harkness, it’s both a privilege and and honor, but if we could postpone this conversation to a later time, there is somewhat of a pressing situation facing us here at present..?”

    The speaker not only sounded a little breathless, his mind was still more than half-filled with estimates of plume radiance and shielding efficiencies. And beneath that, the likely cost of the alternative. Facing a Master Trader wasn’t hardly, on that scale, moving the needle off the peg, except as it cost him time now or his worlds vital commerce later.

    “Ah, yes, we had recently been tracking that… unusual object too. We might be in a position to help you deal with that, if the price is right.” There was little or no outright smugness, but the near-absolute self-confidence of the whole Interstellar Master Trader stable of agents shone through his manner like heat from a red-hot stove.

    “Our measurements indicate it’s hotter than an O1 sun, smaller than ten miles across, yet nearly half an Earth mass. Do yours? And if so, can you really keep it from approaching Dundochas closely enough to do major damage?” (Ah, the fan-dance magic of euphemism, ‘major damage’ and its kin.)

    Thomas “just call me Tom” Harkness actually smiled. “It turns out that this extremely dense quasi-degenerate form of matter we can observe in this odd cometary object is remarkably close to an artificial form of matter used in the drive cores of FTL spaceship engines. We already have considerable assets to handle such matter at our manufacturing facility in your outer system. And so, even with the immense mass of the object, we’d feel confident in our ability to use… very large amounts of energy and other resources, to ensure it comes no closer to your planet than, say, a hundred and fifty diameters.

    “Which would result in a maximum tidal force of barely two and a half times the Moon on Earth, over scant days, surely survivable with little or no truly catastrophic results. And we’d only ask, for example, in return that you cede and evacuate your colonies on Ravenna, Norwich, and Isengard. Vast works deserve vast rewards.” It was said with nothing like smirk or a sneer, yet the self-congratulatory certainty was as patent as the smell of an enraged skunk among the flower arrangements of a wedding party.

    Jules de Florian, Planetary Coordinator of the Republic of Dundochas, let a bit of outrage and horror leak into his voice. “Three colony worlds, generations of hard work and tens of thousands of lives to tame, to save merely one?” There was only a bit of any to spare, the rest had gone into storage like regenerated power into the main battery of a car on a steep downhill glide.

    Master Trader Harkness looked expansive and generous. “Surely given the far greater effects of a close approach, eight or nine thousands of Moon-Earth tides from a passage at ten or eleven diameters from Dundochas, keeping a disaster of that magnitude from your homeworld should be worth even such a dear and priceful trade? Given our shortness of time, surely no other agency is ready to step in and help you with such heavy-duty heavy-matter carriage.”

    There was a dark and terrible smile in Jules’ mind and heart, that never even reached his face and never came anywhere near his eyes. “*Miles* worth of tides, more than one of those for every foot we have normally.” Forget that old book, “multiply everything by eighty” — that was a piker’s gift of beggary next to this. And if it came true, would it be a *natural* disaster after all, or more like an industrial “accident” months in the coming, but stealthily too?

    “And don’t neglect the long-term consequences, the permanent alteration such an encounter would wreak upon Dundochas’ present orbit. Even after damage of such magnitude, to the infrastructure and the ecology” [oh, yes, Jules put in silently, and to the population] “had been, hypothetically, repaired, every new year (of a few months’ greater duration) would see a wolfwinter, not a nuclear one but an orbital one and quite generally worldwide.”

    Like Mars, Jules remembered. Like Mars in orbit winter, but like Venus in orbit summer. [You forgot, he thought, to warn us of the fire to go between the ice.]

    “Master Trader Harkness, surely you must understand by now that in our form of government, I cannot simply agree to such terms on my own, I would need the approval of the Council of Ministers at the very least and probably also the Executive Committee of the Upper House of the Legislature. May I expect to gain your prompt attention by re-calling you on this same channel?”

    “Yes, Coordinator, you may. But remember, time is of the essence now. Time, and tide, wait for no man.” And he cut the connection, leaving the screen with a place-holding graphic and silenced audio.

    I did not lie, mused Jules de Florian as he looked and listened to it. Should I do any such thing *without* their approval, I should all but certainly be hung from the nearest lamppost within five minutes, in Old Revolutionary style. And if the citizenry found they’d approved such a thing, the guillotine would make quite a miraculous return as well, no doubt, for Ministers and Deputies alike.

    And as he turned the key switch from INSECURE back to SECURE, and the red lights (Edison tungsten-filament lamps) went out and the green ones came on in their place, he remembered such keys turned in pairs on Old Earth, never in anger but still, ah, potent.

    The graphic on screen had changed back to its former incarnation of three or four minutes ago… Operation Squid, it had been dubbed. Jet propulsion, and sure enough it was. But quite, for Jules and others till very recently, a moral and ethical dilemma.

    The baryon-flip technology had been pure science bucking for promotion all the way to breakthrough energy source. Effectively total conversion of mass to energy, turning matter into antimatter which could then react to make pure energy — but with a couple of real catches.

    Baryon number (protons and neutrons +1, their mirror antiparticles -1) was related “only” to isotopic spin, which was *not* coupled to a long-range force; but electric charge was, to the force of electromagnetism itself. You could (it was now proven) get away with “breaking” the first, but surely not the second, as changing electric charge was out. So protons, and electrons *if* there was a corresponding lepton-flip, *could not* be flipped… only neutrons.

    So not even the miraculous Matter Mirror ever would, did, or could turn (say) a teapot into an anti-teapot, not even with a hypothetical souped-up Mossbauer Effect to make the flip coherently across the whole object or not at all. Worse, it was *really* bad at making storable antimatter since it never (directly) made *any* easier-to-handle (not easy, easier) charged antiparticles.

    But for all those reasons, it *was* very good at… blowing things up, in-situ. It positively *excelled* at turning ordinary matter into a hot soup of high-energy parrticles, ordinary and exotic. In other words, a fireball.

    And it had worked in practice, right up to the test in the gas giant outsystem, hundreds of miles deep in the planet and thousands away from the ship. It’d taken weeks for the fireball to claw its way to the surface, and give Odhinn a second ‘eye’ for a short while.

    It would probably even work from ground level now, but Squid called for a ship at 20,000 miles or so. To be sure.

    No longer just spooky action at a distance, but scary annihilation at a distance too.

    Decent to poor energy source, fair to good rocket, great weapon. And thus, moral problem.

    But now it was just a good solution.

    And ultra-dense, millions-times-dense matter, like white-dwarf starstuff, was a perfect fuel and tamper for a Matter Mirror explosion. The high density made it possible to keep “burning” matter long past the point (“disassembly”) ordinary stuff like rock or metal would’ve blown apart into thin vapor or plasma. And it blanketed hard radiation from anything outside the fireball itself.

    Now a good rocket would “save” Dundochas, whose name meant Fort Hope.

    “Time and tide wait for no man. But Necessity is the mother of invention,” Jules said, reaching for the red telephone.

    And the future and all its human posterity could bloody well fend for itself.

  16. As young Cari gazed into the predawn gloom, she felt someone taking her hand in an expression, she perceived, of profound relief and deep gratitude. “I’ve found you,” Cari thought. “And now you can rest.” The thousand years that separated them suddenly became a mere instant as the Nightingale vanished.

  17. “Time was when men could live in peace,” said Grandfather. “War came seldom and ran its course within a generation.”

    “What happened, Grandfather?”

    “We happened, my dear.”

  18. Bolts split the air as dirt erupted in waves behind him as he slid across the rust colored ground. Inches were all that separated him from eternal slumber as gatling lasers peppered the Martian soil around him as he slid toward the technological monstrosity targeting him.

    An outstretched arm grabbed the golem, holding his frail form against its neodymium shell. The beast tried to shake him free, but as the dial wound down he fled into the only safe dimension.


  19. “Normally I’d be gentle and friendly, work to build trust and all that stuff. But as you are undoubtedly aware, there’s no time for that anymore. So bottom line, I’m going to ask you this question one time and one time only, and if you don’t tell me what I want to know I’m going to start cutting pieces off of you. Where is Princess Adelia?”

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