*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. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months. One book per author per week. Amazon links only.-SAH*
FROM ELI STEELE: Blood and Iron: Part One
Magic doesn’t exist, until a mage falls in the streets of Ashmor. In his last moments, he gives Rowan Vos, a thief for hire, a sword that will alter his future, and threaten not only his own life, but the lives of everyone around him.
Eldrick D’Eldar returns from the Kingdom of Meronia with dire news – three decades of fragile peace is unraveling.
And Griffon Alexander, the son of a minor noble relegated to the borderland keep of Braewood, is about to face the culmination of all of these events.
FROM GRACE GARNE: Trouble at Oak Tree Motors (Texas Trouble Book 1)
The residents of Firewood Texas think an ex-con from California is their problem until a meth gang moves in.
FROM PAM UPHOFF: Marooned (Wine of the Gods Book 46)
Xen Wolfson is a powerful dimensional wizard. With no idea how he wound up in a wilderness, bereft of magic, with what looks a lot like a lightning strike burn.
If he doesn’t get killed and eaten by the wolf, and learns to make weapons, and hunt without magic, he can survive until someone finds him.
Hopefully a friend . . .
A cross-dimensional war is brewing, and Xen’s kidnapping was the first shot fired. As the unknown enemy continues to grab the strongest of the dimensional cops, Xen’s friends try to find him, and at the same time locate the enemy so they can stop the hostilities before it turns into open warfare.
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: rub
37 thoughts on “Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Book Promo”
I’ve got a dirty mind that needs those thoughts rubbed out.
I submitted a book for the promo a few days ago. Did I miss the cutoff, or should I send it in again?
I haven’t seen it. Send again?
Sent again. Thanks.
“So what do you think, Zee? Left arm up, please.”
The young man continued scrubbing the filth off of his zombie while he talked. Other mages might leave their creatures just hanging about, rotting and stinking up the place, but he possessed a working nose. Smelly zombie funk? No thank you.
“I mean, the berry pie was a nice touch. And the bread! Oh, the bread. Crusty, chewy, buttery goodness. A man could live on such bread for months. Open, please.”
The zombie complied, opening its mouth. A fly buzzed lazily out. The mage absently swatted it.
“Yes, time for a bit of brushing in there, too. Now where did I put that paste?” His minion remained standing, jaw slack as he rooted about in the shelves. Not at all dusty, those shelves. And not a single skull or jar with preserved bits of flesh in it. A casual observer might have mistaken it for a peasant’s pantry. There were even jars of preserved yams.
“Right then, where were we. Ah! The petition from the town council. Terrible business that. Warlock barges in, raises the people’s loved ones from the cemetery, sets to terrorizing and demanding daughters, taxes, and whathaveyou. It gives the magical community a bad name, don’t you think? Swish and spit.” It was a complicated command to give a newly raised undead, but this one was smarter than the average lot. He could tell.
The zombie spat on the floor, completely missing the jar he held out for it. Oh, well, he thought. Maybe smart wasn’t the best of terms to describe it…
“So they’ve already gone and said they already have a warlock, no thank you, please leave, don’t let the portcullis split you on the way out, bye-bye now. Puts us in a bit of a spot. I mean- right arm out, please- oh, now that’s a nasty one.”
Underneath the accumulated grime was a long gash under the zombie’s well developed bicep. Superb musculature this one had, in life. Made for a tougher minion. The mage stuck his cleaning brush in the wound and dug around, flicking out bits of tar-like substance until it came back clean. Then he put the brush down, muttered a few phrases that sounded a bit like a cat hacking up a hairball crossed with a frog with dysentery. A pale green glow surrounded the wound, and it began closing. Magic was handy that way.
“Right then. Back to the matter at hand. I’m sure you would be all for warlock slaying, being a terrifically heroic fellow yourself, but that didn’t work out so well that last time, now did it? Well, this time there’s you, me, and Clay to back you up. I mean, if we go through with this of course.”
He tapped his chin in thought, completely oblivious to the muddy suds that had dripped down onto his hands. There was something else, there…
“Oh yes! The townsfolk. I mean the former townsfolk, the dead ones. Undead, rather. How many did they say? Five? Fifty? Something with a five in it. Right. Well. Better five than fifty of course. Hmmm,” he hmmmed.
“Zombies. Warlock. Skeletons? Yes, there was something about skeletons in that note. Zombies. Skeletons. Heh.” The young mage settled his hat a bit more firmly on his head. Yet more muddy suds dripped off the brim. He shook his head a bit to clear it. The zombie withheld comment. Zombies were good that way, when one was being ridiculous, he thought with a smile.
“Warlocks, though. How powerful is he. Is he a she?” A look of concern flitted across the mage’s face. “Hope not. Hmmm. Given the zombie raising, can’t be too powerful, right? Well, zombies, I mean common, run of the mill, just raised townsfolk, they won’t be so bad. I bet he doesn’t even take care of his minions.” He reached up to pat the soapy zombie on the shoulder. The mage was a tall man, but his minion was bigger still.
And broader. More broad. Wider, rather. In the shoulders. Not fat, of course. Fat zombies? Bad idea, he thought.
“But fighting against another mage? Well, fighting with magic, that’s tricky stuff. You just don’t know what spells the other fellow has. Could be, well, almost anything, couldn’t it? But the townsfolk. And the bread. I do like a good crusty bread. With butter and garlic. If he takes the town, then no bread. There’s the rub, Zee.”
He continued scrubbing vigorously. Dirty, soapy water pooled at their feet, and trickled down into a grate set in the floor nearby.
“Somehow, I just know that nothing but trouble will come of this. Mark my words, Zee! Bread or no bread, some sort of mischief is about. I can smell it.”
“Aye, there’s the rub.” The warrior rumbled in reply. “How’s a fellow supposed to eat if he canna even figure out which fork to use?”
“And they want me to use my own ‘bloomin money to purchase a dress white uniform to attend this highfalutin gala. There ain’t no justice in this stinkin world. I need another beer.”
No valiant deed goes unpunished. Or, around here, Unpunned. *chuckle*
Campaign equipment list
Ionizing radiation dosimeters, individual tag, shielded box of 250.
Westminister Confession, Machinery’s Handbook (58th), Encyclopedia of Military History (3rd), Art of Computer Programming (complete), Henry’s Standard Magical Values (11th)
C-Rations, 1949, crate
Orion stun ‘grenade’
99.5% pure Silver, 2 ½ pounds
Mosin-Nagant, cosmoline preserved
Water treatment tablets, 8 oz plastic bottle
12 kg C-4
Class Ring, Rank F
Liniment, mana contamination, rub
Spirit Stones, ½ oz., 12
Heavy capture net, 120 square feet
Vector Network Analyzer, uncalibrated
Saw the exercise, decided to create the above, ran into below while finishing above.
1. Provincial Passport
2. County Passport
3. Six Month Temporary Residency Tag
4. Two Week Employment Permit
5. black market maps of local area
6. water resistant electric bullseye lantern.
7. sixty pound rope, thirty feet
8. folding shovel
9. waterproof poncho with insulating liner
10. load carrying equipment
11. waterproof hiking/climbing boots
12. dowsing crystal, specific magic affinity
13. Insulated twisted pair cable, sixty foot
Answering the holophone, I heard a heavily modulated voice:
“Is this 1-800-MERC?”
“Depends. What’s your pleasure?”
“You could say I need someone… “rubbed off”.
*Sigh*. Some people just love melodrama…
“I do hope you mean assassinated, otherwise you might want another 1-800 number. Now… Who can I do for you?”
That afternoon, I was stuck with dealing with an exercise involving monster identification at the same time that I was dodging blows from a golem in the station. Charles was running the golems and my goal was to not only identify a monster by his descriptions, but to hit a contact patch with Whisper. There were six contact patches on each golem, and I had to-
A)Hit the contact patches on all of the golems, and
B)Identify the creature
-in about one minute. So, I have to find this CD-sized flashing patch of green on one of four giant rock monsters, while trying to figure out how to make the most sense of Charles…less than informative descriptions. But, by the end of our training session, I was handling three golems and doing descriptions, and Charles called an end to the session. “Good work, Adelaide. Glad you were able to figure out how to identify a jiangshi on the basis of fang length near the end.”
I managed to stop panting for a moment, and lever myself up with Whisper from the floor where I had hit the last golem contact patch on it’s knee. “I was almost bluffing with that one,” I moaned. I had lost all of my bruises from the troll fight, but I had a few neat and interesting ones from when I had been dodging golems. “Somebody actually did a length study of vampire fangs by type?”
“Several,” Charles chuckled. “But, I was confident you would figure it out.”
I got up, cleaned Whisper, and looked around the station. It took me a moment to find it, and I walked over to where a heavy-duty wire broom was standing up against a wall. I grabbed it, found the most beaten up golem there, and took that wire broom to its back hard. The golem stopped moving, then started to thump it’s leg against the floor, as the other golems moved to line up. “You are the only person I know whom not only has tried to figure out how to pet golems, but has actually succeeded,” Charles says over the pounding of the golem’s foot.
“How many people do you know that try to pet a golem?” I asked over the pounding. I stop on this one and move to the next one. The other two golems come over and playfully hit each other enough to establish who’s next, and I work hard on this one to make sure he’s really scrubbed. “They do like me.”
“Which is weird as well. They shouldn’t be as…developed this early,” Charles ponders. “And, first, by the way.”
I paused for a moment and leaned against my broom. “I’m getting the feeling that I’m not exactly running on the same schedule as most Solists,” I note, picking the broom up again and scrubbing the back of another golem.
“Not at all,” Charles chuckles. “Mind you, it’s all anonymous replies on the network until we meet another Solist or Sol or So, but you get this feeling that quite a few Servants are going ‘how did you luck out with your Solist?’”
“That is worrying,” I note, and start to brush the last golem. “What are they saying and how did we luck out?”
Charles considers this for a moment, as I finish brushing the last golem. Now, done, they rumble off and get back to work on their projects. “Nothing particularly wrong…but, you’re very much a ‘what’s next?’ sort of person,” Charles replies. “Your fellow Solists are very much ‘what now?’ sorts of people.”
“I’m scared that I understand that,” I sighed. “I can’t pretend that we can plan for everything, but I’d like to think that we can at least get ready for the worst possibilities.”
“And, you’ve got a good head on your shoulders,” Charles notes.
I put away the broom, release the Regalia, and walked over to where Charles is standing. “I’ve got about an hour before I need to get home and swap places with Gee, so anything else we can do here?”
Charles considers this, and says, “I think we’ll be done here in a minute. Do you have any big plans for tonight?”
“Honestly,” I admit. “Right now, I’m really wanting to give my parents a call, tell them I’m okay, and maybe go out for a bit in New York. There’s a couple of clubs that I want to hit, and some nightlife stuff that I want to do now that I actually have money and time.”
“Be careful,” Charles noted. “You will be outside of the security perimeter tonight and tomorrow. I know nobody has a reason to suspect or look for you, but this is New York City. It can be dangerous on occasion.”
“And, why do I suspect that I’ll have a very discrete team watching me,” I asked curiously.
“Because you’re smart, knowledgeable, and know us too well,” Charles pointed out. “I haven’t tried to search your browser history or read the network logs to where you’re going, but I’d like to think that we’ve worked out a few places.”
I rub my face with my hand, and let out a frustrated sigh. “Just…don’t have anybody pick me up or something unless I get really drunk. Or run profiles and background checks on every person I talk to.”
There’s a long, thoughtful pause. “You’ve already gotten the creepy FBI van for the surveillance teams,” I state, not quite a question.
“Two of them,” Charles nods. “Ian justified their purchase and there’s a really neat tax break for them.”
I find a place to sit down, and think about this for a moment. “Yay us, we’re already building a domestic intelligence agency,” I cheer mirthlessly. “Complete with our own black operations teams. When do we start dumping bodies in shallow graves to keep secrets?”
Charles frowns at this. “Hopefully never,” he sighs. “It’s a world that is much more complicated than just find the monster, beat the monster, and then cake.”
“Good cake,” I smile. “I won’t be satisfied with anything less.”
“Absolutely good cake,” Charles replied. “Wonderful cake, even.”
The alarm clock on my cell phone rang, and I looked around. “Time for me to get going. See you Sunday afternoon.”
“Absolutely,” Charles nodded and we made our way to the portal.
I like it, and would definitely give that one a read.
Thank you, going to beta reading soon. “Solist At Large” is the current title.
“What did you use in the rub?”
André held up the can, and Lelia peered at it, then closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. “That’s not really for dragon chops, is it?”
“Since we bought it from one of the curanderas, it might well be,” Rodney the kit-fox warned.
So Dragons are eaten in the Familiars World?
Perhaps, some Dragons should pay that world a “little visit”. [Very Very Big Dragon Grin]
Probably not, but perhaps in one of the planes that are not supposed to link to ours, well…
Perhaps a certain painter will gain a dragon friend. 😉
There’s an isekai manga where dragon is eaten, but it’s a different species from the intelligent ones. In a world though where there are beast-men, the omnivores don’t have the teeth for dragon meat. Apparently delicious, but tough for humanoids.
Beatrice rubbed her thumb and fingers together. Amalie looked blank. Gregor could not blame her. If Mistress Disaster had not shrieked that Beatrice was summoning up poison that way, no one would ever have thought it, and Beatrice would never have used it for a threat.
Threatening was another matter.
Tanglefoot gently rubbed the oiled cloth along the barrels of the shotgun. He didn’t understand why Neyland had payed so much money for the gun at an estate sale, or why he considered several thousand dollars for a hundred year old sporting gun a bargain. Or, for that matter, why humans would pay many times that much for a ‘Purdey’ that had belonged to a ‘Hollywood Stat’ in the era of silent films. But he knew an example of high craftsmanship and art when he had it under his hands. And Neyland Tarr always had a soft sopt for beautiful weapons. Tanglefoot supposed it had something to do with the number of brutality functional ones that had passed through Tarr’s hands in Her Majesty’s service.
50 words exactly!
“Boss! Sally! I thought you liked Jim!”
“I do. Hell, I think he’s damned sexy!”
“But this text. You said you want to rub him out!”
“No, you idiot! Read it again! I said I wanted to watch him rub one out. But, shit, don’t tell HR I texted that.”
“We need a location where we can lure the dragon. Again. This time without being able to move the earth, but at least this time we have more wilderness to work with.” Bredon rubbed the back of his neck. “We may have to find some actual gold for the bait.”
Delbert emerged from the cooler with a rack of pork ribs. “Clem!” he called. “Whar’s that jar o’ spices we always use? Them Martians tourists want the aww-thentic barbecue experience!”
Clem pointed at the pantry. “Therein.”
“There-in?” said Delbert.
“Listen,” said Clem, “do I gotta spell it out for you?”
Joe rubbed his eyes. “You really expected him to go to Chick-Fil-A?” “The advertising…” “..should be a big hint, way too obvious, stereotypical. And our guy can spell, most of the time.”
Tim piped up, “Shahi Palace.” “Shahi… Indian?” “Rather obvious when you think it through, isn’t it, Mark?”
I guess Hindus and Minotaurs would get along well together.
As long as it’s reciprocal. Those Minotaurs that eat Hindus. . . .
“There are fighters and thieves,” said Roberto, “who try to figure it out. They sip a potion, or put on a ring and rub it, or wave a wand.”
“What do they find out?” said Aidan.
“Sooner or later, you can’t find out because you can’t talk to the dead.”
“Okay, we’re leavin’,” abruptly said Dave Sobieski, hopping off the barstool and slapping down a $50 Bank of Far Nacogdoches greenback (worth at least $35 in offworld Intertrade Dollars at least the rest of the week) on the counter in one smooth motion.
“But my beer…” (half-finished, imported from Old Earth, and truly sublime), though I was also rising, with far less grace and speed. And suppressing an impulse to applaud his grabbing our tab.
“Leave it,” said Dave, in something halfway to parade-ground tones. “You’re drivin’, too. And, Will,” — nodding toward Ben Starnes and the gaggle of Idjit Dudes once again surrounding him — “you can waste time disputing it later.”
Dave liked to joke about “royal commands” because of his (apparently very real) blood connections to the old royal family of Poland. He was very clearly not joking now, and his instincts had proven too good to ever ignore.
The river of century-old Lady Antebellum harmony from the Omniplayer had not quite hid the progressively more sour-bitter-skunky sound of the Gaggle of Idjits (almost as bad as their old-timey 2020 namesakes) harassing Ben for what had to be about the dozenth time. I was too busy navigating through the thinning crowd of Cargill’s Feed, Seed, and Peed saloon wing, and punching up “pre-start” on my aircycle’s spread-spectrum remote, all at once to want to look back too, or try to catch the occasional measured, courteous word from Ben.
I did, however, question Dave about it: “I’m *sure* you said Ben Starnes was a lot like a block of TNT or ammonium nitrate or China Lake 20 — you can slap it, kick it, drop it, maybe even shoot it and nothing too bad will happen.” The last part was obviously hyperbole, shooting at Ben Starnes was a funny-once, as the old line from that book put it. But he had about the longest of fuses.
Dave held the back door smoothly open for me and scooted it for the aircycle. I noted the Idjits’ fancy ride and Ben’s hovertruck were nowhere in sight on the back lot. “One thing I forgot to add, Will, about Benjamin and in-HE both. Yes, you can do all that, just about anything you want — except rub it, or him, the wrong way. And *that* will be the last mistake you make, the last thing you ever do or try. Take it from an old EOD guy from the Fractious Fifities.”
We’d reached the aircycle and he’d hopped on/in before I could even finish the startup handshake and live the controls. “Go,” he said, “and swing wide of the front lot if you can, I want to watch the show. Last thing I caught was ‘You man enough to take it outside, Benjy-boy, or are we going to have to drag you?’ Just make double-certain sure it’s from a safe distance, okay?”
The ‘cycle’s lift fans scoured only a faint whiff of residual dust from the well-swept lot’s concrete surface as I boosted it up about fifty quick feet and took a look over at the front lot. There in the glare of the old-fashioned sodium lights was an upright Ben Starnes, surrounded by the Gaggle of Idjits. One of them was holding a pig-sticker the length of his arm, as if he barely knew which end to grab first. I caught the scattering of still figures off by the shadows, near the trucks and airscooters that looked too like the rest of the Starnes herd.
Ben, a look of patient but long-suffering disgust on his face, made a tossing motion with his upraised, but empty, left hand. And from our viewpoint up in the quiet evening sky, I saw what they didn’t, couldn’t, never’d bothered to look for in all their posturing pomposity: a teenage girl with the trademark Starnes red hair tossing a pizza-sized circle under their fancy ride, then dropping down flat to the ground.
I didn’t need to be told to back off, and I had a whole handful of seconds to do it before the tower of flame erupted from what had been their imported aircar. (And I mean, slim tower of flame, almost like a chem-rocket exhaust plume.)
“Yep, that’s just like Ben. Take it like a man, long enough, then bring a dozen friendly guns and a sweet little shaped-disk charge to a knife fight.” Dave was almost in full-on fanboy mode, an old explosives guy in tall cotton. “Boy, I do admire a man who walks the path of nonviolent action as long as he can. It ought to settle things without a scratch on anybody, if they have the good sense God gave a tumbleweed. No odds on that last one though.”
But I wasn’t hanging around, I had ambitions of making it up to Little Saigon, barely a dozen miles north, before last call to replace my lost (and much-mourned) beer.
Good times, good times. If perhaps a bit pricey ones.
(*Possibly* inspired partly by a few hours of reading David Drake last night.)
Rip, rip, rip, rip, rip. The roll of fibers continued to unravel and shred beneath my industrious pawing, enforced by the weight of my upper body. As the fluffy debris floated to the crowded floor as the not-so-silly two-legs entered.
“Rubbed you the wrong way, did he?” asked my pet.
(Of course, read it 50 times and never see the extra “as”. And can’t edit it. Wp delenda est!
The man eyed them. If he was a man, sitting on his chest chained to the floor. Rosine wondered if he could ever stand, or if his legs were just a pretense.
He raised his hands. One hand rubbed an iron band on the wrist of the other. Darkness followed.
It’s hilarious when you get a bunch of barbeque cooks together. One group will say, “Real barbeque is just straight meat on the fire.” Another will argue,“It’s all about the sauce!” And the third group falls in the middle saying, “The type of rub you use makes all the difference.”
Brandon sat in the grass in the sunlight. One cat came up to him and rubbed against his hand.
Minette, after a moment, blushed and looked away. Perhaps no one would notice her, standing in shadow, watching him, but she would never hear the end of it if someone did.
Garack braced against the door, rubbing his sore chin ruefully. Muted pounding noises came through the thick oak.
Fidral spied the only other way out, a tiny barred window high above, and grimaced. “Time for Plan B, Boss?”
He shook his head and pulled out their last two grenades. “Nah, we’re way past Plan B. Now we go to Plan O — for Oh Shit.”
It was kind of creepy, having a hundred floating eyes roaming the warehouse. But ten minutes earlier, whilst experimenting with connecting hands to the conjured Seekers, the Master had told me I was in charge of not only housing, but FEEDING the incoming hundred teenage Warriors and their families. Any emotion can disturb a conjuration, but at least this panic misfire of a plea for help might help me scrounge up the needed things.
“Eyes, drag out the tables, set up the pavillions.”
Now for food. Need to start cooking.
“Eyes, gather the ripe crops, and take some silver to the butcher for several cows worth of meat. Eyes…”
There was only one left. I guess I was going to get my own hands dirty as well. Time to gather cooking ingredients.
“Eye, there’s the rub.”
“Poor Max!” said Cari. “So brave you are, doing your physical therapy all day!” As Max collapsed into a chair, Cari went to work on his left shoulder.
Max was so grateful for Cari’s attention he didn’t tell her she was massaging the only part of him that didn’t hurt.
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