Rare Monday Vignettes and Book Promo

*I am better and for the people who think it’s more serious, psychosomatic, etc.  No, this is a virus that has been hitting my entire family.  The amazing thing is that I was the third, not the second to get it.  Husband is now in the beginnings of it. I should be able to actually work today and with a little bit of luck be back on the blog tomorrow- SAH*

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. 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 SAM SCHALL:  Betrayal from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 5).


War is never clean. Honor doesn’t always win out. Betrayal becomes the shadow currency that can tip the balance of power.

Colonel Ashlyn Shaw learned those lessons the hard way. Five years ago, she lost her command and her freedom because of the machinations of those willing to betray Fuercon, the homeworld they’d sworn to protect. Supposed allies conspired with enemies. Now Fuercon and its allied systems face a war on multiple fronts.

A war where the enemy doesn’t want a diplomatic solution. One where the enemy claims victory based on the number of civilian deaths.

This is not a war of attrition. It is a war of survival.

It is also a war Ashlyn and her allies have every intention of winning. But to do so, they must first unravel the layers of a conspiracy that goes much deeper than any of them suspect.

Honor and duty. Death before dishonor.



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: friendly

27 thoughts on “Rare Monday Vignettes and Book Promo

  1. Andrew watched the school assembly in his high school football field from the grassy knoll overlooking the field.

    Then a strange calm came over him and a friendly voice asked “When’s the accident going to happen?”

    Still strangely calm, he turned to see a man wearing the uniform of an Ultra Agent sitting next to him.

    “Who are you, what are you talking about … and what have you done to me?”

    “My name is Alexander Stephens and part of my power set enables me to control emotional reactions to surprises in others” the Agent replied.

    “As for what I’m talking about, the Agency get concerned when accidents happen for apparently no reason. Of course, it is interesting that no matter how much damage the accidents cause, nobody is seriously hurt.”

    Andrew flushed but replied “I don’t like this control of yours. Let me go, Agent Stephens.”

    The calm went away and the Agent replied “Call me Alex. As I said I didn’t want any dangerous reaction to me surprising you. Right now, all I want is to talk about you and your powers.”

  2. As Nietzsche should have said, “That which doesn’t kill me leaves me weakened and vulnerable to the next attacker.” Glad you are better and mend you give the body opportunity to regain strength.

  3. Alas, the upper respiratory crud has started making the rounds at Day Job, along with allergies. I’m glad you are feeling better.

    And Happy Columbus Day! And happy Thanksgiving, Canuks.

    1. I haven’t been to town in almost a month, so the lung-crud I’m getting is allergy caused sinus drainage. Judging by the weather patterns, it’s likely some mold spores from the wet weather we had. Now it’s hard freezes every morning. Ah, autumn in the high country!

  4. Glad to hear you’re feeling better, Sarah.

    I have an idea you might be able to use next time you’re too sick to do a Sunday promo. I’ll send you an e-mail.

  5. “Friendly? It’s a MONSTER!”


    The pair turned slowly, in abject fear, and beheld the monster face to face.

    “Pardon, have you any Grey Poupon? Or perhaps Italian dressing?”

    “N..N…Not a carnivore?” Joe stammered.

    “I prefer meat, but there is none.”

    “Except us.”

    “You talk. Not food.”

    “Not a monster.”

    1. I can’t remember the original source, but I read something earlier this year where one ‘monster’ had to remind another of the rule “food that talks is not food”…

  6. “Gentlemen.”
    The voice from the side of the dockyard gate caused the 4 sailors to pause and look over at the slender figure they hadn’t noticed before.
    “A friendly word of advice, as I can tell you are new to the Nexus. You are too..blatantly armed for where you are planning on going tonight.”
    “And how would you know where we are going, ma’dm…?” asked the brawny sailor with the large scimitar on his back.
    “Patroller Alembriss of the Canstal guard, and your clothes are to genteel for the Slethe, so you aren’t headed to the taverns there. The rest of the guard tend to be a bit hasty with blatantly displayed weapons. So, if you plan on visiting the better inns and houses outside of the docks, I’d suggest you arm yourself in a manner less likely to invite trouble.”

  7. The 3×5” card exercise was “interesting,” in the sort of way that involved possible future therapy. After Lucinda takes the cards away, she tells us, “Come back here after lunch. You have to have lunch with your partner, and the cafeteria staff knows who your partners are.”

    As Sayuri and I walk towards the cafeteria, I ask, “Would you mind if we found a friend of mine and had lunch with her?”

    Sayuri considers this and replies, “Not at all, Taylor-san. This is only my second time on campus.”

    Not sure how to respond to that, we go into the cafeteria and get lunch-an unimpressive bland “burrito” that is more like a sandwich wrapped up in a tortilla-and I start looking around to find where Emily is. I can see Emily’s hand in the air, and the two of us come over to the table, where Emily is sitting with her partner.

    Her partner being Madison Tropolie, who was grinning like a madwoman with her best friend Kimberly and her partner sitting beside her. “Ade!” Madison grins and waves at the open space in front of us, “And her new friend. How are you doing today?”

    I remind myself that if I get in enough trouble, I’ll be expelled. And it’s difficult to recruit people when you can’t get access to where the people you are recruiting are. “Pretty good, just got started with my Tutor. My apologies, Miss Tropolie, this is Miss Suisha. My friend here is Miss Meeks and Miss Tropolie’s friend is Miss Townsend.”

    “A pleasure to meet you, Sui,” Madison smiles and I can feel Sayuri stiffen up beside me. It’s feels like slowly colliding with a wall to my left as Sayuri has her name said improperly.

    “My full name is Sayuri Suisha, Miss Tropolie. I prefer to be called Miss Suisha,” Sayuri replies coldly.

    Madison looks at Sayuri, giggles, and says, “Sure, Say. I’m glad to have met your friend, Ade, we’re going to be roommates this semester!”

    And, just as I was about to take my first bite of the burrito, I know it was going to taste like ashes in my mouth. “Congratulations,” I reply as calmly as I can. “I’m glad that you and Miss Meeks will be spending the semester together.”

    “Thank you,” Emily says just loudly enough over the noise of the cafeteria. I’m trying to eat as Madison tries to draw Sayuri out, and Sayuri is just ignoring her. Occasionally, I’m fielding a question from Kimberly and her partner, Emma, about myself, and the half-hour passes quickly. I put my tray and plates in the right bins, and Sayuri is waiting for me outside of the cafeteria.

    “How do you know Miss Tropolie,” Sayuri asks as we start walking back to the dorms.

    “We were at the same table for lunch during testing and I helped Emily to get decent uniforms for the school,” I replied. “I haven’t heard or seen her since, and she had my phone number.”

    There’s a long, drawn out pause and I suspect that Sayuri is thinking about what she is going to say. “Taylor-san,” Sayuri begins in Japanese. “In what would be for an American the seventh grade, I was at a boarding school in Kyoto. In my dorm was a girl, Hasegawa-san, and she was a very, very friendly girl. If she found you to be useful. If you did not, she would destroy you with rumors and lies and bullying. I saw her do it, and it was like looking at Hasegawa-san again when I saw Tropolie-san.”

    She paused for a moment, then continued, “Meeks-san…she looks like a victim waiting for somebody to use her.”

    “Emily is my friend,” I said. “Do you have any advice on how to help her?”

    “Assassinate Tropolie-san?” Sayuri says in a tone of voice so deadpan that I know she’s playing with me.

    “It would probably get both of us in trouble with the headmaster,” I shrug.

    “Which would get us both kicked out of the Lycée,” Sayuri notes.

    “Why doesn’t the headmaster like you?” I asked.

    “Father put his foot down when he applied for me to enter. Mother was a student here and she always wanted me to go here,” Sayuri pointed out. “The headmaster did not appreciate Father’s attempts to persuade him. And you?”

    “My only school experience was one year in Switzerland, where I broke a girl’s arm when they tried to beat me up,” I sighed. “That, and tutoring, was how I was educated and the headmaster thinks that I am ‘feral’.”

    “The headmaster is a man that believes in a clockwork world,” Sayuri shrugs, and we are heading towards the dorms for the next part of our exercise. “Anything that doesn’t fit in the clockwork is wrong to him.”

    I stop for a moment and consider. “Perhaps we should be highly incorrect, Miss Suisha. And make a clockwork of our own making.”

    “I prefer to do kintsugi on a broken world, Taylor-san,” Sayuri replies after a thoughtful pause. “Repair what you want in gold, I shall do it in silver.”

    “Why should we only claim one metal, when we can work to make the object as correct as possible?” I ask, curiously.

    “Define ‘correct,’” Sayuri replied, turning to face me and tilting her head slightly to the right.

    “For kintsugi? Functional, simple, safe to handle, and easy to clean afterwards. The metal should also provide proper interaction with the pattern,” I shrug. “I wouldn’t use mercury, no matter how interesting it might look.”

    Sayuri began walking again, and asked, “I would like to see what you would consider ‘good’ kintsugi,” considering her thoughts with a raised eyebrow. “Are you on Instagram?”

    “Yes,” I shrug.

    “Send me your account by e-mail and we’ll share,” and Sayuri says nothing more as we come up to the dorms.

  8. “Petersen? I’d back off a bit. Those might not be friendly.”

    In response, I increased my following distance and backed off on the throttle. “Roger. Following your lead, boss.”

    As the new guy, I’d spent the last three months since arrival getting up to speed on Standard Operating Procedures and logging a great deal of time in the sims. Less than a month has passed since they added my name to the regular patrol roster. A rookie mistake at this point would cement my reputation as some kind of screwup for longer than I cared to contemplate. I focused intently on my instruments and checked the vessels ahead for signs of weaponry.

    I had no idea what was going to happen next.

  9. ” ‘Friendly’ does not come bearing arms, detective,” the oyung lady said archly.

    “There is where we disagree,” he replied calmly. “Good friends come armed, so they can defend themselves, and you if needed.”

    “Uh huh. So what about ‘best’ friends then?” Her attention shifted to the cheerily humming trio loading The Beast in the background.

    “Ah,” he said, noticing her gaze. “Best friends, well, the best of friends perhaps… they bring artillery.”

  10. Three dozen, no need to pad:

    “Friend or foe, who goes there?” called the guard.

    “Neither, actually,” purred the nattily dressed stranger, gliding out of the darkness. Smiling, the moonlight glinting off a fang, he continued, “Most people consider me a fiend.”

  11. Strands and streamers of autumn-colored spellfire swirled and chased their way around Katrianna’s otherwise-bare arm like a bizarre, kinetic hybrid of clothing and jewelry, then flowed up across her palm and through the channel made between her outspread fingers, into a tornadic tower of softly-glowing dancing flame about the size and shape of a really big, fat summer squash.

    “Excellent control, Katrianna,” said Mastermage Balka. “Though perhaps you might shape the fire column more artistically..?” (Balka phrased it as a hint, not a suggestion or a request, because a *command* to even a student had to be followed instinctively lest… bad things happen from uncontrolled magic.)

    And my own awe lifted a bit higher even than before, as the untidy jet of flame took on the likeness of a lizardlike, bat-winged shape — recognizable even to me as a dragon, far more like the Occidental than Oriental legends. But most of all, of course, like the magical beasts still found in the wilds of dry, sandy Rosmelka Province half a thousand miles away to the south.

    “Excellent, truly excellent, Katrianna. You may extinguish your fire and go to get a drink of water and rest half a glassturn. Truly, you have followed the old instruction to make friends with the fire intimately and convivially.”

    “Thank you greatly, Master Balka, I simply do my best,” said Katrianna, dipping her head in shyness and humility.

    “She is unquestionably an adept, in the highest sense of the word. Her, ah, kinship and friendship with the element of fire is just breathtaking.” I could not quite keep the dryness out of my own voice as I continued, “But for some reason of my own, Master Balka, I cannot quite find myself fully comfortable with the very idea of ‘friendly fire’ — it seems inherently a treacherous thing.”

    And once again I was screaming over another desert at the controls of an A-10, if only in memory, in a very different world where “friendly fire” all too often meant simply death. Years ago and almost inconceivably far away, still as vine-fresh in my memory as Katrianna’s animate dragon forged of fire.

    Just as a tornado, even a magical one, could not help but be a bit off-putting to any girl born and raised right smack in the middle of Tornado Alley.

    And I felt myself smiling what I had to believe was a wistful, enigmatic smile.

    Such amazing, truly awsome elemental control here in Kazalka. Yet they were so totally, completely innocent of any trace of knowledge of interplane travel or the rough-and-tumble magics that powered it.

    Even Okies, it seems, sometimes got to reap the benefits of inheriting the wind and the rain, the fire and the stone, of a mere tincture of elvish blood…

  12. “Daystar,” said Geometry, “will have your head if you give her the idea we’re not friendly.”
    Green glanced sideways at him. “Kindergartners know that we’re heroes. She knows, even if she teaches them.”
    “Just because we’re heroes doesn’t mean she has to think we’re friendly.”
    Green looked hostilely at him.

  13. “Are the villages often friendly?” said Aidan.
    “Depends on how many monsters, no doubt,” said Imogene.
    “You’d be amazed,” said Robert. “Arrive to kill a dragon and discover that though it’s still raiding and is guarding nothing of import, they still glare at you as if you were the danger.”

  14. He wore a wizard’s robes, and looked at them with haggard eyes. Then he started to laugh. “You are friendly, friendly!”
    Brandon lifted his bow.
    “Shoot me if you must, it’s not unfriendly!”
    Elise raised her hands and chanted the spell. The wizard froze in place.
    “Nothing is worse than when the enemy decides you are the better choice.”

  15. “If the spells were set up properly,” said Rosine, “everything in the dungeon would be friendly. For the first time. But everything here should obey the governor because he is the governor.”
    “That would be naive,” said Edwin.
    “Expecting it? Yes. Realizing what that means? That is another story.”

  16. Kalodane had put a guard-stone here. It was gone now, ruined when the kings fell, but it had left its mark on the fort that had once stood here. The residue didn’t have any power, but it did have a clean, almost friendly, feel to it, and the remnants of the walls made it defensible.

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