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. 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 L DOUGLAS GARRETT:  Remember Them (Remember The Trade Book 2).

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The man who became his cover identity is back in action! He had to become someone new in time to be sent on a mission he was ideal for: taking in a team to ferret out a secret Cuban plot in West Africa. But has the identity of David Cox really been put to rest?

Remember Them brings the details and dirty work of covert missions to the forefront, an espionage thriller where clandestine violence and disposable identities combine. You know all about the Cold War spies in Europe. This was 1984, West Africa, and The Trade. It was a dangerous place, rife with mercenaries, coups, and a dozen little wars. But there was even more happening behind the scenes.

“The Dogs of War summed up 1960’s mercenaries in Africa. Now, add in spies and welcome to the 80’s.”

BY MEL DUNAY:   Slaying a Tyrant (Ancestors of Jaiya Book 1).

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Journey to the country of Jaiya, in a world not quite like ours. Here the humans wield magical powers and fight against an Empire which seeks to enslave them, but they share their world with insect people and trollfolk, and stranger things lurk in the shadows…

Vanti would be happy to spend her life in dance and choreography, but her family chooses her as their champion in a deadly gladiators’ tournament. To save her country from enslavement, she must defeat King Obiar the Conqueror and his magical powers. But will the brooding trainer named Gurion be her guide in the battle to come…or a dangerously handsome distraction?

Note: Tyrant is meant as a standalone with a “happily ever after” ending. However, the heroes in the later books in this series are descended from Vanti and Gurion, who are also the ancestors of some of the characters in the original Jaiya series. The romance is on the sweet side, but there is some violence due to the villains’ actions and the tournament in which the main characters fight.

FROM MARY CATELLI:  The Firemaster and the Flames.

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Jan well knows that it is an honor to serve the king as a firemaster.

Even when it means leaving the lands where firemasters are known and common, and traveling to where they are feared and hated, bringing with her the foundling she is raising, to fight a strange manifestation of fire.

FROM KEITH FLICK:  Betrayal on BestYet (The Universe of Little Ships Book 1)

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Alfred Young had it all. A scion of one of the founding families of BestYet, he had just successfully finished his first interstellar voyage. He was happy to come home to his planet, family and fiancee. What he wasn’t expecting was an attempt to frame him for one of the biggest robberies in history. A heist big enough to destroy his family’s company and plunge his planet into a recession. He thought he’d be safe once he reached home, he wasn’t expecting Betrayal on BestYet.
With his mind damaged he just wants to sit on the sidelines and heal but his family and planet need him. Knowing he was sane would be nice too, but after all, who really gets to have that?

FROM HENRY VOGEL:  The Lost Planet.

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The Progenitors—ancient, powerful rulers of an empire spanning a thousand suns—vanished before mankind discovered the Americas, leaving the Elders to rule as Regents of the empire. Three thousand years later, the Regency set their sights on the Terran Republic.

When the vast Regency fleet attacks, the fate of humanity falls on a pair of young shoulders. Elise, a scholar’s daughter who has never been on her own. Glen, the slave of an alien master, who doesn’t know how to be human.

Against the vast empire, Glen and Elise have nothing to oppose the aliens but their wits, a spaceship, and a handful of allies—an ethereally beautiful alien artist, her equally handsome brother, and a quadruped mob boss protecting her teenage daughter.

Together, they must steal a sacred text out from under the Regency’s very noses, rescue Elise’s father, and hope he can solve the mystery of the Progenitors’ whereabouts. If he can, they must pray humanity’s salvation can be found on…

The Lost Planet.

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: didactic

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

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    As his student picked himself off the ground, the Ancient said “Just think of this as a didactic moment”.

    His student replied, “I wish these teaching moments weren’t so painful”.

    “Ah, but some people only learn from painful moments”.

  2. Over 50, but trimming it doesn’t look sensibly possible, so thus:

    “It’s odd, Doctor. I swear, he goes on about stuff and is about to say something really stupid – I can just see it coming – but then he has a sort of momentary seizure… and somehow says something sensible.”

    “I never thought I’d see a case of this. It’s very, very rare.”

    “What is?”

    “Our oddly perhaps fortunate patient has the Didac-tic.”

  3. Nano 2019:
    The white dogwood flowers draped over the small patio in contrast to the black iron wrought fencing and dark blue siding of the condo. The front lawn in artificial turf gave the place a homey flair and showed that the owner didn’t really care to spend his days mowing the lawn and landscaping.

    A large black cat slid through the bushes across the quiet street where cars lined up in front of houses, waiting patiently to escort professionally suited men and women to their places of work.

    I leaned against the fencing, making sure that I didn’t scratch my arm on the pointed spikes. I pulled in a deep breath of air through my nose and let it leave my body through my mouth. Once I felt calm, I sipped the dark coffee out of dark brown mug. In the blue sky a raven flew by as if it was going to a job like the other schmucks in this city. This early morning routine that settled me for the day.

    Rose had come in early, mumbling about making blueberry muffins. She was in the kitchen baking and I could smell the scent of sweet bread and berries. It made my mouth watered. A muffin would be good with the dark sludge in my cup. I stayed on the patio, feeling the quiet until the neighbors began to stir. When I heard a child whine and a door slam, when the yellow school bus pulled up, I slipped into the house, pulling the screen door behind me and gently letting it settle in place.

    A bowl of muffin batter with bits of blueberries mixed in sat on the table. Rose pulled a pan of muffins out of the oven and sat it on top of the stove. Rose wasn’t a young chick that was looking for a man to fill her days with children and housework. She had the gravitas of a middle-aged woman that had been around the block for a few years. She had been hired to answer the phone during the day, do a little cleaning, and schedule my appointments. That she cooked once in awhile was a bene. She was my assistant and keeper.

  4. NANO

    Word Count as of last night: 5976

    Excerpt:

    The man was staring straight ahead as Emma approached the car, and when she caught sight of him in profile like that, she was struck with an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. I’ve seen him before somewhere, she thought. Then the man turned to look at her, and the spell was broken. She was quite convinced she’d never run across this guy.

    “Is there a problem, Officer?” he asked.

    “Do you have any idea how fast you were going?”

    “I’m afraid not. I was focused on my own problems and didn’t think to look at the speedometer.”

    “I clocked you going over eighty. This is a fifty-five mile per hour zone.”

    “I apologize, Deputy. As I said, I was focused on my own problems. I live down in Quail Hollow, and I’ve been having trouble with my neighbor’s cat. The cat keeps howling all night, and I can’t sleep while it’s near.”

    There was something about the cadence of the man’s speech that was twanging something in Emma’s brain. “Have we met?” she asked.

    “That seems unlikely, Deputy. I am certain I would remember a face as beautiful and strong as yours. It has a certain character that would be hard to forget.”

    Just then a bird cried from overhead. The man looked up, and the sun hit his face at just such an angle that his nose and brow were illuminated while his eyes and his mouth fell into shadow. Again, Emma was hit by a powerful wave of déjà vu. I’m certain I’ve seen this, she thought. This face, lit up like that, at just that angle. She shook her head to clear it of the thought. “I’m sorry. I just got distracted for a moment there. Where were we?”

    “You were just telling me that I should go and be more careful with my driving from now on,” he said.

    “Right,” said Emma, then stopped herself. “Actually, not right. I’m pretty sure we were at the part where I ask to see your license and registration.”

    “Surely that isn’t necessary.”

    “Surely it is.” Emma was starting to grow wary. “I don’t know if you’ve watched too much Star Wars, but you aren’t Luke Skywalker or Obi-Wan Kenobi. You aren’t even that guy from The Phantom Menace. So let’s stop with the Jedi mind-trick attempts and give me your license and registration now.”

    “Of course, of course, there’s no need to be hostile.” The man looked surprised, though, and more than a bit worried. Emma watched him closely as he reached into his glove compartment and hunted around. He pulled out a card and a sheet of paper and handed them to her.

    Emma looked at the card first. It was a white piece of cardboard that had been scribbled on with what looked to be a purple crayon. She looked back at the man. “What the Hell is this?”

    In a single motion, the man put the car into gear and gunned the accelerator. The movement took Emma by surprise. Emma didn’t even have a chance to step backwards, and she just barely avoided being clipped as the convertible sped off. In a move that the car didn’t look like it was equipped to do, it jumped off the side of the road, tore through three pine bushes, then slipped back onto the highway and sped off towards the west. Emma watched it all in a stunned paralysis, then ran back to her cruiser. She flipped on the sirens and started after the car as she called it in.

    Emma pursued the car up the highway, but it was going too fast. Having her flashers on meant that Emma was entitled to break as many of the laws of the State of Colorado as necessary to get to her target, but the laws of physics were something else. After Emma skidded around two corners, she gave up and let the car zoom out of sight.

  5. NANO
    About 2000 words so far. My main character is shaping up to be a rather depressed, extreme introvert trying to come out of his shell, and not finding much success yet. Nothing really snippet-worthy. I think I need some colorful neighbors to help him out.

  6. Thanks for including my book in this list!
    Here’s one for the Vignette call, from me:

    When it comes to choosing who is going to be left taking the blame, there is a moral scissor to it. Always choose the fellow who most wholeheartedly believes that you are someone other than who you are, but that means your most enthusiastic dupe will take one for the team.

  7. Christopher M. Chupik

    “vanished before mankind discovered the Americas”

    Before the ancestors of the Native Americans did, or before Erickson and Columbus?

  8. Nice set of promos today! Thanks!

  9. Thanks to all the authors for the promos, and a reminder to buyers (I don’t reckon it actually matters whether you read them, but it would be nice) to post reviews praising the stories, the authors, the bargains … This took some brutal cutting to get down to fifty, and I think it worked better at sixty-seven words, but rules is rules and besides, there’s more than some would say this ain’t worth fifty:

    “So, how’s the new car?”

    “Fine, I guess. The latest bells & whistles except, naturally, the self-driving feature. There’s an AI constantly critiquing my driving, saying everything I do is wrong. Frankly, it’s damned annoying.”

    “Yes, well, you refuse the self-driving AI they will require you accept the auto-didactic routine.”

  10. NaNo word count: 1048

    Excerpt:

    Nicetas looked about as he lead his dekarchia into town. As they rode past the outskirts he spied the church. The townspeople didn’t look up as he rode into town. They were just legionaries in the view of the townsfolk as far as he could tell. That was good. Nicetas wasn’t happy with his orders to begin with and in a few towns word of the iconoclast decree had preceded his arrival resulting in a fight.

    Nicetas hated those fights. He was a foederati, a soldier. Fighting other soldiers was his business. He liked those fights. At times, he relished those fights. The fights over icons were against women and weak men. If he had to admit it, the fighting the women was worse than weak men. He could justify slaying a weak man as the price of their weakness. Slaying women though, was just that. Even the Christ protected women. Did he not even protect an adultress? If that was true, how could a soldier kill a women, one protecting a holy relic at that?

    Nicetas raised his hand as the calvary reached the church. Drawing it down he felt, as much as heard, his troops come to a stop behind him in good order. His men waiting his next signal and, as he gave it, the sound of nine troopers dropping carefully to the ground came to his ears. As he slid to the ground his back was warmed by the reassuring sensation of five of his fellows, his vanguard forming up behind him. The four members of the rear guard would stay with the horses.

    “Let’s see the presbyr, shall we, Sittas.” Without looking or waiting for an answer he began to accend the steps to the church doors. Sittas followed directly behind. When Niceats opened the doors and stepped through, Sittas motioned for two men to stand guard at them. He and the two remaining men followed Nicetas into the church.

    • I’m curious why he’s having to fight with the church. Good excerpt.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Icons.

        Both the Catholic Church & the Orthodox Church have icons/images of the saints in their churches.

        Apparently, the Major Church (in this story world) has decided that images of the saints violate its version of “Have No Graven Images”.

        Nicetas has been ordered to remove said images from this local church.

        He’s willing to follow orders but hopes nobody tries to fight him over the images.

        • You’re right, totally missed that in my read through. Now that I’m reading again when I’m not feeling sleepy I totally see the sentence about icons.

          I like the idea, and from what I’ve read of Roman history, there certainly were moments when something like this could have happened.

      • It is set during the iconoclasm in the early 8th century. I’m probably taking more license than I should with imperial soldiers going to random churches to remove icons, but it isn’t 100% out of the question.

  11. analytical-engine-mechanic

    “And there it goes,” said Mark Franklin thoughtfully, swirling the amber fluid in his glass as if it held insight, holding it up to the light of the screen as if it could filter out enough blue-ness to yield a clearer picture. “Another Road Not Taken passed by, another Teachable Moment lost. Gone for ever but not for good.” A sparse sip of his single-malt confirmed all over again for him why he called it, usually to himself, the RP-1 of the whisky world. Ordinary-ness, ultra-refined.

    “I thought you’d been complaining about ‘Impeachment Lite’ for months,” said Annabel Gordon, sitting nearby but not together with. “Now they’re all on the record on it, for all the world and their voters to see, and only two Democrats voted against. Red-state Dee-Congressmen, beware The Ides of November.” Her own glass held not whisky but cream sherry… because even though she leaned a bit to the left of the old rocket man at the bar, she didn’t want to risk flirting with hard liquor at such a time.

    “Yes, Annie, but right now I’m thinking more of the country. People have been warning anyone who’ll listen about turning confirmations, and especially the last-resort fire exit of impeachment, into a political weapon for years now. A lot of them from the, ah, party of Resistance to Democracy.” With a practiced motion, he whipped out his smartphone and pulled up a notepage. “David Axelrod: — If we ‘normalize’ impeachment as a political tool it will be another hammer blow to our democracy. Nancy Pelosi, for the Dear Lord’s sake, right after the 2018 election — If that happens, it would have to be bipartisan, and the evidence would have to be so conclusive.” He shook his head at the dizzy speed of such a distance flown in only a year. “The only ‘bipartisan’ in that vote just now was the two Democrats against, and they got run over with the Republicans. All of them.” He took a drink of the glass of Coke by his other hand, the only kind of “two-fisted drinking” he’d ever indulged. And half-turned to her as if in emphasis.

    “All those months it was Russia, Russia, Russia, and Mueller, Mueller, Mueller. Then that round was a dud, so they swung out the cylinder, pried out the dud, and re-loaded with this ‘influencing foreign leaders’ stuff. Isn’t that part of the job? I mean, of being President?”

    Annabel simply, but emphatically, shrugged as she took another not-so-small drink from her own glass. “I do think it was kinda, ah, skanky what he tried to do, or may have tried to do. But I crossed that bridge awhile back, you might remember, on much the same thing, and I have to say it’s not impeachable no matter who does it.

    “Joe Biden bragged in front of live cameras that he threatened a ‘quid pro quo’ with two and half times as much money, a billion not four hundred mill, right there in the Ukraine not over the phone: stop investigating my son or else that money will be on the plane with me when I leave in six hours — or whatever it was exactly. No ‘inquiry’ needed, he up and confessed on his own initiative.

    “Now I *like* Biden a lot of the time, I think he has more character in his little finger than Barack Obama ever had, and the way he shut down that midnight McCarthy-esque crap at the Thomas hearings was a sight to see. But if what Trump maybe tried to do, and surely failed, is trying to get political dirt on a ‘rival’ who’s only one of a gaggle of wanna-bes, then what Biden *told us* he tried to do and succeeded is trying to *bury* political dirt on him *and* his son.

    “And it’s still, if anybody ever cares what I think, *not* impeachable even then.”

    And she let a little more of the warmth of the sherry soothe the pangs in her belly, as she thought of Biden becoming President over an impeachment and removal for *less* than he, Biden, had already done and bragged of and gotten clean away with…

    “You know, Annabel, there’s this rocket fuel called RP-1 — really just kerosene but super-duper refined, really narrow cut, mostly branched dodecanes and similar saturated cyclics — runs the Falcon 9 now and the Saturn V first stage back when. And they invented it because jet fuel, also pretty much kerosene, was a real mess in rockets. Cooks down to gum and slime, blocks the cooling channels for the chamber, then the motor overheats and the breakdown gets even worse, and it all just runs away until you shut it down or it blows itself up.

    “But we learned, back in the day when I was probably in diapers, that rockets needed better than plain old JP-4 and the crapshoot it always was over what you were really getting. So they came up with RP-1 and that cured it. Period. And all they needed to do was pay attention and learn from experience. Be, as they say these days, ready to pounce on that teachable moment.”

    And he looked, really looked for another moment, at the solemnly assured talking heads on the big TV screen. “It was all before my time in the rocket world, but what we’re seeing up there politically looks a lot like… learning in reverse. Trying bull-headedly to prove all that RP-1 stuff was hogwash, and just loading JP-4 into an RP-1 rocket and happily firing it off. Just watching the passages coke up and gum up, letting the chamber and nozzle overheat and soften and yield and then just go… boom.”

    “Do you really think, Mark, they can shut it down any more, before it blows up? On them, I mean, though hopefully not also on us all bad too.”

    He took another small, measured pull of his ultra-refined single malt. “Sure, if they’d only listen to reason. Or even to themselves, I’m a-lookin’ at you, Nancy, from just a double-handful of months back.” And sighed. “Nobody’s ever won at the rocket game working *against* physics and chemistry, though. Nature always wins, it’s just that sometimes you can win too. If you’ll learn from her.

    “So many chances to learn, so many ways to turn aside. But not endless ones.”

    No, not endless, Annabel thought, as she shuddered delicately but with a chill.

    “Mark, you’re right, so many of the politicians and the press were busy saying all the right things, creating all those ‘teachable’ moments, only a few months ago. And now so many of ’em are running like mad lemmings right at the cliff.

    “Soon it won’t be didactic any more. It’ll be cataclysmic, or even apocalyptic.”

    ((Quotes from Kimberley Strassel’s new book, “Resistance (At All Costs): How Trump Haters Are Breaking America” — Ch. 10. And, see John Clark’s classic book “Ignition!” for more on JP-4 and RP-1. Note, especially, the quote on his title page: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, George Santayana))

  12. 600 words on the novel I’m trying to finish.

  13. “What does it mean?” said Nico, his face as solemn as an owlet’s. All four of them looked up at him.
    They weren’t expecting a joke, thought Corridon. They were expecting an explanation as solemn as Aurelius’s, at his most pompous. For once, Corridon wished the royal wizard were here.

  14. Sintra E'Drien

    Dac had a tick. He didn’t mind it too much, even though it was a disgusting evil parasite. His mate, however, hated liberals, socialists, and filthy commies. They were merciless killers, disguising themselves as benevolent rulers, but deadly nonetheless. She readied herself to take action: “Hold still, Dac! Die, Dac-Tick!”

  15. “Do you believe the shows?” said Beatrice. “Where every hero not only beats the bad guy easily, but delivers a carefully potted didactic lesson at the end to bore the children to tears?”
    “Like, oh,” said Ariana, “that sniping at people about shows will convince them that you are unpleasant?”

  16. “Be careful,” said Master Blackary, his voice even. “I have had students lose their fingers that way. The worst of them was, oh, seventy years ago.”
    Bredon smiled and walked on. He had heard all those cautionary tales in class, himself. His own children could stand to hear them, too.

  17. “I didn’t expect a didactic lecture today,” I noted grumpily. I didn’t need the upcoming half-erotic/half-annoyance discussion with Solomon that always seemed to end in passionate sex, angry sex, or one of us walking away and ensuring a mutual blue-balling.

    And me burning out another Hitachi Wand in the process.

    “You need to know what the morality of the Dawn Empire was,” Solomon noted, in his “lecture” mode that makes me think of being a Catholic schoolgirl again, “for the simplest of all reasons. With very few exceptions, you will be violating half to two-thirds of it’s moral precepts the moment you commit this. Your duty, as Empress, is to uphold those precepts.”

    “I have a super-majority of Solists,” I shrugged, focusing on pure reason. “Last time I checked, that meant that I’m right in this. And, this is not 18,000 BC and I am not Deus looking at the near-wreckage of the Solar System from the Wizard Wars. I have the advantage of nearly ten thousand years of philosophy and history and people making most of the big mistakes before I got here. I won’t be a tyrant or a dictator or a tiny little Goddess of an Empress. I want there to be other options for taking down someone that is truly a danger that’s sitting on the Throne other than a coup. And, damn it, we rule at the consent of the governed, not the other way around. So, yes, we are going from a ‘pure’ feudal monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. With a Bill of Rights. With strict delimitation of powers. And, just because I can, I can choose to have one person executed a year, and only a majority of the Congress and Lords can overrule me.”

    “You’re going to impose this on the nations of Earth, and basically say, ‘you got six years to figure out how to come in peacefully, or we’re going to take you over.’ How does this count as ‘consent of the governed?'” Solomon asked, with that damned raised eyebrow that makes me feel like I should be asking for mercy and bending over his knee to be spanked. And wanting him to give me a really fun-time spanking so we could do other fun things afterwards.

    “We have a responsibility for the defense of Humanity and the control of magic,” I say without hesitation or letting him know that he’s making me erotically twitchy again. “We have a few authorities that we have independent and autonomous access to magic. Deliberately so, and no take-backs later on. But, there has to be one government, or we hit some variation of the Wizard Wars again. Would you trust any non-Israeli government in the Middle East with magic? Or Russia? Or China? You keep telling me ‘I’m now the Empress, and now I rule.” Here’s how we’re going to do it. So, you’re saying that I’m being a hypocrite?”

    Solomon rubs his chin for a moment, then grins. I hate that grin as much as I love it, it makes me feel like I’m about to get a cookie and an orgasm for doing a great job. “On the contrary, you answered a lot of the same questions Deus did, in your own unique way. And, you’ve reasoned it out, start to finish. Something that very few people making governments do. Any hypocrisy is where the interface of pure reason hits irrational human beings.”

  18. “You know my cousin Cletus?” said Clyde. “He taught hisself to fix all them cars we use to impress the Martian tourists. And now he’s teachin’ new mechanics.”

    “Dang!” answered Clem. “You know what that makes him?”

    “Gimme a minute,” said Clyde. “That’s one of them trick questions, ain’t it?”

  19. “An admantine weapon. Of some kind,” said Aurelie. “You may choose, we have many. But we have no reason to believe that the enchantments on our weapons are proof against whatever it will bring to bear. You will carry one.”
    Rosine nodded, meekly, and bit her lip. A short sword. Or two, if their armory went that far. She preferred the bow, but if things were that desperate, the number of arrows she could carry would be crucial.
    Though, for all they knew, the weapons would prove unnecessary. She could only hope they did not prove useless against the dangers.

  20. Donald Stephens

    Eat at Joe’s. You really should, at least once.

    Even if you never plan to go to space, even that tame little bit of space in Earth orbit, you should eat at Joe’s. The food’s good – the Foundation makes sure of that, as Joe’s is part of their public face, not only to Earth, or the professional spacers and travelers in Sol System, but to the out-colonies and the non-humans who visit Earth. Often, their first impression of the vast array of Earth culture and cooking, of hospitality beyond official meetings and formal occasions, is Joe’s. Some have traveled for months through the Foldways to get here, and they ask about Joe’s.

    112 words. It’s a practice project, really.

  21. “You can lecture me about it,” said Aidan. “See what I can learn that way.”
    Carrigiana rolled her eyes. Robert snorted. Edwin scowled.
    “Also, the lectures they gave me to prepare me for this always made me want to hit something. That might be a very wise preparation.”
    Imogene laughed.

  22. “Didn’t you have to sit through didactic lecture about how dragons are not all evil? Some are guardians?” said Brandon.
    “Didactic?” said Minette. “Uncle Petros made it fascinating. He knew how to tell a tale. It helped that I was six or so when he regaled me with the stories.”

  23. NaNo
    Cheated a little and had started earlier: 8,000

    King Rodric, called Mad King Rodric behind his back, was acknowledged to be the best tactician Aloria has ever seen, he also seemed to be touched by the Creator.
    Rodric married Teresa San Benedict at 18 years old. It was a whirlwind courtship, but one her family heartily approved of as he was the heir apparent. Shortly after their marriage Rodric went through the Rite of Coronation and became the king of Aloria.
    A year after the marriage Edward was born. After the prince was born Teresa became pregnant several more times, but she was never able to carry another baby to term. Rumors began to circulate she had been cursed or the Creator was sending a message to King Rodric. The stress caused Teresa to turn inwards and on the day of Edward’s fifth birthday, she came down the stairs screaming incoherently. Her handmaiden grabbed Teresa before she reached Edward, and the king had her locked away. Quietly he arranged for his divorce to her. After his birthday Edward took to wearing black to mourn the change of his mother. She went to live at the San Benedict estate where her handmaiden stayed by her until her death years later from the vapors.
    A short while after the divorce King Rodric’s head was turned again by Regan San William. Two weeks after meeting they were married and shortly later, she was pregnant with her son Nathaniel. After her birth, a courtier began paying court to her and Regan’s head was turned away from her king. She and the courtier entered into a plan, but before the plan could be carried out it was discovered by a rival faction. Regan and her paramour were beheaded for treason. Edward took his younger brother under his wing and the two became fast friends.
    King Rodric did not seem to have the constitution to stay unmarried long, and while at a ball given by the San Cross family, he met Harriet. They fell in love and married. It seemed King Rodric’s curse with love had finally ended for theirs was a happy marriage. Three years into their marriage Harriet became pregnant and gave birth to a girl. However, after Carolyn was born she never seemed to recover her strength and faded away within months of Carolyn’s birth.

    I’ll come back and check out others later.

  24. Folks: I posted this morning, your timezones, (comment #9 at the time) and my post was held for moderation. It apparently hasn’t cleared yet…

  25. “Good God, Smithers, what happened?” asked McGregor.
    “The natives, sir,” replied the disheveled Smithers. “They ambushed another caravan — got away with the hides and the mules.”
    McGregor smote the desk. “By God, it’s time something was done!” he roared. He went into the storeroom and returned bearing a long wooden case. Lifting the lid revealed a Didactic 6000.
    “By God,” he said, hoisting the heavy plasma rifle one-handed, “this will teach them a lesson they won’t soon forget.”