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 (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. GREEBO needs very expensive medical treatment, which will hopefully ensure us another year or two with him, but it’s kind of a very bad time for it.  (I mean, we can, okay? It’s just … very expensive, but I can’t give up on him.)  So, every little bit helps-SAH*

FROM LAURA MONTGOMERY:   Long in the Land (Martha’s Sons Book 2).


A lost starship.

A lost colony.

A man on the run.

Peter Dawe shares the same horizons as the rest of the stranded starship’s offspring. First Landing shelters them from the worst aspects of the planet, but it doesn’t shelter them from each other.

Sure, Peter was recovering stolen property, but the colony’s governor doesn’t see it that way, and Peter faces a stark choice. He can stay on the farm and bring the governor’s wrath down on his family, or he can run.

He wants to stay and fight, but the day an aircraft—a machine not seen for decades—appears in the sky, everything changes.

And the person hunting the aircraft also hunts for Peter.

FROM BLAKE SMITH:  An American Thanksgiving.



It is Thanksgiving Day, 1865, and Margaret Browne isn’t feeling very thankful. The war is over, and her grown-up sons have returned from the fighting, but her beloved husband remains absent, last seen a captive in a notorious prisoner-of-war camp. The Browne family muddles through their uncertain path, lost without their leader, but when everything begins to go wrong all at once, Margaret must hold together the farm and her family, and turn a disaster into a true day of thanks-giving.


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: land

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

  1. “We’re *elsewhere,*” I said.

    “How can you tell?” Sarah’s voice was a little high.

    “Look at that landscape. Does that look like anything you’ve ever seen before? Anywhere?” I waved my hand at the water and distant shoreline that now surrounded the school, which was perched on an island.

    Mr. Scaramucci walked over. “Miss Donaldson, I need your kinetic talents, please come with me.” He looked at Sarah. “How are you with kinetic magic, Miss St. John?”

    Sarah’s eyes widened as she stared at our teacher. “Um. I’m OK, I guess.”

    “Excellent. Both of you, this way.”

    Sarah and I exchanged worried looks as we ran to catch up with Mr. Scaramucci.

  2. Amarath was a rich, fertile land. It Bordered Perzanza on the southeast. Relations with the Perzanzans were at best tenuous. Otherwise the vast majority of the border was the Veil. Beyond the Veil, all Manet of fetal and foul creatures lurked in a barren waste. Each new moon, some slipped through the Veil to wreak havoc in Amarath.

    And when it dawned the next day, some portion of Amerath had slipped beyond theVeil.

  3. Off topic.

    Last night at 11:15 AM our 20.5 year-old kitty, Silver, started into the process of dying in our son’s arms (she held on until he got home from his special Saturday swing shift (so they have next weekend off for the holiday)). We took her to the emergency Veterinarian clinic to have her peacefully pass in his arms at just after midnight.

    The runt of the litter, born at his baby sitter’s home, she has been his cat since the day she was born; brought home at 4.5 weeks (long story).

    We were not surprised, we knew it was a matter of days. Not our first pet to pass away. Not by a long shot. She joins 8 other cats and 3 dogs, just since he was born. They wait for us all over the Rainbow Bridge.

    1. HUGS. It never gets easier. Euclid — 21 (I’d miscounted his age before) — has surprised us with how long he’s lived. He’s very ill and on thyroid meds, but still with us.
      Greebo is 16. He was just diagnosed hyperthyroidal, but he is UNPILLABLE. We’re going to bite the bullet and pay close to 2k for radio iodine treatment. Last cat we did that with only bought us 2 years. But Greebo is a tough boy.
      Also, don’t tell our other cats, but he is probably my favorite after Pixel-best-cat-ever.
      So we bite the bullet. We could better afford it next summer, but this stuff never comes when you want it.

      1. Thank you. Never gets easier. (Not even when you are losing 2 or 3 a year, for a year or two. Timing. They were all about the same age.)

        Good luck with Greebo’s treatment. There is a pet pay on time process. Only time we had to use it we got a 6 month interest free. Monthly payments, but no interest if you pay it off in 6 months. Monthly payments is critical, they don’t make that clear (or didn’t). I think we used it for Pippie’s radiation iodine treatment in ’90. Something to look into.

      2. Sarah, ask your vet about liquid meds. Also about skin patches, which are starting to become a thing (Nemo got offered one for his anti-nausea).

        1. not for thyroid. We asked. There is a cream for the ear, but judging from the other cat we had who was as unpillable as Greebo — Pete — they come to hate it and hide. Also it doesn’t work as well as the pills.
          I just WISH he’d held off till the boys graduate. Ah, well. As Patrick Richardson tells me “Write faster, toots.” (Quote from “Martians go home.”)

      3. Didn’t you say your newest cat – Valeria, I think it was – was Greebo’s littermate? How is she doing?

        1. Not his littermate, though CERTAINLY his sister. She’s about six years younger. Other than the fact she hates him, yells at him all the time and had the effrontery to growl at ME for hugging Dan, she’s fine. 😀

    2. Sorry to hear that. Our Sara the Lab-Aussie is 15 and has had really bad seizures with brain damage from some liver issues. She’s happy, but we don’t know how long she’ll be with us. It’s been 14 years since we had that last appointment with heartache, but we know it’s coming. Still, the joy and love we get and share makes it so worth it.

      It never gets easier, but it gets better. Hugs.

      1. Thank you. “It gets better. But you will never forget her” is the theme.

        Somehow, knowing it was a matter of days, then hours, with a long lived cat, doesn’t help.

        Some how “his cat” VS “our pets” makes a difference? But not. Been almost 3 years, since the last one, before that it was every 2 years for awhile. We’ve had as many as 6 animals at once. 18 in all. Currently have 3. Remaining animals are 3, 5, & 7. May it be a VERY LONG time. Not right away, but we will introduce kittens sometime next year. Unless, of coarse, the “suckers live here” sign has been replaced. Although the neighbors seem to have the same sign so babies have taken to approaching us in other areas; we carry the sign?

  4. An old, old prelate, withered like a dried out apple, looked slowly up. “This will be evil for the land. There will be strife and war, until there is a new king.”
    “All fortune is good,” said the Hierophant. “Perhaps this strife is Fortuna’s judgment on us for our evil.”

  5. From the current WIP, and it even fits the cue.

    The two FBI agents sitting in their car were simultaneously nervous and bored.
    Nervous, because they were watching armed gang bangers ripping apart Steve’s Storage Depot. They felt very exposed in their dusty Crown Victoria, slouched down so only their binoculars showed above the dash.
    Bored, because watching idiots do simple tasks badly was not a fun show. The gangsters had been trying to shoot off the locks at first which had been nerve wracking for the FBI agents, but that had stopped when one of the gang caught a bullet fragment with his shoulder. He was having a lie down in one of the cars while the rest of them used chain cutters and crowbars to pry open the lockers. Due to some quick thinking by employees who ran away when they saw twenty tattooed Mexicans with rifles, the cartel men had the place to themselves.
    Consequently to all that, the agents were in a bit of a mood. They were parked at the power company yard, in between piles of telephone poles that they hoped might stop a rifle bullet. They had no illusions about the poles stopping an RPG rocket, which one of the cartel gang was displaying in a very ostentatious fashion. He was standing on top of the storage building pointing it at cars driving by on the highway.
    “God this is boring. Is it too much to hope for that RPG guy trips over his shoelaces and kills half of them when he falls off?” muttered the first, Special Agent Perkins, sitting in the drivers’ seat.
    “Prob’ly” grunted the second, Special Agent Watkins, slouched down in the passenger seat. “Stuff like that never happens to criminals, only cops.”
    “Heh,” chuckled Perkins. “Right? I’ve been on training exercises where we all “died” because one guy dropped a grenade.”
    “I heard you were that guy,” snorted Watkins. “That’s why we are stuck on this shit detail.”
    “Slander,” said Perkins. “This is a prestigious case, partner. They even gave us a Javelin.”
    “If we have to shoot that thing, we are well and truly screwed.” The second agent shook his head in disbelief. “I still can’t believe I got out of bed this morning and ended up here. How the hell, man?”
    “I know what you know,” sighed Perkins, hitching himself up in the seat a bit. “Could be worse. At least we don’t have to watch the Norks. You saw the shit they have over there.”
    “Yes, we got the nice friendly cartel boys.” Watkins rolled his eyes. “With the RPGs.” He paused in his litany of complaint as he saw something off in the distance. He trained his binoculars on it and his eyes widened in shock. “Do you see that?” He pointed, trying to keep his hand below the dash.
    “You mean the flying saucer? Uh, yeah,” said Perkins, looking through his own binoculars. “Yeah, that does seem to be a for-real flying saucer, partner. Looks familiar too.”
    “It’s from an old movie,” said Watkins. “Some 1950s thing. Had that robot with the glass head in it. Why is there a flying saucer?”
    “I bet you its those crazy robots that showed up in Washington on Memorial Day,” said Perkins putting down his binoculars and looking at his partner. “Remember? Twenty-foot-tall giant women, that green aircraft in the middle of the park, huge tanks in the Potomac river, giant spiders, all that stuff.”
    “Think we should break radio silence?” wondered Watkins. “The situation is changed with them here. If it is them, and not some other unknown.”
    “If we do, this operation is blown,” said Perkins putting his binoculars back on the cartel gang, who were all looking up. “Seems to be a surprise to our boys, they’re all pointing and shouting.”
    At that moment, as the saucer descended and grew larger in their sight, obviously coming in to land, a dilapidated Volkswagen Beetle pulled off the highway and drove right up to them, stopping with a wheezy rattle. The driver was a beautiful dark-skinned woman, dressed in a white linen suit and a silk blouse. She walked up and knocked on the passenger side window.
    Watkins rolled down his manual window while training his pistol on her. “What?” he demanded harshly, not even bothering with the usual ‘show me your hands’ protocol.
    “You are Agent Watkins of the FBI,” she said without preamble. “Your partner there behind the wheel is Agent Perkins. You are here watching members of the Coyote cartel search that storage company and come up empty.” She indicated Steve’s Storage Depot with a slight toss of her head. “You have two M-16 rifles, an M240 medium machinegun and an FGM-148 anti-armor missile launcher in your trunk. I have need of your assistance, gentlemen.”
    “Who the hell are you?!” demanded Perkins in outrage. “You think you can just waltz in here and do whatever you want?”
    “I am Madam Nammu Chen. Kindly refrain from shooting me as I reach for my cell phone.” Without waiting for permission, she smoothly reached into her jacket and produced a “Blackberry.” She pushed one button and handed it to Perkins. “Tell them you are speaking to me.”
    It was not a long conversation. “Ah, the President says ‘hi’ ma’am,” he managed, while holstering his pistol.

  6. He looked over the plot, brows furrowed.
    This is where you want to build?”

    “Yes!” She bounced on her toes. “Just look at that view! and it’s so defensible!” She stilled, giving him a look over her glasses. “You said you could design for anywhere.”

    He sputtered “B… but… It’s vertical

  7. “This,” said Julius, “is a disaster. All the planting for pretty, and not once did they stave up the slopes to protect against run-off and flood.”
    He glared about. Bredon watched the crowd and hoped that no one of them remembered the days when Julius had been a lowly ditch-digger.

  8. She ended her call and pocketed the phone. “Land.”
    “What, now?”
    “Yes, right now. Trust me, you do not want to be airborne in…” she pulled her phone back out and checked the time. “Four minutes.”
    “So, anywhere?”
    “Looks for something with some shelter from the north. Hmm. That valley right there. Put it down now.”

  9. She glided neatly down and stood on the ground. Then, most powers got the flying skills with the flying power, and never found it difficult.
    He rose into the air, or so it appeared to those who watched. The most difficult part was trying to explain the geometry to those who wanted to know how he really did it.

  10. Minette started to sketch.
    “A map? We have one in the hall.”
    “Good place for it,” she said. “If we were there. But you don’t need one that fancy to at least look for perils.”
    She scowled. “The want of detail mostly means we can’t identify landmarks near the danger.”

  11. “What the hell was that?!”
    “I said ‘land the plane,’ not ‘crash the plane!'”
    “What are you talking about? It was a good landing!”
    “The gear is crushed, the prop blades are torn off, and you ripped off a third of the right wing when we hit that tree.”
    “But we walked away from it.”
    “So any landing you walk away from is a good landing. We walked away from it. Ergo, it was agood landing.”
    “You ever volunteer to fly us anywhere again, and I will kill you where you stand.”

  12. “Brown could be land,” said Nico, thoughtfully.
    “And land,” said Corridon, “means something we need to cross as quickly as we can.”
    Nico blinked.
    “We are on a rescue mission. This Habonde, brown or not, is not holding the prisoner. All rescues have only so much time to work with.”

  13. The spinning liquid drop on the other side of the viewing window glowed like the sun — well, more like an M-class star, thought Edgar Allan Bennett for about the thousandth time, it was “only” the white-hot of molten iron and some chemically-nearby metals and so cooler and less bright by far than the nearby Sun itself. But even through a circle of dark glass it was near-dazzling.

    Alongside the pour-drop and clear in its light were the pickups and induction conduits (molten iron was hardly magnetic but it was still conductive) and pumps that drew off the devolatilized, refined iron and other elements that fed into the miles-across ring of continuous-casting chill-molds that extruded, at about the pace of a walking man, the cylindrical monocoque frame of one more colony for the empty but hospitable void of space. Foundry work truly measured in cubic miles of product.

    “Never gets old, does it,” said Alphonse Mbeka, close by so he could look from much the same angle, in the glass-shadow of the drop but see the works that drew off the melt to the walking molds. Though Bennett had imagined into being Vulkan Station and all its details, it was Mbeka, son of a reclaimed and renewed Detroit in the middle of the 21st century, that kept book of all the innumerable operational minutiae. He made it pay, even as Bennett made it.

    And his accent still carried a faintly Parisian trace of a different kind of colony from a very different time, a diary of his family’s odyssey from the equatorial ‘hellholes” of Africa to the neo-Third-World challenges of Detroit, to the vistas of Gateway Station, to the flood of free energy that was cis-Mercurian space.

    The design was a bit different from O’Neill’s “Island Three” or its immediate succesors, of course; the raised and narrowed windows that no rain would reach, the iron-whisker reinforcing wires and diamond-fullerene composite stabilizing lines that added strength and stability, the selective mirrors that injected light without heat. But it was unmistakably the descendant of the grand visions of visionaries like Bernal and O’Neill, who had stood in turn on the shoulders of ultra-visionaries like Tsiokovsky before them.

    And it was coming off their own slow, steady assembly line, poured out of the bountiful gifts of the flying mountains into cold, durable reality.

    “My great-grandaddy always said, ‘invest in land, they’re not makin’ any more of it’ — and his advice still holds true now that we’re doin’ just that.” Edgar, as few indeed called him, spoke around his New Havana cigar with the same old Alabama drawl, grown up in the shadow of the old Birmingham legacy and tradition.

    Alphonse grinned whitely in the furnacelight, generations of hard climb “up the long ladder” shining in his eyes like the iron sun he watched. “Land for the free and a home for the brave,” he said, softly but intensely, in a rhythm that was not quite an anthem.

  14. “Oh,” said Rosine, “we knew what we would find in this land. Dark, dreary days, dry or rainy. Mountains. Automata. Monsters that can only be fought by magic. Many mines. A lot of butter and cheese, and pastures above the treeline.” She spread her hands. “The roses were a surprise.”

  15. Reggie Waite shuffled through the deck of cards he’d just been handed. Years ago he’d played a game called “Space Race,” but it had been an educational board game. This “Space Race” was a collectible card game, its gameplay clearly adapted from “Magic: The Gathering.” Which meant it wouldn’t take that long to master.

    Back in the Energy Wars he’d run a Magic School aboard the Nimitz, just to have some decent opponents after nobody would play poker with “that damned Airdale who keeps cleaning out everybody’s pay.” Somehow the skipper had gotten wind of it and taken the notion that he was literally teaching magic, and not the stage kind. It had taken a three-way discussion with the admiral and the commander of the Air Wing Embarked, but it had ended with Reggie giving Captain Bradbury private lessons in Magic.

  16. “Alright! We did it! We got this abomination in the air! Honestly, I didn’t think we’d succeed. Now we only have one issue.”
    “And what’s that?”
    “Trying to land.”
    “Landing? Oh, that’s easy. The hard part is landing in one piece…”
    “Now you tell me…”

  17. NaNo not quite

    200 words on the novel I’m trying to finish. (Dropped it for a time for something else. I do that.)

  18. “Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink” chanted the ship’s speaker.

    “Screw that,” I snarled at the ship A.I., “I’m not looking for a drink, I’m looking for a place to land this bird so I can take a leak.”

  19. NaNo — making progress, maybe 400 words today, although 200 are from much later in the story. Here’s a snippet, that even ties into today’s prompt:
    There was a low mutter and grumble, then one man spoke up. “No way. And she can’t fly, either. There gotta be wires.” He peered at her, up, and around. “…somewhere.”

    Tovala shot him a snarky grin. “I flew all the way here from Daniel’s house. Those must be some awfully long wires.”

    “None of us saw you do that. We don’t have to take your word for it,” he said stubbornly.

    She was dismayed, and a little shocked, at being all but called a liar, but recovered quickly. “All right then,” she rose into the air and landed right in front of him, “find the wires, smartass.”

    The reporter motioned with her head, and her cameraman focused on the action.

    Dan groaned, and put a hand up to his forehead. “Tovala, we need them to like you…” he grumbled plaintively.

    Her critic reached out, hesitantly at first, then with determination, passing his hands above and around her. A woman stepped up and did the same. He started circling her, and others joined in. Within a minute, she was surrounded by people waving their hands about.

    She interrupted them with a snide remark: “Find any wires?”

    “Not yet,” he said resentfully.

    She chuckled. “No matter how long you search for wires that do not exist, you will never find them.”

    “What about under your feet?” he demanded, with mulish persistence.

    “Feel free to look,” she told them, and floated up until her feet reached shoulder height.

    They did, fumbling around her boots and clutching at her skirt. The heckler pushed sideways, trying to set her swinging from ‘the wires’ and found that moving her foot had no effect on her overall position. He tried dragging her down, and moved her less than an inch.

    She fixed him with an ironic look. “Pulling my leg, now? Didn’t you accuse me of pulling yours?”

    He let go, embarrassed.

    “Here’s something else.” She did a forward roll in midair to open some distance from them, then vanished. Her voice issued from the empty space. “I’m still right here, you just can’t see me. Daniel calls it ‘Cloak Mode’ because of…Star Trek?”

    Dan had moved closer, and now explained, “It’s another function of her force shield. I think it bends light around her. If you look carefully, you can just barely see something, sort of like heat ripples. Some of our scientists have managed to bend light on a small scale, but nothing like that.”

    “Watch this!” Her voice came from a slightly different place and she was abruptly there, hovering about five yards from the cameraman. He adjusted slightly to center her in the frame but she was gone again, then back, as she switched ‘Cloak Mode’ off and on every few seconds. It made for an impressive and somewhat unnerving demonstration of Clarke’s Law — no one could tell whether she was using technology or magic.

    Dan stood beside and below her. “That’s probably enough. The Mayor should be here any minute. You wouldn’t want to confuse him, blinking on and off like a Christmas tree.”

    She gave him a weak smile, and remained visible. “You could be right. I guess…I’m a little nervous.”

    He returned her a better one. “Lucky you. I’m a lot nervous.”

    Hers got wider. “Aawww. Want me to hold your hand?”

    “That would be nice.”

    She landed beside him, and did.

Comments are closed.