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. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*


Eldon is a reformed cross-dimensional criminal. A genetically engineered Wizard. A movie star (Hey, a guy’s got to earn a living somehow!) a father figure to a batch of kids (he’s a sucker for any kid) and working with the government on their attempts at opening dimensional portals.
So here’s this body guard escaping through a portal with the royal prince and princess from the Cyborgs that are on the verge of conquering their world . . . And there’s no way Eldon isn’t going to help a couple of kids in danger.

FROM LEIGH KIMMEL: Starlight Running.


Eight lives depend on Kyle’s desperate trek across the Moon to get help. But someone — or something — intends for him to fail. Can he defeat it in time?

FROM MARY CATELLI: Fever and Snow.


A short story of a curse, a king, and a child.

A warlord of fire can lay curses of fever. A woman of snow can freeze a man to death.

Pierre, knight of the king, is burning with fever from the curse of the warlord when he learns a possibility that might save him — and the kingdom. It turns on a child.

[And ALL of you, see me about covers. SERIOUSLY.]

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: Second.

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

  1. “Just one second.” Clean hands stuck out of grimy sleeves pressed something into my hand. It felt like a marble with a slight bit of tecture to it. It looked like nothing much, about as common as the stones in the road.

    “Hrm? What is this?”

    “It’s a second. Sometimes you need one.”

    “A second… what? I don’t even have a first one of these. Which is to say, this is my first one, and I don’t have two.”

    This got me the look all women give when they think you are being intentionally stupid. Irritation and pity. I could do without the latter.

    “It’s a second. Sixty of them in a minute. Sometimes you just need a second, you know?”

      1. Seconded. *grin* It’s a pretty good hook and I’ve a few ideas as to where it will go from here. It’s been added to the ever growing pile of things I need to write before I die. Hopefully soon, and I don’t mean the dying thing. That would be irritating.

  2. The Leaders of the Earth Alliance heard the reports of the leaders of the unified human space forces.

    The American President said “The reports are terrible but at least we won”.

    The Alien called Mentor replied “Yes, but now we must get ready for the second fleet”.

  3. It was not the first superhero so much. Golden, gleaming, fighting crime, flying on high, and making us glad for the protection but just a little worried about what he could do.
    It was the second. A creature of night, striking down evil whenever she found it with gleaming silver.

  4. “Aw, man. He came in second.”
    “Yeah, but the first place guy fell into a pit, so it’s probably just as well.”
    “True. So, second place becomes the winner.”
    “What happens now?”
    “We need to go rescue the guy who fell into the pit.”
    “Let’s go.”

  5. Guide for Talking to your Family About the Nevada Caucus Results on the Feast Day of Martyred Luperculus

    Wrong: “Sanders/Hess 2020, am I right? He is a self described National Socialist, who claims to have entered politics because of Hitler’s example. Okay, we all know he didn’t mean it that way, but a wannabe Stalin is not better than a wannabe Hitler. Sanders/Molotov isn’t a whit less insulting than Sanders/Bormann.

    If they run Sanders, we can either damage him with the Clinton Russia quotes, or suggest that at least Trump saved us from her. If Clinton, they lose.”

    Correct: “Seconds?”

  6. It was the third, not the second, planet that was inhabited. Strange. She supposed it sprung from the sun being bright, peaking yellow rather than red, that forced the inhabitable zone farther out.
    No matter. What mattered was knowing where the starship was headed, and getting it before it landed.

  7. “She’s right, Sprue.” Lou Corlin spoke with the authority of his years as dj for the Rising Sun J-Pop show at Shepardsport Pirate Radio. “The crew of the Forest Dragon did not commit seppuku.”

    Spruance del Curtin would not yield the point. “But you saw their last transmission. They decided to die rather than risk a rescue that could take whatever they found in Jupiter’s atmosphere back to Earth.”

    “True, but seppuki implies a particular set of traditional formalities, the special knife to make the cut across the belly, the person appointed as second, with a katana to deliver the killing blow when honor has been satisfied. We see none of these forms in the demise of the Forest Dragon. Commander Tanaka cut the containment on the fusion reactor and the entire spacecraft dissolved into an expanding cloud of thoroughly sterilized plasma. An act of self-immolation, not seppuku.”

  8. “We were the second,” said the Oracle heavily. “The Wise were first. They claimed that because they were so easily and readily seeing the best plan, because they could so easily persuade others to follow them, because many would prefer a plan from the Wise than another’s, it was unequal.”

  9. “You know, I heard a rumor about you. Well, two actually?”

    “Uh oh,” Alex said. “Dare I ask what they are?”

    Catherine’s cheeks suddenly went a bit flush, and she laughed awkwardly. She probably hated herself for it, but to Alex, it just made her seem even more beautiful.

    “Well, ah…. did your parents really disown you?”

    “Not exactly.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?”

    “Don’t get me wrong, the old bastard would’ve disowned me if he could’ve gotten away with it, but that would’ve caused a scandal. So he just quietly disinherited me instead. Legally, I’m still his son, unfortunately, but I won’t inherit one red cent when he finally kicks.”

    “Oh. I…. I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.”

    “Don’t be. Doesn’t bother me any. I’ve earned my own way. So what’s the second?”

    “The second?”

    “Second rumor.”

    “Oh, right. Ah… it’s pretty silly, actually. Forget I mentioned it.”

    “Oh no. You don’t get to dangle it out there and then leave me hanging.”

    “Okay, fine. I heard that when you dissipated off the face of the earth for the last ten years, it was because you’d run away to join Blackwater.”

    Alex threw back his head and laughed.

    “Oh my… oh, wow. That’s a good one. Nope. I definitely didn’t run away to join Blackwater.”

    He hoped his laughter hadn’t sounded as forced as it had felt. Truth was, he’d tried, but they hadn’t accepted him. No prior military experience. Just as well, since it had kept him out of the fallout that had destroyed that particular company. The outfit he had signed on with had been far less legitimate and far more dangerous than Blackwater had ever been.

  10. “So,” said Alba, “up to facing a second dragon?”
    Minette shrugged. “Could be worse, could be better. First of all, we need to know more. Sometime you have to fight the dragon blind, but the sage soul avoids that whenever he can.”
    Bredon laughed. Alba glared at him. He grinned.

  11. “I am not the only priest at the church,” said Edwin. “There’s Lilac too.”
    “What an odd name,” said Belangere.
    Edwin shrugged. “She was given to church by being left at night under the lilac bushes. It was a nickname. But they never did learn why. Her eyes even match.”

    1. I can just see it. when Lilac reaches a certain age:

      “Father Edwin, you said you found me under a lilac bush. Is that where babies come from?”

      “Holy Father, give me strength…”

      1. Bwa ha ha ha. Oh, indeed, yes. A most exceedingly awkward conversation indeed. Unless the good Father is Eastern Orthodox, in which case he’ll call in his wife and have her do it. 🙂

        1. A priestess probably did the job, because this is a D&D universe where the church does indeed have clerics of both sexes. (It’s monotheistic, though.)

          The fun part is that of course raises the possibility of her having some relationship to the lilacs. They noted at the time that she was perfectly healthy and well-nourished, about six months old, and furthermore her eyes matched.

      2. Actually, Edwin and Lilac were the same age. He was given to the church about the same time. Someone else had the embarrassing conversation.

  12. The Count sneered. “And who, pray tell, would deign to be your second?”

    A bone-shivering basso profundo rolled through the room as Isaiji replied, “I will.” The crimson pearl dragon rose on his hind legs until his horns almost brushed the age-black ceiling beams. “For there is much honor in defending the honorable.”

    The mouse in Count Andriia’s throat scampered up and down, visible despite his gold-heavy collar, as he gulped. “I— Ahem, I see.”

  13. “The first kiss? Nothing magical, I’m afraid. Not even romantic. We were drunk, and arguing, and he kissed me to shut me up.” It had worked, too.

    The kid looked as disappointed as only a preteen with a bedroom full of pink and gauzy things could. “But the second kiss. Auntie M?”

    Michelle smiled, then. “We hadn’t seen each other for… several months, after we got split up in a firefight. His team contracted the company I’d landed with for a flight. Came out of the cockpit to yell at the self-loading baggage to get its ass on board, and next thing I know, I’m being scooped up in an armored tackle-hug that nearly broke half my ribs, and he was saying ‘Thank f*ck you’re alive!’ And then kissing me.”

    That clearly didn’t get nearly as much approval from the girl child as it had from her. “He cussed? Daddy says gentlemen don’t cuss.”

    “Mmm. Gentlemen definitely shouldn’t cuss around you, sweet pea. In a warzone, there are different rules.” Michelle smiled, then.”Your daddy and mommy hope you don’t have to learn them, even when you grow up, unlike your Crazy Aunt M.”

  14. “This is the second one to make no sense,” said Aidan. “When there’s a third, that will be that. Someone is out to get me, and we have to track him down.”
    “Why wait?” said Carrigiana. “Being abducted as you were makes no sense without your having a powerful enemy.”

  15. She walked.
    The trees, leafless though they were, stood in great, thickly growing groves. Before she took the second turn on the road, she could not make out anything of the buildings just outside the forest.
    She walked on.
    Nothing stirred in the forest, from a chipmunk to a deer.

  16. “The member has moved that the Society publicly support the proposed concealed weapons carry ban.” The chair’s next words were drowned out not by shouts, but by the sounds of slides racking and safeties being flicked off. The room got quiet again.

    “The motion fails for lack of a second.”

  17. *BZZZT* and the weld was done.

    “There, it’s done. Alright, we should let it cool and fine it down, but that’s details.”

    “That was all? So much preparation and just a short weld and that’s it?”

    “Yep. I thought you astronomers knew all about arc-seconds.”

    “If only I’d a carp.”

  18. “You are a rash and reckless being,” observed Second Eldest. “Your impetuosity will be your undoing.”

    “Maybe,” said George sobering as he considered the notion. “But tell me Second Eldest, in all seriousness, can you think of anything else I could have done that would have worked?”

    “Hmm,” said Second Eldest, her ocular glittering as she brought more and more processing resources to bear on the problem. She stood still for three full seconds, thinking about it. “No. I can’t. This is the best solution available to you.”

    “That’s pretty scary.” said George heavily, humor forgotten. “I was hoping I’d missed something, and you’d know a better way. I’m a bit concerned, I don’t mind telling you.”

    “It seems I am in the wrong again, Mr. McIntyre,” said Second Eldest sternly. “You have done well.” Then she extruded a manipulator and patted him on the shoulder with it. “Not to worry, young human. We will endeavor, you and I.”

    George had nothing clever to say to that. He bowed to the Second Eldest in heartfelt appreciation. “Thank you, ma’am. I’m honored.”

    “Isn’t it funny how formalities sometimes take on meaning?” she observed as they turned to review the waiting troops. “Little pleasantries become momentous utterances without warning. I too am honored, George McIntyre. Beyond all expectations, I am.”

  19. She stared at the screen, lines swimming in her vision.

    The walls wouldn’t stay put, even after she locked them down.

    Thanks to that, all the measurements for the floors would have to be re-done. Again.

    She sighed “I am too old to stay up two nights in a row.”

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