Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Book Promo And Announcement

*Sorry to be so ridiculously late. I woke up at 4:30 am, came downstairs and pounded out posts for PJM, because I was too angry to sleep.  Let’s say I’m hearing Green Acres.
At around 8 am I couldn’t keep my eyes open and I slept till 11: 30 am. Sorry. -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 (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. I ALSO WISH TO REMIND OUR READERS THAT IF THEY WANT TO TIP THE BLOGGER WITHOUT SPENDING EXTRA MONEY, CLICKING TO AMAZON THROUGH ONE OF THE BOOK LINKS ON THE RIGHT, WILL GIVE US SOME AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR PURCHASES MADE IN THE NEXT 24HOURS, OR UNTIL YOU CLICK ANOTHER ASSOCIATE’S LINK. PLEASE CONSIDER CLICKING THROUGH ONE OF THOSE LINKS BEFORE SEARCHING FOR THAT SHED, BIG SCREEN TV, GAMING COMPUTER OR CONSERVATORY YOU WISH TO BUY. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*

FROM MARY CATELLI: Eyes of the Sorceress.


A short story of sorcery, war, and treachery.

Apollonia proudly casts a spell for the king, to aid him in his battles, a spell that creates enchanted viewing. But when things go awry, she finds it more useful than she had ever dreamed — if only she can persuade one and all to listen to her.

PRE-ORDER FROM MIKE WATSON:  Émigré: A Novel of the Tri-Cluster Confederation.


When Fabien Loche arrives in the Confederation as SolSytem’s newest Liaison, his government believes he’s a broken man sent into exile. But the new job, and the new culture, are far more strange and welcoming than either had anticipated. With the help of the local Chief Inspector, and his headstrong niece Molly, Loche plunges headlong into exploring and learning everything on the station above and world below.

More is riding on his assimilation than his future. He’s also the vanguard of the spaceborne Houses of SolSystem, who are preparing to flee the reach of an increasingly unstable and aggressive Earth. But the Confederation is far more fragmented and factioned than he expected. The scramble to control the highly advanced technology that the Houses will bring, and the fear of losing it, may be the wedge that drives Confederation and Sol System alike into war…

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: GRAPE.

Announcement:  there will soon be a link on the right side bar, beneath the paypal link, which will lead you to Amazon, which — in turn — will give you a chance to tip me without tipping me from your pocket. (I.e. it won’t cost you any extra.)  Since you guys are ALWAYS chiding me about not rattling the cup enough, please — as I said above — consider the ATH associates link for all your Amazon purchases, as a few coins will be dropped in my cup.  I particularly wish to enjoin you to go through my portal when your company is buying three thousand of the latest laptops available.  That would be very nice indeed.

Until the widget is HERE: Amazon Store

57 thoughts on “Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Book Promo And Announcement

  1. Okay Beagly Beagly
    Both Michigan and Wisconsin are ordering “Stay At Home”
    no word on if my workplace is considered “Essential”
    Though the WI order might not be official yet.

    1. Oregon just went that way. For retail, any non-essential business that deals with close body contact, like barbers, salons, gyms, furniture stores (OK, don’t want the stock crudded up anyway), party spaces and such, is closed.

      Gunshops and liquor stores not closed (I think the governor knows how to spell L-O-O-T-I-N-G, unlike the mayor of San Jose. Sigh.)

      State parks are now closed, partly because a bunch of idiots crowded several over the weekend.

      Businesses that *can* have employees work from home, *must* have employees work from home.

      Neighbors said that rice&beans, meat and easy-cook stuff is hard to impossible to get, but produce is OK. I’m going to wait a few days and get produce and try to get yogurt.

      1. Apparently our whole workplace is considered essential, so I will be working.
        guess fire prevention covers all of us,
        Though some of my goop needs to get to Italy. Our place there is still up and running, barely.

      2. Oh, and saturday at the grocery was no rice in bags (minute, ben’s and generic 10 minute were fine as were the bags of precooked) and beans were a bit picked over but there.
        there was one pack of toilet paper.

        1. I’m hoping to find big bags of rice and beans to donate. Not sure about the gospel mission/soup kitchen right now, but they usually need food. Badly.

          We’ve got basic foods at home, but until we’re healthy enough to do so, fresh (gluten free) bread won’t happen.

          1. I’ve talked to a couple of grocery stockers down here (they are still running around when I go in during my seniors hour). They’ve quietly told me that the big bags they get in (20+ pounds) of those staples are being sent right back out the loading dock to the local rescue missions. Not naming any stores here – I think it’s probably “corporate disobedience.”

            1. Good! In the past, a manager at one place mentioned that any short code stock would go to the mission, so they could use it up right away. We try to add a few pounds of peanut butter, though the last time I tried (3/10), the grocery store was out of the store brand. Hmm, I know a place that might still have #10 cans of it.Going to try Friday, God willing.

          2. This time, I was on my side the river, and this store had its bread racks as full as normal, but has a small section compared to across the river, and the in store bakery has a slightly larger selection of bread, rolls etc than across the river. There is another smaller store across the river (the first one they had, the other two were Angeli’s before being sold to Jack’s), but I have not been in there to see what’s going on. Its in store bakery had the better deserts.

            1. Packaged bread was still cleaned out the last time I was at the slightly-upscale local supermarket, but all the locally-baked bread was totally in stock. They taped shut the baguette bags and turned everything around on the shelf so open ends were not facing customers, but there was plenty.

              Of course wonderbread and the other packaged stuff will last longer than real bread, because of all the stuff they put in bread and in the packaging to help keep it unmoldy. But the real stuff tastes better.

              1. It isn’t a lot longer for me out here on the end of a chain. I don’t do plain white bread much, anyhow. Lasts a longer time in the fridge too. Mom swears by the Microwave as a bread box. If all I expect to do is toast it, I’ll store it in the freezer.

                1. We’ve got plenty of bread at Wallyworld and at the small local grocery store, but Sam’s Club has a hard time keeping in stock. (Lots of rolls, though.)

                  1. Here in DFW, we have a local chain called Braum’s, which is run by a dairy of the same name. No one seems to think a dairy will have milk?!?!

                    1. I knew folk who lived in DFW a lot longer than I did, who didn’t know there was more than an ice cream and fast food joint in there.

                  2. I avoid Wally World like the plague. Lot has looked packed, although it often does. Menard’s too has been stupid busy, and not just for the food and toilet paper. Seems many are planning some building/repairing while not at work.

              2. Until $SPOUSE gets better, home made bread is in short supply. (Usually needs both of us to get it done.) A regional bakery does a line of gluten-free bread, and that is hermetically sealed. Right now, my daily slice-o-bread is half a GF bagel. Because of the cost, their bread might remain in stock. Not counting on it, though I know some out-of-the-way places to look.

      3. New Jersey is getting sued right now because Governor Murphy and his AG are adamant that gun stores are not essential businesses. Hope the suit is in Federal Court as our State Courts have held that having a job as an armed guard is not sufficient reason to be able to get and carry a gun.

    1. And (Sarah) do you have a discount code yet? I’m assuming that it links the membership to you in some way – and I would like to make sure that YOU are the reason I’m willing to fork over the money. (There have honestly been maybe one or two other VIP marked articles that I would consider reading. Over all of their platforms.)

    2. They hadn’t told me they’d put it up. The other one will go up later.
      BTW anyone signing up and using code HOYT will get a discount (and I get a little bump in pay.)

      1. If you’ve already signed up, can you “transfer the subscription”? Or do I need to unsubscribe and renew with a different e-mail?

    3. And there is a lot to be angry about given that Democratic Party leadership has openly stated that they see the virus outbreak “as a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision,” , and are including things like restrictions on airline emissions, vastly expanded labor union rights, funding for Planned Parenthood, “comparable pay” mandates (i.e. government decides what pay jobs are worth in the name of “fairness”) and more.

      For all the faults of the Republicans (and the establishment ones have many), the shear despicable of the Democrats desire to use this to enact their radical wish list in “never get a crisis go to waste” mode is beyond reprehensible. Needless to say, they also intend to try to avoid the consequences of this in November by intimidation national “fraud by mail”.

      Meanwhile their media arm openly admits they are letting people lying about Trump (see what CNN’s Jack Tapper admitted to) and blame Trump for their doing so.

      It is not demonetization at this point to declare that the Democrats and their media arm are outright evil. Their unbridled lust for totalitarian power and their willingness to use “any means necessary” to achieve it are unquestionably within the definition of evil.

  2. “Fear Me! I’m The Grape Ape!!!”.

    (Yes, it’s a bit crazy but so am I. 😉 )

        1. Me too, and we really didn’t get that until Cartoon Network came on (we only had PBS, CBS, and NBC until we got cable in late ’82? maybe ’83)

          1. His Majesty looked at the aged men arrayed before him, doubleknit uniforms no longer snug. Rose, Morgan, Bench, Perez, Concepcion, Foster, Griffey, Geronimo – starting line-up of the fabled Big Red Machine.

            He roared at his ministers, “Idiops! Not the Greap Eighp! I said I wanped po see the Grape Ape!”

    1. Moby Grape came to mind. I vaguely recall that their music got featured in a lot of late 1960’s cop shows when they needed some generic psychedelic music playing in a hippie residence. (Thank you, Jack Webb.)

      1. Possible duplicate posting, depending on whether WP is being slow or obstreperous in refusing posting of the first attempt. Or both, it could always be both. Both and something more besides; WP Delenda Est.

        His Majesty looked at the aged men arrayed before him, doubleknit uniforms no longer snug. Rose, Morgan, Bench, Perez, Concepcion, Foster, Griffey, Geronimo – starting line-up of the fabled Big Red Machine.

        He roared at his ministers, “Idiops! Not the Greap Eighp! I said I wanped po see the Grape Ape!”

      2. Possible triplicate posting, depending on whether WP is being slow or obstreperous in refusing posting of the first attempt. Or both, it could always be both. Both and something more besides; WP Delenda Est. Fairness mandates I acknowledge that my internet has been repeatedly dropping out, but never-the-less: WPDE.

        His Majesty looked at the aged men arrayed before him, doubleknit uniforms no longer snug. Rose, Morgan, Bench, Perez, Concepcion, Foster, Griffey, Geronimo – starting line-up of the fabled Big Red Machine.

        He roared at his ministers, “Idiops! Not the Greap Eighp! I said I wanped po see the Grape Ape!”

  3. “It’s amazing,” Sheila said, flapping her hands around for lack of a better idea of what to dowith them. “Astounding. How did I not know this was possible?”

    “Hm,” was all Nancy said in reply.

    Sheila stared. “My sixteen-month old,” she said. “He made. His own. Lunch. ON VIDEO. Isn’t that special?”

    “Well,” said Nancy, uncomfortable. “Kind of. But… you know, he’s one, and…”

    “And what?”

    Nancy pointed at the corner of the picture. “He didn’t cut the grapes.”

  4. “Now those rioters are in for it. The Sommelier is on his way.”

    “The Sommelier? Who the heck is that?”

    “Colonel Cody. They call him that because he gives mobs a ‘whiff of Grape’.”

    “How do you mean?”

    “Think of a huge shotgun. He is truly a Master of Terror.”

  5. “A hundred and twelve thousand tons of toilet paper and we get no escort?”

    The radio watch shrugged. “They said they didn’t have enough ships to cover us and suggested we join a convoy.”

    The captain frowned. No convoys were actually forming for this route for another two weeks, and the cargo was desperately needed in the Bay Area. “OK, we push through. Let’s see if we can’t get into air cover range of those local Highway Patrol helicopters before…”

    “Contact bearing zero-one-five,” shouted the starboard bridge wing watch. “At least five RIBs, intercept course.”

    “Well, poop. Alright, ahead flank, come 20 degrees to port, and tell the engineer to fire up the water cannons. And he can load that air gun contraption of his with grape.”

  6. “You are all insane.” Gil moaned and collapsed into the chair and held his head in clawed hands.
    “Y’know, pretty sure someone warned you about that. Repeatedly.” Rae’s disembodied response was without pity, but her tiny avatar fell still at Boru’s waved hand. When he was sure she wasn’t going to keep going, the brown-haired man coughed and waited for Gil’s head to raise.
    “Specifically, what brought this on?”
    “But you like puns.”
    “Not when I have to clean them.”
    “When you…?”
    “Do you remember when there was talk of ‘grappling’ with what to do about the shipping container?”
    Boru’s face when suspiciously blank.
    Your people apparently have some sort of sticky plants called ‘grapes’ and ‘apples’. It is still purple.”

  7. Peaches, cherries, nectarines, apricots, grapes. Leonie looked them over. The glamorous life of a superheroine. You still did the grocery shopping, you just had to worry differently about shoplifters.
    Peaches and grapes, she decided, and picked out the fruit. She headed toward the checkout, and watched for the shop cameras.

  8. “Chaos creates. Entropy destroys.”

    It wasn’t particulary original for a demon. Or whatever you would call a four foot all grape colored humanoid with horns and a tail.

    “Chaos opposes order, though. And order is a good thing. Without it, anything could happen at any time, and that’s no way to live.”

    “But it *is* how you live, and everyone else. Order is the merest ephemeral breath that the chaos of life takes before getting back to the business of endless creation. It is the rule of life, order the exception.

    “But we do not oppose order, Man of Earth. It is natural as disease and death are, necessary, even.”

    The demon chuckled at his own poor joke, if it was one.

    “No, it is not order that the lords of chaos oppose. Order will happen, regardless, in countless different ways. It arises as patterns within the great sea. Hating order is like hating chlorine. It could kill you. But it also makes up salt, and cleans up swimming pools.

    “No, the real enemy is entropy. Emptiness. Destruction of all. In a way, perfect order, I suppose- nothing changing, ever, for all of time. Perhaps even the death of time itself.”


    In my defense, the grape colored demon came *first.* The rest he just kinda dragged in with him, like a toddler with a muddy puppy in tow.

    1. Well, I’m glad you posted it– because it made me identify something wrong with the “evil order” trope as generally used. (When they’re not being lazy and pasting it on good/evil.)

      Not all change is chaotic.

      In fact, in some cases, things NOT changing can be chaotic– if I drop a book, and it hangs in the air, that’s a sign of chaos, due to a lack of state-change.

      So the more common examples are really more change/stability, not chaos/order.

      I’m gonna need to chew on this more.

      1. Actually, as typified by the whole climate shebangarama, order is change – the natural process of climate is not some static ideal, but instead is a flow of changing conditions according to things like we’re-still-emerging-from-an-ice-age and solar output cycles and cosmic ray flux so on.

        So an opponent of order in the climate domain would be trying to impose absolute unchanging static conditions, to chaotically break the order of natural change.

  9. Getting old is weird these days. Thanks to rejuve, it’s hard to tell when you’ve gotten old. You still feel as good as you did when you were twenty, especially after you’ve just had your annual body maintenance. No more of the aching joints and fading senses my grandparents complained about when I was a kid.

    Instead, it’s the communication distance that time imposes. You may look like a twenty-year-old, but when you try to talk to an actual twenty-year-old, you have to be careful about those little cultural references that your generation takes for granted. Ever had the guy across the table from you look at you like you’ve just grown a second head when you make some reference to how the very thought of grape Kool-Ade was shuddersome to you through most of your teen years? Or just about any quotable line from Ronald Reagan?

  10. “Vineyards,” said Carrigiana. “This place isn’t in the kingdom. There’s a reason why we stick to ale and let the gentry import their wine.”
    Aidan looked at the image. Being farther south was little enough to define the place, without some feature from his lessons in geography, to place it.

  11. “They offer refreshments here,” said Lady Madge, leading off. Kiara followed. Wine aplenty, but also delicate little cakes, dusted with spice, and great heaps of grapes. No other fruit, but grapes in pale green shades.
    “I dare say that red grapes would have clashed with the decorations,” murmured Lady Madge.

  12. “And the lounge mess. Please close the hatch; it keeps crumbs out of the rest of the ship. If you’re hungry between meals, come down here.”

    That reminded her, her stomach was howling. The receivers hadn’t bothered to feed her that morning, and yesterday hadn’t been much either. Still, she hesitated. What were the rules for her on this ship? Was there a price for this food?

    Wall saw her staring at the mesh bags on the side table. “There are grapes and pears in the bags. There are Krahan sausages – real ones, from Mars – and yesterday’s bread-rolls in the bins.”

  13. Is the Dems’ price for defeating the threat of CCPvirus to turn us into Venezuela … without the oil reserves?

    According to reporting at Town Hall

    According to a source close to the process on Capitol Hill, in order to move forward with any kind of relief package, Pelosi and her far-left Democrat caucus will demand the following be included:

    -Publication of corporate pay statistics by race and race statistics for all corporate boards
    -A bailout on all current debt at the Postal Service
    -Required early voting
    -Required same day voter registration
    -Provisions on official time for union collective bargaining
    -Full offset of airline emissions by 2025
    -Publication and reporting of greenhouse gas statistics for individual flights
    -Retirement plans for community newspaper employees
    -Federal $15 minimum wage
    -Permanent paid leave
    -Study on climate change mitigation efforts
    The provisions will apply to the companies and business rescued by the bill.

    Well, I guess if it saves eve one life …

    If It Saves Even One Life, It’s Totally Worth It?
    By Sarah Hoyt
    As deaths from the Xi Flu mount in the U.S., the media keeps announcing them as if it’s absolutely the end of the world. I have no idea what we’ll be up to by the time this article goes up, but I’d guess probably around 500 or a little under.

    And sure, it’s easy to get panicked by that. Five hundred is a lot of dead people.

    If you tell people on social media that yeah, it’s a big number, but not as much – not by far – as the number of annual flu deaths in the U.S., you’re going to get called a monster, asked what if this person were your spouse, your mother or your child, and told that all these measures, and destroying our economy, are completely worth it, if we ‘save even one life.’ …

    1. “Or by using electricity – one of our supposed surge-prevention strips caught fire last week and we were lucky it didn’t burn the house down” From the PJM link. After about a year on average, surge suppressors become extension cords. Their buffering is sacrificial. ‘$10,000 coverage in case of failure’ with an asterisk ‘within the first year’ Better off getting a good Uninterruptable Power Supply with active line conditioning for anything you want to protect. The only things I use a surge suppressor for is the refrigerator and the washing machine, as their startup surges don’t play well with a UPS. And those I replace yearly, $15 a year is cheap insurance against a $1000 appliance, especially as I live in the lighting capitol of the world, Florida.

    2. It’s a great piece and getting some respectable comments up at PJM. (Was starting to worry about the Insty crowd …) Sarah leads us down the path of risk and reward and making conscious decisions in the balance thereof. Wow … what a concept. (Thank God. )

  14. We looked around. Nobody. I picked a bagful and got on the back of the idling motorcycle. He pulled away slowly, trying to be quiet. The setting sun was behind us. We got back, ate grapes and cheese with our friends. Then Doug said: “Dude. That was the experimental vineyard.”

  15. “This is what they call a grape,” Kazanath RReish said, indicating the luscious purple image in the phased-emission field with dexterous fingers, “and this is where they all live.” His needle-pointed claw-tips entered the hologrammatic field precisely to show the blue-green globe floating beside the purple one, but he left his fingers themselves outside it; such light emission inside one’s living flesh, though basically safe, was not always comfortable.

    “And I should say” (he said with a polite flourish of indirection) “that the second is just as ripe for the picking as the first.” And he made a gesture of plucking the plainly ripe, though quite insubstantial, “grape” with his very real grasp and popping it into his waiting mouth.

    “A most eloquent and graceful presentation of a comprehensive and firmly rooted body of intelligence, Scout-Commander RReish,” said his superior officer, lengthening the first sound of his subordinate’s name until it was nearly the aristocratic “rrr” of the era of the Warm-Nest Kings of a millennium past. “You and your crew are to be commended” (he was not without all the old courtly graces himself) “for your most thorough and competent work.”

    “However,” he continued, as if a human had leaned back in a comfortable chair, “I find I have to disagree greatly with that interpretation of your data. As valuable as it is to have the gatherers of information point to a place to view it from, some of us, old and feeble as we are in our advanced age, might have a touch more perspective.”

    RReish might have winced, if he’d dared. The “old” analyst-strategist was a sight to see on the practice fields. Not nearly so strong as he was said to have been, once; but anyone could see he was still fast as the lightning.

    “As tempting as their numbers and richness and resources might be, and so plainly are, there is more than a little potential cost and loss lurking in that course of action you urge. Eight billions. Nuclear explosives. Space travel on the verge of being worth pursuing for pay. A rate of innovation we have most seldom if ever seen.

    “And a fast-growing resistance to the kind of manipulation and dispiriting you so competently propose, RReish.” This time his mouth shaped something almost insultingly close to a plain “r” — that might have led to a duel in the old and lustier days, had it been just a mere fraction shorter than his courtier’s close shave of the skin of propriety.

    “Already their scholars stumble clumsily toward the principles and knowledge behind the Hunter’s Leap. They cannot see it, they can barely smell it, they can hear its terrified squeaking not at all, but still they close quick in on their prey.

    “And what should you recommend we do then, Scout-Commander, if we had spurred their scholars and artisans to the gallop with a raid or an invasion, and then found them swarming out here with us among the stars?”

    RReish was perceptive and wise enough to hold his peace. Even through the hours-long span of silent seconds that followed.

    And only when he’d made the sign of respect and turned to go did his mentor say, “And, RReish?”

    And only when he’d made the sign of respect a second time did Sir continue, “Never forget the difference, that this” — he pointed with his claw-tip a hair’s breadth from the purple fruit, half his finger within the field — “has neither teeth nor claws, while this” — and he did the same with the imaged Earth — “like their ‘roses’ and their ‘hawthorns’ is not so mildly obliging. Nor ever that the time of the Kings and their Royalty is hands of hands of hands of seasons in the past, or that our own Regnancy does not count the loss of blood and limbs and lives near as cheap as its ancestor once did.

    “So now, Scout-Commander RReish, you and your crew go out and find you and me and us all some juicier and choicer prey!” Which came with a friendly and encouraging smile that nevertheless showed all his teeth.

    To which his apprentice could only reply “Yes, sir!” and make the sign of deep respect and turn to go and serve once more.

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