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

2020 plotting

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:  Jewel of the Tiger.



With their lands withering for want of protection from the wind, they hear a demand from the wizard: the jewel of the tiger.

Jyron, realizing it may be simpler than it looks, sets boldly out to get a jewel from the lair of a man-eating tiger. To find that simplicity does not mean ease.

FROM PAM UPHOFF:  The Lawyers of Mars: Three Novellas.


Three Novellas. The first has been previously published.

Xaero was a good IP lawyer, a junior partner with the family firm. Until she successfully defended an environmental terrorist. Now the Red Ever Mars rebels have kidnapped her cousin and something suspicious about the police response leads her to believe she’d better rescue Ralphe herself.

A spoof of lawyers and a look at what Martians might have done as their world died. A lighthearted series of adventures. With scales. And briefcases. And mad scientists.

FROM KAL SPRIGGS:   Vernian Space Gun (Army Space Corps Book 1).


For over 225 years, the United States Army has fought every enemy of the nation from around the globe, but now there’s a threat never before seen and it comes in the form of a transmission from a nearby star.

The transmission shows a war, a war on a scale never seen by man. And that war is on Humanity’s very doorstep. Major Daniels knows that Earth isn’t ready for that kind of war. In an era of fighter jets and smart-phones, we don’t have the technology or infrastructure to begin to fight aliens with the power to travel the stars.

But that’s the impossible mission set before him and his team. The United States will need defenses, ships, stations, bases, and weapons capable of fighting that enemy. The first hurdle: finding a way to stage supplies and materials in orbit for the massive surge in space infrastructure. It would require every scrap of lift capacity in the entire world five times over and Major Daniels has to find out how to do it fast.

His solution is simple: build the world’s biggest gun and start firing payloads into orbit. The execution is what’s wrought with peril. Because even if bureaucratic infighting and simple physics aren’t enough to stop his project, then real enemies here on Earth might well be.

Daniels has to figure out the problems with his Vernian Space Gun and keep an eye on his back, because some nations on Earth see the alien threat as an opportunity to settle old grudges and they don’t care about what might happen to all of Mankind in the process.

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: CRUSH.

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

  1. I’m crushed that I can’t think of a good vignette for that prompt. 😉

  2. On trial for murder with a hydraulic press, the accused defended himself. “I was just playing Candy Crush.”

    1. The jury returned a verdict of murder pun, and a sentence of death by Angry Carps.

  3. RE: the Tweet at the beginning, do you guys seriously WANT to remind the writers about the Murder Hornets? Let’s just make that a dropped plot line and resolve the pandemic/riot story before things get any more “interesting.”

    1. If they forget about the murder hornets, they’ll probably keep introducing more stuff, and then the hornets will turn up anyway just to be inconvenient.

    2. Well, Russia had a fuel tanker accident and there is a river running blood red up in their Arctic region, they also have a plague of mutant blood sucking ticks, and there was a report of giant toxic toads in Hell -er, I mean, Florida; a plague of locusts in Pakistan, those bushfires in Cali and Australia that was followed by floods and giant hailstones, the erupting tourist volcano, and I am wondering if the Writers have had The Plagues from the Prince of Egypt stuck in their heads and are writing it out to crush the song; and if so, can we get Them to focus on a different song instead?

          1. Actually, Cane Toads are an invasive species deliberately brought to Australia from South America to eat bugs accidentally brought in from somewhere else. They turned into a WAY bigger problem than the bugs.

              1. I think a lot of people will regret things, if they have even a gram of reflection or awareness.

                Counterproposals that I made, which I thought no one would take me up on, now seem to be the law of the land some places. Of course, de facto is a very arguable degree of law of the land.

      1. >> “I am wondering if the Writers have had The Plagues from the Prince of Egypt stuck in their heads and are writing it out to crush the song; and if so, can we get Them to focus on a different song instead?”

        Wait, maybe not that one either…

    3. “Top story on Action News Nine: Nationwide riots crushed by the murder hornet pandemic; hundreds of demonstrators killed and injured. Film at eleven.”

    4. What are you taking about?
      It’s clearly a deus ex machina set up in advance to resolve the race riot plotline.

  4. I’d had a crush on Amy from the moment I’d first laid eyes on her, back when I’d transferred into Mannheim County Elementary just after Christmas break and had been assigned to Mrs. Demming’s first-grade class. Two decades and change later, and she’d grown from the prettiest girl in school to the most beautiful, most caring, most selfless, most incredible woman I’d ever met. And my boyhood crush had grown into something far, far deeper. I loved her. Truly, deeply, loved her.

    Which sucked.

    Because as far as I could tell, she loved me too. I was the brother she’d never had.

  5. When the elvish soldier walked arrogantly through the gate, Alice took up the ogre’s club and batted him back through with a huge two-handed blow, swinging for the fence.

    Athena stood back and left her to it. She knew what George, Elizabeth and Brunhilde were doing back in Hamilton, and what Nammu was doing across the field. Alice was dealing out the mayhem according to the plan, which was contain and humiliate. The elf getting his armor smashed by a mere human was right on point.

    When the club finally broke on the elvish helmet, Alice drew the two nanotech fighting sticks from the scabbards on her back and laid into him with all the arts she had learned from Syn and Nammu Chen.

    The suit lacked the explosive power of Brunhilde or Athena’s artificial muscles, but more than made up for that with sheer moving mass. The elf warrior was battered from head to foot, every time he tried to go on the attack to cut the suit’s armor with his sword, Alice’s stick would come thundering in and break something.

    She got him lined up with the gate and delivered a crushing two-stick blow to his head, followed by a roundhouse heel strike to the breastplate that sent him back to his own world. She added insult to injury by triggering the jump rocket while her boot was in contact with him, adding to his departure velocity.

    “There, let’s see what laughing boy does with that,” she panted, breathing hard from her exertions.

  6. Her enemy was big, and strong, and she’d been caught by surprise — again! — and found herself at a disadvantage. The needle crept closer to her skin…

    The syringe vanished as she translated it into another dimension.

    That surprised him. “Fuck!”

    The driver laughed nastily and shouted something she did not understand. Her assailant made an equally nasty reply.

    Now she understood. This vehicle was controlled by her enemies. Bickering, maybe, but enemies just the same. Well, she knew what to do about that!

    All of the interior lights went out, the siren stopped wailing, and the ambulance began to slow down. The driver yelled short, loud words that she did not recognize, accompanied by thumps and other noises from beyond the front wall.

    Freed from the needle’s threat, she twisted in her attacker’s grasp and brought her left knee up violently. She missed her primary target, but pushed him off balance and loosened his grip. She wrenched her left arm free and drove her stiffened fingers into his face. Most of them hit solid resistance, but her third finger punched into a deep, wet cavity — an eyeball.

    She heard a hoarse scream, both of her enemy’s hands jerked up to cover his face, and she drove a right half-fist just under the chin. Cartilage crunched between her knuckles and the neck vertebrae, cutting the scream off instantly. She pushed the heavy bastard off her and got to her feet, ignoring the strangling noises as he pawed at his crushed throat. There was another enemy to be dealt with.

    She saw no way to reach the front seats from inside this box, only a small window covered by a metal screen.
    She opened the back doors…

    1. My ambulance crew experience is 12 years old, but those had an open passage between the ‘bus module and the driver’s compartment.

      OTOH, I like it!

      1. From what I have been able to find out, some do, some don’t. Guess I should investigate one.

  7. Understand that the multi-ton Zszlems of Planet Vronoux are almost a mile tall. They have eyes on the bottoms of their feet (a necessity when that big, to know where they’re putting them.).

    Alas, sad to say ,when the first spaceship from earth landed, it was crush at first sight.

  8. As the sumo wrestler sang to his super-model girlfriend, “I’ve got a crush on you, sweetie-pie, All the day and night-time hear me sigh …”

  9. “I can’t just crush her underfoot,” said Apollos. “I need to understand this Lunette. You have to admit that the man she killed was in the act of attempted murder.”
    “She had no business doing this,” said the cop.
    “You may tell her so, if you think she will listen.”

    1. Thinking deep philosophical thoughts about whether the woman should be called Artemise and not Lunette. . . .

  10. “Mortar and pedestal,” said Lucie. “I would have thought that she was above herbs like some hedge-wife. If you go for necromancy, you must have too much pride to crush thyme in this.”
    “Bones,” said Felix and Tristan at once.
    Lucie blinked.
    “She definitely used it for bones,” said Tristan.

    1. I’m guessing autocorrupt bit you there? Sounds like you meant “mortar and PESTLE.”

      1. Unless it was a really large mortar and the pestle user was quite large and in a hurry. Sorry about the statue on the pedestal.

  11. For those complaining about the crushing unreality of this year’s writers room, please remember that the year isn’t even half over yet. And complaints about the year might lead to a large crush of attempts at one-upmanship.

  12. “Well, that worked,” Bobby exclaimed as he surveyed the damage.

    Ectoplasm was everywhere, all that remained of the otherworldly monsters that had lately tried to enter our world through another temporary dimensional rift. We needed to figure out what was causing them and soon.

    “I think a celebratory soda is in order. Do you want orange or grape”
    “Neither. I’ll have cola. I hate Crush.”

  13. The crush of the people at the station was maddening, even by Earth standards. You could barely see the bulkheads, let alone the passages anywhere. There were even kids here, which made no sense at this section of the station. What the fuck? I asked to myself, sardonically.

    IZANAMI replied to my internal monologue-of course, since she was reading all my vitals and knew the difference between idle curiosity and my need for tactical data. Two transports from Earth heading to the Rim, she replied. The have to let the Invols off for some space, since they can’t stick them all in cryo.

    I sighed non-vocally. Once upon a time, I worked an Involuntary Colonist transport and just flushing them all into hard vacuum would be kinder. Thirty year minimum contracts, the labor suppliers would stuff anybody that was stack-recoverable into the cheapest body or shell they had, and the kids were a fifteen year contract item each. In theory, they would have a stake at the end, but I had dealt with a labor contractor once-and be assured they would figure out a way to stick more time on your contract somehow.

      1. I was aiming for more of the Altered Carbon/Cyberpunk than Eclipse Phase (this is from someone that like liked the first edition, Anarchy and Total Libertarianism Good, everything else bad writing for the first few game books.

        It’s not a friendly universe, but it never is. And, we can make it better-if we work at it.

    1. Yeah, promote riots, looting and arson, and ban cartoon guns. I knew they were stupid, but do they have to WORK at it?

      Next up: jail time for posting a picture of a gun on Farcebook?

      Hollyweird can’t take guns out of the movies, though — nobody would watch.

      1. Errr … the article says they’re taking away Elmer‘s rifle; it said nothing about Yosemite Sam’s pistols.

        I believe Elmer’s weapon may be a shotgun, the weapon of recommendation for Joey Biden. That seems consistent with the blast pattern typically depicted.

    2. Our long national gun violence nightmare is finally over!

      Except …

      “We’re not doing guns,” Peter Browngardt, executive producer of the new series, told the New York Times. “But we can do cartoony violence — TNT, the Acme stuff. All of that was kind of grandfathered in.”

      Fudd won’t be empty-handed, however — he’ll now use a scythe to try to bag Bugs.

      So there’s that.

      1. A… scythe.

        So, Elmer Fudd is now…. what? A farmer? The Grim Reaper? They still going to kit him out in hunting togs and have him stalk through the woods saying “Be vewwy vewwy qwuiet, we’re weaping wabbits?”

      2. I suspect if I were to carry a scythe and wear a black cloak and around the block of a rest home that I’d be stopped and asked some questions, at the very least.

        But now I ponder an Anvil Delivery System… it’s not “gun violence” after all, so it should be Perfectly Acceptable, yes?

        1. Tell them it’s COVID-19 message spreading. There was a guy stalking the beaches of Florida like that.

          He cheered for the protests, though.

    3. In a world where chewing a Pop Tart in the shape of a gun can get a 7 year old kid suspended from school, there is no such thing as peak insanity. If people saw some of the doodles I make after scribbling out a couple of lines of hand written text…Maybe I should post some of them somewhere and try to induce strokes and heart attacks?

  14. A bit from the novel I want to get out and finish just as soon as I finish the extension of “The Moon Mirror” into a full novel:

    There could be no arguing with the Admiral’s command. Cather followed him into his study, took the indicated seat. Roger sat down beside the ornate inlaid desk some old teammates had given him when he was named to America’s third group of astronauts.

    “Cather, we have a serious problem on our hands. We cannot have her developing an inappropriate emotional attachment.”

    It took Cather a moment to grasp what his ur-brother was talking about. When he did, it was all he could do to keep from bursting into laughter.

    “Rog, I don’t think it’s as bad as you’re thinking. Toni would’ve been in middle school right about the time you were coming back into the public eye after being off flight status for all those years. That’s about the same age as my niece – you know Sandra’s girl. I swear she’s got a crush on a new boy band every week. Toni was already interested in science and technology by that age, so she could very well have had a crush on you for a while, and completely forgot about it when she outgrew pining after senpai and started having real relationships with fellow techies in high school and college.”

  15. “Waste of time,” said Robert. “The first ogre we run across will crush him to a paste.”
    “If the first dragon doesn’t burn him to a crisp,” said Carrigiana. “Or the first wolfman spit him like a lamb.”
    “Or the first piece of bread he eats chokes him,” said Edwin.

  16. Slowly, and blinking gray eyes owlishly behind wire-rimmed glasses, Elena Hofstadter “came up for air” from the mathematics-laden five pages in her hands and refocused her eyes and her attention again on the slim graduate student sitting serenely in front of her desk. Normally she didn’t care a hang for “professorial demeanor” — that’s one good reason to end up at a Midwest university rather than “one of those stuck-up Ivy League places” — but right now, about the only thing keeping her from saying something like “wow!” (or screaming “Eureka!” at the top of her lungs) was simple old-fashioned shock.

    Yes, cosmology was supposed to be about big ideas, almost by definition; any field of study concerning literally the entire universe and its past and future by rights had to “think big” (and long, and old, and far ahead). But this was more than just another clever twist on open or closed universes, positive or negative cosmological constants, inflation or not. It was a direct proof you could evade the “big crunch” at the end of a closed universe’s history, and (more or less) kick a hole right out of the all-embracing, collapsing cosmic sinkhole of its (sort of) time-reversed Big Bang, then climb out of it into a brand new cosmic evolution and history through your own did-it-yourself “escape hatch.”

    Saying “thank you, but no” to the end of everything, including space and time.

    Once upon a time, decades ago, she’d read Poul Anderson’s “Tau Zero” sitting right there on a couch in the library, all the way through in one sitting. She’d only meant to get a couple of chapters in, to see if (never mind its reputation) it was even worth checking out. But she’d been so captivated, entranced, by the “scope” (such a small and weak word) of the old novella, she’d (outside of a few trips to water fountain and bathroom) found it impossible to put down.

    But this here was no science-fiction story, wildly speculative in so many ways though it was hard SF by a master of the craft. This was actual mathematical physics, this had (so to speak) the detailed blueprints and bill of materials to go with the pretty rocket ship artwork. Right here in her hands.

    And the real kicker was, the proof was constructive: it showed it was possible by demonstrating how to do it. Yes, lots of exotic matter and something like a galaxy’s worth of mass-energy to drive the “escape hatch” — the limits were at best order-of-magnitude, but that was old hat in astrophysics. But given that you (or whatever species you imagined) had the entire history of the whole of the cosmos to get ready to cheat your way out of its end, maybe not so hard…

    “You know what you have, here? I mean, you say it in plain words” — though, in the way of its species, only about a quarter of the pages’ area had words on it, and most of them innocuous little ones like “and then we get” — “but, still, for a graduate student to come up with a way to outlive the universe, someday…”

    “So, you don’t find anything wrong with this, either? I almost expected you to.”

    “Maybe I’m just starry-eyed, or really short on coffee this morning, but… no.”

    Ian Holcomb spread his hands as if in half-apology and half a shrug, and said back to her in his soft upper-Alabama drawl, “It’s pretty much the same as the winning strategy for a game or a concert in the Saucer if you don’t need to see it all the way to the bitter end — leave early and avoid the crush.”

    And for an instant she felt a little stung, as if this whole thing, paper included, was nothing but a wild shaggy-dog story… and then in the next instant a chill ran up and down her spine. And kept on bouncing up and down.

    Yes, maybe even it was, except the mathematics was right — as far as she could tell on a ten-minute quick trip though it, at least. Here, in her hands, could be the entire long-term (really long term) future of humanity.

    She felt something very like a grin stealing softly, slowly across her face as she said, “Ian, this is like first reading ‘Tau Zero’ all over again, but with math.”

    And the sound of Ian’s voice was almost the very antithesis of so many of her own competitors or even colleagues, full of will-to-win and “killer instinct.” “Actually, it seemed to me a lot more like that last chapter of Sheffield’s ‘Between the Strokes of Night.’ Though of course I liked the Anderson also.”

    And she could see, beyond a wistful sort of expression on his face, a light in his eyes that said, yes, he “got it” too. Like the fierce blue of the remnant star at the heart of a planetary nebula… “Do you think the journals would ever let us title the paper something like, ‘When there is no time left for time, there will be tomorrow?'” And Ian Holcomb smiled that soft, almost secretive smile that in its own good time would outlast our universe itself.

  17. The clerk behind the counter opened a plastic smile. “Good morning officer, and good morning new client. This is your first visit with us, is it not?”

    Freddy nodded.

    “Here at the Center for Rehabilitation of UnSocial Humans we pride ourselves on 0% recidivism. We have a little paperwork first. What was your former address?”

  18. “We appreciate the barbecue,” the centaur said, “but ‘cheerwine’? I thought I warned you against bringing wine.”

    Julian smiled. “It’s not really wine. It’s a cherry soda, a soft drink.” He opened the cooler. “I also have Coke, 7-Up, and Orange Crush.”

  19. “Sir, you really don’t want to go extra-legal with Neyland Tarr.”

    “Why the hell not? He can’t fight the United States Government!”

    “Congressman, he won’t have to. He’ll be fighting YOU. Oh, you can send some frighteners after him. And ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it would work. Tarr? He’ll crush them into a red smear, and then he’ll come looking for you. And you don’t want him looking for you.”

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