Writing Challenge and Book Promo

*For those who want to know how I am. I’m …. managing. I still get moments of extreme grief out of nowhere.  But I’m trying to re-create A routine. Difficult as Marshall and I still have three rooms to floor, but– I’m trying.- 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 KARL K. GALLAGHER:  Storm Between the Stars: Book 1 in the Fall of the Censor.


Niko Landry and his crew thought a routine hyperspace survey would be easy money. But when the barrier separating their homeworld from the rest of the human race opens, they seize the chance to go exploring . . . finding an empire more dangerous than they imagined.

FROM MARY CATELLI:  The Princess Goes Into The Forest.


In the home of a wealthy but vanished family, four young people, inventorying the household, find the props for the family’s amateur theaterics. But a few minutes of donning them to play at roles has consequences that none of them could have guessed. One plays a subtle courtier, one a brave swordsman, one a powerful enchantress. . . and one takes up the role of a princess, and goes into a forest.

FROM L. A. GREGORY:  Stoneheart: A Novel of the Bitterlands.


A vicious attack. An enigmatic ore. Can two young mystics solve the mystery before chaos spreads?

Shale strives to protect his embattled city using his stoneshaping magic. But when he intercepts a plot which puts his beloved home in danger, all his knowledge and experience aren’t enough to uncover the truth. If he can’t find the source of the danger, everyone he cares about could die.

Kestrel believes in duty to family, friends and the natural world. When Shale asks for her help, she doesn’t hesitate to come to his aid. But as they follow the trail through perilous wilderness, can even her shapeshifting ability keep them alive?

Battling hostile environments and corrupted creatures, they forge their way to a fortress whose very stones can drive them mad. Can Shale and Kestrel stop a gathering calamity, or will the truth destroy their minds, their bodies and their land?

THOMAS SEWELL: Hitchhiking Killer For Hire: Sovereign Security Company (Sharper Security Book 0).

Former Army Ranger beaten and left in the south-west desert by a dozen strangers

Sam Harper wants to relax on a beach and surf. Put government service behind him.

But a border gang and their corrupt government backers refuse to let him retire from violence that easily.

Betrayed by friends, Sam must find a new purpose fighting human trafficking, truck jacking, and protecting those in need along the Mexico-Arizona border.

Can he endure long enough to make that difference?

Prequel to Sharper Security. This story stands independently, but is set after the events in Techno Ranger and Covert Commando, so contains minor spoilers about characters and relationships in those books.


*While I’m sure that Mary sent me the vignette word as USUAL on Sunday last, my email has ways of hiding things in search. So, for today’s challenge, write the beginning of a story, or a story challenge on THIS picture. SAH*

51 thoughts on “Writing Challenge and Book Promo

  1. One pill makes you larger? Who wants to be larger? Size matters and big might have advantages…

    Another makes you small. Hum, could be OK I guess but…

    The one’s your mother gave you, don’t do anything at all.

    Stay like I am? Be me? That’s kind of slick, Grace.

      1. By around ’73, Grace and the Airplane were sick of playing that song. I was a JA auditorium concert at U of Redacted (about the time of the Bark album with Papa John Screech on violin) and “White Rabbit” got called out from the audience before *every* song. Eventually Grace said the song was like a peanut butter sandwich; eventually you got tired of it. So, no “White Rabbit”.

        Fast forward a couple weeks: The Moody Blues were playing, and getting requests shouted from the audience. Some wag yelled out “White Rabbit”, thoroughly confusing the band. They *really* didn’t understand the laughter.

  2. Many years ago in grade school in the 70s, we were shown an anti-drug movie using an Alice in Wonderland theme. It’s kind of hard to describe now, outside of saying it was bizarrely animated (sort of Rotoscoped but not really), and overall quite disturbing, which I’m sure was the intention. And yes, the caterpillar was taking bong hits.

    1. I just checked my bookshelf, and it was ‘Sign Of Chaos’ in which Merlin found Rinaldo in a Shadow of Wonderland because Rinaldo was drugged. Which, in turn, reminded me of Merlin’s warning to himself:

      “Never do another Shadow-walk on acid.”

    1. Thanks, Laura! I appreciated your review. It’s obviously updated with a new cover and some internal improvements (I hope) since then.

      If you haven’t read Techno Ranger yet, shoot me an email (or a return comment) and I’ll send you a copy. Interested in what you think of my writing progress.

    1. Especially since they always got the lighting weird and everyone thought they were Photoshopped.

  3. “Are they bio constructs? Robots? Illusions?”
    “Nobody knows. They can’t be natural -that rabbit must be four feet tall.”
    “Couldn’t someone go across and check?”
    I continued to look out the window. Compared to my apartment, it looked like Paradise. Except…”If someone did manage to cross over the Department of Envronmental Maintnenance probably wouldn’t let them come back.”
    “Why not?”
    I started to get annoyed (more annoyed if I was going to be honest). “Concern about invasive species, most likely. Who knows what Dangerous Organisms might come back with the explorer? Or we might do irrevocable ecological damage given the last crossing was before we learned about Man’s Abuse of the Natural World.” I knew I should curb the sarcasm but idiocy triggers me, to use the formerly trendy term.
    “I’d be more worried about danger to the explorer,” he said thoughtfully. “But there are records, and isn’t a descendant of the first explorer still living?”
    “For all I know, the explorer is still alive over there.” I waved at the vista. “Go ask Alice – if you can find her.”

  4. I’ve never been interested in how my family built our houses, I’ve always been more of a people person.

    I’m now living with Grandma and Grandpa in the house my thrice Great Grandfather built. I used to live in a University town, but the mood was getting very ugly when Grandma had her fall.

    I’d finished my house chores for the day, and sat in the library’s big bay window scritching Mr. Stanhope, thinking about my next article.

    I think I was in my twenties before I realized that not everyone’s old family homes were partly in other worlds. Wherever this window opened to, it was very far from both insane university administrators and communist arsonists.

    “When I first looked into San Francisco and West Hollywood for why Pelosi and Schiff are crazy enough to push things so far, I wondered if the homosexuals there were simply deranged nihilists. But the truth is more prosaic. If Homosexuals do not believe that Republicans will put them down, like mad dogs, then the GOP can win those districts. The norms violated are the norms of a ceasefire, Trump started things by threatening Pelosi and Schiff.”

    I typed the headline into my tablet. _Trump’s Real Crime is Tolerance for LGBT and Blacks_

    “I bet I can tick off Red State, The Bulwark, and National Review with this. You think I can safely insinuate that Rubin’s and Nichols’ reason for wanting to vote Democrat is ‘necessity to correct’ the GOP’s ‘abandonment’ of these policies?”

  5. “Mom! I’m bored!”
    “Now, Beatrice. I don’t understand how you can be bored. You have all those live play classic books that you’ve downloaded. Play one of those.”
    “I have! I’ve done all of them. I’ve played Alice in Wonderland three times!”
    “Then, download more.”

  6. Being a live window model for a store in Wonderland wasn’t the worst after-school job she’d ever had, Alice had to admit. The work was easy and the pay was good. But the way that blasted cat kept leering at her through the window made her wish her employer would hire some security. She wondered if it would be proper and ladylike to inquire about Wonderland’s concealed carry laws, just in case…

  7. Alice clamped her hand over the injection site, and sat back as the potent cocktail of drugs brought on the familiar hallucinations. Her councilor kept telling her that one of these days the strain of using would stop her heart, and she would never come back from Wonderland.

    Maybe this time….

  8. Mrrow?

    No, Mr. Mittens, I am not going through the looking glass today. I have had all the weirdness I can stand for a while.


    Wonderland, schmunderland. I would much rather sit here and cuddle with my best furry feline friend. That’s you. Take it or leave it.

    Purrr . . .

  9. “Why do they call it a Heinlein window, anyway? I’m pretty sure that Robert Heinlein died two or three centuries before that… thing over there was even thought of.”

    This was not one of those conversations conducted in low but intense tones just out of earshot (estimated, or mis-estimated) of its subject. It was rather one of those carried on both softly and in an equable tone of voice, but still on a passionately-felt level that had to be encoded in all the other ways available.

    At least where one of its participants was concerned.

    “He wrote a few stories, ‘The Number of the Beast’ most of all I’d say, where the physically-accessible reality of story — of popular story, great story, even outright archetypal story — was simply a design feature of the universe.” William Macclesfield smiled, softly and genuinely and disarmingly. “He used to call it ‘multiperson pantheistic solipsism,’ or something like. Never mind, of course, that our real universe has never worked that way.”

    “Well, thank Heaven for that, at least! Surely you’re also glad we can’t end up in some kind of re-run of the ‘Forbidden Planet’ scenario? ‘Monsters from the Id,’ and all!” He actually shuddered slightly, in a way that did not seem affected.

    “As I’ve tried to explain, Professor, this is a purely passive device, except for the high-resolution visible display (which is stunning enough, NK flatscreen quality in an optionally-transparent substrate that also functions as quite a high-grade light-amplifying telescope in the right bypass mode). All it does, to be very simplistic, is key in on one of the ‘contents’ — as Carl Jung used to say, back around Heinlein’s time — of the unconscious of the person or people in the sensitive region of the window, which would be that window seat, one both highly energetic in itself and activated — Jung would say ‘constellated’ but that’s not particularly enlightening jargon — at the moment, and present it to the subject or subjects within the reading field. Even a country farmer like me” — and he smiled in a self-deprecating way that also underlined his position in the local scheme of things — “can understand that much.

    “No monsters, except only very rarely pictures of a few. Hardly even any ‘Id.’

    “And it’s not even ‘interactive’ in any simplistic or algorithmic way, this is not a modern-day version of an old ‘video game’ or virtuality role-playing immersion system — remember it responds to your unconscious mind, only, so you can’t even direct it very much at will if you do try. Something like as hard, or so I’ve heard, as learning how to dream lucidly… and perhaps not so useful either.

    “And clearly, at the moment, one can see that the ‘content’ the machine finds most relevant has very much to do with the adventures of the fictional Alice.”

    “So it’s like one of those banned ‘psychedelic’ drugs; like a 1960s ‘acid trip’ only with a high-res display window up front so everyone can see!”

    William curbed into a soft half-chuckle what might otherwise have become a full-bodied guffaw. “Surely, Professor, you cannot seriously entertain the idea I would feed my next-youngest daughter LSD-25, or ketamine, or ibogaine, or methylene dimethoxy meth-amphetamine, or any of that lot? Or any effective equivalent?” And he nodded to the box-window-seat embrasure where Oriana and Butterscotch Macclesfield were, both seperately and apart, contemplating the deepness of mind. “Much as I’d studied that whole antique pharmocopeia at college, before I came back here to Bollsthorpe, never even once have I been seriously tempted to learn about such things first-hand. Jung’s ‘active imagination’ and similar methods were always plenty sufficient to my needs.”

    And he tilted his head just a little, in what those who knew him well could read as a certain — willingness to accede to temptation. “Besides, there’s a feature of what we’re observing that might have escaped your notice. Surely even my thumbnail sketch of the Window’s nature and operation has explained that if more than one person is present, then its images — perforce shared by all of the people it’s ‘reading’ plus any observers — pertain to all their unconscious minds? Sort of like an intersection of sets, it necessarily works not simply with what they have in their minds, but mainly what they have in common there.”

    “Yes, Squire Macclesfield, I do take your point; only not its relevance since only one person is there or even nearby, your daughter!”

    And that smile was, William felt, on his lips after all. “Surely you’ve not missed Miss Butterscotch, whose favorite human is Oriana. And, you will note, right where Butterscotch is looking, is a prominently featured image of what looks to me precisely like Mr. Dodgson’s raffish Cheshire Cat! Not coincidentally, I’d have to guess, knowing what I do!”

    Professor Hartley not only did not smile, his frown became… enhanced. “So it is even worse than I thought, this infernal machine, it not only dredges up the decently buried mental refuse of the Id and exhibits that for the world to see, it also commingles such rubbish with the errant musings of dumb animals!”

    My, Professor, I’m happy you’re still playing this soft and quiet. I’d not want to be part of that conversation, if my daughter or others heard that and took it amiss, entertainment value or no! William thought, and did not let on.

    “Perhaps, Professor, we ought next to take a stroll in the very non-augmented reality of our back garden, which actually can be seen admidst the bits and pieces of Miss Alice’s adventures. With a hot-mug of refreshing” (he’d carefully rejected ‘soothing’ though that might influence the blend to choose) “tea for us both, on this excellent and finely-crafted fall day?”

    And perhaps if you say so, Professor Sean Hartley, I’ll finally find out what brings you to visit me here, today, at last? So far, he could only hope…

  10. To our hostess: I just wanted to express my thanks, have devoured the Familiar series en masse. (Amazon makes it /way/ too easy to buy the next one in line.) Then I finished, and was like, are there any more (please take my money!)?

    1. You might also enjoy Alexander, Soldier’s Son, the Alexi Tales Omnibus.

      It looks like it might have served as a prototype.

      Alma has a bunch of other stuff on her Author page. More variation in taste, I’m pretty happy with Shikari and Merchant, and haven’t gotten around to much of the rest, yet.

    2. Sintra, first, thank you very much, and I’m glad you enjoyed them!

      Book 14 is waiting on a critique, then will go out for beta readers. I hope to publish it in mid to late August. Book 15 is also done, and should be available in late September.

  11. Alice looked at the mural disgusted. Why did it seem that there was always some idjit who had grand ideas of how the world looked in Wonderland? The cat was all wrong! On top of that the rabbit looked like a refugee from the alimentary canal zone. The blonde chick seemed to agree.

  12. The computer’s speakers were playing Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” I wasn’t supposed to listen to Shepardsport Pirate Radio, since my dad was employed by the Department of Security rather than NASA or McHenery Aerospace, but up here there wasn’t anything else worth listening to.

    Why did Dad have to get transferred to Grissom City? The food tasted awful, all the kids my age treated me like a baby, and my so-called room was a tiny alcove someone had decorated in an Alice in Wonderland theme. And no, we couldn’t get it redecorated.

    “You should be grateful for the opportunity,” Dad had told me that day when he announced the news. “Think how many children can only dream of a trip to the Moon.”

    “Well, they’re welcome to it,” I’d answered. That got me a smack across the mouth, and a warning that I was not too old to be turned over his knee and given swats.

    So I’d trudged through the three months of training at Johnson. The only thing that kept me from deliberately flunking was the warning that if I did, I’d be shipped off to Aunt Matilda.

    Now that I’m actually here, I can’t even do any of the stuff that would actually make it so wonderful. Either it’s only available to people on a tourist package, or I’m not qualified for it. Like the field trip the geology class is taking this weekend — even though everyone would be in an enclosed rover and there wouldn’t be any EVA’s, I have to stay behind. And when I asked what I needed to do to get to go, they said that if I show more responsibility, I might get to participate in future activities. Like that does me any good now.

    So here I sat, stuck at home while everyone else got something cool. I was supposed to spend the time studying, like I wanted to trudge through homework while everyone else was off on an adventure.

    Why did that stupid catbot have to climb up here beside me? It was supposed to make up for having to leave our cat behind, but for me it just made everything worse.

    Sometimes I wondered if it was programmed to spy on me. How else did Dad find out that I’d called Sandy and unloaded about how miserable I was up here? And then put me on restriction for lying when I’d tried to tell him we were just talking about the old times.

    If this were Rhapsody of the Nerds, Toshiro would’ve hacked his way into any monitor bot’s programming and found a way to loop in innocuous imagery whenever he wanted to do something cool. Too bad I couldn’t do anything that cool.

    I looked back over at the computer. How hard would it be to learn how to get into a catbot’s programming? Dad was always grumbling about how easy it was for script kiddies to get into systems. If it were so easy, it shouldn’t be that hard to check out what was going on inside that furry little skull.

    1. Any comparisons to Thomas Sowell are purely to my advantage, despite how much we agree on, and how much I admire his work.

      I have had plenty of occasion to explain to folks that we are two different people, though. Including once when carrying a stack of his books through the library and someone who I had recently met, but knew I wrote, asked me if they were my books. “I wish.” 🙂

  13. A 50-word homage:

    “Valentine Wiggin. World-renowned freedom writer.”
    “Follow the path to the giant’s castle.”
    “Who are these obstacles?”
    “Rather, ask what. Their hindrances exist within you.”
    “My brother never met a rabbit.”
    “Discovered the mushroom peril first.”
    “Within me? I’ll carry Greebo. Melts heart barriers with his affections.”
    “The giant is defeated.”

  14. I bought Storm between the Stars not long ago and found it worthwhile. It has a future authoritarian society that isn’t any of the present-day forms of authoritarianism transposed into the future, but something inventive. And it does a good job of showing the workarounds people come up with for authoritarian restrictions. Recommended.

  15. Four foot rabbit? Of course it’s a four foot rabbit. All rabbits have four feet, unless they’re mutants or mutilated.

    On the other hand, there could be giants…

  16. Any way I could get a promo for mine(yes, shameless and selfish ask)? Came out today, and it’s about a 2nd American Civil War based on today’s political dynamic.

      1. That reminds me: that guest post I’ve been trying to send you is still available if you want it, and it’s no big deal to edit the “Greebo’s editorial mafia” jokes out first.

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