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

Book Promo

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Since some of you — apparently — missed the announcement: I write Austen fanfic under Alyx Silver (or at least that’s the nom de publication.)  This one was the first one I wrote, though not the first one I published under that name.  Most other ones aren’t completely insane. This one, I’m afraid, IS.  (And yes, I’ll get it out in paper soon.)

FROM ALYX SILVER:   What if He Were to Pick Me: A Pride And Prejudice Variation With A Dash of Insanity.


What if Mr. Darcy, trying to avoid the appearance of being lofty and proud, so far mistook himself as to be charmed by Lydia Bennet?
How long could the fair strumpet lady hold his interest? How would Elizabeth Bennet feel about it?
As all the Bennet sisters fall into the strangest of relationships, you’ll fear you lost your mind. But you haven’t. Just grab your sweetie and a whip – in case of unruly pillows – and hire a Bennet coach to Gretna Green. They have the best carriages, and guarantee no one will catch you.
Then hold on to your hat. You’re in for the ride of your life.


FROM JERRY STRATTON:  The Dream of Poor Bazin: A Novel.


“All for One and One for All.” When Stephen Price Blair’s letter of introduction to White House Press Secretary Bobby Trevor is stolen by a mysterious Senator, he vows revenge against the most powerful people in DC. He risks his life, and his reputation as a journalist, to protect the President and Vice President from the plots of House Speaker Janet Richardson, and duels the Speaker’s journalists to advance the cause of beltway bipartisanship.

FROM CHROME OXIDE:  28 Minutes Into The Future.



Was there ever a time when the world needed to laugh more than it does right now? Thankfully, the cavalry has arrived. Nine rib-tickling, irreverent short stories take aim at political correctness and blow it to smithereens—in a hail of hilarity.”I found myself laughing with his tale[s] over and over.”—David Farland, New York Times Bestselling Author; and Coordinating Judge of the Writers of the Future contest”…entertainment pure and simple… a welcome breath of fresh air in an increasingly stuffy room…” —Dave Truesdale, Editor, Tangent Online”It’s terribly hard to write political commentary with such a strong sense of irony.”—The late, great Jerry Pournelle, John W. Campbell Award, Prometheus Award, Seiun Award, Heinlein Society Award,National Space Society’s Heinlein.



The end came fast for Lieutenant Nathan Ward. One moment he was participating in an international convention of mounted police officers, the next he was in a command bunker watching the world’s two biggest Corporations—Obsidian and Teledyne—destroy it in an exchange of nuclear hellfire.

While Columbia, Missouri was spared a direct strike, a near-miss EMP fried most of the vehicles and the electrical grid. Then the Corporations started a shooting war in the streets, and they didn’t care who got caught in the crossfire. But Columbia was one of the last cities still standing, and Nathan and his fellow officers weren’t going to give it up. Even if it meant facing the worst the Corporate militaries could throw at them.

The Corporations had no intention of giving up the city, either, and Obsidian called in reinforcements to match Teledyne’s Specialist, a woman with the power to defeat a company of soldiers all on her own. Both Corporations intended to reign supreme and were willing to crush anyone who got in their way. In the post-apocalyptic world, there was only one law—theirs—and not the one with a badge.

The world may have fallen, but the Thin Blue Line’s battle is only beginning.

FROM ALLENE R. LOWREY:  Einarr and the Demon Fleet (The Adventures of Einarr Stigandersen Book 4).


A perfect chance for revenge…

When the crew of the Vidofnir learns that Jarl Hroaldr’s ship is now actively hunting the same demon-headed crew that murdered Astrid, and that the princess Runa has been kidnapped, a hasty alliance is formed.

The fourth book of The Adventures of Einarr Stigandersen.

FROM MARY CATELLI:  Winter’s Curse.


Who but a fool would linger after Zavrien laid his curse? Ill luck can kill — and all the more in Zavrien’s enchanted, endless winter, haunted with ice giants and frost fairies.

When the soldier Gareth is cursed, the young wizard Perriel learns how dangerous lingering can be.

But she can hold out a sliver of hope for breaking the curse — if it doesn’t break them first.

FROM ALMA T. C. BOYKIN:  Familiar Vows: Familiar Tales Book Fourteen.


From Familiars who horn in on their new mages to a quiet night with Master Saldovado and a sorceress with a single spell, nothing’s quite what it seems in this Familiar world.

Lelia and André just want a quiet wedding celebration, but his family seems determined to add excitement to things. Mike comes home to Riverton on leave and backs into an old problem. Eugene Moorehouse fixes a fence under closer supervision than he’d planned. And Martin and Chester discover that sometimes, a mage in need is a mage indeed.

Six short stories in the Familiar Tales universe.


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: CAT.

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


    I can’t figure out whether our email trouble was on your end or mine.

    But speaking of that whole mess:

    1) Now that I know what I did wrong on with the formatting, I’m willing to write a paragraph or two for the FAQ so the next first-time guest writer doesn’t make the same mistakes (and create more work for you to fix it).

    2) I’ve got an idea for another LP promo if you want it.

    >> “Since some of you — apparently — missed the announcement: I write Austen fanfic under Alyx Silver”

    [rolls eyes] 🙂

      1. >> “Sure, I’ll take another post.”

        Hmm… Turns out some stuff I was planning to use never got put into the Something Awful database, even though it was finished. I’ll see if I can still manage this.

        Either way, though, it’s led me to an even more interesting idea. I’ll get back to you.

        >> “Son might get in this game as well….”

        Oh, dear. What door have I opened? 🙂

      2. Oh, and I offered to write a section for the FAQ about how to NOT screw up the formatting in guest posts the way I did. Did you want that?

      1. * Orvan pulls up in delivery van, and dismbarks, holding a parcel. *

        * Walks up path/walk*

        * Rings doorbell/knock. *


        “Good day. Delivery for you. Sign here please. Thank you. Good day.”

        * Hands over parcel and departs. *


  2. I read your Alyx Silver book, “What if He Were to Pick Me?”, back in June as a KU loan. Liked it so much I left this 5-star review.

    “An absolute hoot!

    This Jane Austen “Pride and Prejudice” fanfic just refuses to take itself seriously. The pairings from the original are shuffled, then shuffled again. The author has great fun with the characters of the principals, or is it the principles of the characters? Whichever, I found myself laughing thru the entire book, and thoroughly enjoyed the ultimate resolutions.

    This one will brighten up your day!”

    Now I think I will go read it again. 😉

  3. On the far end of Slayton Field, a D9 modified to use a fuel-cell electric engine was pushing its way through the lunar regolith, beginning the process of constructing several additional landing pads. From this distance, it was impossible to tell whether there was an operator on board or it was being teleoperated by someone in an office inside the Roosa Barracks. There were advantages to either method, but neither of them could quite overcome the tendency of veteran Cat operators to yell over the radio circuit. They were simply too used to the need to shout over a diesel engine back on Earth, and couldn’t quite adapt. More than a few had ended up going back, too freaked by the absence of that familiar roar.

  4. There I was, standing in the center of the auditorium, listening to the rhythm players woodshed the turnaround, and a kitten circles my ankles, purrs, and looks into my eyes.
    The security guard saw us and said “that cat likes you… you should take her home.” And so I did.

  5. “What are you doing there, standing there and staring?” said King Petros. “One would think you were a cat, you have so few manners.”
    Ivan bowed, straightened, said nothing.
    “No wonder my subjects don’t obey with me, with my son so insolent. Why am I so plagued?”
    Ivan bowed again.

  6. The cat sat on the mat. On the mat sat the cat. The cat on the mat sat. Sat the cat on the mat. Ain’t pragmatics grand?

  7. “One walks like a cat,” said Tristan. “Thus, one escapes many perils.”
    “Falls like a cat, too?” said Karl.
    “One tries to avoid that,” said Tristan. “Like a cat.”
    Angela rolled her eyes. “I hope you pick locks better than a cat.”
    “Cats seldom show off their skills,” he said.

  8. Hunter of Shadows

    Old Sela didn’t question where the shadows came from or why they came to this house specifically. She didn’t question that it was her duty to fight them in the dark, every cycle. Himself told her to do it. In a dream, when she was just a kit. Old Sela believed when Himself was doin’ the talking.

    The inky black shape seemed to bubble as it oozed under the door. Bigger than a rat, smaller than a Person, she just knew it was up to no good. Always the back door. Closest to the stairs, closest to the room the little ‘uns slept in. Like they knew where to go. She shook her head. Not tonight, though. Old Sela went with the old pounce and rip, only half eviscerating it this time. She had other plans tonight.

    * * *


    The three little fuzzballs fell all over themselves to get away from the wounded, leaking shadow in their midst. It flopped and scabbled energetically at the tiled floor, unable to get away from the heavy paw that kept it firmly in place. Old Sela cast her one good eye over the new recruits. Useless, the lot of them.

    Well, that’d have to change.

    “Pipe down. Now,” she growled soflty. “Don’t want that Big Ones to wake up and see this.”

    “Bu-but Auntie Sela…!”

    “No talking. Y’all got two ears to listlen with, long as I let you keep ’em.”

    She cast a meaningful gaze at the loudest complainer, Socks, of the marmelade fuzz but no brain. Socks shut her tiny mouth with an audible click, leaning back from the force of that look.

    “As I was saying.”

    She glanced at the black and white and the striped one. The other two looked on mutely, not daring to draw attention.

    “Y’all are just new here. But. Y’all have eat the food. Took yer ease by the window. Marked a few pieces of furniture, settled in, like. All well’n good, that. But.”

    She smacked the shadow with her other paw, making it writhe.

    “There’s a price for all that.

    “Now I can’t say as to whether ye lucked out or yer in a sorry state, but what is, is. Here, when the light dies for the day, and the Big Ones lay their heads down to sleep- that’s when these sorry gits come out. It’s our job to kill ’em. That said,”

    Sela lifted her paw. The shadow made a mad scrabble for the stairs. Right behind where three not even half-grown fuzzballs crouched, frozen.

    “Have at it.”

    Old Sela leapt onto the countertop to watch. It took a long time.

    * * *

    “By the Nine, I will have your ears if you don’t pick up the pace, Socks, even if I have to crawl my way back out of the black to do it, too!”

    They’d come a long way from that first disasterous encounter with the wounded shadow, some cycles past. Old Sela cursed the line of fire weaving its way through her guts. It wouldn’t be long. She had to whip these useless runts into shape before the last, or she’d never forgive herself.

    “Second floor bathroom. Go!”

    The three skidded around a corner and to the bathroom at the end of the hall. Someone had left the window open. That was a bad sign.

    Two shadows had already made the hall and were rushing towards the closest bedroom on the left. The black kit, braver or more afraid of Sela than the shadow, lept on it with a tiny growl of his own. The other two missed their pounces and had to double back. That left one that squirted under the door an instant before Sela body slammed it.

    “Oh no ya don’t!”

    She jammed er paw under the door and snagged it with her claws. With a mighty heave, she yanked it back through, ripping it open with her back claws as she rolled. Up on all four paws again, she raced to the bathroom. Inside, there were three already, with a fourth oozing through the window sash. Old Sela did not hesitate. There were shadows to kill.

    From the sounds in the hall, the three had their paws full as well.

    * * *

    “Aunt Sela, why do they taste so bad?”

    The white, imaginatively named ‘Cotton’ asked, trying in vain to wash the stink out of his mouth with his paws. Old Sela had pondered this before.

    “Well I don’t rightly know as to that. Could be ‘cuz they ain’t got no good red blood in ’em.”

    “Bugs don’t have blood in ’em, and they’re tasty!” Socks, predictably, didn’t have her head on straight. The black one, still nameless, still not talking, smacked her. Good on him.

    “Bugs is juicy. Where ya think that juice comes from, eh? They gots blood, they do. Shadows, they don’t. Taste worse than skunk butt, they do.”

    “Why’s that?” The marmelade asked, wary of another smack. It didn’t come this time.

    Old Sela thought back. Back to a time when her guts didn’t feel like fire all the time. When her joints didn’t ache. When she’d had the energy to hunt nonstop for long as it took.

    There’d been another, back on that cold, wet night a Big One had picked her up off a frozen storm grate and took her inside. Old Cat, she called him. Old Cat had the dream, too. Spoke to Himself, he said, and by the Nine, she believed him. He’d been that kind of cat, was Old Cat.

    “I call ’em shadows, ‘cuz thats what they look like. The one before me, Old Cat, lots older’n me, he called ’em something else. Something like…”

    She thought. Had he really been that old? Never seemed to slow down, did Old Cat. Just up and died one day. In his sleep, right next to her. Least he didn’t die lonely, she thought. What was it he called ’em?


      1. Appreciate it. Cat stories are a bit of a guilty pleasure. They help clear the mind when I oughtta be writing something else… At least, that’s what I tell myself.

  9. Angela looked down the streets of grayish brown and brownish gray. A gray cat eyed her. A cooper looked up from the barrel he was making.
    “Eh, a new one?”
    She nodded.
    “You’ll want the inn then.” He pointed down the way, to where a sign hung outside the building.

  10. A cat, blinking a little, watched her descent. For a moment, she considered the traps, but though Brian had never mentioned them, if the trap caught cats, it would be useless for catching burglars, or assassins.
    “Worse for pigeons,” she said.
    The cat yawned. She climbed down and hopped off.

  11. “It could be some kind of cat person, with that head,” said Roberto.
    “It’s not a cat person,” said Carrigiana. “One might hunt down a person and play with him before the kill. But it would do it in person. This kind of hired killing is not what they do.”

  12. In the Garden of Remembrance, there was always a silence. Especially here at its very core, where the places of greatest honor were the smallest.

    Even in the pouring rain, even in the thundering heart of a storm, somehow it was always there, perceptible beneath all louder and more ephemeral things.

    “Why couldn’t it have been us, instead?” she asked again for something like the thousandth time. Not expecting to receive an adequate answer, but still…

    “Not one of us could have ever gotten close enough to do the job. Only by the air ducts, where no grown human could fit, where no robot could survive the defensive damping fields — you not only know that as well as I do, Leslie, you made the analysis and recommendations yourself. And if the answer hasn’t
    changed in the twenty years since, or the twenty days before, it isn’t hardly going to change in the next thousand days or thousand years.” His voice was as close to neutral as hers had been, just as barely tinged with lament but also carrying the merest tincture of overt reassurance.

    Knowing, as he always did when saying them, that the words “you made the analysis and recommendations yourself” would come sharper than a knife to her heart. Knowing, as he never forgot, who had implemented those…

    “We were all so sure we were past all that, before,” he said, another remark well worn by time and repetition. “Like they were before the World Wars half a millennium ago now, back on Earth, they were sure they were too ‘civilized’ to be caught up in that same old madness. But they were, and worse and bigger.”

    “You can’t hold yourself responsible for the problem, Robert. You did not make it, you unmade it.” Her voice was caring, but still mostly neutral. Like a glass of water diluted in an ocean, this my slim hand would all the multitudinous seas incarnadine and all.

    He laughed, softly and without mirth. “I did nothing, but speak words and send messages. I paid no price… they did it for me, for all of us.” And his hand waved, slightly but not vaguely, at the concentric rows of shoebox-sized gray stones. Some of them with a bright aluminum-bronze armillary for those who had made it back before the EMP devices had all gone active; some of them with a colorful, vacuum-blown-glass ornament, for those who had perished in their inimical intensity, hostile to beating hearts and electronic registers alike.

    “And where would we be, if you had not sent the messages and spoken those words, Robert? Do you really believe the New Progressive Insurgency would have cured its own disease, in time? Do you truly think this” — and now she waved her own hand at the stones around them and the granite walkways they trod — “was genuinely in the end for naught?” She smiled a wintry and sleet-laden smile massively at odds with the cool fall day around them. “Did they all, actually, pay such a price for nothing?” (At my request she did not say, and perhaps still yet could not have said, only a score of years after.)

    The stones, one for each of the thousands of stations for network and power relay across the planet they’d had to take back from hostile hands, soon or else never. One for each of the felines who had brought those EMP devices so carefully to target. Felis domesticus sapiens, each. Not genetic engineering or any kind of ‘uplift’ at all, really, but concentration of the best and the brightest the feline race had always had, back to when the first sand cat met the first human and said, “Hey, can I follow you around for a while, you look like fun?”

    Leslie Carlsson’s lifelong passion. Before direst need had made it — otherwise.

    Had made it… weaponized. (Or had they, themselves, always been weapons from the very start and ever after… daggers in their own hand, by very nature?)

    He didn’t need to reply to her question, not out loud. The answer had been as obvious then as it was obvious now. “Live free or die” was not exclusive to the primate tribes, though the duller of each species might have wished it so.

    Especially since they’d reached the center, again.

    And the primary monument that stood there under its quartz-glass dome.

    A delta-line Cat, dragging an EMP ‘package’ as he went. Done in cool-white stone that shone in the strong fall sunlight under the dome. With a simple motto adapted from an old song cut into the long sides of the gray base.


    But it was always the other motto, the answer to the ultimate question, that brought a catch to his throat and a blur to her eye. Short-side sweet.


    And no self-immolating worm of guilt, no cold wind of doubt, could survive that. Perhaps some day, monkey-kind would return the favor; until then…

    There was a sound from the grass around them, from about ten or twelve feet away. Athena Cincinattus Cicero, epsilon-line Cat, that shade of gray usually called “blue” with a white “ascot” at her throat and a white tip to her mobile tail. Something between a chirp and a whirr. (Of course they were all always most welcome, here at the core of their own Garden. And there were occasional mice there in the grass…) And when Robert Walker and Leslie Carlsson had both looked at her, she winked. Quite broadly and obviously, as cats and Cats were wont to do. As if to say, Why so sad? Look, you survived, we survived, and it’s a beautiful day. So won’t you join me in enjoying it, together?

    And when they didn’t move or react, much, she three-quarters turned over and looked at them from half-upside-down, then winked again. And they both did, despite themselves, laugh a little. Even there, in the center of the Garden.

    Which of course, though neither of the architects of the Partisanship would be ever likely to admit it, had been much of the point all along. For all who fought.

    And for the two humans too, if only for a moment, there was quiet and peace.

    There, in the Garden of Remembrance, there was always a silence. Especially at its very heart…

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