Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and 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 ERIC TESTERMAN: West Of Prehistoric.

Jedidiah Huckleberry Smith spent his entire life searching for the raider who mutilated him as a child. Finally, giving up on a trail long grown cold, he leaves his outlaw past behind and starts over in a remote town in Wyoming.

One dark night his ranch is attacked by a mysterious and ferocious beast from a world lost to time. Only Jedidiah’s savagery and skills save him.

Now, teaming up with a beautiful but naïve paleontologist, they stand between his adopted town and its destruction by an army of barbaric prehistoric apes and dinosaurs. But Jed’s past has come back to haunt him. The man he searched for is discovered in a position of power, and Jed must choose…

Revenge for his past, or the salvation of strangers.

Either way, bullets will fly, and blood will be spilled.


What a relief it was when the woman, how mysterious she was, offered to stand as godmother for the baby no one could provide for.

Such a relief that only the little girl’s mother thinks to wonder why this woman is so intent on having a baby with the same name as herself. And no one else notices the magic on her sledge.


Gilead Tan and Andrea Fielding survived their stint in the military, got married, signed up to emigrate to a terraformed colony world, and went into cold sleep for the journey from Earth. While they slept, the starship went through the wrong fold in space and settled for a different world, a wild world.

Three centuries after the founding of a colony on the uncharted planet, Gilead awakens to find humanity slipped back to medieval tech and a feudal structure.

Worse, the king who wants Gilead awake won’t let Gilead awaken his wife.


From a parallel world where we have all the dreams of pulp writers, to a future where bioengineering kindles new hates and new heroes, to a different Tudor England, to the intricacies of time wars, this science fiction collection provides a glimpse of things undreamed… some from which we’ll gladly waken, and some we’d very much like to be true.
Contains the short stories: Wait Until The War Is Over, Only The Lonely, Lost, Neptune’s Orphans, After the Sabines, The Serpent’s Tail, Spinning Away, The Private Wound, Super Lamb Banana, To Learn To Forget, Things Remembered, The Bombs Bursting in Air, On A Far Distant Shore, So Little And So Light.

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: BABBLE

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

  1. Nice selections in the promo today!

    Evans stepped through the door of the bar and laughed to himself as the babble of voices quieted like the wave from a pebble being dropped in the water as people realized who he was. Now the question on everyone’s mind was who was he here for? And who was going to try to kill him first.

  2. The Babble around him was annoying. It was hard not being able to understand the language of the marketplace.

    Only his new-found ability to hear the thoughts behind the speech allowed him to survive in this strange world with a ring-of-suns.

    Although, as he felt the Hunger growing, some of his new abilities were annoying.

    It was time to visit the animal pen to Feed.

  3. “On the Planet Nor, I had the pleasure of discovering and naming an interesting predatory plant,” said the extraterrestrial botanist, “that attracts it’s prey by voicing meaningless sounds.”
    How interesting, what is it called?” queried the wide eyed young thing.
    The Botanist replied; “Why the Flower of Babble, of course.”

  4. Until your ‘plant gets the local language update and integrates it with your cognitive speech functions, walking past the quarantine lock into a station is a babble of almost understood words and sounds that should make sense, while the first tier of hawkers and pick-pockets try to fleece you when you’re still slightly disoriented and wondering what that smell is from decontamination.

    The babble was worse than usual (Izanami must have gotten really paranoid about the language files here), and I had to push away one chimera trying to sell best working sophs in this ring! and an invitation to every known STD and some about to be discovered with my right hand, while I drove my left elbow into a pickpocket’s chest-hard enough to hurt, but with enough force to let the pickpocket know that I could have done worse.

    There was this momentary squeaking as Izanami was now happy that there wasn’t anything nasty in the update, and the babble was now understandable noise. A grumpy mess up your morning if you bother me expression and a stomped foot got me out of the mezzanine and properly in the Main Street area of the station’s G-ring. So, where are we going, I asked Izanami, waiting as she finally got the last bits of parasitic ad coding out of the station map.

    Spinward, she replied sub-vocally, and an initial AR overlay of paths showed up. I knew she was probably already trying to crack every camera, network device, and poorly shielded set of glasses in three hundred meters and establishing her own parasite VPN with milspec scorpion coding for surveillance data. Primary route is here, working on lowest profile route now, and I could hear a touch of this isn’t even a challenge annoyance in her voice. That caused me to ramp up my paranoia a bit, just as she intended by her frustration.

    Izanami clearly thought that the people we were dealing with were so below her notice that her attention was a blessing. Didn’t mean she wouldn’t be her usual complete and paranoid thorough self, but she was built for facing challenges and there wasn’t one here.

    Just like me.

    I also know that overconfidence could kill quicker than a bullet-so I used standard E&E techniques to keep an eye out for human tails. Can’t do much about the electronic kind, but even the really good software requires some human sorting and if you move fast enough you can stay ahead of the tracking curve.

  5. Can I just fan-girl here for a minute and say how much I love Laura Montgomery’s Sleeping Duty and Martha’s Sons series … so many indie authors put out entertaining but essentially variations-on-a-theme novels … but Laura’s work is truly inventive and yet observant of human nature and i hate coming to the end of the book … thank you Laura and yes i did leave a review at the big river! 😀

  6. The cops didn’t believe me. They wrote my frantic claims off as the babbling hallucinations of a drunken never-was. Only I wasn’t drunk, a fact that surprised even me and that two separate portable breathalyzers, the console-mounted breathalyzer at the precinct, and a blood test at the hospital all confirmed. But that didn’t change the cops’ opinion, and they cut me loose with an angry grumble. I wasn’t sure if they were pissed at me for wasting their time, pissed that they couldn’t book me for carrying a firearm while intoxicated, or both. And I was pissed right back at them for not believing me, for writing me off as a lunatic.

    But who was I kidding? If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I wouldn’t have believed it. Hell, I had seen it, and I still wasn’t sure if I believed it.

    I didn’t have the money for a cab or an Uber or Lyft – hell, I barely had enough for another bottle of Smirnoff, let alone rent – so it was a long walk back to the alley behind 117th between Pine and Lark. I slipped my hand inside my pocket as I entered the narrow street, fingers wrapping around the grip of the 3-inch Ruger holstered on my hip. I doubted that a half-dozen .327 Federal hollowpoints would do much good against those… whatever the hell they’d been, but instinct and half-remembered training were instinct and half-remembered training.

    There was nothing there. Nothing unusual, that is. Of course their wasn’t. But in my mind’s eye, I watched the whole scene unfold again.

    I’d been paying attention to my phone, so I hadn’t seen the woman until she’d crashed into me in a blind panic. We both lost our footing and landed on our asses. She leapt right back to her feet, then launched herself at me and wrapped one hand around my gun wrist. I was amazed at how strong her grip was, especially since her hand was impossibly dainty and delicate. With her other hand, she brushed her long red hair out of her face, revealing a face that put CoverGirl to shame and a pair of ice-blue eyes that seemed to stare straight into my soul.

    “You!” she gasped. She had an accent that I couldn’t place.

    “Ma’am?” I stammered, “Miss? What… do I know you?”

    “You are the one!” It sounded almost like a proclamation. “You must find me!”

    “Miss, I… I think I just did. Can-” I was going to ask her if she could tell me her name, but then something, I don’t know if it was her palm or what, slammed into my chest, tore me from her grasp, and launched me across the alley. I landed in a pile of black plastic garbage bags. I started to climb out of my smelly, squishy, disgusting landing pad, but froze as something suddenly appeared in the air behind her. It was like something out of a fantasy or sci-fi movie, like a literal tear or hole or tunnel that led to… somewhere else. A pair of tall, twisted… things emerged from the whole and wrapped long, spindly fingers that looked disturbingly like claws around her arms.

    Those haunting eyes locked with mine once last time.

    “Save me!” she begged.

    “I’ will!” I answered before I could stop myself. “I swear it!”

    Then the things hauled her into the hole/tear/portal, and then whatever it was disappeared, leaving no trace of the woman, the demonic-looking things that had taken her, or the… passage? Hole? Portal? to wherever the hell it was they’d taken her.

    It was insane. But it was real. I knew it was real. I knew she was real. And I knew that I didn’t have hardly anything in this world. The only thing I did have – the only thing that really mattered, anyway – was my word, and I didn’t break that for anybody or anything. And I had given that woman my word that I would find her and rescue her. So I would, or else I would die trying.

    Now I just had to figure out where the hell to start looking.

    It was an even longer walk from the alleyway to the local library. Given that I’d witnessed something straight out of a fantasy novel, that seemed as good a place as any to start.

  7. Ursula Doorne longed for the days when the Shepardsport dining commons was a quiet place, where she could choose whether to talk shop with colleagues or just be alone with her thoughts. There’d been a few kids, the children of Captain Waite and some people who’d decided their status as clones of the early astronauts made their offspring vulnerable to anti-clone bullying. Kids who were very aware of being in adult spaces, of needing to use their indoor voices, to not disrupt adult conversations.

    Now that the Expulsions was dumping the residents of NASA’s clone creches onto Shepardsport, mealtimes were a babble of voices all trying to talk over each other, more like a school lunchroom than a lunar settlement. And there were several hundred more kids still waiting to be shipped up here. Engineering was working round the clock to expand the habitable volume of the settlement to accommodate everyone, but it was still going to be an overcrowded madhouse for years to come.

    And we have to educate all these kids. Already she’d been assigned two classes to teach: intro to astronomy and intro to electric circuits. Not surprising when she had advanced degrees in both astronomy and electrical engineering, the reason she was actually up here working on the lunar telescopes, but it had been years since she’d taught anything resembling a basic course.

    Yes, she was in for Interesting Times.

  8. I dabble in babble, but then I go and babbelon and ballelon, and babbleon, and on, and on, and on and on and on and on a and on…………………………… Well, hush my mouth!!!!1111!!!!!

  9. “Thank you, milord,” Juliet-Anna told the robot. “Thank Sir KayThree too. I mean also, of course.” She was babbling now. “I know it’s a commoner thing, a bio-thing, and your understanding is intellectual because you’re nobles. But you did understand what Mr. Horace did to me, the way he gaslighted me, and Sir KayThree explained how that term came from Lost Earth, and the term applies even if I’m a green Celtian with a Lost Earth name who never had ancestors from there. But the term applies to Mr. Horace who’s Earth human even if what he did was inhuman.” Definitely babbling now, and she knew it. “I know I’ve been gaslighted even if I can’t feel it, so thank you both again for your metallic nobility in helping me, even when I didn’t feel like I wanted it. I really am grateful, milord.”

  10. “Daddy,” Littlest asked, “Why do they say the brook babbles?”
    “Well, Best Beloved, it is because it makes a noise that sounds like people talking.”
    “Oh. But it doesn’t really say anything.”
    “That’s right. There are many kinds of babble: Psycho-babble, the preening jaw-jaw of people who think they know how you think: Journo-babble, the prattle of professional readers with important hair. And worst of all, Poli-babble. A dangerous form of lie by people who would force us to live their lunatic fantasies.
    “What should I do Daddy?”
    “It’s ok. Ignore the first three and vote out the last.”

  11. “Bloodkind,” said Aidan. “I thought you knew that already.” He could not even shift his weight too obviously to brace for the attack. Lawrence’s poisonous glare and silence made it clear that the spell’s use was over; there would be no more babbled truth.
    The onlookers, also, babbled no more.

  12. She had gone up on the roof. The din from all the babble made her head ache, and she hunted all about to find a place where it did not echo and resound. And there she crouched.
    She did not know when she realized there was a boy there, but he put a finger to his mouth when she did.

  13. “Brooke, are you ready to go down? You mustn’t keep the Earl waiting.”

    “Yes, Mama, I am almost ready. Is this gown acceptable? I wasn’t sure what color to wear but Netty helped me choose.”

    “The gown is fine. But tuck in your fichu a little.”

    “Yes, Mama. Mama, how does my hair look? Did Netty do a good job this time? I told her to put it up in a knot so it wouldn’t come loose on the drive.”

    “Your hair looks wonderful, dear. Now stop fidgeting so I can put on your bonnet.”

    “But Mama, I am so nervous. What if he has changed his mind about asking me to drive out with him? I shall be so disappointed …”

    “He would not have asked if he did not mean to do so. Now stand up and let me look at you.”

    Brooke stood and made a nervous circle as her mother ran a critical eye over her. She gave a sigh of relief when her mother nodded and smiled.

    “Am I really ready now? May I go downstairs, Mama?”

    “Yes, dear, you look beautiful. You may go down and greet the Earl. But just remember one thing, Brooke.”

    “Yes, Mama?”

    “Don’t babble.”

  14. Aboard the airship, the babbling of the disembarking passengers irritated Cari very much. While everyone else was (loudly) admiring the view from the skyscraper landing platform, Cari could think of nothing but how high up they still were. She wondered if she could reach the bottom with her eyes closed.

  15. In the hissing babble of dozens of different signals, she heard it. The words were clear and repeating, over and over again, “…execute immediately, over. To all ships of the Union fleet, authentication is Victor, Delta, Romeo, Golf. Repeat, authentication is Victor, Delta, Romero, Golf. Upon receipt and confirmation, you are to execute Case Nightmare Black, contingency Echo. Repeat, upon receipt and confirmation, you are to execute Case Nightmare Black, contingency Echo. Do not reply, do not respond. Upon confirmation, you are to execute immediately, over. To all ships…”

          1. There wasn’t that much imagination when you hit Case Nightmare Black. It’s a “never happen” scenario that can be summed up in the same way as the last radio message from Twilight 2000

            “You’re on your own now.”

            If things get that bad…there’s nothing beyond “save what you can. We have some emergency supplies cached for that reason. Here they are. Good luck.”

  16. “Are you crazy? We only have one shot at this. One chance to change our timeline. And you want to go where? You could go stop Hitler. Or Marx. Or save the Romonovs. Or, even settle the debate about which year Jesus died. And you want to go where?”
    “To change things at the Tower. If we hadn’t screwed it up there, when we all still spoke the same language, imagine how much further along humanity be.”
    “I still think you’re crazy, but ok. Tower of Babel it is. When was it?”
    “You, know? I have no idea…”

    1. Eh… from what I remember from my Russian History class, I’m not sure the Romanovs were worth saving.

      Intervening in the Russian Civil War on behalf of the Whites, OTOH…

  17. Does Goldport Press have a PO Box? I must express my reaction to the first story “Wait Until the War is Over” in more length than is possible here; probably it won’t be possible in any case as it’s been a few hours now….

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