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

*UPDATE: On the page of author listings. It became immediately obvious we’d need a bigger page. So we have started putting up a site for this. And as the plans develop, I can honestly say you’re going to LIKE this. Give us another week or so. I promise you’ll like it – 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. ;)*


On the planet Nwwwlf, in the lost colony of First Landing, the original settlers carved out one sylvan valley, a lone outpost where humans flourish. But their bright hopes and best intentions devolved over centuries into a rude replica of medieval feudalism.

Gilead Tan, who had been held captive for centuries in his sleeping cell, survived treachery and pain to free a small group of sleepers. But he and his friends now face the perils of life outside First Landing’s sanctuary–without their powered armor, their tools and technology, or anything else they need save for a few chickens.

Gilead must establish a safehold for his crew, but the alien environment does not welcome them and petty bickering threatens their meager resources. He hopes that a trace of smoke – spotted above a distant ridge – beckons them to a better place.

It doesn’t.

FROM MARY CATELLI: Queen Shulamith’s Ball

A ball, a ball, Queen Shulamith would hold a ball. . . .In the magical city that all kingdoms can reach, and none can conquer, filled with kings and queens, intrigues and wonders, that the reclusive queen would stage a ball was a marvel among marvels.It will mean much to many: a young woman newly arrived in the city; a woman and a bear who dance on the street; two small orphans sent to the house of their great-great-grandfather; soldiers staging an invasion; and a queen securing her position.


Ice is back!

And back in trouble.

His mission–sabotage the Cyborg Empire–goes awry when the Cyborgs discover his dimensional gate, and Gior, the obnoxious young woman with the rare talent of being able to manipulate dimensional phenomena, is forced to close that gate moments before the Cyborgs capture her.

Now Ice is not just marooned in enemy territory, he needs to rescue Gior quickly, before they get a control chip into her brain.

FROM AMIE GIBBONS: Scorpions of the Air (The Elemental Demons Urban Fantasies Book 2)

There are more things in Hell and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy
Not even magic can trump terror…

Sarah Blakely fought off demonic possession last month, discovering she has powers she can use against the demonic forces of evil.
She’s ready to celebrate her birthday with a bang. But when a deadly variation of meningitis strikes Chattanooga schools without warning, the party isn’t the only thing shut down.

Children are dying, the doctors have no cure, people are panicking, and Sarah doesn’t believe anything about the sickness and fear drowning the city is natural.

With the entire city against them, and questions piling up, can Sarah and her friends stop the invisible specter haunting the city before it gets what it came for?

FROM DENNIS MALEY: Profane Fire at the Altar of the Lord

The bones of heretics smolder on the auto-da-fe’…

David is a merchant of deceit, a poet of lies. A dwarf, he claims to be a prince of a lost tribe of Israel. Along with his manservant Diogo, an actor, the masquerade enthralls the citizens of Rome. Jews whisper that David is the Messiah. Destruction awaits the Muslim Turks if Christendom joins with his powerful desert tribe. But why hurry? The food and beds are warm, the ladies plump and willing.

In faraway France, a warlord struggles to regain honor. He’s the Duke of Bourbon, the victor in a great military conquest who has lost his family fortune. His mercenaries go underfed and poorly shod. The money to pay their wages is in Rome.

Richly researched and irreverent, this story weaves actual historical characters and institutions into a wry tale of three men, each on a quest for fame and fortune.

FROM BLAKE SMITH: The Hartington Inheritance.

Almira Hartington was heir to the largest fortune in the galaxy, amassed by her father during his time as a director of the Andromeda Company. But when Sir Josiah commits suicide, Almira discovers that she and her siblings are penniless. All three of them must learn to work if they wish to eat, and are quickly scattered to the far reaches of the universe. Almira stubbornly remains on-planet, determined to remain respectable despite the sneers of her former friends.

Sir Percy Wallingham pities the new Lady Hartington. But the lady’s family will take care of her, surely? It’s only after he encounters Almira in her new circumstances that he realizes the extent of her troubles and is determined to help her if he can. He doesn’t know that a scandal is brewing around Sir Josiah’s death and Almira’s exile from society. But it could cost him his life, and the lady he has come to love.

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: LEAN

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

    1. Okay, I have to giggle at how hard some young staffer at Reuters must have worked to convert all references from rapeseed to canola. G-d forbid Americans see it’s called something else outside our borders…

        1. What? No sympathy for people who might be “triggered” by the name rapeseed? 😈

    1. And now that I’ve bought it, the cover is correct on the kindle but still wrong on Amazon.

      1. Yeah, I jumped in and changed it. One of the hazards of making the cover way ahead of time. The Muse found two more stories that needed to come first.

        1. I agree with your muse. The more stories the better. I was just confused because I’d just finished “55”. And thank you for putting the number on the cover. it makes it very easy to binge read.

  1. “Lean into the turn!”
    “I AM!”
    “Screw it. You wanna lean, you lean. I’m out.”
    The ship rolled and Carrie grabbed the helm from Joey. “Idiot! You can’t walk away from this when we’re entering atmosphere! You’ll get us turned into crispy critters!”
    Joey walked off the bridge and Carrie swore again. “Idiot!”l

  2. The hamburgers fell apart as I tried to form the ground beef into patties.
    “What kind of beef did you get, Becky?”
    “93%. You told me to get lean ground beef.”
    “Yeah, but not that lean. Now I got figure out how to make this work.”

    1. She frowned, cocking her head to the side. “Aren’t you going to put an egg in? That’s what most recipes call for when using lean. And here, I got a dozen eggs for you, too, so you’d have it for the recipe.”

      I firmly quashed any thoughts of airheadedness, and chalked it up to yet another miscommunication. We’d discuss the heresy of needing a binder for hamburgers later. I gave her a teasing grin. “And here I thought you didn’t know what you were doing. Guess I’ve got egg on my face!”

      Becky got a truly impish smile. “Not yet, but soon you will!”

  3. The Large Dog licked Marylyn on the Face.

    Steve chuckled “And that’s George. He’s adopted me but won’t tell me his name.”

    Marylyn said “Well, I think you should put George on a diet. He looks over-weight to me.”

    George sent Are you calling me fat? I’ll show you what lean looks like as he morphed into an extremely lean dog-form.

    Stephen chuckled “My teacher calls George a Yelp Hound and says that nobody knows what they actually look like.”

    1. And you won’t find out, not even if you kiss him and love him and squeeze him and hug him and call him George!

      1. But you can’t prevent the Yelp Hounds from leaving you if they dislike how they are treated. 😉

  4. “Harry, why on earth are you hunched over and sitting and at a 45° angle to your computer, you look terribly uncomfortable?”
    “Hey, ’cause you told me to when I am coding, Jerry.”
    “Sigh, I said if you code, you gotta accept a steep learning curve, not a leaning curve.”

    1. “Yeah, but boss, you also told me I had to do all this Lean in bullpuckey. So I’m doing it.”

  5. “Come, Aidan,” said Edwin.
    The prince followed without objection. And, noted Robert, he took the lean and wiry adventurer as seriously as the more muscular one. Perhaps he was not utterly impossible, and would serve some use besides being wolf-food.
    A minute later, Aidan said, quietly, “We’re out of earshot.”

  6. I leaned into the small crack in the door, barely wide enough for me to get my shoulder in. The door was stiff from rust and vacuum welding, but some combination of shoving with my shoulder and slapping the door broke enough of the blockage. There were a few small shudders, then the door moved enough for me to squeeze most of my torso in and brace one of my feet on the door frame itself. Several more hard slams of my hand and the improved leverage was able to get the door open enough for me to go through.

    So much for stealth, I thought to myself as I drew the suit-buster pistol from the holster in the small of my back.

  7. “OK, lasting. Your range is seven three two fife, and there’s no wind on the moon, so look that up on your dope card and dial in the scope. Now lean in against the shoulder rest and get your faceplate into your cheek weld on the stock just like we practiced. Right. Use your regolith sock to adjust the stock up or down on the bipod to get your scope hold. There you go. Now, maintaining your hold on target, breathe all the way in, slowly release – no, don’t chase the scope jump from your pulse, get the rhythm and anticipate it – that’s it. When you are good, squeeze the trigger. Then settle back on target and take your second shot.”

    Jane went silent, letting Billy get in the groove, her eyes fixed on the vid of the first target over on the other side of the crater.

    The powder flash and muzzle blast as Billy took his first shot blew a shallow crater in the surface dust just ahead of their shooting position, joined shortly afterward by another as he took his second shot. Jane’s radar tracked the projectiles across the vacuum, and she watched as they impacted the target gong one after the other seven point three klicks away, the armor piercing round blowing holes in the steel plate.

    For the past ten years the home planet had basically left the commercial colony at the less resource rich lunar north pole alone, but now their Helium3 production had started to generate a profit, and that had drawn the attention of the collective its bastards back down the gravity well, especially as their diversity hire managed Shackleton crater colony had generated yet another engineering-failure body count.

    If their threatened “tax evasion review” armed assault materialized, those Earthers would get a surprise if Jane had anything to say about it. She’d left her home when it stopped being her home, but she wasn’t going to run away to Elon’s Mars colony until she had to – even if his open migration offer to looneys like Jane was very attractive.

    She’d run again if she had to, but Jane was going to at least make a stand this time.

    “Good hits. New target, right twenty, past that big round rock. Let me know when you’ve got it.”

  8. “The old-fashioned string-and-plumb-bob says that the walls are vertical,” Tom said, “but this app claims a two-degree slant. What gives?”

    John looked up. “That’s the app from Union Concrete, isn’t it?”

    “Yeah, so? Union Concrete is crooked, but why futz an app?”

    “Union Concrete has a lien on the building.”

  9. Ava leaned over the dirt and stared. It yielded up its secrets whispering of metals and clay and dirt. Slowly, she pushed it about. She could put more effort into it this way; she would collapsed trying to just move it.
    She blinked and eyed it. A gemstone sat there.

  10. I’m still working on setting things up so I can do covers. I’m presently working on a character creation pipleline that is a little more expansive than just depending on Daz assets.

  11. Hargrove eyed the roast Benson placed on the table. He watched as Benson served each of the guests, and they all started in on the dinner. At once they began eyeing each other. Benson meanwhile, carried on about the wine, and how this cut was a fine piece of meat, not really marbled but not too lean either. Finally Hargrove cleared his throat. “Benson I must intrude, but this roast; the meat has a flavor of Tobacco. What did you marinate it in?”
    Benson frowned. “Bah! These native levees are useless! I told him not to bring me a smoker!”

  12. “Tell IT security’s been breached.”


    “Somebody monkeyed with the “For a Leaner You” diet ad, and replaced Dolores with a skeleton. The first print run is already released. SuperSlim is going to sue us silly.”

    “Actually, that looks pretty good. Like one of Hamster-head’s games.”

    “He is so fired…”

  13. She suppressed the impulse to lean over Florio. Edwin and Aurelie had to see him clearly to cast. And their magic was strong enough. That Florio had lived this long meant that he would live.
    She turned and looked at his pale, still face. Then she fought down the impulse.

  14. Um. I missed the perma-promo instructions. Can somebody catch me up please? Thanks!

    1. I suspect that falls under the update at the top.

      *UPDATE: On the page of author listings. It became immediately obvious we’d need a bigger page. So we have started putting up a site for this. And as the plans develop, I can honestly say you’re going to LIKE this. Give us another week or so. I promise you’ll like it – SAH*

  15. He groaned. “Look, I’m strong, and I’m fast, but those movies that show vampires and werewolves zipping across the room faster than the eye can follow are just, just…bullshit.”

    The worshipful gazes of those infatuated fans didn’t waver.

    He groaned again. “Strength and speed are useless if there’s no way to apply them. Think about the numbers. Your vampire would have to cross the room within about 20 milliseconds. Say the room is 12 feet across. That means he’d have to average 600 feet per second, that’s…over 400 miles an hour. He’d have to run across the room at 400 miles an hour, and then stop.”

    They still weren’t getting it.

    “Think, dammit! When you want to run, you first have to lean forward. The faster you want to run, the more you have to lean. How far would you have to lean to run 400 miles an hour? And how fast can you accelerate from just the friction of your shoes against the floor? You want to know what would happen to your super-fast vampire? He’d either run in place like Wile E. Coyote on ice, or his feet would run out from under him and he’d fall on his ass. Most likely, a combination of both. I’m not stupid enough to try it.”

    1. Of course, even at a fraction of that speed, there’s be the problem of stopping.

      Said super-fast vampire might not be able to stop before slamming into the far wall. 😈

  16. “Hurry, children,” Peggy whispered.
    They moved. In the next room, Nan leaned over a chest, sorting out clothes.
    “Only three sets,” said Peggy.
    Nan nodded.
    Lucie stared. They always brought chests of clothes because they didn’t know if they could find a laundress in any place.
    Peggy hurried them on.

  17. “Argh! These creatures are hopeless! Every time we move much, it’s like I have to teach them everything all over again!”

    “Didn’t anybody tell you how they got their name?”

    “Huh? No. How?”

    “LEANs. Locally Educable Anomalous Nuisances. A summary and a warning. I suppose you could try to re-educate for every locality on the planet, if you had the time and patience. And no, nobody knows why they forget when they move away from whatever is ‘home’ or such.”

  18. She leaned into the harness, the methane ice unforgiving. The sled felt as if it weighed not one ton, but an infinite number of tons, the breath inside her helmet sour with exertion. At last the sled broke free, skidded sideways, and tipped over. “God, I hate Europa,” Emma muttered.

  19. “We finally figured out the problem with those new landers.” Ken Redmond’s usually dour expression had given way to a smile. “IT was so sure it had to be a software issue, but it turned out the fuel pumps were calibrated wrong and the engines were getting too lean a mixture. We were lucky we didn’t have any crashes, because it lowered the thrust just enough to alter the flight profile, but not so much the pilots couldn’t compensate.”

  20. “Ow! What the…”

    “Hey, don’t mess with that. Just lean on me, and let’s get around the corner.”

    “Who are you? And what’s the hurry?” She was already by his badly cramping leg, and already getting very close to him. Are there #CutTheCrazy groupies, now, already? his well- befuddled mind wondered to itself.

    “Cecilia Gray. At least that’s almost my right last name. And we want to be around the corner before what just happened to you happens again.” Her back, with the Kevlar and quilting under her jeans jacket, was to the stage and set for the #CutTheCrazy rally; although it was far from perfect, it might help.

    “What do you mean?” wondered Steve aloud, thankful for the support but not entirely happy it was so hard to keep up with his fast-moving assistant. “Are bad leg cramps suddenly catching?” All he’d wanted to do was show support for the new protest against how the new Biden Administration had suddenly lost its mind, like they’d put LSD in the water at the meetings or something…

    “That’s not a cramp. And keep your hands away from that. It’s oozing, not dripping or running or squirting. That’n might have been almost spent at this range anyway.” There was now a sound of something like firecrackers, from back at the heart of the crowd. But far more eerie and unsettling was the odd sort of human, but not human, sound. Steven Clark had not ever thought a crowd of people even could growl like an angry dog. But there it was.

    “Hey, Cecilia? Let’s stop a moment and let me look at that. It’s really starting to hurt and I want to see and feel what’s doing it.”

    “Which is the best reason to keep going, it’s only going to hurt worse. You may as well get as far as you can now. And we’re almost around the corner. Thank the Good Lord the crowd hasn’t stampeded yet. Just keep leaning on me, keep on the way we’ve started, we’ll get there.”

    “Okay, then, what is ‘there’ anyway?” Steve had decided that this one was about the pushiest female he’d ever encountered, outside of his mother and a few aunts. But it was getting harder and harder to walk, even with her taking much of his weight, and it was also now feeling as if someone was driving an icepick into his lower thigh with each and every step he took. He wasn’t sure any more he could really manage on his own.

    “Just keep talking to me. It’ll distract you a little and we can make better time. We’re around the corner and there’s a temporary Candle House just a couple of blocks from here. Keep on talking to me, and…”

    “What’s that?” The distant sound was vaguely like someone was ripping apart a dozen pairs of pants, every second, on and on. Plus that growling, that had gone deeper in pitch and louder in volume. And that popping, like popcorn but a lot louder and farther away…

    “Mostly things you don’t want to be near right now. Talk to me, lean on me, we’ll be fine once we get to the House. Tell me about why you came.”

    “Look, surely you can’t have missed it! We wanted a good Democrat, not some crazy mean foul-mouthed bigot like Trump, somebody who would care about the little guy, who would get America respected in the world again… and just two weeks in, he’s done all this crazy stuff like shutting down the oil and gas industry and putting thousands of good union members on the street! It’s not right, and all he does is tell us ‘there will be pie in the sky by and by’ when he is caring enough to say anything at all! Sorry, but I didn’t help put Biden in office to do everything Democrats have promised to fight against for years!”

    Cecelia said something he didn’t quite catch, half under her breath. “What did you say? I know I might sound mean and angry, but I’m truly about fed up with all this. And that’s why I bothered to come out today.” There was just a hint of something like a growl in his own voice then, too.

    She made a sound, that some other time might’ve passed for a laugh. “You just passed Beyond the Red Rage Horizon, sounds like. So welcome to where much of the rest of America has been for months now.”

    And apologized, in a rather different tone of voice, as she half-helped and half dragged him around a sudden right-angle turn into a narrow alley that was very nearly choked with old boxes and full trash cans and other debris. Oddly enough, after a few more sharp narrow turns, that made his throbbing leg hurt even worse than it had yet, the alley opened out into a stretch that was nearly clear — if by no means clean. “And what I said, back there, was did you really believe that. I mean, really, do you think you and all those other ‘Biden voters’ really did put our FICUS Lidder in the White House? Not all those Devil-minion Voter-vetoing machines and phantom voters and Chinese ballots and single-vote ballots in suitcases under tables, and all… have you ever even read the Navarro Reports? Any of ’em,1, 2, or 3?”

    “What’s a Navarro Report? And can we stop, please? Though I’m afraid if you let go now, I’m just going to fall over, so please just let’s slow down and stop, and let me at least try to catch up to the rest of the world…”

    Instead of replying to him, she turned her head abruptly forward and said in a low but very clear and carrying voice quite unlike what she’d been using to him all the time since they’d met, “Pelosi and Schumer and Cromwell, oh my.” And immediately and even more puzzlingly, spat very blatantly and wetly into the tumbled mess of — whatever — to their right. Her hands and arms and whole body had just gotten much tenser and more rigid, too, for some reason.

    “Everyone knows an ant… can’t… move a rubber-tree plant.” The strong and powerful voice from the shadowy alley in front of them, which Cecilia had not done anything to lighten with her phone, sounded a little bit like James Earl Jones in Star Wars, mixed with a touch of Louis Armstrong. Which made no sense at all to Steve, until he saw the speaker step into the light, a man dressed (of all insane things) in a gray tweed three-piece suit. And holding what looked to Steve’s inexpert eye like an officer’s pistol from an old World War II movie. But it was even more bizarre when she and he joined in going back to the song: “But we’ve got — hi-i-igh hopes! We’ve got hi-i-igh hopes! We got high apple pie in the sky — hopes!” And the old swing-era(?) song cut off, perfectly in sync, as abruptly as it’d started.

    “Miss Gray,” he said. In a jaunty and welcoming tone of voice, and quieter.

    “Mister White,” she said, like she was just talking low to Steve again. “Well met, and I got a live one here, needs to get swift to the House. No big bad, but not all in one piece either.”

    “Let me have a quick look,” — and now he pulled out a slim flashlight from his vest pocket with his other hand, and beamed it to the spot in Steve’s leg that was by now starting to burn like fire even when he didn’t move. “Yes, that’s a lucky one, think I can even see the tail of the slug, there. Move on, Miss Gray.”

    Steve almost burst out, “What do you mean, tail of the slug, what kind of odd crazy lingo is that??” — but some instinct, some intuition, stopped him cold.

    And then he saw the other man, with what looked like one of those cute little machine guns from the gangster movies. And his tongue froze, as she went back to hustling him along almost as if they’d never detoured or stopped.

    And soon enough, though not soon enough for his comfort, they’d turned left again at the head of the alley into a much smaller, residential-looking street.

    “That guy had what looked like a machine gun! And he dressed like a pimp from a Spenser movie!” His voice was quiet, urgent, at least to his ears.

    “Not exactly Hawk, we could sure as sun in a blue sky use about a million of him right now; but close enough. And far as I know, he really is one, or was.” There was a sort of heavy pause in her voice. “Used to be, folks thought stuff like that was so important. Now, if we hadn’t already, we all know better.”

    And again, in an almost musing, quiet tone, she sang.

    “Hi-i-igh hopes. We got hi-i-igh hopes. High, apple pie, in the sky-y-y hopes…”

    1. Finally (it was one of those that starts easy and quick and takes much longer and goes harder) finished the vignette just above.

      Then it occurred to me that “What’s a Navarro Report?” might be asked by more people than one of my characters. So, though the last volume (#3) has already been listed in the perma-links, I’ll mention here that there are 3 of them and all (for now) can be found at

      navarroreport dot com

      and also suggest seeing the longer listing (with titles and summary articles) that I just added to the perma-links post (same date, nearly same time).

      Hint, Volume III is titled, “Yes, President Trump Won” so not much suspense…

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