So, first, this post has more kitties, courtesy of Amie Gibbons.
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 BLAKE SMITH: The Hartington Inheritance (The Hartington Series Book 1)
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.
FROM SCOTT SLACK: Closing Time, Last Call.
When Corporal Frandsen’s marine battalion was tasked with retaking a space station from enemy forces, he expected a hard fight. What he got was a fight for his life with a time-limit that could kill his entire battalion. What is an enemy willing to risk to win a battle at any cost? Everything.
A short story of The Ares March.
FROM PAM UPHOFF: Code Name Igor
Lord Axel Ivan Vinogradov Is a Mentalist with the Fast Reaction Teams that protect the small population of the Sanctioned Research World of Siberia Max from acquisitive Cross dimensional Worlds.
As the Three Part Alliance crumbles, Axel–code name Igor–finds himself overstretched between his duty, and his family. Especially after he is accused of murdering his corrupt and very much not-loved uncle.
FROM LIANE ZANE: The Flower & The Blackbird: Book Two in the Elioud Legacy Series
As the conflict between primeval supernatural enemies heats up, her choice will tip the balance.
Six months ago Anastasia Fiore, an intelligence officer in Italy’s foreign security service, led an even more secret life on the side. She ran off-the-books missions with her friends Olivia and Beta, American and Czech foreign intelligence officers. The three women shared the same goal: take down predators.
And then Stasia’s life got way more interesting.
After a complicated, surreal mission that went sideways, Stasia learned that she has angel blood, making her an Elioud. She’s seen what Elioud warriors are called to do, and she’s not interested. Stasia can handle herself with a traditional surujin, a British WWII combat knife, or a 9mm handgun. But she prefers crafting a cover identity so compelling she can charm what she needs from her target instead. In fact, she’s so skilled that the Carabinieri’s Art Squad requests her help tracking down a stolen Rembrandt painting.
That’s what she was doing when Miró Kos, a Croatian Elioud she’s already chained, slashed, and drugged, showed up. He was there tracking the buyer, and whether Stasia likes it or not, she’s now inside another surreal mission. One that will make her question what her Elioud blood means. And what the quiet, intense warrior means to her. For his part, Miró cannot let another woman come before his duty. Or near his heart.
As Stasia sets out to recover the Rembrandt, she and Miró discover that there is more than a stolen painting at stake. And more than one Dark Irim stalking Stasia.
FROM L. S. KING: Sword’s Edge (Sword’s Edge Chronicles Book 1)
Ripped from her home…
…recruited as a spy.
Can Tam successfully pose as a servant and discover which of the lords is a traitor? If she fails, not only will her family die, but their world will be thrown into chaos.
Amidst grief, she must undertake a dangerous rescue mission, aided by a mysterious alien relic. Can this young lass succeed or will the assassins at her heels cost her all?
You’ll love this Epic Fantasy, because it’s science fiction with a twist.
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: NECK
23 thoughts on “Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike Now With More Kitties”
Thanks again for these offerings. 🙂 I already got my fingers on Pam Uphoff’s Code Igor– excellent book.
“So do you want to bite my neck?”
“Snort! If I wanted to FEED from you, I don’t have to bite you neck. I don’t even have to touch you.”
The crowd recoiled in horror before running away screaming, first as the man’s head slid neatly off his neck and secondly as the “man” changed form, revealing a grotesque, black-scaled, winged, horned abomination. Maximilian would have preferred not to make a public spectacle of this kill – he knew how the brass felt about these things – but you had to take opportunities when they came and taking out an Aspiring Knight of Hell before he could earn the title was always worth it. His green eyes swept through the area checking for any imps, hellhounds, or worse that might have been accompanying their now-deceased master. He didn’t find any.
“The more they feel like they have to prove, the easier they go down.” the exorcist mused inwardly as he cleaned the infernal blood off his sword, sheathed it, and bagged the monster’s head. Lucky for him it didn’t seem like Crissy or any other bounty hunters had caught wind of this one, leaving him to return to headquarters unmolested.
“All clear, Sir Maximilian,” the gate guard said upon his arrival, waving him through after he confirmed his identity. The knight simply nodded to the guard and walked inside, heading towards Processing.
The Order’s base was its usual bustling self with Knights heading out on new assignments or returning from completed ones. Maximilian didn’t really care about them for the most part; working alone was a given when it came to his combat specialties and he was content with that. As long as he could continue to sharpen his skills with Don Esteban and Dona Alicia and enjoy a drink and a meal at Kuroda’s bar whenever he was off duty he had nothing to complain about.
Today, however, there was someone who caught his attention, however briefly. He almost ran into a woman as he approached the Processing doors. He swore to himself mentally at his clumsiness, but he was composed on the outside as he said “Pardon me, Dame.”
“No harm done, Sir!” the woman replied, her bright smile a striking contrast to the rest of her appearance. Her fair skin, raven hair, and searing crimson eyes would have made for an unsettling combination even for him had she chosen to show her displeasure. There was no denying her beauty, though, as her smart outfit couldn’t hide her hourglass figure, and was she wearing her sword – an elegant swept-hilt rapier of foreign make – on her right hip?
Interesting, I haven’t seen many left-handed fencers.” he noted before realizing he had probably spent more time looking over the woman than he should have. “If you’ll excuse me, then.”
“Of course. Hope you get a big payout for that!” she responded, giving him a cheerful wave as she walked away from the building.
Maximilian’s feeling of bemusement lasted only for a second before he walked through the doors to hand in the head and collect his bounty. He had been a Knight for years and had never seen her before and he doubted she was an amateur from the way she carried herself so what were the odds he’d see her again? Maximilian suppressed a sigh as he walked towards the clerk to begin processing his kill. His life might get lonely sometimes but at least he had a purpose now, which was more than he could say about other times in his life. All he could do was continue to carry out his duties.
The Groan Ranger and his faithful Indian companion, Mahatma stood back to back fighting the fearsome Blumix of the Dgmd cluster in the Prbwz galaxy.
All was going well until the Ranger’s negligent back stroke resulted in Mahatma receiving a noxious nasty non-nugatory nick in the nape of his neck.
The seamstress nodded and gabbled about her neckline, as if she were a dummy in the shop, to be fitted out without a word on her part.
For the next hours, she was moved about as if she were one. The amount of red she could wear was discussed endlessly.
“We will ensure that no unsuitable candidate appears to wind her arms about your neck. Your part in this is to find the first one that you can marry. You must marry swiftly, and father heirs. You need not even worry if your patrimony can support them all. It can.”
What does that mean, “A peninsula is a narrow neck of land that’s never been touched by water? That’s not what I was taught in school! It’s suppose to surrounded by water!” exclaimed Nathan. “She makes no sense!”,
Aunt Clara looked at him. “You’ve been playing outside in the dirt, haven’t you?”.
“Yes. What does that have to do with it?”
“Grandma means that your neck is dirty. You need a bath. Go take one”.
Nathan looked at his grandmother. She jerked her head in the direction of the bathroom. He looked at his mother. She nodded. Defeated, Nathan slouched away.
That peninsula looks like a chicken neck!
It could be worse.
Thang ya, thang ya verrrr muchhhh.
“Who cares what some pea-growing religious nut says? M. Lamarck’s a *real* scientist; if he says stretching my neck will make me a giraffe, then it will!”
“Shut up! You just want me to fail! I don’t have to listen…”
“Leave her, Busara. Some okapis you just can’t persuade.”
Actually, Lamarck claimed that stretching your neck would make your children be born with stretched necks.
To be strictly precise, he posited that the activity of living creatures caused fundamental alterations in their own germ plasm, which were then “preserved by reproduction to the new individuals that arise”. (Though, to be honest, I don’t suppose my protagonist cares about the details any more than our own, two-legged scientolaters do.)
And he may have been partially right considering what we’ve been finding out about exogenic expression.
“Your name is Redbird,” said a phantasmal voice.
She was too used to it to even look around, she only rubbed the back of her neck. Learning everything through that magical ritual was hard enough. To magically be told more was worse, especially when it was untrue.
She could call herself Red, she supposed. And if she gave her age as a year old, they would probably laugh at the joke and not realize that it wasn’t one.
Then there was bird.
Another bit of stone fell from his collar as he moved. Sharp enough and large enough that it might have slit his throat. He caught it, noted his reflexes in a corner of her mind, and after a minute, threw it.
It embedded itself very thoroughly in a large tree.
I fumbled grabbing the neck of beer bottle and dumped the contents on the table.
“Alcohol abuse,” yelled my friend. I could barely hear her over the bar noise.
“More tension! More tension!” The lab assistant said.
I had my piece of aluminum slab clamped between the two jaws up to 100 kg already.
“If you’re going to turn it into foil, you need a lot more tension before it starts to neck.”
I cranked another 10 kg on.
I’m trying to figure out what wasn’t hurting after that previous…session with Basma and the only thing I could be sure of was that it was most of my neck. Not all of it, she liked to grab the back just below my head with some of the strongest hands I’d ever felt from a girl. And, she was wanting to have a repeat and I couldn’t decide to relocate somewhere like the Chernobyl sarcophagus. Mostly because the travel time wasn’t going to work, and she was always fast on her feet and wings.
Even that might only delay her long enough to go full combat-succubus form and have fun with me there.
Ken Redmond stood glowering in the door to the Security office. “Betty, we’re going to have to do something about these kids using the Engineering spaces for assignations. Just this morning I’ve caught three different couples necking in the back of the robotics shop.”
Betty Margrave wasn’t overly familiar with Shepardsport’s robotics shop, but she had a fair idea of what the Chief of Engineering was talking about. There was an alcove back there for storing spare parts, but with the perpetual supply shortages, it was always close to empty. “Maybe you ought to put a camera in there. Even if it’s just a dummy, it might actually discourage some of this.”
A hand shot up. “What about Pelosi and A-O-C?”
The grizzled old Hunter shook his head sadly. “Somebody always asks that question. No, Newbies, left-wing politicians are not considered zombies. They’re only dead from the neck up.”
“Okay, now watch the screen.” Which showed (in glorious decadently 8K full RYGCB color) a telescopic enlargement of their madly expensive half-mile-distant framework dodecahedron against its starry background, with one of the brightest stars in the southern celestial hemisphere dead-centered in one pentagonal face. “And remember,” said Alexandra only a bit tightly, “we have already done this successfully over a thousand times. Four, three, two, one, zero.”
A circular region of sky behind the giant d12 (she couldn’t help thinking of it that way) blurred, sparkled, and quickly resolved into an image of what looked like the distant Sun (fifty times farther away than on Earth) — but our star did not have a smaller, duller, orange-ier disk lurking anywhere nearby.
Mikhail couldn’t help mouthing, despite himself, “Is that..?” — just as Alex did not even try not to smile like every cat who got the cream, ever, and nod madly up and down silently. “So come join me at the portholes, Director Dubhchenko, and as soon as the shutters slide back away — it’ll take a few seconds, they’re made of collapsium — you can feel the gentle warmth of Rigel Kentaurus on your face with me.” It was easy to navigate over there with the zero-gee holds and cushions thoughtfully provided, but he had to ask. “Collapsium? Really?”
Alexandra found her handholds in front of the banked fused-quartz pressure windows, set in a pattern going back to the ancestral ISS, and replied, “Well, that’s what we all call it. Stabilized degenerate matter, like a white dwarf or the core of a minimum-mass star. Density ten thousand to ten million, so far. And yes, that lets us play tricks with real gravity, though the energy cost of making the stuff is not at all cheap. But it’s some of the best shielding ever outside of a Boltzmann field, and there’s no generator to fail.”
And there it was: a warm disk that looked very much like the Sun seen from Earth, but even more like the Sun seen from around Jupiter — five or so times smaller than the first. “That’s really Alpha Centauri A? Seen from, what, five AU off?” Even after all the time and all the multi-billions he and his companies and Alexandra Eszterhazy herself had spent, he almost couldn’t believe he was finally saying the words.
“Yes, Misha, it is. About five and a half AU off, despite all our worries we’d not be able to get any closer than 40 or 50 AU to a solar-sized mass. You’ll not likely ever get one of these as close as the orbit of Mars, or anywhere near any of the big satellites of Jupiter or the rings of Saturn, but there you are. A real, live, stable wormhole, just as Einstein and Rosen and Thorne and all the rest might’ve imagined it — with only a few minor math corrections.”
He couldn’t help feeling like the straight man as he asked the questions, and yet he not only really wanted to, he knew his fellow Directors would want to hear him confirm that she’d actually given the answers. “So it’s traversable as well as stable? Does that mean you’ve sent probes through? And far more fundmentally, does that mean you’ve figured out how to make exotic matter?”
He turned, so reluctantly, away from the sight of the disk of Alpha-C A in time to see her smile broadly but a bit ruefully. “Last first. No, I haven’t. To put it in terms of the old cliché, we can’t make it, so we fake it. Turns out there are field configurations that act as sources of the gravitational field, that plug in to the 4-D stress-energy tensor in the same ways as positive and negative mass or energy density, but aren’t actually negative-mass matter. Like I said, we cheat.”
She licked her lips. “Which not only means we have what the old 4-D Einstein equations need to stabilize a wormhole and make it traversable, stable, and usable for transport, we also have what amounts to controllable positive and negative effective gravitational mass — gravity and antigravity both.”
And as she turned to him, he saw by some trick of the far-snatched light how deeply and enduringly tired she was — like the old Kipling line, only from years of “race and rack and strain” instead of weeks or months. But this prodigy of a grand-daughter of Angelique Eszterhazy of the Venusberg Above Hell habitat in the pickled clouds… had not stumbled in her marathon run.
“Though antigravity / progravity drives are just the gravy on the turkey or the icing on the cake. We’re working on 11-D twisty-supergravity not 4-D general relativity, underneath it all, but it’s still true: without exotic matter or some passable counterfeit like our darkergy field, a wormhole will neck down, pinch off, and break into disconnected pieces. Either the moment you try to traverse it, or earlier. No X-matter, no go. It’s really the keystone to the whole arch.”
“Darkergy field? Is that what you’re calling it?”
“Think of something like the cosmological-constant field… but I’m not really getting much of anywhere, with that, am I?”
Mikhail Dubhchenko smiled. “I’m pretty sure I understand, which of course is the reason I just came 40 AU in a string-sling ship and spent twenty days of it wondering if I’d ever feel it if the shields failed at 1% of C, instead of anyone else with the Company. But there’s no reason for you to talk me into believing you, not with that staring me in the face. Alpha Centauri A, as I live and breathe.” And he did breathe, in and out once audibly. “I’m with Galileo on this one, now. E pure, si muove — still and all, it does move.”
And she smiled, again, softly and… serenely. “And to answer the rest of your original question, yes we’ve sent probes through, and retrieved them with all their data. Though the error in the far nucleation point is typically hundreds of thousands of miles, shot to shot, and it’s apparently pure-random too.
“Two Earthlike planets, Mikhail. One more in orbit around B, though it’s a bit more like Mars, colder and dryer and so forth, that Mars would be the Mars of Lowell or Burroughs, not the one we really got. All three with green plants and oxygen and… lots of really hard questions to answer, later. And we’ve ‘touched’ Epsilon Eridani system, and Tau Ceti, and…”
And Alexandra seemed to shiver a little, to shake herself free of what would clearly rank as an all-consuming, all-embracing future. If she let it be so.
“No time paradoxes, either. Wormholes connect points of equal cosmic time, as defined (say) by the frame of the cosmic background radiation. What we have here is a wonderful Space Machine, but a bloody useless Time Machine. And thank Heaven and all who dwell there for that.”
And her tiredness winked into hiding again. “I swore a mighty oath long ago, even if it was only to myself, that I’d never drink even a drop from a zero-G squeeze bulb of that old bottle of cognac you know about, that waits us back in my quarters on the gravity wheel. Where we can sit and drink and talk in all the comfort we have to offer you. But consider this my rehearsal of our toast.
“All those centuries ago, my namesake is alleged to have wept, when once he realized there were no more worlds for him to conquer.
“And in return I offer four simple words: Fixed it for ya.”
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