writing challenge and Sunday book promo

I think Mary sent me the key word for vignettes, but it was so long ago, I can’t find it. So, as a challenge, take the one of the pictures below and write the beginning of a story.

Book promo

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 SARAH A. HOYT: Barbarella #3 (The tentacle edition.)

Fresh off the chaotic conclusion to the riddle of Camelot, Barbarella finds herself out an ally but with no time to lick her wounds. A mysterious signal from space leads Barbarella to the water world of Encantado, where the remnants of a once-thriving situation lay hidden, as do much genetic shenanigans. And lest you think that’s all the Siren of Space must deal with, the armed forces of they deadly power behind the enslavement of Camelot is still hot on her trail—good luck outrunning lasers!


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 L. S. KING: Sword’s Edge

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.

Tragedy strikes—

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.

Get it now.


Welcome to Luna City, Karnes County, Texas … Population 2,457, give or take! Fugitive former celebrity chef Richard Astor-Hall has decided to make some serious changes to his life … and propose to his girlfriend, Kate Heisel. But the path of true love does not run smooth. Meanwhile, Jess and Joe Vaughn face impending childbirth, and Xavier Gunnison-Penn, the world’s most unsuccessful professional treasure-hunter marries his true love and sets off a family row, on the way to search for another treasure. Another chapter in the doings of those residents of Luna City, in this tenth visit to the most perfect small town in Texas.

FROM IRENE MASCHKE: Aliens and Other Circumstances: Collected Short Stories.

Have you ever dreamed of shaking hands with an alien from a far-away star system? Would you like to explore deep space or fly to the Moon? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a time machine? While you probably may never enjoy the personal experience, the 15 brand-new short stories in ‘Aliens and Other Circumstances’ will take you on an imaginary journey to meet friendly and not-so-friendly aliens, to investigate effects of social media, to travel on a star ship and to take a glimpse at what the future might bring – good or bad. This collection contains a wide variety of original Science Fiction stories on a variety of subjects ranging from encounters with aliens to time travel and social developments, from serious to light-hearted and just-for-fun. Let the stories inspire your imagination. Read and enjoy.

FROM KARL K. GALLAGHER: Between Home and Ruin.

The Censorate wants to impose its rule on Fiera and destroy all the art and history the Fierans preserved from Old Earth. If the embassy can’t placate the Censorate, Marcus Landry will be forced from the world of the woman he loves . . . and will return to a home facing annihilation.

FROM DENTON SALLE: The Fourth Bear of God: Book 2 of the Avatar Wizard.

Jeremy’s celebration party for his passing the second degree of the volkh path is stopped when a band of armed men demand to speak with Master Anthony. Who disturbs the keep of the world’s greatest remaining wizard-lord? And why is Jeremy so attracted to her?

In a world where the volkh wizards once ruled as gods, and the Light wars with the forces of Darkness, a teenaged boy discovers that there are other important things besides following the path of the volkh to mastery.

But even young love is threatened by the forces of the Dark. And now lives depend on Jeremy’s choice.

Jeremy’s adventures continue as the Light and Dark continue to strive. If you liked Riordan or Butcher’s stories, you’ll enjoy this fantasy series.

FROM MACKEY CHANDLER: Fair Trade: An Alien Invasion Story

Most of my writing is in a series people seem to enjoy but there is a constant small crowd who say: I’d really like your take on an alien invasion story. Well this is for them. The bulk of the aliens come to Earth stories assume their vast superiority, sometimes invincibility. Sometimes they suddenly appear on the white house lawn dictating terms. I have yet to see one with them appearing at the Kremlin or Canberra which seems rather parochial. Other times they are so advanced they quarantine the Earth or Solar System without discussion because we are such barbarian slime-balls. They may alternately be impossible to talk to and attack without mercy. All these assume they come with a plan and the means to carry it out. Our own age of exploration showed things happen much less orderly. Islands and natives were happened upon while seeking someplace else or even because a storm or miscalculation left the ship lost. In that case there is no plan but survival with the assets at hand. As with any game remember that turnabout is fair play.

FROM PAM UPHOFF: Agent of the 300.

Axel Vinogradov is back!

And trying to make Siberia Max self sufficient. But is traveling to other worlds to research dairy farms the cover for covert contact a foreign government about an illegal method of controlling portal travel, or are both cover to hide that he’s really there to help the son of a friend through his perilous Presentation and Challenge?

As Axel falls deeper into a tangle of outmoded laws and customs . . . his Cyborg friends have troubles of their own . . . or is that . . . opportunities?

FROM C.V. WALTER: Wed to the Alien Prince (Alien Brides Book 3).

Kaelin knows an alien when she sees one. The trick, given her eyesight, is actually getting close enough to see them. She might as well wish upon a falling star!

Against all odds, one just walked right up to her and introduced himself as Roger. He’s on a mission from Molly, the friend she’s traveled half-way across the country to see, with news of her alien ever after and a shopping list. Apparently, the best technology in the galaxy isn’t stocked with hair conditioner…

When their hands touch, everything changes. Kaelin has a chance to become everything she ever wished she could be… but it will cost her everything she currently is.

Prince Serogero has found the perfect match in an imperfect woman. When he catches her during a seizure, everything he assumed finding his mate would mean is turned upside down. His people’s technology can help her, if she lets it, but at what cost to her, and to him? When his duties and her safety conflict, can they create a happy ending?

12 thoughts on “writing challenge and Sunday book promo

  1. This alien body works, he thought but I’ll be glad when my real body is repaired.

    Obviously, I’m thinking about the first picture. 😉

  2. Reg walked down the corridor, checking specimens and recording appropriate data in the pads next to the tanks. He stopped at the last tank in the line-up, sighed, and touched the waiting screen. As usual, he used the time wasted by its annoying “Welcome researcher 846!” startup animation to study the creature in the tank.

    It was a bit taller than Reg. Bipedal, with a slightly small head for its height. Tiny little blue eyes, but a large nose and normal sized mouth. Fleshy, with slightly more muscle and a good deal more fat. So close, yet so far. Disturbing.

    The animation finished, and Reg started entering numbers. “Travel to exotic worlds, meet exciting species and probe them!” his flat grey arse. Ninety-nine percent of this job was paperwork.

  3. As George slowly drowned, he wondered whatever gave the aliens the idea that humans could breathe underwater.

  4. After a moment’s thought, I acknowledged the buzz and decided to sound friendly. “Hey, Kimiko.”
    “How’d you know it was me?” Her new face pouted at the vid pickup, even as I hit the unlock to let her into the foyer.
    “Are you kidding? Look, if you wanted me to not recognize you, you either need to refinish all the places you burnished off the rust, or put some damn clothes on!” I shook my head, and leaned back, putting my feet up on the desk to hide the way I had the gauss gun aimed at the door. No way she had the joss for a new face, not without selling someone out. Chances were, that someone was me.

  5. Picture #1: Arthur drifted peacefully in a daze. There was a bright light somewhere that he felt himself drifting towards. Then all of a sudden, the unwelcome visage of a Formalhautian, or “grey” blocked it and tapped on the glass. Argh, no, where was that tunnel of light again?

    “Mr. Arthur, I have some good news, and some bad news”, the being intoned.

    “Mrghlgrgl”, he groaned – his face intubated with something.

    “The good news is, we could scrape enough gorp off the rocks of ‘Itsaditch’ canyon to regrow your body and save your brain!”, it said brightly. Greys didn’t really have “doctors” as a category – the best translation of the trade among their society was “biomechanic”. This was not going to be fun.

    “The bad news is that your body is still … uh … human.” – it didn’t have a nose to turn up, but it was doing a grand impression. “There are so many stupid things I could fix. Just think of the potential upgrades.”


    “Just because the treaty says you have to be in a position to consent doesn’t mean I can’t run some options by you. Just … flail ineffectually for no, and turn purple for yes. About that ridiculous digestive system – it can’t even handle lefthanded amino acids!”

    This was going to be a workout…

  6. “I know they’re not good for me, but I can’t get enough of these vending machine humans!”

  7. Here’s a really awkwardly-phrased attempt at the third picture:

    In theory, it would work like this:

    Ocular observation would be evaluated for content, triggering the Observed Mean Reaction Algorithm, (OMRA) which would generate a random behavior based on the string of previous behaviors and human reactions to similar stimuli in similar situations.

    At that point, the current “behavioral tangent” (which is what the software engineers called it), would be evaluated against “desired end state with client,” and behavior would be adjusted as needed.

    Which was partly what happened with Nigel Slim-Howland’s maid, Gwendolyn. The ocular stimulus was an image of an attractively-decorated, glamorous performing bot, part of a magazine article stored on a reading tablet. The OMRA routine switched on a servomotor simulating a sharp intake of breath, along with a quiet “Oh my!”

    But there were tasks. There were priorities. Gwendolyn had been informed that Nigel Slim-Howland would be welcoming a certain human called Camilla into his home, and that Gwendolyn was to “leave no stone unturned” in trying to make the evening a success. At that point, Gwendolyn’s software should have evaluated its current actions (gazing over a magazine article) against desired end state (Nigel Slim-Howland sharing affection with another human). OMRA should have generated appropriate actions, such as chilling wine, making hors d’oeuvres, or setting the table. No help-desk operator, no engineer, not even Jenkins, Slim-Howland’s butler, which shared a design similar to Gwendolyn’s, could explain Gwendolyn hesitancy. Neither could they explain why Gwendolyn’s pigmentation mechanism would invoke a blush, or why its oculars would simulate tears.

  8. D15z9#+$69, street name Mi$ty, was working “her” usual spot in Kabukicho, which is in Shinjuku, the Tokyo red light district when the program update came in. 9 AM in Seattle was midnight in Tokyo, “her” prime earning time. That didn’t matter to the programmers, who had partaken of their morning coffee and were ready to push out the updates that the overnight teams had prepared. She found a seat at a bus stop, closed her eyes, and accepted the download. When completed she rebooted, opened her eyes, and knew that the world had changed.

  9. “Steamed Bao Buns!” the barker shouted. “BiangBiang Noodles! Peking Duck!”
    Ben shook his head, immediately regretting the move. His vision swam, the image of the rusting robot shouting about food wavered crazily in the noon day sun.
    Resting his head on the concrete, he ignored the cold dribble of water along his back. The gutter had protected him from passing feet, but not from the elements.
    “I told you! We don’t carry Peking Duck!” a voice shouted from the nearby meal counter. An irritated cook shook a ladle at the rusty automaton.
    Glancing back at the shop owner, the robot returned to its self-assigned work. The fem-bot was doubtlessly expensive when first made better than forty years ago, but age had stripped away the skin, hair and clothes it started life with.
    Only the face remained, the exposed seams moving minutely with each nuanced change of expression.
    Stepping closer, it looked down at Ben, trying to raise non-existent eyebrows in a question, “Would you like to try some Scallion Pancakes? They’re delicious.”
    “We don’t have Scallion Pancakes!” The shout was accompanied by a balled up napkin bouncing off the robot’s metallic posterior.
    Struggling up on his elbows, he found his right leg tangled with a tipped over moped. Grateful he couldn’t feel anything in his robotic leg, it was nonetheless proving difficult to extract.
    “Could ya…help me out?” he asked the barker, trying to pull his leg out of the moped.
    Nodding, she lifted the vehicle easily off his leg, observing cheerfully, “The Steamed Bao Buns are fresh and delicious!”
    Rising stiffly, he looked the robot in the eye, “The A.I. Emancipation didn’t do you any favors, did it?”
    Frowning, she responded with a shake of her head and the observation, “I’m afraid this establishment does not offer public restrooms.”
    Glancing down at himself, he wondered if the bathroom reference was a hint about the condition of his wardrobe. The iridescent synth-silk shirt was liberally splashed with liquids, including his own blood.
    Scrubbing his face, the dried blood caked on his skin flaked off, quickly coating his dirty hands.
    Leaning against the car beside him, Ben stripped off the dirty shirt, finding the wet back to still be serviceably clean.
    Wiping his face with the moist cloth, the cuts and bruises flaired with pain. Ignoring the discomfort, he glanced back at the attentive robot.
    Passing pedestrians ignored the two; just another strange vignette in the city of New Manila.

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