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

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. A COMMISSION IS EARNED FROM EACH PURCHASE. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction.

*Note that I haven’t read most of these books (my reading is eclectic and “craving” led, and apply the usual cautions to buying. – SAH*

FROM SARAH A. HOYT, THE END OF THIS SERIES: Barbarella #10

This is it – the big battle you’ve been waiting for! Barbarella and the Brotherhood have launched a covert strike on Quryx, home of the Lady. Of course, they’re walking into a trap, and brute force is no match for a crazed tyrant with an army of thousands! But where strategy fails, the truth behind the Lady’s actions may prevail…though at what cost? After all, what is an ending but a new beginning? Sci-fi meets the human condition on a battlefield like no other in this explosive final chapter!

FROM DAVE FREER: Boy’s Surface

She thought she just needed the latest and best of automated houses to be happy.
She’s about to find out that a technology that can give you everything you want, can take away everything you need.
An amusing short story of technological over-reach.
THIS WORK IS A SHORT STORY.

FROM W. L. EMERY: Magic Employed

He’s back! The itinerant wizard with the sesquipedalian vocabulary is back in another anthology of short stories. Accompanied by his traveling companion Mirrabelle, Otheldo encounters mermaids, a violent demon from another dimension, and an evil wizard who has enslaved an entire tribe of fiendishly powerful ape-men. The good news is that he’s employed.

FROM T. A. HUNTER: The Master Code

A near-future murder-mystery-drama morphs over 10 days into an action-packed sci-fi conspiracy-thriller ending with a bang as a Southern rural river community is suddenly overwhelmed by a series of accidents and deaths. Are all these events somehow tied to a dam break, the murder of an old riverman, and a fish? Can Sheriff Coleman of Charles County solve this puzzling case with the reluctant help of Jason Dickson, an autistic convicted computer hacker who is now an engineering student? What discovery is so great they risk their lives, and everyone they love, to reveal to the world? Can you decipher the Master Code with Jason too?

FROM JASON FUESTING: Dusk Knight

Guns, mayhem, and magic.

Staff Sergeant Thomas Edwards was intimately familiar with the first two before incoming fire ended his career. A tactical retreat to the family cabin drops him head first into the third when he awakes in the blackened, twilight wasteland that used to be Faerie. Beset by nightmarish survivors of the Nevernever’s apocalypse, Thomas’ explosive finale earns him an option besides death. All he has to do is make a deal with fae.

What’s the worst that could happen?

FROM CLAYTON BARNETT: Cursed Hearts: A Novel of Machine Civilization

Even with San Diego occupied by the Mexican Army, Katarina Sosabowski pursues her MBA at UCSD, and is happy to welcome and put up her visiting step-cousin from Japan, Christopher Dennou, for a night so he can complete his enrollment the following day. But a minor earthquake brings a major surprise: Chris’s younger sister, Maya, murders their mother and escapes Neuroi Institute, the research facility that created them. While Chris and ‘Cat’ grow closer to one another, Maya inexorably crosses an ocean and half a continent to take back her brother, killing anyone who gets in her way.

FROM KAL SPRIGGS: Valor’s Inheritance

Her home world and most of its people have been captured by alien invaders. All too many of the cadets and personnel she served with have been killed in the defense of their planet. The Century Planetary Militia’s starships and fighters thrown away by Admiral Drien to cover his cowardly retreat.

All that is left is a meager inheritance for the survivors: a handful of ships, off-world accounts, and refugees willing to give all they have to save their homeworld. Multiple factions of survivors compete to control those resources. Some, like Jiden’s grandmother, want to build up a force to liberate their planet. Others, like Admiral Drien, want to gain the support of a stronger power and let others do the bleeding to save Century.

Jiden, as before, is in the middle of it all. She will have to manage meager resources while she trains up new recruits to save Century. Because whether they can acquire more resources or not, the Centurions are going to save their people. Jiden knows that in the end: all the wealth and power of Century doesn’t matter; the true inheritance of Century is the willingness to shed blood to save it.

FROM AMANDA S. GREEN: Fire Striker (Tearing the Veil Book 1)

Some say monsters aren’t real. Others say the only monsters are those people who aren’t fully human: the witches and shapeshifters, elves and dwarves, and all the others who one day stepped out of the realm of fairy tales and into “real life”. Morgan Walsh knows the truth. Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, and some of the worst are human.

She didn’t start out life as Morgan Walsh. Once upon a time, her name was Adriana Grace Hensen. Everything, including her name, changed the day she turned thirteen. That day she learned several lessons she’d never forget. The first was that monsters were real. The second was that her parents were two of the worst “monsters” alive. The third was that those you trust the most can and will turn on you.

Morgan’s parents betrayed her because she wasn’t “human”. Now she’s back with one goal in mind: vengeance.

Never, ever conspire against a Fire Elemental, especially one with other “talents” as well. When you do, you’d best be prepared to get burned.

FROM BLAKE SMITH: Test of Valor

Alain de Kerauille wants to be a knight more than anything in the world, to win as many jousting tournaments as he can, become wealthy and famous, and gain the hand of the fair lady Emma. As a squire in a noble household, he’s well on his way to success, and when he’s chosen to joust in a celebratory tournament, all of his dreams seem within his grasp. Until his rivalry with a fellow squire reaches the boiling point, threatening to destroy everything Alain has worked for and send his future crashing down around him.

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: SPOTTED

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

  1. PSA:

    If a research facility accidentally releases a rather shoddily weaponized corona virus, it will not magically eliminate all the ordinary cold corona viruses from every population. Of which there are many strains, in many populations, because animal reservoirs.

    If your source of information was never careful in distinguishing between the ordinary cold strains, and the special strain, it will not suddenly become so careful.

    Therefore, no matter whether the special strains are present or absent, you can expect that the ordinary cold strains will be reported as special.

    1. Diagnostic tests that are 30% accurate don’t help either…

      And then, when you pay hospitals to report deaths due to the ‘special’ virus, but not for deaths due to any other cause, you just might get some degree of overreporting.

      1. 30%? Like the one spotted in Great Britain that could be made to deliver a false positive with orange soda?

    2. will not magically eliminate all the ordinary cold corona viruses


      Oh, but it did! No cases of ordinary colds and flu were reported during the winter of 2020-2021. For more than a year COVID19 was the only virus in existence. If you don’t believe that, you’re a domestic terrorist spreading conspiracy theories and disinformation. You must be stopped at any cost!

      1. That official datum is the key reason to conclude that those information sources were commingling ordinary and special cases of corona virus.

        And, if your test for ‘fixed the problem’ is those information sources ceasing to report corona strains, your only means of fixing the problem will be killing everyone in South China, maybe also North China, and maybe maybe India.

        At this point, the mask/vax/lockdown theorists have no credible claim to being able to vax, mask, and lockdown their way out of the situation. They are blaming wreckers, breakers, and kulaks for the defects of their ‘five year plan’.

        Conversely “Don’t listen to those people” hasn’t really been tried. If mask theorists had any grounds to call on skeptics for cooperation before, why wouldn’t skeptics have grounds to call about mask theorists for cooperation now?

  2. The Master Wizard roared at his idiot Apprentice “What’s this Spotted Demon doing here and why isn’t he in the protective wards?”

    Since the apprentice was babbling nonsense, the Demon replied “I’m covered with spots because of a mistake in the spell the Idiot use. I’m outside of the wards because he goofed up the summoning spell. The only reason that the idiot isn’t dead is because I want to go home and I doubted that you’d send me home if I made a mess of him and this place.”

    The Master Wizard sighed, “it would be a big problem for me if you killed the idiot so I thank you for not killing him. Give me a moment to make sure where your home is and I’ll send you home.”

    “I’d appreciate you undoing the spots. They’re embarrassing.”

      1. Ah, but the leopard can’t “change his spots” but a wizard could do it. [Crazy Grin]

  3. “You look like you could use an ice cream,” said my friend who was acting as tour guide. Tired from wandering the Lanes in Brighton, I agreed and we ducked into the shop.

    “This is the best ice cream shop in Brighton. Fifty flavours!” said Joanie excitedly.

    Scanning the board, I suddenly looked at her in confusion.

    “What the heck is ‘spotted dick’?”

    She grinned. “It’s a steamed pudding with fruit in it, like raisins or currants. It comes in a tin – Heinz makes it. This place crumbles it up and puts it in ice cream. Want to try it?”

    When in Rome, I thought and shrugged. “Why not?” Placing my order, I added, “If your Tesco carries Heinz Spotted Dick, I’ll need to go there just to get a picture of the label. No one back home is ever going to believe this.”

    [note – I really did buy that ice cream in Brighton years ago. It was pretty good!]

    1. And I just had to look up “spotted dick” to see where the name came from. 😉

  4. In Greek, Cerberus means “spotted”.
    It will never fail to amuse me that fearsome Hades named his awe-ful dog Spot.

    (It’s like if Death named his white horse “Binky”.)

  5. “Remember, circle back to that big tree by the small pond in case we’re spotted,” said Elena, in a soft breathy tone of voice I could hear just fine… with a foot from her mouth to my ear. “That’s in the way we’re going now, Bram, not in the Peppermint Sake sense of course.” She loved to pick on the foibles of the ‘merely’ human.

    “But we won’t be spotted, surely; between crawling behind these bushes in decent camouflage and the Low Fae unnoticeability spells woven into them, pure humans wouldn’t see us even if we were walking up in plain sight.” I tried to match her way of speech, quiet and avoiding hissing sibilants or rumbling vowels.

    “Oaf,” she said, making it a shorthand for both “oafish bumbling human” and the once-famous ‘Gibbs slap’ (from before TV got too woke-soaked to watch). “Huge difference between ‘pure human’ and and ‘ordinary human’ — as you should quite well know, Mister Ten Percent true blood.”

    “Okay, point taken, more care is better when sneaking into the enemy camp. But how will I know when and if they’ve seen us?”

    Elena of the Oakleaf Clan smiled wolfishly. “You’ll know, you won’t be able to miss it.” And then smiled more pensively. “Unless of course they don’t, miss that is, and then you won’t ever be doing anything else at all.”

    And with that questionable reassurance, she signalled for me to follow.

  6. I spotted another opportunity to tell a long fish tail; but there’s always a few who carp about bad puns. Still, all’s whale that ends well, eh?

    And besides, I’m really supposed to be installing a ceiling fan in my home office.

  7. “Quick. This way. Let’s hope they don’t see us. If we can get out quick enough, we should be good.”
    “Why? What will they do to us?”
    “Their standard procedure is to spray any identified intruders with little globular packets of reddish purple dye.”
    “So.. if we’re spotted, we’ll be spotted?”
    “Worse. We’ll be marooned.”

  8. The great part about Barbarella is that I can point at it and say: “I know her! The author, I mean.”

  9. “Beg pardon, James. Have you seen Spotted Dick?”

    “No, Cherise, I have never had the pleasure of an acquaintance with that particular example of English ‘cuisine’. Nor have I been exposed to any nasty venereal diseases.”

    “Sorry, I’m talking about my brother Richard. He seems to have contracted Chicken Pox.”

  10. The back door slammed. Edna smiled. Her children would be at the swimming hole for the rest of the afternoon. Her husband would be at the mines – surveying and assessing. She measured out a cupful of dried currants and stirred them into the batter. Tonight – spotted dick pudding for dessert.

  11. Edna was unhappy. She had spotted chimney smoke in the distance. This was a sure sign the settlers were arriving in greater numbers. Soon her little bit of wilderness would be a boomtown. She started packing immediately and joined a wagon train headed to Kentucky. Her three brothers joined her.

  12. There was just enough time for me to begin to follow what happened, even though I was looking in almost the right direction to start with. A huge bird, bigger than a flying fox back home Down Under, flushed down out of the tree towards us — and was met by an almost-instant booming blast from my guide’s cavernous 10-gauge shotgun. That more or less exploded it, into both a cloud of feathers and a backspray of… less-pretty things.

    “What was that?!? That — flying thing!” I couldn’t help asking Dawes, right out loud, since he was not signalling for quiet. In fact, he looked pretty well-pleased, as he ejected the plump shell and put in another.

    “Spotted owl,” he said. In that drawling tone he used sometimes.

    “That was not a spotted owl, Mr. Dawes! A Spotted Owl is only this big” — and held up both my hands to show. “While that bird, that vast monstrosity of a thing, was at least this big instead! Perhaps a Greater Barred Owl, hereabouts. Or a Major Wandering Owl.”

    And he smiled, the smile that went with the tone. “Miss Steakley, as you well know this is Mavericks, not Earth. Given what passes for an owl too often here, snatching up cats and puppies and occasionally making the odd pass at a cradle or a babe in arms… a spotted owl is a dead owl. Or if not, then the mark of a dud marksman, or else a lazy sot.” And he grinned, that boyish way he seldom did.

    “Shall we continue, Miss Steakley?”

  13. I really do need to give this bunch more attention and get more research in on their preferred genre…

    “Any word from our guide yet?” Elise asked, looking at the mouth of the cave.

    “No, ma’am,” Ben responded, glancing around the area. “With all due respect, ma’am, was he really the best Saito-san could send us?”

    “He’s an odd one for sure but there’s no arguing his skills,” she responded, her expression neutral. “He’s gotten us this far with that piece of crap Keravnos rifle of his and that old lump of steel.”

    “That ‘old lump of steel’ has served me quite well, thank you very much,” a voice interrupted from seemingly nowhere. Sure enough it was their guide, Makoto Hayataka, a smug grin on his face as he was wiping blood off of the object in question: a large sword of such ancient design only hardcore weapon fanatics would even know it was Japanese. “Sorry for the delay, Miss Ahlstrom and Mr. Merrick. Some of the lizards spotted me.”

    “Show some respect, Hayataka.” Ben warned him, anger darkening his face.

    “I assure you, I’m giving you all the respect that is due,” the man replied dismissively, throwing away the cloth after cleaning the blood off and sheathing his sword. “My dear stepmother wouldn’t let me hear the end of it otherwise. Anyway, the mouth of the cave is clear. Shall we be on our way?”

    Hayataka went ahead without waiting for a response, switching to his rifle and whistling cheerfully all the while. Ben sighed when the man was out of earshot, muttering “How the hell has this guy not gotten killed yet?”

    “If you can kill that many lizards with a loadout like that you’re entitled to be a bit eccentric I guess,” Elise shrugged, bringing her rifle to low ready as she followed behind their guide, ready for more trouble from the planet Susano-o’s resident hostiles.

  14. David Cambridge sat, watching Eden’s binary sunset. He sensed, rather than heard, Cherry Parker approaching.

    “Doctor,” she said, haltingly. “I thought I spotted Charlie. In the commercial bays. Out of the corner of my eye.”

    “You think you’re going mad?” he replied. Cherry nodded. “Don’t,” he said. “It’s just grief.”

  15. I spotted it right off. A pregnant woman has a certain way of using her hips when she walks – not the same as a sexy sashay, but not straight like a girl’s or a man’s. Of course, a guy can still always be wrong about a thing like that, and I wasn’t about to ask straight out – not opening that can of worms! – but I wasn’t at all surprised when she announced it.

    1. Well, yes – the pubic symphysis becomes extra flexible so that your pelvic bones can widen and a baby can pass through the birth canal. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23025-pubic-symphysis. If things get too relaxed, the bones can pull apart and cause pain – aside from the lowering of the center of gravity, you’d walk differently too.

      But it would be rare to observe that before late in the third trimester. Most women are showing their ‘passenger’ quite clearly by then.

      1. Ah. I’m remembering when I was pregnant almost thirty years ago, and when I had several friends in various stages of pregnancy around that time. It seemed to me that I could tell a difference in the way a pregnant woman walked earlier than third trimester, when it was not necessarily obvious a woman was pregnant unless she was normally pretty thin. Maybe I was seeing something different from pubic symphysis? Something more related to weight redistribution in the second trimester? I don’t know.

        1. It could even be protectiveness, or other physical feelings, showing in their walk. Or even unconscious imitation of other pregnant women they have known. Women do some odd things, and some men tend to notice those things.

          Apparently some women have sore backs and abdominal stretching tugging feelings very early in pregnancy, and I bet that would make anyone walk funny.

          1. Ho. Apparently the cervix starts feeling “squishy” early on, and I swear that word is a quote from an article. So yeah, that could lead to a change in gait too.

            30 signs of pregnancy. Had a bunch that I don’t think I’ve seen mentioned before, or that were previously unexplained tropes.

            Apparently the reason that every culture reports mothers of famous kids having vivid elaborate dreams — is that pregnant women tend to have vivid, elaborate, and clearly remembered dreams. Take that, anthropology of religion!

  16. Okay, the last one was sad. Let’s try romantic this time:

    “It’s my own fault,” gasped Max. “Instead of passing the ball to Bopo, I was trying to spot you in the stands. And then, WHAM!

    “Oh, Max!” said Cari. She felt a nauseating wave of guilt. “You got hurt because of me?” She didn’t envision their reunion going like this!

  17. She stole down the stairs as swiftly as she could in silence, and found that she had, indeed, spotted the room. And could be certain of it, because Isabelle had arisen before her and was already starting her meal.
    Then, she realized that could be just as well for her.

  18. Indeed, no matter how she looked around, she could not even see any building. Though she did not look much, to keep from losing sight of them, a building that well hidden was a marvel in itself.
    The wind blew through the trees. Drops of sunlight danced on the forest floor. And his captors carried Felix through that impossible door.
    Slowly, Lucie inched closer. No one came out. She looked about with more care, still seeing no buildings, but more importantly, no one to see her. She tried the door.
    Though it showed no lock, it did not even budge.

  19. The one who addressed her, though her apron was spotted with flour, did not turn back to the kitchen. She wiped her hands off, sighed with contentment in the sun, and glanced sideways at Rosaleen.
    “Going to want pies from the tree?”
    “She didn’t say I couldn’t use the fruit.”

  20. Rose’s breath came out slowly. It was a fine dress. Brocade of gold, and lace of gold with flecks of amber long the length of it. They had added necklaces of gold and sapphire, and rings of gold and ruby, to ensure the final look.
    She did not know why.

  21. Leonid Gruzinsky examined the documentation Star City had sent over. Once he could’ve just skimmed everything and spotted the relevant material.

    But those days were gone now, thanks to the ambush that had cost him an eye and left that side of his face a livid mess of scar tissue. Although his remaining eye remained as keen as ever, he found it hard to scan and pick out the significant.

    According to the neurologist, it was an effect of the way the brain put together information from both eyes. Which meant that he’d lost more than his depth perception, rather than it being a skill he could retrain himself to, like the hours of range time it had taken to teach himself to sight with his remaining eye.

  22. Hello all from Tom Deplorable aka T.A. Hunter author of “The Master Code.” Apologies to SAH for appearing like a Doom Troll on my first post about the Arrows article, but I’m mildly autistic and my “filters” don’t always temper my thoughts. I hope everyone enjoys my book and please leave an Amazon review if you care to.
    There’s still a few of those dreaded typos, but nothing that changes the story.

    Some Fun Facts about “The Master Code”:

    I. I conceived the entire story-line in a vivid dream while convalescing from a major surgery! In my dream, I was at a movie premiere about a book I wrote. When writing it, all the pieces just fell into place as I re-visualized and rewrote my dream. (took me three years part-time will employed-full time to complete.)
    2. I never wanted to write a book in my life until I had that dream and I felt compelled to tell my “Tall Fish Tale.” My wife provided encouragement by saying to me, “you’ll never finish it,” which lit dynamite in my mind to prove her wrong.
    3. I visited the Virginia locale multiple times which provided much inspiration.
    4. I forged the Martha Washington letter using her handwriting samples!

    I’d love to mail SAH a courtesy paperback copy for her pleasure. Please send me a private email if you can.

    1. “Soon a high-pitched whirring sound began approaching from the north and increased in volume. The sheriffs soon spotted a Unidrone above the trees coming from Old Forge Lake. It automatically rotated its four high-speed electroprops into horizontal mode and landed on the vacant highway near the Supercruzer. The whirring stopped and the teardrop-shaped aerodynamic passenger pod cracked open its transparent front hatch like a clam opening its shell. Inside, a man was revealed sitting in a single reclining seat. The man stepped out, followed by two black Dobermans, and walked toward the sheriffs.”

      1. I’m a newbie on this blog/forum and have been trying to figure out the self publishing thing. Hope you get a chance to read and enjoy The Master Code. I’ve had people laugh and also cry when they read the book. For me, the book was also a way to communicate with my children when I am gone from this world. As long as they read the book, they will always hear my voice as I share any wisdom I could impart to them within the words. It’s a type of immortality, much as the great authors and philosophers of history are immortal as long as mankind reads and learns their wisdom that was their gift to mankind! Unfortunately, illiteracy and ignorance largely rules the day but there is always hope that some will carry the torch of light forward. I do have ideas for a prequel and sequel(s) too but perhaps don’t have enough time left on this earth to write them.

  23. “When did you know the fireman was an alien?”
    “Well, they can look like humans but they don’t think like us. I was suspicious when he called it SCUBA gear, not an SCBA. But I was certain when I saw the firehouse photo. The dog wasn’t a Dalmatian, you see.”

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