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.*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 M. C. A. HOGHARTH: Haley and the Catfish Invasion: A LitRPG Short Story.

Haley and Nana return in a second heartwarming adventure! Having embraced her new meta class, Haley is ready for anything… except, possibly, a plague of seafood! It turns out it’s harder than she thought to sit back and let other people handle the problems she really, really wants solved….This second installment in the adventures of a post-apocalyptic world with a game system imposed on it by magical aliens contains yet another recipe, because (once again), that’s the kind of story this is. Curl up with some cornbread and watch Haley craft her way through another quick read!

FROM DAVID WELCH: Stained Glass Jaws

Tye Gallagher is a man on the road to fame and fortune. Born in the ghetto, he’s found a path to success through boxing. Blessed with an iron chin and rib-breaking body shot, he’s put up an undefeated record, and managed to fight the reigning champion to a draw. He’s preparing himself for his reign as heavyweight champ, and few think anything can stop him.

But fate is fickle, and Gallagher’s first loss sends the man careening into a downward spiral. Stripped of the illusions of fame, Tye finds himself facing a failing marriage, shifty management, unforgiving media, and an inner rage that has dogged him for most of his life. Lacking the security of a stable upbringing, he finds himself in a battle he’s completely unprepared for. The only friend he has left is, strangely enough, his former rival. Gallagher not only has to try to rescue his crumbling career, but decide what of type of person he wants to be after all the ego and bluster have been ripped away. And without any real examples to fall back on, it is the fight of Tye’s life to see if he can become anything more than just another also-ran…

FROM KAREN MYERS: The Ways of Winter – A Virginian in Elfland.


It’s the dead of winter and George Talbot Traherne, the new human huntsman for the Wild Hunt, is in trouble. The damage in Gwyn ap Nudd’s domain reveals the deadly powers of a dangerous foe who has mastered an unstoppable weapon and threatens the fae dominions in both the new and the old worlds.

Secure in his unbreachable stronghold, the enemy holds hostages and has no compunction about using them in deadly experiments with newly discovered way-technology. Only George has a chance to reach him in time to prevent the loss of thousands of lives, even if it costs him everything.

Welcome to the portrait of a paladin in-the-making, Can he carry out a rescue without the deaths of all involved? Will his patron, the antlered god Cernunnos, help him, or just write him off as a dead loss? He has a family to protect and a world to save, and little time to do it in.

FROM MICHAEL MORGAN: Ladies, Fish, & Gentlemen

Ana’s mother always insisted on the proprieties for young ladies, but she never prepared her daughter for the snake pit of Los Cristobal. Political factions wrestle behind the illusion of a free city, each plotting to seize control for King and Country. Beneath the city, a secret society has begun unlocking the powers of ancient sorcery, but they lack something. Something secret. Something stolen from them by Ana’s father, and now they are coming to take it back. Sometimes, a young lady must do some very unladylike things to stay alive.

Ladies, Fish, & Gentlemen is a swashbuckling historical fantasy tale with magical realism undertones set in a pre-colonial North America that never was. Shamanistic ritual, the miracles of Holy places, and lust for the power of resurrected technologies drive men mad in the struggle to control the destiny of the New World. A footpad, a vampire, and the native Kiawah people may be Ana’s best allies against the coven of sorcerers trying to murder her.

“Pull harder Sofia!” Ana gasped in pain as the staves of baleen pinched the puckered line of new scar across her side, and squeezed her burned flesh.
“Mistress! Apologies, Mistress. Please let me loosen it,” Sofia begged in sympathy as Ana’s face lost its color.
Ana shook her head as she pulled in a slow breath. The strain in her voice was clear over the calm façade, “A knight has his armor, as do we women. Our battlefields and methods may be different, but both require the appropriate costume. My dress, and then my hair.”

“A small jump to her left took Ana out of the line of attack as her sword drew a crimson line that bisected her attacker’s ear. A step to the right lent her body weight to the tip of her dagger as it punched into the man’s side through the armhole of his polished back and breast armor. The hilt of the main gauche was torn from her grip as the man’s momentum took him through the doorway and the slope of the staircase took control of him. Ana raised her right knee and drew her dirk left handed as a third soldier entered the room.”

The Ladies of Los Cristobal series is Girl power at its best.

FROM JL CURTIS: Country Boys (and Girls) will Survive

Shady Rest Mobile Home Park wasn’t anything much… Small, old, and butted up against the Okefenokee swamp, with an ‘eclectic’ group of tenants, it was the target in a long time feud.DK Thorne, a medically retired Marine, did his best to keep the place afloat, the tenants happy, and fight off the County. He was managing to do that until the local witch said ‘things’ were coming from the other side of the ‘veil’…And they did, but country boys and girls know how to survive.


BY OTIS ADELBERT KLINE, EDITED BY D. JASON FLEMING: 3 Weird Tales: A horror pulp trio of terror!

Otis Adelbert Kline was an assistant editor on *Weird Tales* from its founding issue. He was also one of WT’s regular authors from that same issue.

Collected here are three stories first published in that legendary pulp magazine.

The Thing of a Thousand Shapes

Uncle Jim was dead. So what was that… thing… that was in the room with his casket? Kline’s first published story, and the very first (two-part) serial *Weird Tales* ever published, almost reads like a mission statement for that storied pulp.

Bride of Osiris

When Jim Buell’s fiancée was kidnapped right in front of him, in broad dayling on the streets of Chicago, even he could not predict his quest to rescue her would lead him to the center of a human sacrifice cult!

Lord of the Lamia

When John Tane rented that house in Cairo, he almost immediately became host to an unwanted corpse, and was made into a pawn in a game he had no wish to play. But before the game is over, he will turn the tables on the plotters that surround him, and become… The Lord of the Lamia!!!

    This iktaPOP Media edition includes new introductions giving genre and historical context to the novellas.

FROM J. ALLAN DUNN, EDITED BY D. JASON FLEMING: On The Knees Of The Gods (Annotated): The Classic Pulp Fantasy.

Peter Brent, American, steps through a laurel hedge in Greece in 1939 — and is transported back to the days of the gods! But getting Zeus’s attention isn’t always the best idea…

    This iktaPOP Media edition contains a new introduction giving historical and genre context.

BY EDMOND HAMILTON, EDITED BY D. JASON FLEMING: The Fire Princess (annotated): The classic pulp lost civilization adventure novel!

American secret agent Gary Martin was given a task: hunt down the rumors of a warrior princess and her plans to rally the nomadic tribes of East Asia to begin a war of conquest, discern how true they were, and put a stop to it if it was real. The fact that Imperial Japan had already sent their most effective spy in the same direction was worrying.

What Martin did not expect was to find himself in the middle of a lost civilization, captive of a warrior princess who was in love with him, and realizing she had access to terrible ancient technologies that could ruin the world!

    This iktaPOP Media edition includes a new Introduction giving historical and genre context to the novel.

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: Pear

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

  1. Love Edmond Hamilton, do Kindle books gather dust in a To Be Read pile, or do they grow magnetic whiskers?

      1. And I’m hoping for more Manly Wade Wellman (I noticed that you said that “you’d” be publishing an older Wellman story).

        1. I definitely have some Wellman in the queue, but most of it is a bit of a ways out. There is a short Wellman story in this year’s Eerie Collection, and the next one is planned for January, but I’m like six months behind my schedule, so it depends how fast I can catch up. Interesting thing about Wellman, his name is connected to only one copyright renewal (at least, prior to 1977, when records went electronic; I’m not sure I’ve checked that database for him or not), and it was for a book by his father. Not sure why he never bothered to renew his own stuff.

            1. I have put out some things out of the scheduled order, just to jumpstart myself a bit. Plus, October HAD to be the month of the Eerie Collection and its derivatives.

              On the other hand, I pushed off doing anything for Victober to next year. Some stuff is already done, but a lot isn’t. sigh

        2. Checking my todo lists, I have two Wellman novels scheduled, one for August, which I should get out before the end of the year, and one for January. Both first published in Startling Stories. (And there’s at least one more from Startling that I’ve got, but I’m a bit hesitant about it, because the last line makes it seem like an over-long shaggy dog joke.)

            1. They can be epic. But if I read an SF time travel adventure story, only to find out the entire thing was a set-up for a lame punchline, it’s disappointing. I haven’t actually read this one yet, so I’ll see if reading it changes my mind.

        1. I mostly stick to novel-length works, but even there, he wrote a lot of novels during a time when SF novels did not get published as books, and when the pulps generally did not run toward novel lengths. (He published four novels in 1929 alone!) And most of his copyrights never got renewed. So, you’re not wrong.

          I’m only a little sorry that one of his best-regarded series, The Star Kings, did get renewed. Mostly because I want to read them, but won’t be able to have the excuse of “I have to read them, I’m about to publish them!”

                1. That’s fine, but again, my reading time is booked up solid (see comment elsewhere about my being six months behind my publishing schedule — one of the stumbling blocks is time to proofread all the things; also, I’m taking up editing books for friends again) for quite some time to come.

                  I’ll get to them eventually, because I love reading Hamilton. Just… not soon. Have to finish publishing his Interstellar Patrol series, then the next on the list is (I think) The Three Planeteers.

    1. A proper scope, sir!

      Now, everyone knows pears are delivered by sea, and rest for a time on the docks, and those are known as the best. There are some pears that are not quite so good, yet still highly regarded.

      And one certainly likes to look at them before buying. Best is to cut them up, so one might see the flesh, and a viewing more than one so arranged helps get a better impression of the whole lot.

      So, would you like to peer at a pair of prepared near-pier-parity pears?

      1. Are they pared?
        If so, they must be poached in Port.
        Oh, nevermind, the pier is in port already.

        1. The Port in the port is imperiled;
          The pared pears are nonpareil.
          The pear puns are simply puerile,
          But any Port in a Storm!

            1. Also eau-de-vie de poire for the brandy version.

              Don’t currently have any perry or pear brandy; I’ll have to make do with calvados. Though tea with irish whiskey is nice when it’s 32F out there!

              Now, if the late Tsar Nicholas were a perry patron, unparalleled imperial perry might have been imperiled after the revolution, unless one could have parried petty party politics.

  2. The Obnoxious Yuppie Couple had been in The Knick Knack Shoppe for only ten minutes, but Diana’s patience with their incessant, inane yammering had run out five minutes ago.

    For the last five minutes, she had been weighing in her mind just how much she needed, or did not need, the Shoppe as a cover for her real career as the small town’s resident witch. People disappearing, even outsiders, even rude, affluent outsiders who were clearly sneering at everything “quaint” in the town, would probably start a lot of talk. Sure, the community had accepted Diana for years. Most of them had even gotten used to her real profession, and accepted it, more or less. Still, she was invested in the community here. She should not make people disappear. Even very annoying people.

    “Oh my gawd!” the man exclaimed to the woman. “Elspeth, have you seen this?”

    Elspeth. The vocal-fry-afflicted, limp-haired, designer-brand outfitted pale wisp of an NPR-listening women’s studies major was named Elspeth.

    Diana walked up to them, smiling. “My, don’t you to make the lovely pear.”

    When it appeared in the front window the next day, and after, every single person who mentioned it said that the cut-glass pear in the front window was one of the loveliest things they had ever seen.

    And nobody ever came asking about the Obnoxious Yuppie Couple.

  3. I bought some of those So Sez Henry notebooks for cat-lover gifts last Christmas … they are cute and I admire the entrepreneurial spirit. End of commercial.

  4. The breakfast was oatmeal and pears in syrup. Very bland. But nourishing, as her old nurse would tell her. When she was not sympathizing and telling her that her powers would clearly flourish when she came into her full strength.
    At least the others were also subdued. Even Julian was.

  5. “Um, Bob, you know that traditionally the phrase is ‘to peer into the Void’.”

    “Of course. But the Void wyrm likes fresh fruit, and I like him not coming to visit.”

    “Good point. Does it like those fancy, really sweet apples?”

    “No. That’s how it ended up in the Void in the first place.”

  6. “Very well, Miss Terwilliger, what’s this conference about? And why was I just introduced to one of our guidance counsellors as part of it?”

    She looked a little like she’d just bit into an unexpected lemon at the “Miss” — but what she said was, “Mrs. Adrianescu, your daughter turned in a rather disturbing art project last Friday. The assignment was to paint a ‘Partridge in a Pear Tree’ as part of our current Winter Season, uhm, excuse me, Christmastide theme.” Again, that same half-wince…

    The quietly-avalanching fury of local voters in turning out the entire previous School Board with all their “social emotional learning” and “critical race theory” initiatives hadn’t (yet) extended to many other modern innovations; but a fair number of the District’s people still left standing had learned to tread more lightly regardless.

    “You can call me Claire. And perhaps it would be simplest for you to give me a look at her, let’s say, controversial picture myself. She told us over the weekend you’d confiscated it for some reason, instead of sending it home after grading and scanning as usual.”

    She looked a bit surprised. “Then you should call me Annette. And if you really want to look at it…” She pulled out a desk drawer and removed a folder, then carried it over to the table where Claire and Allyson were sitting; opening the folder at what seemed like the last possible moment and handing the piece of thick paper over almost as if it might be virus contaminated, or perhaps mildly radioactive.

    And Claire’s eyes widened and she drew in a quick half-breath. This one was nothing like the workmanlike but uninspired and routine pictures she was used to seeing… it was very definitely not Boris Vallejo or Arthur Rackham, far less Hieronymus Bosch; but there was an energy and vibrance about it she’d seldom ever even glimpsed with her daughter.

    Yes, it was a partridge in a tree. But the twisted, bare-limbed tree had the look of something growing from long-cursed ground; its branches were decorated with all the strange fruit of Halloween, but in the style of Christmas trees. There were a few pear-looking leaves left here and there, a few yellowish, wormy-looking pears hung from it along with the other, more ghastly decorations. Mostly it had a sort of radiant… corruption. Not really evil, per se, but close.

    Except for the end of the branch the partridge sat on. And the partridge itself (Claire could still see a picture of one off to one side of the chalkboard, another retro-innovation the new Board had introduced in its hopes of longevity) was — a spectacular contrast. Drawn as if the only ray of sun in the entire scene fell directly on it, radiating what came across to her as a dazzling serenity, it somehow managed to reproach and dismiss all the demi-horror of its Halloween-esque setting, as if its half-open beak was singing, “So what? Big deal.”

    If somehow Aslan had been a bird instead of a lion, that’s what he would’ve looked like, thought Claire. Wow, just wow. She turned the amazing picture over reluctantly, and found what she’d half-expected (but in some unknown and unguessable form) all along.

    Ms. Terwilliger
    4th Period
    A Partridge in a Fear Tree
    Allyson Adrianescu

    “So, what exactly is the problem here? And did you read out the theme for the pictures verbally, Annette, or did you simply write it on the board?”

    “None of the other children had any trouble understanding the assignment as it was given, Claire. And I simply assumed they would read that and go from the popular song, ‘On the first day of Christmas’ and all.” There was a sort of primness in her voice, almost as if to suggest we gave you all a children’s Christmas art project, we called it Christmas instead of ‘Winter Season’ like we were trained to do, so why aren’t you grateful to us for all that?. “And that picture that Allyson’s drawn is, let’s be frank, kind of sick.” There was an odd sort of noise from the counsellor; perhaps one interpretable as a caution.

    “Well, Annette, one person’s ‘sick’ or ‘horrible’ is another person’s ‘now, this is interesting’ — and Halloween has always been Allyson’s third-favorite holiday behind her birthday and Christmas. Remember, we’re halfway between Halloween and Christmas so the connection is pretty natural to her. Right, Allyson?”

    “Yes. And the letter on the board looked more like an ‘F’ than a ‘P’ so I couldn’t help reading it as ‘Fear Tree’ — and then the whole picture just sort of drew itself in my mind right away, all I had to do was try my best to copy it down. Maybe I didn’t do very well… It was only later when I was about half-done I realized you could read it the other way so I added a few pears and pear leaves at the end.” And she looked right at her teacher. “Do you really think there’s something wrong with me, Miss Terwilliger, for drawing pictures in class like the ones in my manga or the way people dress up for trick-or-treat?”

    There was nothing impertinent or challenging in her young voice; but at that moment Claire couldn’t have been prouder of her. Not cowed, though over the weekend she had been puzzled and confused somewhat. Like Claire.

    And there was that incomprehensible, wordless noise from the fourth person in the room again.

    “Perhaps it might help if I mentioned that for her last birthday Ally got a picture book of drawings by Charles Addams, you know, the guy who created ‘The Addams Family’? It’s already become one of her favorite paper books of all time.” Claire was suprised she’d said anything; she hadn’t really meant to at all. And why on God’s green Earth am I trying to rescue Miss Terwilliger from the gopher hole her own big mouth made her step into? Oh, well, instinct has seldom steered me wrong yet, and the Buddhists say true wisdom is right action.

    “Tell me, Ally, if you will, what did you feel like when you were drawing that picture? What do you think, now, if you look at it?” She motioned for Claire to hand the picture to her.

    “Mrs. Garwood, I felt good, I guess, so many of the other pictures we’re supposed to draw, it’s hard to figure out what to draw or how to start. This time, like I said, it just came to me and I could hardly keep up. Doing it was the most fun I had all last week. And now? It’s not as good as the picture in my head was, but it’s such a nice contrast, between the tree and the partridge. Last Sunday’s reading in church had that part I always love, ‘the light shines in the darkness, and the dark has not overcome it’ — and to me I guess this partridge is like that.”

    And there was something of a spark in Frances Garwood’s eyes, that Claire was a little afraid she was imagining. And that acid little twist to Annette’s lips, again. “So you’re not upset, or using the picture of the tree to get out something that’s been bothering you or upsetting you?”

    “Huh? Mrs. Garwood, I don’t understand what you mean. If I’m upset I go to my mother or my father, or maybe one of my friends. I don’t try to put it in a picture — though I guess you might’ve given me an idea.”

    And Frances Garwood smiled a very subtle, very quick, almost secret smile herself. It ain’t ever likely to be another Red Book like C. G. Jung’s, but I have a feeling I’ve maybe planted a seed. That’ll not likely be sending up any shoots in Miss Terwilliger’s classroon…

    “So, are we done here? Can I get my daughter and her picture and go? I do have a meeting across town in thirty minutes.” Which I can reschedule at almost no notice if I need to… and why am I suddenly so assertive? Well, true wisdom.

    Mrs. Garwood stood up in a way that was decisive and almost dispositive all in itself. “Yes, I think everything is resolved. Any report I need to write on this matter will show that. Allyson, you should keep and enjoy that picture of yours, and I hope we’ve not troubled your artistic side.”

  7. And of course my vignette is in Moderation Purgatory. Because a story about a child going ‘outside the box’ on her classroom art project, that’s just a little under the 8K character limit, really should have to be inspected first by our (time-pressed) Esteemed Blogmistress…

    Well, it’s been that kind of week, especially on Tuesday, now ain’t it?

      1. Indeed. Almost before I’d written out my tiny bit of pique at Willie Pete.

        And perhaps I should mention here your inbox at not-cold-mail should have that election fraud (etc.) piece from me, ~3K words / 19K chars., just in case the Hamsters have been active…

  8. I figured it was this character’s time to join in. She can’t let her subordinate have all the fun even if he’s got the fancier mech!

    The Loirian forces were persistent, she’d give them that. It hadn’t taken long for her and her soldiers to scrap the Chasseurs they sent but now they were bringing out some of their rapid and heavy assault units. The Baldrazians were prepared with their own counterparts but they had something more with them and the Loirians were about to regret it.

    “Let’s go, Grimhilt!” the blonde girl said with a smile. Sure, her mech couldn’t answer her like Ashleshia did Vincent but she still thought of her as her own person.

    Grimhilt spread her feather patterned wings as her pilot streaked into the air, taking aim at an enemy Rapace with her battle rifle. The mech’s wings glowed golden as the girl fired, sending a barrage of light arrows at the speedy enemy. The fusillade tore it from the sky and she was pleased to note that it had put a few holes in an enemy Martel, too, giving some of her Jaegers the opening they needed to take the hulking mech down. She loved it when the biggest heaps the enemy had to offer fell before the standard soldier types.

    “An impressive display, Your Highness,” a feminine voice announced, causing the girl to look around in shock. “But you will no longer dominate this battlefield, Princess Renata.”

    “Well, things just went pear-shaped,” the girl grumbled to herself before opening Grimhilt’s own comm systems. “Fancy seeing you here, Lady Carys, and you too of course, Lady Zornitsa! Is King Philippe so full of himself he’d beg Queen Beatrix to send you over instead of admitting he wronged my people?”

    “I am simply fulfilling my duty. Nothing more.” Carys replied, her amethyst mech readying its spear as it began to crackle with lightning.

    “Orders, Your Highness?” an officer asked, unable to keep his voice from quavering.

    “Do what you can but don’t throw your lives away,” Renata responded, taking aim with her rifle as Grimhilt began to radiate light. “Let’s make them bleed for every last bit of ground they take!”

    “And hope Vincent can pull himself together now that Carys is here. And that Lysandra decides butchering her people’s more fun than butchering ours…” the Crown Princess thought bitterly as she pulled the trigger.

  9. If someone had cast some mischievous magic and diverted her into some pear or plum orchard, he would learn how dangerous it was to deceive her into thinking fell magic imperiled the realm. He would discover that she could cast fell magic indeed, and a just punishment it would be.

  10. “Looks like someone even more of a vegetable than the FICUS just got elected, or selected, as a Senator from Pennsylvania.”

    “Gotta love the Phillie vote; those buggers are nearly as crooked as the legendary Chicago machine.”

    “I hate to admit it, but in this case it would ‘pear so.”

  11. Why, he could throw a beggar a pear or a loaf of bread! He had brought lunch, and enough to share. It wasn’t as if older brothers had to be fools.
    “Is that not so, my good man?” he caroled at a red-capped man by the crossroad, who looked back.

  12. So there I was, Mach 29 and spinning like a tennis ball. The ship wasn’t hypersonically stable; if I didn’t hold the nose forward and fly the right entry profile, my future would be bright but brief. Fifteen more seconds would carry me deep enough into the atmosphere that aerodynamic forces would overpower the reaction jets. Which were firing randomly, which was why I was spinning in the first place. If there was ever a time to straighten up and fly right, it was right here and right now. But the panel was a sea of red lights, and the flight controls weren’t responding.

    The reentry had been nominal until half a minute ago. Then everything went pear-shaped.

  13. “They need to bring the beehives,” said Rose. “As many as they have.”
    “Ridiculous, ill-judged expense,” said her father.
    It was bad enough that he left running the castle in her hands, and absurd that every so often, he insisted on interfering in matters he knew nothing of.
    The orchards were ill-planted. Pear trees in the midst of peaches and apples and cherries. Unless they brought in all the beehives, the bees would feast on the richer flowers, and they would have no pears. Only when the bees exhausted those trees by their number would they turn to the pears.

  14. “Smart fabric,” she smiled cheerfully, “makes my life so much easier. Especially with these.”

    Her hand gave her pear-shaped hips a firm slap, and I had to wince slightly. Her parents or the gene designer of her current shell had clearly came up with the idea that Hartman Hips or living with a corset or waist cincher all the time was a requirement, not an option. She wasn’t so narrow down there that I could put my hands around her waist and be able to lace my fingers…but you could be forgiven for thinking that. I could tell that she had ultra-high density muscular augmentation to keep everything properly aligned and that was spooky.

  15. The holiday season is the brightest time of year in doctors’ offices. The bounty (almost all of it edible) begins rolling in the week after Thanksgiving and does not stop until the New Year. This year was no different; the staff pounced on each new offering brought by grateful patients. Boxes of candy, cookies, the occasional bottle of wine… and best of all, the Harry and David fruit boxes!

    Dr. Smithson is a pretty generous boss, but he always grabs the pears… at least three of them. And a grapefruit or two. The rest of it is ours.

  16. There was an orchard there. Pears. At least the fruit hanging down had shapes like pears, he could not make out the color. He grabbed one. It came free in his hand, but he still could not make out the color.
    His fingers tightened. The pear crumbled into black dust.

  17. To have an au pair pare a pear, you need an au pair and a pear. And the tools needed depends a lot on what type of pear you want your au pair to pare.

  18. Connor Westin sauntered into the room, caught Mikhael Yehuda’s attention. “Just got some bad news. Looks like Salamander‘s mission went pear-shaped on him.”

    Mikhael bit back the first words that came to his mind. Yuri Volkogonov had put behind him the things that had led Mikhael to hunt him here to Sparta Point. Now they were all on the same side, and he needed to know how bad things had become. “Any report on the extent of the disaster?”

    Connor shook his head. “All we have right now are a few fragmentary messages. It appears the Feds were expecting them, but we won’t be sure until the survivors get back and the boss can debrief them.”

    Survivors, he said, plural. So the team wasn’t completely wiped out. But if anyone was captured, how long before Third Section pried the location of Sparta Point out of someone’s mind?

    Which meant they’d need to get the captives sprung before any of the other side’s telepaths could get to them.

    Why am I seeing an unpleasant mission ahead of me?

  19. “We’ll need to eat,” said Ned.
    “What?” said Will. “Do you think there will be a butcher’s shop on the way? We’d be lucky to find an orchard with ripe pears. We have to escape even if we go hungry. A day or two will hurt us, but less than being caught.”

  20. We’ve grafted a Bosc branch onto a Bartlett tree, but there are way too many sucker shoots that are reducing the potential harvest.
    “Plantsman, pare that pear pair”

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