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

Here at According To Hoyt we like to Book Promo All The Time. We’re savage that way. I just had to wake the internet hamsters because they got a wee bit soused on port wine last night. They’re bad like that.

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 ALIDA LEACROFT BUT REALLY DAVE FREER: Georgina

I’VE READ THIS BOOK AND IT’S AMAZING. IT’S LIKE FINDING A LOST AGATHA CHRISTIE, WITH A BIT OF HEYER! GET IT. YOU WON’T BE SORRY.

April, 1836: Her missionary parents dead, Georgina Ross comes back to an unfamiliar England that she had left as a child. Alone and impoverished, she seeks shelter with her estranged grandfather, on his estate in rural Hampshire… Except it is not a peaceful refuge. She finds someone has attempted to murder her grandfather. He has suffered a head injury which has affected his memory, and left him unable to identify his attacker. Georgina becomes entangled with not only arson and robbery, but also the second son of the local squire, and a debonair, fashionable cousin she never knew she had. Struggling through uncertainty and present danger, Georgina must find her way, and her love.

FROM KAREN MYERS*: Broken Devices: A Lost Wizard’s Tale (The Chained Adept Book 3)

Book 3 of The Chained Adept

CHAINS WITHOUT WIZARDS AND A RISING COUNT OF THE DEAD.

The largest city in the world has just discovered its missing wizards. It seems the Kigali empire has ignited a panic that threatens internal ruin and the only chained wizard it knows that’s still alive is Penrys.

The living wizards and the dead are not her people, not unless she makes them so. All they have in common is a heavy chain and a dead past — the lives that were stolen from them are beyond recall.

What remains are unanswered questions about who made them this way. And why. And what Penrys plans to do to find out.

*WHOSE NAME I’VE BEEN MISSPELLING FOR 10 YEARS. I’M SORRY. I’M DYSLEXIC. YOU SHOULD HAVE SAID SOMETHING!

FROM MICHAEL WENBERG: The Morning Star

Fisherman Nick Savitch pops in to see his friends the nuns at a monastery on an island in remote Alaska, only to find them all dead … except for a mysterious ageless woman with striking green eyes and a young girl willing to go to any lengths to protect her. It turns out some of the scariest folks on earth are after the woman also known as the Morning Star, and their chase takes them from islands in the Gulf of Alaska to the heavily guarded confines of a Moscow hospital. This story has got all the historical intrigue of The DaVinci Code (without the deep detours into church history) and all the fast-paced action of a Jack Reacher story–only with richer, more interesting characters.

FROM JP MAC: How to Run a Marathon in 13 Years: How Hard Would You Fight for Your Dreams?

“. . . a real, raw, beautiful journey . . . . “— Coach Kate Martini Freeman, ultramarathoner, Ironman finisher, co-founder of Coyote Runners Training Group Injured while training for a marathon, distance runner JP Mac learns his knee is wrecked. He’s finished for good. Or is he? Discovering a revolutionary new method of running, Mac attempts to reinvent his form. But over time, fate unleashes a series of cruel challenges.Knee surgery is followed by shoulder surgery. Mac is diagnosed with cancer. A new form of cancer strikes next. Massive weight gain balloons him above 270 pounds. Mac plunges into a Marianas Trench of depression. He battles self-destructive urges. But the hope of running another marathon will not fade nor “go gentle into that good night.”Part training log, part diary, this award-winning, non-fiction memoir relates Mac’s incredible journey from washed-up marathoner to reborn runner. If you’ve ever been injured in a sport, this astonishing story is for you. If you’ve ever watched a dream slip away, this breath-taking tale is for you. Learn the amazing power of perseverance and mental toughness. Buy this book and discover the wonders that await when you allow your reach to exceed your grasp.

FROM CHRISTOPHER WOERNER: 202211 Take Thanks

This booklet is an edited collection of the pamphlets published throughout the month of November. It covers the ever-worsening times we live in nowadays because our rulers demand it. As always, it covers current events with some observations of leftism and tyranny, with a bit of pop culture here-and-there.

We need a resistance movement more than ever. That’s basically what I’ve been aiming for in all the books so-far and it’s not going to stop until I do and so does everyone else.

FREE FROM CEDAR SANDERSON: Vulcan’s Kittens (Children of Myth Book 1)

Linnea Vulkane is looking forward to a long, lazy summer on Grandpa Heff’s farm, watching newborn kittens grow up and helping out with chores. That all goes out the window the night Mars, god of war, demands her grandfather abandon her and return to Olympus for the brewing war. Now Old Vulcan is racing around the world and across higher planes with Sehkmet to gather allies, leaving Linn and an old immortal friend to protect the farm and the very special kittens. But even the best wards won’t last forever, and when the farm goes up in flames, she is on the run with a daypack, a strange horse, a sword, and an armful of kittens. Linn needs to grow up fast and master her powers, before the war finds the unlikely refugees…

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: doll

27 thoughts on “The After Christmas Book Promo and Vignettes by by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. “A poppet does nothing,” rattled off Delia, looking bored. “No matter what you have of the original whom you wish to be your victim, nothing, not even blood, connects the doll to the victim. You may torture it to your heart’s content without harming him.”
    “So why is it unlawful?”

  2. Clara was grumpy, as only a nine-year-old can be grumpy.

    Formality! Reality! It was all such a bore! When could she relax and be a kid?

    But no, not during this season. Never a doll moment.

  3. “I feel like a doll,” Deborah muttered. “I mean, I’ve done makeup for the stage when I was dancing in the troupe, but this…”

    “All makeup,” I shrugged, “makes you feel like that. Or at least that’s what Charlotte tells me. The trick, according to her, is to make sure that you are the right kind of doll when you’re adorned. You need to own the identity that you’re projecting, and right now it’s two teenage girls about to go out and hit the nightclubs in Rome with fake IDs and looking to have as much fun as we can.”

    “That’s…not my usual kind of fun,” Deborah replied after a moment’s thought.

    “So! We get to discover how to have that kind of fun, together,” my smile was cheerful, and I checked my own makeup in the mirror.

    “And if we run into the wrong kind of fun?” Deborah asked.

    “We’ll have a different kind of fun,” I nodded.

  4. “Man alive! What A Doll!”

    “Stay away from her. She’s a Mark 20 Assassin Bot.”

    “Ah, but what a way to go!”

    “Sorry man, the Mark 20 Assassin Bot is programmed to give the victim a very very painful death”.

  5. The surfeit of pink sweetness threatened to send her into a diabetic coma. Melodie followed the dragon deeper into the cave. Even more pink and pastels came into view. “Wait—? She studied one box, pristine, in perfect new condition. “This is worth tens of thousands of dollars!”

    “What do you expect of my hoard? Dolls in poor condition are not worth buying.”

      1. No, just playing “mash the trope.” I’m trying to get two short stories done before the weekend, and the truly creative part of my brain seems to have gone on a ski trip to New Mexico.

  6. To stand about like a fool afraid of a doll was to risk that someone would find her.
    Autumn walked out from the shelter of the trees onto the grassy sward. The buildings loomed, clear from the absence of the stars if nothing else. She paused to pick her path.

  7. [This is not a ‘doll’ vignette, but instead the one that flatly insisted be written back on Christmas Eve… possibly inspired by Sarah’s truly, amazingly impressive trilogy of (free!) stories. Maybe it’ll manage to fit for the second day of Christmas, as some of us would have it.

    Part I of II — because it was over 8 K characters as-written, and still almost that edited down, and Willie Pete has surely not gotten less Grinchy about Moderation Purgatory.]

    Always a white Christmas, but never a White Christmas, mused Larry Llewellyn as he looked out over the mottled winterscape. By the very nature of the place, it’s always icy yet never snows.

    Unless, of course, you hit just the right circumstances…

    And there was a softly-hopeful, maybe even slightly secret, smile on his face as he thought it.

    He hung the sintered-ceramic model in front of him, from the frame that ran around the entire edge of the observation bubble. The frame that once had stood ready to hold up heavy glass panels to contain water shielding against the rare times of high radiation, and now held up mostly delicate little colored-glass orbs, in celebration of this Christmas / Yule / etc. season. (Midwinter by Earth’s Northern Hemisphere seasons; as far away in space and politics as that was, here and now.)

    And his own contribution celebrated an anniversary of something now more than a century in the past. A little vehicle, a cylinder topped by a cone with a rocket nozzle on the bottom, so tiny by today’s standards and still really in testing, had carried three men around the Moon, this exact time of year. The first time we’d ever really left the comforting nearness of Earth and dared outwards. And they had marked this place in time, too, as they’d watched their Earth rise over the rim of a nearby Moon together.

    “In the beginning…”

    He heard again the kittens playing in the bonsai’d trees in the gardens back of him; guarded by a watchful mama-cat of course, loving the freedom an eighth Earth gravity brought. (A cat who could jump a yard in the air in Earth-gravity could reach two dozen feet here on Callisto, which could be a bit… much for the humans involved.) Many of those trees live oaks, or holly, all resolutely evergreen in the semi-controlled climate here. (Yes, it was allowed to get chilly by Earth standards; never chilly next to the 300-Rankine colder-than-dry-ice outside, of course.)

    He saw, vaguely, the colored lights in and among the trees; a few starkly pure LEDs, but mostly softer hues of incandescent lights in colored glass bulbs. (The Federation had banned those on Earth; so quite naturally the Martians and Cythereans and Belters adopted them enthusiastically. Just as the old Imperial units like feet and ounces and degrees R and F had been, during and after the Crazy Years.) Heard the murmur of the ever-present fountains; because Callisto was, after all, about as much ice as rock.

    But mostly, he was getting ready to read out loud himself what the ‘astronauts’ of Apollo 8 had read, once upon a time…

    Stille Nacht, heilege Nacht, Alles schlaft; einsam wacht…” The old song was very familiar, even the ancestral German words vaguely so, yet the voice singing it so softly and… reverently, even so thankfully, all of a sudden was most clearly live; and that was a surprise, at very nearly five this local UTC morning (and almost midnight, in the old Eastern Time the astronauts’ ground controllers had lived by, on the very doorstep of Christmas Day). Larry turned around, to see someone standing there singing about ten or twelve yards away, only to hear her stop as she saw him in turn. Which was not an improvement.

    “No, please go on, I was really enjoying that. Isn’t that the way the song was written in the first place, back in the early 1800s wasn’t it?”

    The woman blushed, a little and barely-visibly in the creamy, rich light pouring almost straight down. (Even on the furthest of Jupiter’s four big moons, its disk was about eight times as far across as the Moon’s was from Earth; even five times farther from the Sun, here, it gave much more light than a full Moon there ever did. Never moved far from the same spot near the zenith. As clear as the lamellar-diamond pressure dome above them was, it shone bright indeed on her face, now at near-full Jupiter.) “I’m sorry, I didn’t know anyone else was here, it just seemed so appropriate to me. My grandmother grew up within sight of Oberndorf, where Mohr and Gruber finished cooking up that song — after the Crazy Years and before any of this Federation stuff, so it was a very healing and hopeful time for her and all of Austria.” She’d collected herself a bit more, as she’d replied and he’d come closer.

    [end Part I]

  8. [And, Part II of that impromptu Christmas vignette…]

    “My name is Gerda Lansdorf, by the way. I’ve just heard my cousin and his whole family were just expelled by the World Federation on Earth, put on a cargo drop capsule from the Beanstalk with a bunch of other transportees.” And she smiled, in a way that ‘lit up her face’ all over again. “That’s a very good thing, they’d been trying to get out for years though of course without ever quite saying so out loud. The capsule was on a two-rev slow trajectory to Mars, and the Fed didn’t tell anyone out here until it was outside the Sphere of Influence of Earth; but the Outer Belt Patrol got a beamrider ship to them very fast, and they’re all picked up and headed to Mars or further out. He should be here, on Callisto, with all his family within a couple of months at most. Months!” Suddenly her manner was almost giddy, not proper and controlled and Germanic.

    “That soon, God willing, he’ll be here. Here, far and away from all that Federation socialist-hellhole pig manure at last!” And she sobered again with the same mercurial, lightning-flash speed. “Here, where every night is silent and still. But tonight, also so very holy and bright. And this night of all nights — at least for me — so very, very hopeful, again.”

    As if she’d told too much, yes; but also as if so happy to have done it.

    And Larry smiled, almost as if he had a secret, which perhaps and almost he did. “Maybe not quite as immemorial and unchanging as all that, even though they do say this landscape is as ancient and enduring as anything you’ll find this close to the Sun. Most years, I come here this time of the Earthyear on the old EST midnight, to remember the old Apollo 8 flight, and how we first reached out across space that Christmas Day, and re-say the same old words they said, rounding the Moon.

    “But this year there might be something a little extra. This year, though they never announce it in real time, and always have to guess at least a little, this year it might just snow a bit for us here.”

    Gerda’s eyes went wide. “Even I know that’s, ah, unlikely. There’s barely enough air here to exaggerate into saying Callisto has an atmosphere, far less enough to ever produce snow from clouds!”

    And Larry smiled that smile he’d been holding back, even from himself. “I did not say it would be from clouds in the atmosphere. Do you know about the deep boreholes? Melt down through the ice, and collect the ‘mud’ at the bottom, all the silicates and whatnot that would be down in the core if Callisto had ‘differentiated’ all the way up and all the way down?” He did not wait for any kind of an answer, and Gerda did not force one into their conversation. “Well, when they break through to the surface, they’ve either depressurized the borehole all the way down to near-vacuum, or they have not. And if not, well, there’s a burst of water vapor, and also other stuff like CO2, that vents to the surface; and the water vaopr expands and freezes and… well, snow, or something very much like it. And there is supposed to be a breakthrough right over” — he picked up the odd mirrored tablet-like device that projected virtuality onto reality — “there very soon, right about, oh, now actually.”

    And as luck, or Fate, or technological competence (take your pick) would have it, about then there was a little hole in the landscape, and a mist blew itself into being.

    And within a minute or two, though the crystals fell almost ballistically in the near-vacuum, snow started to patter ever so lightly above them.

    “Magical,” Gerda breathed.

    “Could you possibly teach me to sing that song, the original way, now?”

    Stille Nacht, heilege Nacht, Alles schlaft; einsam wacht…

    [End. Yes, this is set in the ‘Federation’ setting I’m still trying to get that first story written in…

    And, for what it’s worth, Merry 2nd Day of Christmas!]

  9. “Listen, doll-face,” the stereotypical PI said, tiredly. “I don’t have the time for you, I don’t have the dingus, and my name ain’t Sam Spade.”

    “PEW PEW,” spoke the little .380 she pulled from her purse.

    And that, ladis, gentlemen, and others, is my prequel to “The Maltese Falcon.”

  10. I was wondering when I’d get to try ironing out this scene… I think you know which setting by now!

    “Greetings, Carys,” the young blonde woman standing by the gates said, giving her visitor a cool yet friendly smile. “Are you here to see Father?”

    “Yes. Is he busy?” the sorceress asked, matching the woman’s smile in kind.

    “He’s in the greenhouse at the moment but you know he’ll always make time for you,” she replied, her smile slipping as she added “He’s been expecting you since word came down from the palace. Mother, too, and the little ones as well.”

    “Your siblings won’t begrudge me this, will they?” Carys asked, a hint of worry in her voice betraying her composure.

    “Don’t be absurd. Petruccio hopes he can be half the pilot you are someday and Claudette is still too young to concern herself with our problems.” the woman responded, her expression softening as she spoke.

    “That sounds like them,” the sorceress said, chuckling with relief. “Well then, may I come in, Maylis?”

    “I’ll take you right to them.” the blonde woman replied, motioning for her old friend to follow along.

    The two women chattered as they walked until they came to the greenhouse. Maylis opened the door to reveal a middle-aged man dressed in green and brown robes and a slightly younger woman wearing a white dress. The man was reviled throughout Loire, where he was called such things as le diable, the warlock who defiles Mother Earth herself, and the thief who stole the queen. Yet to the women in the room he was simply Amadeo de Salerno, a mild-mannered botanist with a gift for sorcery and a loving husband, father, and teacher. His hair was largely grey now but his Faliscan good looks were still there as was the same kind smile that the woman had fallen for all those years ago.

    “Welcome, Carys,” he greeted her, shaking his head sadly. “I’m sorry that you have to keep paying for our youthful foolishness.”

    “Don’t even say such things, Master Amadeo!” the sorceress replied sharply. “Where would we all be without you?!”

    “I’m pretty sure Petruccio and Claudette are happy to be here because of that ‘youthful foolishness,’ dear.” the woman in white added, giving her husband a reproachful look.

    Maylis looked like she wanted to say something, causing Carys to shoot her a warning look. She knew that the relationship between her and her mother had become increasingly strained lately and that her obligation to King Philippe was a big part of it. She had hoped that she wouldn’t have to use this to head off another argument between mother and daughter but she had learned a long time ago that no plan survives contact with the enemy.

    “Speaking of Claudette, I picked this up for her in the capital, Lady Jacinthe,” Carys spoke up, handing a colorful paper bag stuffed with red and green paper to the woman. “It’s the doll she’s been talking about so much.”

    “Oh, how sweet of you, Carys!” Jacinthe squealed, quickly handing the bag to her husband before sweeping the sorceress up in a hug to thank her.

    “You feel like you owe me for your past, Master Amadeo and Lady Jacinthe? No, it is I who owe you and your family…” the sorceress thought, knowing she had made the right choice as to where to spend her last night before going to the front.

  11. Announced last year, “living cloth” has microscopic living plants incorporated in the weave. Benefits include odour control, resistance to staining and longer lifespans. Unfortunately, it’s thicker than traditional cloth, and can’t be used for high fashion creations. The fashionistas have declared they’re “all dolled up and no place to grow”

  12. He bowed again. She could toss him about like a rag doll if she felt inclined. Which gave him hope of aid. Surely a woman who could command thorn bushes could find a tree with golden apples that could heal his father, and win him the kingdom as his inheritance.

  13. The bodies lay as limp as dolls, but far harder to move. The ground was too rough to make dragging them easier than carrying; it was hard enough on their feet. The other two never spoke again. Their motions grew more leaden as they worked. Marcus fought down a yawn.

  14. The little girl frolicked with her doll through the field and its yellow flowers.
    Imogene, thought Gavin. Her name was Imogene. He thought the shadows hid him well enough from sight, and motion would draw her gaze. He did not want to talk, and she was too young to understand.

  15. “At least a necromancer will only use your body as its toy. To be tossed about like a doll while you still live.” The storekeeper shook his head. “Too horrible for words.”
    “Yet you offer these charms for mere money,” said Will. “Unless this is your way to refuse them.”

  16. “You know that I can end your career for that crack. The proper title is chief of the ammunition procurement division.”
    “I know. And I know I need to be careful with who is around when I call you ‘doll.’ But, first, I know you don’t mind. And second, you despise the zampolit… I mean, our esteemed Director of DIE more than I do. And, finally, you were the first to refer to yourself as the Director of Lethal Logistics.”

  17. Molly sat painfully still, watching the lighted boats glide by and clutching her Raggedy Ann doll for comfort. She was the only child at the party; Walter kept an eye on her while chatting with his client, the host. Perhaps bringing her hadn’t been such a good idea. He hadn’t realized, when he was invited, that this was more of a business function. Still, the Newport Beach Boat Parade was something he’d thought she would enjoy and his client had replied “Sure,” to his request to bring Molly when he explained that he had custody of his daughter for the weekend.

    For the third time, Walter regretfully turned down the offer of a drink. His client was a bachelor and had invited several of his goodlooking neighbors, all of whom were single women. The thought crossed his mind that Molly was cramping his style, but he instantly felt a pang of guilt which made him excuse himself and head over to his daughter.

    “Aren’t the boats pretty, honey? Are you having a good time?”

    “Yes, daddy,” she replied obediently. “But when are we going to eat?” Their host hadn’t bothered to put out any food.

    Oh, crap, Walter thought. “I don’t know. But we won’t stay too much longer, and we can go to McDonald’s on the way home if you want?”

    Molly hugged her doll as her face lit up. “Yes, Daddy! Thank you!”

    Walter kissed the top of her head and moved back to the bar. Not doing this again next year, he thought.

  18. Elaine looked the doll up and down, wishing she could find some flaw that would justify quietly sending it back in exchange for a more suitable one. But life couldn’t be so easy — the doll was perfect from the glittering tiara on her rooted golden hair to the tiny silver-trimmed dancing slippers on her feet.

    Elaine was still surprised that her sister would send her children Christmas presents, when politics had divided their family and made her a pariah. But Ruby had come out here to California with her husband to operate a ranch, so there had to be a bit of a rebel in her.

    On the other hand, the gift itself was unsurprising, given how old Mary was. Elaine remembered when Ruby hit the “daddy’s little princess” stage. Aunt Kate had sent her a beautiful porcelain princess doll, dressed as one of the Romanov princesses — and their mother had explained that it was not a plaything, but a collectible, and would sit on a high shelf to be admired from a distance.

    In retrospect, it was unsurprising that there should have been tears at that pronouncement — and more when Ruby put together a teetering tower of chairs to reach it, only to knock it over and shatter it. Given that Elaine herself was a touch telepath, it would stand to reason that Ruby’s primary sensory mode would be touch. For her, an item on a shelf out of reach might as well be a photograph, as far as enjoyment went.

    However, that incident would help get around the problem of dealing with something that would set off Spartan’s adamant rejection of everything to do with the post-Soviet Russian Empire’s new Imperial Family, including his own place as a genomic prince in it. Just send a nice note thanking Ruby for the gift and explaining that it would be kept in a safe place until Mary was old enough to appreciate it. Then get Mary that nurse doll, complete with three sets of scrubs and a kit of equipment, that was meant for actual play.

  19. Sorry I’m late folks. Been on the road, and only arrived home yesterday…

    “You see,” said Nigel Slim-Howland, “Howland Technologies provides a service. We do not actually sell companions.”

    “So, butler services, maid services,” said the prospective client, gesturing to Jenkins and Gwendolyn. “But not,” the client continued. Nigel cut him off.

    “Not doll services,” he said curtly. “Jenkins, show this man out.”

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