Book Promo and Vignettes by 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

As a side note, when you send me books to promo, do not send it with your own associate’s code. Obviously I’m not using that. Little as it is, the commission is my compensation for this work on Sunday morning. However, having your code there means I generate a link with your code, which apparently is what almost got my account cancelled before. So, let’s try NOT to dot hat, okay? I mean, I’d think it was common courtesy, but in case it’s not clear, DO NOT SEND ME BOOKS WITH YOUR ASSOCIATE CODE ATTACHED -SAH

BY MARGARET BALL: Shadow of the Crescent

Twenty-seven years after the fall of Constantinople…Caterina, Countess of San Florian, keeps a book of important things she’s learned, from poison antidotes to cosmetic recipes, from charms for toothache to ways of raising and commanding demons. Having a reasonable care for her soul, she has never actually tried demonic magic. Yet.Gian, captain of her personal guard, has an innate magical talent that does not rely on incantations, but warns him of danger and awakens him to opportunities. It makes him nervous.And Sultan Mehmed II wants one last great victory. San Florian would be an excellent base of operations for his army to attack Venice.On the run from Venice to Constantinople after the Turkish-aided takeover of San Florian, Gian and Caterina will need all their wits and every scrap of magic they can employ to escape, to survive, and to recapture their city.

FROM KYRA HALLAND: Source-Breaker (Tales of Tehovir)

After twenty-seven years in the trade, Kaniev the Source-Fixer has suddenly lost his ability to repair magical Sources. He decides it’s time to go home and take up fishing, but first, one more repair job lies ahead of him – Source Chaitrasse is experiencing problems. Kaniev’s depleted finances and self-confidence demand that this time, he get the job done right.

Fransisa always thought she would be the next High Priestess at Source Chaitrasse, but now her career has come to a dead end. She’s struggling to hold on to her place at Chaitrasse when a wandering tradesman appears, claiming that the Source has a problem and he’s the one who can fix it. He looks more like a brigand than a powerful wizard or wise scholar, but with an important ceremony coming up, Fransisa decides it can’t hurt anything to let him take a look at the Source.

Kaniev’s disastrous attempt to repair Source Chaitrasse leads to a sorcerer who is conducting dangerous experiments with magic. Caught in the sorcercer’s schemes, Fransisa and Kaniev must overcome their past failures and their differences to stop him before the Sources of magic and all the lands around them are destroyed.

BY STEWART STERLING, WITH INTRODUCTION BY D. JASON FLEMING: Down Among The Dead Men (Annotated): The pulp noir classic

Plenty of dead ones get dragged out of the dark, roily water that runs through the greatest city in the world. The Harbor Police take only routine notice. But when the cadaver comes in installments — a torso, a leg, an arm — that’s murder… There are lots of murders, sure, but what made Lieutenant Steven Koski do a double-take on this particular butchery was the gadget that came with the torso. In its own frightful little way it was a weapon — the kind of weapon that kills a lot of people kind of quick.

And Koski began to move — but fast. The murder marathon took him from a Coast Guard auxiliary vessel (cargo: one stunning blonde) to a waterfront dive. From a union leader’s hangout to an executive’s luxurious office. From a Chinese laundry to a ship being loaded with sudden death…

And all the way, a long thin shape, detestable and horrible, paced him. Koski drove himself frantically onward. He had to catch that thing — had to…


Fourteen stories of surviving and healing from cPTSD. Fiction has the power to give us an escape from where we are, and an ability to envision where we could be. None of these are easy stories, but all offer hope, and healing, for those who need to see a path through the fog of pain.

FROM TIM GILLILAND: The Djinn of Just Deserts: And other Stories

What would you do if you had a wish? One wish that could change your life forever. If you meet the Djinn of Just Deserts your life could change, or end depending on the choices you make. This is but one of ten tales of adventure spanning all the ages, and from the Earth to the further reaches of the Solar System.
A warning though, If you ever meet the Djinn,
Know wishes aren’t all that they seem.

FROM KAREN MYERS: The Visitor, And More: A Science Fiction Short Story Bundle from There’s a Sword for That

A Science Fiction Story Bundle from the collection There’s a Sword for ThatTHE VISITOR – Felockati is anchored to his permanent location underwater and misses the days of roaming his ocean world freely.But something new drops out of the sky and widens his horizons — all the way to the stars.YOUR EVERY WISH – Stealing the alien ambassador’s dagger is a sure thing for Pete — just what he needs to pay off his debts.Until he starts talking to it. There has to be a way to get something for himself out of the deal. Has to be.

FROM LEIGH KIMMEL: The Shadow of a Dead God

What secrets lie beneath an alien world?

A routine archeological dig on a world once ruled by the mysterious Star Tyrants. For Moon-born Liu Shang, working on a planetary surface might be unsettling, but she could manage — until the dreams started.

Unwilling to drag others into a harebrained search, she headed out alone, contrary to mission rules. Just as she was about to give up, she found an unlikely artifact.

Handling it connects her to the mind of a long-ago rebel against the Star Tyrants’ rule. Nothing will ever be the same.

A short story.

FROM NATHAN C. BRINDLE: The Cross-Time Kamaitachi

I did not land here as a warrior, but a warrior I so soon became . . .

One moment, Dr. Yukiko Yamaguchi was in her high-tech singularity research lab in California, busily adjusting an electronically-leaky fitting playing hell with her instrument readings.

The next moment, she was falling through space, and landing hard in a wilderness area she would quickly discover was her family’s ancient stomping grounds in Japan – but with an apocalyptic twist.

A hundred years later, there would be legends of a great yōkai, a demon, whom some called a kamaitachi – a sort-of whirlwind, weasel-like creature with blades for claws, which catches up unwary humans and slices their skin. But this kamaitachi is no ordinary yōkai – rather, she is

The Cross-Time Kamaitachi

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: AGREE

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

  1. “Great Caesar’s ghost, Tonto,” said the Lone Spaceranger to his faithful robot, companion, “we have Alpha Centaurians to the right, Beetlejuicers to the left, AL’s above and mechanicals below, we’ll fight to the death but I’m sure you agree we’re done for.

    “Busy busy busy, what you mean we, human?”

  2. “They couldn’t just call it HyperMail or Subspace Message or something sane, could they? No, they had to make up a silly acronym.”

    “What are you on about?”

    “Look, I like the idea of faster-than-light comms. They’ll be most useful indeed. But ‘Generated Relativisticaly Excessive Emissions”, really? I suppose they just want everyone to they ‘got’ a GREE and take ‘aGREE’ as assent to whatever f-cktangular idea they came up with this time.”

    “I… affirm your take.”

  3. “Students, be very careful when talking to the Great Void Beings. What you agree to do for them may not be something that you’d like to do or like the results.”

    1. “You.. dealt with them… with NO backup or double checking?! And you survived? HOW?!”

      “Grandma was a ‘crazy cat lady’ and after the cats, well, it’s pretty easy, really.”

  4. Chuckle Chuckle

    I’m still “working out” why the Wizards “deal” with them but there’s at least two factors.

    First, dealing with them is safer that just ignoring them. God only knows what they might do if they’re bored.

    Second, there are worse things out there and these beings are very willing to help the Wizards (with no hidden tricks) against the worse things.

  5. Fixx eyed the steaming bowl in front of him with suspicion. It smelled delicious, particularly on this bitterly cold day – but it was green.

    “What is this hellbroth, Passepartout?”

    “Potage de laitue.” Passepartout toasted him with a glass of wine. “Madame who runs this pub is a gifted cook. Anyone who is from France, and lives in London, comes here to eat. And she could make soup from a shoe, I promise you.”

    “And ‘laitue’ is?”

    “Lettuce.” At Fixx’s look of surprise, he added “Potatoes as well.” He tasted the broth thoughtfully. “Chicken broth, certainly onion… cream… but the main vegetable is lettuce.”

    Fixx tasted, relaxed into his chair and drank his soup with enthusiasm. Producing a list from his pocket, he studied it in the light of the lamp over their table. “I’ve found one shipping company three streets away that made me suspicious.” His eyes narrowed. “Windows boarded up, twice the number of guards I’ve seen anywhere else today. I’m thinking we should return after we eat. Fog ‘s coming in and that should make it easier to look around without being seen.” Taking a piece of bread from their shared plate, he spread it thickly with butter, leaned back and took a bite.

    Passepartout in turn produced his list and shoved it across the table. “I have seen nothing which fits the appearance of a smugglers’ operation. These companies mostly carry machinery, some livestock – horses to Irish racing breeders – but rarely go further than Scotland.”

    “Then you agree?” Fixx drank his tea. “That was the best lunch I’ve had in a while. Next time you recommend somewhere to eat, you won’t get any argument from me.”

      1. A Gree prospers only during the Dark Ages, or occasionally the Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.

        Unless it might be Simon A’Gree.

  6. The main training floor of the Lycée was hidden under the gymnasium, built to the specification of the Orders to conceal both magical and physical training. The open space was a thirty-foot wide square with fifteen-foot ceilings. The floor was well-padded with synthetic tatami mats and the walls had padding on them as well. Sister Justina could feel the spell wardings built into the floor, ceiling, and walls to make sure that rogue magic was redirected in case of an accident.

    Father Brown waited at the door in his gym uniform and asked, “Do you want me to wait for someone else to be a spotter?”

    “No,” Sister Justina’s voice held a slight quiver of fear, making the final adjustments to her gym uniform. “I need to know, and I need to know now. I trust you, Father.”

    Father Brown turned his head slightly to hide a half-smile. “Sister Justina, take your position. I will spot you.”

    Sister Justina formally bowed to Father Brown, took off her coif and placed it at the edge of the mats. Two pulled hairpins and a quick shake of her head allowed the hair bun to come free, and she found the spot she wanted on the mats. The first of the command strings in Latin slipped through her lips, and she could feel the power and the mana build up around her.

    Deborah, one of Adelaide’s Companions, had talked about magical theory from the Dawn Empire perspective. “What you call your vestments, what we call the regalia, is an anchoring tool for your magic. It serves as a way to store spells that you need, defenses that you must have, and power that you must need immediately at hand. And it is a mirror to your own nature.”

    The vestments appeared on her body, and she could remember what they looked like without a mirror-the skin-tight black bodystocking inspired by her watching Emma Peel with a skeptical Spanish dub on TV in the hospital. The patent leather calf-high boots that she knew would have that harsh metallic click when her heel came down. The black leather harness that would hold all of her equipment with polished silver hardware. The sword belted to her left hip, a rapier with black leather wrapped around the grip, the edge sharp enough to shave with, tiny silver lettering holding additional mana if she needed it. The high-collared black bolero jacket that buttoned across her throat, a bone-ivory choker picked out with rubies at her throat.

    Over twenty years, she thought. Twenty years since she had been able to call her vestments to her, and yet it was like she had let them go only a moment before. Tears began to run down her cheeks, with her remembering what it was like to have this power, the augmented mobility of her vestments…and the capability. “Sister Justina,” Father Brown asked from behind her, “could you turn to look at me for a moment?”

    Sister Justina turned, and Father Brown nodded in wonder at her appearance. “You look…appropriate,” he said after a moment’s examination. “What rank were you when you were in service?”

    “Fifth ring,” Sister Justina replied, looking at her hands and the seamless material perfectly covering them. Wonder is an appropriate response here, she thought. “I was fifth ring before my issues.”

    “You’re looking more like a sixth or seventh ring,” Father Brown noted. “You have much deeper power reserves than a fifth ring.”

    She didn’t say a word, but she did know the spell and Sister Justina gasped softly as she felt her feet lift off the ground for a few moments. “I could slow my fall or boost my jumps, but hovering…,” she whispered, then looked at Father Brown again. “I’m stronger than I was before.”

    “Seventh ring, I think,” Father Brown agreed. “But…if your power has returned, we need to find the monster you sealed.”

    Sister Justina called on the release incarnation and her vestments disappeared back into her magic. “I’ll meet you at your car once you close everything up,” she said sadly. “I know what the coordinates are.”

      1. Nope!

        Maybe in private but probably never in public.

        When she grew up, one of her inspirations was Emma Peel back when Dianna Rigg was wearing the outfit and there’s all of those echos that was in her mind when she thinks about it. It’s what she sees as “a kick-ass female who directly faces threats in battle.”

        She also had a magical/medical issue for years where she either had to wear skin-tight silk habits with magic to tone down her skin sensitivity or she could literally tear her skin off at some point. This story started only a week or two after the magical issue was fixed.

        (Sister Justina could play a kinky dominant role and do it well. But…that’s not what she is in many ways. Long story short-she could play, but it would be play and not lifestyle.

        (Besides, a bullwhip is a terrible weapon and she’s a soldier of the Order of the Saint of Orleans. Not a ninja, not an assassin-a soldier.)

              1. Yes.

                There are plenty of “crazy stuff” that authors or script-writers can get away with “because it makes a fun story” (or because of the Rule Of Cool), but I don’t imagine that some of that “crazy stuff” would work in the Real World. 😉

  7. O Lordy, I think I just figured out the origin story.

    Among men, there is hierarchy and submission, a little like wolves, not really.

    Among women, there is territoriality and constant small competition for status.

    And insecure men want a woman to submit like a guy, and insecure women want a man’s “constant competition for territory and status” to be defeated every time.

    But even if a woman is supportive and a helpmeet, it will never be the same as a guy. So an insecure man can literally never be satisfied, and will try to force male submission by violence, as well as the friendship afterward; and the same for insecure women always scoring points and wanting to become queen bee by admiration.

      1. Genesis. A man is set up to be the ruler of animals and the land, in concord with the woman… But it is all messed up. So if he tries to apply dominance to women in the wrong way, it also goes wrong. Ugh.

        1. And I suspect that attractiveness is also somewhat governed by this, whatever puzzle piece people are looking for. Some people will never be satisfied, because they want some impossible blend of behaviors that nobody can give them.

  8. “This way,” said Isabella, calmly, and they all followed, agreeably enough, in silence. To the cloak room to don their mantles, which made their destination clear enough. Out onto the porch, already buffeted by breezes darting this way and that, and then out onto the lawn. Clouds lowered in charcoal.

  9. She should be glad that she was not in a tale, she thought as she inched over. Strange things on the way could be the necessary wonders, or treacherous traps.
    Blue emerged from the greenery as a bird flew out, circled round, and dived back in with a shrill cry.

  10. “I didn’t know he was an alchemist,” said Mauser.
    “He’s not. Ex-military,” said Shorty. “Officer.”
    Mac just stared at both of them, as Mauser joined them at the table with a tray of food.
    “Cool,” said Mauser. “So management. Boss type. You ever run a business?”
    “Sure,” said Mac, sarcastically. “Food supply.”
    “So not construction?” said Mauser.
    “I robbed stagecoaches,” he said. “For about seven years. To supply Camel Rock. So no, not construction.”
    “But were you the boss or did you just follow orders?” asked Mauser, completely unfazed.
    “Well,” said Mac, feeling like it was surreal to be talking like this, “I looked at the stagecoach schedules and figured out which ones to target. Cowboy took care of the horses. Midget was just an extra pair of hands – helped pack things onto the horses.”
    “But you organized it, right? They did what you told ’em to do?” asked Shorty.
    “I wasn’t the commanding officer,” said Mac. “We all had to agree. But yes, they followed my lead.”
    “The boss,” said Mauser. “So you don’t have construction, but you have um… operations for seven years. So how would we set up something like that? How many alchemists do you think we’d need? I’m doing really good at the School – they’ll give me my certificate in another three months after only one year – ‘gifted’ they call me.”
    “Yeah, gifted at talking crap,” said Shorty.
    “You’re just jealous because you’re taking longer. And you don’t even have to take your classes in the evening and on weekends like I do,” Mauser said. “Face it, Shorty. You’re slow.”
    “Well, I found us some talent here,” he objected. “I found us a boss. You’re in, aren’t you Mac?”

  11. Of course she’d want to make her debut here…

    “Now presenting Azahara Espina to His Majesty King Alonso, Capitán General Hidalgo, and Director Carmona.”

    Curiously for the Bastetani Royal Court the woman doing the presenting was of Yamatai origins but this detail did not trouble any of the men near the throne or the man on it. She bowed and stepped back as the young woman she escorted to the throne kneeled, her sword in easy reach.

    “Rise, Azahara,” King Alonso ordered, though he nonetheless managed a small smile for the woman. “Almirante General Ramirez tells me your mission was a success.”

    “Yes, Your Majesty,” Azahara replied, gracefully moving to her feet. “Corin Bouvier and his crew have been turned into a gruesome spectacle that will serve as a warning to his kind.”

    “Good, good,” the King said before nodding to his left. “Let me get to the point, Azahara. Director Carmona has come across some very interesting information. If you would, Director?”

    “Of course, Your Majesty,” the man said, clearing his throat. “We just received a message from Arev a few days ago. King Friedrich of Baldraz finally got tired of her foolishness, negotiated an alliance with Queen Beatrix of Wenlock and Loire’s new king, Kylian, and now marches on Arev.”

    “I see.” the young woman replied, her expression neutral.

    “I know what you’re thinking, Azahara,” Director Carmona continued with a chuckle. “His Majesty, Capitán General Hidalgo, and I all agree that the Mad Empress had it coming and under normal circumstances we’d be happy to let Friedrich’s alliance rid us of that exasperating bruja once and for all, and her rabid dog Baines too. Yet in forming his alliance King Friedrich did something we cannot ignore so easily.”

    “I don’t know which rock he searched under to find him but young King Kylian found Alphonse Faucher and reinstated him as a knight,” King Alonso interrupted, his expression darkening. “Furthermore, he did so after the Lapis Maelstrom recognized him as his Chosen.”

    Azahara remained silent but her eyes went wide with shock. Not only was the late King Philippe’s personal killer back, but Sadalmelik had woken himself up from his slumber for him? Curious indeed. Her dark, whiskey colored eyes gleamed when she finally spoke: “So you wish to match one assassin and Chosen with another to balance the scales, Your Majesty?”

    “Correct, Azahara,” the King of Bastetani replied, giving her an approving smile. “God be with you and Shaula in this endeavor.”

    “We shall not disappoint you, Your Majesty.”

  12. Anyone with any historical knowledge would know that rebels rarely prospered, even if the rebellion was successful. We’d likely lose most of what we had now. But we had to agree to take that first step, to violently resist, or our children would suffer far longer than we ever would.

  13. “Do we have a deal?” Sam asked.
    The Sheriff looked sick. The mayor whispered something in his ear.
    A pteranoid made a banking dive and landed, eight feet behind and two feet to my left, exactly in position to put its nose over my shoulder. Its wingmate buzzed overhead like an aerial freight train. I reached out my hand, and it delicately spat a pair of shield-shaped metal badges into my palm. Numbers 1019 and 1042. I set them down next to the others.
    “Call them off.” The sheriff said. “We’ll agree to anything you want, just call them off.”

  14. Kevin looked at him with narrowed eyes. Ewan shrugged. If they did not agree, well, the last thing he wanted was a reed growing on Liam’s grave to pipe that Ewan had killed him, and Kevin was guiltless. He sat back. With the potion, killing him was not even needed.

  15. Silence fell. They did not have to speak to know that they all agreed that was the worst of all ventures. Scouts at least knew that they could flee the instant a venture seemed like it could be too much for them, knowing the news they brought back would suffice.

  16. Shelly leaned forward, acutely aware that her elbows were on the table. “So what exactly are our obligations in this situation?”

    Lucius leaned back, insouciant as always. “Informally, it goes back to the traditions of the sea, that seafarers have a moral obligation to assist other seafarers in danger whenever possible. Like the sea, space is a hostile environment, and we would want them to assist us if the situation were reversed. The first formal agreement on the matter was in ’67, when we and the Soviet Union set up a framework for cooperation in space emergencies — and the Russians did hold up their end of the agreement back in ’74–”

    “I’d suggest you be careful about treating ‘Russians’ as synonymous with ‘Soviet citizens.’ Both of the men who were most critical in rescuing the Aphrodite astronauts were not ethnic Russians, but Georgians. The same ethnic minority Stalin came from.”

    Shelly looked up to see Admiral Chaffee looking down at her and Lucius. Shelly’s face warmed as she realized that this was not exactly the way she wanted to gain the admiral’s attention.

  17. “And she will return to her true self, her true heart?” He had to know.

    The scholar nodded, pointing to an ice-blue line of script in the age-spotted tome. “Yes. But she must choose, she as she is now. She must recognize you in her heart.”

    So be it. “Then I agree. I will stay and watch, and wait.”

    [No idea if this will become a story. It was inspired by a music video.]

    1. OK, story sketched out. Maybe now it will leave me alone. (The song’s pretty good. The middle of the story in the video irked me mightily, so I’m going to re-write it.)

  18. Shoved against the brick wall by a bully, young Nigel began contemplating the Hereafter. He was startled as Lily yelled “Stop that at once!”

    “Aww,” said the bully, “Nigel here agreed to give me five quid.”

    “Nonsense,” said Lily. “Leave him alone.”

    “If I don’t?”

    “FAFO,” said Lily, decking him.

  19. FAFO was a module Lily received the day before. While Nigel agreed to spend the day alone while Lily was updated, he didn’t know why. She seemed no different afterward, her added capabilities only becoming apparent later. It was years before he understood what FAFO meant, but he was grateful.

  20. “I’m sure you’ll agree,” said Father, “you’re bright in your own way, but not quite Oxbridge material.”

    Nigel waited for the rest. He got it. Father handed him a brochure. “You’ll attend university here,” he said.

    Blacksburg?” thought Nigel. He’d never heard of it, much less knew where it was.

    1. The Reader notes that if this reference is to Blacksburg VA, the proper spelling is ‘Bleaksburg’. Attending a school when the surrounding county was ‘dry’ will earn the surrounds that name.

      1. Yep, that’s the place. I’ve been through it a couple times; my youngest had musical somethings-or-other going on in the area during high school. Outside of that, though, I’ve got no association with the place or the college.

        I’ve heard “Worst Layflat” usedd to describe where I went to school!

  21. “Where’s Jill?” whispered Katherine.
    Marcus blinked, and looked. “Where’s Otto?” he whispered back.
    It took only a moment for them to agree that both children were missing.
    “I heard nothing,” said Marcus.
    “Heaven help them if they tried to escape,” said Katherine.
    Marcus flinched. Heaven help them indeed, for once.

  22. The woman looked him up and down with her one good eye. Or perhaps with both of them. That solid white eye might see by necromancy. His tongue touched his lip. Oh, the wonders he might learn. He had thought only of how his interest might make them think of him as a student, and not of what he might learn.
    Anything to avoid being another slave among the slaves, drudging with that fool Marcus, too dainty to be a necromancer but not too dainty to haul bodies to be burned.
    “You think I will agree with this?” she said.

  23. “Whatever you do, don’t agree to anything here.”
    “Why not?”
    “They’re fae. They take anything you say literally and will hold you to it. And if you don’t fulfill your promises, your very soul can be forfeit to them.”
    “There are worse fates.”
    “Oh, for the love of…”

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