Rare, Collectible Tuesday Book Promo and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike be the First In Your Neighborhood to Have One.

*I swear I did a promo post. Took me two hours. Then…. Well, then I went to make the house safe for Kittinity. Imagine my surprise when I found out the post had no content. WordPress Delenda est. And once more into the promo, my friends – SAH*

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 MAX BRAND, REVIVED BY D. JASON FLEMING: Jim Curry’s Test (Annotated): The classic pulp western

Jim Curry was a loafer, but never did anybody any harm. Until his gun accidentally went off, and killed the most beloved old-timer in the area. It was an accident, but the sheriff isn’t overly sympathetic, and when Curry breaks the sheriff’s jaw escaping, the townsfolk decide that due process just won’t do…

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


Things are never what they seem, and on the other side of this cover, what you know isn’t so!

Plunge into eight tales of that will feel familiar, only to careen through more twists than a country road at night, and stranger turns: From noir private eyes, to Fae battles, to the cookies of the dark side, you’ll find a surprise in every story!

FROM HOLLY CHISM: The Last Pendragon (Legends Book 1)

“The last thing I expected when I went to grieve in the mountains was to get chased by werewolves, kidnapped by a dragon, or meet a legend. But that was exactly what happened.”–Sara Hawke

Sara Hawke, a highly-educated former PhD candidate in Linguistics, is plunged into a situation that strains her skepticism: first she meets a pack of werewolves while camping on the night of the full moon, then she’s rescued by a man the werewolves seemed to fear. Her rescuer then decides that she’ll be good company until he decides to let her go. Then he tells her that she has the potential to be a sorceress, and offers to teach her.

Along the way, she learns that legends aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be, and are occasionally more than they seem…


Can you tell a story in exactly 50 words? The Three Moms of the Apocalypse went to Louisiana’s World Steampunk Exposition and Makers Faire in Lafayette, LA and issued a challenge.

Tell us a story that could fit on the back of a postcard. Use 50 words, no more, no less. We’ll provide the postcards.

The response to this challenge was huge!

FROM MARY CATELLI: The Other Princess

The Other Princess by [Mary Catelli]

This time, they invited the last fairy to the christening.

Elise, uncursed at her christening, received strange gifts about castles and roses. With such good fortune, what more does she need? She grows up forever in the shadow of her lovely, cursed, tragic cousin.

Even when the curse falls, and Princess Isabelle lies in enchanted sleep, life must go on for Princess Elise. Despite the curse, the kingdom can not sleep itself, and neither can she.

FROM A. PALMER: Troubled Poems for Difficult People

This is a book of troubled poems
For difficult people.
The first of those people is me
I write them to myself
I write them about myself
But I don’t write them for myself.
If reading them helps, I am grateful.

“Troubled Poems for Difficult People” is a body of just under a hundred poems about philosophy, pain, and humility before God from a Christian perspective. It concludes with “Book of Weekdays,” intended as a meditation on mornings and evenings for each day of the week.

BY EDMOND HAMILTON, REVIVED BY D. JASON FLEMING: The Complete Interstellar Patrol (Annotated): A pulp space opera omnibus.

In 1928, Edmond Hamilton published Crashing Suns in Weird Tales magazine, at approximately the same time that E.E. Smith’s Skylark of Space was published in Amazing Stories, giving both men the distinction of creating the genre of space opera. Hamilton, however, was the first to create a series, writing further stories in his Interstellar Patrol Series in 1929 and 1930, then writing a final one in 1934.

Here in one volume is every Interstellar Patrol story Hamilton published, including the novel Outside the Universe. What the stories lack in characterization and scientific plausibility, they more than make up for in enthusiasm, spectacle, and sheer breakneck pacing.

    This iktaPOP Media omnibus includes new introductions that give the stories genre and historical context.

FROM KAREN MYERS: To Carry the Horn – A Virginian in Elfland (The Hounds of Annwn Book 1


What would you do if you blundered into a strange world, where all around you was the familiar landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, but the inhabitants were the long-lived fae, and you the only human?

FROM LEIGH KIMMEL: The Day the War Struck Home

Astronaut Peter Caudell comes home to find his daughter struggling with a school assignment. She’s to write an essay for Memorial Day, and her teacher suggested astronauts — but she wants to write about combat heroes, not REMF’s. So Peter suggests the NASA Massacre and relates his own part in those events.

It’s the summer of 1994, and the Energy Wars are raging in the Middle East. On the home front it’s the Summer of Fear, a season of continual terrorist attacks. All eyes are upon Kennedy Space Center, where a Space Shuttle is launching for a critical on-orbit repair of a spy satellite. When it goes up without a hitch, everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

However, the intelligence proves incomplete — the actual target is Johnson Space Center. Suddenly Peter is in the fight of his life, as the presence of multiple police agencies further complicates the fight to stop the terrorists from slaughtering the astronaut corps.

It’s a story of courage, patriotism and self-sacrifice that proves a much greater lesson than the teacher imagined.

A short story of the Grissom timeline.

Originally published in Liberty Island Magazine as an Honorable Mention for the Memorial Day contest. This version includes a bonus essay on the genesis of the Energy Wars.

FROM EDWARD P. MOSER: THE OLD TOWN HORROR: Murder and Theft in America’s Most Historic Locale

A genteel Border South town not far from the nation’s capital is shaken by a series of vicious slayings at historic sites. These include a Civil War cemetery for escaped slaves; a burial mound of Confederate soldiers; a church associated with George Washington; and a museum on the Antebellum Era. At the same time, violent break-ins take place at venerable banks and townhomes connected with the lives of Washington, Robert E. Lee, and civil rights figures. The small city is already in the thrall of a frightening pandemic, disputes over the removal of historic statues, and nation-wide turmoil on alleged police misconduct.
Meantime, violent or offbeat characters enter the life of the town: an escaped jihadi terrorist; a neo-Nazi bomber; Woke demonstrators; a power-hungry FBI official; and a beguiling teacher obsessed with the afterlife. Fears multiply about killers on the loose. Law enforcement is baffled, until a relentless local historian and his intrepid, alluring lady friend start to uncover the horrifying truth behind the shocking crimes. They have grave encounters with a menagerie of villains who threaten to ignite a second Civil War. Leading to a showdown at a gruesome site symbolic of the town’s troubled history, and tumultuous present.

FROM RON CORRIVEAU: The Agent’s Daughter (Agent Series Book 1

Melina has been preparing for a future career as a spy.

She just doesn’t know it.

Legendary spy Evan Roberts always knew that his fifteen-year-old daughter
Melina also possessed the absolute lack of fear required of an agent.
Without telling her his real profession or his intention, he began to guide her
toward an eventual career as a spy. However, Melina’s world is shattered
after her mom is involved in an accident that leaves her mysteriously unhurt
but unresponsive. Her father’s plans on hold, Melina settles into life at a
suburban high school, immersing herself in a world of schoolwork, her
friends and a budding romance with Alex, the cute new guy in her class.

When Melina and her father uncover shocking new information about her
mother’s accident, Melina is pulled deep into her father’s shadowy world.
With Alex desperately trying to find her and only hours to go before it will
be too late to save her mother, Melina and her father work together using
their combined skills to find a way to reach her.

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: BOILING

96 thoughts on “Rare, Collectible Tuesday Book Promo and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike be the First In Your Neighborhood to Have One.

  1. Um… I’m not seeing any content in the post? Not sure if it’s my craptastic internet connection or ancient laptop or if WP ate your content.

          1. Careful there. Are you sure you’ve got enough hard drive space left for that sort of thing?

  2. Break Out the Anti-Gremlin Weaponry!

    The Book Promos and Vignette Prompts Are Missing!

    Death To Gremlins!

  3. They’re marvelous! I’m so excited about all of them and I think I will just go out and buy several copies of each one!

    … What, you say you don’t see any? Well, obviously only the real fans, the ones with high vision and literary insight will be able to see these…

    1. That’s the standard answer at RedQuarters to the question, “Where is thing? I can’t find thing anywhere.” It dates to when GiganCat ruled the place (22 lb, 39″ nose to tail tip.)

      1. Our current existence. Leave something out not weighted down, and even that is iffy, 3 of the 4 cats, and the dog, are kleptomaniacs. We can be sure of when the dog isn’t, at least initially guilty. She only stands 2 feet on her back legs, so anything on tables and counters she isn’t initially guilty. Doesn’t meant she won’t snatch it from which ever cat originally stole it. It is amazing what they’ve taken and hidden. Including glasses which is why mine are never left out, but put in a case. They’ve tried to steal the case, but they can’t get a grip on the ones I have. For whatever reason, all 4 really like socks. Especially dirty smelly socks. Used to be funny (okay still is). But now that we have enough problems remembering where we left stuff? PIA. Oh well. We have them to blame for lost items, even if they aren’t the culprits.

      2. Wow, that is a Big Boy. We have a cat that’s part Maine Coon (how many parts, nobody knows) and is about that long, but nowhere near so chonky at “only” 15 lb (give or take a bit).

        1. Some day I shall measure Ashbutt nose to tailtip. Right now it’s pretty compact, as he’s curled in a ball and sleeping on the cat tree, but he can stretch out high enough to open doors. (Or put one paw on the locked door handle, look back over his shoulder at us, and stretch the other paw spread wide and held out to us in “dramatic paws”.)

          At 17 pounds of Floof, he’s doing well at making us do the defurred maintenance on the place. So. Much. Fur. (And a purr like a diesel engine.)

          1. We have a cat like that now. He opens drawers easily from the ground by stretching out. Lower cabinets and closets he opens anytime he wants. He can reach door handles to open them except the handles are round and slippery thus not accommodating to him opening them. If door handles were an actual lever handle, he’d be out the door, unless it was locked. His sister does it too, only she isn’t as long so she can’t reach higher drawers or the door handles. We had the house kid proof before we had the baby , because these two weren’t the first cats we’ve had to do this. In fact, pretty sure the cats taught the kid how to open cabinets and drawers, before he could walk. Are you sure this isn’t just normal cat behavior?

      3. Long ago I had a Kitty named Spike who somehow had the magpie gene. Shiny things would disappear, my wifes earrings, little bits of tin foil. The most amazing is one time I caught him red toothed with my college class ring. This was a LARGE size 12 ring and he had it in his mouth looped over one of his canines. He saw me coming and bolted under our bed. He had a stash of shiny objects including my ring and almost a dollar in shiny coins. A very odd but beloved cat.

  4. Ah, the wonders of modern technology…. jiggles connections, picks up hammer study’s computers outer case, taps gently twice, no reaction. Starts searching neighborhood for proper sacrifice to evil electronic gods.

  5. Rare and collectible, all right. I’ll put it next to my double-die penny and my inverted-biplane stamp.

      1. But where is she????

        Have the New Kittens taken her hostage?

        Should we send out a party to her undisclosed location to see if she is OK???

        1. 1) In an undisclosed location


          iii)Only if they bring party favors. And wear silly hats. And can recite the Declaration of Independence, in complete form, in hexadecimal-binary.

        2. I was making sure — as I explained in the vanished post (And it really was vanished. NOT EVEN IN DRAFTS) — they couldn’t get into the music room, where things are still packed and piled haphazardly,
          It involved a friend helping me install new gates, etc. Sigh. Which is why I didn’t know it had posted empty.
          Now I’m going to be paranoid every time I press “publish”

          1. I write in scrivener. Then make a copy in OpenOffice, just in case. Then copy to WP. Then check it again (and still the typos escape me). Then hit post…

            And once or twice I could see it in my dashboard… But nobody else could (wondering, I, where did my readers go?). Then the ghost posts, wherein it acted like ‘”ah, bro, you didn’t REALLY mean to post that, did ya?” Then the posts I couldn’t edit because I didn’t have permission to edit my own posts on my own site from my own dashboard.

            I’m going to carve my stories into little rocks and float them across the ocean, I swear… One of these days…

          2. Back in the days when LiveJournal was vaguely non-communist and not actually Russian, I eventually took to writing posts in a text editor, just so I’d have a local copy when (not IF) LJ ate it and didn’t even burp.

  6. Wait, I’ve got it! Sarah remembered how much fun we had with that blank writing prompt a few weeks ago and decided to take it to the next level!

    How very avant-garde of her.

  7. Oh! Oh! Collectable! I wanna check the authenticity number to see how close to number 1 I am!

  8. It’s the invisible and zero-space posting courtesy Word Press. So small, it doesn’t even need a pixel to post. WPDE!

          1. Alright, I am not now nor was I ever a Star Wars fan, but even so:

            Would all you folks kindly make SW 1-2-3 correctly since, obviously, the folks who attempted such, couldn’t. Much wailing would cease.

    1. Mr. Fleming that phantom (now replaced with a real post) had far more content than than the whole prequel ever managed. And lets not even discuss the nightmare that was the sequel trilogy…

      1. Disagree. The prequels had enormous ambition, trying to tell the parallel stories of a personal downfall and the fall of freedom into tyranny. The major problem was that George Lucas didn’t have the writing chops to pull it off, and had surrounded himself with people who wouldn’t tell him so. But there is definitely content there, including rather deep understanding and synthesis of disparate strands of human history.

        Are they good? Definitely not. But they are far better, because of the ambition and the attempt to tell a new story rather than recycle the previous movies, than the Disney abominations.

        1. And, of course, the sheer astounding wealth of meme material!

          “I am the Senate!”

            1. Bravo Sir, Bravo. A “They Might Be Giants” reference. And Tatooine used to be called Arrakis. Why they changed it I don’t know I guess people just liked it better that way…

        2. Alright I was (obviously or maybe not so) being facetious and engaging in hyperbole 🙂 . Indeed there is material there, of course much of it is as deeply derivative from a variety of scifi as the Imperial March theme is from Holst’s Mars (although Mr’ Williams borrowing perhaps even enhances the material). As to your point on George Lucas’ writing chops and his not being told that the Emperor had no clothes (so to speak) this (admittedly a bit long) piece delves into it beautifully

          Lucas has taken a whole bunch of potentially powerful ideas and through hubris, ineptitude and an utter lack of self awareness created a leaden horrific mass that even Ed Wood would have cringed at. As for the Sequel trilogy Disney had NO idea where to go and basically made a bad rewrite of Star Wars (AKA A New Hope) and then in the sequels just found writers and directors with even greater hubris, ineptitude and outright trying to be “Relevant” creating a mangled mess that made the prequel trilogy look like Citizen Kane.

          1. Ladd Ehlinger is a fascinating character in his own right, but his takes on certain films and filmmakers can be too caustic for my tastes. I haven’t watched this video in particular, but fifteen minutes is hardly “a bit long”, since I adore Red Letter Media’s feature-length analyses of the prequel trilogy (while not agreeing entirely with their conclusions), and even more so Mauler’s 4-hours-per-installment, still-not-completed deep dive into The Force Awakens. I’ll give the vid a watch later, but remain on the whole inclined to judge Lucas kindly.

            To imply that John Williams “ripped off” Holst’s Mars is silly, just as claiming that he “ripped off” the main theme of Korngold’s score for King’s Row for the main Star Wars theme. Similarities for sure — and far more so in my example than in yours — but still different compositions. There was another film of the era that cribbed Holst far more closely, and I think it was The Road Warrior, but haven’t watched that one in forever, so might be wrong on that.

            Comparing Lucas to Ed Wood is unfair to both of them. Lucas had the capacity for greatness, and enabled greatness in others in countless ways. Wood, for all his ineptitude, made movies that remain entertaining, which fact alone gives the lie to the Medved brothers’ idiot assertion that he was the worst filmmaker of all time. In fact, their list of the worst movies ever made is no such thing (for example, they included Trouble Man as the worst blaxploitation film ever, when it is, in fact, one of the best).

            In any case, dismissing the prequels with “they suck” is a take I do not find all that interesting. More interesting to me is “here is what they were trying to do, here’s how they failed to do it, and here is how they succeeded”.

            Lucas’s use of mercantilism as a sign of the internal corruption of the Republic, for example, is booth historically literate and informs the production design in subtle ways (Naboo’s society is visually coded as Indian, for one instance). Lucas’s narrative and dramatic instincts were never his strong points, but the coherence of the thematic concerns and the production design indicate that he hadn’t completely lost his grasp of cinema.

            For another example, Lucas’s main strength as a filmmaker was editing. His understanding of how to present visual information to audiences in ways they could process, but which were not conventional, was second to none. Even his earliest student films were brilliantly edited. So the fact that most of The Phantom Menace is the worst train wreck of the three, especially in terms of how amateurishly the bulk of the film was edited becomes fascinating. Did he forget how, and then relearn as the movies went along? (Not a ridiculous notion, as he had not cut a feature film together in a decade and a half.) Was there time pressure due to his focus on editing one part of the film over all the others? Did he try to go avant garde and experimental in cutting some of the sequences together, and because he was so rusty, or had paid so little attention to how audience acceptance of editing evolved, that he just muffed it?

            Even presuming that the entire prequel trilogy fails on its own terms, it presents a feast of things to explore for anyone even slightly interested in cinema. This is in stark contrast to, for a few examples, the sequels to The Matrix, most of Marvel’s output post-Endgame, various attempts to adapt video games into films, or most of the feature film output of Michael Bay.

    1. Of course!

      Anyone can see the beautiful cover art and read the finely crafted blurbs for the new goodness.

      Pay no attention to that little kid off to the side.

          1. Okay, this joke is less fun now that the blurbs and books are there!

            …But to explain, I did the blurb for Twisted Tropes, as well as have a story in it. So when it didn’t show, I could joke it’s perfect, unlike my actual execution…

    1. Kittens…. I mean, this new generation has no staying power. They keep coming up to see if I’m still writing, then run off to cause some trouble. Then come back again. Rinse, repeat.

  9. [Internet hamsters (or boozy old Willie Pete) ate today’s post, burp! (And how long did it take Our Esteemed Blogmistress to create that now-AWOL post? Hopefully a second try at actually “publishing” it will not require starting from zero-instant scratch!]

    Turns out there’s a vignette for that, already; from the ‘this is not a prompt’ variation that was only missing the writing prompt, not the entire body(!) of the post.

    Note: this vignette assumes today is Sunday, which it is not; and was written by someone whose knowledge of Rene Magritte and his work comes largely from incidental illustrations in a Certain ‘Well-Known’ General Relativity Book. Hopefully the truly-art-literate might enjoy it anyway…

    “Cecelia, are you painting? Here, in the apartment?”

    “Well, you already did know that I do this sometimes,” she said, a little wryly, from behind the canvas. “It’s not like this is some sort of secret closet vice of mine you were never supposed to discover…”

    “But I had no idea you were working on another one.”

    “This is just a little spur-of-the-moment thing. When they say those clues are inspirational… sometimes they have no idea how much.”

    Bradley’s brow furrowed a little. “Wait a minute, you mean this is one of those one-word clues from that weird website you frequent? And isn’t that supposed to be for writing some little tiny snippet or other every week?”

    “Yes, but today’s was blank, or at least it was for a while. Which sent me off on a… tangent of inspiration. Sort of. You know how much I like some of those old absurdist painters? Maybe a touch less reverently than a few other people I know do?”

    Brad looked a little even more nonplussed. “Okay, maybe I’ve not had quite enough coffee to really wake up yet. But it sounds like you’re telling me, today you got out your easel and paints for the first time in two or three months, to paint a picture based on a one-word-clue weekly writing thing that’s somehow, maybe not even deliberately, been reduced to… nothing?”

    Cecelia grinned, underneath the quick up-do to keep her longish hair out of the way as she worked. “Pretty much. But you know how I’ve always been impressed by this sort of thing, and always wanted to try something like this, but could never find an idea clever and… absurd enough?”

    And grinned wider. “Well, problem solved! What can you say about nothing? That’s a clue for writing about… nothing! Or painting about the absence of… inspiration! Here, this one time you can have a look. It’s really a thing you could do a lot easier as a rendersketch, but I wanted to see if I could actually do it on canvas….”

    And when Brad looked at it, he nearly dropped his coffee; he really had just about forgotten how realistic Celia could be in paint, on the rare occasions she chose. It was ‘realistic’ only in the sense that it was as if a computer-graphic screen rendering could somehow become a painting.

    But it was dazzling.

    A near-transparent ghost of a… green apple, it had to be, hung against a lovely background of stars and nebulae. It was impaled, however, by a most clear and solid-looking dip pen, its tip dripping black India ink in gravity that was (somehow) obviously there. And Celia was working on the ‘type’ for the piece right now, calligraphing it right onto her canvas, almost as if she were painting a comic-book panel… something short and simple, in French.

    And with a little wrench, his mind placed it into the space of all the old paintings she’d had a ‘phase’ about a few years earlier. “Wait a minute now, Cee, this is one of those ‘this is not a pipe’ paintings, isn’t it?”

    And she smiled if anything even wider, and continued talking.

    “No, it cannot be that. Read the French, Brad, I know you took more than one course in it. ‘Ceci n’est pas’ [said her brushed-on type at the top] ‘un prompt’ [continued the large, New-Century-Schoolbook-looking type on the bottom] — I figured the French grab so much English as loan-words it was a good bet that would work OK, even if their purists would moan. And, of course, as my footnote here says, ‘sans aucune apologie a M. Magritte’ since nobody could ever string out a little funny-once joke through as many paintings as he did that one, and still deserve anything better than ‘sorry not sorry’ for it.

    “Uh, you still have your ‘I’m looking at modern art, I think’ look, Brad.”

    “Translation? Please? Because not enough coffee yet, ‘specially for this.”

    “‘This is not a prompt.’ With a slight background pun because the word for ‘this’ sounds like a weird nickname for me; and Magritte’s self-portrait. So it could be mis-read, if one insisted enough, also as ‘Cecelia is not a prompt.’ Yet, still a mis-reading… of perfectly good French.

    “So, you see now, Brad? ‘This is not a writing prompt’ — the painting!”

    He gulped another ounce or so of sufficiently-cool coffee. “Makes as much sense as any of that stuff ever did to me — which is to say, once you’ve been kind enough to explain it well and thoroughly enough, pretty much.

    “But how in the world d’you ever do this on canvas instead of a screen?”

    And Cecelia positively beamed at him. “Painter’s tricks, lots and bucketfuls of painter’s tricks and techniques. You’re talking about the transparency, most of all, I think?”

    “Yes, that’s outright amazing, and you didn’t do that by clicking on any menu item.”

    “Let me finish this thing up. Getting muse-mugged by this sort of idea, orany idea, usually comes with the necessary ‘instructions’ to get it done, as long as it’s not ‘your’ idea and you need to take all the credit for your shiny-glossy little ego. But I do want to relax with you once it’s done, and I mean just about really done. Still amazed I’ve got all the type on this painting right, maybe I should look into lettering comics someday.”

    “Your classmates are going to love this, Celia.”

    Her look was not only surprise, it was even mostly more like alarm. “No, Brad, they’re never gonna see this, they can’t, even if nobody told them who did it they might guess! They’d take it as some kind of criticism of the whole school of such painting, or maybe even a satire… you have no idea what kind of firestorm that might light off. Yes, granted, Rene Magritte is a Dead White Male, but that’s not enough to save anyone who dared to…” Her voice trailed off. Celia even started to shrink in on herself, a little.

    “Finish your painting, my dear. Forget the madnesses of art, they’ve been with us for always. Do this for you and your muse, even if your muse has been standing over you with a club and a hatchet.” He took a swig of the warm-hot coffee in his mug. “Ars Gratia Artis is a lot more than the motto of an old-school film company. Or it bloody-well ought to be.”

    “And that’s why I love you, Brad. You’re always going to be grounded in the real world, which helps me stay grounded in it too. Go watch TV or read the blogs — OK, go read something not Sunday-political. And I’ll be quick to finish ‘This is not a prompt’ so we can do something fun together.”

    1. I would leave a laudatory comment, but I’ve got to run. The 6.15 to Lessines just emerged from the fireplace.

  10. From current WIP, Bob and Frank the demigods have a java in Beijing:

    “We don’t want to impose on your generosity my dear,” said Bob. “Are you sure I can’t pay you?”

    “You cannot,” she said with a mischievous smile. “Today you are rewarded for being fine gentlemen, well-mannered and honorable. I shall return with a small snack for you both.” She gave the chain-smoker another sneer and departed, headed for the kitchen.

    “Well, there you go,” said Bob to no one in particular.

    “She can see you,” said Frank with a speculative glance at the waitress’s departing back. “Nobody else is getting free stuff.”

    “Maybe,” allowed Bob, striking a match and getting his pipe lit. “Some of these human kids can see us. But that’s not the whole reason.” He puffed the pipe a couple of times and was rewarded with a plume of fragrant smoke. “Ah, that’s it going now.” He gestured toward the chain smoker with his pipe stem. “Word travels fast around here when a faction goes out of favor. One day they’re riding high, doing whatever they want. The next day, chickens start coming home to roost. This guy here has a whole farm coming back to him.”

    Their waitress returned with a tray bearing two fresh cappuccinos and a little plate of cookies. “Your refreshment, my lords.” Another curtsy, another wide smile.

    “You, waitress!” said the chain smoker without looking up. “Coffee!”

    “Fifty-yuan, shit head!” snapped the waitress, smile replaced by a snarl.

    “What?” he said in shocked surprise, finally looking up from his messages.

    “Fifty! Yuan! Shit Head!” she shouted at him. “And you’re paying for the goddamn table this time, creep! Pay up!” She stuck her hand out and glared at him until he tossed a credit card on the table with an impatient flick.

    “My my,” said Bob mildly in Mandarin as the waitress stomped away, rage fairly boiling off her. “The golden rule in action.”

    “What goes around, comes around,” agreed Frank with a harsh glint in his eye.

    “Who the hell are you?” demanded the Chinese man in outrage. “You dare to mock me? I can have you killed with a phone call!”

    “Yesterday that was true,” said Bob with a calm nod. “Today? Not so much. Risking a nuclear war with the Americans might not have been the best idea.”

  11. He crouched in front of the pile of pulled weeds. “Okay, and this is going to do what now?”

    She held the deep canning pot at the ready. “Accelerate the breakdown of the fibrous materials, making it compost faster, while also killing any weed-seeds. You might want to stand back.”

    He stood and backed away, and she poured the contents of the pot over the pile.

    Leaves and stems turned bright green and immediately began wilting, as the scent of steamed plant filled the air.

    1. Pretty much that. MomRed had a classmate in college who got his MA on a single page thesis. The rest of the 100 or so pages were the lab protocols and references. He’d synthesized a new compound.

  12. Figured a follow-up to the last one would work.

    “Are you worried, Vincent?” Ashleshia asked as Vincent moved her onto the battlefield.

    “No,” her Chosen replied, changing the draconic titan to a ready stance as he and his comrades faced down the Loire Army. “We’re here to do our duty no matter if the reports about Zornitsa’s condition are true or not.”

    The Jade Tempest didn’t reply, though Vincent knew what she wanted to say. More starry-eyed talk about Carys no doubt. Not that the situation didn’t hurt but an Undying Chosen didn’t have the luxury of feelings. He could only keep fulfilling his duty until the dark magic that sustained his cursed unlife ran out.

    The battle began in an instant. Chasseurs threw themselves into the fray and the few that were foolish or unfortunate enough to come close to Vincent and Ash were scrapped in a flash. There was no comparison between Loire’s grunt model and one of the Immortal Six, especially one wielding one of Baldraz’s most powerful personal armaments. The Loire rank and file soon gave Vincent and Ash a wide berth, though occasionally a few Martels would challenge him, counting on their heavier armor to give them a better chance at slowing them down. If Vincent was inclined to charge out recklessly their plan might have worked but instead he stayed close to his comrades piloting comparable Riese units. Colonel Behringer’s plan was working so far.

    “Sir Vincent! To your right!”

    Luckily for Vincent the warning came right when he had finished bringing Ash’s gunblade down on a Martel’s head, dazing it with the blinding yellow flash from the weapon’s impact as much as the actual strike. He was able to bring the weapon up in time to block a vicious strike from a gigantic axe.

    “Not a very honorable move, Your Highness.” Vincent hissed, spreading Ash’s wings as he charged up her power to deal with the threat before him.

    “Perhaps not,” the pilot replied, backing off and taking a defensive stance with his axe. “But I would be a fool not to take any advantage I can get against you and the Jade Tempest, Sir Vincent.”

    “I don’t think anyone would fault you for that,” the Undying soldier said with a shrug. “I mean, you’re the best Loire has right now.”

    “Already expecting to lose despite your hardware, Sir Vincent?” the pilot taunted, readying his axe for another strike.

    “Not a chance, Your Highness!” Vincent retorted, raising his gunblade.

    As their weapons clashed, Vincent reminded himself to be grateful that his opponent had not managed to awaken Sadalmelik after all. It might mean that he’d never have to worry about meeting Carys in battle but Henri Patenaude, Second Prince of Loire, had been trained as a warrior from childhood and he made up for what his master-crafted mech lacked in raw power next to one of the Immortal Six with considerable skill. Yet his father had insisted on pushing His Majesty Friedrich past his boiling point and duty demanded that he win this battle. The sound of Vincent’s gunblade charges and Henri’s axe enchantments shook the battlefield as the two titans fought, the outcome of the duel uncertain to everyone looking on.

  13. With a single high, pure note, the bird swirled in midair, and vanished.
    Sunlight beat down on them, and glanced from the water to add to the glare. It would be boiling later in the day, thought Autumn, out of nowhere.
    How useless. She looked up and down the river.

  14. She wondered if the fires had slept, or if a boiling pot had boiled in the kitchen until the water had boiled away and the pot had been ruined.
    At least there were only the dwarfs, she told herself. Then she imagined that perhaps some had been outside, and watched while others slept. She winced. Inside or outside for all, she hoped Heaven granted that. Or else a very short sleep for her. She had never reckoned how short a sleep could be for a princess. It would not have told her how long she would.
    Now, she would know.

  15. “Still working?” called Nan from the kitchen.
    “I can stop,” said Will.
    “Good, because the pot’s boiling and dinner’s cooking. We can’t afford the wood to delay it.”
    “I’ll be ready.” He started to put the parts away. Nan, he thought, did not quite notice the smuggling, because she did not want to object to it.
    It was a good thing that the first smuggled charms had been curative. That had won a great deal of good will from her.
    He sighed. He could hope that she would think as highly of the new ones. She had to hate necromancy.

  16. Lenore sat by the fire. A watched pot never boils, she thought, drearily, but she still knew that Annis would have her head if she stirred, despite the heat.
    “There you are!”
    Lenore winced as her father’s voice resounded.
    “Hard at work cooking while your brothers fight necromancers. And win.”

    1. He kept staring at the hideous carbuncle.

      His sister complained “Oh, give it up. Everyone knows a watched boil never pops.”

  17. “Outside the Universe”? There’s yer problem… But don’t worry, we’ve got just the ticket to restore yer…

    Wait. You already did.


  18. The flask of water began to boil, although it was sitting on the counter with no heat source. Valery Mishin’s gaze went from the flask to the gauge which read normal atmospheric pressure.

    Moments later his p-suit went rigid around him as the ambient air pressure dropped even further. Already the flask was boiling dry.

    And if I hadn’t insisted on putting on a pressure suit, that would’ve been me.

    No time to wonder whether the pressure gauge had been defective from the beginning, or damaged in a previous crisis. Right now he needed to identify the leak and get it plugged before the loss of pressure endangered the entire moonbase.

  19. (Note: those who wish to try and solve the riddle in this vignette’s first paragraph for themselves should cover or otherwise obscure the second paragraph while they do so.)

    “Very well, mortal,” said the troll. “You have won the riddle contest, and may demand of me any service you will. But, first, tell me: what is cold and both ends, warm in the middle, and boiling hot within?”

    Smirking, Joe pointed down at the earth. “You’re standing on it.”

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