Sunday Vignettes

Since tomorrow I will be doing Cyber Monday Promo, I didn’t mean to inflict two promos on you. And yes, I am slightly better. What happened is the dry coughing irritated my throat and got my asthma going, so there’s still some coughing going on, though substantially less every night. Will probably be on in a couple of days. I hate when my body takes a reaction to something, in this case medicine, and views it as a suggestion on how to kill me better.

Having auto-immune is like living with a stone cold assassin whose plans are ever changing and flexible. Hey, outsmarting it for sixty years is reason to rejoice, I guess.

So, we’re going to have vignettes without promo, which is like having second dessert without dessert, I guess.

I know it’s bee a light week on posts, and no, most not the holiday, but rather my stupid reaction to bp meds. I will try to do better next week.

I am going over the copyedits on AFGM in order to put it up. And I have another Rhodes hanging by a thread. Whether I’ll be able to do much today is a question, but tomorrow is likely at least.

And as for reasons to not try to write a post today, I downloaded the top image from pixabay this morning and spent not inconsiderabe time trying to decide whether to write a short story about a robot kitten with steel wool fur. Shoot. Me!

I think napping is on the program and then some light going over edits.

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: FULL

Very Afternoon Much Awake, Wow Wow Wow

So, it turns out the reason I was hacking up a lung was the blood pressure meds. Which I’d started when the coughing started. And of course, no one told me this. As a side effect I got told it’s “a diuretic.” At this point, it’s complicated by the fact that anything that makes people cough makes me cough ten times as hard (my airways are touchy) and that my throat is raw from coughing, but it’s …. tapering off.

However last night was another of those wake up every fifteen minutes coughing. I’m told it pretty much stops after twenty four hours without meds, and I hope so.

For now, I’m going to attempt to continue losing weight which is bringing the blood pressure down all on its own.

In the meantime I feel utterly blah. Like, I couldn’t be more blah if I were Ms. Blah.

Not helped by the fact that I woke up to a world in which, as friends remind me, Glenn Greenwald is the voice of sanity and reason.

Mind you, I thing Greenwald might very well have been a sincere “New Democrat” who believed Clinton was one of them, just like we were Defense Conservatives who believed Bush was one of us. In fact, they were both apparently part of a pincer movement of internationalist techno-power politicians who were executing a clever maneuver to take us to 2020.

On the good side, it’s becoming every day more obvious that they thought that 2020 would allow them to seize power globally to the same level that China supposedly has for its oligarchies. And that it would all run on rails.

This didn’t work. Unfortunately before it came apart it did enough damage that…. well, here we are. And getting out of here is going to be a lot of work.

It’s a good thing to remember, though, that we are not alone, and that people are resisting the new dumbocrats all over the world, pretty much.

Which is good, because of all possible tyrannies a tyranny by the intellectuals is the worst. Not only is what they want to impose on you impossible, but when it fails they’ll double down. And when it becomes obvious it can’t be done, they’ll hate you twice as hard for not conforming to their pretty plans.

So. So we don’t let them. We keep rubbing their noses on reality until they stop vomiting bs all over the house.

And we do it each of us where we are. And we hope if doesn’t take until it all crashes down.

Today, however, is not a good day for me to see it all working out. Because today I’m unslept and blah.

I’m going to go look over copyedits and typeset. There might be a nap in the not too distant future.

Well, That Was Fun

This is very much a state of the writer post, and the state of the writer is mixed. I seem to have hit some kind of respiratory allergy that keeps worsening, so I spend most of the nights trying to hack up a lung.

(Allergy, because it’s been going on for two weeks, and I haven’t given it to anyone, including my husband, and we kiss!)

It’s not a huge problem, as I don’t think it’s impairing my breathing. It’s just annoying because I’m not sleeping, which means I have a case of “don’t wanna.” I need to unpack, move furniture, set up rooms. I can do it. I mean, I’m not too tired to. I just don’t wanna.

Same with writing. I have a book — second Rhodes — almost done, and I’m awake enough to write, but I don’t wanna.

Meanwhile I’m ridiculously susceptible to online adds. At the moment I’m trying to convince myself I don’t need the Virginia edition of all of Heinlein’s books, even if they are $200 off. (Whines: but I just turned sixty. Surely I deserve a consolation prize. And I’ll never ask for anything again. I mean what would I even do with a pony. Answers back:oh, shuddup.)

At any rate, it’s been five very fun days, not including my birthday which was mildly blah due to husband’s health and cold. But– Well, there seems to be a new pattern establishing in the country, since we were set free from the crazy General Tso Flu. (Or since we started ignoring them and they reluctantly agreed we didn’t need to be under house arrest. I think we’re mixed on that, and it was one or the other depending on areas of the country. We’re a very large country, and there was a variety of responses. I happen to know due to friendships — yes, still — in the apparatus of state that the nesciis statists thought they could keep us hard-locked-down if not forever for a very long time while they implemented their utopian future. Until it became obvious orders wouldn’t be blindly followed.) It seems like suddenly (dare we say “unexpectedly”) a lot of us drive around within one or two days distance, where we’d fly in the past. I know Dan and I have flown not at all since the lockdowns, and have driven more than we did since our twenties.

What this means is that we get friends and family pinging or emailing to say “Hey, we’ll be headed your say on such and such a day.” And then we make arrangements for getting together for a meal or having them stay over. With the approach of thanksgiving there was a lot of that.

And thanksgiving was fun as we got the whole family plus younger son’s deadly-serious-girlfriend (meaning he’s very serious about her, and vice versa, not that she doesn’t laugh, which is not true at all.) So, it was a large and animated gathering, and we had much fun. Havey got his fill of pets.

I didn’t make quite so much food as in past years, and the kids took a bunch of leftovers, which means I actually (probably) won’t be eating leftovers for two weeks. (maybe.)

I really need to get my behind upstairs, and typeset A Few Good Men for re-release. As in I should be doing that right now, and not sitting here and typing…. Ah, whatever.

I dropped the ball, and didn’t schedule a new book sale for today or the next three days. OTOH I have scheduled three for sale on Monday, so there is that.

As a gauge on the economy, I always look at black Friday deals. This year they started pushing deals a month early, always a bad sign, but at least the deals on Black Friday seem to be real and not the contrived “truly a deal, I promise” as we got in the depths of the Obama economy. I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. On the one hand, yeah, good that they can offer actual deals without going completely broke. OTOH perhaps they have to so anything moves. Friends in retail tell me it’s tighter than our clenched teeth.

Ah, well. We shall see. There’s a lot of ruin in a nation, and we’re going to probe the depth and length of it. Nothing we can do, except get ready for the rebuild.

And now I probably should drag my behind upstairs and go typeset. The last five days were indeed fun, but pretty much nothing got done. So, now to work.

Hopefully a more coherent post tomorrow.

And Yet Thankful

Well, we got our butts in a bear trap and no mistake. Which is a funny thing to post about when I want to do a post on thankfullness.

But we’ve got our butts in a bear trap. And I don’t see any point lying about it. It certainly won’t make things easier, and it will make you distrust me, at which point my talking is useless.

So — we got our butts in a bear trap. And we must escape, even if it means chewing our tails off. Right now, still looking for solutions that free our tails. And having no clue how to do it. Still hopeful of a miracle, but the miracle needed is bigger than the miracle we needed this month, which didn’t happen. So not hopeful.

And yet thankful. Why thankful, you daft woman, when you have your butt in a bear trap, and are likely to have to leave your tail behind?

Ah. Well, first of all, it’s not just our bear trap. To an extent the rest of the world is in this bear trap. It was set by early twenty first century utopians, and reinforced by propaganda before, after, during and post the two world wars.

It’s a beaut of a bear trap, too, you know?

It came from the increasing ease of mass production and concentration of power in certain nodes in the early twentieth century. Mass production was faster and more efficient, so mass everything has to be the same.

And thus we came to hyper-centralized governments and orders issued from above for increasingly minutia and details to be carried out in the hinterlands.

Which of course got into the problem of knowledge. Because humans aren’t machines. And how things are done and what works are different district to district/county to county, let alone across the country.

Only the people giving directions and telling us how things are going to be done don’t know that. It’s an unknown-unknown.

And since the media went the same way, to the same level of centralization, and embraced the same bigger-more centralized-more-topdown philosophy, the media covered up the failures of the model — the more I read the more I think it started failing almost immediately — and made it seem viable and honky dory. And it entrenched more.

But there’s a limit on what you can run on what we’ll call the “Marxlite” model, though in practice it’s more corporatists-fascist, but the excuses are the same until you reach a critical level of failure, all over the world.

It’s reaching that now. And of course the Marxlitians are blaming “capitalism” and “nationalism” when the opposite is pretty much true. Because that’s what they’ll do, of course.

So — what is there to be thankful for?

We’re still us. No, please, shut up. The Doom Brigade on the right is bad as the left for not realizing how unique the US is.

Yes, yes, the founding fathers would already be shooting. Yes, but then again no. They put up with just as great or greater abuses for going on two decades, until it became obvious it couldn’t go on. And then they had to fight: from a position of weakness, with their butts in bear traps.

Americans don’t like war. Partly because we’re so good at it. So we’re slow to engage, because heaven help our foes when we do. Partly because we’re people who make and create things: art, yes, but new ways to make a widget, new ways to farm, a better gadget to do x when it’s needed.

We like our little lives. “Petit bourgeois” the French would call it with a sneer, but petit bourgeois is where the soul of America lives. We want to do work we by and large enjoy and are good at, while having families and raising fat babies who grow taller and bigger and more capable than us, and raiser fat babies, in turn, while doing the daily, unglamorous work of making the world a better place. Look, it’s nothing much. It’s just who we are.

We know that once things go kinectic that option is gone. It might not come back in our life times. Worse, it might not come back during our children’s lifetimes, and that’s much worse.

So we hold off.

Are we holding off too long? It’s always a danger, isn’t it? But so is going hot too fast. And you know it. And we all know it.

So, here in, the balance, we have our butts in a bear trap, and it doesn’t seem possible to get out of it without shooting our way out.

That’s probably true for the rest of the world. And what comes after for them might very well be worse than what they got. But– We are still America.

Yes, I should stop saying that, except I don’t think any of you individually or collectively have any idea what it means. Oh, maybe some. It takes living abroad. It takes living abroad as one of them. Then you see the differences starkly.

The entire world is in this position. And I can very well see the rest of the world defaulting to their historical position of getting in a king by any other name, and defaulting to being subjects.

Frankly, I’m not sure that most of them should ever have gone non-monarchical. Because, yes, it leads to abuses. But in cultures where the only loyalty is personal loyalty, you really can’t do the same with an impersonal “state” entity. You need the personal loyalty.

But that’s neither here nor there. Monarchy is not in any way shape or form an ideal state for mankind. Though perhaps better than the impersonal “international” state.

Fortunately for us, our country is too big, too populous and too diverse (in ways of living/landscape/wealth) to fit well with central control. And that’s become increasingly obvious to everyone for decades. Expressions like “Good enough for government work” didn’t come out of nowhere.

Secondly, fortunately for us we’re armed to the teeth. No, not those teeth. The back teeth too.

Look, I like guns, and I’m okay with one — something I’d never thought I’d say — though I need practice. It’s been. Busy.

But y’all outright scare me when you start gun talk. Dear Lord. I don’t think gun experts in Portugal know as much about guns as someone here, just pulled off the street. And y’all LIKE them. I mean, it’s like a mother talking about her newborn, or me talking about cats. Your eyes lit up, and you discuss mayhem dealing weapons like they’re your pride and joy.

And I love you for it, even when I sit there, gaping going “uh. How?”

Because even if no one on our side — thank Heavens — has yet started shooting, there is that knowledge that if they send people to round us up for the cattle trains, they can’t be sure we WON’T. And that if the shooting starts it will be visible from orbit.

Yes, they’re trespassing, increasingly openly and daring us. But they’re not doing half of what even Canada did openly and in our faces, let alone what places like China do. Because they can’t know where it would be safe, and where it would — literally — blow up in their faces.

And that has kept us relatively safe in the middle of the central state going rabid-badger-nuts.

Also fortunately here is where the internet and the commentary of the political kind took deeper and more irreverent root. I don’t know why even in the rest of the Anglosphere it’s somewhat stunted, and in the rest of world it’s rare as hen’s teeth: but here, online, you can find independent news reporting, commentary and political yelling as nowhere else in the world.

And that’s a good thing because that gives us perspectives the rest of the world lacks into what’s really going on. (Though the sources of information are so corrupted no one can know for sure.)

This is both because of and feeds into: we have different hardware in the head. There is no king of America and there never was. Yeah, yeah, English kings, but it doesn’t fit right atop of our matrix.

So there is no family we default to “just do what they say and we’ll go back to the best of us.”

Oh, the left tries — the Obamas, really? Get over yourselves racist lefties. Being black doesn’t make them special, and they’re such a depository of rabid evil and vapid — but it doesn’t take, because Americans don’t really have the concept to slot into.

And yeah, they project, and think we want Trump as an emperor. It doesn’t help we joke about it, but hey, liability of having a sense of humor. But he’s not, really in any sense. He’s our battle standard, our flag of dissent waved in their faces. They take it down we raise a new one they hate even more.

Because we don’t have a natural “we’ll obey this person.” But we do have a boatload of “No.” And “hell no.” And “You and whose army?”

And we’ll stand by that. And the more we’re pushed, the more we put both feet in the ground and become mule-like.

Yeah, yeah, the covidiocy got under our armor. Partly because people trusted Trump. But it’s a trick they can play once. Here. In the rest of the world they’re going for a reprise, this time with feeling.

But not here. It won’t work here.

Because we are a mule-like people, resentful of anyone ordering us, proud of being able to defend ourselves. We’re ornery and already thumbing our noses at the self proclaimed aristos in myriad ways.

And the more they push, the more my mule-like people will get a boatload of “no” up their noses.

For this if nothing else, I’m thankful.

We have our butts in a bear trap, but we are willing and able to chew our own tails off to get free. We’re trying other things now, in tiny, obnoxious ways. But — well, if it comes to blood, it comes to blood.

It’s an awkard as heck moment, poised here, hoping for the best, expecting the worst.

But still better than any other time and place.

And for this we’re grateful.

Ça irá!

What to Do When Someone Disagrees with You – A Guest Post By Frank Fleming

We live in a very contentious world with constant, angry arguments online and it feels like people don’t even know how to deal with disagreement in a healthy way anymore. Disagreement is a part of life, though, and we have to know how to navigate that. You could just ignore the disagreement, but that seems wrong when you have a strong belief. Instead, you need to learn how to correctly engage with someone who thinks differently than you.

What to Do When Someone Disagrees with You

Get to know the person. When dealing with disagreement, what you need to do is understand the other person’s perspective. So, find out all you can about this person. Check all his social media. Look at his old tweets. Whatever you can find.

Understand his interests. A big part of what makes up the perspective of each person is his hobbies and his job. Find what clubs and organizations he’s a member of. Especially find out who employs him. Then call them up to find out more, saying things like, “I want to tell you what this person you employ believes and see how that fits with this company. Is this something that makes you happy about his employment or makes you rethink it?” You’ll learn a lot this way about whether these organizations could be a source of the thinking that led to this disagreement or whether they might view things differently.

Appeal to those he respects. Another big thing that influences someone’s beliefs and may be a source of disagreement is who he confides in. This could be his friends and family. Seek them out and find out what they think. “Did you know your friend has this belief?” you can ask them. “Do you really want to be associated with that?” Again, you’ll find out a lot about who you have a disagreement with by who sticks by him and who becomes more wary.

Try your argument out on others. Maybe, the problem with the disagreement is your argument. You should test it by trying it on others. A good way to try it on a lot of people is social media. That way you can tell thousands at once what this other guy said and see if they agree it was a terrible thing and you are right. If you have the better argument, you should be able to get a lot of people to back you up — a whole mob maybe — who will help you in tackling the disagreement.

Meet the person face to face. To make your argument sincere, it’s best to make sure you’re delivering it face-to-face. Perhaps, though, the person lives far away. For that situation, you can post the person’s home address to the mob you found of like-minded people. Maybe they can visit this person with the bad opinions and confront him face-to-face with better arguments and or fire.

Agree to disagree. Now, if you’ve followed all these steps, the person who disagreed with you should be fired from his job, isolated from his friends and family, and is now being confronted by a mob while his house burns. But perhaps he still looks at you defiantly and says, “I disagree!” Sometimes, despite trying your best, disagreements persist. There’s nothing now to do but to agree to disagree. So what if he wants to continue to mistakenly believe that Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie? I guess as long as no one employs him or talks to him and he lives in a box, that’s fine.

FROM FRANK J. FLEMING: Hellbender 2: Double Hockey Sticks.


This is the sequel to the novel Hellbender.

I’m not sure what to do here. If you read and enjoyed the first one, I don’t feel like I need to sell you very hard on this one. The characters you love from Hellbender — Doug, Bryce, Lulu, and Charlene — get into further misadventures, while I also expand on the lore from the first one. Are the people in charge really demons? What happened in the Last War? Well, there are more answers and more questions in the sequel — you know how it works.

If you haven’t read the first one, it seems like I should just point you to the blurb for that novel. I mean, I made my best attempt at explaining the story in that one. It’s a post-apocalyptic comedy. There’s a mercenary gang of loveable losers (called Hellbender) in constant conflict with more powerful forces out to destroy or oppress them. And Satan — or a guy who says he is Satan — is involved. It’s intriguing, and it’s funny.In this one, Hellbender faces an indescribable horror, a terrorist group that just enjoys terror and makes no demands, and a bunch of nuclear weapons. The gang is in way over its head again, and it’s going to be fun. I am excited for you. You know what? If you haven’t read the first one, just go ahead and jump into this one and read the first one later — consider it a prequel. You can call this book Hellbender and the previous one Hellbender: Origins.

Milestones and Millstones

Well. That had to be the world’s most blah milestone birthday. Though to be fair Dan and I and I myself are cursed. He’s not. He always manages to have a decent birthday for his milestone birthdays. Mine…. something always happens and our anniversaries… don’t get me started.

For mine, Dan wasn’t feeling… well, for health reasons, he couldn’t do much of anything, which kind of torpedoed my idea of driving out on a grand excursion. And of course it was too cold to even take a long walk outside. So the only thing I could was cheat on my diet and gain 5 lbs. How I don’t know. It’s not like we ate five pounds worth of food, even combined. OTOH I did walk past a pastry display case, and you know how that goes.

I’ve been kind of down since. Not depressed — well how do you tell from the background depression of now being sure we’re in for a hard landing, and just waiting for the shoe to drop? — precisely. Just sad and very tired, suddenly.

Part of it of course is the milestone. Very old people in the village when I was little were in their sixties. Granted, my family in general lived longer, but being the youngest child of almost the youngest child, I didn’t consciously meet any of those. Consciously the first time I met an eighty year old I was in my teens.

But no matter how much I tell myself even my MIL who was known as an anti-health fanatic (not on purpose. She just had issues keeping to diet and exercise) lived past eighty. My father and FIL are both in their nineties and ticking away, as is mom in her late eighties (and her genetic lottery is far worse than mine. I take (thank heavens) after dad’s side.)

Yet, still, in the back of my mind, “sixty is old people age”. I’m starting to understand why part of the rejuv therapy in Heinlein’s stories was hypno therapy. I mean, blood test results (still pursuing one very strange anomaly, but probably not fatal even at worse) I am now in better health (by far) than I was at 40. Coming to low altitude has apparently resolved the pre-diabetes thing, so even though I’d been trifling with corn chips and fries, I was still not even close to pre-diabetic. Pretty much center range.

The weight is ridiculous, but I’m dealing with that.

And yet the pall remains upon the mind. Sixty. That’s old people age.

And here I want to reassure everyone there is not even the slightest idea of laying down and dying. I have books to write, and the sense of purpose will keep me going regardless.

As I’m dealing forcefully with the irrational parts of our minds, I started applying it to the country’s situation.

Look, I expected the fraud. What I didn’t expect was the right to accept it, and roll over. I guess I have better opinion of my fellow pundits than they deserve. Though of course, I’m also working for myself, and even I thought it would be risky, in terms of losing readers to come right out and say “it’s fraud.” Imagine how much worse it is when your outfit (and I think all of them did) said “you can’t say that.”

Meh. I’ll tell the obvious truth — unless you want to believe that yeah, Biden is so beloved he won with more votes than any other president and lost the fewer seats in the mid term. Sorry boys. Say that with a straight face — and shame the devil.

Also the steady drumbeat of “You can’t keep harping on that, you’ll lose readers” reminded me of “you’ll starve in the gutter without me” every time I left an agent or publishing house.

Bah. That’s not how I work. Never was, won’t start now.

But in a way, for those of us who are awake and aware and have seen the fraud and the roll over, there is also “well, nothing we can do now. Just go hide and lick our wounds” or “erase all traces of my opinions and move to Timbuktu.”

It’s not like that. Just like I turned sixty, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to do a Buffy vampire, turning wrinkly, then dust. That’s what the mind jumps to, because the mind is an idiot.

But yeah “you can vote yourself into socialism, but you have to shoot your way out” is true mostly. Most countries also don’t vote themselves in. Socialists and communists don’t care what you voted for, they’re going to fraud themselves in. As for shooting ourselves out…

We are better equipped for that than any other country ever.

That is perhaps our most salient difference. And yea “but if we don’t use them.” Well, that would be the best use of them. All those nightmares y’all keep having? Yeah, if we weren’t armed to the teeth it’s highly likely that they’d already be rolling relocations, if not cattle cars.

The consciousness they’re dealing with a heavily armed population is keeping their depredations to what they can still lie about/keep from the general public.

And even then, things leak out.

I said above that the chance at a soft landing is gone. It probably is, for a completely soft landing. There is going to be unpleasantness. I just don’t know to what degree or where or when. Probably not all over the country. Probably initiated by the other side, under the belief it’s their last chance at a real win where they get to do to us as they’re afraid to.


But there’s still a chance at a softer landing. Part of this is exposing how bad the fraud was, and getting people to understand the machines/early voting/mail in are soft traps, that lead to more fraud. We need to turn public sentiment against those, and fast. It’s been turning, but not fast enough for my taste.

The other part of it is to be prepared.

You don’t know where or when the shoe will drop. If it drops on you, be prepared to survive.

It’s like sixty. Rumors of our demise are grossly exaggerated. We’re a singular nation, and the proceedings from here on will be unlikely.

We’re in uncharted territory, and it’s scary. But it means we’re not dead yet.

Like with sixty, I’m going to shrug my shoulders and keep battling on in every way I can, as long as I can.

Be not afraid.

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

Book promo

If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. A COMMISSION IS EARNED FROM EACH PURCHASE.*Note that I haven’t read most of these books (my reading is eclectic and “craving led”,) and apply the usual cautions to buying. – SAH


FROM HENRY VOGEL: Trouble in Twi-Town: Travis & Trouble Book 1

Get Trouble in Twi-Town for the special release price of $2.99! Regular pricing begins in December.

In a solar system that never was, in a future that never will be, Trouble always finds Travis Barrett.

If Barrett turned away every troublesome person who darkened his office door, he wouldn’t have any clients. And Tina Tate, the Asteroid Belt’s very own glamour girl, has trouble written all over her. Taking her case means a trip to Mercury and incurring the wrath of the richest man in the Belt – Tina’s father.

Who would be foolish enough to take Tina’s case?

Travis Barrett, that’s who.

FROM PAUL CLAYTON: In the Shape of a Man

Rosemary’s Baby meets Revolutionary Road…

On the border between the necropolis of Colma, home to over two million dead souls and 1,794 somewhat live ones — and the gritty industrial working-class town of South City —

At 1015 Crestview, little seven-year-old Reynaldo cowers under the escalating abuse hurled by an adoptive mother who now sees him as a burden.

Allen, a workaholic Silicon Valley techie, seeks relief from domestic conflict by slipping away to sample the sweet brews at McCoy’s, a mysterious pub and Hell’s Angels hangout.

Up the street, young adults Rad and Tawny drift between the worlds of skateboarding and community activism, free love and commitment. Sampling Buddhism and squabbling with the relatives, they avoid thinking about the 15-foot Burmese python in their garage.

Does evil exist? Is it still with us? How would it manifest in modern life? This genre-bending novel of alienation and betrayal suggests that evil, as well as redemption, can come In the Shape of a Man.

FROM SABRINA ROSEN: Child of Antaris

Don’t touch another person except with the flat of your hand
Don’t touch a living animal
You must be married as soon as you are fertile
You must leave home when your mother becomes pregnant

And never leave the women’s settlement, where nothing changes. Ever.

But when Tirzi finds a way to sneak into the forbidden woods, secrets start to spill out.

As she matures, the clock ticks toward a bitter choice. Is there more to life than silence, and blind obedience?

If she wants to survive and get answers, she must leave the sister of her heart, and all hope of family.

But before she can find happiness in an unexpected friendship, she must contend with a past that will not let go.

Follow Tirzi’s story of courage in Child of Antaris today, the first book of the Antaris Cycle.


Something or someone is killing shape shifters in the small mountain town of Goldport, Colorado.
Kyrie Smith, a server at a local diner, is the last person to solve the mystery. Except of course for the fact that she changes into a panther and that her co-worker, Tom Ormson, who changes into a dragon, thinks he might have killed someone.
Add in a policeman who shape-shifts into a lion, a father who is suffering from remorse about how he raised his son, and a triad of dragon shape shifters on the trail of a magical object known as The Pearl of Heaven and the adventure is bound to get very exciting indeed.
Solving the crime is difficult enough, but so is — for our characters — trusting someone with secrets long-held.

FROM FANCES DECHANTAL AND MARK WIEBER: Let’s Get Out of Hell : Loving the Divine Comedy

Looking for adventure? Try this easy-to-read version of the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. Extensive quotes from every canto, synopses of important points, annotations and light-hearted commentary keep the action going. Don’t get stuck a third of the way through this masterpiece, reading only about Hell. Travel all the way through Purgatory and Heaven with an amazing poet and his companions.

This book is meant to be a first pass through the entire Divine Comedy. It tries to remain faithful to Dante’s own idea, that the first step in reading a great work is to see the literal meaning of the words on the page. And the literal meaning here is a fantastic journey begun in darkness and fear but ending in love, beauty, and joy. Many people never get past the Inferno, but Dante himself said that he only wrote about the terrible things there so that he could tell about the wonderful things that happened afterward.

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

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

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

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

FROM ANNA FERREIRA: Christmas at Blackheath.

Agnes Rawlins would never dream of showing a melancholy face to her brother’s guests. She may be a spinster, and treated little better than any common housekeeper, but she is responsible for bringing Christmas cheer into the dark and rambling Blackheath Manor, and she does not shirk her duty, even when she has little reason to celebrate.

William Marlowe, Viscount Claridge, has reluctantly accepted an invitation to spend the Christmas season at Blackheath. It’s not his first choice- how anyone could wish to spend time in the gloomy manor house is beyond him- but when he meets the kind and gentle lady of the house, he finds that Christmas at Blackheath might not be so bad after all.

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: TWO

Ain’t Gonna Work Today

For reasons of something burning like cities in my wake.

I am both outraged that sixty years of age could happen to a nice girl like me, and very conscious that there was only one other option.

So, there is that.

BUT I’ve started the traditional sale — what you didn’t know it was traditional? — between my birthday and Christmas. Yes, it will include newer stuff. Yes, you can buy each of these (if you want) and have it delivered to someone’s kindle on Christmas morning and think of the savings.

I’ll update the sales book at the end of my post every day. Today’s is: Draw One In the Dark and I THINK it’s still 99c.

But also, because none of us are feeling very sanguine and well, 22 has been a h*ll of a year, I’m giving you a free antho.

Go here, and download. No DRM.

Be aware that it has typos. In my defense I was left unsupervised.

And sorry it’s so late. EVERY single piece of software fought me tooth and nail. Now one son is here, and I’m going to go talk to him.

Have fun. And I hope you like your gift.