Crystalline (Jane Doe Flash Fiction)

Jane lowers herself to the grass. No shade today; she wants illumination. From her backpack she pulls an amethyst cluster and a Tarot deck. Two of her least practical possessions, from a homeless viewpoint, but important to her.

The amethyst drinks in sunlight and casts crystalline violet needles over her face, her hands, the cards. Jane centers herself, focusing, then picks up the deck.

So many things to wonder about!  “What do I need to know about my financial prospects?” she decides on, then draws a card.

A shadow falls over her. “Tarot! Cool! How much for a reading?”

Max Pixel
Photo: Max Pixel

Each week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word crystalline. Fun flashes from other writers are at the link. Join us! It’s fun!


Slip (Jane Doe Six Sentence Stories)

“…and now I’m just…this…close…to snagging a guy with all that money,” Torrey  finishes, gasping at herself, blushing bright pink and wiping her mouth.

“Goodness, maybe I’d better stop having wine with my highlights before I spill all my ugly secrets.”
“That’s okay, doll, “says the stylist. “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip. “
“I don’t think that means what you think it means,” Torrey snaps, waving her empty glass for a refill. “You’d better not have jinxed me.”
Security Pixabay
Photo courtesy of Security

Every week, Ivy at Uncharted hosts the Six Sentence Stories flash fiction linkup and blog hop. This week’s cue was “slip.” Fun sixes from other writers are at the link. Join us! It’s fun!

Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher (Reading Challenge Book Review)

Shadow SpinnerShadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a delightful book. I picked this for #6, a story within a story, for my 2017 Reading Challenge.

Bookshelves: myth-and-legend, once-upon-a-time, retelling-a-classic, reading-challenge, women, ya

This is a perfect example of YA that is so well-written even adults will enjoy it. There is nothing complicated here, a clear and simple retelling of The Arabian Nights, with a new sub-plot and some new behind-the-scenes players. Notably we have Marjan, a young orphan girl with a crippled foot, a storyteller in her own right, who visits the palace by chance and becomes Shahrazad’s secret emissary to the world outside the harem, searching for the completion of this next, great tale — the one that can keep her alive for the next three nights, or every night ever after.

The descriptions are simple and true; I could feel the cool marble under my feet, hear the fountains, feel myself in the bazaar with the dust in my nose and the hawkers’ cries in my ears. The characterizations are wonderful, the intrigue just right for young ones and good enough for us older folk, the lessons about life and love and friendship and the power of words and love are elegant. The story pulled me right along and I was finished with it too quickly.

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Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (Reading Challenge Book Review)

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3)Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think I liked this best of all the Cormoran Strike mysteries so far. I read The Cuckoo’s Calling long enough ago that don’t remember it, and I found The Silkworm to be a fairly intricate mystery and queasy-making beyond anything I’d ever read, including any of Stephen King’s gorier stuff. Career of Evil has topped both of them, with a brain-tugging mystery and the deeper development of both Strike and Robin as people. We get more of their backstories, see more of what made them into the people they are. BIID and “transabled” — I’d had no idea there were such things. The Blue Öyster Cult lyrics were a fun incorporation, and I love an ambiguous ending.

Matthew. Ugh. I know he’s there for a reason, and Robin’s personal history makes his presence in her life much more understandable, but I still spent the entire book wanting to punch him in the throat, which says he’s written very well. I see we have some time to wait for the next installment in this series; I will spend it hoping Robin wises up and dumps Matthew’s ass.

Career of Evil was #10 on my 2017 Reading Challenge, a book by an author who uses a pseudonym. Everybody knows Robert Galbraith is really J.K. Rowling, right?

Bookshelves: brit-lit, crime, detective, i-am-an-anglophile, mystery, multiple-povs, pseudonym, reading-challenge

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Nice to Meet You (Jane Doe Flash Fiction)

The bus stops suddenly; Jane barely catches her book midair. She throws an annoyed glance the driver’s way as she rebraces her feet against the floor, gripping the strap harder.

The bus lurches again, sending her flying along with her book. Strong hands grab her, keep her from slamming headlong into the pole. Her head clears to the realization she is sitting in some man’s lap.

Her face burns. The man’s hand moves from her hip to the middle of her back, pats reassuringly. “No worries. This might be a sign I should buy you a cup of coffee.”


Every week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about an unexpected landing. Fun flashes from other writers are at the link. Join us! It’s fun!

Score (Jane Doe Six Sentences Stories)

“Four score and seven years ago. ..”

Jane splutters laughter as she reads her exploding Twitter feed.
“So NPR is calling for revolution” … “this is why you’re going to get defunded…”
“Best demonstration ever of the need for affordable, quality education for all,” Jane says to the man next to her. “I guess we’d better hope NPR doesn’t decide to tweet ‘War of the Worlds.'”
Huffington Post, author screenshot

Every week, Ivy at Uncharted hosts the Six Sentence Stories flash fiction linkup and blog hop. Fun sixes from other writers are at the link. Join us! It’s fun!

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi (Book Review)

The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War, #2)The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved it.

I am, somewhat later in life, developing a fondness for sci fi, having bumbled my way into both James S.A. Corey and John Scalzi within the same year.

Bookshelves: futuristic, action-with-a-body-count, outer-space, space-opera, sci-fi, waxing-philosophical

This book doesn’t pick up where Old Man’s War left off so much as it expands upon it. Old Man’s War was about John Perry, who leaves Earth to join the Colonial Defense Force at age 75, his consciousness moved into a shiny new, souped-up clone of his own aging body. The Ghost Brigades moves outward, focusing on the CDF’s Special Forces, the crack elite units created from the genetic material of those who died before being able to join the CDF and who therefore have no memory of their former lives. Our hero, Jared Dirac, is even more of a special case, created from both the DNA and the experimentally recorded consciousness of the traitor scientist Charles Boutin, in the hopes of hunting Boutin down and stopping a war against humanity by an alliance of three other races.

The writing is descriptive yet spare, the kind of writing you can gobble down like salted peanuts, giving you lots of wry humor and wisecracking, military space action, alien races, and an interplanetary plot with just the right amount of convolutions; delving into such issues as the meaning of being human, and what defines consciousness, and the power and consequence of choice, all without getting in its own way. That is no small feat.

Not for the first time, Cainen reflected that evolution didn’t do this particular species any great favors, physically speaking.

It just made them aggressive, dangerous and damned hard to scrape off a planet surface. A problem, that.

The creature in front of Cainen jabbered at him again and pulled out a short, nasty-looking object. Cainen looked directly into the creature’s optical inputs.

“Fucking humans,” he said.

Yup. Good stuff.

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Beacon (Jane Doe Flash Fiction)

Jane edges up the tiny spiral staircase, bending to look through the mullioned windows. Gulls wheel, screeching; the sea murmurs. The top level is nothing like she’d imagined a lighthouse would be: Hardwood floors, foghorn mechanism, and arc lamp all gleam in angled sunlight. On tiptoe, she can see the noses of seals playing below.

It’s not Paris; it’s not a beach weekend; it’s not even a bus ticket home to her mother’s kitchen. But escape was a beacon; the sandwich in her bag, her student bus pass, the Internet list of area lighthouses, all gave it to her.

Sun Dog Alki Point LIghthouse
Sun dog at Alki Point Lighthouse, Seattle. Author photo.
Admiralty Head LIghthouse Whidbey Island
View from Admiralty Head Lighthouse, Whidbey Island, Washington. Author photo.
Tower View Mukilteo Lighthouse
View from the tower, Mukilteo Lighthouse, Washington. Author photo.

This vignette is from The Life and Times of Jane Doe. Each week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write about a beacon. Fun flashes from other writers are at the link. Join us! It’s fun!

Killing Floor by Lee Child (Book Review)

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, #1)Killing Floor by Lee Child

Been curious about these books for years. Since the 90’s. Always had something else to read though. Then they made a movie. It starred Tom Cruise. I can’t stand Tom Cruise. So full of himself. Bleeds through into everything he does. Didn’t bode well. For me liking the book.

Still gave it a chance though. Finally. But can’t do it. All of the sentences. Are the same length. Many incomplete.

OK, enough of that. I imagine this is supposed to be all hard-boiled and noir, kinda like Raymond Chandler crossed with a Die Hard movie, but it comes across much as Cruise himself does: So utterly aware of its own performance that the observer can’t help but be aware of it too, so I end up seeing all of the brushstrokes and not much of the painting.

Part of my reaction may be that as Jack Reacher narrated his story to me, I kept seeing and hearing and being annoyed by Tom Cruise. It was unavoidable. Perhaps I would have loved these books if I’d read them way back when, and been able to merely snort at the casting of a an actor I dislike, because I almost never see the movies of books I like anyway. But I didn’t love the couple of Die Hard movies I saw and can’t say I’d like those stories any more in book form.

We’ll never know now. I’m just going to blame Tom Cruise. Dnf’d at 10%.

Bookshelves: abandoned, noir, you’re-trying-too-hard, dnf, thriller, wannabe, manly-men-kicking-ass, ugh

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Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver (Book Review)

Animal DreamsAnimal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Hallie once pointed out to me that people worry a lot more about the eternity after their deaths than the eternity that happened before they were born. But it’s the same amount of infinity, rolling out in all directions from where we stand.”

That was quite a perspective slap, for me. Why did I never think of it that way?

Actually, I fell in love with this book long before I read that passage. The one that absolutely got me was on page 8, the narrator’s description of herself and her sister as “keenly mismatched Siamese twins conjoined at the back of the mind.” Why can’t I write like that?

What a book. I discovered Barbara Kingsolver when I picked Prodigal Summer for last year’s reading challenge, and when I recently chanced across Animal Dreams in a used bookstore for fifty cents, I snagged it. Did I already say, what a book? A rehash of the plot will not necessarily make you want to read it, so I’ll attempt to intrigue you instead by telling you it’s about memory, what a haven and what a prison it can be, its trustworthiness and its trickery. It’s about home and love and loss and the ties that bind and finding a reason for living that’s a little bigger than ourselves. The setting is lovely, fully realized so it’s almost another character in the book, a fictional town near Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, with the cultural rituals and myths and legends of place. All of those things, laid out in the lushness and poetry of Kingsolver’s prose. How can you not love this book?

Canyon de Chelly

Look at this picture! The pueblos, but also the face. That is the Earth Mother right there, those pueblos are her children, living cradled right inside her. I found this picture on TripAdvisor’s website and I hope they don’t get mad at me, because I couldn’t resist sharing that wonderful face.

I am both annoyed and happy that I didn’t discover this author years ago. Annoyed, because I could already have been loving this writing all this time, happy because I have everything else she’s written to savor still. I’m holding off until the next one, to make it last.

Bookshelves: coming-of-age, latino-culture, native-american-lore, native-american-history, save-our-planet, current-social-issues, love-story-not-a-romance, love-the-cover, literary-fiction, this-is-the-stuff-right-here

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