Venting (Jane Doe Six Sentence Stories)

“You’re awful cocky, considering it’s only luck we’re in a no-fault state and I didn’t hang you out to dry instead of the other way around,” Allan says sweetly, handing her this month’s check. “Luck and ancient housing design.”

Torrey narrows her eyes at him.

“Oh, Torrey, baby, I knew you were screwing around from the the day it started. Your obsession with that old dump of a house, I’da thought you’d know not to have private phone conversations sitting next to the heater vent.”

Torrey feels her eyes widen before she can stop them, turns her face to try to hide the flush flaming up to her hairline, but Allan’s already walking back to his car, laughing and slapping his knee theatrically.

vent 3dman_eu
Photo: 3dman_eu

Every week, Denise at Girlie on the Edge hosts the Six Sentence Stories flash fiction linkup and blog hop. This week’s cue was VENT. Fun sixes from other writers are at the link. Come join the fun!


The Wind in His Heart by Charles de Lint (Book Review)

The Wind in His HeartThe Wind in His Heart by Charles de Lint

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bookshelves: urban-fantasy, made-me-homesick, mysticism, native-american-lore, fantasy, coming-of-age, multiple-povs, religion-sort-of, magic, supernatural

The fates of several very different people meet when a troubled teenager with an attitude is dumped on the rez from her father’s car, and a desert rat steps in to help against his better judgment, as the young girl makes a play for money by trying to expose the desert rat’s hidden identity. A blogger/journalist shows up right in time to be caught up in the showdown between the modern and the traditionalist members of the tribe and the fallout from the trophy-hunt killing of a shapeshifter.

This is a suck-you-right-in tale, rural-fantasy rather than urban-fantasy because of the setting. The characters are compelling, the plot rich, with lots of interwoven threads.

My only complaint was that throughout the teaching moments, when the tribal elders or the shaman would talk about principles of Native belief, the younger tribe members never knew what they were talking about, didn’t understand, had to have it explained again. If they grew up as traditionalist tribal members, they’d surely had exposure to and grasp of the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of the Red Road…wouldn’t they? They all acted as if they’d never heard of shapeshifting or sympathetic magic or spirit animals or dreamwalking. I surmise it was the author’s way to incorporate exposition, but it left me feeling like these people just weren’t all that bright. I found it awkward.

That aside, though, very good read. The real jewel here is the setting, a fictional Native reservation in Arizona, reminiscent of Chelly Canyon. Under de Lint’s pen, the Painted Lands come alive in all the stunning glory that is the desert, and made me incredibly homesick for my own desert home.

Join me on Goodreads: View all my reviews

Follow Your Dreams (Jane Doe Flash Fiction)

Jane jerks awake, the dream still strong. She’s scraped her fingertips against the rough concrete floor before she remembers there is no lamp. No bed, no matching nightstand, no electricity at all. Just her sleeping bag on the cold floor of the abandoned house she squats in.

The dream had felt so real. Safe in her bed. Her roses outside the window. Her house.

Follow your dreams, they said; it makes life rich. Except when you end up losing it all. She’d moved here with such high hopes. Now she knows that sometimes what’s over the horizon should stay there.

Photo: 44833

Every week at the Ranch, Charli 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 theme ‘follow your dreams.'” More great flashes from other writers are at the link.

The Night She Disappeared by April Henry (Book Review)


The Night She DisappearedThe Night She Disappeared by April Henry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bookshelves: ya, those-meddling-kids, mystery, crime, thriller, multiple-povs, epistolary, pnw

I got some pretty heavy heebie-jeebies from this story of a bright, pretty, spirited young girl named Kayla who is abducted one night while working at her job at a pizza place in the Pacific Northwest. As it happens, my own wonderful, bright, pretty, amazing young daughter is named Kayla and she works at a pizza place in the Pacific Northwest.

Yeah, that totally wasn’t creepy or anything.

It’s a testament to the author’s talent that I kept reading. This is a fast-paced YA mystery-crime story that adults can get into as well. I read the whole book in a single day. I like books with multiple pov’s. I like epistolary bits. Good plotting, well-drawn characters, page-turning pacing. Good stuff.

The extra helping of weird was totally not the author’s fault. I will read more of her books, as I quite liked this one and I’m happy to have discovered another author I enjoy. Unless, of course, the next Henry book I read somehow has something awful happening to a devastatingly handsome young librarian who’s preparing to defend his master’s thesis and has the same name as my son. I mean, I like it when things get weird, but there are limits. 😉

Be my friend on Goodreads: View all my reviews

Carrot Cake (Jane Doe Flash Fiction)

The mindless chatter of two dozen people washes over Jane’s head, normally a wall of sound to hide behind but today, something to navigate. She balances her paper plate of cake – carrot, with cream cheese frosting, a favorite – careful not to jostle as she makes her way to where Barbara sits, queenlike, amid bona fide paralegals.

“I’m so sorry to hear Marianne is leaving,” Jane plunges in as Barbara glances up. “Are you accepting applications for her position?” She smiles brightly even as Becca’s eyes shoot daggers from across the room.

One woman’s going-away cake is another woman’s chance.

Photo: caro_oe92

Every week at the Ranch, Charli hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be classic or unusual. Why is there cake? How does it feature in the story. Go where the prompt leads.”

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers (Book Review)

The Anubis GatesThe Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Bookshelves: everyone-loved-it-but-me, abandoned, time-travel, magic, sci-fi, monsters-and-such, fantasy, merry-olde-england, reading-challenge

I selected this for my 2017 Reading Challenge (yes, I know we’re well into 2018; I’ve been busy) because I like steampunk and wanted to read the book credited with starting it all. Plus, I love love love time travel.

I am very disappointed, and I feel like I shouldn’t be, which is why I read as far as I did. There’s a lot packed in here–time travel, Egyptian gods and magic, gypsies, a combination bodysnatcher/werewolf, the girl-dressed-as-a-boy (romantic interest later on, no doubt), Coleridge and Lord Byron, homunculi, organized rival bands of beggars like Oliver Twist meets West Side Story, a demented clown on stilts. But for all that, there’s no urgency, nothing compelling. I don’t care about the characters.

Having our hero stuck in Regency England could be fun, but there’s no related conflict. No figuring out how to make tea in an 1810 kitchen, no trying to explain his Gore-Tex and Ray-Bans–the author gives him convenient little saves that keep him from all that (he comes through in period costume and is promptly robbed of his clothes anyway; he is given the almost deus ex machina disguise of a deaf-mute beggar so no one will hear his modern, educated, American speech). He doesn’t even seem to want to go home all that much. He’s a gamepiece being moved about a board, no feeling, no desire.

I see no steampunk elements at all beyond, possibly, a pair of springloaded shoes. There is no science or technology; the time travel and the homunculi are accomplished with magic. Shoes are not enough. I was expecting steampunk.

I’m bored.

Plus, I hate clowns.

DNF-ing at 37%.

Be my friend on Goodreads: View all my reviews

Me and Manny McMansplainer

I never gave all that much thought to mansplaining until recently. I’d picked up on the word and knew what it meant but that was about it. I couldn’t even remember running into it all that much with the notable exception of a then-husband (who shortly became an ex-husband) telling me that giving birth can’t possibly hurt all that much and I should stop making a big deal out of it. But we didn’t even have the term “mansplain” back then. He was just a horse’s ass.

Until Manny McMansplainer came to work for me a few weeks ago, not hired by me but under my direction and my training, in what is now a two-person office. You have no idea how much I wish for a third person now, as both a foil and a witness.

And just in case you’ve been living in a cave (which sounds marvellous and I’m jealous), or you pay zero attention to the latest buzzwords (very sensible), mansplaining is when a man explains something to a woman in a manner that is condescending, patronizing, and often about which she knows as much or more than he does. Examples include a man telling a woman something about her own body or experiences as a woman, or explaining a basic principle of motion to a woman, because a pretty little thing like her would certainly know nothing about that, no matter that the pretty little thing has a doctorate in astrophysics.



HIM (THE NEWBIE): We can hook up this other computer and get it working. I’ll go ahead and do that for you.

ME (THE OFFICE MANAGER): We can’t hook it up yet. We need another switch. I’ve ordered one.

HIM: There’s one in that spare box of cables and stuff.

ME: That’s a router. I’ve discussed it with I.T. and have ordered a switch.

HIM: [without warning, unplugs my network thus zapping my unsaved spreadsheet out of existence, rummages through the McGuyver box, bangs around under my desk, unplugging things and plugging them in again, for several minutes]

ME: [sits back from my desk, arms folded tightly across my chest, sipping tea, tapping my foot, watching in amused and  judgmental silence]

HIM: [backs out from under my desk, bumping his head hard enough that I hope for blood]: Huh. This isn’t a switch. It’s a router. We need a switch.

ME: Yes. I know.

HIM: Well. Huh.

ME: Fucking wanker. [I didn’t actually say that.]


ME: Please feed documents in the scanner in groups of no more than 10. There’s a glitch in the FTP that means I often have to manually correct dozens of them after they’re scanned in. Feeding small batches is a good workaround for that.

HIM: But the paper feeder takes up to 50 pages.

ME: The paper feeder isn’t the issue. The FTP is the issue. It glitches with large batches of papers and takes me a lot of time to fix manually. I need papers scanned in bunches of 10 so it doesn’t do that.


ME: File Transfer Protocol. If papers are scanned in smaller batches it’s less likely to glitch and I spend much less time making manual corrections.

HIM: Well, I don’t see why. The paper feeder takes 50. [puts a bonkzillion papers in feeder and presses the start button]

ME: [presses the cancel button and pulls papers out] I. Said. Scan. Them. In. Batches. Of. Ten. That’s how I want it done.

HIM: [sulks rest of day]

ME: What are you, six? [Okay, I didn’t really say that either]


HIM: This subpoena came back from skip trace asking you if we can serve this guy at this local address if the resident has power of attorney, but the guy actually lives in another state.

ME: I don’t believe we can. Please email in-house counsel and explain the problem, see what he says.

HIM: Well, I think we can serve it.

ME: Why do you believe that?

HIM: Well, whenever service members are deployed–deployed is when you’re sent from your home base to actual action–

ME: I know what deployed means.

HIM: Oh, good. They have to sign a power of attorney before they ship out.

ME: Okay.

HIM: And part of my job in the Army was to pull power of attorney from soldiers’ files and transmit then to JAG. JAG is the legal department.

ME: I know what JAG is.

HIM: [in aren’t-you-a-clever-girl tone] Excellent!

ME: And?

HIM: That’s what I did.

ME: One issue we have here is venue. Generally collections cases have to be filed in the jurisdiction where the defendant lives. If this guy doesn’t live in this state, the plaintiff’s attorney may have to dismiss the case and refile it in the proper court.

HIM: Well, if he’s in the military, he might not live where his home of record is.

ME: Correct. Serving someone on active duty has special procedures. My process servers have good relationships with the base legal departments. But we don’t even know if this defendant is in the military, and we don’t know what powers this POA grants.

HIM: Power of attorney gives the person power to do anything the person themselves could do. We can serve this on the POA.

ME : Of course. Please, allow me to bow down to your superior expertise, since you used to pull documents out of a drawer and mail them somewhere else and now you’ve worked here for five whole weeks.

[Okay, that’s something else I didn’t really say]

ME: [dead stare]

ME: Well, Mr. Manny McMansplainer. I’ve been a certified paralegal for more than 20 years. I’ve drawn up and worked extensively with estate planning and powers of attorney, including general ones, durable ones, durable general ones, health care ones, limited ones, special ones, and springing ones. I’ve worked on contracts and on breach of contract and money damages cases, both plaintiff and defense. I’ve arranged for service of process for hundreds of cases and ascertained it was done correctly. I’m well-versed in the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act, the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, and state law on process service. I’ve run this branch office of our litigation services company by myself, with glowing reviews, for several years. And with all that, I am still not expert to make the call on this situation. It needs to be handled by someone who’s actually licensed to practice law. Please kick it up to in-house counsel.

HIM: Fine.

ME: I hate you.

[Okay, I didn’t actually say that either. But I thought it REALLY REALLY REALLY LOUD.]


And then there’s general rudeness, which may be misogyny or may be simple douchiness but given his other propensities, I’m going with more mansplaining. He talks over me when I’m conversing with one of my process servers. When I’m on the phone with someone, he comes over and leans in close to the mouthpiece and starts talking very loudly, interjecting himself into a conversation he could only hear one side of.

I have not simply put up with it. I have been assertive and direct. “Please don’t do that” and “Actually, that’s not correct” and “I was talking, and I’m going to finish what I was saying” do not penetrate beyond the moment.

My dutiful and devoted son, Monster, has promised that in the event I snap , he will establish a GoFundMe for my legal defense.

Please be generous, dear readers.

I love this mansplaining skit with Hillary Clinton and Jimmy Kimmel. Hillary, you have a fun, sharp sense of humor and I wonder if you’d have appealed more if you’d let it show more. Really. You should smile more, hon.


(In case the video doesn’t stay embedded, which happens to me all the time in WordPress, here’s the link.)