Conversations with my cat – 16

Character development


This is Chester, he thinks he is an expert on people

He has meandered in checking out what I’m doing, or maybe he’s here because the room is cooler.

He gives me the ‘What are you doing’ look.

It doesn’t matter how many times I’m a writer, it’s like talking to a brick wall.

I say I’m working on developing a new character.


I’m thinking of John.

A shake of the head and the eyes roll.  Can you be a little more inventive, like, well, Chester?

Predictable.  How about Xavier?

Would you call your kid Xavier?  He’s going to have a very rough time of it at school.  Unless this character has a tortured soul.

Good point.  How about William?

Bill, that’s what you get in the mail.  Another shake of the head.  You’re not very good at this, are you?

Apparently not.  Haven’t you got some mice to catch?

He yawns, then curls up on the seat.  Wake me when you’ve got some better ideas.

Maybe not.  I’ve come up with a name, Daniel, and I don’t care what he thinks.

For now.

Travel is part of the story – Venice, a city you could get lost in

And in more ways than one.

This is a city that has inspiration everywhere, and if you like going off the beaten track, there are so many different sides to this city, it virtually makes it a writers paradise.

I’d like to spend three months here, just writing.

A morning walk to take in the atmosphere, and afternoon writing, an evening at a restaurant and sampling the endless supply of wine, and at night, well, I’ll let your imagination run wild there.


We have visited Venice twice, in 2006 and not so long ago.

Not much had changed from visit to visit, and probably the only change that will come is when buildings start sinking into the sea.  I read recently that was happening, but I failed to find any evidence of it.

Perhaps I wasn’t looking in the right places.

Instead of staying in a hotel selected by a travel agent, the Savoia and Jolanda on the waterfront of Riva Degli Schiavoni, because I’m a Hilton Honors member, more recently we stayed at the Hilton Molino Stucky.  It was located on an island, Giudecca, and had its own transport from the hotel to St Mark’s Square for a very reasonable one off charge for the stay.

The first time we visited Venice we took a taxi from the Railway Station.   We had taken the train from Florence to Venice.  A fellow passenger told us that it was a way to see some of the city by the canal system, but to be prepared to negotiate a price.

We were not very good negotiators, and it cost 60 Euros.

But, despite the cost, it was worth every Euro because the taxi driver took us by the scenic route, directly from the Station to the doorstep of our hotel.  For the first time in Venice, and you want to see it from the water, a water taxi is the best option.

The first time we stayed at the Savoia and Jolanda Hotel, which was at the time quite old, and the room we had, on the ground floor, was comfortable enough, but being November, they had just stopped using the air conditioning, it was still quite warm, and at times uncomfortable.  There were better rooms, but this was beyond the knowledge of the travel agent, and one of the reasons we stopped using agents to book hotels.

The most recent visit we had driven down from Salzburg to Venice airport where we had to return the hire car.  From there we were intending to take a private water taxi from the airport to the hotel, for an estimated 120 Euros.  We saved our money and took the ACTV public waterbus, from the airport to the hotel, with one stop.  It took a little over an hour and was equally as scenic.

Our room in the Hilton was on one of the upper levels, floor four, and had a view of the canal, the large passenger ships coming and going, as well as a remarkable view of Venice itself as far up the canal at St Marks Square in one direction, and the port for the passenger ships in the other.

We got to see three or four very large passenger ships come and go, along with a lot of other craft.  I hadn’t realized how busy the waterways, and the Grand Canal, were.

Each evening after a day’s exploring we would end up in the Executive Lounge, and then one of the many restaurants, usually Il Molino for breakfast, and the Rialto Lobby Bar and Lounge for dinner.  After that, it was a stroll down the waterfront taking in the night air, and perhaps to walk off the delicious dinner.

As you can see, there is a gold mine of information right there, ready to be incorporated into any story I might want to write.  It has, in fact, featured in The Devil You Don’t.


“Echoes From The Past”, buried, but not deep enough

What happens when your past finally catches up with you?

Christmas is just around the corner, a time to be with family. For Will Mason, an orphan since he was fourteen, it is a time for reflection on what his life could have been, and what it could be.

Until a chance encounter brings back to life the reasons for his twenty years of self-imposed exile from a life only normal people could have. From that moment Will’s life slowly starts to unravel and it’s obvious to him it’s time to move on.

This time, however, there is more at stake.

Will has broken his number one rule, don’t get involved.

With his nemesis, Eddie Jamieson, suddenly within reach, and a blossoming relationship with an office colleague, Maria, about to change everything, Will has to make a choice. Quietly leave, or finally, make a stand.

But as Will soon discovers, when other people are involved there is going to be terrible consequences no matter what choice he makes.



Is the grass greener …

I have often heard this expression used over the years, and from the number of times I’d overheard it being used, and the fact it was referring to someone my parents had known, I’d always believed it had something to do with one of the other leaving a marriage for something better.

I hadn’t realized that somewhere far deeper in that conversation was a more sinister underlying reason for the departure, later discovered to be the wife.

Back then, in the 1960s and 1970s, women were not so ready to leave a relationship that had domestic violence at its heart.  Where would they go, what would they do?  Going home, if they had parents, would be an admission of failure.  And, back then, there was something about an older woman who didn’t talk about her husband.

Very definitely, in those older days, it was a man’s world.

Thankfully we have managed to bring that dark ogre into the light and there’s no stigma attached to a woman who wants to seek freedom from an abusive marriage, and both accommodation and services to help in the transition.


Just out of curiosity, in a different context, and in these modern times, what’s your interpretation of.

Is the grass greener on the other side….


As to what side I’m referring to, I’ll let you make up your own mind …

What happens after an action-packed start – Part 10

It’s still a battle of wits, but our hero knows he’s in serious trouble.

The problem is, there are familiar faces and a question of who is a friend and who is foe made all the more difficult because the enemy if it is the enemy, doesn’t look or sound or act like the enemy.

Nor does it help when his old mentor walks through the door.


I don’t like surprises.  This dislike had started with a surprise birthday party about 10 years ago and since then I’ve assiduously tried to avoid them.

Of course, there are also surprises you have no control over, and I liked them even less.

Bluff and bravado would only carry me so far.  These people whoever they were would not accept that I knew nothing about what had just happened.

Which I didn’t.

It was not the A interrogation team with a chest full of torture tools and dressed in hazmat suits, but when the harbinger of my fate walked into the room, it was something a lot scarier.

A man I knew well or thought I did until he walked in the door, I had the utmost respected for.

Colonel Bamfield.  My first Commanding Officer, the man who cut me some slack, and made me into a soldier.

Now, all I had was questions, but I was on the wrong side of the table.

The first, what the hell was going on here?

My first inclination was to stand and salute a superior officer, but he was not wearing the uniform, not the proper uniform I was used to seeing him in.  My second inclination was to ask him what he was doing in that room with me, but I didn’t.

Speak when spoken to, and don’t volunteer information.

He too tried the silent treatment, or maybe it was that he was as surprised to see me as I was to see him.

Then, still standing behind the table, looking down on me, he said, “That was some jump you made from a moving helicopter.”  Was there a touch of admiration in his tone?

“Life or death.  Anyone one else is that situation would do the same.”

“Less than you’d think.”

Establishing camaraderie.  Or trying to.  I waited for the next question.

It wasn’t a question but a statement, “We have a problem Alan, and it’s not just with you.”


© Charles Heath 2019

What happened to February, I seem to have missed it

I’m on my late night reading of blog posts by the bloggers I follow, and a lot are saying February has gone, and are weighing up their achievements for the month.

I don’t think I got anything constructive done, notwithstanding the intent of making a new years resolution list and stick to it.  The only sticking was sticking it to the wall in from of my desk.

Oh, I finally got down on paper and onto the writing blog most of the episodes of the four stories I started while I was away.  It was easy to write on the plane, especially when there are 12 to 13 hours to be spent in an uncomfortable chair.

Anything to ease the pain, and take the mind elsewhere.

And, no, I did not incorporate a plane crash, but I did have a helicopter crash.

I did not get to the two novels that need to have editing finished.  That’s now slated for March.

But, the grim thing about two months disappearing like it has, the first I’m getting older, and feel like I have one foot in the grave, and the other, one-sixth of the year is gone and Christmas is approaching.

Don’t you worry, the supermarkets and larger chain stores will have the Chrismas decorations out on display before you know it.

I hope we still are calling Christmas, Christmas, because in these days of political correctness, and the will not to upset anyone other than the Christians (no, I haven’t noticed a sizable build up of lions and the building of a huge arena, yet!).


I’m still working through the ramifications of my (probably stolen) idea of mutual purchase and honestly reviewing books (because we all know the value of an honest review) by fellow authors with ebooks on Amazon that sales are sluggish.  That’s because mine are.

More about the idea can be found here

It all goes back to the marketing strategy of getting reviews, and this is the hardest part.  So, why don’t we do each other a solid?

What’s the upside?  You get sales, which lift’s your book in the saleable scale that Amazon uses space rocket technology to work out.  The author gets a review and some income, perhaps so he or she can purchase the next book to review, (or another well-deserved cup of coffee) and it keeps the author’s presence on Amazon, who seems to be closing down those who are not ‘performing’  (I guess using the same space rocket technology to decided that as well).

Comments on the practicality of the scheme or the fact it might or might not work are always welcome at

Roll on March

Back to the treasure hunt – part 3

It has been cooler for the last week or so, and the ideas for the treasure story have not been flowing.

Now, it’s back and I’m back in the cinema of my dreams, figurative following the treasure ‘map’!


This was not the time to panic.

There could be any number of explanations for what I just saw.  Boggs had certainly got me wrapped up in his mysterious treasure hunt, and immediately my mind jumps to conclusions.

I took a deep breath.  There had to be a rational explanation.

Boggs lived with his aunt, his parents had gone away one day and never came back.  He had no brothers or sisters, so he assumed rightly or wrongly, they’d abandoned him.

For the last few years, Boggs and I had been looking for his parents.  That’s how he found the treasure map, in a box of stuff his father had left at his brother’s loft.

Now, his aunt was Spanish, or perhaps that was not totally correct, she was Mexican who spoke Spanish.  Her husband was Boggs’ father’s brother, and they had no children, so they had treated Boggs as their own.

Perhaps the men were known to his Aunt and they were taking him home before he got into trouble.

It didn’t explain why they were talking about the treasure map, whether it was the one being sold by the bar owner or the one Boggs found.  Boggs had it with him, so if they were after it, they probably had it by now.

We’d come to the beach by bus, and I took it back, then walked the mile or so to Boggs’s house.  It was about three streets away from where I lived.

When I turned into the street, there was the kidnapper’s car out the front of Boggs’s Aunt’s house.  A minute or so later I went in the gate and up to the front door.

It was open, so I loitered in the shadows and listened.

A man’s voice, and Boggs’s Aunt.

Again I was struggling with my Spanish, “You should be keeping control of your brat, he’s getting into trouble, in bars and such places.”

“Drinking?”  His Aunt sounded incredulous.

“Perhaps, I know not, but asking bad men questions about the treasure.  Where is the map?”

So they hadn’t taken it off Boggs.  What did he do with it?

“What map.  He has no map, none that he’s told me about.  Besides, that treasure’s a myth, made up by Dooley to get tourists in his bar, if that’s the var you said he was at.  Don’t tell me you’ve been sucked into that myth?  Isn’t it about time you got a real job?”

“Just make sure your brat stays away from the bar.”

I could hear footsteps heading towards the front door and ducked into the bushes just as he came out, slamming the door into the wall before stomping off to his car.

I waited till he drove off before coming out, and walking into Boggs, grinning.

“See, I told you it was real.”

The horrid uncle, the map, or the myth?


© Charles Heath 2019