Writing is easy compared to the rest of the stuff

Like cover design.

And, of course, the description.

Probably one of the hardest things for a first-time author is not so much the writing but what is needed after the book is written.

You need a good description.  Short, sharp, incisive!

There’s a ream of advice out there, I’ve read it all, and, still, I got it wrong.

I wanted simplistic, a short description to give the reader a taste of what’s in store, and let the story speak for itself.


Apparently, a good cover will attract the reader to the book.

When I tendered my books on various sites to advertise them, sites such as Goodreads, and ThirdScribe, all was well with what I had done.

Then I submitted my books to a third site and they rejected the books because the covers were too simplistic and the descriptions mundane, and wouldn’t post them.


There’s a huge blow to the ego., and just the sort of reaction that would make a writer think twice about even bothering to continue.


Perhaps the person who wrote that critique was being cruel to be kind.

At any rate, I am changing the covers, and rewording the descriptions.

Will it be a case of ‘what a difference a cover makes’?

A case for Harry Walthenson PI, episode by episode

How thrilled Harry Walthenson, Private Detective, had been to see his name painted on the translucent glass window in the door to his office.

Located in Gramercy Park, in an old building full of atmosphere, he had a space renovated to resemble that of Spade and Archer in a scene right out of the Maltese Falcon.

His desk had an antique phone like those used in the 1930s, and a lamp that cast eerie shadows at night.  Along one wall was a couch, his bed for more nights than he wanted to remember, and on the other a filing cabinet, waiting for the big case files.

Up till now it had been missing cats and dogs.

Then, everything changed…

Starts at episode 1 – The Wrong Place, The Wrong Time


The latest episode:  Episode 58 – Sister, you have a sister?



This has been an interesting week

On top of the running battle I’ve been having with the internet provided by NBN, supposedly the next generation of the internet in Australia that was to make our internet faster than in Romania, but failed miserably, I’ve been having problems with social media and in particular Twitter.

Something is going on and I don’t know what it is.

One day I can have a consistent 125,000 impressions per 24 hours, for months on end, but several days ago this dropped to 5,000, with an hourly 213, yes, 213.  This from a monthly average of 2.6 million for the last three months.

Something wrong, I guess, doesn’t quite describe the problem.

However, life has begun to seep back in the dying Twitter bones, and the numbers are improving, but it begs the question of what sinister happenings go on under the hood.

Then there’s blogger where I have several blogs, and their own web domains bought from Google as recommended.

I can’t see any of them anymore.  I can post to them, and others can see them, but it seems Blogger has decided I’m persona non grata for my own blogs.

Of course, the help page within Blogger is probably the most useless help I’ve ever seen anywhere, and whilst it shows exactly the same problem happened to a lot of other bloggers, and the specific help was given, but there is no means to contact experts at blogger to get any help.

Or maybe there is, but their help page doesn’t make it easy to find it.

As for the internet, I once had a 300 baud phone modem that ran faster, and a call to the internet provider simply saw me cut off in the middle of a phone call, and left staring at the receiver.

Maybe if they cut me off a few times I’ll just give up, because they are between a rock and a hard place.  Their previous offering of broadband internet was lightning fast and very reliable, but they had to dismantle it in favor of the NBN.

Now because of a penny-pinching government, who would rather give huge tax concessions to big banks, who it has now been proven have been ripping us off for years with shonky practices, the internet in this country is little more than a joke.

Do I sound like a whinger?

I guess so, but I’ve certainly got a lot to work with.

But, as the saying goes, it can only get better, because it can’t get any worse.

No, don’t think so.  It’s just crashed again!


Almost nonsensical descriptions

I found this explanation on the internet: ‘a word or phrase used in a non-literal sense for rhetorical or vivid effect.’

We as writers should not use these in our writing because most people might not understand their use.  I think it sometimes adds a degree of whimsy to the story.

I remember some years ago when I working with a Russian chap who’d not been in the country very long, and though he had a reasonable use of English, was not quite up with our figures of speech.

And made me realize when he kept asking me what they meant, just how many I used in everyday conversation.

Most of these figures of speech use descriptions that do not necessarily match the word being described, such as ‘I dance like I have two left feet’.

And that pretty much sums up how good I can dance.  But …

‘Like a bat out of hell’, not sure how this got into the vernacular, but it means to get the hell out of dodge quickly.  Hang on, that’s another saying, American, and the way Dodge city was in western American folklore, if you irritated a gunslinger, then best be on your way, fast.

Otherwise, yes, you guessed it, you were at the end of another saying, you would get a one-way ticket to boot hill.  In other words, the cemetery.

And while I’m digressing, again, Yul Brynner made a trip to boot hill very memorable in The Magnificent Seven.


‘Like a bull in a china shop’, describes a toddler let loose

‘More front than Myers’, as my mother used to say, but in context, Myers is the Australian version of the English Selfridges or Harrods or Paris Galleries Lafayette.  It refers to the width of street frontage of the stores

‘As mad as a hatter’, though not necessarily of the millinery kind, but, well, you can guess

‘As nutty as a fruitcake’, provided your fruitcake has nuts in it

You can see, if you get the references, they are somewhat apt, and, yes, they sometimes creep into my stories.


I always wanted to go on a treasure hunt – Part 7

Here’s the thing.

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.

Once again there’s a new installment of an old feature, and back on the treasure hunt.


My mother was happy that I’d been given a job, and when I relayed Benderby’s message, she said she would have to call and thank him.

It was in a tone that surprised me, and if I had not known better, I was left with the impression she might actually go out with him.  Aside from the fact Benderby was married, he also hit on every woman he could, especially those at work.

I shrugged.  My mother was old enough to look after herself.

Boggs came around, having realized I was not going to answer his calls and demanded to know what my problem was.

“Some of us have to work, Boggs.  It’s taken a while but I realize my mother cannot do it on her own.”

“But working for Benderby, that’s like selling out to Satan.”

“It’s one of the few places where there still is work.  Besides, I’m not shoveling the shit, just taking inventory of it.  Pencil pusher.  I have to make this work so anything we do will have to be outside working hours.”  Then, another thought came to me, one that might appease Boggs.  “In fact, you could think of me as your inside man.  Working there, I should be able to keep an eye on the Benderby’s and finds out what they know, and are doing, if anything.  Don’t you think?”

He looked both skeptical and reluctant, but, saying it out aloud made some sort of sense.

“I’m not putting the treasure hunt on hold, Sam,” he said, in that sulky tone he used when he didn’t get his way.

“Don’t expect you to, but I wouldn’t get to carried away with it.  I heard Rico trying to sell Alex Benderby the map this morning.”


“In the employee car park.  Alex reckons the map is a load a bunk.  You still got it?”

I saw his hand go over his back pocket.  “It’s safe.”

“And you reckon it’s real.  Maybe that was not the sort of thing you should be talking about in front of Rico.  He wants it, but peddling it to Alex wasn’t his best play.  You know what’ll happen if he gets his hands on it.”

“Rico will get cut out.

“So will you.”

“Not if I keep a copy and sell him the original.  We’re going to need money to carry out our own search.”

I shook my head.  “You will not come out ahead.  The Benderby’s of this world always win and the likes of us always lose.”

“That may or may not be the case, but we have to take control of this.  At least it will take Rico out of the equation.  I’ll work on a plan.  Thanks for the tip.  And, as you say, you can be my inside man.  That way we might be able to keep one step ahead of them.”

If they decided to be players.  But, would be no stopping him. 

I sighed.  This whole map thing was going to end badly.


© Charles Heath 2019

In a word: Bar

There’s more than one way … er, perhaps it’s better to say, there are many ways to use the word bar, which is not bad for a three letter word.


Bar, the one you associate with drinks, in hotels, restaurants and we’ll, just bars.

Probably the best type of bar you might find me in is a Sports Bar, where you can snack on buffalo wings a tall glass of beer and watch with ice hockey in winter or baseball in summer.

It’s one I use from time to time when asked, what will we do, and the reply is often let’s go to a bar.  The best bars are underground, dark and dingy, full of eclectic people, with a band playing almost passable music or better still jazz


Bar, as in the legal variety

There are so many legal references to using bar, that the one that I am most familiar with is being admitted to the bar which means that you can now practice law.

Raising the bar, if that’s possible, where the bar is that imaginary level which offers sinks very low.  When someone says they’re going to try and raise the bar, you may be assured there will be a long battle ahead, simply because people generally find it hard to change.


Bar, as in we are not going to let you in here.  Yes, this is the irksome one where you find yourself, often for reasons unknown, barred from somewhere or something.  This may also be referred to by saying everyone may enter bar you.  


Bar, as in an iron bar, the sort that is sometimes used as a blunt force object by villains to remind the victim they owe any one of a loan shark, bookie or the mafia.  God help you if it is all three.

There are also iron bars of a different sort, those that are set in concrete outside a window most likely in a prison where the objective is to prevent escape.

It gives rise to an old expression, that person should be behind bars.


Then there is just a bar, such as a bar of gold, which I’m sure we’d all like to have stashed away, but not necessarily in the mattress, or the more common variety, a chocolate bar, which I have one now.  What’s your favorite?


And just to add to the list of meanings you can always refer to sashes or stripes as bars.

Confused?  Well, there’s still music, and the bane of yachtsmen, sand bars but I think we’ll leave it there.

Welcome to the English language

Conversations with my cat – 24


This is Chester – as you can see, he’s not very happy with me.

I thought I might run the current political climate past him, see what he thinks about watering down gun laws, politicians taking bribes, sorry, campaign donations, and who would make the better leader.

Pity, he said, a cat can’t run the country.

A typical response, I’m guessing, but it does give me a momentary pause to consider the possibility.

Cats sleep all day.

So, it seems, do our politicians.

Cats ignore everything we tell them.

So, it seems, do our politicians.

Cats sit around all day when not sleeping, looking like they’re working, but they’re not.

So, it seems, do our politicians.

Perhaps he’s right, we could no worse having a cat run the country.

Any chance I can be his campaign manager?