What’s it like from the other side of the desk?

I’ve been sitting at the desk staring at the screen thinking of what to write that might interest other people.

Seems I’m not too good at it.

So, I moved seats, to sit opposite the writer’s chair and took a good long hard look at the person, the so-called writer, conjuring up in my mind, if I was someone I’d just dragged in off the street, what would I ask?

Would I bother?

I mean most of of walk down the street trying to avoid everyone else, and anything bad that might happen.

But I’m here now, so for a free cup of tea and a Doubletree cookie, I consider myself bribed.

Question 1:  Why on earth would you want to write when there’s a billion other books out there?  Seems a complete waste of time to me.

[Answer] Good point, most days when I get out of bed, or rather stare at the ceiling from under the covers, I wonder why I bother to get up.

OK that’s the borderline manic depressive speaking, and most likely suffering from a hangover, trying to get those last 1,000 words for the day done.

Question 2: You write when you’re drunk?  That must make a lot of sense, not!

This person has found me out in two questions.

[Answer] No, a little Scotch helps oil the wheels on the mind.

Question 3:  What do you do for inspiration?

[Answer] Thinking up new and novel ways of killing off people I drag in off the street to ask me questions about myself.  No, sorry, didn’t mean that.  I haven’t a mean bone in my body.  Inspiration you say?

Look around.

The inquisitor does.  There are seven floor to ceiling bookcases full of my favorite authors, about 4,000 or so books, aside from the reference library that is mostly in e-book format which run to about 10,000.

Question 4:  You read all of these?

[Picks up a copy of ‘Kill Me If You Can’ by James Patterson]  This one.

I nod yes.  I have read most of them.  I tell him writers must read.  Someone told me that a long time ago.  Not only thrillers and crime, but the classics.  I found War and Peace heavy going, but not so much as Madame Bovary, or Vanity Fair.

You can ask one more question.

Question 5:  Can I borrow this book [James Patterson]

As always the answer is yes.  I encourage people to read.  It doesn’t have to be my work.  It would be nice but I;m realistic enough to know there’s a billion other books out there I have to compete with.

Maybe tomorrow.

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

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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.




In a word: Drink

Everyone loves a drink, and that interesting expression, ‘what’s your poison’ often resonates at a bar when among friends.

The thing is, we are supposed to know what our friends drink, me, for instance, I like beer, preferably in a bottle and not local mass-produced brew if I can avoid it.

But, some like white wine, no preference to type, some like cocktails like a Manhattan, or a Long Island Iced Tea, very dangerous if made correctly which quite often it isn’t, or champagne, the real thing not just leftover wine carbonated and given a name like ‘sparkling …’ something.

Every now and then we need to have more than one drink, and that desire is fuelled by our emotions.  A celebration, it’s two or three, just enough to allow the euphoria to seep in.  A tragedy of any sort means more than a few, usually prefixed with a statement like, ‘I need to get hammered’, but not literally.

Perhaps that’s why it’s called drowning our sorrows.

Of course, there are other meanings for the word ‘drink’ and often poets, and romance novelists will refer to a phrase such as ‘drink in…’ where it may refer to a loving gaze or a look of adulation.  You could also, at a stretch, drink in the sight of a magnificent landscape.

Then, at the end of that drinking session, good or bad, where you may have had the opportunity to drink in looks or locations, you might, if you didn’t play your cards right, get thrown in the drink.

Not in the glass, that’s a bit small, but it means a much larger body of water such as a pool, a lake, or the ocean.

And lastly, but probably not the only context for the word ‘drink’, it could be said you were ‘driven to drink’, and I don’t mean by another drinker to the hotel, bar, restaurant or party.

Driven to drink means you blame someone else for your recently acquired desire to drink as much as you can so that it blots out something or someone.

I’m officially blaming my dog for my drinking problem.  He drove me to drink.

And that’s all I have to say about it.

Pour me another drink, will you?

It’s that time of the year again

Isn’t it good that Christmas comes only once a once a year?

I don’t think we could afford it. Christmas presents, Christmas lunch or dinner, Christmas parties, the list goes on.

It all starts about the beginning of December, and slowly builds up to fever pitch when suddenly a great many of us suddenly realise we haven’t had time to do that Christmas shopping.

Last minute takes on a whole new meaning.

Suddenly shops are open all night and those last minute shoppers come out of the woodwork. It’s not exactly panic setting in, but it’s amazing just how many people put it off until the very last minute.

We’re exactly the opposite. Christmas shopping starts at the Boxing Day sales, especially for next years Christmas decorations, and then buying gifts all throughout the year when sales pop up.

Some people we know do their Christmas shopping after Christmas when everything is a great deal cheaper, and then give presents.

We just bought most of the food for Christmas lunch and dinner. Except some of the seafood. Lunch usually runs to about $500, but it is for 9, and is enough for lunch and dinner. Eating out it would cost upwards of $125 each, plus drinks, so it doesn’t seem so bad.

But, when you add it all up, including the presents, you’re often looking at thousands. Multiply that by the number of people lining in your city, it’s why Christmas is worth billions.

The hardest job is is putting up the Christmas tree, and it’s not a job that anyone but children like doing. Putting the tree together, then adding lights, ornaments, then tinsel, takes time. The only worse job is pulling it down again before new year’s day.

This morning we spent over 6 hours wrapping presents. It’s hard work, but it’s done.

All that’s left is the lunch, setting up which we do the day before, and it too takes time and effort, and then on the day, cooking, cooking, and more cooking.

Who said Christmas was a holiday.

Writing about writing a book – Day 5

6:30 am, can’t sleep.  Too many notes to self!

Time to read 101 things you need to be a writer, and 101 items to consider when writing a book.

You need:

Pen, check.  Paper, check.  Enthusiasm, not the greatest at this hour, but check.  Writing software, I’ve got Scrivener, what have you got?  Word?  So have I, so I see you, and raise it with Y-Writer.  Not sure how to use either yet, but some proficiency with Word.  Still using pen, paper, and typewriter.  Till I run out of ribbons … do they actually make ribbons anymore?

Writing the book:

The plot, well that will evolve as I’m writing, like the reader I don’t want to know the end yet.  Well, I have an idea how it will end, but that could change.

Characters, yes, they are works in progress.

Oh, while I remember, Bill has a past which he doesn’t remember, the events so traumatic, he knows something happened, spent time in the hospital, but was not sure what it was.  It will come back, triggered by another traumatic event.  It will also fuel dreams or nightmares.

And we need a master criminal, and he is going to be a character called Colonel Davenport.  A career soldier turned disillusioned and finds a way to make a living out of the war.  A very good living.  Led a group, some of whom still exist as his henchmen, the sort who kill without conscience.

Outline, isn’t that written after the book is complete?  No?  Ok, then the story so far:

1 – Bill is on holidays

2 – Benton calls, emergency, the network is down – Company name Transworld (PK, boring)

3 – Other problems – a dead body for one (Richardson, the Accountant), departmental members unavailable

4 – Police – introduce a new character, Chief Inspector Gator

5 – Arrival at work, meeting with Managers, discuss the situation – new character Aitchison – he is involved somehow ??  The first suggestion is, there is a network within a network

6 – Locating the problem – Introduce Giles the IT officer, Bill meets with Gator, speak about files on servers gone missing (ok, a bit of geek speak here)

7 – Introduce Jennifer, explore their relationship – more geek speak with added humor

8 – Lunch – then Aitchison calls, and everything goes to hell in a handbasket.

So far so good.


8:00 am, coffee in hand, to the writing room (well, desk anyway!)

A little more profiling on Bill, now with the last name Chandler.  Still not sure if I want to keep up the first person narrative, but I’ll worry about that later …


Looking at the mess constituting my room and my life, slob may have been an appropriate description.  I considered myself old, overweight though not necessarily fat, hair greying at the edges, and few wrinkles around the eyes, there were no real plusses in my description.

Some said I had a kindly face, but perhaps I had the look of a paternalistic grandfather.  There were several men in the office who were the same age and had grandchildren.  And some who had children at a time when they should be planning for retirement, not parenthood.

World-weary and perpetually tired, I’d passed mid-life crisis, wondering what it was that affected other men my age.  I’d never had the desire for fast cars and even faster women.  I had trouble keeping up with Ellen.

I used to think I’d missed a lot in half a lifetime.

Now, I didn’t know what to think.

Did I deserve pity?  No.

Did I deserve sympathy?  No!

The only person who could get me out of the rut was myself.  For years I’d traded on Ellen’s good nature.  She deserved better, left me, and was now happier in the arms of a man who I wanted to believe treated her far better than I.  She had told me so herself, and judging by her manner, it had to be true.  Only recently had she got her smile back, the one that lit her face up, one that infectiously spread happiness to anyone near her.

There were reasons why I became the person I was now.  Some might say they were valid.  In the cold, hard light of dawn, I could see it was time I stopped using my past as a crutch and got on with the business of living.

Perhaps today would be the first day of the rest of my life.


OK, Jennifer is there, and things are about to change.



© Charles Heath 2016 – 2019

In a word: Holiday

Some call time off from work whether it is for a day, a few days, and a couple of weeks, or maybe longer,  a holiday.

Or leave, leave of absence, annual leave, or long service leave.

Others may call it a vacation.

It depends on what part of the world you live in.

But the end result is the same, you do not go to work, so you stay home and do all those things that have mounted up, you drive up, and for some reason it is always up, to the cabin, for a little hunting shooting a fishing, or you get on a plane or a ship and try to get as far away from home and work as possible.

That’s called going overseas.  It seems if there is an ocean between w there you go and where you live, no one will be able to disturb you.

Sorry, I bet you didn’t leave that mobile phone or iPad home did you?

But, of course, there are a few other obscure references to the word holiday.

For instance,

It can be a day set aside to commemorate an event or a person, a day when you are not expected to work, e.g. Memorial Day, Christmas Day, Good Friday.   In Britain, they used to be called Bank Holidays.

It can be a specified period that you may be excused from completing a task or doing something such as getting a one-year tax exemption, which might also be called a one year tax holiday.

Yes, now that is an obscure reference, particularly when no tax department would ever grant anyone an exemption of any sort.


“The Devil You Don’t”, be careful what you wish for

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John Pennington’s life is in the doldrums.  Looking for new opportunities, prevaricating about getting married, the only joy on the horizon was an upcoming visit to his grandmother in Sorrento, Italy.

Suddenly he is left at the check-in counter with a message on his phone telling him the marriage is off, and the relationship is over.

If only he hadn’t promised a friend he would do a favour for him in Rome.

At the first stop, Geneva, he has a chance encounter with Zoe, an intriguing woman who captures his imagination from the moment she boards the Savoire, and his life ventures into uncharted territory in more ways than one.

That ‘favour’ for his friend suddenly becomes a life-changing event, and when Zoe, the woman who he knows is too good to be true, reappears, danger and death follows.

Shot at, lied to, seduced, and drawn into a world where nothing is what it seems, John is dragged into an adrenaline-charged undertaking, where he may have been wiser to stay with the ‘devil you know’ rather than opt for the ‘devil you don’t’.