Conversations with my cat – 21


This is Chester. He’s waiting for me.

Or he is on guard mode. He does this sometimes when he hears the click of the back gate latch.

He has better hearing than me.

I’m not sure what he’s going to do if the visitor is 6 foot 10 and carrying an Uzi but it’s good to know we’re both going down fighting.

But, nothing.

It’s the wind again.

I guess if a cat could sigh, he would.

And winge about the vagaries of weather interrupting his afternoon nap.

That gives me an idea…

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

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 favor 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 ‘favor’ 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’.




We all need a little attention now and then

When I was last in Europe we decided to get the Eurostar, from London, through the Chunnel, to Paris Disneyland.  Not exactly as fast as the Japanese bullet trains, but faster than anything we have in this country.

You are hurtling along at up to 160 kph, though it feels a lot faster, and then you begin to brake, and it seems like nothing is happening, except for some outside friction noise, and the speed dropping.

I feel like that now, on my way to the bottom of the abyss.

At the end of that fall, it is something referred to as hitting rock bottom.

I’m told once you hit rock bottom the only way is up.

The question is, who do you know that has fallen into the abyss and come back to tell you about it?

Put into layman’s terms, hurling down the abyss is like having a severe episode of depression.  There are different types, some worse than others.  Hitting the ground is roughly the equivalent of looking for a way out that eases the pain and not finding one, and that, for some people, is a quite drastic answer.

But the sign that the free fall is braking, like the express train slowing down, is a sign that you’ve seen the light, that there are external forces that can render assistance.

I see them now, the hands of friends, the hands of people I don’t know, but who are concerned.

Writers like any other professional people are the same as everyone else, but with one rather interesting difference.  It is a profession where a lot of the time you are on your own, alone with your thoughts, your characters, your fantasy world, which sometimes so frighteningly drifts into your reality.

Some of us will make a fortune, some of us will make an adequate living, and live the ‘dream’ of doing the one job they always wanted to, and most will not.

I’m not rich, I’m not one who gets an adequate income, yet.

But I will get out of this abyss.

I can feel the brakes.

My eldest granddaughter, who is 15, tells me the fantasy story where she is a princess I’m writing for her is brilliant.

The free fall has stopped.  I step out into the sunshine.

All I needed was a little praise.

Those moments of depression are seeping into my writing

Nothing I write makes any sense, it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t progress the story, they are just words on a piece of paper.  Perhaps it’s those moments of despair that are holding me back, those thoughts that begin to swirl in your head when the dream you had in your head becomes very different from what happens in reality.

And this is the problem, there are so many people out there that say, ‘dare to dream’, or ‘today its a dream tomorrow it is reality’.

Is it?

For some, those with the state of mind, the drive, and the confidence to pull it off, it might be, but for the rest of us, and that’s a lot of people trying to head down that same path f success, it’s a lot harder.

And you can bet those seminar or conference speakers have pocked the thousands of dollars they got for the gig, and have moved on to the next group of … well, let’s not give them a name.

I wish I could stand up in front of 200 budding authors and tell them, in the same bright breezy manner that they are on the way to success, just follow the ten proven steps, but I can’t.  I know how hard that road is.

Like starting a farm, you don’t just walk onto the land, say you’re going to be a farmer, and magically everything happens.  It doesn’t.  It’s bloody hard work, and a lot of it, with heartbreak, and setbacks, and sometimes even a disaster.

It’s the same with writing.

You don’t sit at the typewriter, in front of a notebook, or computer screen, and it all just comes together.  It doesn’t.

For some, it might, but for the rest of us, it’s a long hard road, just to get some form of recognition.  And even then, like in the movies, fame can be fleeting, gone in the blink of an eye.

You have to produce, trying to produce creates pressure, pressure creates depression, and well. you get the picture, it’s a bit like the cycle of life.

OK, whinge over.

Time to get back to work.


I always wanted to go on a treasure hunt – Part 5

My mind will not rest.

Down here, it is summer, and the last few days have been rather hot, well, it is summer after all, but tonight it is particularly hot.

So, as I can’t sleep, I’m lying on the couch staring at the ceiling, otherwise known as the cinema of my dreams.

Where am I?

Well, the location is in keeping with the weather, hot, humid, and cold drinks are mandatory.

I’ve got one now!


A sleepless night did nothing to make the idea of going on a treasure hunt and more palatable. I couldn’t say I didn’t see it coming, because Boggs had been hinting he’d found something of his father’s when poking through his old stuff.

I was hoping it was money.

And visiting the bar, I thought that he had found a lead in his quest to find some information about his parents, two people he realized now, he knew very little about.

In that quest, I was only too willing to help.

When he finally told me about the treasure, I didn’t think he was the sort to believe in fairy tales, because everyone knew it was little more than that.

I didn’t flat out debunk the myth, but I could see I was going to have to carefully get him off this track.  Real or not, \we were hardly equipped, mentally or physically, to deal with whatever this quest might throw up.

Yes, in my mind’s eye I had a Raiders of the Lost Ark scenario running through my head, from large rolling stones, through to a snake pit.  I hated snakes too.

In fact, with the addition of Boggs uncle Rico in the mix, it seemed to me we would be better off spending our time looking for work rather than using any excuse to not, but that was the problem with our neighborhood, too many people looking for work and not enough jobs.  Prosperity seemed to be everywhere else.

“No lounging around in bed, Sam.”  My mother’s voice came from the kitchen where she would be throwing food into a container for her lunch.

She was suffering from the lack of employment too, being a qualified accounts clerk, but for the time being, working check out at the local supermarket.

A job was a job, but it barely paid the bills.

I made it to the kitchen just as she was about to leave.

“You need to try harder,” she said.  “Walter said they’re looking for people in the warehouse again.  Promise me you’ll go see them.”

I could see the strain of the odd shifts she worked, the fact she didn’t want to be there, but unlike my father, she accepted responsibility, no matter what it cost.

“I promise.”

A kiss on the forehead and she was gone.

The jobs at the warehouse were little more than slave labor, minimum pay, very hard work, and ungratefully supervisors.  Most of those like Boggs and I lasted a week, or less because that way they didn’t have to pay you for the few days you worked.

But it was a job, and it was time I stepped up.

The treasure hunt would have to wait.


© Charles Heath 2019

Location, location, location

And, no, I’m not talking about the television show.

I imagine when considering making a film, a group of people sit around a table and look at the places where a story can be told.  Quite often the story has the locations, and for those seeking to make the film, they have a head start.

Provided there is enough money in the budget to do so.

As a writer, I use travel to find new locations for my stories, but unlike the movie makers, I don’t have any place in mind before I go.

So it that a chicken and egg thing?

When away, I’m always typing little notes into my smartphone in an app called Somnote.  It’s very handy and even allows you to write larger pieces as well.  It’s where most of my blog posts originate because the ideas for these often come out of left field.

And while I’m out., sometimes at very inconvenient moments.

But I digress…again…

I like old world hotels, probably not for their aesthetic value, but because it gives me an idea of what it was like in the past.

And maybe a ghost or two as well, just to liven up things at night.

Dining rooms, particular that of one at Raffles in Singapore, are just dripping with atmosphere, and the time we went, I was waiting for the ghost of the last big cat to come and visit us.

Other than that my imagination ran wild that day.

Other hotels such as one in Lucerne Switzerland, and Kamloops in Canada, were a number of buildings cobbled together with a myriad of passageways and small sets of stairs where presumably the joins of the buildings were.

It was not the first time I was looking for secret passageways.

And small lifts, one that holds two people or one person and two suitcases, are another highlight and are ripe for use in storytelling.  These sorts of elevators exist in smaller hotels, and one in particular, we found in Paris.

It was only four floors, but having to walk instead of us=ing the elevator, was only useful for those who love exercise.

Elevators, old or new are always are a thing of interest, from a writers point of view, such as one in the Paris Opera house, where my granddaughters believed there was a ghost, and looking at it, they may have been right.

They would not get in it.

Another elevator, and perhaps there are a lot more like it, was in an old building in Brisbane, where the stairs wrapped around the elevator shaft and you could see the elevator going up and down,  I guess before they updated it, the old elevator had sides you could look out (and those on the stairs look ib).

Excellent inspiration for all manner of plotlines and that’s just using an elevator.

Try this for size, outrunning the elevator to the top.  Not so hard as old elevators were not the fastest means of getting to your floor.

If you want a fast elevator, go to the empire state building and head to the lookout.  THose elevators are fast.

Love the ones with the iron foldable doors that require you to do a few months pumping iron, just so you can open and close that heavy and sometimes miscreant door.

And just to get your imagination jumping, think about the walkways at some of London underground railways.   If you know what I’m talking about, how many chase scenes can you write just from one walk?

It’s good, it’s bad, and at times it can be very, very ugly

It was as if Microsoft Word was sent down from that place in the universe where a group of torturers sit around a table to find new ways of making our lives just that little bit more difficult.

I mean, most of the time it works really well and behaves itself.


Then there are the times, usually when you are stressed about a deadline, or you are nearly at the end of what you believe to be the most brilliant writing you have ever put on paper.


Disaster strikes.

It could be the power goes off, even for just a few seconds, but it’s enough to kill the computer.  It could be that you have reached the end and closed Word down, thinking that it had autosaved, all the while ignoring that little pop up that says, ‘do you want to save your work’?

It’s been a long day, night, or session.  You’re tired and your mind is elsewhere, as it always is at the end.

You always assume that autosave is on.  It was the last time, it has been since the day you installed it however long ago that was.


When the power comes back on, you start the computer, go into Word, and it brings back all the windows you had open when the power failed, and the one with the brilliant piece you just wrote, it’s just a blank sheet.

Or up to where it last autosaved, which is nowhere near the end.

Or it didn’t save at all.

You forget the software updated recently and that always brings changes.  Usually unwanted changes.

By which time you have that sinking feeling that all is lost, deadline missed, brilliant work lost, it’s the end of the world.

You promise yourself you’re going to get Scrivener, or something else, where this doesn’t happen.

Or if you’re like me, you put the cat on the keyboard and tell him to sort the mess out.