Tag Archives: stories

A green eggs and ham experience. Coincidence?

You remember green eggs and ham?  My kids loved Dr Seuss stories. So did I. Here’s a kids’ video clip to remind you.


Sam pestered so much for his friend to try green eggs and ham that in the end . . . what do you know? The lesson is this: you have to try things before you can say you don’t like them.

Green eggsand ham

sometimes you have to try things

My own green eggs and ham experience

I’m coming to it. What has this to do with writing fiction? And green eggs and ham? Yes. really, I’m coming to it.

Recently I met two new people.  When I learned what they used to do my jaw dropped. One was a consultant medical neuro-pathologist. One used to be a truck driver.

This is how the conversation went with the retired consultant.

She: There’s a lot of current research into mild brain injuries. Even one trauma can have repercussions.

Me: Really? What kind of repercussions?

She: A whole host of pain-related conditions.

Me: How about transient global amnesia?

She: You know about that?

Me: Yes. I had a bizarre episode last August when I forgot everything.

She: What had happened to you before?

Me: I was knocked down by a car and banged my head on the ground. I broke bones, too. Now I’ve got CRPS. They call it algodystrophy here.

Trust me. We’re getting to the green eggs and ham bit.

This fabulous woman explained to me what had been happening in my brain. Eight months later, at a time of stress, my brain said Enough. It shut me down. Made me sleep. Afterwards, I forgot the forgetting.

Her explanation in simple terms put me in a different place. I felt relieved. There was a reason this amnesia had happened to me. What a superb coincidence I met her.

I had a lovely conversation with the truck driver, too who I met while he was walking his dogs. He has loads of tales to tell. Adventures. Characters. Places. Unusual goods. I’m plotting Book Two of Trobairitz – my female truck driver. I’d been hoping to take myself up to the truck stop nearby on the motorway and eavesdrop snatches of conversation, even ask questions outright. But I have problems driving since my injuries. Now I have a trucker right on my own doorstep. What another superb coincidence.

How come these two people suddenly arrived in my life?


Here we go. This is it. The green eggs and ham moment.

In fiction I cannot abide coincidence. It riles me no end. So much so, I was inspired to write my own little ditty. Apologies to Dr Seuss.


In future, past or present tense

We do not like coincidence.

We do not like it, Cee or Mick.

We think it is an author’s trick.


They do it when they’re in a spot.

They do it to support a plot.

They usually do it in the middle.

It is deceit. It is a fiddle.


The hero hides behind a door.

Hears facts he never knew before.

Clues she left upon the bed. Duh!

Something missing in the shed. Duh!


Coincidence along the street.

Convenient strangers characters meet.

Authors must know it is a ‘fou’.

But do not know what else to do.


It walks and quacks just like a duck.

We do not want it in a book.

We do not want it in our fiction.

It is a cop-out, causing friction.


It is not good. It is not clever.

We’d ban coincidence forever.

And yet, and yet, we do declare

Coincidence is everywhere.


We do not like it when we’re reading.

But it fills the life we’re leading.

No easy-outs in fiction stuff.

In Life, we like it well enough.


Plots and story lines that rely too much on coincidence annoy me. But the truth is, coincidence does happen in real life. Maybe it’s time for me to try it in my fiction. It’s my own, personal green eggs and ham.

But I think I’ll try it in a short story first.

What do you think about the use of coincidence in fiction?





Which characters are real?

Characters for your fiction are everywhere

even here at the clinic. This is where I’m at 5 days a week, all day being bent and stretched, but that’s no excuse for not doing any writing.

 characters at the clinic

even clinics harbour characters

There’s no shortage of characters in this place. It’s called ré-éducation this teaching your limbs how to work properly. It’s a bit like re-hab except most patients are over 50. Make that 60.

There are bad legs and bad arms, slings and crutches enough to make you wonder if there are any uninjured people left in this part of France.

On the residents’ wing patients are recovering from operations, strokes, heart attacks and nasty falls. In the day clinic where I’m an outpatient there are some young people and they are mostly ski-ing accidents.

Stories just waiting to be written

The Queen of Andorra is here with her fabulous jewellery and stunning outfits. Not for her the yoga pants, trainers and sloppy tees. Her shoes are handmade pumps to match her numerous ensembles. I expect she wore high Jimmy Choos before she bust her leg ski-ing in the Pyrenees so now she’s had a bunch of flatties  made to fit her slim but extremely long feet. (Feet are the only thing I’ve got smaller than hers)

She drives to her physio sessions in her Porsche. On the front there’s a regal looking car badge.

Andorra character

I didn’t realise Andorra is a Principality!

It’s hard to tell where the guys are looking when she rolls up.

She’s got a fantastic figure (except for the feet) and is a natural beauty. Plus, she knows how much jewellery to wear.

CopyCat characters

When she first arrived she unwittingly started the ‘bling’ competition among the other women, yours truly excepted. I can’t get my hand round the back of my neck to fasten jewellery anyway. So, it was an experience for me to sit there with my notebook and watch and listen, and take my notes.

Another ski accident has recently arrived. Her eyes are sunken and dark-rimmed. She’s in a lot of pain. I haven’t seen the ghost of a smile on her face.

The other ski accidents are men. One is a leg; one is an arm; another is both legs and one arm. He is one of the most masculine types: square jaw, chiselled features, all that good stuff. He isn’t the best-looking though. That title goes to the 6ft 4″ proprietor of the local archery club who one day let fly an arrow with such velocity it pulled his shoulder out. He has a physique so tight you could play bongos on his buttocks. Actually, I’d like to.

bongo characters

beat the bongos

Then there’s Mister Bean. In the pool, where we have our Balneotherapy, he will not listen to our instructor’s advice. Mr Bean is a character who wants to do everything his own way. He’s all arms and legs going in every direction at once so I can’t tell which part of him was injured. He behaves like he’s fifteen. He’s 70 if he’s a day.

There’s a left shoulder who looks like Gaylord Focker and a right shoulder who looks like Spencer Tracy and then there’s two Spanish old boys who sound as if they’re speaking their mother tongue even when they’re speaking in French. I don’t understand a word so I nod and smile a lot at them.

The newest guy lives at the Naturist colony in Cap d’Agde and his name is Monsieur Le Coq.

The Lady in Black has left. Every item of clothing she wore, everyday was black: trousers, skirts, blouses, jackets, knitwear, socks, hairband, spectacle frames. Everything. But her shoes were white. Work that one out.

Mouse Lady and Bird Lady have also finished their treatments. They left on the same Friday and brought cakes and drinks and a whole feast of goodies to say goodbye to the rest of us. Then I felt mean for giving them such dismissive nicknames.

There’s Marie Louise who works for Air France. She’s always making coffee and asking if anybody wants one.

AirFrance character

Air France logo

There’s Giselle with teeth like piano keys and Corinne who has a different car with a different man in it come to pick her up at the end of each day. Maybe they’re her clients waiting for her hip to get better.

Plenty of characters, you see? I could base my fictional characters on any of these. Stories are coming out of my pores as I sweat out the pain of having my elbow pushed, my shoulder hoisted, my wrist twisted and my fingers pulled.

But which of these characters do you think are real? I’ve changed names and embroidered a bit as writers do, but, go on, which ones are real? Have a go.

You can leave your comment at the top of the page. I’d love to know what you think.

Arse(d) Ends. Great reviews on Amazon

Mick’s crowing about his latest reviews for Arse(d) Ends, his first collection of darkly comic stories. I have a soft spot for the old boy, so I thought it might be an idea to give him a little update on MY website.

Arse(d) Ends

I know it’s a weird title. I know some people don’t like it, but Mick does and he’s sticking with it. You can’t deny the title suits the mood of each story. Mick is Celia’s alter ego. Remember him? You can find out more about him here.

One reviewer, Juliet on Amazon.co.uk has said the stories in Arse(d) Ends are ‘ a cross between Alan Bennett and Tales of the Unexpected.’


We like that. A lot.

Arse(d) Ends story collection

comedy with a twist

There aren’t many words in the English language ending with the letters a.r.s.e. Mick took six of them as inspiration: Parse, Sparse, Enhearse, Coarse, Unrehearse(d) and Hearse.

These are stories with a twist. Humour with a hidden dagger. (Metaphorically speaking)

Mick says,

Even good people have a dark side that comes out every so often.’

Of course, Mick is more highly tuned into the things that are likely to go wrong, so while Celia moves on with her women’s fiction, Mick gets free rein in his own favourite shadowland.

The Dark Side

We’re not talking horror or fantasy or sci-fi. No. It’s more fantastical sic-fic. (I just made that up. Do you like it?)

Real life settings with real life characters but with some very odd situations – just like real life where dark and light and funny and sad can happen all at the same time.

So there are some unusual combinations in Mick’s stories.

Feral cats,

Arse(d) Ends feral cat

watch out!

and deadbolts feature in one story in the collection.    According to Mick, it’s often these unusual combination of elements that make for the liveliest stories.

Arse(d) Ends deadbolt

In another of Mick’s stories, Ted is sick to death of his wife’s hobby – making Teddy Bears. Who knew Teddy Bears could be so offensive?

Arse(d) Ends teddy bears


A reviewer on Amazon France says there’s something Dahlesque about the tales in Arse(d) Ends. A wonderful compliment, but if you don’t believe me, the review is there for all to see on Amazon. fr. It’s a pity all the reviews don’t show across each platform so that whether a customer is buying from .com., .uk., or any other Amazon site, they’d be able to see all the reviews if they wished.

Here’s a link to the Amazon UK page where you can click to read a sample of the first story.

Alternatively, you can listen to a short reading here.

Should I mention Arse(d) Ends would make a lovely stocking filler?

Oh, go on then.

Arse(d) Ends would make a lovely stocking filler.

Till next time,



First dark humour collection published on Kindle.

Mick Alec Idlelife. Writer of dark humour. MICK ALEC IDLELIFE. Who?

He’s just an anagram- that’s all he is. So what if he got a book published first? He couldn’t have done it without me.

Here’s the cover.

dark humour

dark humour for upgrowns

The title is as irreverent as his surname. That’s how he likes it. He doesn’t want to be categorised in a genre. The closest he will come to assigning a category of literature to this, his first collection, is to call it dark humour.

But, some of it is quite shocking. Endings can be quite a surprise. Other tales have an underlying sadness beneath the brash exterior. That’s life, according to Mick. There are no clear boundaries on feelings, he believes. It is quite possible to experience many conflicting emotions all at the same time, so why shouldn’t fiction reflect this?

There are six stories in this book, 48,000 words in total. As long as a novella. 140 pages or thereabouts depending on how large you like your font on Kindle. Mick would say it’s excellent value for money. He’s just paid £2 for something 12 pages long.

The title is wordplay in itself. There aren’t many words in the English language ending in a.r.s.e. Enough for this and a possible second collection. That’s going to depend upon the success of the first, of course.

So, it’s over to you now, people. One day I hope to be able to call you fans. Download fingers at the ready?

Here’s the page on


-and here’s a link to my Amazon author page.

I hope you enjoy the characters and situations in Arse(d) Ends. I don’t think you’ll forget them!





People watching in the market. Inspiration for a story?

People watching is a favourite pastime of mine.

We’d been to the Wednesday market and sat at the same café as my previous French market post on a terrace overlooking the crowd where I like to do my people watching. I snapped a few more nice shots of people passing by.

no cicadas here

every picture tells a story

This would make a lively practice piece for character development. Who are the main characters? What is their relationship to one another? What is their background? Are they wealthy? Are they visitors to this area, or do they live here? And so on and so on.

You could use the secondary characters in the background, too. Who looks happy? Who doesn’t? Why? Is there a face that looks apprehensive? Why might that be?

Before you realise, you’re writing a short story.

Maybe you’ll follow some of these characters home to develop their story further. What would their home be like?

Here’s another people picture.

melon people

giant basket of melons

Opportunities for creating setting and character development are staring you in the face.

You can let your imagine run riot. You can write down lots of ideas. You don’t have to keep them all. Keep the ones that work best.

What are these children thinking? Why do they put their fingers to their mouths?

After every visit to the market, I come home with new characters to think about. Maybe they’ll find their way into a new short story. Perhaps I’ll keep them for something longer.

It doesn’t matter whether you write romance, fantasy, mystery, horror, sic-fi or thriller. Whatever genre you write in, or avoid becoming labelled as, most stories have one thing in common: people.

Go people watching and take a notebook. Your camera should be with you at all times, too. You never know what you might find around the corner.

People watching must be popular. There’s even a WikiHow to page about it. So, if you’re not sure how to begin, here’s a link with some ideas.


How do you write a novel? A bit at a time.

It seems you’re expected to answer this question of how do you write a novel. At some point, your followers are going to want to know. That’s lovely. That’s why I’m writing this blog: to reach people I’ll never meet in the flesh. I’m delighted to have some followers. I hope to have lots more.


the lady diarist at her desk

Other writers will be curious, too. We all have our own ways, what works best for us. There are probably as many different ways of setting about the writing of a novel as there are different kinds of books. I have a link here to tips from published writers. I read both Larry and Holly and I think their information is so valuable to new writers setting out on their journey.

I don’t beat myself up about targets. I write here about letting it happen. Sometimes, my plans take a day off and the page stays empty. Other days, an idea explodes out of nowhere and I have to drop what I was writing and scribble down this new idea for a short story. It isn’t a problem. I let it happen. Why would I want to shut out new ideas just because I’d been planning to edit chapter fifteen of something else?

So, I run with the sprint of a short story when it presents itself. Writing a novel, though, is a marathon. Planning is a must. I plan everything in great detail. I know my characters inside out and upside down. By the time I get around to writing their scenes, I’ve lived with them for weeks. I know exactly where they live and how it looks. I won’t use all that information, but it’s useful for me to visualize them when they’re walking along the streets of the village I’ve invented. I even draw maps.

map of Montalhan

my version of Montalhan sans Vents in the novel Trobairitz

Okay, so the drawing isn’t fabulous, but this is the village my Trobairitz is imagining when she tells her stories at the overnight truck stop. She knows where the vineyards are in relation to the housing developments. She knows where the river runs past the chateau on its way to the sea. She knows the narrow passages and steep steps linking levels of the circulade.


circulades are spiral shaped

In Trobairitz, the shape of the village is reflected in the stories she tells. There is a central theme, hiding under the archways, shrinking back into the alleys, revealing itself only gradually. I like that kind of a tease in books.

I plan a timeline, too, so I know how events from the three books fit into a chronological order, even if in the narrative I don’t treat them chronologically. The whole thing becomes a magnificent obsession, to borrow fromMagnificentObsess Douglas.

Now, there was a story. I wonder whether its themes would stand up today? That might be an interesting exercise one day; one day when I’m not obsessed with my own creations.

Sometimes, the short story I dashed down in between writing chapters of the magnificent obsession pops back, like indigestion. Erm, over here, it says, have another look at me. I’m not finished.

And I have another look, and it isn’t finished and, would you believe it? There’s enough there for a whole new novel. I’ll make that another post.