Please welcome today's honored guest author, Catherine Dilts. To Catherine, rock shops are like geodes – both contain amazing treasures hidden inside their plain-as-dirt exteriors. Publishers Weekly calls her novel Stone Cold Dead – A Rock Shop Mystery, an “enjoyable debut,” and says that “readers will look forward to seeing more of this endearing and strong protagonist.” Catherine works as an environmental scientist, and plays at heirloom vegetable gardening, camping, and fishing. She has published short fiction in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Visit her at http://www.catherinedilts.com/
Coincidence is unplanned and unexpected, like when my daughter sang a line from a Seal song over the phone to me the very day I had dug a Seal CD out of the closet. Neither of us had listened to the musical artist in years. Weird, but rather meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
By my definition, you don’t have any control over coincidence. These experiences slip through your life, perhaps briefly noted as peculiar, even startling, but not particularly important. Being in the right place at the right time is different, involving preparation in the hopeful expectation that opportunity will knock. You can’t plan a coincidence, but you can be prepared in the event that one happens.
Angel Smits’ novel about miners trapped in a coal mine - A Message for Julia - was released in December 2010. The Chilean mine collapse and the intense drama surrounding the rescue of 33 miners had just played out from August through October of that same year. For the fascinating story, see - http://fivescribes.blogspot.com/2010/12/message-for-julia-visit-with.html
Obviously, Angel did not write a novel about a Pennsylvania mining disaster in anticipation that it would mirror a real life rescue. She’s an author, not a clairvoyant. Mere happenstance caused her novel to debut immediately after the Chilean drama, while the incident was fresh in potential readers’ minds. Angel has since sold a six-book series to Harlequin. An amazing coincidence helped launch Angel’s writing career, but talent and hard work sustained her.
I experienced my own writing coincidence in 2012 when I sold my first short story, and a few months later, my first novel. Over a year earlier, I had jokingly declared to friends and family that I intended to be published before the end of the Mayan calendar (December 2012). With that lofty goal driving me, I spent more time writing and submitting in the two years prior to the potential End of the World than I had in the previous decade. Fortunately, neither my writing aspirations nor the planet expired.
Another coincidence I hope works in my favor is that a reality television program now in its second season portrays mining for gemstones, an important although peripheral aspect of my novel. I wrote my book before the TV program began, but amazingly, Prospectors http://www.weather.com/tv/tvshows/prospectors takes place in the very Colorado mountains that are the setting for Stone Cold Dead – A Rock Shop Mystery.
There can be coincidence within fiction too, but because the author is purposefully setting up that situation, it must be handled with care to make it believable. The mystery protagonist has to be the one to stumble across the body, after all. In a series, that character develops an abnormal propensity for getting caught in the middle of murder. Clues are frequently discovered by chance. As long as the author doesn’t try the reader’s patience with absurd coincidences, we’ll go along for the ride.
Coincidence can lead to great things for the person who is prepared, but how can you possibly prepare for something you don’t know will happen? It’s a paradox. My advice is to pursue your dreams with relentless enthusiasm in anticipation of a right-place-at-the-right-time moment.