Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Coffee by the Window, 1945--Konstantin Gorbatov (1876 - 1945) I felt a little out of touch with my North Carolina life while I was in DC at Malice Domestic.

My cell phone decided that it wouldn’t charge with either of my two chargers. I emailed my husband and told him what was up—and to call me only if there was something important. If he wanted to just shoot the breeze, then email me.

So I was one of the first people at the cell phone store when it opened Monday morning.

A young guy in his early twenties helped me out. “I think,” I said, “that it’s the port on the phone and not the charger.”

He looked unhappy because this meant I would have to get a new phone from them with no charge. They’d already told me that they couldn’t fix broken phone ports, at least on that model.

He took my phone off into the back of the shop.

“It’s your charger,” he said breezily when he came back in. “It started charging just fine when I plugged it into our charger in the back.

I opened my pocketbook and took out both of my chargers. “So,” I said slowly, “you’re saying that both my chargers went bad? Simultaneously?”

He swallowed. I raised my eyebrows at him.

“Yes ma’am. That’s what I’m saying.”

“It’s sort of coincidental, wouldn’t you say?” I asked him.

He nodded.

“Do you mind checking it again?” I asked. “Just to make sure?”

Because coincidences do happen. But not all that often.

As a reader, coincidences can be frustrating to read. They can make the story seem really contrived…and make the writer look lazy.

But sometimes—life does work that way. Despite my doubts, the cell phone rep found that my phone chargers were both defective. Suddenly. At the same time. And there haven’t been any lightning storms or anything.

I’ve found that, when I’m reading, I’m more accepting of coincidences in some circumstances.

I think I don’t find it too unbelievable when two people meet as the result of a coincidence. I think I’m more inclined to toss that up as fate.

I also don’t mind small coincidences at the start of a book. Later on, if a coincidence is used to wrap up a book in a tidy way, that annoys the stew out of me. It just reeks of deus ex machina.

What about you? Do you ever use little coincidences or twists of fate as a writer? Do they bother you as a reader or are you able to overlook them?