To start with, thanks to everyone who has commiserated with me on my email troubles. I reckon I spent a whole week of my life on the phone to India! I have been told that I still ought to do more to get the system running perfectly, but it does now seem to respond to what I ask it to do – for which I give thanks.
I also had a query as to whether there would be any more short stories in the Methodist Recorder about my two retired men and their problems. Well, the second short story in the new series was published on 25th September. I didn’t get the date early enough to flag it up in the last newsletter, but if you’d like a copy, then just drop me an email, and I’ll send it to you. This one was called ‘Excuse me!’ and it shows our man from Mars discovering that he still has a sense of justice. A gang of shoplifters causes chaos in the town centre, which gives our old friends Bruce and Leo a chance to help Corin, if he will only accept that he is still part of the human race. There’ll be another story at Christmas time but I don’t have the date yet.
A delightful parcel arrived on my doorstep just as I was off to Warwick University to teach for a weekend at the National Association of Writing Groups – of which more in a minute. The parcel contained the newly published audiobooks of one of my historical novels, called The Tarrant Rose. A lovely cover of an old house – you remember I had cause to be concerned when a story which I can only call ‘a Georgian romp’ had a Victorian dress on the cover? Anyway, this particular story is set in Jacobean times and is about pride, mistaken identity, and plots in high places at the court of George II regarding the Pretender to the throne. I seem to remember doing a lot of research for this book to get the costumes and everyday matters right, but the love story could be set in any age.
The weekend spent at Warwick University went well. I am trying to cut down the number of such workshops I do nowadays, but this one is always worth while. Contact with a professional can shorten the learning curve for a new writer, and that’s what I aim to do. The campus is amazing! And they are still building! A doctor friend of mine used to say that, to keep students healthy, all accommodation ought to be at least a mile from the lecture rooms, and up a steep hill. Our accommodation this time was a good ten minute walk away from where we gave our workshops, but it was well designed, clean, secure . . . and looked out onto countryside! Oh, and the food was good, too. But why, oh why, do caterers think you can make a drinkable cup of tea by pouring hot-but-not-boiling water out of an insulated container onto a tea bag? I’m probably complaining in vain as this way of serving ‘tea’ is gaining ground everywhere.
MURDER AT THE MAGPIE. So, how is the Magpie book getting on? As you probably know by now, I go over and over and over each manuscript before it’s sent off to the publishers. I’m always having to bear in mind that 85,000 words is the maximum for a Severn House book. Sometimes I’m over on my first draft, sometimes under. This time I was under by a thousand words. At the end of the second draft, I was five hundred over. So then I was taking out the odd sentence here and there to get the word count down, until I found I had to add another sentence to explain this and that . . . But I still have time to work on it.
MURDER BY SUSPICION- that’s the one in which the charismatic leader of a cult is after Ellie’s money, and Claire the Tearful is a disaster as Ellie’s new housekeeper –
has had another good review. This time it’s from Booklist, who say ‘The latest in Heley’s long-running series again draws its appeal from the mix of suspense, gentle humour, an unpredictable plot, and a brave and engaging amateur sleuth.’ Bravo, say I!
And finally, a blessing: may the coming of the autumn colours give us an opportunity to pause and marvel at the beauties of the Creator’s wonderful world.
NEW . . . .
The audiobook of THE TARRANT ROSE, from Soundings, ISBN 9781407951836
MURDER BY SUSPICION, the 16th Ellie Quicke.
Hardback: ISBN 9780 7278 85241 E-book: 9781 78010 6779
FALSE IMPRESSION, the 9th Bea Abbot. Large print: ISBN 978 0 7278 7164 7
And . . . the paperback is coming soon.