Newsletter no 67 July 2013

You remember I’ve been on a clothes moth hunt recently? Well, this continues. I suppose my ‘kill’ count is about five a day. Where do they come from? Where are they hiding? But my trusty battery-operated ‘tennis racquet’ deals with them in satisfactory fashion. One of my readers says she uses hair spray to deal with moths. Now, there’s a thought! I used to use hair spray on mosquitoes in the old days, and had forgotten how efficacious it was. Any advance on hair spray, anyone?

This month has been difficult. I have had such a long wait for the verdict from my editor on the book I delivered at the beginning of June. False Diamond is another Bea Abbot story, straying into high finance and low skulduggery, with several  twists in the plot . . . but days and weeks have passed and still Rachel has been unable to get back to me, because she’d had a backlog to deal with. There was a paragraph in The Times recently saying that stress was OK but worrying about being stressed led to nervous breakdowns – or words to that effect. I am confused. If you’re stressed, surely you worry about whatever it is that is causing the stress? And now I’m supposed to worry about being worried about all the stress? I give up. (Or at least, I will try not to worry till I hear from Rachel that all is well – or not, as the case may be.)

Meanwhile I have started on another Ellie Quicke. This one is called Murder in Time, and the first chapter has caused me maximum aggro. I knew what I wanted to have my character say, but words were not enough to let us understand how difficult it was for her to speak of a traumatic event in the past. I had to ‘see’ how hard it was for her to speak of it, and I had to ‘show’ the reaction of other people to what she said. No, it wasn’t easy.

Sometimes first chapters almost write themselves. I know what the characters are going to say and how they say it, but just now and then I find myself writing and re-writing – doing some more thinking and then re-writing the whole scene. Once I got past that first chapter and was on to the next bit of plot, I was all right. More or less. I fear this one is not going to be easy to write. But then, when you’re dealing with a matter like rape, perhaps it shouldn’t be.

It is too early yet to have got any reviews for MURDER WITH MERCY, the l4th Ellie Quicke, but fingers crossed, they should be on their way soon. This book is now out in the UK, and available in Canada, America, Australia, et al very soon.

In this story, Ellie is asked to investigate whether or not some deaths in the community are exactly what they seem, while her pregnant, difficult daughter Diana is struggling to cope at work, and her husband is still in a wheelchair. What’s more, sabotage at the big house nearby is being blamed on young Mikey, who is certainly up to something. Can Ellie track down whoever it is who is killing for mercy, keep Mikey out of the clutches of Social Services, and steer her difficult daughter Diana into calmer waters?

The Winchester Writers Conference was great. I enjoyed meeting up with old friends and being able to encourage some writers at the start of their journey into publication. I was asked to say the grace at the start of the Saturday evening, with a caveat that it had to be non-specific about religion. I don’t find this easy to do. I mean, if you’re a Christian, then why not say so? 

So I adapted a grace I’ve heard before and will sign off with it . . .

Let us all give thanks
For food in a world where many go hungry
For friends in a world where many walk alone
For courage in a world where many walk in fear
For the gift of words, to be used for those who have no voice
Let us all give thanks.

Veronica Heley