Newsletter no 69 September 2013

Congratulate me! August was such a busy month that I am surprised I got any work done at all. Friends wanted to meet up, family visited . . . I’m quite surprised I got any work done at all, and that I ended up not far short of my word count target.

On the domestic front, the saga with the moths continues, though it’s not quite as huge a problem as before. I had to change the batteries in my electronic swatter and believe me, that was a first. Why do men – it must be a man who designed it! – make it impossible to see how to take the cover off to change batteries? Talk about PushMePullMe. I thought I was going to have to resort to a screwdriver to lever the right bit of plastic off but, in the end, I did manage to get it undone without breaking it. Hurray for persistence. I think.

I managed to deliver the next short story for the Methodist Recorder, which is for Harvest time. You remember the three old friends settling themselves into retirement? One of the problems they faced was that of downsizing from a large house, and this story covers one of them doing just that. It’s called A Change of Address and will be out in the Harvest edition. If you’d like to read it but can’t access a copy of the Recorder, just send me an email and I’ll email it back to you. Don’t forget that the earlier stories about this group – together with some Ellie Quicke stories, are available as an e-book titled Unsung Heroes.

I’m finding it hard to keep up with all of the titles that are now available in E format. I know that some time soon an early romance of mine, set in the Middle Ages, will be coming out in large print, and as an e-book. It was originally called The Siege of Salwarpe, but the new publishers, Chivers, feel that as it is a romance as well as a slice of baron-bashing, we ought to have a new title. Now there’s a challenge I found hard to meet. What do you think of ‘The Lonely Knight’ as a title? Or should it be ‘The Lonely Man?’ I like the first title because at least it indicates the story is set in medieval times, whereas the other one might just as well be set today. Ah well. They’ll probably choose something quite different . . . and yes, they have that right. It’s always in the contracts that the publisher has the right to decide what goes on the cover. (And yes, I have objected to what’s gone on a cover occasionally, and been told that They Know Best. Well, sigh, they may do.)

I was aching to get on with the next Ellie Quicke story, but slap! through the letter-box came the copy editing for Bea Abbot’s, FALSE DIAMOND. There were few actual queries, just some points which needed a word of explanation added here and there, and those were easy to deal with. However, the comma problem remains. On many occasions, my editor takes out the commas I have put in, and puts in one when I wouldn’t. After all these years, my publisher’s use of commas still confuses me. Yes, I have tried to understand why some are in and others are out, but in the end I have to accept that this is the way it is, and get on with it.

In recent years there have been some changes in publishers’ punctuation dealing with semi-colons. I think I have understood this. A helpful new rule, from a writer’s point of view, is the use of dashes to indicate a ‘beat’ or action between two bits of dialogue. I like this, and use it a lot.

So, as soon as the copy editing was off my hands, I plunged back into the Ellie book, which is called MURDER IN TIME. You remember I’ve been struggling with this? Years ago someone told me not to get too complicated in my plots, and I have tried not to. But the characters in this particular plot have given me a terrible time. I’ve got three different sets of people homing in on a birthday party for different reasons. Everything that could go wrong, does. Some people’s lives are changed for the better or the worse and, twelve years on, people’s memory of the evening’s events can be unreliable. And what is young Mikey going to say about the events surrounding his conception? His viewpoint can certainly NOT be taken for granted.

And now my internet has gone down. The problem seems to be an old router –whatever that may be. It looks as is I’m going to be out of circulation for a few days, except for the old snail mail and telephone system. Hopefully I’ll be back on line soon. Until then . . .

Veronica Heley

Recent releases.
MURDER FOR MERCY.  Ellie is asked to investigate whether 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?  ISBN 9780 7278 8281 3
Publisher’s Weekly. ‘ . . . this rewarding cosy.’
Kirkus Reviews. ‘Heley’s 13th finds Ellie beleaguered but resolute as ever . . .’

UNSUNG HEROES is now available as an e-book. This is a collection of short stories originally published in the Methodist Recorder, concerning the problems of three retired men and their families, plus some Ellie Quicke short stories. £3.40 UK, and $4.90 USA.

CRY FOR KIT, and SCREAM FOR SARAH. First published l970s, have been joined by FEAR FOR FRANCES in large print versions from Chivers. Warning; some sex and violence in the first two! The third is a Victorian romp-cum-whodunit. They are also available to download as e-books.

FALSE ALARM, the 7th Abbot Agency story, is now available in hardback and also as an e-book. Bea is asked to find the person who laid a booby trap for the powerful tycoon, Sir Lucas Ossett,  in his own block of flats.  ISBN 9780 7278 8237 0 for the hardback and ISBN 978 1 78010 289 4 for the ebook.
Review for this:  Kirkus: ‘The Abbot Agency’s seventh outing will be just the thing for readers who like their cosies with a bit of bite.’ And from Library Journal:
‘Think of the series’ seventh outing as a big old-fashioned country-house case, Agatha Christie-like, but dressed-up smart and chic for today.’

MURDER BY MISTAKE is now available in large print. ISBN 978 0 7278 9935 4.
FALSE REPORT is available as a paperback  and also as an ebook . This is the story in which Bea finds that assisting a vertically challenged musician to get some home help is asking for trouble, especially when a pretty girl has been trafficked into this country by a gang who target wealthy men. Paperback: ISBN 978 1 843751 408 0. Ebook: 978 1 78010 201 6.

Find details of all the other E-books at