Newsletter no. 88 April 2015

Hurray, hurray, I’m now officially convalescent. I can walk up to the shops without too many stops to admire the gardens en route. I can have a pleasurable chat over coffee with friends, and only have a catnap instead of a sleep in the afternoons. I can even do a bit of gardening! The mornings are getting lighter, there are some red sunsets to be seen in the evening, and there are sufficient flowers in the garden to lift the spirits. Altogether, life is on the upturn.

As for work – well, I have struggled to keep up with my copy dates and more or less succeeded. The short story, ‘Saying, Thank you!’ for the Methodist Recorder was accepted without the need for alteration and will be published on Good Friday. If you can’t get hold of a copy and would like to read it, let me know afterwards and I’ll send you one free by email. This story has Kerry deciding that we don’t say ‘thank you’ often enough, and proceeding to do something about it.

So back to work on the next Bea Abbot. I don’t usually have trouble thinking up a good first line, but this one has me stumped. Everyone now and then I think I’ve clinched it, and then I think . . . but . . .! And it’s back to the drawing board, because a snappy first line makes all the difference. My first effort was:

‘Bea watched, horrified.’     I scrubbed that and wrote:

‘Bea didn’t have time to scream.’        And finally,

‘She didn’t even have time to scream.’

It may still change because it is so important. Think about it; you’re in the library and you pick up a book by an author you don’t know, and what do you do? You may read the blurb, but then you read the first line. If that interests you, you are likely to read on. If not, you put the book down again. I usually read the last line of the book as well – but then, I’m one of those peculiar people who can’t bear to read the whole thing before finding out Whodunnit!

Then I had the copy editing to do for MURDER BY SUSPICION. Concentration required! I decided to reward myself with a piece of chocolate when I reached the end of each chapter. I got hung up on a crucial scene at the end which needed alteration, but think I’ve managed to sort it now.

I have been working so hard that many of the letters on my keyboard had disappeared. Now normally it’s not a great problem but when I have a senior moment, I glare at the white keys and think, ‘Now, where is that N?’ I thought I’d be clever and ink the missing letters in with a marker pen. Now I have violet fingertips and smudges over the whole keyboard. Yes, I know I need a new keyboard, but it’s just one more thing to organise . . . like replace the plug and chain in the basin in the bathroom. I have bought the necessary parts but haven’t a pair of pliers with which to effect the alteration. Perhaps a charitable friend will oblige.

Later – aren’t friends wonderful? Marie came round with a pair of pliers and managed the change-over, to my enormous relief. She offered me a loan of her pliers to do the job, but I declined with thanks, on the basis that she’s much less cack-handed than me. Now I owe her a cup of coffee.

April is the time for the London Book Fair, which this year returns to Olympia after having been at Earls Court for many years. I’m not at all sure how they’ll all fit in. The people who are organising the event keep sending me emails about attending all sorts of seminars and worthy-sounding workshops but I’m only going on one day to see my editors and my agent, so won’t have time afterwards to do more than have a quick look around. The publishing world has changed so much over the last twenty years that it’s hard to keep up with all the developments – for instance, who’d heard of e-books when I first got published?

A blessing: on all those wonderful people who help us in our hour of need.

Veronica Heley

NEW . . . . LONGSWORD, an audiobook from Soundings. A romping adventure set in the Middle Ages, about a man wrongly accused of theft. He takes refuge in a castle, where he falls for a girl whose father has vowed she is to become a nun. CD/9781407951683.

Recently published: FALSE IMPRESSION, 9th in the Abbot Agency series. Bea has taken in the helpless Dilys, who accidentally infects the agency’s systems with a virus, while Bea’s on-and-off friend Leon also seeks sanctuary with her. Both Leon and Dilys’s boy-friend Orlando had been lured to the car park of a swimming pool where a murderer had been at work – leaving them entangled in a web from which they find it hard to extricate themselves. Everything that happens can be interpreted in different ways and it’s some time before Bea realises exactly who was murdered and why. Before she does so, she and everyone else in the house and at the agency find themselves under siege.   Severn House. ISBN 978 0 7278 8445 9.

The new pop-up by Francesca Crespi, for Noah’s Ark, has a text written by yours truly. Francesca’s work is stunning. Frances Lincoln, ISBN 978-1-84507-937-6.

In January the Ellie Quicke story, MURDER IN TIME, came out as a paperback on   ISBN 978 18475 15186, and in February there was a large print version, at   ISBN 978 072 789 7770. Both from Severn House

One of my earliest historicals – MY LORD, THE HERMIT – has just come out on audiobook at CD/9781407951638.

SUE FOR MERCY, my very first published book, is now out as an e-book, as are CRY FOR KIT, and THE SIEGE OF SALWARPE – a romance set in the middle ages.

You can hear me reading various bits and pieces in recordings made by Isis (Soundings) as follows: Podcast & Interview:   Collected newsletters 2011-2014 (one audio file)   Links to individual newsletters (click on each title)

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

Find details of all the other E-books at