Newsletter no.99 March 2016

First, the good news – which is that no more milk has disappeared from my doorstep since my milkman took to hiding the bottles in the flowerbed. But; another would-be thief has emerged from hiding. Picture me delving into the plants to retrieve the milk bottle and carrying it into the kitchen for breakfast . . . and as I place it on the work surface, I touch something slimy. And it gives way. And I scream a little scream. (Well, more of a strangled yelp, if truth be told.) For there is a large SLUG who is well on his way up the bottle with intent to help himself to the nice milk inside. I mean . . . UGH! And . . . revolting! Some mornings there is nothing to be found. At other times – especially if it has rained in the night – I may well find several large black yukkies. I swipe them off into the garden rubbish bag. No, I don’t kill them. Well, I suppose they will die eventually but they can live in a semi-paradise till the bin men come to remove the rubbish. Thus perish all thieves. Or would-be thieves.          

Now for the latest development in the next Ellie Quicke. I called it MURDER AT THE MAGPIE, the text was accepted, and I got through the copy-editing without too much trouble. The ‘Magpie’ in question was the name of the fashion boutique around which the story revolves. The book was scheduled to come out at the end of June 2016, and although I hadn’t seen the proposed cover, all seemed to be going smoothly . . . until I had an email saying that the publishers were having second thoughts about the title. What? (Or should it be What!) This title had been accepted and approved way back last spring! But no; the Powers that Be had now decided that the Magpie in question wouldn’t mean anything to the reader. They suggested another couple of titles – you can picture me seething with fury – can’t you? I was not at all willing to believe that they had a good point. Anyway, I came up with MURDER IN STYLE, which was accepted. So, expunge Murder at the Magpie from your memories, please, and substitute MURDER IN STYLE. And no, there’s no need for me to alter anything in the text.                   

The 10th Bea Abbot, titled FALSE WALL has been doing well in the reviews, and a good number of review bloggers have put something out about it. Hurray! In case you’ve missed it, I’d better repeat the information about getting a digital review copy. If you are a librarian or a review blogger, you can email Charlotte at Severn House and she will send one to you. The latest review through was from Booklist, who say, ‘An intriguing plot, a tough-minded heroine, and a satisfying ending make this an entertaining read.’

I’ve been asked for another short story for Easter but had difficulty in getting to it. The problem is that Easter is early this year. I take about three months to get the first draft of a book onto the computer, after which I set it aside for a while . . . and it’s then that I usually write the next short story. This year the editor wanted the story by the beginning of March. I was nowhere near ready to set Bea aside to work on something else and I had difficulty flipping from one storyline to another.

I have a writer friend who was commissioned to write a psychological thriller at the same time as she had to produce another police procedural. She solved this by writing one on her main computer, and the other on her laptop. One in the morning and the other in the afternoon. So, if I moved from my desk in the study to a table downstairs . . . would that work? To be continued . . .

I have just realised that the next newsletter will be my one hundredth! And no, I don’t expect a card from the Queen, but perhaps I should mark the occasion in some way?

Any ideas? Ought I to include a picture of me, if I can work out how to do it. Is there anything special you’d like me to write about? Or should I continue as usual?

Finally, a blessing: may the flowers that bloom in the spring lift your heart in thanksgiving.

Veronica Heley

  1. I’ve just noticed that a neighbour’s milk is left in his porch with the doormat upended and hiding it from view!

NEW . . . .

FALSE           WALL, the 10th Bea Abbot. December 31st 2015, 3 months later in the USA and other overseas territories. Bea Abbot watched in horror as her garden wall came crashing down, exposing human bones in a neighbour’s pets’ cemetery. An invitation to Bea and her financier friend Leon from the Admiral and his lady next door leaves both of them in hospital. It also leaves Bea’s home and her agency rooms uninhabitable, while threatening to destroy Leon’s reputation. Bea is distressed when, at this traumatic moment, Leon deserts her to rescue a business deal. Even with the help of her friends, can the agency survive – and what then will become of Bea’s relationship with Leon? Severn House,ISBN 978-0-7278-8576-0.

FALSE IMPRESSION, the 9th Bea Abbot. The paperback edition, available from December 31st 2015, 3 months later for overseas. A series of strange events and seemingly unrelated deaths lead Leon to take refuge with Bea. And nothing is what it seems. Severn House ISBN 978-1-84751-5629.

MURDER BY SUSPICION- the 16th Ellie Quicke. Booklist review: ‘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.’

Hardback: ISBN 9780 7278 85241   E-book: 9781 78010 6779

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.

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