Newsletter no.120 December 2017

Have you ever found yourself faced with a ‘freeze’ on the computer screen which will not respond to the usual blandishments? Twice this last month I have triggered something called ‘track changes’. I have no idea how I did it. (Please, don’t tell me!) Track changes are used by editors to mark things they wish to query or alter. I do get manuscripts sent back to me by a copy editor which is marked up in such fashion, but I have never tried to do it myself. Suddenly I found myself unable to alter anything in my draft. I hammered on different keys to no avail.

At last I resorted to the well-known business of pressing everything in sight and seeing if it might or might not relate to what has happened. And yes, that worked. Sort of. And then, would you believe it, a few days later it happened again? The second time round I did remember that it was something to do with ‘track changes’. So far, so good. But then I had to work out all over again how to cancel it. And yes, finally, after some teeth-grinding, I got back to where I had been when I was so rudely interrupted.

In other words, I have got through the third draft of the next Ellie Quicke, and am about to start on the fourth and last run through, before delivering the story at the end of the year. This tale is called MURDER BY SUGGESTION. I am told that the hardback will be out in the UK in July ’18, and in the USA, etc., in October. As soon as I despatch this one, I shall be thinking about the next, which will be another Bea Abbot.

It’s all deadlines at the moment. I worked hard on my story for the Christmas issue of the Methodist Recorder. I got it down to the right size, I polished here and there, and finally felt it was ready for submission. Fortunately I took the precaution of having it vetted by a good friend before I sent it off . . . and she spotted a wonderful howler! I had written that my heroes had put all the dirty dishes in the washing machine (instead of the dishwasher)! Yes! I must have read that bit over and over and over – and still not spotted it. However, she did, and I altered it. Thank you, my friend.

The story is called ‘What is a gift?’ It’s not really about money, but what a gift can cost in terms of time and trouble. If you can’t get hold of the Christmas issue of the Recorder and would like to read it, just email me AFTER it’s been published, and I’ll send you a copy by email.

And finally; Try to ease away the stresses and strains of preparing for a commercial Christmas. May you bear in mind, instead, the blessings that came with the birth of Jesus.

Veronica Heley.