Newsletter no.146, February 2020

Isn’t the start of a New Year rather messy? I spent ages clearing up the stuff on my desk, paying bills, taking Christmas cards to be recycled, pinning up new calendars and writing important messages in my 2020 diary. I told myself that I would not go back to the stories I was writing till I’d done my housekeeping chores. Finally, my desk was clear – for half a day. And then another bill arrived.

Now I have another problem. In the past I have worked on a book for Ellie or Bea till I’ve got the first draft done and can relax . . . which is when I start thinking about the next short story for the Methodist Recorder. This time, I wasn’t half way through an Ellie story when ten-year old Joe starting asking me why we have chocolate Easter eggs all the year round and why do we give things up for Lent. This resulted in my asking the Methodist Recorder if they think a story about the ‘whys’ of Lent might be of interest. And they said yes and I have to deliver by St Valentine’s day, while I’m still wrestling with the plot of the next Ellie.

Now I am not good at multi-tasking. Oh, I don’t mean I can’t make a mug of tea while peeling potatoes or answer the front door while on the phone to a friend. Yes. But I do find it hard to switch from one plot to another. One writer I know works on a crime novel on her desk-top in the morning while switching to her laptop for a psychological drama in the afternoon. My brain likes to poke around with one idea at a time. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe I need to take more Vitamin D. Whatever it is, both the short story and the next book are coming along, but slowly.

My website manager and I have been looking at how best to make these short stories available to you. I have a long list of people who can’t get hold of the Recorder itself, and have asked me to send them a copy when each story comes out, which is great – but it is time-consuming. Now I like to reply to anyone who writes to me about the short stories or anything else . . . well, no, NOT politics, please! . . . and I will continue to do so, but there may be ways of making the system work better. For the moment we continue as before and I’ll let you know when the next story is due to come out.

Meanwhile, FALSE CONCLUSION is done and dusted and due out at the end of March. I like this story, in which Evelina, a wealthy but backward schoolgirl is dumped on a protesting Bea Abbott and her ward, Bernice. One of Evelina’s relatives dies, her family are buzzing around like flies and Bea can’t make out who is the target, the mono-syllabic schoolgirl or her own Bernice? What’s more, Bea’s long-divorced ex-husband is back on the scene and maybe – just maybe – Bea can at last relax her defences for him.

More news: Soundings were just about to record the next Ellie on their list – which is MURDER BY SUGGESTION, when their usual reader for the series, Julia Barrie, crashed out with a back injury. Fortunately they were able to get Julia Franklin, who has recorded earlier ones in this series, to take her place. Thanks are now due to both Julias!

A blessing on all who do their best to cheer us up at this dark time of the year.

Veronica Heley