Newsletter no.158, September 15th, 2020

Did I solve the mystery of the large man who took a huge back pack and a rolled up red umbrella into the park early in the mornings? Well, yes and no. Lots of you came up with theories which might fit the bill. One suggested he was a photographer, taking advantage of there being less people in the park in the early morning, to get a few shots in. Others suggested he was selling drugs. Most people – including my family who take exercise seriously – think that he was training for something. Apparently, athletes carry heavy back packs to help them develop their muscles. But what about the red umbrella, I ask? That doesn’t fit the picture . . . or does it?

Meanwhile, lots of stuff has been going on on the work front. In the first place, the next Ellie book – MURDER-IN-LAW – has been accepted and I should be getting the dreaded copy editor’s comments at the end of this month. I’ll let you know when I get a publication date.

And here I have to stop and ask if you will help us decide how to plan these books in the future. I have been living with Ellie for twenty years. After some five books, my then editor suggested that it was usual for a character to fade away after seven or eight titles, so would I please think up another good protagonist to take over from Ellie. That’s when Bea Abbot came into being. But, instead of a drop in sales for Ellie, her books continued to sell, and so we started doing Ellie and Bea alternately.

In the early days people said they liked Ellie rather than Bea, but lately people have been saying that they now prefer Bea. I’d love to hear what you think. (All right! I know I do try to reply to all emails but if many of you are going to email me on this and, don’t get me wrong, I do hope that you will do so then, please have mercy and don’t expect a reply every single time!)

The latest short story for the Methodist Recorder is ‘Love in Lockdown’ – bang up to date and seeing Sally well on the way to recovery from her bout of coronavirus. It was published on August 28th. If you haven’t been able to get hold of a copy, and would like to read it, just drop me an email and I’ll send it to you, free.

Meanwhile the story from the archives which automatically comes with this newsletter was originally called ‘All Change’ but I’ve renamed it ‘The Kindness of Strangers.’ You’ll see why when you access it here . . .

And a quickie: the large print hard back version of FALSE ACCOUNT is out at the end of September, so if you fancy reading that, do put in for it at the library.

A blessing on all who are kind to strangers.

Veronica Heley

Newsletter no.157, September 1st, 2020

You like a mystery, don’t you? I certainly do. Now I’ve got a new one. Twice last week as I drew back the curtains in the morning, I saw a new Smart car park on the other side of the road. A very large, shaven-headed black man got out. He was wearing good, casual, T-shirt, shorts, trainers. There was nothing of the second-hand about him. He extracted a bright red rolled up umbrella and a very large back pack from the car, walked over the road and disappeared into the park.

Was he planning to camp in the park? Surely not. That park is very well used. Social distancing is enforced with a police presence now and then. Was he delivering something to someone who lived the other side of the park? In which case, why not park over there? Was he delivering to the café in the park? No, because in that case there’s a much more convenient road he would have taken in. I have exercised my brains considerably on this matter and come up with no satisfactory answers. Oh, and the Smart car had gone by the time I’ve had my breakfast. Answers on a post card, please. No, no. An email, of course!

You may remember I was asked for another short story by the Methodist Recorder, which was to be set in lockdown. Who would have thought it would go on for so long . . . and is still affecting us? Well, ‘Love in Lockdown’ seemed to be a good title, and it’s all about how long-term relationships can be affected by this, for better or worse. I echo my friend Leo, who said how good it was to see people going out and enjoying themselves again but of course some are back in quarantine. Anyway, the story is coming out sometime in September. I’ll let you know when that happens.

Meanwhile the story to go with this newsletter is another originally published by the Methodist Recorder and is called Unsung Heroes – which I also used as the title of an e-book of some of these stories some years ago. This particular story came out one Eastertide, so please forgive that I can’t match the old stories to the right time of the year. The link to it is here.

My new computer is mostly doing its duty, and I’m not quite as bothered about the changes in layout as I was at the beginning. It does seem to have eaten my pictures and some of my emails, though. Surely, I can’t have deleted them all by mistake? Hopefully my gallant knight of the keyboard will be able to sort it all out.

Libraries. I’m told that our main library has now been reopened but only to return books and collect orders. There is no news about our own local library starting up again, but our bookshop is thriving. And yes, I’m still putting unwanted books out on the wall, and yes, they continue to disappear, hurray!

A blessing on all who go out of their way to help others.

Veronica Heley