Newsletter no.164, December 15th

A merry Christmas to you all . . . remembering old friends and new . . . and giving thanks for all the good things that have happened this year (including the advent of the chocolate fairy). May you find peace and joy in this special season, remembering what it represents.

Several of you have asked how I am getting on with my replacement knee. The answer is that I’m doing pretty well, thank you. I am now walking with two sticks outside the house, and have managed to get up to the shops and buy small things which will go into my pockets – but have to ask friends to bring back some groceries for me. Inside the house I’m down to one stick and a sort of Dot-and-Carry-One. But the great thing now is that my brain is clear enough for me to do some work.

For some weeks I couldn’t really get to grips with the next book. I’d got as far as chapter eight when I had the operation, and for some time after I came out of hospital, I would look at the text and couldn’t think what happened next. So I started at the beginning of the mss which, by the way, is titled ‘False Face’, and worked my way onwards and upwards through page after page, correcting this and expanding on that . . . and then I found it was necessary to stop work on the story in order to address the Christmas cards and send them out . . . and finally that was all done and I was ready to carry on with the plot.

That is, until the proofs of Murder-in-Law arrived, demanding immediate attention. But that done, I can get back to Bea and the affair of the Fading Star of Stage and Screen. As it happens, I wasn’t all that happy with the next bit of action which I’d roughed out earlier, and so can ditch that in favour of a nice bit of mischief which ought to put a tangle into the nasty plot which the baddies were trying to put into action.

Meanwhile, the Christmas story, titled ‘Corona Christmas’ has been accepted and should be coming out in the combined Christmas and New Year edition of the Methodist Recorder. I won’t be able to send out copies of that until the New Year, but will let you have details in due course. This story has to deal with some of the problems we’re all facing about who to met and when over the holidays, and leads on to the big question of what Christmas means to us and how we can face up to that challenge.

I had a look at the next story in the archives which I was due to send to you and decided that I really wanted to send you something different, something which related to the season. I know this particular story only came out a year ago, and some of you may have read it already – and yes, it’s not about the usual people – but I hope it will amuse you nevertheless. It’s called ‘Will the Real Father Christmas Stand up,’ and it’s available for you to access here.

A blessing on all those who brighten up the dark days of December with a smile or a ‘thank you.’ Keep safe . . .

Veronica Heley

Newsletter no.163, December 1st

Well, December finally arrived, as it was bound to do. The confusion around Christmas didn’t help us to plan ahead, did it? But things do seem a bit clearer now. I had to deliver the next story, titled Corona Christmas, to the Methodist Recorder by the end of November but had been worrying what sort of regimen we should be under for the actual feast day itself. At long last the guidelines did become clearer, and I have made some adjustments to the text accordingly. Hopefully, no more changes will be needed. The story comes out in the combined Christmas and New Year edition and I’ll let you know more about that later.

One thing is quite clear to me, and that how very fortunate I am in having so many chocolate friends. Once I was home from the hospital after my knee operation – yes, it’s coming along a treat, thank you – I found some of my friends had taken Action with a capital A and had dropped another bar of chocolate through my door. One, two, three. . . and still they came!

Brilliant! I thought. I rubbed my hands in glee and reached for the treat at the top of the pile . . . until, rather like the fairy who hadn’t been invited to the princess’s christening, the voice of Common-Sense broke in. She wagged her finger at me. Yes, really! She reminded me in the voice of reason, that Too Much Chocolate would be Bad for Me! ‘You may have no more than three pieces of chocolate at a time, right?!’ Reluctantly, I agreed, but we bargained that I could probably manage a treat or two several times a day . . .

Meanwhile, I have been trying to do some work on various story projects I have in hand. I do get tired and retire to my bed every now and then, but I am happy to say that some at least of my usual writing ability seems to be returning. A general anaesthetic does seem to have knocked me out for a while, but I have been able to return to the next Bea Abbot book and do a bit of editing here and there.

My editor has come up with a projected cover for the next Ellie – Murder-in-Law – scheduled for next year, and we are currently working on that. It’s always difficult to find a cover which reflects what the action is about without falling into the trap of splashing blood all over the place. This time we are aiming for a combination of the children’s toys and their father’s golf clubs. Quite tricky.

The story that comes with this newsletter is called ‘The Art of Saying “No!”’ It’s not a Christmas story, but it’s next in line chronologically, so I hope you enjoy it. You can access it here . . .

A blessing on all those who do good for others without counting the cost to themselves.

Veronica Heley