Newsletter no.170, March 15th, 2021

Friends are wonderful! I have been touched by so many lovely emails following on from my last newsletter. Some sent me jokes, some sent me pictures from their garden. Some shared with me their own problems with teeth. Your emails contributed largely to my recovery! Thank you all so much.

Friends are indeed a source of joy. They keep in contact by phone during lock-down, they lend books and jigsaws, they help with the shopping and we mustn’t forget that they sometimes turn themselves into chocolate fairies!

Also they can help out when you lose a word. A little while ago an important word dropped out of my head and I could NOT get it back. I wanted to describe what happens to two nasty characters in my next book. They hadn’t actually transgressed the laws of the land, but had broken practically every moral code there is and hurt a lot of people. I wanted to say that justice had caught up with them, but it wasn’t legal justice. I tried comeuppance. I tried rough justice. Neither was quite right. I tried my thesaurus. I Googled. Finally I appealed to my friends and there it was. The word I needed was ‘poetic’ justice. Ah, the relief! I suppose either of the other suggestions might have been acceptable, but this was the right one. So, Hurray for friends!

I have three deadlines to meet by the end of this month, and now I’m almost back to normal after having that tooth out, I’m cracking on with them and hoping everything gets done in time. I’m having a struggle with the Easter short story for the Methodist Recorder, though. A little more thought needed. The title is ‘Zooming In’ and I’ll let you have details in the next newsletter.

Meanwhile, the short story from the archives which comes with this letter is called ‘You Owe Me!’ and it’s a follow-on from the one which accompanied the last newsletter. It’s about the family whom our friends caught thieving in the town centre . . . who were ‘only trying to earn a living’ . . . but at the expense of the shops from which they stole. Some people can convince themselves that theft is justifiable if you’re hungry, and that it’s perfectly all right to involve children in your thieving if they divert attention from what you’re doing. Well, you can argue it’s a crime that people go hungry in this day and age, but it’s definitely not right to involve children in wrong-doing, so . . . what happens next? You can access the story here.

I don’t suppose you need a reminder that Murder-in-Law came out at the end of March? This is the story in which Diana’s husband meets a grisly end . . . and she has lied about where she was at the time. Ellie is in the background in this book and it’s Susan, her good friend and excellent cook, and Susan’s husband Rafael who wrestle with the problem. Also out last month was Murder for Good both in paperback and in large print. Nothing comes out for months, and then two come along in the same week!

A blessing on all who do their best to keep in touch with old friends in these difficult times.

Veronica Heley

Newsletter no.169, March 1st, 2021

When I sit down to write this newsletter to you, I feel as if I am ‘talking’ to each one of you or as if I were sending you an old-fashioned letter. I’ve known so many of you for many, many years and every year there are new names to add to the list. Some of you email a response every now and then. Some may do so once a year or not at all. Sometimes I am allowed a glimpse into your lives – for instance, I learn about the hens laying or the difficult weather or whether you’ve had the vaccine or not. I do like that. I really do.

But today I am feeling a bit ‘down’. Toothache. Aargh. Anti-biotics. Also Urgh. I had the root taken out yesterday and today I’m not sure I’m up to being as cheery as usual. I know this will pass, but I fear I may not be able to produce as long a newsletter as usual.

Please forgive. I will back on track soon. And if anyone feels like dropping me a line then I will be so pleased to hear from them . . . but please excuse if I don’t reply?

On a brighter note, there are more flowers arriving in the gardens every day. My green-fingered neighbour has been setting seeds for some weeks and now all her windowsills are clustered with seedlings which are not quite ready to go out into the greenhouse. One of my friends keeps ringing to tell me how many flowers in bloom she has found in her garden! I can report on snowdrops, crocuses (or should it be croci?) celandines, pansies, viburnum, kerria, iris unguicularis and osteospermum, tete a tete daffodils and winter jasmine. Some years the geraniums manage to survive outside but this year, I’ve lost all those which I left in the garden. Ah well. That makes room for some new plants.

The next short story from the archives is ‘Excuse Me!’ And this introduces a character who is going to be around for a while. He is ‘The man from Mars!’ who says he doesn’t care about anyone and no-one cares about him. Only . . . he has come across a shop-lifter and now doesn’t know what to do about it. You can access it here.

A reminder that Murder-in-Law comes out at the end of March. Ellie is in the background in this book as she’s still away in Canada while the big old house is being remodelled into two units. So it is her younger friend – and excellent cook – Susan who has to deal with Diana who finds herself in trouble. Evan, Diana’s husband, has been attacked in what looks like a burglary gone wrong. Diana is always asking for help, isn’t she? Or demanding it, rather. Can Susan – with help from a distant Ellie – solve the mystery?

A blessing on all who remember to send birthday cards on the right date.

Veronica Heley