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