Newsletter no. 194, December 2022

The garden has sunk into its winter rest. The winter jasmine and the viburnum tinis are out, as are the first of the iris unguicularis. Hurray! We draw the curtains earlier and earlier or – in the case of some of my neighbours – leave them open so that people can admire the Christmas trees set up in their front rooms.

The Christmas story which comes with this letter was first published in the Methodist Recorder last year and it is a dual-purpose one; first there’s Joseph’s take on the birth of Jesus and then a story of today with Sally and Bruce having a problem with family presents. It’s called GIFTS WITH A MESSAGE and you can access it here.

My Christmas story for the Recorder this year is a little different. It is not about people who have recently or are almost retired. In my ninetieth year I am only too aware of the problems of old age. In general we are living longer but with imperfect health, technology is getting too much for us and family members no long live round the corner. I want to write stories about this special time in our lives and I’m hoping that you will approve. This next story is tentatively called Louise’s Christmas, though the editor may change that to something she likes better.

Some good news: the first e-books from Joffe in the Abbot Agency series are selling well. I am still feeling tense about the choice of covers. FALSE STEP and A FALSE PRETENCE (originally ‘False Pretences’) came out in November and are just fine. There’s even a black cat on the cover for A FALSE PRETENCE. FALSE MONEY is out on 11th December, FALSE REPORT on 21st December and we’re being very polite in our discussions about covers for these. Rereading these books has been quite a treat for me, and I hope they please you, too.

I understand that the new Ellie Quicke – that’s Murder for Profit– is doing well, too. Hardback and e-book came out together last month. This story concerns the fatal fall of a student from one of Ellie’s housing charity’s houses, which impacts on the estate agency’s reputation. It’s also about sibling rivalry becoming very nasty indeed.

I’ve just off the manuscript of the next Bea Abbot story called False Name which has been a real treat to write. In fact, there is so much more to say about some of the characters in this book that I want to continue writing about them. But that’s for next year. Hasn’t this past year gone quickly?

We bought our Nativity set years ago on a visit to Prague. I put it out every year and move the pieces around as the shepherds are replaced by the wise men and so on. Parsley and Posy are too big to appear next to these little figures, so have taken themselves off for a holiday. Visit the Nativity Set picture here.

A blessing on those who can cope with the parties and presents for the season without forgetting what Christmas is really all about.

Veronica Heley