Newsletter no 206, December 2023

I received my first Christmas present . . .

early in November. I tried to hide my horror. Christmas? Now? The leaves were not all down off the trees, we’d hardly had any proper frosts, and there were a lot of shopping days to go before the Day. Explanation? My friend was about to depart for warmer climes for six weeks, and had got herself all organized for Christmas early.

I personally was not nearly ready for the event. . . although, come to think of it, I was on that very day in the early stages of writing a Christmas story, so I suppose I ought not to have been surprised at receiving a gift, especially as it was something to eat and not gold, frankincense or myrrh. I’d been thinking of candles and stars, not food. The story is called ‘Christmas means . . .’ It’s about Christmas meaning different things to different people at different times in their lives, and will appear in the Christmas issue of the Methodist Recorder.

The story from the archives is: ‘What is a Gift?’ Trouble arises over the parish Christmas lunch when it’s cancelled by He Who Must Be Obeyed. Read it here.

It’s a strange time of the year in the garden. Here in the South East, winter jasmine, and the irises are coming into flower while artificial trees mimic reality. A neighbour has told me the trick of getting the Hellebores to flower, so I live in hope that they will do so this year.

Work has rather taken over my life. I thought I could get ‘False Witness’ off in time, and I did actually manage to do thast – in spite of having one of the filthiest colds that I can remember. (No, it wasn’t Covid; I checked.) So now I’m waiting to hear from my editor that all is well and she likes it, etc., etc. Meantime, I’m tiddling around with another idea. So many interesting points occurred to me during the writing of ‘False Witness’ that I’m now wondering about a third story set in the same place.

The Owlets are getting excited over Christmas. Awol had overdone it as usual, and is jumping up and down, trying to climb the tree. I hope he remembers how to fly down to earth. See them here.

Joffe are very happy with the way the early Ellie Quicke books are selling. ‘Murder by Committee’ came out on November 12th. Next comes ‘Murder by Bicycle on Sunday, December 3rd, and ‘Murder of Identity’ on Sunday, December 17th. The Abbot Agency book are still selling well, and ‘False Money’ was available out throughout November in their Free Book Friday Scheme.

A blessing on those who look forward instead of back.

Veronica Heley