A Writerly Round-Up: Blowing My Own Trumpet and Planning the Future

It’s been a busy few months. I spent much of May and June working on the publicity and logistics for our town’s annual summer festival, which took place earlier this month.

I’ve just about caught up on my sleep and recovered from 11 days of fun, frivolity and marquee-sitting. We’ve been doing this for four years and every year we learn new things, add to the experience and hopefully get better and more efficient next time. (I can’t believe I’ve just typed the words ‘next time’ after swearing ‘never again’ just a couple of weeks back!) And this year’s key lesson? Air beds are more comfortable and much warmer if laid fluffy side up and plastic side down! Unfortunately, this is a lesson we only learned after the event, but we’ll know in future…
Among the Chudfest mayhem, I found time for a road-trip to the Highlands with one sister to visit the other sister and her husband in their beautiful new home. I’ve never kept a diary, but do write occasional travel journals and my record of these eight days, complete with steam trains, mountains and falling in the bog can be found elsewhere on this site.
In April and July, I published the first two parts of a series of e-books on the Business of Writing. Unlike my short story anthologies, neither of these books had a launch party; I relied on social media and word-of-mouth to spread the message. Despite this, sales are going quite well. We’re all still learning how to market our books in the changing publishing industry and one of the fun parts for me is changing the model each time and seeing what effect it has. Maybe there’s another business book in there somewhere?
With everything else that’s been going on, the fiction writing has gone by the wayside somewhat, and I’m really looking forward to August, which is the traditional start of my writing year. In the early part of the month, I will be joining around 300 other writers in Derbyshire for the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. This wonderful week is a chance to meet old friends;  make new ones;  reflect on the achievements of the past year; and plan the next twelve months. There will be lots of courses to learn from; exercises to try out; and ideas to brainstorm. As usual, I will be blogging daily throughout the conference, but if you fancy trying it out for yourself, check out the website; there may be one or two places still available or you could always come as a day visitor. I guarantee your first visit won’t be your last one!
Finally, I’m going to blow my own trumpet a little here. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a few successes which I’ve not had time to publicise so far. I was delighted to win third prize in the Berkhamsted Writing Prize (in aid of St Francis Hospice) with The Foremans Other Diary. I also came third in the Deddington Festival short story competition with They Said… You can find links to both these stories here. I’ve also been entering the weekly Write Invite competition whenever I’ve been free on Saturdays. It’s a fascinating exercise: three triggers published at 5.30pm and just 30 minutes to write and submit something. Often the output of that first session is rubbish, but it always provides something I can work on and polish later. Sometimes the words flow and I’ve had a couple of fourth places and a second place this year. And just occasionally it all comes together: at the end of May, I won with a piece called My Little Red Book, based on the trigger ‘back of an envelope’. I hope you enjoy reading it. 
By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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