Ducie’s Diary: April 2022

April is supposed to be quite a harsh month, weather-wise, with lots of sharp rain showers and some chilly breezes. But we’ve got off quite lightly here in the UK this year. We did quite a bit of entertaining over Easter (and that’s not a phrase we’ve been using a lot lately, is it?) and we managed to sit outside some of the time. As I write this, I am being serenaded by blackbirds and bees outside my office door; and this afternoon, I’m walking with a friend in the local country park, where I expect to see lots of ducklings and maybe a cygnet or two. Such a nice time of the year. But enough rapturing over nature. What’s going on in my writerly world?

Writing This Month

My wonderful team of beta readers are currently hard at work on Villainy at the Village Store. I’ve had some of their comments already and I’m pleased to report there don’t seem to be any major surprises in there. Final editing begins next week.

In the meantime, I have been putting the finishing touches to Coombesford Calendar volume I, the collection of short stories which is coming out this Thursday, 28th April. It’s a companion to the Coombesford Chronicles series of cozy mysteries and not only features old favourite characters, but also introduces new ones who will appear in later novels. There are no killings in this collection; it’s a chance to find out what the residents of the village get up to when they are not solving – or committing – murders. The collection will be on sale for the first few weeks at a special reduced price of just 99p/$1.29. But until Thursday, you can pre-order it at an even lower price of just 77p/$0.99. Get all the details here.

You may remember my mentioning K J Maitland in last month’s Diary. She’s an historical novelist whose books also contain more than a touch of mysticism. Well, earlier this month, I had the privilege of sitting in on a masterclass she ran for Chudleigh Writers’ Circle. It was held in our local parish church which is nearly a millennium old and we spent quite a bit of time focussing on setting. But, there was also plenty of time to work on a piece of our own writing. I ended up with the prologue for Coombesford Chronicles #3, for which I don’t have a proper title yet, but which, with my love of alliteration, could end up as Carnage in Coombesford Church. I also worked out all the suspects and the reasons why they might be the murderer. This book isn’t scheduled for publication until October 2023, but at this rate, it could appear a good bit earlier than that. Watch this space.

Sales and Marketing

I took Bryan Cohan’s 5 Day Amazon Ads Challenge for the second time this month, and had great fun once again. This time I used The Business of Writing Part 4 Independent Publishing as my title, and am glad to say I seem to be showing progress faster this time around than in January. Who knows, by the end of the year, I might have finally cracked it.

In the course of taking the challenge, I noticed that Amazon had drastically reduced the price of the paperback version, at least in the US market. And so far, it seems to still be selling at just over $4 instead of the full price of $12.99. So if you are reading this in the US and fancy getting your hands on a real bargain, now’s your chance.

Counterfeit! continues to be permafree and I’m still getting a small but regular level of downloads without any additional promotion. At the beginning of April, I ran a promotion via Hello Books, the new platform running from Self Publishing Formula. I had significant downloads over the weekend of the promotion and hit the #1 spot in a couple of category lists, so I was quite pleased with the outcome. I have two more months to run with this experiment before deciding whether to keep it as a loss leader or not. The jury’s still out at the moment on that.

Out and About

Looking back through my diary for April, I haven’t been anywhere much, either in person or virtually. I’ve already talked about the wonderful masterclass with Karen Maitland. However, I had a most enjoyable coffee with Stephanie Austin, another local author of crime novels. She sets hers in a real town, Ashburton, whereas Coombesford is fictional. She is traditionally published, whereas I am an indie. So we had lots to chat about. And she brought to my attention that the Crime Writers’ Association accepts indie authors, using a varied points system for eligibility rather than just making it a numbers game, as some of the other organisation do. So I popped in an application and today I heard I have been accepted. Just too late for this year’s conference, which ironically was held up the road in Torquay, but I am looking forward to getting involved in activities moving forward.

What Have I Been Reading Lately?

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may have seen the interview I published earlier in the month with my new friend and writing buddy, Michelle Oucharek-Deo. We met via the Women in Publishing Summit in 2021, studied at WiP School together, and are now part of a networking and support group, Authors in a Pickle.

Michelle writes in the genre of Women’s Contemporary Fiction and is currently working on the third part in her Wine, Love and Friendship series. I loved the first two books and look forward to reading book three. Here’s my review for The Girl in the Peach Tree: 

Fleeing from a marriage ceremony she knew would be a mistake, Maya Wells finds herself at a vineyard in Portugal, part of a group of prizewinners, some of whom are destined to become friends, some maybe not. On the way there, she meets flight attendant Cristiano Lazaro and falls instantly and deeply in love. And luckily, he feels the same way. But both of them are damaged by their pasts and their fragility means they are destined to be pulled in different directions.

In The Girl in the Peach Tree, Michelle Oucharek-Deo has woven an intriguing story with a wonderful cast of characters, some (such as Cristiano’s grandmother) definitely worth loving, others (such as the detestable Jade) the reader will love to hate. The setting is beautifully described and integrated into the story. There are twists and turns aplenty along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel and look forward to reading the remainder of the trilogy. Highly recommended.

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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