Ducie’s Diary: January 2024
2023 Objectives and Outcomes
This second volume of short stories set in the same village as my cozy murder mysteries was published on 30th April (nothing like cutting it fine!). There was no official launch party, but it has fitted nicely into the Coombesford portfolio and sales are steady.
Last year, real life got in the way of writerly activities, and this objective didn’t go completely to plan. The ebook came out on the third Tuesday in October, the traditional date for launching my cozies; the paperback took a little longer and was launched mid-November. The pre-launch activities went well, but rather than holding my traditional launch party with live music, cake and fizz, I hosted a book-signing during a festive fundraiser for a charity of which I am a Trustee. Despite these adjustments to the plans, sales have gone very well, and this was my best launch period to date.
I actually began drafting this fourth cozy, provisionally entitled Slaughter at the Summer Social, back in June. But several chapters in, I realised what I was writing was not a cozy, but the fourth part of my thriller series (and that was as much of a surprise to me as to anyone else). I had always thought the Jones Sisters novels were finished at the end of the trilogy. So when it came to November, I had two books to work on. I made some progress with both, but spent much of the month writing character studies and back stories. I did however, complete the annual writing challenge for the eleventh year in a row.
This went very well. I’ve greatly pruned my marketing toolbox and have found a concentrated approach, using a few tools I am confident with, and enjoy using, works better than the scatter gun approach that so many of us fall into when we realise just how many ways there are out there that we might be promoting our books.
I’m going to mark this one down as so-so, since I actually spent more time streamlining my writing than increasing it. I didn’t get much done in the way of competition entries during 2023. I continued to write for and publish Chudleigh Phoenix, the town’s community magazine, but closed that down in December after fourteen years at the helm. I kept to my schedule for the monthly readers’ newsletter, although the writers’ newsletter rather slipped by the wayside. I have a plan for resurrecting it this year. This blog went from fortnightly to monthly and I discontinued the interview feature after more than ten years. I did, however, prepare quite a few presentation packages, which is always good fun. And talking of having fun…
This was the final item on my list at the start of 2023. Last January I wrote: I don’t have to chain myself to my desk 24/7. I’m not in this writing game to make a living. It’s supposed to be a fun activity, not a burden. Plus, there are other things out there I want to be doing while I have the chance. Well, all I can say is: be careful what you wish for. The afore-mentioned real life issues meant I certainly wasn’t able to work 24/7 or anything like that. But despite, or maybe because of that, we made a point of having as much fun as we could. Not only did we finally get to take our much-postponed 2020 holiday in Greece, we arranged lots of away-days during the rest of the year. And we had fun. Lots of fun.
We have high hopes that real life will behave itself this year. But you never know what’s going to happen. So the priorities have shifted around a bit:
- Get out there and keep having fun.
- Relaunch parts 1-3 of the Jones Sisters thrillers in April 2024.
- Write, edit and publish the fourth in the series of Jones Sisters thrillers by September 2024.
- Writer, edit and publish the fourth in the Coombesford Chronicles series of cosy crime in time for the Christmas 2024 market.
- Publish Coombesford Calendar volume III in April 2024.
So very heavy on the writing and publishing activities, but with fun at the top of the list. And with a number of significant birthdays and three significant wedding anniversaries on the calendar, 2024 is definitely going to be a year of celebration.
I’ve done a huge amount of reading over the past couple of months, so while there’s no room for ‘What Have I Been Reading Lately’ this month, it’s going to be a massive catch-up session in February. All I want to do this month is to point you in the direction of new books by two friends of mine, both writing historical fiction.
Founder of, and driving force behind, South Hams Authors’ Network, Alison’s writing inspiration comes from her family history. An only child of two only children, with no cousins, aunts, uncles or siblings, she began researching her family tree and was surprised to discover her 19th century Devon ancestors.
Dance A Fearful Jig is her third historical novel inspired by that research. Set in Peterborough in 1807, the novel poses the question: ‘What would you sacrifice for love?’ A lonely, middle-aged housekeeper meets a French paroled prisoner from Napoleon’s army. In times of war, a forbidden friendship can be dangerous.
I met Carol through the Women in Publishing community and we are both members of the Authors in a Pickle networking group. After finishing a series of three murder mysteries set in 18th century America, she had now taken a major step backwards – in time.
Betrayal On Beltane is set in Bohemia in the fourth century BC. A young warrior defied his father to follow his dream. Now, he faces a grim reality when he discovers a dead body on his workbench. This is the first in the Dun Cael mysteries and it is full of Carol’s hallmark meticulous research. I’m looking forward to seeing the series develop.