Ducie’s Diary: June 2022

It’s been a month of two halves, has June. I’ve achieved quite a bit, as you can see below. We had great weather for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations here in the UK. And Michael and I spent a couple of glorious days in Oxfordshire, exploring nature, meeting new people, eating some wonderful food, and generally kicking back and relaxing. But on the other hand, I had a total system failure when my five-year-old computer gave up the ghost unexpectedly last week; which means I’ve spent far longer than I could afford, rebuilding my life. As I type this, I’m a few hours away from being fully up and running again, which is a relief. But in the meantime, how’s it been going on the writing front?

Writing This Month

As I mentioned last month, I’m busy incorporating all the comments from my beta readers into the latest (and hopefully final) version of Villainy at the Village Store. It’s gone pretty well once I got my head around the extra scenes I needed to write and I’m on track to complete that on Wednesday. And my wonderful husband has been coerced into reading the whole thing one final time, so I get a second opinion on whether it all hangs together correctly. Which means the proofreading and layout can go ahead next month while I start work on the pre-launch activities.

Sales and Marketing

In the past few days, I’ve had a great boost to the sales of my Jones Sisters thrillers. As part of National Crime Reading Month, I took part in Crime and Cupcakes, a panel discussion where five of us, all writing in different areas of crime fiction, talked about and read from our books. It was the first big face-to-face event I’d done for the past couple of years and the audience, while small, was very appreciative. And for once, the people who told me they were going home to buy books for their Kindle actually made good on their promises. A most successful event all round. I’m looking forward to lots more such activities under the Crime Writers’ Association banner.

And talking of the Jones Sisters books, a quick reminder that Counterfeit! goes back on sale on Friday, after six months on permafree. So, if you are still thinking of taking a risk-free chance on it, you have just a couple of days left.

Like many self-employed people, I’ve spent some time recently working on my year-end accounts, following the close of the financial year on 5th April. And I was delighted to find I’d had my most successful year ever in terms of online sales, tripling my receipts on Amazon in particular. So all the hard work I’ve been putting in via Women in Publishing, both the Summits and the School, appears to be paying off. I’ve just started work on this year’s courses, a more advanced version of Book Launch in a Box. I’ll let you know how that goes in due course. And for anyone out there who is a tutor or a speaker, the 2023 Call for Speakers is now open.

Out and About

I’ve already mentioned the wonderful Crime and Cupcakes event in the previous section. I also took an afternoon out of the office to take part in a Creative Writing workshop, based on location, funded by Villages in Action. It was one of a series of workshops taking place across Devon. The outcomes are being worked on by a team of songwriters and in the autumn, we will be forming a small choir to learn/perform/record the songs. An interesting change from straight story-writing.

The June meeting of Chudleigh Writers Circle was a morning out in Stover Country Park. Our session leader gave us some writing triggers, based on three pieces of nature poetry. And while I confess several of us took the opportunity for a lazy catch-up in the sunshine, there were some stunning pieces of work produced by two of the members. And as Stover is the place where the first dead body is discovered in my current Work in Progress, I was able to check I’d got the atmosphere and descriptions right.

Exeter Writers spent their usual afternoon in mid-June doing the final judging of this year’s Short Story Competition. As always, it was interesting to compare each others’ scores for and views on each story. Why is it so easy to see what’s right and wrong with other people’s work, but really difficult to apply the lessons to our own?

Coming up in July, we have our town’s summer extravaganza with two plus weeks of events; we’re hoping to see an old friend for the first time in several years; plus we’re celebrating our forty-fifth wedding anniversary. Yes, I know, I was a child bride! But on the work front, I have another crime writers’ evening, this time in Ivybridge on 14th. I’m speaking to a local WI group on 20th. And on 21st I will be talking to the Tregolls Book Club via Skype. So lots to keep me busy.

This piece applies only to anyone living within easy commuting distance of Exeter. Literature Works has an upcoming Quay Words summer season writing course, Writing Crime Fiction with Martyn Waites. Martyn is an experienced workshop leader and Exeter’s local king of hard-boiled fiction. The course will run on Thursday evenings, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on 7th, 14th, 28th July and 4th, 11th August (consecutive weeks with one week break on 21st July) at Exeter Custom House. I’ve worked with Martyn before; he’s a great tutor and a really nice guy. If you’re into crime writing and live close enough, this is well worth investigating.

What Have I Been Reading Lately?

Looking back over the past seven months since I added this feature to the blog, to see which authors I’ve been talking about, I was a bit taken aback to note every one so far has been a woman. And that doesn’t reflect my reading pattern reliably. So this month, I’m going to talk about one of the men, Michael Connelly, who is fast becoming a favourite author in our household.

I first discovered Hieronymous Bosch (the LAPD officer, not the Dutch painter), known as Harry, via the eponymous series on Amazon Prime during lock-down. We were late to the party, since Titus Welliver had been playing the grizzled, grumpy detective so beautifully since 2014. But we quickly devoured all 7 series and the new spin-off as well. But we were even further behind with the original books, since Connelly has been publishing them for thirty years. There’s more than twenty books featuring Harry Bosch plus a whole raft of other main characters that float in and out of the picture. And what makes it all the more intriguing is that while some of the TV series were based on books, the stories all fluctuate widely. It was a shock, for example, when a much-loved character who appeared in many of the TV stories was killed off in one of the early books.

So far, I’ve read the first six books. Each one is a good solid read, with loads of great characters to love or hate. I’m looking forward to reading the rest, and meeting his other main characters as well.

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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