Ducie’s Diary: June 2023

Here in Chudleigh it’s time for the Summer Spectacular, a combination of traditional Carnival and more modern events. So far, we’ve had Open Gardens and the Summer Fete. Lots of other fun things happening in the next month or so. Plenty of excuses to skip work. But, despite that, the writing must go on (or so I’m told).

Writing this month

There’ve been some unforeseen delays in getting feedback from my beta readers for Calamity at Coombesford Church, but my timetable is always very generous, so I was fairly relaxed about taking a month away from it, while still anticipating being ready for launch in October. (See more news on that below.) Nearly all the feedback is now in, and I’m geared up to get the final edit (or should that be rewrite?) started in the next few days. In the meantime, I’ve done some more work on book 4 and the plots for later parts of the series.

Last month, I mentioned my longstanding idea for an historical novel, set in Russia, based on five sites linked to the Romanovs. I still want to write that, at some point, but fully accept it might not be the time to write about that particular country. What do you think? I realise that’s a loaded question and probably relates to marketing much more than writing, but I would be interested to hear readers’ views: do current events restrict what you read? And for writers: should we always write to market or is there something to be said for writing exactly what we want to occasionally? Drop me a line with your thoughts. 

Sales and Marketing

Further to my comments above, I am delighted to announce that Calamity at Coombesford Church is now available to pre-order on Amazon, in ebook form. The launch date is set for 17th October. I’ve no idea why I settled on the third Tuesday of October, but it’s when I launched the first two books in the series, so it seemed logical to carry on the tradition.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time this month taking a deep dive into marketing and, in particular, the workings of Amazon Ads. I now know which of my campaigns have been the most successful and which have no traction at all. Now all I have to do is learn how to replicate the successes for my other books. Co-incidentally, I’m currently having the best month (precluding launch months) for both sales and page reads since I started using adverts. So I must be doing something right.

Out and About

Nothing to see here this month. No online events, and no physical ones either. There may be a reason for that; I’ll tell you more next month.

What Have I Been Reading Lately?

Like most readers, I have a huge To Be Read list, and frequently forget about books I’ve purchased and never got around to opening – a situation exacerbated since I do most of my reading on Kindle these days. It’s much easier to lose a book in an e-reader than on a shelf. So lately, I’ve been searching through my ‘Unread’ collection and have found some gems, not least this month’s featured book, The Secret Speech, by Tom Rob Smith. It’s the sequel to Child 44, which I read when writing Gorgito’s Ice Rink more than a decade ago. After reading so much UK-based contemporary police procedural, it was a refreshing change to head for the wilds of Russia in the 1950s. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and recognised some things that were still the same when I first worked there in the 1990s. And it was particularly chilling to think some aspects would still be recognisable in the Russia of today. Here’s my review:

It’s a while since I read Child 44, so I had forgotten that the central character, Leo Demidov, is a man with a dark past and much innocent blood on his hands. In The Secret Speech, this past comes back not only to haunt him, but to drive him to desperate measures to protect his family. Although not all elements of that family see him as a protector. Quite the opposite. The action in this book moves from Moscow, to Gulag 57 in the far east of Russia, and then to Budapest, weaving the fictional story into historical fact. The level of research is evident and the atmosphere is terrifyingly realistic. A brilliant read; highly recommended.

And elsewhere on my bookshelves, I’ve also been reading:

The Janus Stone and The House at Sea’s End by Elly Griffiths: books 2 and 3 in the series. Police procedural with flawed characters in a bleak part of the country.

Heir of Uncertain Magic by Charlie N Holmberg: A return to the lighter steam-punk world of an alternative Boston.

Echo Park by Michael Connelly: The moody detective continues to solve murders while breaking the rules.

The Shell House Detectives by Emylia Hall: A promising start to a series in which the Cornish setting is a character in its own right.

Death on Paradise Island by B M Allsopp: A fascinating introduction to Fiji in the first of a new (to me) series of cozy crime.

Deadly Fate by Angela Marsons: DI Kim Stone and the team are back, and there’s another villain we know we will see again.

Children of Paradise by Camilla Grudova: Gruesome and not for everyone, but her fans will love 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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