Ducie’s Diary: October 2022
October has simply flown by. It only seems like yesterday when I was enthusing about my birthday celebrations, but a whole month has passed since then. It’s been a packed few weeks, as you will see below, But I managed to carve out time for few days with family in Scotland; some much-needed relaxation with a good friend; and the enjoyment of one of the most spectacular editions of Dr Who, which has got me searching BritBox for all the classic series from my childhood.
Writing This Month
I have to confess that the main writing I’ve done this month has been signing my name – lots of times! Which is a sneaky way of saying that my sixth novel, Villainy at the Village Store, is well and truly launched. A huge thank you to everyone who read it at one stage or another along the way; bought a copy; and/or posted a review. Your support is invaluable. We had a great live party here in Chudleigh on launch day, followed two days’ later by a virtual one, hosted by my friend and Women in Publishing suprema, Alexa Bigwarfe. If you missed it, I will be making the recording available on YouTube very soon. The feedback I’ve received from readers so far has been very positive. It looks like the return to Coombesford was welcomed by all. As the clock ticks the hours away towards 1st November, I am busily plotting out scenes for book 3 in the series, which I’m planning to write during this year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge. So hopefully much more to report on the writing front this time next month.
But my resolution to submit at least one competition each month was broken, at least for now. I’m going to try and do better during November.
Sales and Marketing
October saw the last two weeks of pre-launch marketing for the new book, plus the launch itself. But it also saw a bit of an ah-ha moment for me, especially following on from my significant birthday last month. Let me tell you more…
I was sitting at my desk, gazing at my to-do list and feeling the panic starting to rise. There was so much left to do; so much I could do; I just had no idea which bit to do first. And as a result, I was doing next to nothing. Then it hit me: I was doing this to myself! I declared many years ago that I didn’t want to work for anyone else. I wanted control over my life and my writing. That’s one of the reasons I’ve never regretted going down the indie route. So why was I struggling to meet self-imposed deadlines? What would it matter if I didn’t get everything done? So what if I sold fewer copies in the first month of publication? Being an indie means the window of opportunity is much wider; no-one’s going to remainder my books any time soon. And maybe, more to the point, it was far less fun than it used to be! Something needed to change.
I took a deep breath, grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil (yes, I know – old school) and wrote a very simple five-point marketing plan. Just five steps that I was going to take – and no more (unless I felt like it). And you know what? No-one died! No-one even seemed to notice. The launch went ahead as planned and both books in the series are doing well. And I’m having fun once more.
And by doing less, I was able to test one particular tool in isolation. But I think that’s enough for this month. I’ll tell you about that, and how I got on, next time around.
Out and About
In terms of events, October was much busier than previous months. I joined other members of the Crime Writers’ Association for an evening at Torquay Library on 12th, and it was wonderful. The staff made us feel really welcome, decorated the room with all sorts of crime-related pictures, sold lots of tickets – and gave us hot chocolate with marshmallows too. It was lovely to get up close and personal with members of the reading public once more. A couple of days later, I spent the weekend in Ivybridge for the Dartmoor Edge Literary Festival. It was a very successful event in a really quirky location, The Clay Factory, and the organisers should be very proud of themselves for what they achieved. And after that, we were straight into the week of my launch parties, as described above.
November will be almost as busy: on 5th, I am looking forward to a catch-up chat with Hannah Kate on Hannah’s Bookshelf. Catch it live on North Manchester FM or on the archive afterwards. On 9th, I will be chatting to members of the South Hams Authors’ Network about Author Business Foundations. The middle of the month is quiet, so I’m expecting to catch up on my NaNoWriMo word count. On 26th, we have the first of the season’s Christmas Fairs, at Christow in the Teign Valley. I’m hoping all those folks who bought the first cozy mystery last year will be back for the second helping this year.
And I’m very excited about what’s happening on 27th: ten crime writers from around Devon will be taking part in Crime at the Coast, a one-day event in Torquay Museum, talking all things crime writing. Organised as a fundraiser for the museum which, like many other attractions, is still recovering from two years of lockdown, members of the panels will include Jane Corry, Michael Jecks and K J Maitland. If you are in the region and crime-writing is your thing, you won’t want to miss this one. Full details here.
Your Last Chance To Enter
If you’re a fan of cozy mysteries, I bring you news of a prize draw running until 31st October. Click on this link for a chance to win a prize pack worth $150! It’s packed with goodies including 14 cozy mysteries, and a whole range of seasonal items to add to your reading comfort. [This is an opportunity for my US readers only, I’m afraid.]
What Have I Been Reading Lately?
Turns out my ability to predict a Booker winner is not as finally tuned as I thought it might be. I was correct in predicting that my favourite, Small Things Like These, wouldn’t win, but I was wrong in my prediction that the prize would be taken by Glory, the retelling of Animal Farm, set in Zimbabwe. Instead, congratulations go to Shehan Karunatilaka for his very black satire The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. Here, as promised last month, is my review:
Set in a Sri Lanka riven by civil war, Tamil photographer, Maali Almeida, wakes up dead in a huge waiting room and finds he has just seven days (or seven moons) before he loses his chance to ‘go to the light’. In that time, he returns to the scenes of his life to discover why and by whom he was killed.
This is a clever plot device, allowing the ghost to confront both his past and his current situation. It portrays his role in recording and confronting violence and corruption. This cannot be said to be an easy read, but it is certainly worth the effort.