Ducie’s Diary: September 2022

September is always special for me. It’s the month I was born, and even at my age, I still get really excited about cards and presents. But this year has been extra special. I was celebrating a milestone number (one of those with a zero at the end) and my wonderful husband organised a surprise weekend break in an old Manor House for seventeen of us – friends and family from all over the UK. He was organising it for more than a year, and has earned so many brownie points, I’ll be paying them off for the rest of the year. As you can imagine, I’m still buzzing from all the excitement. But among all the festivities, there was still some time for writerly activities as well.

Writing This Month

I’m delighted to report that Villainy at the Village Store started going out to my Advance Readers at the beginning of the month. It won’t appear on Amazon until next month, but reviews are already starting to appear on Goodreads  and so far, they are pleasingly positive. I completed formatting the paperback version and that’s currently being printed. And the launch party invitations have started to go out. So everything is track for my launch date of 18th October.

I’m still building up my entries for competitions. I wrote a piece for The Exeter Writers’ summer competition, fictionalising a horrendous internal flight I once took in Kazakhstan and, although I didn’t win, it’s another piece for the portfolio. I never waste any words and may well convert this one back to non-fiction, as a straight travel piece at some point. I also reworked an old piece for the South Hams Authors Flash Fiction Competition; still waiting to hear about that one. Both these are small local challenges; I will be moving to larger ones later in the year.

And apart from musing on the plot of the third Coombesford Chronicle, due to be written in November, that’s been the sum total of my writing month, I’m afraid.

Actually, that’s not true: I also wrote a lot of thank you letters. One of my presents was a fountain pen – not something I’d used for decades. I’d forgotten how beautifully the nib glides over paper. I may have to do a lot more writing by hand in future.

Sales and Marketing

It’s been a very busy month marketing-wise, mainly working on the new book and completing all the pre-launch tasks. Inevitably, marketing of the current portfolio has slipped to the bottom of the priority list – and that’s reflected in my sales figures which are dire. But hopefully it will all be worth it when the new one hits the shelves mid-October.

Out and About

It was a quiet month, event-wise. No face to face events, and just two online ones. I was very happy to be interviewed by Lester Jones on The Feelgood Radio Station recently. And I was honoured to host an online launch party for the launch of The Lady Newspaperman’s Dilemma, the award-winning book from my friend and fellow Pickle Jar member, Eileen Joyce Donovan. If you are into historical fiction of the early twentieth century variety, it’s well worth checking it out.

October is going to be a much busier time. My book launch involves both a physical party here in Chudleigh on 18th and an online one for those of you further afield on 20th at 6pm BST (click here to register for that one). Before that, I will be joining other members of the Crime Writers’ Association in a Crime Noir evening at Torquay Library on 12th. Then on 15th and 16th, I will be spending the weekend in Ivybridge for the Dartmoor Edge Literary Festival. This is a new event in a newish location (The Clay Factory) and it’s completely free to attend, although registration is necessary for all the events. If you are in Devon and fancy a free weekend of writerly events, including a talk about my new cosy mystery and a workshop on indie publishing, check out the website and get booking.

What Have I Been Reading Lately?

It’s September, so it’s Booker Shortlist time. I may have mentioned previously that we always try to read the six candidates and second-guess the judges in the six weeks leading up to the award. As someone who prefers plot-driven stories and mostly reads crime and fantasy, it’s quite a struggle sometimes, but I feel it’s an important part of being an author to be well read and that obviously means I should spend at least part of the year in the literary fiction world. This year in a fit of temporary insanity, I suggested we try to read the longlist instead. This gave us 12 weeks to read 13 books, some of which are huge.

So how am I getting on? Well, I started at a fair pace but by the time the shortlist was announced, I’d only finished six books. The good news is that four of those made it to the shortlist. Two I loved and thought would be worthy winners (The Trees and Small Things Like These). One I enjoyed but didn’t think it had a place on the list (Treacle Walker). And one I hated (Oh William!). I next started Glory, a retelling of Animal Farm, set in a thinly disguised Zimbabwe, and while I suspect it may well be the winner, I found it difficult to read, and have temporarily put it to one side. And that leaves The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, which I’m going to tackle next. Plus, of course, the other five from the longlist. Although they may take a while, as I have several ARC (Advance Reader Copy) reads to complete for other writers first.

As I said, I suspect Glory will win, but I would love Small Things Like These to take the prize. Whichever  of the six books is announced as the winner, I will review it here next month. But one prediction I know is going to come true: we will not be attempting the full longlist next year.

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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