Ducie’s Diary: October 2021
For the second month running, I’m posting this late, but have just made it before the month end. (I was thinking of posting it in the early hours of next Monday and pretending it was still October, but didn’t think I would get away with it.)
Well, I thought September was busy, but compared with October, it was a walk in the park. Lots to tell you about below, but once again, we managed to get away for a few days, this time to a lovely little spa in Cornwall, where I lounged around in my dressing gown for three days, catching up on my reading and reviewing, and taking the occasional dip in the pool to pretend I was exercising. And ignoring my emails! Bliss. But enough of that. How’s my month been, work-wise?
Writing This Month
As mentioned above, I wrote quite a lot of reviews this month: nineteen to be precise. I didn’t realise how far I’d slipped behind. I review every book I read, unless I hate it, on the basis that if I am asking people to review my books, the least I can do is return the favour. But I don’t always do them straight away. And the list of outstanding reviews was huge. They’re all written now, and I’ll be gradually posting them over the next couple of weeks. So if you are waiting for one from me, it shouldn’t be too long. And on that subject, I’ll be looking at how I can share those reviews more widely in future, without setting up a formal book blog. Watch this space.
As all writers will know, next month is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). As usual, I’m planning to write the first draft of my next novel, and this month I’ve been doing some detailed planning. Ideally, I’d like to have thirty-one scenes mapped out so I know what I’m going to write each day when I sit at the keyboard. So far, I’ve got thirteen done, some from the beginning plus the closing scenes. Not as much as I would have liked, but enough to get me going. And I always turn into a pantser by mid-November, so it should be okay. I’ll let you know at the end of next month.
Sales and Marketing
After two years, Murder at Mountjoy Manor was finally published this month. And I’m delighted to say it’s the best launch I’ve had to date. We had a wonderful party, here in Chudleigh, with loads of people turning out despite foul weather. Of course, I know they really came to hear the local choir sing, or for the free fizz and cake, or because, frankly, any chance to get out of the house is welcome these days, but they laughed in all the right places, applauded at the end, and bought lots of copies; so no complaints from me.
Two days later we had a Zoom launch party, which was great fun. I’ve been running virtual launch parties on Facebook since 2011, and in those days, they were new and exciting. But Zoom is much more interactive, and I could see people’s faces and chat with them directly, which was great. If you fancy having a look at that, you can find it here. You get to meet the victim and all the suspects; and author and broadcaster Theresa Talbot does a wonderful job of hosting the whole thing.
And finally, a reminder that next week, I’m sharing the stage with fellow Exeter Writer, Richard Handy, in a joint launch party in Crediton, as a partner event to the Exeter Literary Festival. It’s a free event, but numbers are limited, so if you are in the south west and fancy joining us for an evening of Murder, Loyalty and Lunacy, you can get the details here.
One final point on the sales and marketing front: I’ve taken the decision to pull out of Kindle Unlimited and go wide with all my books in future. If you’ve got anything by me in your ebook library, you will still be able to read it, but you won’t be able to download them for free in future. On the other hand, I will be making Counterfeit! permafree from the beginning of next year.
Out and About
There’s still a lot of uncertainty around, affecting how we operate. One of my writing groups held its AGM earlier this month and there were so many of us in attendance, we had to move to a larger venue. On the other hand, another group I belong to had one face to face event, with a relatively small attendance, and has reverted to online meetings for the time being. We’re not back to normal yet; maybe we never will be.
The second Joint Arts Project exhibition took place this month in Newton Abbot. Featuring collaboration between local writers, artists and photographers, it’s been a fascinating project and we’re about the start the third round, on the rather appropriate theme of Freedom. This time, the writers are kicking off the proceeding and we will deliver our words simultaneously to the other two groups for their interpretation.
I’m making another foray onto local radio next week. I’ll be on BBC Radio Devon on Monday afternoon, talking about the Exeter Literary Festival. And thanks to the ongoing restrictions, I will be doing it from the comfort of my own home, rather than having to drive to Plymouth and back. Bit of a silver lining there.
Exeter Literary Festival
And talking about ExeLitFest, it’s finally here! Our opening event, A Greener Future?, took place at the start of the month, and went very well, with some great sessions from Professor Peter Cox; Jonathon Porritt and Lucy Siegle; Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Natalie Fee. If you fancy having a look at that, you can find the recording here.
But now we’re all focussing on the main event, running from 5th to 7th November. Some of the readers’ events are already sold out. All the writers’ workshops have a good number of tickets sold. All the volunteers have been briefed. And we’re ready to go. If you live in this part of the world and fancy spending an evening behind the scenes of The Antiques Roadshow; or would like to be part of the audience for a live performance by Alfie Moore of BBC Radio’s It’s A Fair Cop fame, there are tickets still available. Plus we’ve got Sarah Turner, The Unmumsy Mum, talking to Simon Kettlewell about their hilarious experiences bringing up young families; Hazel Prior; K J Maitland; a group of international crime writers; the list goes on. And my particular favourite: Alan Lee, Oscar-winning illustrator talking about The Fellowship of the Ring, on the twentieth anniversary of the launch of the film. Get all the details, and book your tickets here.