Introducing Book Two …

Coming Soon Image

Alf and Wilf are back, and this time they’ve been tasked with investigating suspicious activity at Gribble school.

The trouble is, there isn’t any.

It looks like they’ve got no chance of catching whoever’s been spying for a magical corporation from another reality … until someone loses their head. Literally. All of a sudden there’s suspicious activity all over the place, from some surprising directions, and Alf and Wilf no longer know who to trust. It’s time for another trip over the Nameless Hills but will the witch with the castle in her cottage help or hinder them? With a pair of sarcastic horses, a magic carpet, and some cocktail umbrellas all getting in on the act, can Alf and Wilf work out who’s on their side to uncover the spy and save the school from poisoned magic before it’s too late?

Book Two is written and now going through the editing process and should be ready for release in the next few weeks! Woohoo. (About time too, I know.)

I can now reveal that the title of Book Two, the second book in the Gribble Adventures series, is (drumroll) …

THE SPY IN THE SCHOOL

Coming soon: a cover reveal and some snippets from the new book. Keep your eyes peeled! Hurrah.

 

Happy birthday to THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN!

THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN paperbacks

Amazingly, it’s a whole year today since THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN was published. Before Brexit. Before Trump. Before Peter Capaldi told us he was leaving Doctor Who. What a difference a year makes. Unless you’re a rock or some other static geological feature. Then it hardly makes any difference at all.

Anyway. To celebrate THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN’s first birthday, why not read it again? Grab your paperback or your Kindle, get yourself a nice cup of tea and a piece of cake, and enjoy the first Gribble adventure in preparation for …

BOOK TWO.

Yes, this is an official announcement that BOOK TWO is officially on the way. Officially. It’s got a title (which I will be revealing soon) and most of a cover (which I will also be revealing soon. See a clever pattern emerging?) and it will be on sale later in the summer. STAY TUNED FOR MORE NEWS.

But in the meantime, this is THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN’s day. Happy birthday to my firstborn publication. If you enjoyed it, why not write it a nice review as a jolly birthday gift?

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So. Yesterday I attended my first book signing event as an author. YIKES. Along with 20 other local and regional writers, I rocked up at Sandbach Town Hall yesterday morning with a suitcase full of books and a serious case of butterflies. In case you’re wondering what is more terrifying than telling people you’ve written a book and putting it out there for people to read, it’s the thought of going to an event with said book and actually having to do it face to face. I knew none of the other authors, although I’d stalked seen a few of them online and gawped at how well they were doing and how many books they’d written, so turning up on my own with my one little children’s books was a pretty nerve wracking prospect.

So, like a total hero, I walked into a room *pause for applause and gasps of admiration* and … well, it was fine actually and I had a brilliant time. Yippee!

I was sharing a table with another author and I was delighted when I found out who it was because I’d already read one of her books and loved it. She is the marvellous J A Armitage who writes in several genres and whose YA book The Labyrinthians I enjoyed a few months ago. If you visit her website you can find out more about her work and get free ebooks! J A Armitage’s newest work is Two of Clubs which is out on January 1st 2017 and available on pre-order now. This book is the first in her new War and Suits series which will be published at the rate of ONE BOOK A WEEK in 2017. No, that isn’t a typo. Fifty-two books over a year, one a week. The woman is superhuman. Here she is signing a huge pile of books for an excited buyer (with my book on display too, naturally).

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J A Armitage has also got books in some unmissable box sets at the moment. Box sets showcase books from lots of different indie authors and are a brilliant way of discovering work by authors you haven’t read before. The Best of British Crime is a brand new box set that features one of JAA’s cosy mysteries, and Dark Legends is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy box set coming out in January and available for pre-order now, featuring an exclusive extended version of Two of Clubs. At the time of writing both these box sets are available on Amazon for the crazy price of 99p each! So while you’re waiting for me to get my finger out and actually publish something else, why not check them out?

 

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Not only did I meet some fantastic fellow authors yesterday, who were incredibly generous in sharing their own experiences and advice and making the event a hugely enjoyable experience for a first timer (special shout out to Nikki Ashton and Victoria Johns!) and some amazing readers who LOVE books, I sold some copies of THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN too. What more could a fledgling author want? Chocolate, did you say? Yeah, there was loads of that too. Best friend for moral support? Check. (That’s her in the photo! Thanks Tam!)

Huge thanks to author Elizabeth Morgan for organising yesterday’s inaugural Sandbach Author Signing Event. Can’t wait for next year!

Order your books now for my first book signing event!

I’m currently like a small child on Christmas Eve – excited, annoying, and unable to sleep. The reason for this is that I’m going to be attending my first book signing event as an author this Saturday, November 5th 2016. Go me!

The event is happening between 10.30am and 4.30pm at Sandbach Town Hall, Sandbach, Cheshire, and there will be more than 20 local and regional authors of all genres signing and talking about their books, participating in panels and workshops and generally being fabulous. Tickets are just £5, with accompanied children admitted free. For full details take a gander at the event website.

Speaking of Christmas, if you’re looking for the perfect gift for the bookworm in your life, here’s your chance to get organised early. If you’re coming along to the event and you fancy purchasing a signed copy of THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN, if you’re quick you can order in advance at the special price of £7.00 a copy. Bargain! There will be a limited number of copies available on the day, priced at £8.00, but I cannot guarantee availability without advance order. So to avoid disappointment order your copy using the form below and feel smug in the knowledge that you’ve paid a pound less and you can roll up at 3pm if you like and you’ll still get a copy of the book.

YOU MUST ORDER BY WEDNESDAY 2nd NOVEMBER  to guarantee your signed copy. Order now! Tell all your friends! Have another candy cane! Christmas has come early!

 

Five months since THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN … so where’s Book Two?

It’s five months almost to the day since THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN was published. Surely it’s time for a new book, right? I mean, WHAT I AM DOING ALL THE LIVE-LONG DAY?

Well,  Book Two is still in progress. Oh yes. It’s still happening. But there has been a little bit of tension behind the scenes. You see, as much fun as Wilf, Alf and Miss Dagger are, I was spending an awful lot of time with them. And you know how it is when you spend too much time with the same people, don’t you? Yep. They start to get on your nerves, even if you love them. And that’s what happened here. That’s right. I began to annoy them. You can’t blame them, I suppose; there they were, just trying to mind their own business, and there I was, hanging around all the time and making them do stuff. So the residents of Gribble (in both worlds) and I decided to have a little break from each other for a while – we’re calling it a mutual break due to ‘artistic differences’ to save my feelings, anyway – and I went away to give them some space.

If you’re a Gribble fan, DON’T PANIC. Book Two is still coming. The Gribble residents are just taking a little sabbatical. Between you and me, some of them have a tendency to be a bit, well, diva-ish. Quite frankly, we’re all best staying out of their way until they’re ready to take to the stage again. Why not go and review THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN on Amazon to give you something to do while you wait?

But hang on. What exactly have I been doing then, since Miss Dagger gave me a frightful glare and told me go away and give her a holiday? (And you might be annoyed that I obeyed and didn’t keep writing, but I’d like to see you stare her out and refuse to do as you’re told.) Hm? I mean, I must have been doing something useful, yes? Well, actually, no. I’ve been pestering a whole new set of characters instead. It’s not my fault. I can’t help myself.

So, the upshot is that the next new release is not going to be Gribble Book Two but SOMETHING ELSE!

Here are some interesting facts about THE NEXT STORY:

  1. I was hoping to get it out before Halloween but … er … well, maybe there will be a miracle and that will happen, but more likely it’ll be a few more weeks away. Shh.
  2. It’s NOT A CHILDREN’S BOOK. YIKES! That is to say, it’s not been written specifically for children, and the main characters are not children. BUT, apart from one instance of the phrase, “Sneaky little buggers” and some references to (comical) immodest dancing, it should be fine for older children. That’s your call as a parent, OK? DON’T BLAME ME IF YOUR CHILD BECOMES FIXATED WITH FERRETS. That’s all I’m saying.
  3. It will be a novella. That means it will be shorter than a novel but still a reasonable length. So you should still buy it. Obviously.
  4. There are witches in it. Obviously.
  5. OR ARE THERE?
  6. (Yes, there are.)

Keep an eye on this blog and the Facebook page for more announcements, such as a title reveal, a cover reveal, and a release date. Meanwhile, why not astound your friends with this amazing news? Drum up some excitement! And I’m not sure I’ve ever suggested this before, but why not review THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN while you’re at it?

 

 

 

 

 

Vote for your favourite THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN character to see them in Book Two!

Those of you who enjoyed THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN will be pleased to know that Book Two is well underway. Woohoo! After trying a few different titles out I’m pretty sure I’ve settled on the right one now and the cover design is looking pretty good too. But I’m not going to give away any more than that for now. There will be title and cover reveals at some point, so keep your eyes peeled for more announcements!

Some of the characters from THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN will be making a comeback (hurrah!) and some won’t (booo!). At least … maybe they won’t. But more about that in a moment.

We’ll be finding out more about some characters we already know and we’ll be meeting some interesting new ones too … some of whom are already making a nuisance of themselves in the story. As Book Two unfolds you might start wondering which side some characters are really on.

So the story is plotted and the writing is underway, but one of the great things about being a writer is that you also get to be Supreme Being – at least until your characters decide to take you down a peg or two by showing you who’s boss and doing what they like instead of what you wanted them to do. But whatever they think, I do have some control and that means that I can maybe make some little adjustments here and there as to who appears and how much.

So while I’m still writing Book Two, I want to know who your favourite THE DRAGON IN THE DRAGON character is. Whichever character wins this poll WILL appear in Book Two, even if they’re not already in my plot notes and weren’t originally going to be back. They might only get a walk-on part if they weren’t supposed to be popping up at all, but they WILL appear. Of course maybe the winner was already down for a significant role in Book Two anyway. (That’s kind of what I’m secretly hoping, because that will make my life a little bit easier ..!) If you really can’t decide on your favourite character you can vote for more than one. The character with the most overall votes will win.

I haven’t set an end date for the poll because it’ll run until there’s a clear winner or I’ve finished writing the book! Or maybe just until I say so, because I’m Supreme Being. Yeah.

Vote now for your favourite character now to make sure you see them in Book Two! If you’re an adult reading this and your children have read THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN, don’t forget to get them to vote too. If you’re a child reading this and your adult minions haven’t read THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN, you really need to start educating them better.

How did you write a book?

THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN paperbacks

During the last month while I’ve been gallivanting around showing off about having written a book, people have asked me questions about it. Possibly they felt they had no choice but to ask me questions about it because I kept going on about it and most of these people were British and therefore literally incapable of telling me to shut up about writing a book, being forced instead to smile politely until I went away.

The questions were various but almost all of them could be gathered beneath the main heading of:

How did you write a book?

I’d like to take a moment to clarify that the emphasis of that sentence belongs on the first word. People were asking how I wrote a book. They were not asking “How did you write a book?” or “How did you write a book?” which would have been different (somewhat ruder) questions.

So if you a) are writing a book, b) are thinking about writing a book, c) have read my book and want to know how I wrote it or d) haven’t got anything better to do for the next five minutes until Game of Thrones* starts – this post is for you. It may or may not be useful. These are some of the things that helped ME write MY book. Different things might work for you. If you’re already author and have written a book or maybe even lots of books, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what it takes to write a book. And I’m not just being polite until you go away.

Before we start, if you’re an aspiring writer you should probably remember that my book is a fantasy and has dragons in it. As such, if you’re hoping for tips that will help you write a very sensible non-fiction book about the applications of quantum physics, this might not be the post for you.

So, let’s get on with it. These are the most important things you need to know, in my opinion, if you want to write a (fiction) book.

1. Don’t grow up.

This one is really very important indeed. I cannot overstate it enough. If you want to write fiction, especially fantasy, you muston no account grow up. Growing up is the very worst thing you could do. You must avoid it at all costs. You are allowed to grow older – in fact, if you have discovered a way to avoid growing older you should really be writing a book about that instead, because it will earn you the most money that any book has earned anybody ever – but you absolutely must not grow up.

Why is this so crucial? Well, consider a garden. When you were a child how much time did you spend thinking about sorting out the car insurance or whether you should change electricity providers instead of looking at a butterfly and wondering if it was from a secret butterfly spy organisation engaged in a centuries-long battle with the more practical but less pretty moth population? Conversely, how much time do you now spend looking for fairies at the bottom of the garden instead of grumpily frowning at the things you now only see as weeds but which once formed a jungle to protect the magical beings that definitely existed from nosy children like yourself? When you rake up leaves, do you remember that they used to be natural flying carpets for gnomes? When you cut the lawn, do you fret about the abundance of dandelions and moss or do you still look for magic toadstools? I could add many more examples, but you see where I’m going with this, right?

I should be very clear that I’m not suggesting you don’t sort out the car insurance or change electricity providers, because that would be irresponsible which is not interchangeable with not having grown up.

How do you know if you’ve grown up? It’s not your fault you had to get a job and pay the bills, is it? Of course not. But that is responsible, not grown up. So if you’re the sort of person who wanders down a country lane at dusk on a summer’s evening still hoping you might stumble across the entrance to Faerie among the cow parsley and foxgloves even though you’re 35 and an accountant, then you’re fine. You haven’t grown up. You’re just responsible.

But what if all you ever think about is sorting out the car insurance and changing electricity suppliers? And maybe folding the laundry and what you have to buy for dinner tonight? If you are concerned that you’ve already grown up without realising and it’s too late, don’t panic. It isn’t. You can still reverse the process. All you have to do is begin wondering about everything again. Wonder what would happen if Mrs Jones next door turned out to be from another dimension that existed in her airing cupboard. Wonder what would happen if your cornflakes became sentient and formed an army to attack you at breakfast tomorrow. Wonder what would happen if you woke up in the other dimension that exists in Mrs Jones’ airing cupboard whilst being attacked by an army of brainy cereal flakes. This doesn’t just apply if you want to write fantasy. The things you wonder will signpost which genre is for you. If you watch the man who lives across the road leave his house and you wonder if he’s smiling because he’s on his way to meet the woman he loves, you might be a romance writer. If you wonder if he’s hiding a body in his freezer and he’s on the run from the FBI, you might be a thriller writer. If you wonder if he’s off to play bridge and solve a gore-free murder with a vicar and an elderly amateur sleuth with a crocheting habit, you might be a murder mystery writer. And if you wonder if he’s really a goblin who’s just eaten the people who really live at that house, you’re a definitely a fantasy writer. Unless you wondered whether there were a lot of bloody intestines involved, in which case you might be a horror writer.

If all this sounds extremely silly and childish to you and frankly you’ve got better things to do, like jet-washing the patio and cleaning out the fridge, then I’ve got bad news for you. You’ve grown up and apparently you don’t mind. I’m so sorry.

2. Write your ideas down.

This leads on from the famous question often asked of writers: Where do you get your ideas?  The answer to that, as you will by now have realised is, I didn’t grow up. The longer answer is, I get them from spending large amounts of my time wondering about alternate universes in airing cupboards because it’s much more interesting than sorting out the car insurance and working out whether to switch electricity suppliers. Writers don’t always want to say that, though, because sometimes people give us funny looks and don’t take us seriously because they believe that at our age we should really be thinking about car insurance. But it is the answer.

So when you’ve mastered not growing up and you wonder about everything and have lots of ideas, you should start writing at least some of them down. Because you WILL forget them. And you might not want to use them until later; maybe not even until years later. And you’ll have had lots more ideas by then, which will have pushed today’s ideas out of your brain. This leads to yet another common question that writers are asked: I have a great idea for a book so how about you write it and we split the profits?  There are at least two reasons for the answer to this invariably being something along the lines of ha ha ha ha ha ha, no. The first is that because we’ve spent all our lives being brilliant at not growing up, we have more ideas than we can possibly ever write. We have LOADS of ideas. Because sorting out the car insurance really is very dull indeed. So we’re brimming over with ideas of our own. Of course, your ideas might be much better than mine, but I’ll just have to take that risk. Not least because the other reason I’m not going to write your idea into a book and give you half the proceeds is …

3. It’s hard work. 

Oh. Well, now you might be feeling slightly suspicious. Because I’ve just spent several hundred words talking about how you need to sit around thinking about airy-fairy things that are more interesting than car insurance. But I didn’t say that was all you have to do. That’s the easy bit. The hard bit is actually writing the book.This is the bit that many aspiring writers don’t like to hear about quite so much as the not growing up bit. Often, aspiring novelists ask How did you write a book? hoping for some magical formula that has yet to be revealed to them that will make writing a book easier. I asked it myself, with the same hope. But eventually, one of two things happens to every writer: a) you realise there isn’t a magic formula and get on with the work and write a book or b) you never write a book.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t mining for blood diamonds or performing neurosurgery. But it does take determination and tenacity. The thing about writing a book is, you have to write a book. You have to write all the words. All of them. Every single one. One by one. There’s no avoiding this. You have to WRITE THE WORDS. Sorry.

So if you want to know the nuts and bolts of how I wrote THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN, this is how:

I didn’t grow up.

I sorted out the car insurance when I really had to. But I spent more time wondering whether the door between the hall and the living room that we never used when I was a child, and which I always hoped concealed a huge, grand staircase that led to a magical land, really DID conceal a huge, grand staircase that led to a magical land, even though I’ve now seen that door opened. How? Different dimension. Of COURSE.

I got up at 5am every day for weeks and wrote all the words one by one until I had written the book. Which brings me to my last tip …

4. Make time.

If you want to write a book, you have to make the time to write all the words one by one. Again, there’s no getting out of this. Job? Kids? Addiction to watching Game of Thrones*? Need to sort out the car insurance?

No-one cares.

You can make all the excuses you like – you just won’t be the person who wrote a book. And no-one else actually cares whether you write one or not. They might be happy for you if you do – they might even buy it. But if you don’t? Well, there are plenty of other books out there for them to read and buy. YOU are the person who cares if you write the book. So write the book. Make time. Or don’t make time, don’t write the book and spend all the time you’re not sorting out the car insurance complaining that you would have written a book if only you’d had the time. It’s up to you.

So. Now you know how I wrote THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN, and how you can write a book too, if you want to. Of course, as I said earlier, I’m only talking about my personal experience. And for all you know, I might be an unreliable narrator who lives in an alternate universe in Mrs Jones’ airing cupboard. Don’t tell me you didn’t wonder?

Just one final piece of advice when it comes to writing a book:

5. Don’t spend loads of time writing lengthy blog posts about writing a book as procrastination from writing your next book. 

Ah. Well, no-one’s perfect.

*If you are an actual child, which you might be since I write for children, STOP WATCHING GAME OF THRONES. It’s not for you. Go outside and get some fresh air. Or if that’s not appropriate, turn your phone/tablet/brain off and go to sleep before your parents realise you’re still awake.

Another drum roll … THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN is out in print!

Print cover of THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN

In the two weeks since the digital version of THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN launched I have been asked one particular question with some frequency:

I suppose these newfangled Kindles are alright if you like that kind of thing, but when can I get THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN as a real book?

And the answer is … *fanfare* … RIGHT NOW!

Print cover of THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN

THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN is now available in paperback on Amazon and the normal price will be £8.99. However, because I know lots of people who want to purchase a copy already very kindly bought the digital version for 99p during its first week, the print version is available for a limited time at an introductory price of £7.99. Which means if you did buy the ebook when it was on offer, you effectively got it free with the paperback you’re buying now. Woohoo! And even if you didn’t, you can still your print copy now and save yourself a whole pound that you can spend on a Star Bar to eat while you read it. Bargain.

The book is available worldwide on Amazon, so if you’re outside the UK you can purchase it from your local Amazon store.

Don’t forget that the Kindle version is also still available at the exceptionally reasonable price of £2.99, and if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member you can read the ebook for free! (And if you’re not a Kindle Unlimited member, you can get a 30-day free trial, and then read it for free.)

Today belongs to the print launch of THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN, but keep your eyes peeled soon for updates of my progress with writing Alf and Wilf’s next adventure.

 

Last day to get THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN on sale!

It’s been an amazing few days for THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN. It’s been doing very well in the Amazon UK store, and is currently on the Top 100 Best Sellers list in the UK for three subcategories; in fact for one of those categories it’s in the top 20, rubbing shoulders with some of my literary heroes.

The fantastic feedback I’ve had so far from readers old and young, plus this screenshot (taken yesterday afternoon) has made all the work it’s Amazon screenshot showing THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN taken to get this far worthwhile. A huge thank you to everyone who has bought it so far.

The print copy IS in progress and I’ll let you know as soon as that is available to buy.

If you haven’t grabbed your Kindle copy yet, now is the time to do it because the price will increase tomorrow. THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN is still only 99p from Amazon UK and 99 cents on Amazon.com today, so don’t delay! You don’t need a Kindle to be able to read it. You can read it on the Kindle app on your computer, iThing or android device.

And don’t forget – reviews are really valuable to independent authors and useful for readers, so if you’ve enjoyed the book and have a few moments to leave a review on Amazon, I’d be most grateful.

 

Why it’s OK to read THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN even if you’re a grown up

Since THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN was released a few days ago, feedback from readers has started to trickle in. One of my favourite things that has happened is that people have very kindly sent me pictures of their children reading the book, with that faraway look of deep concentration on their faces that people only get when they’re lost in the magic of a story. For obvious reasons I can’t share those pictures publicly but they’ve been fantastic for me to see as the author. Thank you so much to everyone who has shared those with me.

The other feedback I’ve been getting is from adults who’ve read the book. And some of them are just a little apologetic about it. I know it’s really a children’s book, but …

Actually, it’s just a book. It’s a “children’s book” because when people buy a book (or anything else, for that matter) they generally like to know a bit about it before parting with their hard-earned cash. So we categorise books by genre or age range to give potential readers indicators as to what kind of book they’re going to get. THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN has young protagonists, and contains no material or subject matter that kids can’t read, so it is categorised as a children’s book. But let me tell you a secret. I wrote it because it’s the kind of thing I like to read. 

Like music and visual media, the way we consume books has changed and continues to evolve. We can still buy print books from bookshops. We can buy print online. And we can buy digital versions of books too. For authors, the rise of digital has also opened up a platform that allows them to get their stories directly to readers without going through the traditional publishing system. The most exciting thing about that as an author is that no-one gets to tell you what you’re supposed to be writing or what will or won’t sell. And as a reader, that means they don’t get to tell you what you can read, either.

But then it isn’t just publishers who like to tell people what they can read. Lots of people have Opinions when it comes to books, don’t they? Not ordinary opinions that they form when they read a book and decide whether they like it or not. Lots of people have the kind of Opinions that are about which books other people should be reading. This book is terrible, that book is badly written, such and such an author’s writing style isn’t up to scratch and so and so’s book is a rubbish story that we shouldn’t enjoy. This book is for children and adults who read it are ridiculous. Funnily enough, most of these Opinions are about books that have sold by the truckload, to people who loved them and didn’t give a fig for Opinions.

The great thing about books is that you can read whichever ones you like. No-one else can tell you what to read, not even publishers these days. And the people with Opinions? Well, another great thing about digital books is that you can read them on a device that also has a headphone socket, and if you plug some headphones into it and turn on your music player, it makes Opinions much more difficult to hear. Maybe next time someone tries to tell you what to read, you should bear that in mind.