SASE 2016

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).


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?



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!

How did you write a book?


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!


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!


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 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.

Why you should review my self-published book

THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN was released yesterday, and has had more sales than I could have hoped for, so I’m very happy. Many thanks to everyone who has already bought a copy. And those of you who haven’t, what are you waiting for? The price goes up next week. Get thee to Amazon, quickly. Go on, NOW. You can read this later.

If you have bought a copy, I’m now after something else from you. What the heck? But I’ve already given you 99 whole pence! you might think, or even exclaim aloud if you are that kind of person. What more could an author want from me? Blood?

Fortunately for us both, blood doesn’t come into it. What I want from you now is … a review.

Oh. One of those. Well, they’re a bit tedious to write, aren’t they? And they don’t really make any difference, do they?

Ah! But for independent authors, they do.

Once upon a time, publishers were the ones who decided what people read. Now it’s readers. YOU HAVE THE POWER! But with great power comes great responsibility.

What an independent author needs more than anything – even more than KitKats to fuel their creative genius or lovely new pens with which to perfect their author signature – is eyeballs. Not their own eyeballs (although they’re pretty useful as well) but yours. People’s. EVERYONE’S. They need people to know they exist and be able to SEE their work. Otherwise no-one can buy it. And if no-one can buy it: no KitKats.

Reviews can help visibility and push sales. They give prospective buyers confidence to purchase a book. And many of the great promotional sites that independent authors can use to boost their visibility and reach more readers require a certain number of reviews before they’ll consider promoting your book.

And as well as helping authors, you’d be helping your fellow readers. There are millions of books out there. How do you find the great ones? Word of mouth? Recommendations from your friends? That’s just another type of review.

So if you’ve read THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN and you enjoyed it – or even if you didn’t – if you can spare a few moments to leave a review on Amazon, I will be eternally grateful. And so will all the other people who might never have found the book without you. OK, that’s not strictly true – they’ll never give you another thought. But you’ll know you did something nice.

And just to make you feel like you got something out of it too, I wrote this post for you twice. Once in the way you just read, and again below – but this time in story form. So don’t say I never give you anything.

The Garden

Once upon a time there was a kingdom that was famous for its beautiful formal gardens. People loved to walk in them, admiring the flowers and foliage, enjoying the scents on the breeze and listening to the insects and birds. The gardens were meticulously landscaped. They were designed and maintained by the Head Gardener, who tended the garden and chose which plants would be grown in the garden for the people to enjoy.

One day, as the Head Gardener was planting some more blue flowers, a young boy approached him. “Excuse me,” said the boy, politely. “The blue flowers are very beautiful, but all the flowers are blue. But could we have some red flowers in the garden as well?”

The Head Gardener chuckled and shook his head. “No,” he replied. “The people are not interested in red flowers. They prefer blue.”

The boy frowned. “But I am one of the people. And I prefer red.”

A woman who had been passing with her husband overheard the conversation and joined in. “Actually, I prefer orange flowers,” she said.

“No,” said the Head Gardener. “You may think you would prefer orange flowers if there were any, but the orange flowers are of inferior quality. I know more about gardening than you and so I have chosen the best flowers for you to enjoy. And the best flowers are blue.”

“Perhaps you do know more about gardening,” said the woman “but you don’t know which flowers I prefer to look at. And I prefer orange.”

“And I prefer red,” said the boy.

“And I prefer yellow,” said the woman’s husband.

The Head Gardener began to get frustrated. “But I am giving you the best flowers there are!” he said. “And not only are they the best quality, but they are the colour that people prefer to look at. I know this because there is are market stalls at the corners of the gardens, and the only flowers people buy are blue ones.”

“Do you sell red ones?” asked the boy, his face eager with hope.

“Well … no,” said the Head Gardener. “Because no-one wants to buy them.”

“How do you know if you don’t sell them?” asked the woman.

“Because I know that people prefer blue flowers,” said the Head Gardener.

The woman tutted. “Are there no orange flowers to be bought anywhere, then?” she asked.

“”Well, people do sometimes send me trays of orange flowers,” conceded the Head Gardener. “Or yellow. Or red. But I don’t plant them, or sell them. Because no-one likes them, you see.”  And with that, he turned back to his work.

“I like them,” said the boy to the woman and her husband. “Maybe we should plant some seeds and grow our own orange, red, and yellow flowers.”

“But if we did that,” said the woman, “when we came to buy the seeds, how would we know which flowers were beautiful and which to avoid? What if some of the flowers turned out to be weeds?”

“Some people might like the flowers that you regard as weeds,” said her husband, and the woman realised he was right.

“But if no-one knew which seeds were the ones they might like and which were the ones they wouldn’t, it would be too confusing,” said the woman. “And no-one would be able to find the good seeds amongst the rest.”

The boy thought for a moment. “But what if we were to tell each other? We would buy the seeds and then, when we found the flowers we liked best, whatever colour they were, we would tell our friends how lovely the scent is and how pretty the petals are. Then they would be able to buy the same seeds and enjoy the flowers too. And our friends would do the same for us if they bought good seeds. And if the flowers were poor, we would warn each other to avoid them.”

So that was what they did. The Head Gardener never did agree to plant or sell red or orange or yellow flowers. So while the people of the kingdom still often stroll through the formal gardens and admire the blue flowers, they have also created gardens of their own. And when they find a flower they love, they tell their friends. 

And the sellers of good seeds and the people who grew the colourful flowers all lived happily ever after.


Drum roll, maestro, please … THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN is out!

Dragon in the Drain Cover High Res

I hear the sound of fanfares, party poppers, fireworks, and champagne corks. Possibly even some raucous singing. THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN is live on Amazon.

Not only that, but for ONE WEEK ONLY you can get it for the absolute bargain price of just 99 pence!

Share the news, people! Spread the word!

It’s available here if you’re in the UK, or here if you’re in the US. It’s available in lots of other places too, but you’ll have to search your local Amazon yourself if you’re elsewhere. Come on now, I can’t do everything for you.

At the moment, THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN is only available as an ebook. If you’re chomping at the bit to get your hands on a print copy, please be patient. It’s in progress!

Thank you so much for your support so far, and I hope you enjoy THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN. If you do, then please – tell me, tell your friends, tell your hairdresser, your postman, your next door neighbours and all your friends on social media. Tell EVERYONE. If you don’t – well, socialising is tiring isn’t it? Sometimes it’s just nice to stay in. On your own.

If you have any queries or comments, you can contact me via all the usual places, or you can email me at

And now … I’m off for a nap.




Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had a few people ask me things like, “Oi, didn’t you say you were publishing a book? So where the heck is it? WAS IT ALL A DREAM?”

These people are beginning to worry (or possibly hope) that they imagined the whole thing.

THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN is still coming soon. Promise. So what’s the delay, Cooper?

Well, I’ve been writing for years. But I’ve been publishing for never. And what I didn’t know before now is that when you prepare to publish, you create accidental side effects. Without realising, the further you travel down the road that is signposted “Edits”, you change reality and brew certain scientific conditions that are perfect for the replication and rapid growth of a certain kind of virus-like creature. It’s actually frightening how quickly these beasts can get a grip on your life and infiltrate your work. They run amok, leaving your writing battered and bruised. Sometimes they even leave it for dead. The worst thing is, they have the power to blind you to their very existence so you can’t even see them, no matter how hard you look. Then, when you finally believe you’re ready to publish, they cruelly reveal themselves at the very last moment: usually seconds after you’ve saved a file called, “FINAL final draft, definitely final, absolutely without question THIS ONE IS THE FINAL DRAFT!” That’s when they appear. And then they have a party.

Yes. That’s right. When you head towards publishing, no matter how many protective barriers you erect to protect yourself, no matter what convoluted steps you take to keep them at bay, you suddenly find that you’re an expert at something you never even set out to learn at all: breeding typos.

Some of them have probably spawned themselves in the time it’s taken to write this blog post. I’ve already deleted several. But these things have had the same qualities bestowed upon them by the universe as odd socks in washing baskets and plastic carrier bags kept under the sink: they are able to reproduce without human intervention. We are in constant battle to keep invasion at bay. This is serious stuff, people.

So, back to THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN. It’s currently in the hands of a very experienced, absolutely merciless literary warrior. She is conducting a special purification process that involves hunting down every last critter and expelling it and all its friends and relatives from existence. That’s right. She’s a member of the most remorseless, pitiless, unforgiving group of people in the world: a proofreader.

So, THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN is in the final stages of scrutiny, and it really is almost ready for release. Stay patient, faithful potential readers. I’m grateful for your stoicism.

Meanwhile, I’ve started writing the next book, which will be a sequel to THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN. Exciting news! Hurrah! Six thousand words and a mere 476,000 typos so far.