Sunday, 14 December 2008

Sweetens Success

The official signing held at Sweetens bookshop in Bolton on Saturday December 6 was a success. Friends and family came along to support me. Thanks friends and family! The photographer from the Bolton News was conspicuous by his absence - but then he had been given the wrong date. The lovely Bolton News, whose support I've enjoyed for six years now, told everyone I was doing the signing on November 29, which led to one young man turning up a week early. He bought the book there and then (he being a big fan of Century Lodge) and returned on the 6th to have it signed.

Signings are a strange phenomenon. You sit at your little table, your books laid out in an eye catching presentation, and most who come through the door do their level best not to have their eyes caught. I've done a few of these now, so I was expecting it to be like that. At the very least, passersby have seen the name Anne Droyd and are aware of what I'm doing. It has a culminating effect. Those who don't buy now might do when I'm more established. So there's nothing to lose.

I once saw an interview with Lynda La Plant (author of the TV series Prime Suspect and Trial and Retribution), and she said she hates book signings because people look at you with scorn, or worse still, pick up the book, read the back cover blurb, check the price, and then put it back down before moving on.

It appears I'm in very good company!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

The Signings

My book signing on Thursday 27th of November at my place of employment went very well, I must say. I sold 30 copies in total. The deal was a signed copy for a fiver, with 50p from each donated to the Childline charity. I was touched by how many seemed to be genuinely looking forward to reading it, they having read and enjoyed the first one.

The Bolton News have been in touch to say they have diarised my upcoming signing at Sweetens, and my wife received a phone call from the photographer confirming the details.

Early reaction to the book has been good. The 16-year-old daughter of a friend stayed up half the night to finish it. She read it in a couple of days, which, I'm told is a record for her. A few others have said it betters the first one and that they are looking forward to the third.

My wife told me last night she's in the final chapters and is reading it a bit at a time so it won't be over too quickly. That's devotion for you!

The office magazine Centrepoint, which covers two centres of bank operations, in Bolton and Manchester, has put a nice little ad in their latest issue (see cutting at top). A bigger feature is set to appear in their worldwide publication early next year.

So, next up on the schedule is my signing at Sweetens bookshop, 86 Deansgate, Bolton, on Saturday 6th of December. I'll be there between 2 and 3 pm. If you're in the vacinity, do come along!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

AVAILABLE NOW: Anne Droyd and the House of Shadows

I am delighted to announce the release of my second Anne Droyd novel, Anne Droyd and the House of Shadows.

Set six months after the events of Book One, Gezz, Malcolm, Luke and Anne are treated to a winter break in the coastal town of Whitby. Something very strange is going on at Lanyon guesthouse. What is the secret of the Stevenson family? Who are the hooded creatures that roam the streets at night? And what is going on in the attic? The three children and their android friend are about to find out...

The book is listed on Amazon UK and European equivalents. It will filter through to the USA and elsewhere in time.

If you live in or near Bolton in the UK, you will be able to buy it from Sweetens bookshop as of Saturday 8 November.

I will be signing copies of the book at Sweetens from 2pm on Saturday 6 December.

Alternatively, if you want to order signed copies directly from me, you may do so using the Paypal system that I've implemented top right.

I have priced the book at £5.99.

So, come and get it!
N.B. If you find it difficult getting to the Paypal page (as some have done), then re-enter this site via You should then be able to access the Paypal facility.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

She's Here!

Well, I got home tonight to find a parcel waiting for me. It was addressed to my publisher name Nordic, so I knew straight away what it was. Boys and girls, ladies and gentleman, Anne Droyd is here.

I wrote the first one, Anne Droyd and Century Lodge, between October 2000 and January 2001. It was published by CK Publishing (now WebGuild Media) in June 2002. At the back of that first edition, it said, "Coming Soon - Anne Droyd and the House of Shadows."

Then, in 2003, I discovered Asperger syndrome, and was caught away writing my autobiographical book The Feeling's Unmutual and a fresh edit of Century Lodge. Both titles were published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in 2004.

When JKP let it be known they wouldn't be doing any of the Anne Droyd sequels, I had to find a way of publishing House of Shadows and keep the flame alive.

It was at this point I reestablished contact with Darryl Sloan. He, like me, had written for Gavin Wilson's superb paper zine RQC in the 1990s. Amazingly, he had ventured into the world of self-publishing and had enjoyed modest success with his children's novel Ulterior, and was working on a second title called Chion. He pointed me in the direction of American artist Laura Diehl and inspired me to knuckle down on Anne Droyd II.

With the arrival of my proof copy today, I am moved to express my gratitude to Laura, who produced that stunning cover painting, and to Darryl, who not only served as my editor over the last few months, but designed the book's title and arranged the layout of the text and created the PDF document so I could simply upload them to the printer's web site.

Next up is the launch of and the modification of my Paypal account so that it will accept payments in. I need to visit Sweetens bookshop in Bolton again and organise a date for the signing, arrange a signing at the office where I work in my day job, print up the press releases, and order enough copies of the book to cover demand.

I am so excited!

Anne Droyd and the House of Shadows will be available to buy sometime within the next week.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


Anne Droyd and the House of Shadows will be published September 2008.

Pre-order your signed copy now by E-mailing me at, or, if you live in the Bolton/Manchester area, call into Sweetens and reserve it there.

The text is edited, the back cover information is done, the promo pieces are written up, shops have been contacted, the ISBN number has been allocated, and Sweetens bookshop in Bolton have put up a poster in their window. My thanks as always to Sweetens proprietor Stella Morris for her loyal support.

My editor has sent me a PDF version of the text, and I can tell you it looks great. Once I've finished proofreading it, the book will be ready for release.

When the book is available to buy, the first thing I will do is order copies to be mailed out with a press release to the local media. I am likely to generate interest with newspapers in Bolton, Blackburn and Manchester areas. BBC Radio Manchester might have me back (I having been interviewed by them three times now). It would be lovely to get coverage on regional television news. BBC Northwest Tonight and Granada Reports are watched by millions. While I have appeared on programmes like Channel Four’s Right to Reply and the BBC4 documentary My Science-Fiction Life, news programmes have yet to feature me. Press packs will be going out to them, all the same.

The next job is to modify my Paypal account so that it can accept payments in. I will also be accepting payments by cheque. If you would rather buy the book from an outlet, and will be stocking it, as will Sweetens bookshop in Bolton. And if you want to order a copy from a shop that doesn’t have it on the shelves, you will be able to do so using the ISBN.

In another couple of weeks, you will have the second instalment of Anne Droyd’s story in your hands.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

The Last Lap

The manuscript has come back from my editor and there is a ton of work to be getting on with. He has been as meticulous and uncompromising as I knew he would be. It can be tough as a writer to have one's work picked to bits like this (which is why many a would-be author will avoid putting himself through it), but there is a purpose, and the purpose is worth it in the end. I want the work to be the best it can be. I cannot deny that I'm nervous about wading through the two hundred and odd pages, all scribbled on with red pen, but I know the final result will be a tighter book.

It's the last big job before I prepare for publication.

The press releases are written up (I'll put them through a final edit nearer the time), as is the back cover blurb.

The new Anne Droyd logo (a variation on the JKP Century Lodge one), the story title and my name have all been added to the cover. Double click on the image above for a closer look.

Next time I post, I should be nearly done.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The New Cover!

OK, here it is. American artist Laura Diehl has delivered her final version of the cover art, and what a stunning piece it is.

I am hoping to use the Anne Droyd logo from the Jessica Kingsley edition of Century Lodge (seen to the right of this page) on House of Shadows, or something very close to it.

Initial reactions from the handful of readers who have seen the picture have been very positive. Indeed, the art is already having the desired effect: it is provoking a strong emotional response.

Some have said it is by far the best cover I've had to date. I can't argue with that. Laura has done me proud. It will look great on the actual book.

If you want to see more of Laura's work, or hire her, visit her web site:

Next up for me is a major final edit on the text.

A daunting prospect...

Sunday, 9 March 2008

First Edit Complete

I have now completed the first edit of Anne Droyd and the House of Shadows, and while the word count has gone down a bit, the number of pages has gone up! This is because I have been rearranging paragraphs, and in some cases splitting them in half.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the story, reading it through from beginning to end for the first time. It has now gone off to my editor. No doubt he will find plenty wrong with it, but that's all right, since that's what I am hiring him to do.

Next up is the acquisition of ISBN numbers (you have to purchase a minimum of ten from Whitaker's). If I was publishing through, they would get the ISBN number for me, which would be fine. However I don't want HOS logged on Amazon and elsewhere as a Lulu book. I don't want to put off potential mainstream publishers by showing them an obviously self-published work. So I'm using Lightning Source to produce the books, and by assiging an ISBN purchased separately, I can list my own little imprint as the publisher.

Also this month I will be commissioning American artist Laura Diehl to do the front cover. You should see the quality of her work. If what I get turns out anything like the examples on her web site, this new cover will be the best one I've had to date. Here's a link to her site:

In the next hour or so, I will be shooting off to Blackpool with my wife Carol for a five day break. It's pre-spring season, which means there won't be many people about (always a good thing for the Aspie!). I've worked so hard juggling Anne Droyd with my day job and other commitments, I am ready for this rest. All that said, I will be taking my laptop with me and will be writing variations of the press release (one for local media, one for local shops, one for the media and bookshop in Whitby, the town where the new story is set).

I have a few weeks respite, and then when the manuscript comes back, it's the big final edit. I am really looking forward to it, but I'm a bit scared too. It will be a mammoth task.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

A Fair Review

Darryl Sloan, author of the excellent Chion, has posted an honest review of Anne Droyd and Century Lodge on his site. I'm very happy to know he thinks it would translate well to children's television, because those Children's BBC/ITV dramas of the 1980s have exactly the kind of mood I was hoping to evoke when I was writing it.

Here's the link to Darryl's site:

On the House of Shadows front, I'm two thirds of the way through my first edit. So everything is going the way I had hoped. By the end of February I should have the manuscript ready to give out to my assigned readers and editor.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

First Draft Now Complete

I'm pleased to report that I have at long last completed the first draft of Anne Droyd and the House of Shadows. Currently it stands at 84,000 words, which is 290 pages in paperback form.

During the editing period this will fluctuate, but I'm confident that the final version will be over the 250 page mark at least.

Like all writers, I improve with each piece I produce, and am confident that you will like what I have done with the characters. It's a natural progression and probably a better read than the first book.

I have been quite ill this past week with a virus. A really bad irritable cough has kept me up most nights and I have found that the best time to write is three o'clock in the morning! Once I have become a writer full-time it might be a good idea to work like that always.

Next up is the editing process, which will take a few months.

Still on target for a summer/autumn release.