Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Golden Arm - A Ghost Story

Golden Arm - A ghost story
by Leighroy Marsh

This is a tale that my Grandad told me,
As I sat as a child on his old bony knee
It isn’t a tale full of joy or of charm,
But a tale full of woe and a stolen gold arm

You should stop reading now if you easily spook
You should stand up and choose a more friendlier book
You should stop reading now if you don’t like to JUMPBecause this is a tale that will make your heart thump

Its starts long ago with poor Montague Law
Who was missing an arm, when he returned from the war
He lost it at battle, defending the king
Along with his bracelet, his wristwatch and ring

The king was quite grateful, and pulled out his sword
Pointed at Monty – and made him a Lord
Lord Montague Law, the Brave and the bold
I’ll reward you again with an arm made of gold.

And so he returned to his wife and his farm,
With a chestful of medals and a solid gold arm
Where he kept it on show in a special glass box
Next to his trousers, his jumpers and socks

The years soon passed by, and Lord Monty took ill
And despite all the potions and lotions and pills
Old Montague knew that his time had arrived
So he called from his bed for his beautiful bride

The angels are calling, I don’t have much time
And so I am leaving you all that is mine
You can have all that belongs to the farm
As long as you bury me with my gold arm.

Lord Montague’s wife said she’d do what she’s told
And bury her husband along with his gold
But deep down she knew what she could do instead
And in place of the arm, She would bury some bread

And that very night, Lord Montague died,
With his wife feeling saddened alone by his side
Then she rolled up her sleeves and brought flour from the barn
And baked through the night, a quite tasty bread arm

Nobody noticed his arm was a dud
If fact they all said that he smelt rather good
As they lowered Lord Montague’s box in the hole
Then left the poor widow alone, unconsoled.

But the tears that she cried were really of glee
She could sell the gold arm for a million or three
And spend all the money on trinkets and rings
A car and a castle and a few other things

She thought of the things that she wanted the most
As she sat at the table eating her toast
She wondered if she had committed a crime
Then decided aloud that the “arm should be mine”

From the cellar downstairs, she heard a door creak
“Is there somebody there” she wanted to speak
But the toast was quite dry, and it stuck in her throat
So she picked up the lantern and put on her coat

Its probably the wind she thought to herself
As she reached for the keys on the top of the shelf
She pulled on the handle and opened the door
And shined the light down on the cold cellar floor

The kitchen grew colder and the fire didn’t flicker
The wind started howling and yowling much quicker
Lord Monty’s wife, looked round at her home
And got the strange feeling she not on her own

Her face turned an ashen, pale, light shade of yellow
As she heard the voice growl from the bowels of the cellar
A voice full of menace and full of alarm
That repeated quite softly" Where is my arm"

What was that sound? Was it really his ghost?
As she nibbled and nibbled on the cold piece of toast
The thump, and the thud, of the feet on the stairs
The type of sound found in the darkest nightmares.

And now the voice called from behind the closed door
The ghost of her husband? but could she be sure?
She turned the key quick and made sure it was locked
As the ghost clenched his fist and he knocked and he knocked.

There was a crash, as the door to the cellar gave way
And the ghost of Lord Monty looked in with dismay,
His voiced echoed wildly and cut through the calm,
What did you do?, oh my dear, with my arm?

The widow was scared and she started to shiver
Her legs turned to jelly, her hands were a quiver
She fell to her knees and repeated her prayers
And then quick as a flash – she legged it upstairs


Find out what happens to Lord Montague's Wife in " Spooky Stories" due for publication on Halloween 2010

Monday, 14 December 2009

Text - Plugs .....Rock and Roll.

Another successful week of promoting the book started with on Monday phoning up the schools in the local area again in a bid to fill next years calender with readings. (which I am happy to say is slowly filling at a pleasurable rate).

The word is definitely out regarding the book amongst schoolkids, and coupled with a successful craft fair on Thursday at Great Moor and then a reading that afternoon, I almost felt like a celebrity. A few of the children recognised me in the playground afterwards as I was collecting my daughter, pointing and saying

" look daddy that man's an author"

- Text, Plugs and Rock and Roll.

"Golden Arm" is coming along really well, and I am almost pushing 15 verses - which for me isn't bad. I have set myself the task of finishing it by Thursday so I can read it to the children of Adswood Primary School the following day ( they are the official critics of my work).

If inspiration allows I might even be able to cobble together a Christmas Plug Monster tale in time for the big day, as the opportunity for the HPM and all those cake and pies is far too good to miss.

My reading at Waterstones in Stockport went well, with almost all of the copies being sold again, despite a lack of children in the store. The Waterstones staff seemed to like it, which I suppose counts for a lot.

In between sales I busied myself going through the works of the competition, and must have read about 20 or so picture books - and without wishing to sound too over confident,

"My book rocks !!!".

So much so that I stalked a few unsuspecting parents and grandma's who were out doing their last bits of Christmas shopping, and each time one of them approached the children's book section I offered them a card and a copy of the Hairy Plug Monster to read as a valid alternative to other equally appealing works.

The talks with the Japanese seem to have stalled a bit with the HPM appearing to be a tad undesirable for the Japanese sensitivities, although unsurprisingly the Australians were a lot more receptive.

I can't really go into too much detail yet because its all waffle at the moment, but rumour has it that something more concrete may be on the horizon. One thing which does look like happening is the commissioning of new specialised works for the Japanese markets, albeit slightly removed from my usual style and a bit more sanitized and watered down.

No "burps" and no "slurps".

I will let you know more in January.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A few sample verses from Golden Arm... a kids horror story

I am at the beginning of another poem, but am not too sure whether it may be too scary for children, here are a couple of verses - I would be very interested to know what you think.

Its not set in stone yet, so a lot of this may change. Its based on a ghost story that I was told when I was about 5 or 6 and have never forgotten.

There is an old general who loses his arm in the war and has it replaced with an arm made of gold. On his death bed he demands that his wife burries the arm with him and the wife reluctantly agrees. However his wife doesn't want to see that much gold disappear forever, so she digs up his grave and takes the arm back and that very same evening the ghost of her husband returns to reclaim his arm.

The verses below are when the wife realises she is not alone in the house.

Her face turned an ashen, pale, light shade of yellow
As she heard the voice growl from the bowels of the cellar
A voice full of menace and full of alarm
That repeated quite softly
" Where is my arm"

What was that sound? Was it really his ghost?
As she nibbled and nibbled on the cold piece of toast
The thump, and the thud, of the feet on the stairs
The type of sound found in your darkest nightmares.

And now the voice called from behind the closed door
The ghost of her husband? but could she be sure?
She turned the key quick and made sure it was locked
As the ghost clenched his fist and he knocked and he knocked.

As I said its just a doodle at the moment, but I would love to finish it and read it out to a slightly older audience. As you can imagine there is a punchline. that will hopefully scare the Bjeezus out of the listener.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

After all these years, I think I have found the perfect job!!

This week, it all fell into place. After spending years trying to find where I am supposed to fit -I finally found the answer.

Write kids stories, take them to schools, read them to kids and write more stories.

It is simple - in fact I am a bit gutted that I haven't thought of it before. This week found me ringing up the schools in the local area one by one ( just like telesales) and asking whether they would be interested in me attending (as an author ) and reading my book the their pupils. And slowly but surely I have started taking bookings for readings at the schools.

The diary is slowly starting to fill up with readings booked for
10th Dec at Great Moor
17th Dec at Ladybrook School

with an additional 3 more in January, which I have no doubt I will add to. I think once the Christmas term is over It should be easier to get schools interested - I mean after all it's not as if I am battling with an army of other authors.

The two that I visited this week, had stark differences in their makeup but the results were the same - The children loved The Hairy Plug Monster. Again my timing is a bit off, as I am competing with Christmas fairs, carol services and nativity plays, but regardless -I visited St - Bernadette's RC School in Brinnington and Mersey Vale in Heaton Mersey and again saw the eyes of the KS1 children open as they heard about the exploits of the Monster that lives under the bath.

Kul Cuthbert is featured in the Thursday edition of the Manchester Evening News which should raise the profile of the book just before Christmas.

Everything is looking good for the coming new year, regardless of what happens in Japan.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Adswood Primary School has been selected to test drive future HPM MEDIA Ltd material.

After the previous reading at the Fruit Cake not going so well, I was back on the phone on Monday to schools in the local area to see if they wanted me to attend and perform a reading to their pupils. After all, the more children are aware of the book then the more likely they are to buy it.

We had quite a good response from a few schools, with Lisburne Lane School booking me in for January 13th and my children's school Great Moor wanting me in even sooner on the 10th December ( and possibly even later to work on some projects with the children.) One Head teacher Kath Conwell rang me back almost straight away and asked

" Could I come tomorrow?"

So off I went to Adswood Primary School, and was instantly greeted by really enthusiastic receptionist's and the effervescent head herself. I was invited to attend the assembly which was more like an aerobics workout, with the children and teachers all singing and dancing along to Ronan Keeting's " Say nothing at all".

This made a really refreshing change from the tuneless durge we had to sing as kids all about the glory of everything. Assuming that I would only be there for about 30 mins, I started to read the Hairy Plug Monster to years 1 and 2 and again the same look of wonderment came over their faces as I read about the monster under the bath.

As soon as I read the book, Kath and the pupils demanded that I read it again, and then the follow up The HPM goes to town. So it proved to be a really enjoyable experience. I was then asked if "I had time would like to read to the rest of the school"


So starting at the bottom, I worked my way up through the classes before finally ending at year 6, who although were above the intended age group loved the story and the interaction with a "real author". Each class had lots of questions and a year 4 class even based the following lesson on creating stories around the Hairy Plug Monster - which they then passed over to me the next day.

I dont know who was the more grateful - them or me. getting the chance to read to over 180 kids was an experience, as well as interacting with a more than enthusiastic audience. Finally 4 hours later, Kath advised that each year she bought a present for the children and could she buy my book?

what she meant was could she buy a copy of my book for every single pupil in the school ?

WOW, not a problem at all, I told that to make it a bit more personal, I would be more than happy to dedicate each book personally as it was the least I could do. So two days later I came back with three huge boxes of books and sat down in the office with a list of names.

As I was signing them, every so often pupils would come up and say "hi" and tell me how much they liked the Plug Monster and "could I read it again?".

"In fact I could do better than that" I told them and organised with the head if I could test drive all my material on the school and get their response. Grass roots market research. I realised that having a group of 60 somethings sat round a table in a boardroom somewhere discussing the merits of my book, is so far removed Now if that isn't going to inspire me to write then I dont know what will.

So after selling a gazillion books as Christmas presents I came home feeling rather chuffed with myself and had an email from Craig in the US, who advised me that the Japanese may offer us a licensing deal to cover the whole of SE Asia and Australia. I cant tell you the nutz and boltz, suffice to say if it comes off then we will be well on the way to global exposure within 5 years.

There is talk of an animated version of the Hairy Plug Monster, and given my contacts in Russian T.V it may well expedite selling the program at least to the Russians.

Obviously with all this good news about there needs to be a balance. Unfortunately it came in the guise that Borders have gone into administration, initially throwing my intended reading into disarray. However they assured me that the reading will still go ahead and I should still turn up...whether they pay me for the books that they have already had remains to be seen.

From what I can gather there will be quite a posse on Saturday so if your planning on coming it may be pertinent to get there early.

Bookings for the coming few weeks

Nov 28 Stockport Borders
Dec 6th Waterstones Trafford Centre
Dec 10 Great Moor Junior School
Dec 13 Waterstones Stockport
Jan 13 Lisburne Lane School

Monday, 23 November 2009

Money cant buy some things - like the attention of a five year old

After the highs of the recent weeks, the Hairy plug Monster machine was bought firmly back down to earth on Thursday with a reading in the newly refurbished Fruit Cake Cafe bar in Alderley Edge, Cheshire.

Not in a bad way ,you understand but it became apparent that unless you have the santuary of a school or bookstore, it is very very hard to get the attention of a 5 year old - especially when you are in competition with about fifty other toys and games. Having tried very hard to inspire the " young hudlum's " with the exploits of the HPM for nearly an hour, I finally managed to read to one girl who was only there because her mum took pity on me and made her sit there while I read. Even Maya and Arisha, the most loyal of followers were led astray by the lure of of the flashing-plastic-bleeping-bits-and-bobs.. It wasn't a totally wasted night, as we still managed to sell a few books, but oh the ignominy of it all.

I received the pictures from Park Road Primary School after I left them with a brief to illustrate Be Careful Ethel which will go on the website when I get chance to catch up with myself. Unfortunately the blog doesn't seem to want to upload the images for some reason and If I stop now, I will never finish this weeks entry.

As it happens there is not much else to say, I have began my assault on the schools of Stockport in a bid to book a few readings before the Christmas brake and maybe prompt a few of them to ask for it as a Christmas Present. Following the succesful reading at Waterstones in Macclesfield I have also decided to try and take take on the Waterstones empire at the weekend.

Confirmed Dates so far include:

24th November Adswood Primary School
28th November Borders Stockport
6th December Waterstones Traffod Centre
13th December Waterstones Stockport

Finally, the HPM made it debut on T.V albeit a very brief one, however for the few seconds it was on at least 1m women would have seen it, on prime time ITV.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Is the Hairy Plug Monster ready to go global?

The reading on Saturday 7th at the Macclesfield branch of Waterstones went exceptionally well - and although the turnout wasn't quite how I imagined it to be (after seeing such things on the T.V.) we managed to sell quite a lot of books.

Apparently we are outselling Julia Donaldson at the moment in the Macclesfield branch.

We also had a visit from local author Simon Waring who passed over a short passage from his latest fantasy novel going under the working title of " The Dark Approach" aimed at the more discerning 12-16 year old.

Following the successful reading - we then went over to the nearby delicatessen to celebrate in true Plug Monster style with coffee and cake and lo and behold the choice of venue was exactly how I pictured the bakers in the next release " The Hairy Plug Monster goes to Town".

While I was there we started chatting to some random people behind us who, it turned out had missed the reading but still wanted a copy of the book - so there I was signing books in the middle of the bakers while Kul took pictures for the blog.

Earlier on in the week I made my way to Park Lane Primary School in Sale and read to an extremely well behaved class of year 1's and 2's who devoured the tales of both the Hairy Plug Monster and Be Careful Ethel before I left them with the task of producing images of how they thought the pictures in Be Careful Ethel should look like.

Oddly enough, the mother of a pupil there, Morgan - was a former schoolmate, and this weekend she celebrated her 40th with a "shindig" at a local Rugby club. Having blagged an invite by association, the whole family went and were greeted by not only Morgan but her friend Megan who were both very excited at the prospect of "Maya" from the book and the writer coming to the party.

It seems that the Plug Monster has left a good impression, and even Megan's parents told me they had ordered the book through the school and couldn't wait to read it.

Finally and perhaps more importantly, a trans global company with their foundations in Japan, emailed me on Monday night, to express an interest in representing HPM MEDIA ltd in Japan, with a view to producing a 3d cartoon of the HPM and other titles. The implications of this are huge and could accelerate the global awareness for the HPM brand beyond imagination.

It is still very early days where this is concerned, although they are very enthusiastic about getting the ball rolling as soon as possible. Dare I say that it is becoming more a question of "when" rather than "if" .

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Hairy Plug Monster goes to Town

Last week started in the most bizarre fashion as both myself and the girls took part in a world record attempt in the centre of Manchester. All over the world "Zombies" have become the new vampires and "Zombie Aid" - the brainchild of Carl Whiteley went to try and smash the world record attempt in three different areas.

1. The largest gathering of Zombies in one area
2. The largest gathering of Zombies dancing to Micheal Jackson's Thriller
3. The greatest number of Zombies in a shopping mall

This required like-minded souls to dress up as Zombies and gather at Manchester's Printworks for a group stroll around the town, much to the amusement of mortal onlookers.

Brilliant - is the only word I can use to describe the whole day. Unfortunately, the record was missed, but this might have been due to the typical cold, wet Manchester weather "bigging itself up". Thankfully it stayed dry for most of the walk, which was rounded off with a " crawl through the Arndale Centre" in true Giorgio Romero fashion.

Trying to integrate myself back in the land of the living was difficult as each time I closed my eyes, "I see dead people", however a brief stint in the countryside the following day listening to Bhangra and performing extreme gardening brought me back from the dead.

My second school visit was booked for Tuesday at Park Road Primary School in Sale, and again it went down really well. I started off reading The Hairy Plug Monster, with the opening

"Where does the bath water go?" and received lots of really sensible answers from the
Year 1 and Year 2's, which I took great delight in dispelling with the story. After which I read the follow up - "The HPM goes to Town" for the first time, which also went down rather well.

We then had a question and answer session, with the main question being "Is there really a monster under the bath?", so job done.

I set the pupils a small task of drawing some illustrations for Be Careful Ethel which are on the way back to me as I write, and will be scanned onto the website next week. More importantly was the invitation from the school to sell the books through them to the pupils, and they are going to include it on the next parents newsletter.

On the subject of sales, we are starting to feel the effect of the mailshot last week to Waterstones, with a steady trickle of orders throughout the week. Which was then underlined with an order for 30 from Borders in Stockport. That magical figure of 500 is getting closer by the day.

More importantly is the interest that has been shown from a Japanese and American party, who may want to licence the Hairy Plug Monster in the Far East, I had my first joint Skype conference on Wednesday morning as a means of introducing myself and gave them a list of sales projections and figures. To tell the truth, I think they were expecting a greater volume of sales, but I explained that HPM Media Ltd is a start up company with a staff of 2, and most of the sales have been on a local basis. All may not be lost though, as the American contingent may want to commission me to write children's stories exclusively for the Japanese market, with a possibility to earn royalties at a later date.

With a reading on Saturday 7th at Waterstones in Macclesfield together with the fun-day at Borders i am really confident that by Christmas we could already be close to that 1000 sales target.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Full Steam ahead, on the SS Hairy Plug Monster

Events took a turn for the better this week at the HPM HQ, with Waterstones accepting The Hairy Plug Monster into their catalogue. We now have permissionto contact each of their 350 shops to see if they want to stock the Hairy Plug Monster.

The only downside that I can see is that I have 350 letters to put in 350 envelopes,then lick 350 stamps before trying to fit 350 letters inside an already bulging post pox. The fact that the postmen go on strike tomorrow for a few days is slightly worrying but it cant be helped.

We are hoping that each one of the shops recognises the appeal of the HPM and orders at least three for the Christmas rush. Once they are on the bookshelves then they should be there for good with repeat orders over and over again.

If that wasn't enough, we were contacted by a Japanese company who requested a meeting with us to see if the Hairy Plug Monster was a viable product for the Japanese market. (incidentally, the Japanese market for English books is the second largest in the world.) so fingers crossed eh.

If both Waterstones and Japan come to fruition, it would be a company maker, that's for sure, and would go a long way towards the publication of the next three books The Hairy Plug Monster goes to town, Be Careful Ethel and The Marvelous Mouse.

In a different vein, I have been made officially the head of Swerve Electrik,(the dance department of Swerve Records) and am organising a series of releases with my cohort Barrington Stuart. The game plan is to release 2 tunes a month over the web and build up a web presence for the label. Swerve have hooked up with Free-St8 recordz ( Soly and Mo) who are Internet media guru's and have the fingers firmly on the pulse of SEO.

The first release Nude Ep by Static Island, is languishing at present as most of my energies have been concentrated on the HPM but a sneak listen can be heard at

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

We are getting there

Its getting rather busy at the HPM office, fresh on the heels of the filming for Tonight with Trevor Mcdonald (to be broadcast on the 23rd November ) has come an invite to give a reading at Borders in Stockport on the 28th November and sign a few books, with a reading at Waterstones Wilmslow on the 21st to do the same,

The 8th is taken with a reading in Alderley Edge Village and we have several new orders in - everyone loves the book and at this rate we should hit our humble target of 500 before Christmas quite easily. ( I know 500 doesn't sound a lot but given the size of our publishing house - me and mum and our advertising budget of 50.00 I am pretty impressed.)

On the 3rd November I have a reading at Park Lane Primary School in Sale, so I am being quite the Author.

It is now possible to see clips of The Hairy Plug Monster on YouTube set to some really funky music and we have an article in the Stockport Independant Times (available for free at all the big suoermarkets) for their next edition

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Hairy Plug Monster Chili and Walnut Treacle Toffee

Not being particularly interested in fireworks and big huge fires, I am more inclined to stay by the outdoor buffet on November 5th -

But one thing I have noticed is that whilst fireworks have evolved, the mainstay of November 5th hasn't changed that much - I am talking about Treacle Toffee.

You know, those irregular pieces of sticky, tasteless chunks of toffee that serve only to stick your gums together and pull out most of your fillings, and generally leave you wondering "why you bothered"

However the HPM was keen to pass on this original recipe for toffee that bites back, and a perfect accompaniment to the Ginger Beer mentioned previously.

The Hairy Plug Monster Chili and Walnut Treacle Toffee
(Caution this recipe will most definitely contain nuts - if you put them in)

50g Crushed Walnuts
1/4 Fresh medium sized red chili finely chopped ( the strength of the toffee is dependant on your resolve - please bear in mind you are making toffee and not a Vindaloo)
450g Soft Brown Sugar
225g Black Treacle
110g Unsalted Butter
2 tbsp Water
1 tbsp White Vinegar

Place half of the butter into a heavy bottomed saucepan together with the chopped chili and crushed walnuts and warm for a few minutes on a low heat.

Then add the rest of the butter, water and vinegar and heat gently until the butter has melted.

Add the sugar and black treacle, allow to fully dissolve, this takes about 20 minutes.

Boil the mixture to a temperature of 138°C (Not having a thermometer I take my best guess at the temperature, making sure I don't burn it)

Remove from the heat, allow the bubbles to settle.

Pour the mixture into a well oiled 18cm (7 inch) sandwich tin.

When the mixture has cooled a little mark the surface into squares with a knife.

When cold break into squares, wrap in cellophane and store in an airtight container.

That's it - it might not score any brownie points with your dentist - but your kids will love it

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Banks Lane Infant School invited me to perform a reading for a class of young fidgety critics last Thursday, and honoured me by introducing me as a writer. (which I suppose I am).

In I walked hiding behind the head and almost felt apologetic for interrupting their lesson. After the how-do-you-do's were all over I sat down in the story-telling chair and asked.

Does anyone know where the bathwater goes when you pull out the plug?

"the water goes into the drain " they said

No it doesn't - does anyone know where it really REALLY goes?

and at that moment I knew I had them captivated.

What's that noise ........I began - and before I knew it the story about The Hairy Plug Monster was over and the class gave me a round of applause.

I gave a sneak reading of Be Careful Ethel and asked the children if they wanted to draw pictures for the story. I think they were more impressed with the fact that I told them that they were the only people in the whole world to have heard it.

On the same day Kul was invited to CCR - for and interview and a chat and managed to hog the airwaves for 50 minutes, with The Hairy Plug Monster being mentioned at least 20 times, stranger still, was hearing someone talk about you and the people you know on the radio.

We managed to sell a fair number of books at a craft fair organized by members of the a local networking group The Happy Mondays (no not them - the other Happy Mondays who are a group of business savvy mums who get together and swap ideas..... that's all I know ) under the even catchier name "Made by Mummy".

So it was quite a week, especially as part of it was missed due to me being in Italy (where we also sold a couple of books) for my 40th. In terms of sales it was a brilliant week although slightly tainted by a small run of misfortune where the T.V, the Toyota and even the toilet died in a relatively short space of time. (The toaster still works). If that wasn't enough the week ended with a short cold and red nose.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Hairy Plug Monster sponsors mini chocolate eclairs

"If there is one thing that the HPM craves more than anything else it's

Mini Chocolate Eclairs

Since meeting Maya, his days of eating "bubble bath sandwiches" are long gone - and as "shop - o - late" eclairs are just not tasty enough, I had to ask my sister Karon for a recipe that will satiate his emormous appetite.

110g Plain flour
175ml water
½ tsp salt
75g butter
3 eggs beaten

150 mls whipped cream
100gms Couverture Chocolate melted
(yeh, I didn't know what it was either, so I "wikied" it ) 

To make choux pastry:
Preheat oven to 180° c

Boil water and butter, add flour and salt and mix to a smooth paste, until the paste leaves the sides of the pan and allow the flour to cook out.

Transfer to a clean cool bowl and let the mixture cool.

When it is cool, start to beat in the eggs one at a time until you have a smooth dropping consistency, that is pipeable.

Fit a large plain piping nozzle to a piping bag and pipe in lines about 4 cm long onto a greased baking tray. Bake for 30 -35 minutes until the éclairs are golden brown take them out and allow to cool
To assemble:
Place a thin piping nozzle into a piping bag and pierce a hole in the bottom of the éclairs.

Pipe in the whipped cream and top them with the chocolate

How easy is that?

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Radio Plug

The promotional boulder we are pushing is slowly starting to move, with an appearance on the Becky Want Show for BBC Radio Manchester. To be honest it wasn't a great interview - although I did look rather good in my new clothes. It was strange though to walk ino a building and see Gordon Burns walking past, followed not long after by Dave Spikey.

There is a definite need to work on my media technique, having spent most of the last year behind a PC and becoming a bit reclusive. I suppose it doesn't help if you dont really watch t.v. either, perhaps I should ask my friend Coleen for some pointers.

Toys and Tales in Bramhall have sold a couple of books and said that the book was read out during storytime and was well received. Of of the parents who bought The Hairy Plug Monster was really enthusiastic and gave a glowing report to the bookstore.

Banks Lane Infant School have invited me to do a reading to the children on Thursday October 8th at 14.30 so it will give me a good chance to read the follow up The Hairy Plug Monster Goes to Town.

It seems that my luck is starting to change again after winning tickets on XFM radio to see " HOCKEY" play live at the Academy, unfortunately it is also Arisha's birthday so it looks like my brother is going to be benefitting from my success as I will be up to my eyeballs in cake mixture.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

buy my book - its ace

My interview with BBC Radio Manchester has been rescheduled for next Tuesday, which should hopefully give me a bit more time to prepare. Since I turned my back on office work and spoon feeding the general public with information, I had let myself slip into a tradesman's look, with unkempt hair and slightly dubious fingernails.

This kind of look, however, does not endear me to Headteachers and Shopkeepers, so I have voluntarily swapped my cut off jeans for proper trousers, and cement crusted t-shirts with curious aroma's for cotton shirts

. In short, I have adopted a salesman kind of look ( only without the American straight white teeth) as I try to sell The Hairy Plug Monster to the shopkeepers of the world.

I think I have made a favourable impression with the staff at Borders, and managed to come to a deal with Woodsmoor Post Office, whereby they will put up an advert for the book inviting people to order it through them, and I just drop them off as and when. Because of the location, its only two minutes out of my life and with the slowly building publicity at Great Moor Infant School they may get a lot of parents coming in to buy it.

The second edition of The Hairy Plug Monster is now listed on Amazon 5.99, with a great review even if there is no picture to go with it. I am still trying to get my head around the vendor side of e-commerce, although given time and a few fulfilled orders I expect I will become a dab hand at it.

In the real world, we are slowly getting more and more stockists, but it all seems agonizingly slow ( even though it has only been week for the 2nd edition) hopefully I will look back on this time with fond memories when I remember having time to write a blog. ( As I will be too busy doing writer "stuff") -

Buy my book !! it's ace.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Hairy Plug Monster Himalyan Balsam and Oat Biscuits.

Around about this time of year, scores of well meaning Sunday Warriors put on their wellies and head for the countryside with a single malicious intent.


I have often been tempted to join then, but have always found something else better to do with my time, after all. its not an easy task

Impatiens Glandilifera to give it its proper name, is an aggressive wildflower that is slowly but surely overpowering the indigenous flora.

Helped by it's powerful seed dispersal system that causes the pod to explode when the seeds are ready, launching the seeds over a fairly large distance. Even now, as I approach my forties - I still get the same pleasure when I trigger one of these pods - just as I did when I was a boy.

Attempts at slowing down the spread of Himalayan Balsam seen ineffective and as a former landscaper, the progress that the "Balsam Bashing Hoodies" make is pitiful and even over that last few years, the spread in my "neck of the woods" has been quite alarming.

However, during this year I have become more aware of wild foods that are growing around us and regularly venture out with my daughters to harvest what ever we can find, to take home and sample. When I am unsure, I will get a plant ident from about four separate sources on google so I can find out its properties, and when I am totally satisfied that the plant is edible - I will try some.

Sometimes we get lucky and discover something that is both edible and more importantly, tasty.

One of my favourite web sites had link to a fellow forager who had published a recipe using Himalayan Balsam seeds as a base for a curry..... cool.

Yesterday was time to harvest. As quite a lot of the seed pods were ripe, Arisha gently bent the stem while I put a plastic bag over the flower head and collected quite a lot of seeds with relative ease. It wasn't long before it seemed like we had enough and went home.

The seeds looked like those tiny licorice IMPS they used to sell and when eaten raw, bore a really strong resemblance to a walnut in taste. After I had seperated the seeds from the rest of the pods I had about 200g of seeds which I then toasted in a dry frying pan.

They stayed on my kitchen top for a day, until late Sunday night, when I decided to experiment, and think I invented The Hairy Plug Monster Balsam and Oat Biscuit.

The whole process was quite lax, and the measurements are vague, but here goes:

Cream some butter with some sugar, then mix in some oats and plain flour with a pinch of salt.

Add the Balsam seeds and conbine the mixture into a firm ball.

Allow to rest in the fridge, before rolling out on a clean surface and cutting into small biscuits.

Bake in the oven at 200 for 15 minutes, turn the biscuits over and bake for another 5 minutes

Remove biscuits from the oven and allow to cool.

That is all you need to do - the result is a "hob-nobbishly" biscuit with a distinct nutty taste rather similar to seseme or sunflower seeds... ( if you cannot make head nor tail of my recipe, substitute it for a general biscuit one )

At a rough guess I probably used about 1000 seeds, so if everybody makes one batch of biscuits, it will take care of the balsam problem. More importanly though, the seeds will more than likely have the same nutritional properties as other seeds and it seems scandalous to destroy this free source of protein, instead of harvesting it and inhibiting the spread.

Balsam Bashing doesn't seem to work, but I think that if more people knew about the other properties then there may be a chance to protect the countryside, whilst at the same time make use of this invasive but tasty plant.

I would be interested to know what ideas other people come up with, I think that there is probably another two weeks before the season will finish, so I am going out again to harvest more seeds and come up with even more recipes.

One final note though, because at the end of the day Himalayan Balsam is invasive, please be careful where you discard the green waste. It is not advisable to put it in a compost bin.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Awesome, simply awesome - you should see the new edition of The Hairy Plug Monster Today was a rather hectic affair, we took delivery of 5000 copies of the second edition run of The Hairy Plug Monster and they look awesome. I cant praise the printers Stephens and George enough, who have produced a world class product. Without trying to sound too much like an "ebayer" I would recommend them to anyone who has aspirations to bring out a book. in fact anyone who needs any largescale printing done.

We have a larger format, better font and the finish on the front cover is to die for. Toys and Tales in Bramhall have become the first official stockist of the HPM and hopefully the first of many. Two more copies were dropped off at Pownall Green and Banks Lane Infant schools today, together with a covering letter about how I was a former pupil and how I would like to thank them for the time I spent there with a copy of my book....

Pownall Green especially, owe me one because when I was 11 together with a girl called Susan Champion, we won the Stockport Book Quiz and with it a copy of Hans Christian Anderson tales for myself and 200.00 worth of books for the school. In hindsight it probably ranks as one of my greatest academic achievements.

The hard work starts tomorrow in earnest with a new career change as a book promoter, to be honest I am slightly overawed with the whole thing. It would be nice to just write the buggers and let someone more capable than me do the silver tongue selling, but then it wouldn't be my publishing company.

I need to get hold of a list of book shops and schools and write to them one by one, extolling the virtues of the HPM and its rightful place in modern literature... Its just a question of getting the message out there,

On the plus side, I have managed to track down a really good friend who I have not seen since I left school, and while I have been flirting with the dregs of society (as well as being a good family man) she has got her head down and is now someone big at the beeb. So apart from renewing an old friendship, she might have some proper advice I can follow, rather than the badly written tutorials from other peoples blogs.

In fact considering I went to a state school, almost all the people I grew up around have gone on to be leaders in their own right with one thing and another. For instance one girl captained the England Hockey Team whilst another is on t.v. everyday advertising a phone company ( she was in my drama group as well - so I like to think that she may have got a little bit of her talent from me....not) - even my first love went on to be the hirer and firer at THE bake bean company.

Monday, 31 August 2009


From Thursday 3rd September, it will no longer be possible to buy signed first edition copies of The Hairy Plug Monster from the website. In fact Ebay will be your best bet, to get a first edition. However, in its place will be the brand new - bigger, shinier, cheaper second edition which, should slowly become available at all good bookshops and of course our website.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Book Distributors for The Hairy Plug Monster..... and other stuff

Apologies for the slow up date, but the Ashes are on, the football season has started and I have had a few more assignments to do. Its been a slow but productive week with The Hairy Plug Monster and other projects - Its difficult to know where to start.

Firstly the Theme for The Hairy Plug Monster is well underway and a visit to Darkline Studio's is on the horizon. As the family are still in Russia I took full advantage of the fact and spent the early hours of Tuesday morning writing music with my jamming buddy "Waterbear" and thrashed out 3 completely diverse but almost brilliant pieces of music one indy soul, one thrash and one Jazz n Bazz track.

I have been playing e-mail tennis with Wayne from Stephens and George with a pdf., and after the 6th Proof the HPM was finally signed off ready to be printed.

We reckon that in just over a week, the HPM will be ready to go national with 5000 copies waiting to be read. We still have a few first editions (with the punctuation mistakes) which will one day make a good return on ebay ( it might sound optomistic but everyone expects The Hairy Plug Monster to be around for years and those signed first editions are definitley going to be worth something )

I have contacted possible book distributors ( Scholastic, Bertrams etc.) and even managed to pre-sell SOR copies to TOYS n TALES in Bramhall. .

Now that I have no more deadlines for the time being I can concentrate more on The Hairy Plug Monster and getting it into libraries, schools and bookshops - even supermarkets (well every little helps ! doesn't it).

I was called by a young lady called Emily from Pure Radio 107.8 MHz who had been told by Kay from BBCBelfast about the book and asked if I wanted to do an interview for her radio show. o.k.

So off I popped to the Radio Station and had my first real interview,....thankfully it wasn't live, as my "media technique" is pretty poor. Anyway we talked a little about me and The Hairy Plug Monster and then read some of the book. There was talk of mum (Kul Cuthbert) appearing on Womans hour on Imagine FM Radio quite soon but I am unsure of the details. (but I will let you know)

So in a nutshell that's about it, as soon as anything happens I will write again, I am even toying with the idea of trying to make this blog a bit more " happening" by pictures and the like but its a little way off yet. I have started to include links for those that have them on the blog as a way of saying thank you for their support.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Christmas number 1 - The Hairy Plug Monster is letting his hair down

Buy one of the last remaining First Edition copies of the Hairy Plug Monster by clicking here.......

or here

but whatever you do


So with the family away for August, I have been given a set list of chores that need to be completed before they come back, and like every good husband should do.....I have completely ignored it. Preferring instead to spend all of last week pursuing my other passion....Music.

I cant remember if I have mentioned it before, but I am a bit fly (not too much mind) on the keyboard and enjoy nothing better than plugging in and losing myself completely with the headphones on.

As August seems to be the only time I can really play ( mainly because inspiration doesn't happen before midnight) I have not been going to bed until silly o'clock at night. This in turn has led to me missing the mornings... which unfortunately is when I tend to write mostly. Subsequently I have been waking up and then turning the keyboard back on and playing until dawn the following day.

Anyway, a few months back I answered an online ad from Swerve Records, who were looking for a keyboard player to work on a new project with them. After a quick audition they were moderately impressed with my abilities and offered me a contract.

(This might sound really good, but without an advance - a record contract is pretty worthless especially if there insn't a studio to record in. )

This week however, Swerve Records have bought Darkline Studios in Warrington and are now in a position to release my material. This is where I encountered a slight problem, - I haven't really got any new material ready to release apart from one really funky tune.

Not being content with launching The Hairy Plug Monster, I am also launching a musical career and have been stressing about how I am going to keep the two things seperate. Today though, I have decided to scrap that approach and join the two projects together and use this tune as promotional material for the book, and vice -versa.

So just as the Wombles did in the 70's I am going to release " The theme from The Hairy Plug Monster" ( quite a catchy title dont you think?) and hope that it can boost the profile of its namesake. In a perfect world it could be the christmas number 1 at the same time that the book is..... now wouldn't that be nice.. eh?


With most of the countries children on holiday, its been a relatively quiet week for the Hairy Plug of the few things of any note, has been the preliminary stages of getting the second book in the series "The Hairy Plug Monster goes Shopping" off the p.c. and for Sam Perry to apply his magic and bring the story to life, there is a chance that we could go into production and have them ready for distribution by November, although getting them into the shops before Christmas might prove a bit tricky.

After a slow start - being newcomers to the publishing business, HPM MEDIA Ltd are slowly finding their feet and should receive the next batch of books from the printers within the next two weeks. The illustrations and verse remain unchanged but the second edition should be slightly larger than the first ( making bedtime reading easier).

So thats really it for this week, apart from the second book and the new theme tune there isn't really much to tell you...

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Best Childrens Book in ages?

It's been a hectic week or so,

In the life I live when I am not the children's laureate-in-waiting I have had to juggle a lot of "stuff" most notably being my family going away for a month back to Russia, leaving me with a lot of free time to write,

one of the other projects I am involved in is freelance writing for a lady down in London, who sets me assignments to write which, then involves thinking up questions based on the articles (which is really hard).

So for the last two weeks I had 39 assignments to complete and quite amazingly I did it. 39 assignments is usually pretty tough going, but when you factor in the running around you have to do to prepare you for your family's vacation, it does place a lot of pressure on you. Nevertheless I soldiered on an look on schedule ( which is surprising for me) only to have my karma interrupted again by a surprise visit from my sister - (All the way from Australia) which again meant me rearranging everything.

So again I managed to juggle family life and subsequent family meals with my assignments hoping to steal a moment or so to write the blog.....only to be struck down mid week with a possible mild form of Swine Flu.

Unfortunately I don't have the time to be ill so I turned to my mystic healing sauces (olive oil, honey and Apple cider vinegar) and to my surprise, even though the illness stayed with me for a few days, it didn't get me down at all. So now everybody has gone, I am feeling a lot better and the assignments are finished, so I am going to write my blog.

To start off The Hairy Plug Monster went on the radio on Sunday on Canalside Community Radio based in the idyllic village of Bollington. Simon Edlestein the DJ asked me to come on and talk a little bit about the book and even offer a couple as competitions prizes. So that is good exposure

I then found out that a friend of a friend works for BBC Belfast , and she was very interested in The Hairy Plug Monster and requested a copy - I received her reply today
AHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I love it!!!! Bl**dy brilliant - clearly that cant go in a review but its true, fantastic.

Got to go into production meeting soon so I'll send proper review later - fab! x

*********** BBC Belfast Ormeau Avenue Belfast BT6 0GR T: 02890 338 186 E:

I blanked out her name for the time being just to give her a chance to write a real review.

Next came the news that 2 books i gave to Colleen Nolan's family have captivated her daughters so I am trying to illicit a review from her ...... apparently "Celebrity Sells"

Then I found out that the OWNER of Galaxy 102 Radio thinks the book is fantastic and his children are looking in the bath for The Hairy Plug Monster, then someone posted a video on You Tube of their daughter opening her birthday presents, and low and behold guess what was in the little bag of goodies?..........yep thats right The HPM again,

but perhaps the best thing to happen were the reviews I received from Kate 6, Molly 8 and Emily aged 8 who had taken the time to write to me and each tell me how much they like the book, pictures and illustrations. unfortunately I haven't had time to scan them in yet but I will do it tomorrow and add it to the blog and website. So that's it for today, but don't forget the hairy plug monster is available to buy from price 7.68 +P&P first edition and signed copies. There are only a dozen or so of the original copies left, and I am sure that they will go

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Hairy Plug Monster's recipe for Ginger Beer, made with a home grown ginger beer plant

The Hairy Plug Monster's Recipe for Ginger Ale (made with a home grown ginger ale plant)

A jar and lid which is big enough to contain the plant a (large mayonnaise jar is perfect for this)

a pint-sized measuring jug

Several clean and dry two-litre plastic bottles. (if you cant find any, your local supermarket usually has tap water in large bottles for about 10p, which in a way is also pretty handy, because you can use the water later)


A large pan ( the larger the better)

A fine cloth for straining the plant (The weapon of choice is Muslin, but my friend who passed this recipe to me has used terry nappies in the basically anything will do.)


Dried ginger powder

Dried yeast

Sugar, the type of sugar you use will affect the final taste, in the batch I made I used a raw demerara, which produced a subtle caramel effect.
Juice of four lemons


Making the Plant

The plant is a mixture of dried ginger, yeast, sugar and water. This creates a yeast culture.

In the jar, place one teaspoon of dried yeast, two teaspoons of dried ginger, four teaspoons of sugar and a pint (600ml) of cold water.

Stir and keep at room temperature.

Feed the plant every day with two teaspoons of dried ginger and four teaspoons of sugar. Stir after feeding. ( it is that easy

The plant will be ready after one week.

Making the Ginger Ale

Place 1kg (2lb) of sugar and two pints of boiling water in the large pan. The sugar will dissolve.
Add the juice of the four lemons to the pan.

Strain the contents of the jar - the plant - through the cloth into the pan.( See below for what is to be done with the solid portion of the plant.) Trust me you need to seriously resist the temptation to try the sediment, it is definitely YAK material

Add 14 pints of room temperature water. ( if your pan wont take 14 pints, then you need to do a bit of maths, and split the mixture, this is where the bottled tap water comes in handy, it makes for easy calculation)

Stir the mixture and transfer to the bottle. Fill the bottles about seven-eighths full as you need to allow for expansion.(I cannot stress how important this bit is)

Squeeze the air out of the bottles to stop them exploding under pressure from their contents.( and this is pretty important toooo)

Store the bottles in a safe place at room temperature, and leave for three to four weeks to 'brew'.

Discard half of the solid from the plant or give it to someone so they may start their own. (yeh but dont forget to tell them where you got the recipe )

Place the remaining half in a clean jar with a pint of water and continue to feed as above. and start the whole process over again.

My own results were surprisingly very good, although I did shake a bottle out of curiosity and then opened it about 10 mins later ....KABOOOOOOM all over the place,

I have since learnt that, if you open the bottle really, really slowly and let the gas ease itself out you have set yourself up for a damn fine drink.

I have this recipe on email as well. so if you want to have a try, email....

The next batch I make I might cut down slightly on the sugar, but increase the ginger by a milli -smidge, and when I get brave enough I will start adding other spices like cinammon and cayene pepper to get that firery throat that a good ginger ale should posess

Monday, 20 July 2009

There is one less "big box of books" in the house

I almost didn't get to write this blog because I thought for a long time about turning the title of this post into a poem - I don't know why but I got all "Seussy" for a second - anyway I can do that later , first, I will just fill you in on the events of the past couple of days.

We visited a printers in Wales last week, the upshot of which means that we probably have a reliable printer for the future. Knowing this I have applied for the new ISBN number and made contact with a few distributors, its nice to be able to sell the books on the website, but unless they know that THE HAIRY PLUG MONSTER exists, we are not going to move that many. That is where the distributors are going to come in handy and while we have to concede a large share of the book profits it will give more people the chance to read it.

Both Stockport Library and Stockport Schools Library have taken a fair number of copies, for which I am very grateful and the support I have been getting from Great Moor Infant School has been fantastic. One of the teachers read it out to her class, (who apparently loved it) then the rest of the Infant school was treated to a reading in assembly. So after three weeks we are starting to make inroads into the first edition and I am down to my last box of books.

I am in no doubt that, over time The Hairy Plug Monster will become an established book amongst young readers...I suppose the question is " how much time?"

Friday, 17 July 2009

The Hairy Plug Monster's favourite 8 layer chocolatey birthday cake recipe

The HPM wanted to share his favourite birthday cake recipe with me....(subtlety is not his strongest point). At first I was rather reluctant to make it, after all its his cake but in the end, Maya and Arisha begged me to have a go.
It was so nice I have decided to share it with you all, its an old recipe that The HPM's granny used to make for him when he was younger. He asked me to change the font colour, to give you an idea of how "chocolaty" the cake is.
The Hairy Plug Monster's favourite chocolate birthday cake recipe.

100g (3 1/2 oz) of softened butter
225ml (7 1/2 oz) milk
1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
225g (8 oz) plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g (2oz) cocoa powder
250g (9oz) golden caster sugar
3 medium eggs beaten

250g (9oz) good quality plain dark chocolate
3 tbsp golden caster sugar
300ml soured cream

Grease and base-line two 20cm (8 inch) sandwich tins with greaseproof paper, then don't forget to grease the paper

Pour the milk into a jug then add the lemon or vinegar and put on one side to go sour (SOUR !!! .....yuk). Sift together the flour and the bicarbonate of soda and the cocoa powder.

Cream the butter and half of the sugar together until it starts to go a bit pale, then add the rest of the sugar. Mix in the soured milk with the flour mixture about 2 tsbp at a time.

Divide the mixture between the sandwich tins and spread the mixture. Bake in the centre of the oven at 180 C or 160 C fan oven for 30 minutes. Leave the cakes in the tins for 10 minutes to coll slightly, and then put them out on a cooling rack.

To make the chocolate frosting break up all of the chocolate and melt in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Let it cool down slightly and whisk in the sugar and the soured cream.

Slice each cake in half to make 4 layers. Put one on a plate, then spread with a quarter of the mixture and then put another layer of cake, then a layer of mixture and so on.

With the remaining mixture cover the rest of the cake.

This cake generates a lot of washing up, but you can cut down on the time if you lick the spoons, bowls and whisk. (if you are going to lick the whisk, please remember to unplug it first.)

After trying out the "Hairy Plug Monster's favourite 8 layer chocolaty birthday cake " I give it 10/10.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A taster of the next HPM email your thoughts to

We’ve ran out of biscuits
and chocolate éclairs
Dad called up to Maya
From the foot of the stairs

Get your coat and your hat
And we’ll walk into town
We can do all the shopping
While mum's not around

Maya looked at her toys
At the foot of the bed
Can I bring a friend
Maybe dolly or Ted?

Yes replied Dad
As he stood in the hall
If you like, grab your bag
And you can - bring them all

So she picked up her bag
That was hung from her bed
Then In went the dolly
And in went her Ted

She went to the bathroom
And yelled in the plug
Would you like to go shopping
With me - Glug, Glug Glug

The hairy plug monster
Popped out of the tap
Wearing stripy pyjamas
And an old swimming cap

He hopped in the bag
And they went down the stairs
To pop to the shops
For more chocolate eclairs

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Is the Hairy Plug Monster really that good?

We are a week into distribution and the response has been phenomenal, I have almost exhausted the first carton, with books being sent as far a field as Australia and even Derby!!!. and the feedback has been fantastic.

Perhaps the most surprising response came from the Great Moor Infant School Head who after having a quick read requested five copies for the school library - (talk about winning hearts and minds). My eldest daughter -Arisha-Jane, was asked to stand up in assembly and read the book to the whole school, (which makes her a lot braver than I) and the school newsletter ran a small piece about the Hairy Plug Monster as well.

One child even pointed me out to their parent and said " hey mummy that's the famous writer!". Not a single parent has come back and said that their disappointed with the book, although a few have voiced concerns that they are a bit disgruntled with having to read it over and over again.

Friday, 3 July 2009

The Hairy Plug Monster is here in the U.K (finally)

In all the excitement, I forgot to tell you that I received 200 books on Wednesday night from the printers.. and within two days I have managed to sell 19 copies, ( I know its not going to send Dr Seuss running to the hills just yet, but its a step in the right direction).

Better still, when I opened my email this morning I found my first review of the book.

Hi Leighroy

The book is fab! Will and Charlotte love it..

The Hairy Plug Monster, what can I say? This rhythmic story reminds me of the fantastic Julia Donaldson books. A story of Maya's adventure with this cute but hairy character, my 2 year old loves it and wants to read it "agen" and "agen".

Wonderful illustrations and so easy to read. Lets hope the Hairy Plug Monster and his new best friend Maya live to have more and more adventures!!

Keep up the fab work guys, you're stars in the making!

R.Hopwood Cheshire

Wow and wow again, another comparison to the "great" Julia Donaldson - excuse me a moment while I read it again..........

Ah that's feeling fairly invincible I set off with more copies of The Hairy Plug Monster in my bag to waylay unsuspecting parents at Maya's nursery only to be asked by the Nursery Head if she could buy a copy as well, after which I even sold one to David Dickinson's son (cheap as chips).

I loaned a couple of copies to Stockport Library Services who seemed quite impressed with the book, but had to submit it before a committee before they could sanction any purchase. I will know in two weeks what they decide, but remain more than optimistic. I think the plan is to conquer Stockport, then the regions around it before taking it to county and national level

We had a reply from a printer in India who could print the HPM for a lot less than its costing us now and has a portfolio of clients that anyone would be proud of. There is also a printer in Wales who I am planning to visit next week to show him the book and get a comparative quote.

This is going to be a long blog but one where we all live happily ever after.


Thursday, 2 July 2009

Lets try that again shall we

I am frantically trying to plan the next step forward, after having the rug pulled from under my feet by the demands of our American printers. However, I did receive the first batch of 200 books today and in the space of about 20 minutes managed to sell 7 by stopping random parents near Arisha's school.

The feedback I have got so far seems to be overtly positive, and the " nice old lady in the library" said it was excellent. I am still planning to push ahead with an interactive E-book, but again it seems incredibly expensive, ( although in real money, it probably isn't).

With the HPM MEDIA ltd head cheese (mum) somewhere in the Australian outback for the next two weeks, I can only plan so much, especially as she hold the purse strings. Now that I have the book, I can push ahead with radio interviews and press releases. I had an invitation to go on ( Bollingtons number 1 radio station) but had to decline due to the confusion about the price. But having just contacted the DJ I am going to try and get on this Sunday morning - The first of many I hope.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Virtually Famous? The Hairy Plug Monster is still wrapped in swaddling clothes

As I described in a previous blog, the process of getting a book in print is rather like a pregnancy, 9 months of waiting and telling people until finally its born. Ironically the first month after the birth is very much the same. The Hairy Plug Monster is there on the shelves but hasn't really developed - friends and family have all been to visit,

"Ah" they say "well done", "good show" and then that's about it, not that I expected much more - but like a proud dad, you want everything all at once.

Considering that there is a global recession on, I am surprised that the queries I have sent out to get The Hairy Plug Monster printed elsewhere have remained unanswered. I do however have an old acquaintance in Macedonia who is in the printing business, and promised to get a quote over to me. The friend in question Dimitiri also speaks about 6 different languages and offered to do the translation in his native tongue, I have also had offers from Germany, Russia and Spain and a possible Punjabi contact as well, which has made me think of the viability of converting the book into an E-book and having no publishing cost at all, whilst being able to offer it in as many languages as possible.

Волосистой плагина чудовище apparently in Russian, whilst Die haarige Monster Plug would be preferred by our German friends.

وقد شعر لسد الوحش in Arabic but I am just going to have to take their word for it
毛狀插件怪物 would be a Chinese variant... sorry I am getting carried away now

Friday, 19 June 2009

The Pound in the Ground

Can you remember, when you were really young and even the smallest amount of money meant "treasure"? I took my daughters into town this week and each one was given a pound to spend by my wife (as a bribe...I expect) in return for their good behaviour.

My youngest daughter Maya-Rose and co star of The Hairy Plug Monster, managed to talk almost non stop about all the things she was going to buy with the pound, as if it was "all the money in the world", and when she finally did spend the pound on a fairly long ride on the static Merry-go-Round, I sat down to watch her and composed this little ditty - all about a child's joy, when they find treasure.

Lying there in the sand was a shiny new pound
It was small, thick and heavy and glowed from the ground
He bent down to look at the thing that he found
Had somebody dropped it?
Had somebody lost it ?
There was no one to ask
There was no one around

So slowly he picked up the treasure he found
It was cold, hard and heavy and but perfectly round
He wiped off the sand that was stuck to the crown
On the head of the Queen
Who lives in a palace
Looking quite proud
On the shiny new pound

What could he do with the treasure he found
And could he be the, richest boy in the town?
He thought of the things he could buy with the pound
A massive big house
Or maybe a mouse
Or a shiny new car
with big wheels going round

Thursday, 18 June 2009

sssh dont tell anyone, but we are getting some cheaper books printed at the end of June

There is a buzz in the air at the moment, we had an offer this week from a leading north west entrepreneur to invest in Hairy Plug Monster, to assist with the printing and distribution of the book on a wide scale basis, as well taking care of the merchandising.

"WOW!,How cool is that?"

Whether or not we take them up on the offer remains to be seen, but having the book in print for only a 10 days and receiving an offer already bodes well for the future.

We have ordered 220 copies of The Hairy Plug Monster from the original printer, which should be here at the end of June price 7.49 + 1.00 P&P for the U.K.

As soon as the extra copies arrive here, we will place a "BUY IN THE UK" button on website, I will let you all know when they arrive.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Watch the birdie

If I am not careful, the whole of this blog is going to just be about me telling you how good The Hairy Plug Monster is, whereas it would be better if you could tell me your thoughts on the book or better still send me a picture of you reading the book and we will feature it on the website

As a side project I am going to embark on trying to get as many famous people as possible to consent to being photographed reading the Hairy Plug Monster, and am going to set myself a target of 10 by the end of the year initially and take it from there.

Maybe you know somebody in the public eye?

Friday, 12 June 2009

I'm in the mood for chancing

We had a stroke of luck today - one of my former clients when I was a garden designer also happens to be a presenter on the UK t.v. show Loose Women. (which I must confess I haven't seen) - Anyway to make a short story long, before I wanted to be a writer I have always wanted to be a "pop star", so whilst working at their house, I used to constantly talk about my life as a musician to her husband, who was also a very good guitarist.

Me being very shallow saw it as another opportunity, but needless to say they didn't seem that impressed and to tell you the truth I cant blame them. I did email them later to say that I have got a record contract and that I had also written The Hairy Plug Monster and could I borrow their publisher.

However today, I got an email out of the blue asking whether I could stand in as a temporary keyboard player for one of the projects that the guitarist is working on, which I naturally agreed to.

What a result, I get to go and play music, as a favour for him and at the same time get a chance to show the book. As luck would have it their young daughter had her four friends round and being part of the target market I asked if I could give the book a test drive.

So there I found myself, sat in the back room, reading to a group of young children in the home of a celebrity whose face seems to be on the front cover of every magazine. The best thing was, the kids really loved The Hairy Plug Monster.... and I get to do a gig.

They did ask for a copy, but as I didn't have any to give, I said I would get a signed copy to them in exchange for a review, which to me seems a very good trade.......I have seven days to learn how to play 8 new I will let you know how the gig goes.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Its going to take a very long time to become an overnight success

So now we have a book, The Hairy Plug Monster - if you didn't know, and I suppose the hard part starts now. Its all rather like at the birth if a child, I mean you conceive the idea, then about 9 months later your book is born, delivered into the world by a publishing house and that's it. They hand you the book all wrapped up in its swaddling clothes and send you both out into the big wide world.

We are now in a position to start marketing the book, but are hampered slightly by the fact that Authorhouse have put quite a hefty shipping charge on the book - which in my view seems slightly myopic on their part. How many more sales would they make if they lowered their charges to the public for shipping? Its a pity as well ,that never once did they advise of the additional cost's - Initially I was really vexed about the whole affair and pulled the add off Facebook, however the book itself is 42 pages in full colour and I suppose it's weight must be taken into consideration.

However, in order to give "my fans" lol - better value for money, we are looking at alternative printers for the book, but as HPM Media Ltd are a publishing house in their own right we shouldn't need a company like Authorhouse to do most of the work for us - and subsequently take most of the profit.

So now the search is on to find a printer who can not only produce a high quality product, but one who can do it consistantly time after time, for all of the books. In light of this I discovered a new website called Bobex UK where you can pitch your needs on the web and prospective clients will try and bid for your custom.

Its been an emotional week, and at the end of it all The Hairy Plug Monster
is now available on Amazon, Author House, Barnes and Noble and will soon be available on Waterstones -

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Congratulations its a book

Its slightly later than I had planned to tell you, but the book The Hairy Plug Monster is available to buy from Author House, I checked with website but the link hasn't appeared as yet.

As soon as I knew that the publishers had released the book, I have spent all day telling everybody.

The girl who sold me a lottery ticket,
The girl who sold me Danish Pastry
All my friends on Facebook -( I expect I will soon find out how close we really are by the sales figures.)

Random people in my contacts list - in fact everyone I have met, I have spoken to MEN the local media syndicate, gone to the schools library service and shown them my wares.

"Have you got kids?, you have? That's great, I have just released a book " - yada yada yada

The last eight months have been spent dreaming of this day when I can finally say - "I am a published author" now the only thing that is on my mind is " How do I let the world know that I am a published author" and why don't they know already.

I suppose this is the learning curve that everyone must take - I expect that by the time I come to publish The Hairy Plug Monster goes Shopping, Be careful Ethel, or The Marvelous Mouse I should be a dab hand at self publicity.

I cant describe the feeling that I get when I read The HPM to children and watch their eyes light up at the antics of Maya and the HPM - nor the satisfaction of watching my three year old daughter look into the bath at the draining bathwater and tell me that the noise I can hear is the sound of the HPM drinking all the bathwater.. every child I have read the story to wants to believe that there a HPM underneath their bath and I have heard of instances where they have bent down with their ear to the floor listening out - just like the book.

Job Done I would say, well at least the easy part.

Friday, 5 June 2009


I have managed to squeeze out a few opening lines for a new piece based on Maya's reluctance to look after a cut on her leg and risk infection. With my kids at least I find that trying the softly softly approach never seems to work, so instead I told her she would end up like my friend.

One -Legged Steve

" who's that ?" she asked

well I said and made up a tale about a friend who didn't look after a cut on his leg......and it fell off!!!

The look of shock on her face was priceless, and it wasn't long before a flannel bathed in Dettol was applied to the graze.

Its strange how a simple throwaway comment can evolve so quickly. Just in the same way I suppose that The Hairy Plug Monster evolved from an "off the cuff " comment to what could be one of those classic books that every child has on their book shelf.

So here is the opening gambit let me know what you think

There is an old pirate,
Called One-legged Steve
Who lives in the same part of town that I do
There’s a sad sorry tale,
Behind the strange name
And the reason that Stephen needs only one shoe!

Of course that is not all of it, but that is all I am going to post today...

Catch up with you later

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Almost there

For the last week I have been emailing radio stations to see if I can get my book on the air, however, as yet no-one seems to be interested although it is early days. I know that the concept of the HPM and the other stories to follow will definitely appeal to both parents and children alike and eventually word will spread.

This is one of the problems with operating on a shoestring budget, it would be nice to tell the world on every commercial break that " The Hairy Plug Monster" is out on sale and is brilliant!!!! so buy it - and subsequently people do.

The reality is though, that the HPM is going to have to rely heavily on "word of mouth" and via the Internet which is going to take a long time. For anyone who has read the book, I would welcome your comments good or bad. Naturally I will publish the good ones on this blog - and keep the bad ones to ourselves ( but obviously take on board whatever is on your mind).

So that's basically it for this week, there is not really a lot to report to you, admittedly the HPM should already be out on sale, but as we have knit-picked over every detail (including a 4 week delay due to choosing the font) we are about 10 days behind schedule. The good thing is that once the book is out, it will be out forever.

Its time to start crossing fingers!!!

Thursday, 28 May 2009


Hello and welcome,
This is my first post for The Hairy Plug Monster and Friends and hopefully will be the first of many, many more. In just over two weeks The Hairy Plug Monster or HPM as we affectionately know him as, will be released on general sale through our website.

From its humble beginnings as bath time nonsense, the HPM has slowly evolved from a few sentences to a poem. Then with the help of artists - Kul Cuthbert and Samuel Perry, the poem was delicately shaped into an illustrated manuscript, before finally becoming what is going to be a really exciting addition to the world of children's literature.

(As the Author I suppose I should take a bit of credit as well)....... so well done me!!!

Over the next few months I will use the blog to keep you informed of book signings, readings and any thing else related to the book, together with few red herrings and ramblings.

If your very good, I may also treat you to sample chapters from the forthcoming releases of;

The Hairy Plug Monster goes Shopping
The Marvelous Mouse
Be Careful Ethel

All of which will become available over the next 12 months, but for now I am going to keep it short and hope to see you back here very soon.