Stay in touch with the latest news by subscribing to the Alphabet Children’s Facebook page. Recent posts appear below…

What a wonderful 'meet the author' virtual session last week with the Year 4s at Stamford Endowed Schools for their enrichment week. There's nothing like speaking to the people you've written for, and it was lovely to have so many questions about my inspiration, my favourite stories, and why some children in The Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children died while others survived! Thanks to Victoria Lewis for arranging, to the staff and pupils who made it so enjoyable, and to the parents who have supported me subsequently. Hoping I can do more school engagements in the future - it's great fun! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Well, it's been a while! I'm sad to say that the boxes of books stacked precariously in my bedroom aren't selling themselves, so I'm on the publicity trail once more... I've decided to send copies and covering letters to people who might give it a mention... If anybody has any brilliant ideas, or even better, friends who are children's fiction publishers, please let me know! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
A behind the scenes look at the Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children and how it was illustrated. Deborah Panesar talks with the author about the creative process and why the project was high on her career bucket-list.@deborahpanesar @deborahpanesarillustration @thealphabetchildren #thealphabetchildren #deborahpanesarillustration ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Boom! Now available on Waterstones as well 🙂 Deborah Panesar Illustrations #thealphabetchildren ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
I have finally navigated Amazon's infernal verification procedures to get The Alphabet Children listed for sale - hurrah! It is no longer labelled as 'unavailable'.While this is excellent in one sense, it's still cheaper to buy direct from my main website as there aren't any intermediary fees involved. However, it's a small victory. Next up, Waterstones...my application is apparently being considered... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Hello one and all in this glorious post-homeschooling world we're living in! Now that I'm not shouting at my children and have more than four minutes to devote to myself each day, I'm getting back to marketing and promoting The Alphabet Children in earnest. Despite selling a healthy 200+ copies, I still have enough boxes of books to create a scale model of the Great Wall of China in my bedroom, so I definitely need to up my game.With that in mind, I NEED A FAVOUR. I want to plug my book on a Mumsnet book forum, but like many forums, they don't allow people to advertise their own products. So, would anybody be willing to give a glowing review on Mumsnet pleeeeease? If you're not on it already, you'll need to register. Then head to: www.mumsnet.com/Talk/childrens_booksThe good thing is that you can also put in web addresses by using double square brackets, so ideally, you'd link to my website thus: [[www.thealphabetchildren.co.uk]] and/or FB page: [[The Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children]]If you're happy writing your own review, fantastic. If you'd like some blurb to copy and paste, I wrote an entire post you can crib from before I realised it would probably be deleted for breaking forum rules. Send me a message if you're up for it. It's probably best to get one post going, and then I'll send the word if you want to add your own comments to the thread. Gross manipulation of social media, but I guess that's the name of the game! Hope that makes sense? Oh, and before I go, look out for a podcast type thing I'm recording this afternoon with my fabulous illustrator, Deborah Panesar Illustrations. Should be some good insights into the creative process (on both sides). Thanks! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
I am pleased to announce the latest lockdown-inspired Alphabet Children story, Jonathan Jorrington! Definitely one for parents who have the dubious pleasure of homeschooling... Thanks to Deborah Panesar as always for her fantastic illustration.www.thealphabetchildren.co.uk/jonathan-jorrington/*Don't forget!* If you haven't purchased your copy of the very limited edition Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children yet, there are still a few copies available! I might even be persuaded to sign your copy in a sexy silver pen. Head to my website to buy your own slice of literary history... 😂#thealphabetchildren #deborahpanesar #theunmumsymum. ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Getting VERY excited now as @deborahpanesar works her magic! A one-off lockdown special Alphabet Children story on its way for all those parents currently in the seventh circle of hell... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Sorry for the long hiatus - I removed Facebook from my phone (as you may know) because I found myself ranting too much about lockdown and COVID and life in general. However, a side effect of social media self-isolation has been that updates for The Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children have been somewhat lacking of late... Which is NOT going to get the 400 odd remaining copies of the book sold. The good news, well, good compared to the soul-destroying national media cycle, is that I've been busy writing a new standalone Alphabet Children story to offset the pain of homeschooling. This one is about Jonathan Jorrington and his poor father... It may be slightly autobiographical (although nobody has died (yet) in real life). I'm just having it illustrated by Deborah Panesar and will be releasing it in the near future. So there's a small nugget of sunshine and whimsy to look forward to, even if it doesn't constitute shops opening, holidays resuming, or children returning to *!£^$&£ school. *suppresses a scream*Here are a few photographs I took last night just before midnight in lieu of anything even slightly relevant. I hope you like them. #thealphabetchildren ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Amazing!!! Just had a *very* generous Instagram mention by The Unmumsy Mum. I have to say, Sarah has been incredibly kind to help a complete stranger. As I said when I first made contact, she must get a lot of nutters sending begging emails... Absolutely chuffed to bits. ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Walliams, Pullman, Bryson, Rumbelow... Yes, that has a certain ring to it 🙂 #thealphabetchildren ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Walliams, Pullman, Bryson, Rumbelow... Yes, that has a certain ring to it 🙂 #thealphabetchildren ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Finally packaged up all paid orders at 1am...zzzzz. Note to self - buy a parcel tape gun! Everything was dropped off at the post office today, so keep your eyes out for the postman. Let’s see how COVID and Christmas affect delivery times 😬! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
This was so much fun - thanks Lesley for the wonderful opportunity! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Errrrrr. ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
And here it is, literally flying off the presses! The Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children will soon be here everyone. Thanks to the team at @exwhyzedprint for all your hard work. ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

8 months ago

The Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children
Poor Desmond. Accident prone to the last... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

8 months ago

The Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children
Poor Olive learns the hard why why tidying your room is so important... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
A huge thanks to everybody who has pre-ordered one (or more) copies of my book, shared my post, or somehow persuaded other people to order one. I am so touched by how lovely people have been. The support I've had from friends old and new has been incredibly flattering. I have now reached...wait for it....104 pre-orders. It's not quite at Harry Potter levels, but it's pretty amazing for a week and a half's begging before the book has even been printed. So thankyouthankyouthankyou. And now, Facebook Hive Mind... What to do next?? On my list so far:Contact the local press,Contact local bookshops (done), Send obsequious begging messages to similarly-minded and successful parenting blogs (Unmumsymum, Hurrah for Gin etc) which are brilliant, and proof that dark, irreverent writing can find a market (done those two, any other suggestions? Feel free to share my website on other blogs/groups yourself if the mood takes you). See if any local schools would like me to come in and do a reading for Book Week next year (COVID-permitting...sigh). Send physical copies to some celebs / media types who might mention it on social media (but who?)At this stage, all thoughts, ideas and introductions to friends of friends who might be able to help would be welcome. ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Starting to get my head around marketing and advertising... Needless to say, the more people I can reach through the power of social media 😉. Thank you to everybody who has done so already! Having been tinkering and investigating e-commerce options like Amazon (which takes a mere 30% of the total order price), I've decided in the short term to fulfil orders myself. So, to pre-order a copy (if you haven't already), please click on the new, blue and shiny 'View Shop' button near the top of this page (which will redirect you to my website) or go straight to www.thealphabetchildren.co.uk/buy/ and fill out the quick form to let me know you want one. When they are in stock and delivered, I'll be sending out secure payment links to everyone who has pre-ordered online. It's a minor faff, but not too bad. ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
The first proof has arrived! Amazing to see it in hard copy 🙂 #thealphabetchildren ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
📖 **Pre-orders!**. The time has come my friends!! I'm going to be placing an order for 750 copies in the next couple of days 😬, with a lead time of about three weeks (so it'll be ready in plenty of time for Christmas). Slightly terrified but really excited at the same time. I just want to gauge how many copies I'm likely to sell to friends and family (and how many bubble-wrap envelopes I'll need!).It's priced at £12.99 ex P&P. For that, you will receive a signed 84-page casebound hardback book, printed full colour (litho) on 170gsm silk paper, stitched and section bound. It should look fantastic! The printer said (having seen the PDF for the first time today): "Love the brazen honesty on the back cover! Superbly intricate typography too. It is an incredibly well crafted book and definitely in the highest bracket for the quality of illustrations and style. It has the feel of classic Dickens or a John Lewis christmas advert." So that's good.Thank you so much for all your support. To pre-order, you can either comment on this post, FB message me, or email me at mat@thealphabetchildren.co.uk with 'Pre-orders' in the subject line. Hurrah!! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Now it gets real... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Well, I am finally there! Just uploading the first proof to Blurb to see what it looks like in hard copy. It's been a long road, with endless edits and proofreading, but it feels good to have finally committed a test copy to print 🙂 ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
So, two questions for my massive, global 'fanbase' (or those kind enough to follow this page at any rate):1. Should I have another shot at mainstream publishing and try to find an agent (again), or should I just self-publish, have done, and draw a line under it? Obviously these days there's the option to only do physical copies on demand (so no cost implications up front), create ebooks, create an audiobook etc and sell via the Amazon bookstore or similar. 2. Irrespective of the above question, I want to get a run of books properly printed in hardback because I'm impatient and want to hold it in my hands!A printer I've used before (who is very good) has quoted at cost around £15.50 per copy if I get 100, £12.25 per copy if I get 200 and just under £10 per copy if I get 500. To make *some* money back to recoup costs, I'd probably add on a fiver to the final sale price. That would make it £20 for a fairly slim 73 page hardback if I order 100, which seems expensive, so I think 100 is probably a non-starter. £17.50 would be the final price per copy for a run of 200, and £15 per copy for a run of 500. What do you think?? Will I sell 500??! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

11 months ago

The Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children
We've all dreamed of flying, but Amy took her attempts one step too far...literally. #thealphabetchildren ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
For all those budding astronauts and chemists out there... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

11 months ago

The Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children
The Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children's cover photo ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
We're getting closer! Final edits nearly done, full-colour proof received and checked, audiobooks being recorded and a fledgling merchandise range taking shape... Just need to get 'noticed' by somebody influential!shop.spreadshirt.co.uk/thealphabetchildren ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

12 months ago

The Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children
An audio recording for Olive Tippleswitch, who sadly discovered the hard way why bedrooms should be kept tidy... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
And so we move on to final proof-reading by a trusted trio of friends! Exciting times... I've also done an audiobook recording for Olive Tippleswitch (subject to said friends' comments of course), mostly to make sure my set-up is working. I'll post the audiobook recording separately...if anyone knows JK, let me (or her!) know 🙂 ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Right, Deborah Panesar? ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Why does this last bit take so long!!? Just going through final tweaks to make sure the metre is right, rhymes work etc etc, but it's slow progress. SO nearly there, but painful trying to fit in Alphabet Children work around home schooling, 'proper' paying jobs etc. ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
We have reached a huge milestone!! All 26 main illustrations are now complete, which is a huge achievement - thank you so much Deborah Panesar! Can't quite believe that the Alphabet Children will soon be a physical (and e-) book. It's funny how these things go - the actual writing of them seemed to go relatively quickly, then I started to approach agents, then I gave up on that, then I found my illustrator (who has worked tirelessly to complete the illustrations), and before you know it, it's been THREE YEARS since I first started Amber Fettlesham Flynn. Where has that gone?!? It's now time to finalise the cover, but the question is, which version do you prefer and why!? Answers on a virtual Facebook postcard 🙂 ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
I'm getting REALLY excited now - the lovely Deborah Panesar is flying through the illustrations. Here's Willow Yummly-Scott being created 🙂 ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Willow Yummly-Scott coming to life! Well, death actually, but you get the idea... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Deborah Panesar hard at work! It's so lovely to see my book come to life through these brilliant illustrations. Ruby Hentwhistle now in progress...soon to meet a fiery end, poor girl. ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Can't believe it's been so long since my last post, but fear not, we progress, we progress! Orla Tippleswitch has just been completed, so I make that 11 stories to go, plus the cover. The Alphabet Children will be ready to go (with a fair wind) by late Spring - hurrah! Poor Orla. Run through by an awl while trying to recreate a scene from Harry Potter... Health and safety warning: awls should not be used as makeshift wands! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
It’s interesting to see how the book’s developing now that the illustrations are going in.Last night, I felt a bit uneasy that the layout was getting a bit ‘samey’. Sticking to a two page spread per story (each having between eight and ten stanzas) had made it a bit repetitive. This rigid structure also meant that the illustrations (being full colour and filling each spread), had started to turn The Alphabet Children into a traditional children’s picture book (which it isn’t).Starting to play around with the InDesign file today, I made some illustrations one page only, removed the backgrounds from others, and isolated components to bring in more white space. I also broke away (a bit) from the facing page format. Overall, I’m pleased. It was good to talk this all through with Deborah on a Skype call. Fortunately, she’s very understanding, and doesn’t seem to mind (I hope) me tinkering with her illustrations and changing course mid-flow! I suppose it’s a learning curve for both of us. What IS good is that I’m as pleased as ever with the style of the illustrations. I also decided to start ramping up my social media campaign. I’ve signed up for Instagram (not posted anything yet) and linked my Twitter account. There’s a nagging worry that I already spend too much time in front of a screen, but as I’m aiming to self-publish (in the absence of a traditional publisher), I don’t see much alternative. You can’t get away from the reach and immediacy of social media, however all-consuming it becomes. Part of this involves a plan to reach out to well-known people and organisations who might enjoy specific tales with a relevant theme, e.g. Orla Tippleswitch (J.K. Rowling), Willow Yummly-Scott (Greta Thunberg) and so on.... Just having something retweeted or a post shared could be a huge break for me.I’m also excited to think about promoting it. School author visits (Lesley Anne, is this still a possibility?!), book fairs, literary events. Right, well, I’ll bring my nocturnal musings to an end. ‘Night all and wish me luck! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Well, Deborah Panesar is storming ahead with the illustrations. Nine done in record time, hurrah!Everybody, I'd like you to meet Henry Horatio-Hotly, who probably should have kept his opinions to himself. If you want to listen to my dulcet tones narrate the story, there's a link to the audiobook version at the bottom of the following page (note that there are a couple of seconds' delay at the start). www.thealphabetchildren.co.uk/henry-horatio-hotly/ ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Progress update! So excited to watch the Alphabet Children take shape... Four of Deborah's illustrations completed, with Edward coming soon. Here's Amber 🙂 ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Just had a fantastic meeting at Fika with the lovely and very talented Deborah Panesar who I have recently commissioned to illustrate the Alphabet Children from start to finish! After rejections from agents (I know, all the best authors are rejected at least a hundred times, plenty more agents in the sea etc), it's lovely to meet somebody a) who is genuinely enthused by the Alphabet Children and b) who is familiar with Edward Gorey, whose Gashleycrumb Tinies was the inspiration for it. Not only that, but it's great to know that the book will be completed whatever happens. Barring an unfortunate Alphabet Children style end for one or both of us of course. I suppose that's the beauty of self-publishing - you're in control of the process.So watch this space for more updates as Deborah weaves her magic 🙂 ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
I know, I know, it's been a while... What can I say, other than the demands of work, renovating my mother-in-law's house and domestic 'stuff' have somehow got in the way. So here's an update. Sadly, I'm no nearer being published by a mainstream publisher (unless a congratulatory letter and six figure advance is literally on its way as I type). I know literary agents receive huge numbers of unsolicited manuscripts, but not replying in roughly three months is a bit poor (even if it's just a polite no). So far I've heard nothing from Curtis Brown (emailed 25 March), Madeleine Milburn (emailed 8 April), Miles Stott (emailed 11 April) and the Lindsay Literary Agency (emailed 11 April). Of course, the very fact I am gently ranting about this delay may not help my cause should one of the said agents be reading this post, but it is a bit frustrating when I just want to know one way or the other. Should radio silence continue for another couple of weeks, I've decided I'm going to self-publish. Too many projects have languished on my hard-drive in recent years, and I'm determined the Alphabet Children won't be one of them!The good news is that I have found an illustrator whose style I really like, and that I think will fit with the quirky offbeat tone of the book. Attached to this post is an illustration by Deborah Panesar for Keira Wendlebury-Whim (who was sadly struck by an axe). Let me know what you think. To wrap up this post with another piece of good news, I had my first public reading of a selection of stories at a beavers/cubs/scout camp at my son's school last weekend. Having read some of George's Marvellous Medicine, I proceeded with the Alphabet Children (encouraged by my old friend and now scout leader Gary Chisholm) to see what the reaction would be. Some of the older children were requesting certain letters (I'm guessing their own initial) and to my relief, the stories seemed to go down pretty well. At least, none of them fell asleep, glazed over or wandered off. I even had a couple of requests for the finished book, so that was very encouraging. It also confirmed my feeling about the likely target audience and age range...a bit over the heads of six and seven year olds (thematically and vocabulary-wise), but fine for older children who like to a bit of a challenge (plus a grisly ending). Onwards and upwards (I hope!) ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Now don't get too excited! Yes, it is a genuine publishing contract from a genuine publisher, BUT, it's what they call a 'contributory' or 'partnership' contract - meaning in effect that the author is required to pay a largish sum up front to have their book published (with all the illustration, editing, marketing and promoting that comes with it). Looking at feedback from other people who have come into contact with Austin Macauley, the responses are decidedly mixed online. Some say that because the author is required (in the vast majority of cases) to pay for the privilege of being published, this is in effect a vanity publishing, and as a result, they'll say 'yes' to pretty much anything that comes across their desk just to get the authors' contribution. Plus, of course, like any publisher, they also take the lion's share of any royalties and rights.The flip side is that if you were going to pay to self-publish or vanity publish in any case, at least you have a publisher doing most of the work for you in return for your contribution and their share of the proceeds. It is, after all, in their interests to make the book as successful as possible as they ultimately share in the proceeds. According to Austin Macauley, they also invest a considerable sum in the publishing process.Of course, given I have zero experience of what a publishing contract looks like (certainly from the angle of who gets what and what the publisher does on their side of the contract), it's difficult to know what to think from a position of almost complete ignorance.I think the sensible thing to do is wait until I've heard back from the agents I've approached and see if the book attracts a publisher who is willing to back the Alphabet Children without being paid a few grand up front as part of a partnership deal Not that it isn't tempting to just go for it and see my book in print!! However, I also know that I can typeset and design my own book through (say) Blurb, uploaded to Amazon (which pays significant royalties on sales) and even do my own audiobooks. Meanwhile, the search continues! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
The quest for an agent continues! I’ve resolved to contact at least one agent each day. They say it takes up to eight weeks to respond (if you get a response) so I’m aiming to get a good thirty or so emails out and responses received before moving to plan B. Although the cover letter and synopsis are mostly the same, you do have to tailor your approach to target agents who are likely to take you on, hence I’m trying those who are looking for edgy or ‘different’ middle grade, young adult or crossover works.Plan B is basically self-publishing, which seems a good deal easier than it used to be. I’m confident that I could make it work, though I’d have to get the whole thing illustrated. Fortunately, I can at least typeset it and get the audiobook recorded myself.I’m also contacting people I know with large Twitter, FB or Instagram followings to see if they would endorse it or even just share a link to my website with a vaguely positive message of support. Hmmm, we shall see.Incidentally, if anybody knows how I could get JK Rowling to read Orla Tippleswitch, let me know!Thanks to everybody who has liked or followed this page - your support means a lot 🙂 ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
I promise I won't deluge you all with posts...nothing more annoying than being bombarded with every facile update from pages you follow or inadvertently liked. However, on the subject of illustrations (hopefully interesting), I thought I'd share some of the artwork a few very kind and talented friends have generously produced for the Alphabet Children. As you will see, they are very different in style and approach. I have yet to decide what route to go down. Ultimately of course, IF a publisher picks this up, the chances are they will go with their own illustrator, but I think these all help to show what the finished product could be, and I love them all.Massive thanks to Gary, Saint and Keith for all believing in this project and donating their time and energy! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
A few people have asked me what format the Alphabet Children is likely to take...or at least, what format I'd like it to take.In an ideal world, while there would probably have to be a paperback for purely commercial reasons, I'd love the Alphabet Children to be a truly beautiful printed edition - linen bound, full colour, heavy paper stock, hardback cover - basically a Folio version. My parents bought me a few 'special' editions of my favourite books when I was small, Grimm's Fairy Tales, Puss in Boots to name but two, and despite my destructive tendencies, I have them to this day...Then, hand in hand with the printed version, I'm also hoping to produce it as an audiobook - ideally with some of my favourite narrators doing each story. So if anybody knows Stephen Fry, Martin Jarvis, Olivia Coleman, Judy Dench....let me know! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
The long wait for agents to get back to you...on tenterhooks and crossing things 🙂 ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

3 years ago

The Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children
The Strange Tales of the Alphabet Children ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook