How did I live before I had a computer? The desktop pc died last Tuesday and I feel a strong sense of loss for the familiar XP that I’ve been using every day for so long. Now I’ve got to get used to using a different system with unfamiliar layout and its own personality. It’s like having a stranger sitting on my desk – someone creating a barrier between me and everything I want to do. I have to think about the process of writing, search for the commands in unfamiliar places and the keyboard feels so different under my finger tips. Talktalk won’t talk to my new operating system either! It’s impossible to read my messages through their webmail system. I’ve had to borrow an old laptop just to keep up with missives from the outside world. Despite the problem I registered the molluscs on the Big Barn website this week ( which felt like a big step. With a bit of luck sales will increase and new doors will open.

the ultimate slow food

I’ve been reading about self-publishing, or self-printing as Catherine Ryan Howard (no relation) describes it: ‘Self-printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to self-publishing’. I’m glad I didn’t read this before I started on this road because it would definitely have frightened me out of the idea. But if I can control the rising sense of panic about all the things I ought to do but haven’t done, she does give some useful pointers. However, she makes the whole thing sound very complicated and I have discovered that it is not a good idea to buy the e-book version of a reference book because it isn’t easy to flick through it to find the topic you want.

But, according to Catherine, I am doing one thing right – entrusting the important design of the cover to a professional. It has been really difficult to choose an appropriate image. There were lots of lovely snail cartoons but they looked as though they should be gracing the pages of a children’s book. I particularly liked one of a snail in a floppy hat pushing a lawnmower. I can’t show you because the pictures have to be paid for so that would be breaching copyright. In the end after consulting my friends I’ve gone for a picture of food because most people said it was attractive and would make them pick the book up. Watch this space! As soon as I can show you I will do so.