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Snail mail

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.



Stand out from the crowd

Mslexia magazine’s latest issue arrived in the post this morning and, as usual, I couldn’t wait to tear off the plastic cover and find out what’s in it. (

‘Dare you write about your parents?’ Now that’s an arresting question as I’ve just finished writing a story which includes my daughter. It was really hard to work out how to include personal stuff in a way that wasn’t going to embarrass everyone … including me.

‘Getting your book reviewed’ was the first article I went to as it was so relevant to my current situation. There’s a couple of really useful lists: one of things to do and the other of things to avoid doing. The rest of the article is divided into 10 numbered sections each on a different topic and I found the whole thing clearly written and very helpful. I have lots of ideas - now all I’ve got to do is implement the plan!