After publishing my epic tome as an eBook a few weeks ago, I decided to go the whole hog and also make it available in print. So, as a new kid on the block, it seemed like a good plan to hunt down some appropriate how-to info,  layout guidelines and a book template.

Pro-Tip: For anyone setting out on the formatting journey,  I’d suggest you check out sites like the book designer for some really helpful pointers instead of reinventing the wheel. Do this before you start your layout decisions as it’ll save you time in the long run.

I confess I’m a kick-the-wheels-and-double-check-things sort of person so, once I’d uploaded the formatted text file and added my fabulous background cover image to one of the Create Space (CS) cover templates, I went ahead girdle_layout checksand ordered a proof copy of the book. I wanted to be able to recheck every page for errors and to actually see what people would be spending their dollars on before I went live with publication. Besides which, the idea  of having a physical copy in my hands was very compelling 🙂

When it arrived about 10 days later it was so shiny and book-like and real that I got a major case of the warm-and-fuzzies just looking at it (and still do). In some ways simply holding it in my hands was enough, and I could have called it a day right there. But the whole point of ordering it was to check for errors – and I’m really glad I did.

Considering how much time and effort I’d put into the layout, I was (very) disappointed at the number of issues I appeared to have either overlooked or been unaware of – and was grateful to have the opportunity to fix them.  Most were minor, largely to do with the joy of using a Windows product, and simple enough to correct. My biggest newb mistake was my margins. I’d selected 3cm all round, but realised that it’s really much more visually pleasing for the top and bottom margins to be slightly different (to each other). For a print layout, it’s also important to have the inner (gutter) margin wider than the edge margin – unless you’re intentionally providing space for reader annotations!

Pro-Tip 2: Be sure to order a proof copy of your book and go through it meticulously. Check everything while you’re about it, since the gremlins seem to have a bad habit of sneaking the odd gotcha in. When you find issues, tag them with post-it notes and then go back to the electronic version of your document and resolve each and every one. Note: this takes a while and is best done when mind and eyes are fresh – not at 2am when the puppies are finally asleep and some quiet time is finally available!

Asleep at last!

Once I was satisfied, I uploaded the revised file for conversion and this time launched the online review option. To my surprise I found that CS appeared to havevery ‘generously’ introduced a few additional anomalies to the layout, such as adding in a couple of blank pages and losing my page numbers on even pages. This was irksome, but gratifying in a way since it confirmed my suspicion that many of the layout errors I’d found in my proof copy (coincidentally, missing page numbers and the insertion of several blank pages) were externally inflicted.

After triple-checking the master document – and even printing it to pdf – it was obvious that the errors visible on the online viewer weren’t of my making. So I shot off a query in to CS. The reply was illuminating, if disappointing:
“The interior reviewer is an automated system, so when you upload your file it goes through a slight conversion which from time to time does not translate very well. As you have indicated that your original manuscript on your PC does not present the issue, I recommend converting this file to a PDF and thereafter upload the PDF document… I have found that a PDF document translates better on the interior reviewer.”

I’ve an idea that this is CS for ‘oops‘ or even ‘we messed up‘ and ‘try this instead.’

The conversion to high quality pdf was not without its own minor host of issues, and the online help from CS was of limited use. Fortunately the comments on the community forum, on the other hand… were useful, and I’ve finally had confirmation from Amazon that Girdle of Bones is now available in paperback. And there was great rejoicing!


The postman knocked on the door this morning, delivering my mail in person instead of trying to stuff it into our rather small mailbox. He does this from time to time, but it’s a courtesy that always takes me by surprise. This is mostly because our previous Postie tended to simply lug the parcels over the wall into the garden – where they might only be discovered days later… sometimes by the dogs, often after the sprinklers.

Waving my thanks, I scuttled back inside to quell the dogs and check out the mail. At the bottom of the pile was a small carboard covered package addressed to me.  This was an unexpected surprise since most packages that arrive are for other family members, so I was super-curious as to what it might be.

A quick rip and tear later – and there it was: an actual physical book with my name on it… my proof copy of Girdle of Bones, a week earlier than expected. Huzzah!

*does happy dance*   *a lot*

I’m still grinning – and no matter how many little layout glitches I come across as I go through it, I suddenly feel terribly grown up and like a real-proper-actual author 🙂

girdle-the book proof

GirdleOfBones_BlogSizeWhen I started writing Girdle of Bones, it seemed like a great idea to try to produce a simple, easy to read brochure on joint replacements. I imagined it as something that might empower prospective patients and their families, helping them to manage the plethora of often-incomprehensible information available on the topic.

So what equips me to offer these insights? Well, whilst I’m certainly not a medical professional – just what has at times felt like a professional patient, I do have over a thirty years of experience on this particular subject. I’ve undergone nine rounds of surgery on my left hip, a combination of total hip replacements and/or revisions of existing hip replacements. These experiences have provided me with answers I wish I’d had much earlier in the piece. Collating them into a self-help publication to assist others in a similar situation appeared logical.

However, the project rapidly took on a life of its own. I found myself detailing my experiences as a story, rather than in a linear or academic fashion, and the brochure turned into a memoir. This speaks to the fact that I am, by nature, a storyteller and firmly believe in the power of story to push the boundaries of understanding. Stories are a particularly effective medium through which to communicate meaningfully with others and this memoir seemed like a good way of getting the information out to the widest possible audience.

However, when I submitted my manuscript to Fremantle Press last year, I was told that memoirs of this sort might not elicit a wide enough readership to make them commercially viable.

Thank you for the opportunity to consider GIRDLE OF BONES. It has now been reviewed for our nonfiction list and regrettably I have to tell you that the decision was against making an offer to publish. The manuscript has a lot to offer, including a detailed personal narrative and real insights into the experience of those whose lives are impacted by a serious long-term condition. Unfortunately we were not convinced we could find sufficient readership for GIRDLE OF BONES to make it a viable proposition for Fremantle Press in the current very difficult publishing environment. I’m sorry not to be able to write with better news and wish you well in placing the work elsewhere.

As a novice author, this didn’t come as a great surprise – I had been warned by many other writers about the much-feared rejection slips. So I filed the letter, edited Girdle some more – polishing and re-polishing the manuscript, thought about it a lot and wondered whether I really wanted or needed to publish. What was the vision I had for my book? Who did I think would be interested in buying it? If published, how many copies did I hope to sell? Was I after commercial success? Personal satisfaction? Professional recognition?

The answers are fairly simple. In short, my vision revolved around a combination of personal satisfaction and a desire to help others. I wanted to draw a line the hypothetical sand and say ‘It’s done’ – to complete the project. I also wanted to provide an engaging and readable work of narrative non-fiction that might assist other people in dealing with big issues in their own lives.

As to who might buy it – well, I guess anyone who’s interested in connecting with the lived experiences of others or who may be searching for a different perspective on life. Or it might just be readers who’re looking for a good read and who may connect with the fact that the story is real. If the book makes me some money along the way, that’s a bonus – but it was never the key objective.

In the end I chose to self-publish and to do it via Kindle Direct – it’s easy and it makes the book affordable to a wide range of people. I’ve also opted for the print-on-demand version via Create Space – for those who may not be eBook oriented. I’ve just received the digital review copy to check, but have ordered a print version as well – just to be sure that what they print is what I expect! Once I’m happy with all that, Girdle of Bones will be available to purchase as a paperback.

ETA of my print copy is 3 May, so it should be good to go online by the end of that week. Exciting times 🙂Create Space_Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 4.05.40 pm


A quick news flash on Girdle of Bones – I’ve gone live with a Kindle version of my epic tome.

Yup, after much late night procrastination – and many iterations of set up for Kindle Direct Publishing – and an awful lot of document previewing and checking, it’s finally happened. No doubt some of the set up would have been better done by light of day, but light of day currently involves a great deal of puppy-wrangling so it has not been an option.

I’m calling it mission accomplished – and have quaffed a celebratory fizzy drink to celebrate. *does happy dance*

Phase 2 is to use Create Space to publish the print-to-order version – and that will happen as soon as puppy management allows. I’m currently a little over stealthing off to do midnight to 2am edits while the puppy sleeps!


After endless procrastination (an art at which I excel), my deadline of 31 March is almost upon me. The fabulous Sandy Lim has completed her (very thorough) edits of my manuscript and has provided me with extremely valuable insights and suggestions. If anyone out there is looking for help with their book, I heartily recommend contacting Sandy. She’s happy to work with you to create the book you know you have in you, or to edit your existing manuscript with elegance.

I’ve been admiring the cover art for my book ever since Lisa Rye delivered it a couple of weeks ago. She even went as far as to provide me with an A3 colour print, which immediately made me feel like a ‘real author’! Such happiness. It’s really helped to keep me focused on the goalposts and able to resolutely ignore my tendency to shift them.


What’s the book about about?  Well, it’s a journey of self-discovery and transformation – an uplifting story about the transition from being a person at the mercy of medical science and high self-expectation, into someone more at ease with herself and in harmony with the ups and downs of life. It’s funny, heart warming and poignant.

I started Girdle of Bones several years ago, after a traumatic series of hospital stays and surgeries, and we’ve had an on-again, off-again sort of relationship since then. Currently we’re definitely on!

I now have a ring-bound copy of the manuscript (cover and all) so that I can do an oral edit, reading it out loud to myself to find the clunky bits and to hunt down the last of the ‘gotchas’ … those annoying things where a cut-and-paste has left something in or overwritten part of a sentence, resulting in weirdness. Then I’ll make all the changes in one go and be done. The manuscript will be traveling around with me wherever I go for the next few days and I’ll be reading it aloud (quietly) in coffee shops, parks, train stations and in the garden. I anticipate a few odd looks 🙂

Memoir is an illumination of everyday life, a slice-of-life window into another’s experiences that can be enlightening, uplifting and, often, very entertaining. I love it! Among my favourites are Autobiography of a Face, On Writing, The Liars Club, A Year By the Sea, and Shake Hands with the Devil. Each of these authors has informed my writing process, as has a deep love of story telling.

More info on release date for Girdle of Bones soon.