June’s on the horizon and with it comes BlogJune. I had no idea what this was until a couple of weeks ago when a friend asked me if I’d be interested in participating. It turns out to be a group event that started on Twitter in 2010. Someone tweeted that they’d be blogging every day for the month of June – and invited people to join them.

It sounds like a good way to ramp up my writing, so I promptly signed up. Then I started stressing about committing to one blog post a day for an entire month… It’s been something of a challenge to (more oTeacup blog topicsr less) keep to my self-imposed contract of two posts a week, so the thought of one a day is just a little (!) worrying.

I considered asking my readers what they’d like me to write about, and then working with whatever came up. But writing to someone else’s script each day could be tricky, so I had a rethink about where to look for writing prompts.

This is about when I realised that there’s a topic list on the sidebar on my blog, created from tags I’ve used in previous posts. This seems as good a place to start as any, so I’ve chosen seven topics that appeal to me the most (today, anyway). I’ve allocated a topic to each day of the week, and I’ll aim to repeat them in that order. I’m almost looking forward to it…

Why not sign up and join me on my month of blogging?

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!


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

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.


This year a number of WA libraries linked up to celebrate National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). They put together the Write Along The Highway Festival (WATH), which provided the public with free access to a wide variety of interesting and challenging writing events from October through December.

As part of the festival, the Writers and Self-Publishing Expo yesterday focused on providing aspiring writers with access to information on editors, typesetters, illustrators and various pathways to self-publishing. There were a number of industry-appropriate stalls, with vendors both selling their wares and ready and willing to discuss their part in the publishing process with anyone who stopped by to ask a question.

Each attendee was presented with a little goodie bag that included various brochures, an A5 exercise book, a ballpoint pen and (oddly enough) two balloons. The balloons made me smile – and I’m sure I’ll inflate them at some point or give them to someone – but I was delighted with the notebook and pen, with the idea that everyone was being tacitly encouraged to write.

The highlight of the day was the opening address by well-known local author Rosanne Dingli. She started out by shuffling her notes, making a few opening remarks and then popping her on glasses, peering down at her notes and exclaiming, “Oh… words!”, much to everyone’s amusement. Intentional or otherwise, it served as a very effective icebreaker.

Rosanne went on to present an informative and entertaining account of her writing and publication journey. Although initially published at a time when conventional publishing was considered de rigeur, she took to the idea of self-publishing with a will once it became a viable option in 2009. Rosanne said that she revels in the notion of authors being increasingly able to jump the barriers to publication and take their stories directly to the readers. “It provides a bonanza, an extravaganza of books for readers!”

There are a number of key issues relating to self-publishing, but what it all boils down to is to have a story, edit it well, provide an accessible book layout and invest an attractive cover. Rosanne’s take home message was to write – often and enthusiastically. Then to edit and edit again, polishing the work before getting some beta readers to provide feedback. At this stage, she said, if you haven’t already done so then it’s high time to learn about cover design, typesetting and the various e-book options. If you can’t or don’t want to do these things, then you’ll need to employ someone to do them for you. Finally, re-edit and publish.

After that it’s a matter of promote-promote-promote in order to get, nurture and grow a reading audience. Rosanne emphasised that this is where the Internet shows it’s worth, providing worldwide access to a pool of readers. Make social media your friend, she said, review books, invite reviews, be interactive – it’s all about visibility.

It was a pleasure to chat with Rosanne at her stall later on. She was very generous with her time, answering numerous questions (comprehensively and clearly) from all comers whilst simultaneously promoting and selling her books. Amusingly enough, when asked how she can do it all – the public speaking, self promotion and selling as well as the writing, editing, typesetting and so on – she said that the public part of it is something that she dons like a cloak to disguise the fact that she’s actually an introvert. All I can say is that it’s an excellent cloaking device and that I need to get one of those!

Overall, I’ve been very impressed with the level of organisation at each of the events I’ve attended and interested to see how diverse the participant/audience groups have been. I look forward to hearing what indie-author H.Y. Hanna has to say on the subject of author marketing and promotion next weekend.

I love these free writers events! I’ve met some fascinating people, gained valuable insights and feel invigorated to be part of a larger writing network. If you haven’t been to any of the Write Along the Highway events so far, don’t stress – there’s still time to attend at least one.