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“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”

Image of a man sitting in an armchair with a laptop, in the middle of a clockface painted on the floor.
Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

A short update post – a lot has been going on since I last posted.

Last year, after a long illness, my beloved Brian died. I am now on my own and thinking hard about my future. After two years of being a full-time carer, my health isn’t too good and I’ll need to move out of this house and back to England near my family. That means changing the title and tagline of this blog – directions to my new home will no longer include “turn left at the bridge”, and I will no longer be looking out over the lovely Galloway Hills.

I’ll also need to go back to the design, layout and publishing work that I used to do with Brian. A single person’s pension doesn’t stretch far these days; besides, I’m bored crapless and need something to get me out of bed in the mornings. I’ve just landed some copyediting and layout work for an old client and it’s feeling very satisfying. I’ll be hunting around for more work, making a proper business of it.

So, if you’ve a book that needs publishing/editing, drop me a line….

The title quote is by William Penn, Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania.

My Work

Screenshot of my current layout and typesetting project, using Affinity Publisher

I’ve been using DTP (Desktop Publishing) programs since (I think) 1996, trying out a few and finally sticking with Serif PagePlus. We wanted to print a small quarterly magazine and PagePlus was cheap and easy to use. Other people started asking us to design and print stuff for them, so Oakleaf Print & Design was born.

PP was discontinued in 2016, but we continued using it – mainly because my husband flat out refused to try learning a new program. However, I was by then publishing and selling my own annual Elfin Diary; PagePlus had been replaced by Affinity Publisher, which was being offered at a very generous introductory price. I tried it for the Diary, immediately loved it, and can recommend it, especially for professional print work. And before you ask – yes, I’ve tried Adobe’s Indesign. The subscription price put me right off (the Affinity price structure is buy once, pay only for upgrades) and I didn’t particularly like it anyway.

I also use Affinity Photo, for editing and optimising images and Affinity Designer, for laying out covers. Part of the Affinity suite, they work so seamlessly with Publisher that I sometimes forget which program I’m working in. Hemingway Editor is very useful for spotting bad grammar and clumsy prose (this post has been run through it). Strangely, it doesn’t have a spellchecker, but Publisher does that job.

Yes, this is a blatant ad for my copyediting, design and layout services. What exactly does all that mean? OK, copyediting is correcting your MS for spelling, grammar & readability, and also factchecking; design is the overall look of the finished book (including cover design, if needed); layout (which includes typography) is is making the insides of your book look attractive and readable. Interested? My contact page is currently broken (I’m working on it) so at the mo, the quickest way to contact me is to drop me a DM onTwitter/X at @valdobson or just leave a comment below.