We are in the final stages of editing my book As Long as it Takes. This means hours poring over the manuscript for the Cultured Llama copy-editor Anne-Marie Jordan, more hours as I accept or reject her corrections, more hours for editor Bob Carling making the changes on the manuscript.

I wrote the stories over five years, and obviously changed my mind about spelling and formatting as I went along. All very tedious to get right, but I am the first person to notice errors in books, and I would not want my readers to spot any mistakes. One of the last issues is how do you format song titles, album titles and quotations from song lyrics? We have agreed on this, but it means me trying to remember which stories feature music and checking through them, rather than re-reading the full manuscript.

More enjoyable is seeing the cover image by Maggie Drury and the jacket design by Mark Holihan. I was choked with emotion when I saw the cover. How wonderful to see this moments after Mark had finished it. I suppose, in the olden days, the camera-ready artwork was sent by courier, and the author had to wait until the publisher had seen it. I won’t share it just yet, until a couple of errant commas have been added.

I can share the first photo of my Friends’ Gallery, taken after our working lunch last week. This is part of promise to get photos taken with each of my friends in 2014. Friends in the photo (left to right): me, Biscuit (who wanted to get in on the act), Maggie Drury and Anne-Marie Jordan.

Here is the recipe for the pearl barley broth that I made for lunch, which went down very well with our guests.

As Long as it Takes will be launched on 12 February at the University of Kent. More details here.

Maria, Maggie, A-MJ small