Colon or semi-colon: the same or different?

The colon (nothing to do with the bowels) is a useful little creature: 🙄 it introduces an idea or a list. 

In my previous sentence, I could have got away with just using a full stop after the word “creature” (or period, for American readers – again, no reference to biology intended here!)

But that seems boring and unimaginative to me: the colon keeps me interested, it tells me there’s more to come.

Body art – love it or loathe it?

Does it matter what your body language says?

The type of art that uses the body as a canvas to express someone’s feelings about something important in life. Some use it just to adorn themselves, like a permanent necklace or a bracelet. I’m not talking about piercings here, but tattoos, which are by no means a new fad – people have been applying permanent etchings to their skin for thousands of years.

In the past ten or twenty years though, this has become almost a fashion, like the mini skirt of the sixties or the ruffles and bows of the New Romantics in the eighties. But this is a fashion that you can’t discard: you can only embellish, add to or remove painfully.


Tattoos for cosmetic purposes

Maybe tattoos are a Marmite thing – love them or hate them. Opinions are definitely divided, and while some regard them as beautiful works of art, others see them as a

Love networking, hate mornings?

I love networking! It gets me out from behind my computer and I meet people – some are old friends, some will become familiar faces the more I network.

Until now, I have veered towards free or cheap networking groups in Essex, for obvious reasons. But after a while I began to realise that the lack of commitment to these regular meetings was not helpful in keeping me structured in my proofreading business. Then a Virtual Assistant friend, Stella, recommended to me 4Networking, which is membership only. She told me that since she had joined 4N four months before, her whole life and business had turned around after nearly two years of hard slog.


Your invitation

So let me get straight to the point: I have signed up! Yes, I have had to invest in myself, but if as a direct result of being in this group, I manage to sell just two of my new 2017 packages, I will have re-couped my annual fee with change to spare!

How a proofreader saves you embarrassment!

A proofreader’s skill goes further than just being good at spelling, deeper than knowing when he should or shouldn’t use an apostrophe. At WordPerfect, we never stop at proofreading alone – copy-editing is an essential component of perfecting each and every document.

From Christmas presents to packages!

It’s been a busy year, and I’m making big changes for 2017!

Clients often ask “How much does it cost to proofread my article?” and it’s hard to give them an instant answer. It’s like asking “How long is a piece of string???”

Well, to make it easier for all of us, I have found a way to make it clear just how much my proofreading and copy-editing service is likely to cost you from the moment we meet.

In 2016, I have been charging by the number of words I can edit in one hour – and that may vary from client to client, depending on the type of project, and how tricky or how good the writing is.


In 2017, I will be offering PACKAGES!

new year pine cropped 2That’s right, instead of having to get the calculator out, I will be able to say straight away, “This package will cost you this much.”

No ifs or buts, the package will detail everything you can expect from my service, including an agreed completion date.

However, I am not introducing packages until 2017, so for now you have the opportunity to take advantage of my 2016 rates, which will be specifically per word, per hour.


Pick up the phone and talk to me today to see if I can fit your work in before my 2017 price review. I’ll ensure no embarrassing typos slip through your marketing, no grammar-fails that mean expensive re-prints, and no dreadful ambiguities to leave you red-faced this year!

How to spot invisible typos when you write your book

You’ve read it and re-read it, you left it a day or so to see it with a fresh eye, you even got your partner to proofread it. And before that, you were responding to the red and green wiggly lines screaming at you from beneath your typing. But, you wonder, does it really matter?

So you publish it. It’s your latest blog or a new page on your website. Or it’s a novel that you’ve finally, FINALLY, managed to send to a publishing house.

And then the shame!

Why web designers need proofreaders

When did you last search the shelf for that dusty encyclopaedia or reference book?

And when it comes to shopping, do you still browse a glossy, but heavy catalogue for your winter wardrobe or this year’s Christmas presents?


Unlikely. When we want to find out about something, we go straight to the web, via our smart phone (which these days is more or less attached to us!) or via our computer at home. It’s all there at our fingertips – and it’s instant!

But it took someone’s skill, effort and time to put it there and make it so easily accessible:

I am talking about you: the web designer!

Yours sincerely! The challenges of a freelance editor

Thoughts from a punctuation pedant.

It’s now over a year since I went fully freelance as a proofreader / copy-editor, and I have learned so much in that time – things I would never have learned purely from research and planning: my EXPERIENCE of how I cope (or don’t cope!) without the structures I used to have imposed on me from schooldays, and later in working for big businesses.

It’s also been revealing to discover WHAT MY CLIENTS NEED FROM ME in my new guise as a freelance member of the grammar police!

On the plus side, I’m really enjoying:

  • waking up naturally without an alarm – bliss!
  • the freedom to switch my plans from Monday to “Anyday” if I’m called upon for “Nanny duties”Hammock
  • getting a seat on the train because it’s after rush hour when I travel into London for business or pleasure!
  • being able to work remotely (in a hammock even!)
  • and most of all – the work I’m doing because it’s fun! It’s what I love and do best!

But there is a cost for these:

  • sitting at my desk in my dressing gown makes me lazy … I’m still there past lunchtime without having had any exercise = yes, I’m gaining weight!
  • if I had assigned myself two days to complete a job, but I then prioritise family, my clients may not get their work done within the promised timeframe = stress for me!
  • I no longer have a season ticket for travel into London, whether for business or pleasure = I need to think about the cost if I want to go to business events
  • although I love the work I’m doing, I can unwittingly spend hours longer over the course of a day than I would have done at the 9 – 5, where the working hours are defined = family life can suffer


Hence, some reflection on the past year, and some commitments to self:

I no longer stay in my PJs: I “get ready for work” during the weekdays, so that my mind is in focus and I am prepared for whatever may happen – it might be a Skype call so I’d rather have my professional face on!

Now the summer has reached us at long last, I am going to fulfill a promise I made to myself, to go for a lunchtime walk every day, to keep supple and burn off some of those pounds!

Nanny-duties have to wait till the afternoons or the end of the week (unless it’s an emergency) and I stick to my task schedule as far as I can.

When social occasions or meet-ups with ex-colleagues are planned, I have to think carefully if I can combine the trip with a networking event or a trade show that is likely to benefit my business, and then I can legitimately add my fares to my business travel expenses.

About the business – putting things right

One of the misconceptions about what I do is that people think proofreading is the same as copy editing, and copy-editing is the same as copy-writing.

Uh-uh! Not the same at all!

Proofreading is the very least that needs to be done to a piece of writing – it needs to be checked for correct spelling and punctuation, and for correct basic grammar.

But to be true to myself, I can’t do JUST that!

I would be extremely unhappy to just return a book manuscript to an author having done no more than run it through a spell-check in Microsoft Word. In fact, probably the writer has already done that himself if he has taken notice of the red and green squiggly lines underneath his work.

There are even tools that point out where you have tapped the spacebar twice instead of once, or where you have written U.S.A. and then later USA, or where you have spelt a character’s name Michelle and then Michele, all tremendously useful.

But I do have to wear my copy-editor’s hat on top of the proofreader’s hat, as I will spot things that are not necessarily WRONG, but with a little tweaking, just make the writing NICER, or GENTLER ON THE EAR, or more RELEVANT.

Without intruding too far into the writer’s own words, I consider it the very least I should do to bring a draft to a more professional level, and this might include listening to the style or tone of the writing and ensuring it is consistent, and quite likely a little restructuring will be necessary to achieve that.



Some have made enquiries of me for copywriting. Now I don’t mean to say I can’t write, but copywriting means WRITING, not EDITING, (although that will be a skill a good copywriter has), and at the moment, I prefer to focus on perfecting content that’s already written.

While I have the technical skill to ensure someone’s writing is grammatically correct, I am not offering to write the CONTENT itself. Every topic has its experts – whether the subject is fishing, needlecraft, travel, baby-care, tropical plants, stand-up comedy, photography – I might have a little experience in some of those areas, but not enough to write the copy for an article or a publication.

Copywriters often have to be resourceful and do a fair amount of research into a topic they are unfamiliar with – so it might be worth writing your content yourself since you have the insider knowledge, and then having it checked over by a proofreader for the grammar side.

abc squareAsk me to write about being female, or about my last holiday, or about working for a corporate organisation and I will write reams and reams – in fact I’d have a lot of trouble trying to stay within the prescribed word count!

So, no, I have to make it clear that I am the one with the metaphorical red pen, who will cross out your mistakes and try to teach you how to get it right next time, so that maybe

YOU WILL NEED TO PAY ME FOR LESS TIME on the next manuscript I copy-edit for you!


So here’s what I’d like to know from you:

  • do you write newsletters or a blog?
  • if not, why not? not enough time? worried about your spelling and grammar?
  • would you read a newsletter with simple tips and tricks for getting punctuation right every time?
  • would you consider having a blog “ghost-written” for you?

Let me know in the “comments” below!


How to write a book and get it published

A different kind of post from me today, to tell you about my day at the Darling Buds of May Farm writer’s retreat.

You might remember a very lovely, gentle TV series starring David Jason and a very young Catherine Zeta-Jones, based on the stories by H.E.Bates about a Kentish farmer and his ever-growing family, the “deals” he struck (an early Del-boy character I think!) and the enviable fun and loving relationship the farmer Sidney Larkin had with his wife and children.

It was memorable for the setting in which the series was filmed, an old country farm complete with roses growing over the door, farm animals and geese wandering freely, a duckpond, and seemingly, forever summer. It certainly left an impression on me, and of course, launched Catherine Zeta-Jones to the fame she now enjoys.


Last week I had the opportunity to spend a glorious, hot, summer day at this very lovely venue myself, Buss Farm, near Ashford in Kent.  As well as a wonderful B&B, some of the outbuildings have been converted into workshop premises for training courses. On this occasion, I was learning how to write a book and publish it. As I work with writers who are keen to have their books edited and then see their books in print, I am often asked how to go about finding a publisher and I decided I needed to gather the information to help my clients do just that, rather than just wielding my red pen, proofreading their typos and spelling mistakes.

It would take me too long to tell you all about it – suffice to say it was an excellent day learning how easy it is to self-publish, and money well-spent.  Follow this link to all the courses available with the Internet Business School.

Not ready yet?

If you are not yet ready to publish, you will no doubt need a proofreader to fine tune your manuscript.  Contact me and we can talk about font and formatting, and if you wish, I can walk you through the whole process of getting your book out there on Amazon.

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