How to Avoid Panic in January!

It’s December, and instead of winding down for Christmas, some of us are panicking at the thought of a £100 fine if our self-assessments aren’t submitted by the 31st of January!

Last year I edited a really easy-to-read book with a simple system for keeping on top of your bookkeeping.

Its author, Helen Monaghan, is a Chartered Management Accountant – and perhaps surprisingly, a coach.

Helen has written several books, and I’m proud to say that I’m the editor of her latest, ‘The Magical Mix of Money & Tax’, which is more than just a how-to book. Over the years, she has heard no end of excuses why business owners don’t keep on top of their accounts. December and January are probably her busiest months when her clients go into panic mode!

There are experts, and then there are experts!

Helen needed a proofreader for her draft book since, although she knows her stuff and is an expert in her particular field, she acknowledged that there were bound to be some errors when it came to actually getting it down in writing, since she was too close to it to see the obvious.

As a proofreader, as well as keeping a beady eye open for a few spelling or punctuation mistakes, I look a bit deeper than that. It’s easy to find you have written very long sentences which can lose the reader’s interest. It may be full of very relevant information, but the brain needs to keep track of the verb in a sentence, otherwise none of it will make sense. Shorter sentences help.

Another thing I like to point out is that as an expert in our field, whatever our expertise, we get comfortable using jargon and acronyms, and tend to forget that we might be using a “foreign language” to the lay person, so sometimes a writer needs reminding of that fact.

Common sayings that we all use in everyday language can also trip us up – one I hear quite often is “Be rest assured that …” which is a bit of a mix between “Rest assured that …” and “Be assured that…”.

Sometimes, you just need useful habits

A tip that is very easy to make a useful habit when typing a Word document is to use the Synonym Finder. If you find you use the same word frequently to the point that it’s becoming repetitive and its meaning is becoming diluted, select that word and “right click” to see the list of alternative words that drop down. In the case of the word “expert” for example, you could choose one of “specialist / skillful / proficient / knowledgeable / adept” – whichever best fits the context.

Helen’s approach to her role as a management accountant is to keep it simple. That way, she can help anyone to keep on top of their finances, whether a big business or a family that wants to budget so they can plan for holidays and nice family events.

Approaching this from the standpoint of getting the mindset right and introducing useful habits, Helen lists many of these objections as chapter headings and picks them apart one by one, taking the reader through the steps to dispel the sense of overwhelm that comes over some of us – me included!

All you need is help to take the first step

At Chapter 6 as I was proofreading, I decided to take action with my own disordered pile of business expense receipts. I got up from my desk and I found 12 large envelopes and marked each with a date ranging from the 6th of one month to the 5th of the next and ensured the current month’s envelope was close to hand. This means I have no excuse not to “file” my receipts every day! It felt really good taking that first and very easy step!


So, if you feel you need a helping hand with the numbers game, you can reach Helen at, or just order a copy of her book which is about to be published by Indie Authors World and will be available on Amazon and all other booksellers – just enough time for you to get ready for HMRC!


* If you need a helping hand with the words game – contact me!

M:  07825 587 696





People who feel an urge to correct other people’s grammar are actually suffering from a form of OCD: Grammar Pedantry Syndrome.

Oh my gosh! At last I have a diagnosis! Why did it escape me for so long: I’ve always known I’m a Grammar Geek, a Punctuation Pedant, a Spelling Specialist, so why didn’t I spot that I suffer with GPS?

Do I need to turn off this navigation system? Will I have more friends? Will people see that I’m no snob, I don’t mean to be annoying, I really only mean to be helpful?


Maybe for the first time in my life, I’ll be able to enjoy going out for a meal instead of bleating about typos on the menu (which surely aren’t going to mean that the food will be less tasty!)




Maybe I’ll be able to enjoy the scenery as I drive around, instead of fixating on apostrophe horrors on signs.




Maybe when my grandchildren present me with their drawing of “mummy, baddy and me”  I won’t say:

“You’ve got the ‘d’ the wrong way around.”

Cruel Nanny Janny!


Nope, this faulty gene is firmly part of my DNA, but maybe I’ll count to ten in future and ask myself:

“What’s the worst that could happen? Will anybody get sued?”



Don’t forget, if you need reassurance that what you wrote on your Wedding Invitation, your Order of Service, your Menu, or anything that you simply HAVE to get right first time, the Printers don’t necessarily use a Proofreader – send it my way and I’ll save you embarrassment and money!


M: 07825 587 696




Journalling Down Under – Part 3: New Zealand

Click here to catch up with Part 1 and Part 2


Cairns to New Zealand

Pete’s cousins met us at the airport in Auckland, in the northern part of New Zealand’s north island, and we ate at a restaurant together. So nice to meet them after only knowing them from Facetime calls! After a night in a city hotel, Pete and I picked up the 6-berth camper van. This was an experience!


First stop was to visit an ex-workmate of Pete’s, who was on the TV show Wanted Down Under

Journalling Down Under – Part 2: Australia

If you’ve missed Part 1 and want to catch up, just click here


We were met at Brisbane airport by Pete’s cousin Beth who “ran away from home” and settled in Australia some 20 years ago! So far, of the 5 days since we set off from home, two whole nights have been spent on a plane, watching time zones slip past us, and trying to keep our body clocks in sync! Not easy when dinner is delayed by a couple of hours because of turbulence in the Singapore skies and you’re offered breakfast about 5 am so they can have everything clear for a 07.30 landing!

Beth and her family met us at the airport and took us home via the scenic route. They took us to breakfast along a coast road overlooking the waters of Moreton Bay, to Redcliffe where the eateries, although not grand, are full of locals who know what good food tastes like. After delicious cake and ice cream for breakfast (!) we strolled along the beach road to Redcliffe’s claim to fame, Bee Gees Way, where the famous brothers

Journalling Down Under – Part 1: Singapore

I recommend keeping a journal alongside your holiday photos. It really helps to keep alive those memories that otherwise can just disappear into “the cloud”. I think it’s a shame we don’t print so many of our photos these days – what will happen to those digital snaps when you are no longer around?

The great thing about having a freelance job is that if you choose to, you can take your work with you on holiday. (Or not!) So I decided to log what we got up to on our recent trip to Australia and New Zealand, but came unstuck when I was out of wi-fi. Next time I think I’m going to take a notebook and pen. If I can use wi-fi while I’m still away, I plan to send my best pictures to Free Photo Books and have them waiting on the doormat when I finally get home!

Three weeks really wasn’t long enough to be honest, and it wasn’t till I saw the picture of Europe super-imposed onto the map of Australia that I truly realised just how much we have yet to see in the world!

Read the first part of our Trip of a Lifetime below!

Will your children still read books?

I have an aching worry that my 3 and 5-year-old grandchildren might not grow up with the love of books that I had as a child.

Swipe or finger-lick?

They both spend some of their time on a tablet. They learn things on it, play games, follow pictures and stories, and no doubt their future education will rely heavily on online sources.

It’s true that technology is part of everyday life for most of us now, but does reading from a screen provide the same experience for children as the feel of reading from paper?

Content Polished for Contented People

Alex Gulland of ContentedPeople asked me to proofread her website content before the site went live.

She didn’t want to risk the embarrassment of discovering spelling errors or ambiguities after it had been published, or finding she’d repeated herself here and there – which could have made her website look unprofessional.

Alex is more than competent as a writer, but she knows that when you have been looking at your own writing for hours, even days, tweaking it here and there as you go, there comes a time when you can no longer see it objectively.

She wanted a fresh pair of eyes to give her writing the once-over so that she was confident to go public and celebrate the launch of her new business, not slink away in embarrassment.

Once a website is 99% ready to launch, it can be tempting to hit the “publish” button and sit back and relax, so I did my best to turn this job around for Alex as speedily as possible. I’m pleased to say that she was delighted and gave me a fab testimonial! I made suggestions to enhance the readability of the article, such as adding bullets to break up long blocks of text, and recommended adding hyperlinks where appropriate, to relevant useful external links or to the call-to-action page.

Alex has a very unique therapy service using horses

It was a surprise to me to learn that horses do have an awareness of human emotions and can even read facial expressions. Alex introduces this concept to families of vulnerable adolescents and to those facing life changes or crises; many have found peace and clarity and healing within themselves after a session with Alex and her horses.

I have no personal experience whatsoever with horses, but it was an unexpected pleasure to talk to Alex and discover the benefits to be found in Equine Facilitated Learning. Horses can teach us about emotional intelligence and add a wonderful new dimension into our lives – who knew!!!

Contact me today for a free 500 word sample of how I could enhance your website copy at the eleventh hour.

Freelance Writers Appreciaton Week

Freelance Writers’ Appreciation Week!

There seems to be a national holiday for just about everything – from the bizarre (World Toilet Day in November!) to the inspirational.

Surprisingly, the whole of the second week of February is Freelance Writers’ Appreciation Week, intended to draw attention to just how much content freelance writers are responsible for, and to give them a thank you.

What have you read today?

Do you find it hard to write blogs?

Do you feel self-conscious about putting your “voice” out there?

Blogging is one of many forms of communication, and something that is as much a part of life these days as face-to-face conversation. However, for some, it’s as big a challenge as public speaking, which is something many of us have faced. Although most of us don’t have any trouble talking to family and friends, when it comes to speaking in public, it can be a different matter.

6 DIY tips for proofreading your own blog

Ok, it’s not going to be War & Peace – you just want to get your blog out there! No reason why you shouldn’t proofread your own work before it goes live.  But a word or two of advice:

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