* I am the one in the red jacket on the bridge. If I can do that – I can do this.

On Friday I received the Proof copy of my manuscript for ‘Always the Bridesmaid’ – my very first Mills and Boon book which I now have to read and correct before it goes off to the magic printer land. This is my last chance to make the final corrections and I have 14 days to do it in.

It has taken me two hours to go through two chapters, with Mr Ray-Anne reading the text of my master copy, and me going through the proof.

I am exhausted. And a few things are clear.

1. The copy editor is a goddess, and I am an idiot to have let so many stupid mistakes slip through. And at least four pairs of eyes read the draft before it hit her desk. How embarrasing is that? They have asked for two small things to be clarified much later, but they make perfect sense.

2. Most of my commas have been taken out. And redundant sentences which do not add anything. The phrase ‘cutting out the flab’ comes to mind. Now this is something I will use for my own revisions going forward. An excellent learning opportunity.

On the other hand –

3. I did not expect whole paragraphs to be deleted. Removed. Taken out. I have been sensible and accepted that the pace has increased in most cases, and many were not necessary, but there are two examples where they are going right back in – they set the voice and personality of the characters and therefore, in a strange way, my own voice. They are both quirky and witty. I like quirky and witty. Um. Tricky.

4. Because paragraphs and sentences have been deleted, the speech tags don’t work and the speech marks are all over the place in these sections. Ditto the grammatical constuction has been changed several times so the punctuation does not always work. These mistakes are still in there.

Two chapers. I am looking at the manuscript at this minute and there are about 20 little post notes sticking out.

Oh dear. [ see Ray-Anne moving jiffy back out of sight – definitely to be done a few chapters at a time]

SO _ On with the next book and I am having fun working on the first chapter. And yes, I have my hero and heroine meeting on the first page in this version. The last two experiments, they did not meet until page 5.

Objective? Print out all of the alternative vesions, read through for enjoyment, then go through my checklist.

Only good times ahead.