Friday, October 2, 2009

Sophie, Sophie, Sophie ... And, Um, Books

By Shane Gericke

Before we get to the important question of how many books a series should run, I must address a serious issue brought up this week by our intrepid Sophie.

As you may recall, she asked, "Don't you think mullets can be, you know, a little bit sexy, on the right guy?"

To which I must reply ...



One more item before answering the vital question of how many books a series should run. It's about National Punctuation Day.

Jeff Rubin is a former newspaper copy editor. (Your Humble Correspondent was one of those too, so I get why he cares about this shi--uh, stuff.) Jeff wanted the rid the world of incorrectly dangling participles and dangerouslyunpunctuatedrunonsentences. So he won the right to declare Sept. 24 National Punctuation Day, on Chase's Calendar of Events. (He has a website, ), worth checking out.)

Naturally, being a writer now instead of a copy editor, I missed the deadline for mentioning this holiday of semicolons, ampersands and periods. It was Thursday. Last Thursday, not yesterday-Thursday. I wish could say I held the item because last week's Shane-O-Gram was packed with breaking news and there simply wasn't room. But I just blew it. Happens. Ask my editor.

So how, you might ask, does this relate to the topic of how many books a series should run? It doesn't! But you're reading our blog because you love writing. Without correct punctuation, you'd get eyestrain and bladder problems trying to read even a tiny fraction of it, let alone the lengthy mysteries and thrillers we all love.

sO THANkS jEFF, fOR carINg AbOUt this STuff^

Remember, as Mickey Spillane once wrote about punctuation:

"My rod barked and barked, and the bullets went in as periods and came out commas when the blood started to flow."

That's a quote from memory; I can't find the exact wording or the book. But I won't worry about it. The copy editor will fix it.


Barbara Poelle of The Irene Goodman Agency is a loyal reader of the Seven, in addtion to being a crackerjack agent, a lovely soul, and the person who makes poor Sophie throw out all her manuscripts and start over. So I thought I'd run Barbara's pitcher (see, I'm talking Mullet now), taken at ThrillerFest 2009, at which she served as one of the 43 literary agents hearing pitches from authors. Any chance I have to run a pitcher of a Seven reader in action, I will take.

So ...

If you're a Seven reader and have a cool photo of yourself to share, send it to me at . I'll be happy to run it here at the Seven. No nudie pix, please. It's not that I don't admire such artistry, but this is a wholesome family entertainment good for the whole, uh, family.


Awright, quit gnawing your fingers in giddy anticipation, here's my answer:

"As many as your readers will stand for, and a publisher will pay for."

Now you know why I ran the other stuff first ...


Just one more reason why friends don't let friends wear mullets:

I rest my case.

Shane Gericke is the national bestselling author of BLOWN AWAY, CUT TO THE BONE, and in July 2010, the third of his cops-vs.-psychos crime series, which has yet to be titled but we're getting pretty darn close. He's the chairman of ThrillerFest 2010, and urges you to sign up now to take advantage of Early Bird Pricing, which will save you a chunk o'change for attending what he modestly believes is the World's Best Book Conference and Party. The signup website is After you've signed up, visit Shane at , as he's grateful for any attention he can get.


Jen Forbus said...

Wow! Each morning when I open up CM, I remember why I make it my morning ritual. Who doesn't love to start the day with a laugh or two or ten? This is hysterical Shane!

I have a comic strip that I use to use with my students that was Mother Goose and Grimm. Grimm is dragging in the paper boy, and Mother Goose says, "I said get the paper COMMA boy, not get the paper boy."

What a difference a simple little punctuation mark can make!

Shane Gericke said...

Thanks, Jen, always happy to leave a smile on someone's face! I love Mother Goose and Grimm, and that comma gag is a hoot. I have a strip on my wall from the old Bloom County, in which punctuation plays a role. The panels:

Senator Bedfellow: "Hello? Bloom Beacon? This is Senator Bedfellow. What's with this %^^$#$ HEADLINE?"

Editor: "Headline?"

Bedfellow: "Yes! There's no story ... just a headline!"

Editor: "Which headline?"

Bedfellow: "The BIG headline on the front page!"

Editor: "Read it to me, senator."


Editor: "Oh. That's just a typo."

I fielded a few reader calls along those lines back in the day, at the old Chicago Sun-Times. One challenged me to a fight, he was so angry. I said come on down to the paper and we'd git 'er done. (Yeah, I could be a mullet-head sometimes in my twenties ...)He didn't show, fortunately for us both.

It was great fun hearing their meltdowns.

Unknown said...

Just found a photo of my better half back when he had a mullet, and I think perhaps the answer to Sophie's question is: some men can be sexy DESPITE their mullets :)

I'm pretty sure someone once made the argument that punctuation is a tool of the cultural imperialism. But that guy never got invited to parties. Plus no one could read his RSVP.

Thanks for a fun end to a LOOOOONG week Shane!!!!!

Sophie Littlefield said...

oh now, *that* aint the kind a mullet i meant. i meant the tasteful kind. you know,just a little more than what you might call a longish fringe. it's all a matter of degree, y'know? I'll dig up a picture somewhere, give y'all an illustration you can take to your hairdressers and what not...

Shane Gericke said...

Tasteful mullets? Bring it on, Sophie!