Also, as you can see by the owl to your left, this week is my "virtual book review tour." Five book bloggers have agreed to read Seized and post a review. Dates, and links to the blogs, are on the "Tour Dates" tab above. I'll be stopping by each of the blogs to say hi, so feel free to come on by and post questions or whatever. To make it worth your while, I'm giving a $10 Amazon gift card to a randomly-drawn poster from this week's tour. Good luck!
Which reminds me, congratulations to the poster named MomJane, who wins the $10 Amazon gift card from last week's tour. Enjoy!
Okay, so because I have no better ideas this week, I'm going to inflict colons and semicolons on you. Please don't run away screaming. ;)
M. Edward McNally did a great post on the colon this week at Indies Unlimited. His question was about the next word after the colon -- should it be capitalized or not? He did a little survey of his colleagues, and discovered that everybody thought they knew a rule, except that the rules didn't jibe. Then he checked a few style guides, and sure enough, they didn't all agree, either. Does this sound familiar to anybody? It turns out that it's kind of a style question -- and as long as you're consistent in your usage, you're probably okay.
Earlier on the same blog, Cathy Speight posted about the semicolon. Basically, as she points out at the link, there are only two situations in which a semicolon is required:
1. As a way to link two related sentences that are not joined by a conjunction (and, but, or). She words the rule more elegantly -- she calls 'em "closely-related independent clauses" -- but really, they're two sentences. The phrase on each side of the semicolon needs both a subject and a verb. You could replace the semicolon with a period, and neither phrase would be a sentence fragment. So:
I have a puppy; she is adorable.
I have a puppy. She is adorable.
My puppy is adorable; with her floppy ear.
doesn't work with a semicolon because you can't split it into two complete sentences.
2. In a series that consists of some (or all) complex elements, many of which contain commas: Our compensation committee consists of Gene, the CFO; Jane, the president; Fred, the board chairman; and Sharla, the union rep. This rule is all about clarity. Without the semicolons, your reader might have to puzzle for a while over which title goes with which name.
See? Only two rules. Easy enough to remember.
And totally unlike the colon, where apparently anything goes.
See ya on tour!