Big news for Shady Characters

I couldn’t have imagined this when I started posting here back in January, but Shady Characters has a book deal. I am still battling with disbelief.

Laurie Abkemeier of DeFiore and Company got in touch back in March; we put together a book proposal over the next few months, and just last week Laurie emailed me to let me know that it had been picked up by the publishing house W.W. Norton. I’ll be working on the book over the next year or so with Brendan Curry, one of Norton’s non-fiction editors, and it will appear in shops — well, honestly, I have no idea when it’ll be ready!

What does this mean for the Shady Characters website?

First, I’m going to take a break from writing longer articles for a little while. Though I love writing the articles here, it’s a time-consuming business and (perhaps selfishly) I’m looking forward to a little time away from these longer articles.

Second, and more importantly, in no way is the site “finished” or closed for business! The site will continue to be updated, both with news of the book and with new articles. Not only that, I’ll still be watching the comments with as much enthusiasm as ever: some of the most widely-discussed articles here have come from comments and emails sent in by Shady Characters readers, and I’m sure there are many more to come.

Finally, some thanks are due. Writing for the site has been eye-opening, in the best of senses; my own knowledge of punctuation, grammar and typography is dwarfed by that of the site’s readership, and to pretend otherwise would be to do you all a disservice. Thank you for reading, commenting, sending in your thoughts and corrections, and for supporting the site on Facebook and Twitter.

Also, I must thank my friend Jeff Sanders, who has patiently read over each article draft (often on Saturday night or Sunday morning as I scrambled to get it finished in time) to make corrections and suggestions that have improved each one immensely.

Thank you all!

If you have questions, suggestions, or any other feedback, please leave a comment below or get in touch via the Contact page.

Oh, and there’s still time to vote on your favourite Grammar Blog of the Year — perhaps a last-minute effort could propel Shady Characters to the top of the list¡


  1. Posted October 16, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Congratulations! I’m glad to see that good writing leads to good things.

  2. Posted October 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Permalink | Reply


  3. Posted October 16, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve been following your blog for a couple of months now, and am always eagerly awaiting the next post. A book is an entirely appropriate progression! Congratulations!

  4. ND
    Posted October 16, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Congratulations! I hope the book is typeset as well as the site is.

  5. Posted October 17, 2011 at 1:39 am | Permalink | Reply

    Fantastic! You’ve earned this.

  6. Bryce
    Posted October 17, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink | Reply

    Awesome news! :)

  7. Anna
    Posted October 17, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink | Reply

    Congratulations! I love this site and I’m delighted about the book. You’ll have a lot of fun typesetting it.

  8. Keith Houston
    Posted October 17, 2011 at 10:42 am | Permalink | Reply

    Hi everyone — thanks! I really appreciate all the comments, both here and on previous entries. The discussions after each article really have been as enjoyable as writing the articles themselves!

  9. Posted October 17, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink | Reply

    Great news! Norton is a publisher I highly respect, it is surely an honour to be on its catalogue. Sometimes my friends say that keeping a blog is a loss of time. You have showed that it isn’t!

  10. Posted October 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Wow. Wonderful. Well done, Keith! W.W. Norton are great! Look forward to hearing more about the book.

    • Keith Houston
      Posted October 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Elena, Kathleen — I’m glad to hear that Norton is a well-respected publisher! Thanks for the comments, and keep an eye on the blog for more news in the coming months.

  11. Timothy Lee
    Posted October 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    How Wonderful. Ever since I found this blog a couple of months ago I have thoroughly enjoyed every article. I hope that your book will be available for Kindle as that is one book I will definitely take the time to read.

    • Keith Houston
      Posted October 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Timothy — we haven’t discussed the details yet, but I’d certainly love to have the book available for the Kindle and other ebook readers. I’ll post more details here as soon as I have them!

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *


Leave a blank line to begin a new paragraph. The following HTML tags are allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>