Home of Michael Perry – New York Times Bestselling Author, Humorist, Singer/Songwriter, Intermittent Pig Farmer

Posts Tagged ‘FAQ’


I tend to write like I talk, which is closer to my boots than my brain. As such (and despite the loving care of any number of despairing editors), I tend to run afoul of grammarians now and again (sometimes two or three weeks in a row). As I am on a lifelong quest for self-improvement (an area in which I have acres of room in which to work) and also truly do want to get things right (unless I’m feeling colloquial, at which point all bets are off), I appreciate anyone who takes the time to point out errors (including those in this post).

However: tone is everything. A thoughtful word is appreciated and taken to heart–although it is no guarantee against future returns (I play by ear, and am regularly afflicted with literary tinnitus). On the other hand, exultation, hectoring, neener-neenering or the sort of correspondence highlighted below will have exactly the opposite effect and may even trigger active recalcitrance:

[YOUR] article which started—-‘[BLANK] asked my wife and I’ for help “etc. Asked “I”? I read your column every week and couldn’t believe you wrote “asked my wife and I”. You surely know better than that being an ‘author”. If in doubt, take the sentence apart and ask did someone ask’ I’, or did someone ask ‘me’. Not too swift, buster…………….

The above quote also serves to remind us that anytime one fires off grammarial correctives, one does well to review one’s own prose for assorted typographical whoopsies. Neener-neener, as it were.

Oh, and beyond grammar, I’m also happy to hear about flat-out errors of fact or consistency: details here.

January, 2016: Just for fun, I’ve added Michel de Montaigne’s response (from the Screech edition) to the grammar grinders (in fairness he was responding more to errors in translation, but that final bolded line…delicious):

I do not, Reader, accept responsibility for misprints which slip in through the carelessness or fantasy of the various craftsmen; each hand introduces his own. I do not concern myself with the spelling (merely telling them to follow the traditional one) nor with punctuation: I am expert in neither. Even where they completely destroy my meaning, that does not worry me over-much: they at least take some weight off me; but when (as they often do) they substitute a false meaning and deflect me towards their own conception, they destroy me. So whenever the thought does not measure up to my own standard a gentleman should decline to accept it as mine. Anyone who knows how little industrious I am, and how far I am cast in a mould of my own, will not find it hard to believe that I would more readily compose as many essays again than subject myself to going through them once more to make schoolboy corrections.

How Can We Help You Make the Most Money?

Every now and then someone asks a question along the following lines (in this case I am quoting a fellow named Dennis):

Do you make more money if I buy the new book through sneezingcow rather than a local bookstore? What about through Amazon? Does your take vary w/ where things are purchased?
   I ask this not in the “authors are so stinking greedy running their own websites” way but the “how do I best support authors I like when I buy their books” way.
Here’s my answer:
Bottom line, I make a couple more bucks if you purchase a signed book from the website. BUT if a local independent bookstore is available, I’d prefer you buy there (you can also order indie online), as they have supported me widely. ULTIMATELY I’d rather have readers over the long term than a few bucks in the short term, and I also know what it is to live life on a budget, so wherever you decide to shop/order/download I am grateful for your support.
Hope that helps, and I don’t use that word “grateful” lightly. Bottom line is we have a little two-person family business here, and like many businesses it’s year-to-year…but the fact that we are able to make the mortgage and health insurance payments by me writing and performing continues is a blessing indeed, and one we don’t take for granted.


Posted in FAQ and tagged

The Rectum? Really?

In Coop I included a section on bovine artificial insemination. Although I strive to write only the most delicate prose, at one point I do set a scene in which the insemination technician (we just called him “the breeder man”) has his arm well up a cow’s rectum.

This has elicited questions from the reading public. They are not alone. Their very same query was raised previously during the editing process. So perhaps the best way to provide the definitive answer is to share a portion of the original exchange.

It began with an email from my editor’s assistant, Jason:

The proofreader raised two questions for you, which I copied below.  Please do let us know where you stand on these finer points of husbandry.


The note from the proofreader read:

Cows: In the description of inseminating the cows on p. 65, the author writes, “all things considered, their reaction to having a stranger’s arm elbow-deep up the rectum was positively restrained.”  The proofreader wondered whether, since the cows are being inseminated, “rectum” was correct–should it read “vagina” instead?

I replied with an email of my own:

I can respectfully state from a position of firm authority that “rectum” is correct.  The arm is inserted in that specific orifice in order to perform “rectal palpation,” a discomfiting but functional procedure allowing the inseminator to grasp and manipulate the bovine cervix through the pliable rectal wall in a manner calculated to guide insertion of the insemination pipette through the rings of the cervix and into the uterus.  To sum up, and for future reference: Arm in rectum, pipette in vagina.

I was quite proud of myself.  Country mouse educating the folks in New York city, that whole bit.  But my smug didn’t last long, because with one well-placed deadpan pun, Jason hit the gamewinner:

Great–thanks for the big picture.  I’ll rectify the proofreader.

What Did You Write In My Book?

Sometimes I get emails from people wondering what I’ve written in their books.  When asked I personalize them as the reader wishes, but in general I sign a specific thing for each book:

Population 485: Welcome to “Nobbern!” (We locals call New Auburn “Nobbern” or “Nauburn” or any variant spelling thereof.)

Off Main Street: I draw an empty thought bubble above the author photo.  You can fill in your own saying or — this is frankly more appropriate — simply leave the bubble empty.

Truck: Double Clutch! This phrase will be understood by drivers of a certain age.  Failing that, it is explained in the book.

Coop: Oink-a-doodle-doo! Meant to reflect the inclusion of both pigs and chickens in the book.  Sadly, due to my fitful penmanship, many people think I have written, Dink-a-doodle-doo.

Visiting TomBOOM! In honor of Tom’s homemade cannon.

From the Top: Ballyhoo! In honor of the song sung at the beginning of Tent Show Radio, and as a tip of the canvas cap to Warren Nelson, from whom I first heard the word.

The Scavengers: Haven’t decided yet.

Are you still on the New Auburn fire department?

In 2007, my wife and I had the opportunity to take over my mother-in-law’s farmstead near Fall Creek, Wisconsin.  I am no longer in the New Auburn fire district, but am pleased to say I am now allowed to carry a pager for the local volunteer rescue service in my township*, and I still make it back to “Nobbern” regularly to see the Beagle, help out at Jamboree Days, and attend the annual banquet with all my NAAFD pals.  In other words, we’re still neighbors.

*I am required to complete a refresher course (currently a 28-hour module) every two years to maintain my licensure. Sometimes my book tours and/or road schedule preclude my attending in a timely manner, in which case I revert to “inactive” status until I can complete the requirements (I often have to piece together more than one refresher). This is a tidbit of interest to only a tiny wedge of folks but I include it here as some of my publicity materials and bios refer to me as an “active” member of the local fire or rescue services, and although I am now in my third decade of EMS service, I didn’t want to appear to be misrepresenting the department on account of a technicality. There: The explanation is officially longer than the post.