Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - 6/16/15

Photo credit: The copyrights for the images are held by Katie Little | Dreamstime.com, James Hearn | Dreamstime.com, and Michael Shevlin. The copyright for the cover is held by Patricia L. Miller.

As I'm finishing up what will hopefully be my last round of edits for Pack Supremacy, I thought now would be an appropriate time to use it for Teaser Tuesday. This book has really been a labor of love, but there are so many things that I'm realizing I'm proud of, and I can't wait for you all to be able to read it.

If you're interested in reading more than the teaser, the prologue is on my website.

The Big Bad Wolf is loose in New York City...

Quinn Dunlap has never been the most involved member of the Mid-Atlantic Werewolf Pack. She isn't like her brother Carson, who's been training for his role as Beta since they were little kids. She isn't even like her best friend Lucy, who signed up to be a Guardian the day she turned 18.

So even with their help, Quinn's not handling her new responsibilities very well. Nor is the Pack handling all the recent changes that well either. They're in turmoil, and things are about to get even less stable when little girls start dying and all the signs point to a rogue werewolf.

...and he's got a connection to Lucy.

Lucy has always been a "hit first" kind of girl, but she's had to step up recently and start using her brain before her fists. She knows that letting her temper get the best of her can have dangerous consequences, especially with a rogue werewolf in town. But when things get a little too personal, Lucy's recklessness lands her in a situation she might not be able to escape.

The rules for Teaser Tuesday are:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
  • Then hit up Should Be Reading to add your link.

And the teaser:

I'd never considered myself a violent person. I mean, just because I'm a werewolf doesn't mean I'm bloodthirsty and uncivilized. But if I had to listen to Carson and Lucy go one more round about whether we should allocate more Pack funds toward buying new Guardian equipment or reinforcing the fences at our borders, I was going dig out the gun Geoffrey had left in his office and shoot them both.

I just wouldn't load it with silver bullets.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Apologies, or The Things Sports Do To Us

Sorry about the impromptu month-long hiatus I took. For those who don't follow me on Twitter, I've grown into a pretty big hockey fan in the last couple years, and the Rangers seemed to play every Monday this month, which is when I normally write my posts. But, sadly, I won't have to worry about that again until next year, so starting next week I'll be returning to my regularly scheduled posting.

A quick update on where I am right now: After having two very productive conversations with my beta readers, I'm midway through what should be final round of edits on Pack Supremacy (excepting line edits). I hope to have that done by next week at the latest, after which I can begin preparing to publish. While I waited for feedback, I began outlining Capitoline Hill #3 and continued to work on my outline for Bex Addison. I hope to begin writing CH3 in November, and Bex sometime next year.

I also had the opportunity to attend The Book Con last weekend in NYC. I wasn't able to go to any of the panels, but I visited all the exhibits, had some interesting conversations, got a few free books, and had a great time. (And then I got to see Finding Neverland on Broadway, which was as magical as you'd expect, and I highly recommend it for anyone who likes Peter Pan.)

I hope you all had a good May and are looking forward to June!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Flash Fiction Friday - Hi

Prompt: Chance


Her tongue darted out nervously to wet her lips, and she stared across the room with uncharacteristic determination. Her fingers tapped out a staccato rhythm against her thigh, and eventually one foot joined in, keeping the beat. When she realized what she was doing, she tamped it down furiously, blushing even though no one was paying attention to her.

You can do it, she coached herself. Just go over there. Introduce yourself. Say hi.

And then what? a malicious voice in her head sneered. Make small talk? Impress him with your comprehensive knowledge of quadratic equations? Wax poetic about the beauty of pi?

Shut up, she thought back angrily, then shook her head to clear away the ridiculous conversation. Great. Now I'm hearing voices.

She snuck another look at him, five and a half feet of stocky muscle and curly red hair that he kept running his fingers through endearingly. And even though she understood about pheromones and chemical reactions in her brain, her heartbeat quickened when his lips curled into that wide, easy smile.

Maybe he wouldn't think she was weird because she preferred to spend her days with numbers than with people. Maybe he wouldn't mind that relationships overwhelmed her and that he had to take it slow so she had time to adjust. Maybe he'd like it if she spent too long looking at his face because she was looking for patterns in the lines and pores.

Maybe, just maybe, he would be the one to understand.

She wet her lips again, then squared her shoulders, and forced her feet to move across the room, to where he was finally alone, pouring himself a drink. She sidled up next to him, and he looked at her. And he smiled.

She took a deep breath and smiled back. "Hi," she said.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Flash Fiction Friday - Hockey

Prompt: Three Reasons


"Give me one good reason."

Mike glowered at me, crossing his arms over his chest. "Because I'm bigger than you, and I can beat you up."

I rolled my eyes and glared just as hard at him. "You wouldn't hit me. I'm your little sister. Try again."

"Because you'll get hurt playing street hockey. You're just a little kid."

"I'm the same age you were when you started playing with them!" I shot back. "And I'm just as big as you were too."

He made a sound in the back of his throat that sounded like it was either a growl or a laugh. Probably a growl. "You are not!"

"Sure I am! Go ask Mom if you don't believe me."

He didn't move, except to ball his hands into fists. "Well... well, none of my friends want you to tag along with us!" he finally snapped.

For a second, even though I knew something he didn't know, I felt hurt by that. Mike and I were only two years apart, and we'd spent nearly every summer of my life hanging out together, sometimes with his friends, sometimes with mine. I'd always considered his friends to be my friends too.

Then I remembered the thing I knew. "Oh yeah?" I challenged, and for a second he looked smug. "Well, Charlie was the one who asked me to play, and he said JT and Danny want me to play too. He said they're inviting a new guy from school, and they need someone else to make the teams even. So there!"

Mike huffed angrily, then shoved a hockey stick at me. "Fine," he snapped. "But don't come crying to me if I hurt you trying to get to the puck."

"Fine," I agreed, shoving his helmet back at him, "as long as you don't either."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Writing Update

Things are still a little on the slow side when it comes to my writing. Pack Supremacy is still with one of my beta readers, and it's due for another round of edits once she's done. I came up with a better ending to the B story, so I'll start working on that once I get all the feedback. Hopefully this will be a shorter round of edits than the last few times.

I haven't done much work on Bex since my last post, but I have outlined more of the third Capitoline Hill book, and I accidentally started a new MG novella project. I say accidentally because it was supposed to be a short story, something I could throw up in a weekend or so. And then I made a map, and then it became a three-book project. But book one is fully outlined, and I've started writing, so maybe I can keep that one weekend from stretching more than a month.

I also spent some significant time this month redesigning my website. I wanted to create something more static, a separate entity from my blog. So if you have some time and are interested, you can check it out at www.tobisummers.com (the permanent link for this blog will now be www.tobisummers.blogspot.com).

And, because it's the playoffs and I'm listening to a hockey game while I write this, LET'S GO RANGERS!!!

Friday, April 17, 2015

TV Review - CSI: Cyber

Photo credit: CBS.com

The latest addition to the CSI family this season is CSI: Cyber. It centers around a unit in the FBI devoted to solving cyber crimes.

I've never watched a CSI before, aside from an odd episode here or there. I was too young when the original came out to really be interested in crime TV, and neither Miami or NY caught my attention. But this one did. As a child of the digital age, I'm fascinated by (and terrified of) cyber crimes, so I was highly anticipating this when they first announced it last year.

Five episodes in (at the time of writing this post), I have mixed feelings about it. My favorite parts are the cases, which are fortunately the driving force of the show. Though I sometimes feel like they over-explain the technical elements (cyber crimes for people who don't really know much about computers), I occasionally find myself learning something. The pace of each episode moves pretty well, and there's a strong element of suspense that keeps me on the edge of my seat.

What I find lacking are the characters. If you've read any of my previous posts, you know how important characters are to me. I can forgive a lot of sins if the chemistry is there, and I don't feel it in CSI: Cyber. I don't like Patricia Arquette's Avery Ryan much at all, and I'm not invested in her backstory or her emotions. In fact, the only character I have any real interest in is Brody Nelson, the blackhat hacker that Avery brought into the team. The other secondary characters--including James Van Der Beek's Elijah Mundo--have the potential to be engaging, but they haven't gotten there yet, even though we've been giving significant looks into the lives of Elijah and Daniel Krumitz, one of the other team members.

So I'm still up in the air about this one. For now, I enjoy watching the episodes enough to keep up with it, but if the characters don't start stepping up soon, I'm not sure how much longer I'll stay invested.

Anyone else watching this?

CSI: Cyber airs at 10:00 on Wednesdays on CBS.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - 4/14/15

Photo credit: Kate Wilhelm's website

I first read Death Qualified back in high school, and I remember enjoying it enough to buy two other books in Kate Wilhelm's Barbara Holloway series, but I don't remember any of the details. And since I've been in a mystery mood lately, I thought I'd start from the beginning and read the series in order.

Nell Kendrick's husband disappeared seven years earlier, abandoning his young family. Nell hasn't seen him since, until the day Lucas Kendricks arrives at the edge of her property and is shot and killed. Accused of his murder, Nell turns to lawyer Frank Holloway for help. But Frank knows he cannot win this case alone. He calls upon his daughter, Barbara, who remains "death qualified," legally able to defend clients who face the death penalty if convicted.

The rules for Teaser Tuesday are:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
  • Then hit up Should Be Reading to add your link.

And the teaser:

"Isn't that why? And you think when the time comes, when I have pushed and poked and probed and got nowhere, I'll help you persuade her that it's the only way out for her, the only way to be able to have any time with her children before they're both grown up."

Friday, April 10, 2015

Flash Fiction Friday - Unpacking

Prompt: Where Will It Be Found?


With a grunt of exertion, Cade shoved the last box toward the back of the attic and used the bottom of his shirt to wipe sweat out of his eyes.

"Everything alright up there?" Jeffrey called from the bottom of the ladder.

Cade's head poked through the opening so he could peer upside-down at the man whose belongings he was currently stacking next to his own. "Just about done. How's the kitchen looking?"

Jeffrey looked stricken. "It's a disaster. Did you not label a single box when you packed your apartment up?"

Cade couldn't help but grin. "It's more fun when it's a surprise."

Jeffrey's hands fluttered in the air for a minute as if he didn't have the words to properly contradict that statement. Cade's smile widened. "Besides," he added, ducking back into the attic for a second so he could spin his body around and descend the ladder, "you're cute when you can't find your apron."

Jeffrey gave him a half-hearted glare that morphed quickly into a pout. "Two weeks ago, you said I was cute while I was wearing the apron."

"Funny how that works."

Jeffrey was right, Cade decided, following him through the house. The kitchen was a disaster. But the bedroom was completely unpacked, and the living room had neat piles near the bookcases and entertainment center so Cade could put their books and movies away (because there was a system that Jeffrey just couldn't get the hang of, no matter how many times Cade explained it). The office was just a pile of boxes at this point, but they'd agreed to unpack that last.

"Come on," Cade said, flopping onto the couch they'd taken from his apartment that looked just right sitting next to the squishy armchair from Jeffrey's. "We can finish the rest tomorrow."

Jeffrey hesitated, dark eyes darting toward the kitchen door. "Come on," Cade insisted. "I promise I'll help you go through every one of those unlabeled boxes."

Jeffrey glanced at the door again, but followed Cade to the couch reluctantly. "No, you won't," he grumbled, twisting so he was leaning most of his body weight against Cade. "You'll do two boxes, and then you'll tell me you have to go sort the books."

"You never do it right."

"Your system is weird."

Cade laughed in a way that was more like a sigh, kissed the top of Jeffrey's head, and closed his eyes, letting the rhythm of Jeffrey's breathing lull him to sleep.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New Website!

Go check out the new TobiSummers.com! It's a more static website that I feel will better showcase PACK MENTALITY, PACK SUPREMACY, and my future books. I'll continue to update this blog at this address, or you can view the most recent posts here.

Enjoy, and thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Grammar Check - Then vs. Than

I took one of those quizzes the other day, the ones that test your knowledge of the trickiest parts of English grammar, and I got a few new ideas for Grammar Check posts. This month, I thought I'd tackle another of those confusing homophone pairs: then and than.

Then means "at the time mentioned1." It's used to denote the passing of time.

For example:

Michael went to the movies, then he picked up his groceries.

Than is comparative. It's "used as a function word to indicate the second member or the member taken as the point of departure in a comparison expressive of inequality2."

For example:

Michael would rather go to the movies than go grocery shopping.

Much like with "affect" and "effect", you can use a little trick to help you remember. Then allows you to cycle through events. "This happened, then this, then this." If you use than, you are comparing things against each other. "I'd rather sleep than work. I'd rather have ice cream than spinach."

I'm a big fan of mnemonic devices like that. English is a... quirky language, to say the least, and it helps to come up with a few shortcuts for particularly sticky situations. Hopefully this one will help you out in the future.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cover Reveal - A Change of Mind and Other Stories

Cover design by Rebekah Romani

It's my pleasure today to be part of a cover reveal for A Change of Mind and Other Stories, a collection by Nick Wilford. The collection consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. It puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine.

Here's a little bit about the works included in A Change of Mind and Other Stories:

In A Change of Mind, Reuben is an office worker so meek and mild he puts up with daily bullying from his boorish male colleagues as if it’s just a normal part of his day. But when a stranger points him in the direction of a surgeon offering a revolutionary new procedure, he can’t pass up the chance to turn his life around.

But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be…

In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone.

The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world.

In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him.

Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition.

The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.

I don't know about you guys, but I can't wait for this to come out. A Change of Mind and Other Stories is scheduled for release on May 25th, but you can pre-order it now (I already have!) on Amazon US or Amazon UK. You can also check it out on Goodreads.

Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working, he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. You can find him hanging out on his blog or on Goodreads or Twitter.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Flash Fiction Friday - Liar

Prompt: Can't Be


"Can't be."

"Says who?"

"Says... says me. That can't be true."

"Of course it can. Don't you trust me?"

"Not even one tiny bit, Tom Holden. You've been lying to me since we were six years old. Why the devil would I think you'd stop now?"

"Alright, so you've got your reasons not to. But I ain't lying to you. Swear it on my grandmother's grave."

"You'd sell out your own mama if you thought it'd help you get one over on me. I don't believe it one bit."

"Such suspicion in one so young. May God strike me dead if I'm lying."

"If I had a nickel for every time you were supposed to drop down dead, I'd be a rich woman."

"Can't I say anything to make you believe me?"

"Nope. You can either prove it or shut your trap."

"Fine. Fine, I'll prove it to you. Come on down to the barn, and I'll show you."

"...okay. But if one of your brothers is there to put worms in my hair or drop something from the loft, I'll tan all of you, see if I don't."

"Please, Sherrilyn, give us some credit. We don't do that stuff anymore. We ain't little boys."

"You did it to Mable just last week, you big ol' liar! See why I can't trust a word you say?"

"Okay, okay. We won't do any of that. Just come in, come on. Hurry."


"See? See? I told ya."

"Well, I'll be. That's about the funniest thing I've ever seen. Tom Holden, that damned colt of yours is actually taking care of a litter of wild puppies in your barn."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Writing Update

There isn't too much to report on the writing front, but I'm trying to write at least one post a month that's focused on my books, so here it is.

Pack Supremacy is with my beta readers right now. One just finished it, and I'm mulling over her notes; the other is reading it now and should have feedback for me soon. I was pleased by the critique I've received so far, and I'm really looking forward to getting the rest. I feel like I'm finally coming in for a landing with this book. Right now my expected publication date is June or July 2015. I'm hoping to have it up on Amazon for pre-order in the next couple weeks.

Meanwhile, I'm continuing to write while I wait for the comments on Pack Supremacy. I've been intensely plotting the untitled Bex Addison project I've mentioned before, as well as Capitoline Hill #3 and another book that I'm not ready to discuss yet. And I'm trying desperately not to work on anything else, which is a lot easier said than done.

Like I said, not too much to report right now. Hopefully I'll have some good news for you about Pack Supremacy for my next update.

Friday, March 13, 2015

TV Review - The Odd Couple

As many of you (at least the Americans) know, CBS recently revived the 1970s TV show The Odd Couple. The show was based on the 1968 Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau movie, which was based on the 1965 stage play written by Neil Simon. It aired on ABC for five seasons and spurred two previous resurrections in the late 70s and early 80s. It's also used as the butt of nearly every "opposites attract" joke that's been made since 1965.

If you're unfamiliar with it, however, the show revolves around two main characters, Felix Unger (played by Thomas Lennon in the 2015 remake) and Oscar Madison (played by Matthew Perry). In the pilot episode, Felix--an obsessive neatnick who's on his way to getting a divorce--comes to live in Oscar's apartment, which--like the man himself--is a pig sty. Oscar is a playboy sports talk show host whose wife also left him. Together, the two unlikely friends try to learn to live without them... and with each other.

I have to admit that I never watched the original film, and if I say I've seen two episodes of the 70s show, I might be exaggerating. However, my parents were fans, and I've heard references to Felix and Oscar for most of my life, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into when I sat down to watch the pilot a few weeks ago. But this does mean I won't be comparing it to the originals in this review.

I was surprised when I heard Matthew Perry was going to be cast as Oscar. To me, he makes more sense as a Felix. Chandler, his character from Friends, had some quirks that I could easily have seen allowing him to make the transition. However, when I found out that Thomas Lennon, whose most recent TV credit was Sean Hayes' boss on the short-lived Sean Saves the World, was going to be Felix, it suddenly all made sense. Lennon does a great job with the minute mannerisms necessary to make Felix obsessive but not obnoxiously so. There's so much he gets right in the little details. Sometimes I want to smack him, but most of the time I just want to hug him.

Perry does a better job in the role of Oscar than I expected. He yells a little much for my taste, but I'm told that's pretty typical of Oscar from Odd Couples past. But he straddles the line between abrasive and just easily frustrated pretty well, and there are some genuinely warm scenes between him and Lennon that really tie the show together.

The secondary characters--Oscar's friends, Roy and Teddy; his assistant, Dani; and his neighbors and romantic interests, Emily and Casey--have developed nicely over the three episodes that have aired so far. They enhance the show's chemistry, and I'm curious to find out more about them as the series airs, but they don't take away from the main focus.

So far the plot has been pretty focused on Oscar helping Felix get over his ex-wife. Since the series is so new, this is pretty appropriate, but I'm looking forward to a time when that's not quite so front-and-center. There's plenty of potential there.

All in all, I've been pleased with this show so far. I wouldn't yet list it as one of my favorite sitcoms, but I enjoy it when I'm watching it, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

The Odd Couple airs at 8:30 on Thursdays on CBS.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - 3/10/15

Killer Instinct is the second book in The Naturals series. I loved the first book and the entire premise, really. The best description of this series that I've heard is that it's "Criminal Minds for the YA world." And the best part is that Jennifer Lynn Barnes has a PhD in Psychology, so I feel confident that the books are accurate. I highly recommend checking these out if you like YA mysteries.

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother's murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean's incarcerated father-a man he'd do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer's psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer's brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

The rules for Teaser Tuesday are:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
  • Then hit up Should Be Reading to add your link.

And the teaser:

People are allowed to care about you, and don't tell me that when people care about you, they get hurt. That's not you talking. That's something you were told.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Flash Fiction Friday - Perfect

Prompt: Shreds of Doubt


WARNING: This flash fiction contains some adult language.

My hands are cold.

I don't know why that startles me so much, but I keep staring at them like I've never seen them before. They're practically numb with frigidity, and I'm surprised the fingernails aren't blue.

Something borrowed, something blue...

"Are you ready?" Kay asks me. She's grinning, beaming even. I glance quickly in the mirror. Well, at least one of us doesn't look like she's about to hurl her breakfast into the nearest toilet bowl.

Kay follows my gaze, and her smile twitches a little. "You alright?"

I try to nod, but it comes out as a shake. Negative.


"Oh God, what if I screw this up? What if he screws this up? What if we're totally and completely wrong for each other? What if we move in together and he realizes I hate doing dishes or I don't dust or I mix Lucky Charms and Cocoa Pebbles together for breakfast every morning? Or what if--"

"Debbie. Breathe." My mouth grinds to a halt, and I suck in air like it's the last time I'll ever do it. Kay nods patiently. "Good. Look, you two have been together for five years. It's not like you met yesterday. He already knows what you eat for breakfast and that you're a total shit at cleaning. You've spent nearly every night together for a year. If you were wrong for each other, you'd know by now."

I'm pacing a little, but the feeling is starting to return to my fingers. "Are you sure?" I ask anyway, even though relief has started to flood my chest.

"Would I let you marry my best friend if I wasn't?"

"I thought I was your best friend." I recite the line absent-mindedly. It's an old joke.

"You both are," she answers obediently. "That's what makes this so fucking perfect."

There's sincerity in the habitual words, and it gives me confidence. It is perfect. We are perfect.

I nod. "Yes," I tell her, and I square my shoulders towards the door, doubts banished. "Yes, it does."

Kay's beaming smile is back. "Then let's go get you married." And together we walk towards the aisle.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review - The Handmaid's Tale

Photo credit: Goodreads

It took me two weeks, but I finally finished THE HANDMAID'S TALE. I have mixed feelings. There were times when I was really enjoying it, but there were also times when I found myself getting distracted and wandering away.

THE HANDMAID'S TALE is set in the future, but not very far. Due to the declining birth rate and the declining morals, a radical group of Christians systematically wrested control from the government, establishing their own laws and order. Women are again the property of men. They are no longer permitted to walk around freely outside, read, or hold jobs. They are sectioned off into one of four positions: Wives, Marthas (who cook, clean, watch the children, and do the general grunt work), Aunts (who are responsible for, among other things, the training and discipline of other women), and Handmaid's, who are given to powerful men with the express purpose of getting pregnant and having their children.

The book follows a Handmaid named Offred, who has been given to a Commander. Offred spends a lot of time sitting and thinking about the past, and I think that's part of what gave the book such a sluggish feel. I understand the necessity, since it paints a great picture of the juxtaposition of her old and new lives, but there are interesting things that happen to her even now. Not a lot, but some, and I didn't feel those, particularly her relationship with the Commander, weren't given enough page space.

I also felt this book represented a pretty wild extreme scenario. Through the flashbacks of Offred's life, she tried to show the natural progression between where we are now and where they wound up, but I just couldn't see it happening. Maybe it's naive of me, or maybe it wasn't explained well, but I still felt like it required a pretty big leap to get back to the total subjugation of women. It was different than when I read Neal Shusterman's UNWIND series, and I could see that with one or two things going wrong, we could actually wind up in that world. I didn't get that feeling with this book.

And then there was the ending. I don't want to give away any spoilers for those who haven't read it yet, but I was not pleased by the ending. Talk about unsatisfying.

There were good points too, of course. It was a very well-written book. I liked her use of run-on sentences and seemingly unconnected paragraphs to give Offred a distinct narrative voice. And I suppose there was realism within the world she'd created. While I'd have liked to see something bigger and more dramatic, the roles of the characters were consistent within the story. It made sense that they all acted the way they did.

This has been on my to-read list for a while, so I'm glad I finally got a chance to. It was a good read, even if it won't earn a place on my list of favorite books of all-time. I'd give it a 3 out of 5.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Grammar Check - The Semicolon

This month's Grammar Check deals with a subject near and dear to my heart: the semicolon. The semicolon is that funny looking little colon-comma that seems to terrify people with its mere presence. In its wake it leaves confusion or sometimes even derision. I had someone once tell me that the only people who use semicolons are snobs.

Well, if that's true, call me Madam Snob because I love the semicolon. It's the perfect punctuation to properly articulate how I think--in run-on sentences with too-brief pauses between thoughts. And that's what a semicolon is made for (shh, ignore the fact that I just ended a sentence with a preposition during a grammar lecture).

To put it more clearly, the semicolon separates two complete clauses with a pause that's shorter than a period.

A clause is another word for a sentence. A complete clause has a subject and a verb. So another way to think of this is that a semicolon can always be replaced by a period. The pause between the sentences would be longer, so they might not sound exactly the same as they do in your head, but you'll be grammatically clear.

The semicolon cannot be replaced by the comma in this instance. Ever.

Here are a few examples:

    Moira ran to the store; she was out of milk.
    Moira ran to the store. She was out of milk.
    Moira ran to the store, she was out of milk.

There is a time when you use the semicolon to replace a comma, but it very specifically relates to lists. Normally, when you have a list of items in the same sentence, you separate them with commas: I'm going to help my mother, my brother, and my uncle. But occasionally you need to use a comma within that list. Instead of creating confusion by throwing extra commas around, some get replaced by semicolons: I'm going to help my mother, Tanya; my brother, Stu; and my uncle, Rodrigo.

When you're deciding whether or not to use a semicolon, think about how you want the sentence to sound. There's music to the written word. Should there be a long pause, a period or ellipsis, to create drama and tension? Should the sentences tumble quickly, tied together with commas and semicolons, to build the pace? Does your character blather on without pausing for rest? Semicolons are there to help you keep your sentences from becoming too muddled and hard to read in those moments.

If there are any topics you want me to cover in this series, leave me a comment or email me at tobisummers@writeme.com.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Flash Fiction Friday - Green-Eyed Monster

Prompt: Why Didn't It Happen To Me?

Green-Eyed Monster

Okay, I'll be honest. I get jealous easily. When something good happens to someone I know--be they friend, family, or foe--I think, "Why couldn't that be me? Why didn't that happen to me?"

So when Beth called me and told me she'd won the grant to do research in Spain for a month, I was thankful she couldn't see how green I turned. Sure, I said all the right words and, to some extent, I honestly meant them. But I also thought petty, angry things, about how I deserved it more and how her research wasn't really worth funding. To some extent, I honestly meant them too, but it was mostly just the jealousy speaking.

I helped her pack and even offered her a ride to the airport, trying to keep my demons from getting the upper hand on my better angels. Mostly I succeeded, even if I did have a few choice words for you, journal, late at night. But I saw Beth off with a smile on my face, the bitterness mostly eradicated.

Four hours later, we saw the news that her plane had gone down somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. There were no survivors.

Jealousy is a fickle beast. On a dime, you can go from, "Why not me?" to, "What if that were me?" But as I sat there at her funeral today, I kept thinking the same thought over and over.

Why didn't that happen to me?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Writing Update

Finally, after months of sitting on a round of comments from my beta readers, I managed to get another draft of Pack Supremacy completely edited. Hooray!

I feel a lot better about this version than I did about the previous few. This draft was a relatively major overhaul of the story. Most of the core bits stayed the same, but I dramatically increased a part of Quinn's narrative in an effort to cut down on the amount of time she spends sitting in an office moping and talking to herself. It also allowed me to cut out several scenes between her and another character that really served no purpose.

That said, I always send a draft to my betas with the same comment: "I have no idea if this is good or complete gibberish." It always seems to me like during the editing process I take everything I wrote, throw it up into the air, and hope it lands in a reasonable order. Scenes that used to be in chapter 4 now don't appear until chapter 23. That revelation that Quinn had at the end of the book is suddenly bumped up to about a third of the way through. Because I've read it so many times and I know what's supposed to be happening, I can never tell if anyone else is going to understand who's who and what's going on.

I like to think of writing like a patchwork quilt. You start out with some fabric that's pretty nice on its own, but then, in the second draft, you find other fabric that's also nice and you sew some together. Then you share it with people, and they offer suggestions as to another pattern that might work, and you add some of that. And again and again, until you have either a beautiful quilt or a clashing, misshapen array of fabric squares.

In case you're wondering, I don't quilt. So that entire paragraph might not make sense.

Anyway, this is intended as an update. What's next for me? While I wait for feedback on this draft, I'm going to do two things. The first, like I talked about a couple weeks ago, is to make a few charts and lists for The Capitoline Hill Chronicles, namely a timeline and a character list so I can stop guessing every time I need to address one of those two things.

And the second is a new project, though one I've talked about before. I'm finally going to begin seriously outlining the currently untitled story about Bex Addison. I've been tossing this plot around for a couple years now, and I'm really excited to get started working on it. I'll post more about it goes along.

Friday, February 13, 2015

TV Review - The Flash

I should begin by saying that I'm relatively apathetic toward superhero fiction. I've seen a few of the movies (The Avengers, Iron Man, X-Men) and I watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I've never read any of the comics, I don't remember watching the cartoons as a kid, and my entire knowledge of the mythos and backstories comes from listening with half an ear as friends talk about it.

And I love The Flash.

For those who are unfamiliar with the premise, it's about a man named Barry Allen who, after being struck by lightning when a particle accelerator explodes nearby, wakes up to find he has superspeed (among other powers). Together with a team of scientists from S.T.A.R. Labs (Harrison Wells, Caitlin Snow, and Cisco Ramon) and a detective/Barry's father figure (Joe West), they save the world from other people with powers, who they call metahumans.

This show hits all the right buttons for me. The episode plots are exciting, and they don't drive away those of us who were mostly unfamiliar with The Flash before this show. They're taking the time to explain the characters' histories and relationships. If there are little nudges and winks to those who already know the series, I don't feel like everyone's getting it but me, and I don't feel like I'm missing out because I don't understand them.

Normally I'm not a huge fan of big series conspiracy arcs (who killed Beckett's mother in Castle, who is Red John in The Mentalist, etc.), but there's really no getting around them with a superhero show. They all have a driving force, and this is no different. When Barry was a little kid, his mother was killed by a superfast man in a yellow suit, and his father went to jail for her murder. But even this has been handled pretty well so far. While it's a huge underlying part of the series and the impetus for most of Barry's actions, the audience hasn't been sledgehammered with it much. And the bits of information we've been given have only served to whet my appetite rather than fill me up.

The characters are fantastic, every one of them. The more reviews I do, the more you'll come to understand just how important that is to me. I'll forgive just about any other sin if I like the characters enough, and The Flash nails it with almost everybody. The only one I could really do without is Iris, Joe's daughter and Barry's love interest. Otherwise, every week I find a different character to be the most interesting person on the show. And the dynamic between them, especially the familial bond between Barry and Joe, is developing beautifully.

For someone who seesawed on whether I was actually going to watch this series, it's really become must-see TV for me each week. In fact, I'm already looking forward to the next episode.

The Flash airs at 8:00 on Tuesdays on the CW.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - 2/10/15

Photo credit: Goodreads

I just checked this out from the library, so technically I haven't even started reading it yet, but I will soon. It's been on my to-read list for a while, and I'm looking forward to finally getting to it.

It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now...everything has changed.

The rules for Teaser Tuesday are:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
  • Then hit up Should Be Reading to add your link.

And the teaser:

We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The floor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Flash Fiction Friday - I Didn't Say a Word

Prompt: I Didn't Go There

I Didn't Say a Word

Warning: This flash fiction contains some adult language.

When Jada told me she thought Victor was cute, I didn't say a word.

When she told me they'd gone out for dinner and he'd paid for her meal, I didn't say a word.

When she told me he had a wife, I didn't say a word.

When she told me they'd slept together, I didn't say a word.

When she told me he was going to leave his wife for her, I didn't say a word.

When she called him a bastard for not leaving his wife (and his wife a bitch for "holding him hostage"), I didn't say a word.

When she said she should stop seeing him but went back for more, I didn't say a word.

But when she finally told me Victor had dumped her, that he wanted to fix things his wife, I leaned forward, looked her in the eyes, and said, "That's because he's always loved me more than he ever wanted to fuck you."

And then I walked away.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Every project is a learning experience

I've been putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard for as long as I can remember. I have five completed novels (six, if you count Pack Supremacy), a double handful of short stories, a hundred or so flash fictions (including fanfiction), and folders and folders of half-started projects. I've learned something new with every single one. And I still have a lot to learn.

Sometimes I take my writing abilities for granted. I feel like I can sit down at any time and pound out a story that may not be polished and perfect, but will at least be coherent and engaging. And so I don't think about perfecting my craft the way I probably should. Though I have a pile of writing books, I'm lucky to make it through a couple chapters of them. I don't traverse blogs looking for tips and tricks. I go to one writing conference a year, and that's because it's local and I can sleep in my own bed.

I don't even write as often as I should. It's hard to find time everyday, but not as hard as I've made it out to be in my mind. I could sacrifice an hour in front of the TV or a half hour of reading during my lunch break. I could push myself outside my comfort zone to see what it feels like to write contemporary or epic fantasy or literary.

But even with all my bad habits, I'm learning as I go. I'm noticing it acutely as I edit Pack Supremacy. I finished the first draft of Pack Mentality back in late 2012/early 2013. Since they're in the same series, details I included in PM are obviously incredibly important in PS. And I catch myself thinking, "Oh, I wish I'd done THAT in book 1," or, "I really shouldn't have included that bit so early."

I find I've learned a lot about the process of writing too. I really winged it when when I was writing Pack Mentality. I'm not sure I expected to actually finish it, so I have basically no notes. Which means I'm spending a ton of time checking for timeline continuity and making sure my character descriptions don't change from one page to the next. At some point (probably after this draft is done), I'm going to have to sit down and make lists and charts and maybe even maps because it's just getting ridiculous at this point. But it would have been a lot easier if I'd done this from the beginning.

Hopefully these are things I'll take with me as I work on my future books. I don't always learn from my mistakes, but if I can execute a few of these changes, it will give me room to learn new lessons once I get there.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Review - Paper Towns

Photo credit: John Green's website

Last week, I read John Green's PAPER TOWNS. As a big fan of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, I was excited to read another book of his, though the books are pretty different from each other. PAPER TOWNS is the story of high school senior Quentin Jacobsen, or Q, as his friends call him. One night as Q is falling asleep, the girl-next-door, Margo Roth Spiegelman, shows up at his window asking if he wants to help her get revenge on some of their classmates. This takes us through part one of the book: the story of Margo's revenge plan, which is wild and meticulously planned. Throughout this section, we get a very clear idea of who both Margo and Q are.

Characterization is a huge component of this book, maybe even more than in TFIOS. At its core, PAPER TOWNS is a study of the individual. It asks the question, "How well do we really know the people around us? And can we ever really know them at all?" Green spends part one setting up an identity for both Margo--the carefree, fun-loving girl--and Q--the quieter, more sensible one. And then he spends part two shattering those images.

Part two begins right where part one ended: the day after Margo's vengeance mission. Q has to deal with the fallout from that long night. He also learns that Margo has run away, something she does often enough that no one is particularly concerned at first except Q. And then it becomes the story of Q trying to find Margo. Sometimes his friends help, sometimes he's alone, but he spends the entire section trying to trace a series of clues to narrow down her location.

This is where the theme shifts, and we're introduced to the questions about how well we know the people around us. Q struggles with that throughout the section, wondering he really knew Margo, or if he only knew the version of her that she projected, the version that others thrust onto her. And through his journey, both he--and we--learn that she's not necessarily the person we thought she was. And neither is Q.

I don't want to give too much away about the ending, so I'll say that if part three has a theme, it's probably the same as the book's overall one: we're all connected. It's a long road for Q to get to that conclusion, but I think that's where he winds up.

I wasn't entirely certain of my reaction when I finished reading the book. John Green is a fantastic author, and I appreciated the lyrical twists and turns of his sentences maybe more than I appreciated the plot. While I liked the characters well enough, there weren't any that I was overly fond of. And I felt that sometimes the book got bogged down in its own rhetoric. The themes weren't subtle; they were hammered in with a sledgehammer. But the story was engaging, and I found myself power-reading through it because I was so curious to find out how it ended. Overall, I'd give it a 3 1/2 out of 5.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Grammar Check - "affect" vs. "effect"

This is another topic I'm hoping to make a regular series on my blog. Once a month, I'll post grammar rules, tips, and tricks. As the person in my inner circle most likely to care about minute grammar rules, I'm the de facto phone-a-friend lifeline whenever someone I know has a question. Most grammar rules are pretty simple once you know them, so hopefully you'll all find this a valuable resource.

This first topic is one that I get asked a lot: What is the difference between "affect" vs. "effect"?

The answer is usually pretty clear-cut. Most of the time, "affect" is a verb, and "effect" is a noun. A quick and dirty way to remember that? If you affect something, it's an action. If there's an effect, it's usually an event.

Of course, there are always exceptions. There is a noun form of "affect." It means, "An expressed or observed emotional response."[1] This is mostly used in a psychological capacity. For example, a person can have a flat affect, where they don't show much emotion on their face.

And "effect" can occasionally be a verb, meaning, "To produce as an effect."[2] Used in context, you could say something like, "She effected a change using Pavlovian methods." I'll be honest: I had to look this one up because I don't believe I've ever used "effect" as a verb.

There you have it. Like I said, 99% of the time, you'll be safe if you use "affect" as a verb and "effect" as a noun. Don't overthink it too much, and you should be good to go!

If there are any topics you want me to cover in this series, leave me a comment or email me at tobisummers@writeme.com.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Flash Fiction Friday - Late Spring Fall

Prompt: Candy Apple Red

Late Spring Fall

Red was Diane's favorite color, so when they threw the party, Marty insisted everything be red. Red balloons, red flowers, red decorations, even red icing on the cake.

Red bike, red blood, red cross, red signs in the hospital.

He enlisted the help of all the guys on the football team to turn Diane's backyard into a fall festival in late spring because he knew autumn was her favorite season. Bryan Fitzpatrick--who was a stellar baker--made apple, cherry, and pumpkin pies, and Gallagher Murphy got his rich uncle to fly in all kinds of fall vegetables from somewhere in South America where they were growing fresh.

When it really had been autumn, Diane had been a month into her coma with no sign of coming out of it. She'd missed the whole season.

Marty called it a Welcome Home party. Diane called it a Thank God You're Alive party.

Over a hundred kids from school flooded the backyard on the day they finally released Diane from the hospital, and she cried when she saw them all. They came up to her one by one, hugging her and telling her how much they'd missed her, bringing her food and drinks before she even asked and pushing her around the yard in her new wheelchair so she could see everything Marty and his friends had done.

Later, Diane told Marty that she she was pretty sure at least half those people hadn't even known her name before the accident.

When it was over and everyone was gone, Diane kissed Marty and told him it was the sweetest thing anyone had ever done for her. She pressed one of the red flowers in a book of poetry that she hardly ever read.

When she found the flower fifteen years later, it was still the sweetest thing anyone had ever done for her, and she still cried at the memory.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pack Supremacy Update

Photo credit: The copyrights for the images are held by Katie Little | Dreamstime.com, James Hearn | Dreamstime.com, and Michael Shevlin. The copyright for the cover is held by Patricia L. Miller.

Since it's now a few months past when I'd hoped to publish Pack Supremacy (THE CAPITOLINE HILLS CHRONICLES book 2), I thought I'd give a little update on its progress. I really have no one to blame for the delay but myself (ah, the curse of self-publishing). I gave the first draft to my beta readers last February, and they got me back comments by the middle of March, which was amazing of them. And then I looked at those comments and... did nothing. By the time I finally got myself back on track with my edits, it was August, a mere two months from when I hoped I'd be published.

Still, I sent a second round of edits out at the end of August, and again my fantastic beta readers came through, reading it within a week and getting back to me with in-depth critiques. Unfortunately, some of those critiques suggested I still had quite a bit of work to do before this book would be publication-ready. Which is fine. I'd rather the book be really ready than to put it up early and know it's not. But it did mean that I missed my deadline.

I took time off for NaNoWriMo and then the holidays, but for most of October and since the new year started I've been hard at work on another round of edits. I'm hoping to have those to my betas by the end of the month. I'm hoping some of the changes I'm making in this round will fix a few of the big problems that were pointed out to me.

In the upcoming months, I'll keep you posted on its progress, including a new publication date once I know it. If you haven't read Pack Mentality (the first CAPITOLINE HILL book) yet, you can buy a copy on Amazon or Smashwords.

Friday, January 16, 2015

TV Review - Scorpion

This is a new blog series. Once a month, I'll be posting a review of a television series I watch (or have watched, since once in a while I'll endeavor to write a critical review of a show I don't watch anymore). I'm open to suggestions as well. I watch about 40 TV shows a week, so there's a fair chance that if you suggest something, I've at least watched an episode or two (if it's on American broadcast channels; I don't watch quite as much on cable nor much at all outside the U.S.).

I'm kicking it off this month with one of my favorite new shows this season, Scorpion.

The show is loosely based on the real life of Walter O'Brien, a genius who founded Scorpion Computer Services. The Walter in the show is recruited--with a group of other geniuses--by Agent Cabe Gallo to consult with Homeland Security. The team is filled out by Sylvester, a "human calculator"; Toby, a world-class behaviorist; and Happy, a mechanical prodigy. And along the way, they pick up Paige, who, when we meet her, is a normal waitress with a genius son.

There are a lot of things I like about this show. I like watching them solve the problems. People who are smarter than I am have expressed some concern over the believability of their solutions, and they're probably right. They definitely stretch the limits of reality. But to be honest, I don't care. It's fun to watch.

I also like the pacing of the show. I was worried when I first saw trailers that it would be all blowing things up and crashing cars. And while there is a fair bit of that, there's substance to balance it out. There are slow periods of emotion and contemplation that really heighten the excitement of the action. There's quippy dialogue mixed with the brainy dialogue that's mixed with the action dialogue. (What exactly is action dialogue? You know, "Run!" "No!" "Look out!") And there's almost always a great, non-action ending that leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy.

Which brings me to the thing I like the most: the relationships between the characters. By themselves, the characters' quirks can be too much, especially Walter's emotional detachment and Sylvester's pile of phobias. But together, they balance. While Walter is the star of the show, Paige is the emotional center. And she brings out the best in the other characters. Suddenly it's not about an annoying trait, but how the character works through it. And it's about how they connect with the other characters, even though it's difficult for them to function socially. It almost always leads to me sniffling on the couch.

Are there negatives to it? Sure. It's got pretty standard procedural plotlines, with a problem-of-the-week that's solved in 45 minutes or less. As I mentioned before, it stretches reality in both the situations they find themselves in (they wind up in Bosnia in one episode) and the ways they solve them. But the negatives seem small compared to the positives, and it's worked its way up to one of my most highly anticipated shows each week.

Scorpion airs at 9:00 on Mondays on CBS.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - 1/13/15

Photo credit: Barnes & Noble

I've been meaning to read The Princess Bride ever since I saw the movie, and I finally realized the library had ebook copies to check out. Score! So far, it's every bit as quirky and fun as the movie.

Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible—inconceivable, even—to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than the sweet, celluloid romance of Westley and Buttercup, but the film is only a fraction of the ingenious storytelling you'll find in these pages. Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that's home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.”

The rules for Teaser Tuesday are:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
  • Then hit up Should Be Reading to add your link.

And the teaser:

The horse’s name was “Horse” (Buttercup was never long on imagination) and it came when she called it, went where she steered it, did what she told it. The farm boy did what she told him too. Actually, he was more a young man now, but he had been a farm boy when, orphaned, he had come to work for her father, and Buttercup referred to him that way still.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Flash Fiction Friday - Blankets

Prompt: Suitably warm


The heat had shut off in the middle of the night again. Katherine poked her head out from the pile of blankets and felt her nose freeze almost immediately. She yanked the covers over her head again and tried to ignore the alarm ringing on the other side of the room.

"You know," Tristan's voice was so warm she thawed a little listening to him, "you should probably talk to your landlord about this."

He snapped the alarm off and slid back into the bed. Katherine gasped as his chilled skin came into contact with hers. "Get away!" she yelped. "Why would you go out there without clothes?"

He waggled his eyebrows, surprising a laugh out of her. "Can't you warm me up, darling?"

But Katherine jerked away as he moved closer again. "No. No, I can't."

Another guy might have been annoyed or at the very least sobered. Tristan just smirked and yanked the covers until he was rolled up like a burrito--and Katherine's bare behind was exposed. She yelped again and tried to yank them back, which started a war for the covers, which rolled Katherine right back into Tristan's arms.

"You did that on purpose," she grumbled, though by this point he was quite warm, so she was actually kind of pleased to be pressed up against him.

"Did not."

"Did too."

"Did too," he agreed, and he kissed her so hotly she completely forgot she was supposed to be cold.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year, New Resolutions

So 2014 passed by in a whirl of lights, color, sounds, and very little writing. I kept only one of last year's resolutions (I finally finished a nonfiction book), and I don't think I fared any better with my personal resolutions, though for the life of me I can't find where I wrote them down. I really hope being more organized wasn't one of them.

But it's a new year and a chance to reapply myself. And with that comes another attempt at becoming a regular blogger. Hopefully this will be the year when it sticks.

Aside from that, I've made a few other new year's resolutions:

  1. Make writing a priority. Last year, writing often got shuffled to the side for other things. Sometimes they were important--family and work in particular. But sometimes they weren't. I'm a big television watcher, and while I do still hope to make a career out of it someday, there's nothing that can't be watched later so I can make some time for writing.
  2. Make writing fun again. It goes hand in hand with #1, to be honest. It's not enough just to carve out the time; I need to make the time something I look forward to as well. For part of NaNoWriMo this year, I wrote some fanfiction to get the juices flowing, and it reminded me of when I used to write in middle and high school and how much fun it was. I want to recapture those feelings this year.
  3. Publish Pack Supremacy, the second Capitoline Hill book. This is pretty self-explanatory, right? I was really disappointed that I didn't get it out last October like I'd planned. I'm working on a fresh round of edits that should be completed by the end of the month, so I'm optimistic that I can have it up in the first half of the year.
  4. Submit more short stories to magazines and competitions. The only way to really get your name out there is to publish more, right? Plus, themed submissions allow me to try new genres and styles.

And that's about it. How about you guys? Any new year's resolutions you want to share?