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.