Friday, July 29, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things and Friday Flashback

Another week has zoomed past. It's time to celebrate with Lexa Cain, and her co-hosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker.

1. Last Saturday we went downtown to the gorgeous Kodak Theater to listen to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra play Disney tunes while they projected the famous movie scenes on a large screen. Highlights included The Little Mermaid, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Beauty and the Beast.

2. Speaking of The Little Mermaid, my daughter will be a starfish, a seagull, a sailor, and a featured chef in her summer theatre program. The three shows start tomorrow.

3. My kids and husband have plans this Sunday that don't include me. Oh my goodness and gosh, solitary free time!?! It's been weeks.


It's also time for Friday Flashback with Michael D' Agostino. If you'd like to join this blog hop, you can find him at A Life Examined. Today I'm going back to the summer of 2010 and an extraordinary trip to Banff, Canada.

Language Lessons in Banff

Last week my husband and I went to Banff in Alberta, Canada. The lake was blue green, the streams clear, spruce trees were everywhere, and the temperature was a perfect high 60s, low 70s. Even the chipmunks were extra cute and ready to jump on your lap for a power bar crumb or two. No, I was a good girl, and didn’t feed the wildlife. All in all, a hiker’s paradise as long as you don’t mind going up.

One thing about this destination—it attracts people from all over the world. So, for example, when I was clinging to a mountain side temporarily halted by my troublesome vertigo and the urge to scream, “I’m gonna die!” I heard, “What an idiot!” in several different languages. At least, that what I think they said.

On the second morning, we went for a canoe ride across Lake Louise. It cost about 40 bucks for an hour and they promised to charge us for a second hour if we were late. So off we went, with the rising sun at our backs and soon discovered that rowing straight requires some cooperation. Me: “Honey, you’re steering us into the rocks. They said stay ten feet from the shore. Honey!” Husband: “Wait, let me take this picture.” On the way back, the lake was full of red canoes and I realized the sun shining off the water was very, very bright, sparkling like a disco ball from migraine Hades. I pulled my hat over my eyes and squeezed them shut, rowing to beat the clock. We came close enough to the other canoes for me to hear “Anata wa baka” and “Du bist bekloppt”.

That afternoon we went to see Takakkaw Falls. It was gorgeous and quite cold at the bottom. All that pounding, flowing water had a predictable effect on my bladder, but alas, there were no port-a-potties around. “T'es un imb├ęcile!”

French is such a pretty language, isn’t it? I can’t wait to go back.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Battle of the Tattoos?

Image: W_Minshull, Thunder 2

Good Monday Morning, All! I can afford to be chipper. The AC and the ice machine are back in business and, drumroll puh-lease . . . it is raining! And thunder! I hope it rains for a week. It was starting to look like a desert around here. I didn't want to have to dig out the dead lawn and replace it with decorative stones.

Today I am over at Book Lover with Donna discussing The Day of the Dead and Halloween along with a gallery of fancy tattoos as a promotion for Heart Stopper and Other Stories.

Here are some other bloggers who have generously scheduled stops for me on this book tour:

August 1: Kathleen Valentine with a profile of Chloe Langley from the short story Detour

August 8: Lori Maclauglin at Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams with a yet-to-be determined guest post

August 17: M. Pax at Dimensions In Fiction with Sinkholes: The Big, The Bad, and The Beautiful

August 29: Misha Gericke at The Five Year Project with I'm Looking Down! Acrophobia and Desensitization Therapy

September 12: T. Drecker at Kidbits with Things You Had No Idea That Contain Petroleum

September 26: T.F. Walsh, Fantasy Author with From Strep Throat to Heart Surgery, A Terrifying Scenario

October 21: Chrys Fey at Write With Fey with Halloween Vs. The Day of the Dead, An Author's Guide


If you are in the mood for more spookiness, check out Cherie Reich's Once Upon A Nightmare, a spine-tingling collection of three interwoven tales. If anything will keep you from traveling down unpaved roads through the woods at night, this is it.

When I moved to Asheville in the late 80's, there was a hill/small mountain across the street from our new home. We'd go hiking there on old logging roads though, technically, we were trespassing on Biltmore Estate property. From the top of this hill, you could just make out the castle-like mansion in the distance. I loved being out there, away from civilization, but it could be a little spooky as well. It wasn't unusual to find the odd deer skull or two.

In Reich's first tale, a group of four gets stranded on just such a road in the woods at night. I won't spoil the surprise, but let's just say they don't all make it home. The second tale deals with the main character's return to these haunted woods years later, and the third offers a disturbing look at the origins of the terror that infects the woods.

I highly recommend this collection, and better yet, the Ebook version is only 99 cents this week! So click on over to this page, scroll down a bit, and grab it while you can. (It will become one of the best-looking Ebooks in your collection. The design details throughout the text are awesome.)


Do you like spooky stories? If so, what's the scariest thing you remember reading?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things - July 22, 2016

It's time to raise a glass and celebrate the small accomplishments and happenings of the week with our host, Lexa Cain, and her co-hosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker

I'm having a hard time getting into the proper celebratory mood. Certain appliances that makes hot, steamy weather tolerable are not pulling their weight. 

1. I'm grateful I live in Rochester, NY instead of Bullhead City, Arizona.

Image: Ken Lund, Bullhead City, Arizona, across the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada

On Tuesday, our AC went bye-bye. No, actually it went brrr, brrr. Some meter-thingy broke and the whole shebang froze, piping and all. The meter-thingy has to be ordered (of course) and "might" be here next week. Between now and next week are a lot of days at 90 degrees F or above. 

So back to Bullhead. According to this Current Results article, the average number of days there with temperatures at 100 degrees F (or higher) is . . . 129. That's not a typo, that's over 4 months of hideously hot weather. Losing AC there would be a lot worse.

Word to the wise: Do not skip your yearly AC maintenance service like we did for the past 4 years. (Like, duh.)

2. I'm grateful my ice maker isn't completely kaput.

Image: Liz West, ice cubes

But it is being rather slow. Considering our current situation, it's time to break out the old fashioned ice trays and start freezing them myself. My husband offered to have it looked at, but I'm scared they'll tell me it needs a certain part that will have to be ordered, and until then . . . yadda, yadda, yadda. 

3. I'm grateful these are my biggest problems this week.

The world is a harsh place (and I'm not just talking about the weather). If this is all I have to complain about, then I've got it pretty good.

How hot is it where you live? Any tips for staying cool?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Dare Do A Do-Over?

Image: cover

If you could go back in time to fix something in your life, would you do it?  The Year We Turned Forty by Liz Fenton and Lise Steinke, takes a novel look at this question.

Three close women friends, who are about to turn 50, get a chance to go back 10 years to right the wrongs in their lives. Jesse lost her marriage when she confessed to an affair. Gabriela lost a chance at motherhood when she chose to focus on being a best-selling author. Claire lost control of her daughter in the wake of her mother's death. All three hope to go back in time (with the help of a magician) and make better choices.

Now here's the catch. After one year in "do-over" time, the three ladies must decide whether to stay and live their "new" life or go back to turning 50 and accept things as they went the first time around. To add tension, they must all stay or all go back together.

This is a five-star book for me, because I loved all the drama of relationships gone awry and the friendship between the three women. At first, going back and righting their wrongs seems to happen with a magical ease, but the "butterfly effect" soon complicates things. By the end of the book, you don't know whether these ladies should stay or go.

Fans of Liane Moriarity, author of The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies, would enjoy The Year We Turned Forty. (Anyone else counting down the days until the release of Moriarity's Truly, Madly, Guilty?)


On a different topic, I am a guest blogger today over at children's author, Stephanie Faris with Rodents and Your Car, A Recipe For Disaster. You probably have no idea how delectable your go-buggy is to little critters with big teeth. Paul and Laura Alderson suffer the consequences of such an invasion in the short story Monitor, available in Heart Stopper and Other Stories at

Image: Cover from

Come August 9, Stephanie will have a release of her own with the Piper Morgan chapter book series. Go here for more details.


Personally, I wouldn't dare go back in time to fix anything. I'm pretty sure I would only make things worse. How about you? Have you ever had to deal with a rodent invasion in your car, garage, or home? What worked best to get rid of them?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things - July 15

Today we celebrate the accomplishments of the week, be they big or small. This blog hop is hosted by the amazing Lexa Cain and her co-hosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker. Let's get started.

1. This is a big one: the generosity of the blogging community. When I asked for help promoting my short story collection, I expected maybe seven or so volunteers. I got more than triple that, even one from this blog hop who offered way before I asked. Today M.J. Fifield is allowing me to be a guest blogger over at My Pet Blog for a discussion/book promo on spooky baby monitor tales. And Diana Wilder has some lovely things to say about the collection over at ...about myself, by myself...

Source: mrplough; creepy baby monitor picture

2. I mentioned that my husband and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary by running a 5K race on July 4. I did beat him, but not by the couple of minutes as in our 2015 race. He was right on my heals this time, 8 seconds behind. Yikes! If I want to keep the lead next year, I'll have to train. Not that I'm sure this is all that important. These days I'm more interested in running longer distances than shorter times. 

3. Have you heard of the running man challenge? Basically, whenever you hear a certain part of the song "My Boo" by the Ghost Town DJs you are supposed to drop whatever you're doing and start the running man dance.

Anyhoo, a fellow by the handle of WolfieRaps got creative and decided to take the challenge to a whole 'nother level. If you need to de-stress and giggle yourself silly, this is so worth a look. It will also make you want to run out and buy your own T-rex suit. (Thanks to my daughter for sharing this with me.)

How was your week? Are you looking up the running man dance yet? Any awesome YouTube video pranks you love?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Kill Me Now, Clipper

Thank goodness it's Tuesday. I know, I know, Friday is supposed to be the best day of the week, but this past one kicked my butt.

We had a plan: fly down to NC on Thursday for two days of fun at my brother-in-law's lake house, all cousins and grandparents in attendance. However, thirty minutes before we left our house, we learned the airline cancelled our flight. What?

Image source: Sean MacEntee: Airport Departure Delays

All was not lost. They rescheduled us to fly out the next morning at, wait for it, 5:45 a.m. That meant a 2:30 a.m. wake-up call. Ouch. At the check-in kiosk, I noticed some of our tickets had Boston, MA on them. Confusion. We were connecting through New York's JFK. Right?

Image source: Aaron Tait, Jet Blue, Finally

Well, sort of. A lack of seats from JFK to Raleigh added another leg to our journey. Yes indeed, we now had to fly to JFK and then to Boston before heading south. Three flights and nine hours later . . . touchdown! Happy ending?

Not so fast. The drive to the lake house came with no less than three construction delays. By the time we reached our destination, we got to swim maybe fifteen minutes before the sky started to grumble. Thunderstorms rolled in. Blast it.

Whatever. We were completely wiped anyway. Time to find the hotel in the driving rain. After a few u-turns and one extremely dangerous bit driving the wrong way down a divided highway, we found the right hotel and collapsed into bed.

The one bright light in this traveling nightmare? HarperTeen's YA fantasy Assassin's Heart by blogger Sarah Ahiers. Escaping into a world where killers-for-hire wore self-made masks of bone was a great antidote for stress.

Book Cover from

All day I was grumped out about missing half our vacation. But my travel snafu was nothing compared to Lea Saldana's plight. While I sat in my padded chair, cruising the skies with a bottle of water and a bag of chips in my lap, that girl was riding a horse across the plains with a pack of assassin's behind her, a hoard of angry, body-stealing ghosts around her, and an arrow through her bod.

As my family vegged with their respective books or screens, Lea's family was dead, lost in a horrific fire set by a rival assassin (or clipper) clan. To make matters worse, Lea suspects her love interest, who belongs to this conniving clipper family, was just using her to get a key to her family's secret home, making Lea partially responsible for her family's demise.

Image Source: Venetian Carnival Mask - Maschera di Carnevale - Venice Italy - Creative Commons by gnuckx

Authors are supposed to give their characters hell, but Ahiers is especially harsh, which makes for a great read. Ahiers' world is a blend of Venetian Renaissance featuring cloaks, masks, and Italian-like names along with the medieval flare of warring families, unique gods, and a culture of assassins that brings to mind Arya Stark and the House of Black and White.

Overall, Assassin's Heart is a potent mix of action, a unique setting, and a tough, but human character who goes on quite a journey both physically and emotionally. Fans of YA fantasy or Game of Thrones will probably dig it.

In other news, author Karen Walker at Following the Whispers is putting together a collection of essays/stories on aging and is looking for contributors over 50 to get involved. Go here for more details.

The response to my call for help in publicizing Heart Stopper and Other Stories has been incredible. I'm talking instant book tour. Last Friday, Pat Garcia at Everything Must Change, Diana Wilder at ...about myself, by myself... , and Susan Gourley at Susan Says promoted the book cover and blurb through various outlets. By Monday, I'd received my first Amazon review.

This Friday I'll be a guest blogger for M.J. Fifield at My Pet Blog, where I'll share some spooktacular baby monitor tales. Next Monday (July 18), Stephanie Faris, Children's Author, is hosting me and my article on Rodents and Your Car: A Recipe for Disaster.

And that's just the beginning. The IWSG rocks. Super-glad I acknowledged Alex and this group in my book.

Are you familiar with these talented blogger/authors? Love Game of Thrones or a YA fantasy series? Any travel nightmares to share?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

IWSG - July, 2016

**(I will be away from my computer this weekend, so I'll return comments starting Monday. No "Celebrate the Small Things" this week.)**

It's time to release your inner gibbering child and squawk out your writerly insecurities for reassurance and virtual pats on the back. A big shout-out to our illustrious host, Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh, and his crew of hard-blogging co-hosts: Yolanda Renee, Tyrean Martinson, Madeline Mora-Summonte , LK Hill, Rachna Chhabria, and JA Scott!

Today, ISWG is starting a new question-of-the-month feature starting with: What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?

Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote a paranormal/thriller/detective novel. It may have suffered from a lack of focus. I don't know. Anyhoo, I was giving out copies to friends and family for feedback (not recommended). One of my victims readers told my husband that as he neared the end of the tale, he was getting a bit depressed, knowing the evenings spent reading my book would soon be over.

Really? Maybe that book had something after all. Unfortunately, after many queries, a few requests for fulls, and no offers, I grew weary of the query process and put it aside to write something else. Who knows? Maybe I'll pull it out of my virtual trunk and take another look at it someday.

In other news, I took the plunge and hit publish for Heart Stopper and Other Stories. Other than an unfortunately large font for the title page, it turned out okay. But now I've got put on my marketing hat and let people know of its existence. Gulp.

If any of you kind souls would be willing to post a book cover image, purchase link, blurb, etc. please leave your contact information (email) in the comments, or contact me: tamara (dot) narayan (at) gmail (dot) com. And if you'd like to spice things up, I'd be happy to compose a few snappy paragraphs on one of the following topics:

From Strep Throat to Heart Surgery, A Terrifying Possibility
Day of the Dead vs. Halloween
Sinkholes: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful
I'm Looking Down! Acrophobia and Desensitization Therapy
Ghosts in the Machine: Spooky Baby Monitor Tales
Rodents and Your Car: A Recipe for Disaster

That's right, rabbit, you could have an entire post for free! A big, big thanks to Crystal Collier and Alex for already featuring this collection on their blogs.

I'm looking forward to seeing what wonderful things folks had to say about your writing. Time to get visiting. Have you voted for the genre of the next IWSG anthology? If not, gHERE to cast your vote.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Question of the Month with Michael G. D'Agostino

Gorgeous new badge by hopper Olga Godim 

“What was the first book (or book series) you really fell in love with?”

It's hard to remember back that far, but I'll go with Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House on the Prairie series. I probably read the whole set only once, but read my two favorites, On the Banks of Plum Creek and The Long Winter, many times. The set I had was illustrated by Garth Williams, who also drew for Charlotte's Web and A Cricket in Times Square among other famous books.

Book Cover Image from

I loved the Little House stories because they were about sisters (I have an older one). I also loved reading about how things were different and simpler in the past. I thought it would have been very cool to live underground (for a little while anyway), like the family does in the Plum Creek book. Plus I was a fan of the TV show.

This is a monthly blog hop. Please stop by A Life Examined to say hello to Michael and sign up!

What books from your childhood do you remember enjoying? Are you one to read the same books over and over?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things

Another week has past already? It's time to celebrate the small things with Lexa Cain and her cohosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker!

1. This week I enjoyed the heck out of the third book in Justin Cronin's vampire trilogy: The Passage, The Twelve, and The City of Mirrors. If you like your vampires lethal and monstrous instead of sweet and sparkly, check these books out. Also recommended for fans of Stephen King's The Stand or other apocalyptic works. Not only does The City of Mirrors go for the throat, but the writing of this trilogy is superb. Rarely can a writer go off on a hundred page tangent giving the back story of a character and still keep you enthralled, but Cronin pulls it off.

2. We desperately need rain here, but all this sun makes it great weather to do this:

Image: Eva, kayaking

3. And finally, this coming Tuesday my husband and I celebrate our lucky 13th wedding anniversary. Since I'm not a jewelry fan and do not need more chocolate, we might do what we did last year and chase each other through the neighborhood. Yep, our town holds a July the 4th 5K race. Last year I finished a couple minutes ahead of him (not that I'm competitive or anything), and I think he wants a rematch.

He's going down, y'all. 

Read anything fantastic this week? What are your plans for the 4th?