Monday, November 13, 2017

Remake Blogfest

To suck or not to suck, that is the question. What do you think of remakes? Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner are hosting today's blogfest about great remakes. Movies, television, music, and books, the choice is yours. Click HERE to join.

1. My favorite movie remake:

In 1982, The Thing was released and gave audiences the perfect blend of an intriguing story, genuine terror, and nightmare-inducing gore. This movie is a remake of a 1951 film titled The Thing from Another World  and has since been remade again in 2011.

In John Carpenter's 1982 masterpiece, a shape-shifting alien invades a remote Antartcic research station initially in the form of a Alaskan malamute. This is one case where taking in a stray is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. If you're a fan of Alien, you'll love The Thing.

If that poster looks familiar, you may have been watching Stranger Things as it's included in the decor of Mike's basement.

2. My favorite book remake:

This dark tale of good vs. evil has a longer remake history than I thought. It started as a short story called Night Surf in which the accidental release of a biological warfare strain of the flu kills off over 99% of the population.

The novel The Stand was first published in 1978 in hardback with a 1980 setting. The 1980 paperback version updated the setting to 1985. A longer version of the book (1152 pages, King's longest published novel) containing new characters and expanded scenes was released in 1990, setting 1990. There was also a TV miniseries released in 1994 and a series of comic books in 2008. 

The TV show is okay, but my favorite remake is the 1990 long version of the book. If you're into dystopian literature, don't let the length intimidate you. The characters, the storyline, everything is well worth your time.

Is it just me, or is Mad Max's stepbrother Billy from Stranger Things 2 a remake of the character The Kid?

3. My favorite song remake:

This was the hardest category to pick a favorite, so I decided to go with the song that I loved as the original as much as the remake. Killing Me Softly was first released by Roberta Flack in 1973, and The Fugees remake was released in 1994. I got to see Roberta Flack sing this song in concert and she had high praise for the Fugees's version.


Anyone wonder why Alex and Heather picked remakes as a Blogfest topic? Who thinks they may be contemplating a remake of one of their books? Plus, Stranger Things seems to be a remake/fusion of a number of 80s films including The Thing, E.T., Firestarter, and Poltergeist to name a few. Are you a Stranger Things fan?

Blogger note: I will take a short hiatus from Friday's Celebrate The Small Things for the rest of November and will blog again for the IWSG on December 6. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things

This was a big week for celebrations! Halloween, Day of the Dead, Book Giveaway. Lots of stuff going on. But first, let me thank the host of this blog hop: Lexa Cain and her cohosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker!

Tuesday through Saturday, I'm offering my collection, Heart Stopper and Other Stories, for free on Amazon. If you like character-driven spooky stuff written under the influence of years of reading and rereading Stephen King, please check it out. 

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and we go all out on decorations, pumpkin carving, and costumes. Here is a spooktastic gallery of goodies and some (fake) gore. Enjoy!

I started decorating Halloween morning. We like to put up our big spider, spider lights, spider webs, and this year we added caution tape for extra festivity.

Every member of the family gets a pumpkin to carve and we do buy carving kits and tools. We also scour the internet for cool ideas. This year, Sedona decided on a toothsome fright face along with some ketchup blood splashed about and an old baby shoe. Influenced by Stephen King's It perhaps? (Not that she's seen the movie. She's only 13!)

My husband went with this headless horseman stencil from a kit, but he added a unique twist. Can you guess what it is?

Yep, that horse has a horn. Now why would the headless horseman ride a unicorn? I have no idea. Micada wanted a spooky owl:


I opted for a carving I found online titled, Midnight in the Graveyard, with some slight modifications. I love the zombie clawing his way out of the ground on the bottom.

Our orthodontist lives across the street, so my husband had the lovely idea of carving her a very special pumpkin and delivered this to her doorstep:

For costumes, I swore I would do no sewing after spending all of October 2016 putting together a spooky wolf and the Cheshire Cat. Never again! Well, that didn't quite work out. Micada's spooky spirit was pretty easy. Less than half an hour of sewing and cutting was needed and she did her own makeup! 

The one time when red eye enhances the picture.

She scared up a ton of candy this year:

Nom, nom, nom

Sedona wanted to dress up Steampunk, inspired by a character on this year's Escape the Night video series by Joey Graceffa. That took and day and a half of sewing, but the results were totally worth it. 

We bought the skirt at Spirit Halloween and she found a rust-colored, long-sleeved shirt.

I cut the shirt down the front and then sewed on a (fake) leather corset, gears, a chain, and lace on the bodice and sleeves.

She also bought a cool steampunk hand thingamajig and the gear heart necklace (see above).

Believe it or not, Sedona also did her face all by herself with stickers, eyelash glue, and small gears. So cool.

Happy Halloween, y'all!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group

November is here already? What happened? It's time once again to release our writerly fears to the world. Many thanks to our host, Alex J. Cavanaugh and his amazing co-hosts: Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!

November 1 question - Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published? 

I've never entered NaNo, but I am starting a new novel, so I'll be writing like mad this November. Good luck to all who are undertaking this challenge!

Image: clotho98June 1860 Godey's Lady's Book Fashion Plate

It's been hard getting into the world of my new story. For so long, I've been editing and tweaking a novel set in 1859-60 with a female protagonist. I've been spoiled, in a way, to work on something that is already developed and polished. Starting new, this time with a male protagonist set in present time, is jarring.

At this stage, I have to fight the urge to wrinkle my nose in disgust and keep typing. It's been ages since I faced the blank screen, a multitude of possibilities all clamoring for attention, and only a thin outline to corral these ideas into some sort of order. I keep telling myself that it's not fair to compare this new novel with the old, at least, not yet. It's a newborn right now, and honestly, newborns are beautiful, perhaps for what they represent, but a wrinkly, bald, and squalling creature can sometimes be something only a mother could love. 

While I attempt to raise this new book baby, I'm querying the older one, which comes with a huge stinking diaper lode of insecurities. Am I querying the right agents? Will I get any requests? Will I ever hear from the people who have requested pages? It's a slow, painful process with an uncertain end. 

Image: CJ Sorg

To have a little fun, I'm doing a bit a marketing by using my 5 free days from Kindle to promote Heart Stopper and Other Stories. First I joined Patricia Lynn's Trick-or-Treat Blog Hop yesterday. It's such a wonderful idea: giving away free e-books as treats. Luckily, this book fits the season since the title story takes place this time of year. In particular, November 1, or  The Day of the Dead, is woven throughout the plot. 

This collection will be free through November 4. (Click here if interested.)

How's your writing life going? Did you enter the IWSG anthology contest this year?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Special: Trick or Treat Giveaway and More Spooky Books

Happy Halloween, Everyone! Are you ready to get your spook on? Here at the Narayan household, there will be a frantic day of decorating, pumpkin carving, and costume fixin'. In the quiet minutes, I'll be blogging it out. 

Once again, Patricia Lynn is hosting a wonderful blog hop where the participants are giving away e-books for Trick-or-Treat! How yummy is that! I'm offering my collection of spooky tales, Heart Stopper and Other Stories

The disappearance of random household items baffles Dallas Radner and his eleven-year-old daughter, Tessa. Ten plastic bags, nine ballpoint pens . . . what's next? This odd countdown should end on November 1, The Day of the Dead. That's also Tessa's birthday and the one-year anniversary of her surgery, the day her heart stopped on the operating table. Dallas almost lost Tessa then. On this November 1, one thing will vanish forever. Will it be his daughter?

Want some more free stuff to read? Here's the list of participants:

1. Patricia Lynne  6. Christine Rains  11. Rachelle M.N. Shaw  
2. Chrys Fey  7. Lilly Avalon  12. Rebecca M. Douglass  
3. J.H. Moncrieff  8. J.D. Wright  13. Tamara Narayan  
4. Jemima Pett  9. Timothy Bateson  
5. CD Gallant-King  10. Steven Arellano Rose Jr.  


This next list from Dancing Lemur Press isn't free, but there are some incredibly spooky things on it, so check these out:

1. Bloodwalker by L.X. Cain

Lightning flashes. Another child disappears...

2. Parallels: Felix Was Here, an IWSG anthology

Ten stories in ten different universes. 

What if Death himself wanted to die?

4. Matowak: Woman Who Cries by Joylene Nowell Butler

A murder enveloped in pain and mystery...

5. Maski: Broken but not Dead by Joylene Nowell Butler

Brendell searches for the stalker and confronts not just a depraved madman but her own fears and prejudices.


How will you celebrate Halloween? Go to a party, snuggle up with a spooky book, or watch a scary movie?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things

It's a fabulous Friday here in the Narayan household. We have a birthday girl to make a big fuss over today. But first, thanks to our host, Lexa Cain, and cohosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker!

Are you ready to celebrate Halloween? We've put up some decorations indoors, but have yet to attack the yard. The pumpkins are waiting in the garage to be carved. I swore this year not to go crazy, because my fingers cramp after carving for so long. We'll see if I stick to simple or go for a master-pumpkin-piece.

Halloween pumpkins from 2016. I carved the wolf and scarecrow.

The kids' school attempted to combine Halloween with saying "No" to drugs last week and here's what they were handing out:

Image: Sedona, Instagram

It's supposed to read: Say Boo! to drugs. I'm guessing if someone offers you drugs and you scream BOOL, they will probably leave you alone and assume you've had plenty already. So, hey, this might be sage advice after all.

Speaking of odd food and Halloween, a couple of baby carrots in our bag came out disguised as:

This boot is made for chompin'. And that's just what I'll do. 

A stylish boot and knee. Whoo hoo! But seriously, wouldn't it be fun to have a bunch of odd-shaped carrots to play with? Carrot dolls, carrot animals, the possibilities are endless. 

And now, let's kick up our heels for the birthday girl. Dove is celebrating her 2nd birthday today. I'm seeing cheesecake, catnip, and feathers in her future. Happy Birthday Dove!

Her royal Doveness. 

Forget birthday cards. Print me something useful--like a can of tuna.

Morning conference, part I:

Mr. M: Did you get fed yet? 
Dove: No.
Mr. M: Liar.

Morning conference, part II:

Mr. M: Put the camera away and get out the chow, woman.
Dove: Excuse me, that's my eating spot.

Can't touch this. (Well, actually you can. Dove loves belly rubs.)

Bool! The end.

Do you like decorating for Halloween? Do anything special for your pet's birthdays? Anyone know which Stephen King book features the saying, Bool! The end?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things

Friday is here again, which means it's time for celebrating (the small things). Thank you to our host, Lexa Cain, and cohosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.

What's going on:

1. Cooler weather. After a relatively cool summer, our fall has been hot, hot, hot. I'm kind of ready for the cool-down. Blankets on the bed, soft fleece jackets, walks in the woods with trees turning red, orange, and yellow. Good-bye lawn mower, hello snow shovel.

I mean, I better get to use my shovel this year. The last two years have been pathetic. Come on, snow fairies, what's up? I live practically next to the northern border of the U.S. More snow, More Snow, MORE SNOW!

2. Cleaner work station. I finally cleaned out several years of junk from my writing desk area, completely filling the recycling bin with old papers. Love it. Rest of the house need similar attention. But first, I need to stop time in order to get a job of this magnitude done. Suggestions?

3. Success for the kidlets! They both braved the terrifying audition process at their middle school which includes singing and dancing for judges and won small roles in the lost boys and pirate ensembles of Peter Pan. (Personally, I sooner walk the plank than sing and dance in front of my peers.)

Image: Don Sullivan, Peter Pan's Flight, DisneyWorld

How's your week going? Happy to experience fall weather? Do any fall cleaning? 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things

Hello, Friday! Are you ready for the weekend? Have something to celebrate? Let's take a moment to thank our host, Lexa Cain and cohosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.

1. Last week was a big week for blogging. As cohost for the monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group, I was fortunate to receive 60 comments. I'm still replying and hope to visit everyone by the end of the weekend. 

Image: Nick Allen

2. I started writing a new novel. It's been a long time coming. After spending so much time in the 1800s for my historical novel, it's strange writing something contemporary again. Although architecture from the 19th century might sneak in as this story takes place on the campus of a fictional southern university. 

Image: denisbin, College of Charleston

3. Big Little Lies, the HBO mini-series.

I don't have HBO, but Liane Moriarty is an amazing author and Big Little Lies is one of my favorite of her books. So I bought the DVD collection as a birthday present to myself and it was so, so good. The actors were perfect for their roles. The script was faithful to the book about 90% of the time and the changes that were made were excellent choices. (The resolution of one of the daughters trying to sell her virginity online to raise awareness of human trafficking was handled better in the book, but that's a minor thing.) 

Image: Jan Arendtsz

I loved the setting they chose for the mini-series: Monterey Bay, California. The book took place in Australia. The title sequence (check it out here) was gorgeous and the song they chose, Michael Kiwanuka's Cold Little Heart, got stuck in my head after the first couple of episodes. Productions like this along with Game of Thrones (HBO) and 13 Reasons Why (Netflix) make me think that miniseries might replace major motion pictures as the ultimate dream for authors who want to see their work onscreen.

My next mini-series to purchase: The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu) 

What do you think? Would you rather see your favorite book as a mini-series or a movie?