Monday, July 25, 2016


Are you ready for some pretties today? Pretty tattoos, pretty interesting information, pretty book cover art? And of course, the pretty miss Tamara Narayan. Please train your dead stare at the following narrative and fill your skull with intriguing facts about Día de Muertos, Halloween, and Tamara's upcoming release HEART STOPPER.

Colorful. Whimsical. Scary? Not exactly. Images like the tattoo above depicting skulls painted in bright colors and surrounded by flowers have become increasingly popular. You also see them in movies (The Book of Life), music videos (Prayer in C), and even children's toys (Monster High's Skelita Calaveras). Merchandise featuring these skulls shows up around Halloween. But what are they and what is their cultural significance? 

Image: Lynnsi

Sugar skulls are part of the Mexican holiday known as Día de Muertos, or The Day of the Dead. The purpose of this holiday is to welcome back spirits of the dearly departed and celebrate their lives with events occurring from midnight on October 31 through November 2. 

Altars to guide the dead back to their homes, called ofrendas, are decorated with pictures, candles, and flowers. Marigolds are used because of their vibrant colors and scent. (Source) Toys and candy may be added to an ofrenda for a child. Returning spirits of adults may find tequila, cigarettes, or other traditional beverages at their ofrendas.

Sugar Skulls, made in clay molds and decorated with feathers, colored beads, foils, and icing  (Source), also go on ofrendas along with the departed's favorite foods and pan de muerto, a sweet bread often in the shape of bones or skulls. 

Skulls in this context are not supposed to be scary; they are an Aztec symbol of rebirth. Death is seen as a "positive step forward into a higher level of consciousness." (Source

Halloween may occur at the same time of year, but this celebration's origins come with an entirely different vibe. 

Image: Deanna Wardin, witch moon tattoo

Like the Day of the Dead, Halloween also marks a time when spirits return, but these ghosts were feared, not welcomed as guests. During the festival of Samhain, ancient Celts “would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.” Food was left out on doorsteps to keep the spirits from “causing trouble or damaging crops”.  (

Image: Mez Love, pumpkins and kitty cat

Skulls were associated with physical mortality, the fear of death, danger, and the brevity of life. (Source) Halloween falls at the end of harvest time, the transition between fall and winter, which brings to mind the cycle of life and death.

In Heart Stopper, Dallas Radner is caught between these cultures. He grew up with jack-o'-lanterns and trick-or-treating, but his wife is from Mexico. When his daughter Tessa starts planning to bake pan de muerto and design her own ofrenda, he doesn't know quite what to make of it. The soul Tessa wishes to honor is Dallas's sister, who died when he was a boy in an accident he still feels responsible for.

In the days leading up to October 31st, random objects start disappearing from their house: ten plastic bags, nine ballpoint pens. As the odd countdown continues, Dallas is terrified that the last thing to vanish might be the most important thing in his life: his daughter.

Heart Stopper and Other Stories is a collection of four suspenseful tales, available now at

Halloween comes, and the Day of the Dead 
For one man this custom brings heartache and dread. 
As belongings disappear, a child makes her shrine 
Is it a ghost? Perhaps. Or a shattered mind? 

Are you familiar with Day of the Dead traditions? A fan of sugar skull art or make-up? Any tattoos to discuss?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Ok, its INSECURE WRITERS SUPPORT GROUP (IWSG) DAY; which means everyone is in a rush to get to as many posts as possible. I want to only take up two minutes and forty four seconds of your time. Click the video below and let it play while you read my post. It might put a smile on your face.

And remember; quality, not quantity. Which goes a long way in reading (books, reviews, blog posts), writing (drafting/editing/revising/ rewriting) and VISITING friends.

I like this new question of the month feature to IWSG - hosted by Alex J Cavanaugh, and this months helpers: Yolanda Renee, Tyrean Martinson, Madeline Mora-Summonte, LK Hill, Rachna Chhabria, and JA Scott.


I suppose I could write a very long post about this, many people have said nice things about my writings, some of those are genuine appreciation for the concepts; but there are two that really stand out for me.

1: Regarding my women's fiction (as yet unpublished), the best response from beta readers/friends/family has been (paraphrased): Wow, I can relate/identify with . . (character) . . because he/she sounds like me/a family member, or close friend/someone I know.

That is, of course, the goal of the writing: that people will recognize my characters as everyday people, relate to their issues, and maybe take two minutes to "walk in their shoes".

2: Regarding my short story TWO MINUTES INTO TOMORROW: (again paraphrasing feedback at the site) Not sure if I liked it; but it got me thinking, and a little bit scared that this situation could really happen.

I know, some people would take that "not sure I liked it" as negative feedback. But the story was intentionally controversial, abstract, and disturbing. I wanted the reader to "think" and be aware. The reader read the whole story, and had an opinion on the issue presented.

In both these responses, I know I have reached my target audience; ill defined as it is.

My question to you this month is: do you have a target audience, and/or how do you know you've reached that demographic?

Thank you for stopping by today. I hope the song above gets stuck in your head all day (lol) but also inspires you to actually read the IWSG posts you click on today. Remember: quality, not quantity. If you skim, leave a vague comment, and move on - you cannot complain about the lack of interactive comments on your own post.


 Oh, and don't forget to cast your vote for the next IWSG Anthology genre.