Happy New Year & 2021 Goals

Although 2020 will definitely go under as one of the toughest years all of us had to live through in our lifetimes (and that’s saying a lot living in a post 9/11 world and economic meltdown of 2008 in which most of us are still trying to recover from). But for some creatives this year of solitude has somehow ignited a fire. And although I haven’t been in lockdown due to my job’s office being open throughout the whole pandemic, I suppose the possible threat to my own mortality and desire to hide away in a daydreams is what has turned out to be one of the most prolific years for me in terms of my writing.

What I accomplished in 2020

*Released Strange Girls: Women in Horror in February

*Some Kind of Monster will be published in Unburied 2021

*Baby Teeth was published in Midnight in the Pentagram for Silver Shamrock Publishing

*One for the Money, Two for the Show appeared in the Crystal Lake Publishing contest Summer 2020

*Boys of Summer will be published in 2021

*Fragile Fruit was published in Running Wild Stories in June 2020, and was also nominated for a Pushcart Award Prize 2020

*Lost Girls Go Everywhere: Poetry & Prose was released in October 2020

*Silent Ivy Hotel made the final Top Ten cut for a short story contest (still waiting for final results)

*I wrote over 15 new short stories

*I began writing a screenplay Terror! about the French Revolution

2021 Goals

*Complete my screenplay Terror!

*Complete my horror novella I Want Candy

*Finish editing Girl that You Fear for the nth time

*Read at least 50 books (I read only 46 this yr)

*Release Tainted Love: Women in Horror Anthology on February 16, 2021

*Be more active on Instagram (create more content)

*Maybe put together a collection of my short stories

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEW YEAR?

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Farewell, Daria

On November 26, 2020, acclaimed horror actress, Daria Nicolodi passed away. I wanted to write a tribute to her, and originally, this tribute shouldn’t have come after her death. A couple of months ago, after exchanging a few tweets with Daria, she started following me on Twitter. I was planning on writing a feature about her for The Inkblotters to appear during February 2021 for Women in Horror Month which would’ve included an interview with the beautiful and enigmatic actress. However, in November she passed away and not only did we lose an amazing actress and voice for the horror genre, but I felt like I also lost an almost friend.

Daria was an avid reader and trailblazing feminist and I found myself talking to her about books on many occasions. She was also very intelligent and a creative in her own right, despite the fact that many have always sidelined her as Dario Argento’s sidekick. What some people may not know is that it wasn’t Argento who came up with the plot for the internationally successful cult film Suspiria, but Daria herself. She helped Argento pen the script for the film after she told him that her grandmother had been sent to a very prestigious boarding school, only to find out that Black Magic was practiced there, and thus the students were then sent back home. Inspired by both by the anecdote and their extensive travels throughout Europe, the duo decided to write a script together. In fact, Suspiria initially, was written to feature young girls, and not teenagers. But the fact that producers didn’t want to invest in a movie about little girls getting killed, the couple decided to make them older. But both Daria and Argento never revised the script’s dialogue, which is why sometimes the characters in the movie sound too childish for their ages. Suspiria is often dubbed to be Argento’s masterpiece, and he’s often praised for it, but few know or praise the real mastermind behind the film’s plot and that’s a tragedy.

Not only did Daria have starring roles in many of Dario Argento’s best films, she also helped change the face of horror forever. She was the one to suggest to Argento to use the band Goblin to score Profondo Rosso, which would later thrive in the scores for Suspiria, Dawn of the Dead, and Beyond the Darkness among others.

Italian horror isn’t known to be kind to its female characters, but Daria revolutionized the way we’d ever see females in horror ever again. She had a disarming charm, sex appeal, and intelligence to her that she quickly captivated audiences. It’s easy to think about the males of horror when we think about the masters of horror, but to deny Daria Nicolodi’s contributions to horror is to deny a whole revolution. She innovated the horror genre in ways others that have come after her haven’t been able to do.

Getting to know her on a personal level this past year was both illuminating and gratifying. This is why her death hit me hard and why I found it difficult to find the words to write about her. These words aren’t perfect, far from it, but I’m hoping that it will inspire you to want to watch her films because she’s got the presence of a true star. From her big sultry eyes to her beautiful smile, anytime Daria’s onscreen you know that you won’t be able to look beyond her because she is the focal point, no matter what horrors are happening.

Farewell, Daria, maybe in another lifetime our friendship will have the time to blossom, but I’m grateful for the seedling that I received because to know you was to know a true star. You are missed.

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Review: Glam Glow Bright Eyes

What It Is: Hydrating Eye Cream

What It Does: Brightens dark circles, hydrates, lessens the appearance of fine lines.

Active Ingredients: Illuminating Spheres, Caffeine, and Hyaluronic Acid

Verdict: I love skincare, and eye creams are one of my favourite skincare products there are. I have hereditary undereye dark circles so no amount of sleep really does the trick to eliminate them (and why I’ve been wearing concealer since the age of 12!). I use this eye cream in the morning and I love that it’s very rich and moisturizing. Has it helped with the dark circles? Well, since I apply this before I put on concealer, I don’t know about immediate effects, and like I mentioned, I have hereditary undereye dark circles, so there’s not going anywhere, but at least they don’t look as dark as they used to. Should you try this product? Absolutely! It’s very rich and hydrating feels amazing. And for those of you that don’t have hereditary undereye dark circles, you can probably notice brighter eyes faster than me.

Price: $39

Where To Buy It: https://www.glamglow.com

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Book Review: The Project by Courtney Summers

Welcome to The Unity Project.

Pre-Order on Amazon!

Release Date: February 2, 2021

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Price: $18.99 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

“The Unity Project saved my life.”

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it.

“The Unity Project murdered my son.”

When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its charismatic and mysterious leader, Lev Warren, he proposes a deal: if she can prove the worst of her suspicions about The Unity Project, she may expose them. If she can’t, she must finally leave them alone. But as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members, and spends more time with Lev, it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what’s real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to.

Grade: A

Review:

The new publishing trend for 2021 must be cults, as a lot of novels with this theme are going to be released next year. But no one will deliver you a more chilling experience than Courtney Summers. This author is notorious for never having a happy ending and pulling all the punches. When you read a Courtney Summers novel you know you’re going into it with the notion that you will be emotionally wrecked once you get to the end. The Unity Project is much on par on delivering exactly that.

Lo has lost her sister, Bea, to the cult of The Unity Project headed by a very charismatic Lev Warren. Lo lost her parents due to a car accident, in which she was also a passenger in. Bea is convinced that Lev brought Lo back to life, and this begins her fascination and loyalty to the man and his visions. Lo, blames Lev for taking her sister away from her when she needed her most, and is hellbent on exposing The Unity Project for what they really are. But what if Lo is wrong?

This novel will have you question whether Lev is really the evil mastermind that Lo is convinced he is, mostly because from the moment we meet him, he’s described with very Jesus-like qualities of acceptance and compassion. But this being a Courtney Summers novel, we know that the horror will come, and when it will, it’ll be brutal. Without being spoiler-y, this novel is an emotional rollercoaster where you begin to question who to trust. If you’re going to read one book about cults, make it this one, as it had everything I’ve wanted and expected from a book about cults, a charismatic leader and some very disturbing scenes, but also perfectly depicting how anyone, even intelligent people can get sucked into cults.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for Young Readers for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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5 Awesome Vampires You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

There’s something sensual about a vampire that has always followed the night creature since its very origins. Maybe it has something to do with the manner in which they kill their victims (usually the sucking of blood from the neck) and nothing is more intimate than a death that mimics a kiss, right? Although vampires wouldn’t have the same appeal today if it hadn’t begun with Bram Stoker’s Dracula who managed to capture both the predator and the gentleman within the night creature, I wish to share some of my favorite night crawlers.

Lestat de Lioncourt: He’s the most memorable vampire of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles. He’s a sexy ex-noble Frenchman with a penchant for expensive clothes and rock music. He’s both feared and loved, since he both tortures his victims but acts doting towards those he loves.

David: The only vampire that I’m aware of that dons a mullet and leather jacket while causing raucous with his rebel gang of undead pals as they zoom around in awesome motorcycles. When he’s not busy seducing unsuspecting young girls and boys, sleeping upside like a bat, or cruising the Santa Carla boardwalk, he can be found headbanging at rock concerts.

The Girl: One of the most badass vampires on this list, The Girl is a skateboarding vigilante that doesn’t think twice about plucking a man’s life if he dares to disrespect women. We could all benefit from having a gal like her in our corner.

Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx – NOS4A2 _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

Charlie Manx: He’s not your typical vampire, but like most vampires, he comes with a set of impressive wheels. Charlie Manx’s powers are somehow linked to his beloved Rolls Royce Wraith, that he uses to abduct small children so that he can consume their energy to remain perpetually young, but also to help populate his nightmarish Christmasland.

Carmilla: Predating Bram Stoker’s Dracula by 26 years, Carmilla is the charismatic protagonist of the novel by its own name. She’s predatory yet sexy, and one of the few queer representations during the 18th Century.

What are some of your favorite vampires? Let me know!

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Review: Saturday Skin Waterfall Glacier Water Cream

What It Is: A next generation water cream that envelopes skin in hydration to reveal a brighter, more supple appearance.

Active Ingredients:
– Alaska Glacier Water: Protects skin from free radicals while promoting optimal absorption of moisture.
– XPERTMOIST: Shields skin from dehydration while supporting skin vitality.
– Iceland Moss: Calms and reduces visible redness while hydrating.

Verdict: Since I have oily skin, I tend to gravitate towards lighter moisturizers, since the heavier ones usually lead to breaktouts. However, sometimes the water based moisturizers have been a letdown because they’ve been too watery and not provided the moisture I crave. But this moisturizer is different, in that excels at being both light and bouncy but packs a serious moisturizing punch. I love that it feels lightweight but also incredibly soft. It’s pretty much scentless which I prefer since many creams tend to veer towards scents I don’t wish to be sleeping in all night. I recommend this moisturizer if you’re in need of hydration but want to keep it light.

Price: $39

Where To Buy It: Sephora and https://saturdayskin.com/

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5 Horror Movies To Get In The Mood For Halloween

Spooky month is upon us and as always I’m looking forward to viewing a ton of horror movies (especially this year since I’ve finally caved in and decided to subscribe to Shudder). Usually this time last year I would’ve been at Shriekfest, Comic-Con LA, visiting haunts, costume parties, and such, but since none of those things are happening this year (due to the still-raging global pandemic), I’ll take comfort in getting to view some seriously awesome horrors. Below are five of my current faves:

HAUNT

On Halloween, a group of friends encounter an extreme haunted house that promises to feed on their darkest fears. The night turns deadly as they come to the horrifying realization that some nightmares are real.

Why It’s Cool: No CGI and all the effects are practical effects.

HOST

Six friends accidentally invite the attention of a demonic presence during an online séance and begin noticing strange occurrences in their homes.

Why It’s Cool: Found footage in Pandemic times.

THE BEACH HOUSE

College sweethearts on a romantic getaway struggle for survival when unexpected guests exhibit signs of a mysterious infection.

Why It’s Cool: Sci-fi horror blend, The Mist meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

SPRING

An aimless young man (Lou Taylor Pucci) takes an impromptu trip to Italy and becomes involved with an alluring genetics student (Nadia Hilker) who harbors a transformative secret.

Why It’s Cool: Body horror meets love story.

STILL/BORN

When a woman gives birth to twins, only one child survives. She begins to suspect that something supernatural has chosen her remaining child, and it will stop at nothing to take it from her.

Why It’s Cool: Demonic possession or post-partum depression?

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Film Review: Host





I’m not a fan of the found-footage sub-genre in horror. In fact, I didn’t like The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity (two films famous for being ground breaking for the sub-genre). So I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy Host, since it’s a found footage movie directed solely via zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine. I’ll have to admit that Rob Savage managed to create a very suspenseful and scary movie with the limited resources he had available.

The whole premise of the movie is that a group of friends decide to engage in a séance guided by a medium through zoom. But this being a horror movie, things obviously go wrong. The first fifteen minutes you’re wondering if anything is going to happen and when, but soon strange things begin to happen and the chill-factor rises exponentially.

This film was best made to be viewed using your phone or tablet (although I used my notebook), it won’t have the same claustrophobic chilling effect on a large screen TV. I really enjoyed Host, and at only 56 minutes it doesn’t overstay its welcome by trying to hit the 90-minute mark, which is something many horrors should do instead of trying to fill the last 30-minutes with filler.

Host managed to make me reconsider the found-footage subgenre, and I am curious what Rob Savage will come up next now that he has scored a three-movie deal with Blumhouse. The scariest is yet to come.

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Poetry: Beautiful Disaster

Photo by Diego Rezende on Pexels.com

I knew it was going to be a beautiful disaster,

And yet I pursued him—not caring if I was stepping into the eye of the tornado.

I wanted him.

He would be mine.

Or….

There was no or.

Just a certainty that my life wouldn’t ever be the same without him.

***

Did you enjoy this poem? You can find this poem and many others in Lost Girls Go Everywhere: Poetry & Prose on Amazon!

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Book Review: These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin

vengeful

A thrilling novel about a secret society and the dangers that lie in wait for anyone brave enough to join.

Pre-Order on Amazon!

Release Date: September 8, 2020

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Price: $16.99 (hardback)

Plot Summary:

Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities known only by their leader: the Queen of Hearts.

Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Now, she’s determined to hold the organization accountable by taking it down from the inside. But will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?

Grade: B-

Review:

When I read the premise of this book, I thought I was going to get a dark, twisty novel about a secret society. Instead, what I got was a secret society that functioned more along the lines of the Burn Book in Mean Girls. This novel never got as dark as I hoped it would, and without many characters revealed to be in the elusive Red Court, it was pretty obvious who the Queen of Hearts really was all along. The book was fast paced but overall it wasn’t the kind of thrilling ride I was hoping for.

The moments that I did enjoy were when Ember struggled between doing the right thing and loving the feeling of power she got over accomplishing her assignments.

The romance in the novel between Ember and Chase wasn’t that interesting either. The whole time we’re told that they’re rivals and hate each other, although we’re never shown this rivalry at all. In fact, Chase seems very courteous with Ember from the very beginning so perhaps the rivalry was more on Ember’s side than a shared one.

Ultimately, Ember never suffers any consequences for all the pain she causes and terrible decisions, which made pages of agonizing and teen angst worthless if everything was going to get wrapped up so nicely. And if you’ve seen Mean Girls, then you can easily guess how this book will end. In the end, it seems like all of Ember’s sweat and tears put into trying to dismantle the Red Court didn’t pay off. I recommend this book if you’re into the movie Mean Girls (but without the amazing quotes) or if you simply like the premise of a dark YA but in the end, isn’t really dark at all, but very PG vanilla.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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