Excerpt: “Boys of Summer” by Azzurra Nox

The Lost Boys has been my favourite movie ever since I watched it for the very first time at 8 years old. The film has everything I love – vampires, rock music, and a combo of humour and horror. In light of my adoration for The Lost Boys and the fact that I spent most of 2020 writing so I wouldn’t have to deal with the stresses of a global pandemic – I decided to write a short story inspired by The Lost Boy, entitled, “Boys of Summer.”

My only gripe about The Lost Boys was the fact that the whole movie had only TWO female characters – so in my take – I made women the protagonists while I sidelined the boys into the background.

Here’s an excerpt of that story – it drops today and can be found in Little Demon Digest Volume II. You can pick up a copy HERE.

I was halfway into the cave when the drugs finally hit, and I regretted my decision. The scent of mildew, seawater, and copper hit me smack in the face before I had a chance to see the carnage. Before I had an inkling of what was to become of me too. Bugs pirouetted as I tripped over a bone. The candles scattered throughout the cave gave me tiny glimpses of a world that up to that point I never realized existed. The boys behind me laughed, their teasing casual as though I hadn’t just fallen on the remains of a decaying corpse. I screamed as I tried to move away from the maggot-infested body but unable to because the older boy with the bleached mullet and leather trenchcoat placed a hand on my shoulder to stop me.

“They’re only worms, Ashley. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” He laughed.

The others joined him. They were all in on the sick joke except me.

I blinked and saw that the body was gone and my hands weren’t dirty with blood as I thought. As the cave came into clearer view I realized that it was only seaweed tangled in my fingers and seasnails on a broken piece of surfboard ravaged by time.

The blond offered me his hand with a sheepish grin to remind me that they were just teasing. That I was in good company. That I was safe.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about all the vacant expressions of those girls whose photos were plastered all along the boardwalk. I was haunted by the words in bold hovering over their images, HAVE YOU SEEN ME? Only two weeks ago a crazed fan had shot and killed Rebecca Schaeffer, rising star of the popular sit-com My Sister Sam. Natalie and I would always watch the crazy adventures of Sam and Patti curled on the couch with Doritos and slurping Cherry Coke. A sudden dread overcame me as I saw myself as those boys saw me. Petite, lanky, unable to put up a good fight. My mouth felt dry as the aftertaste of chalk lingered on my tongue.

I know I shouldn’t have followed them there. Isolated from the rest of the world. And an isolated girl was always in danger. But I was aching for adventure. I yearned for a little thrill.

Standing up, I looked up at the blond’s unnaturally pale face.

“You never told me your name,” I whispered.

The other boys laughed and mocked me. “Go ahead, tell her your name.”

But he merely smiled without answering me. Instead, he handed me a jewel-encrusted bottle and said, “Drink.”

I knew that I shouldn’t have. But I was thirsty. Anything to rid myself of that awful taste. So I did as I was told.

The faint notes of Madonna’s hit song echoed in the night like a siren luring me back out into the world. Life is a mystery.

A misstep was made. I was never supposed to survive the night. Yet, I did. Life may be a mystery but there’s no greater mystery than death. Those who defy it are basically divine. Or possibly evil.


Excerpt: “Chronic Chills” by Hudson Wilding from Tainted Love: Women in Horror Anthology

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Rumor had it that Oskar Abernathy rehearsed every week after choir practice, so Orchid lingered in the pews one evening after all her friends left. As Edinburgh’s meager light fell through the stained glass windows, Orchid tried to imitate the expression an older woman might take on while meditating on something holy and somber. Soon, the opening notes of “Lacrimosa” jolted her. She squeaked. The music stopped and Oskar rose to look at her from the organ bench at the front of the hall. He was wearing the same surprised expression one might have after seeing a mouse scamper up a curtain.

“Why, hello,” he said, smoothing his hands over the cufflinks on his tweed jacket. His conscientious way of dressing always gave her the impression he was waiting for a surprise visit from The Queen. Orchid could not escape the notion that he had arrived in the 1970s quite by mistake, belonging instead to an earlier time when his delicate complexion and precise mannerisms would have seemed less eccentric.

“You have the most beautiful handkerchiefs,” she told him, her high voice echoing across the large auditorium.

“They’re for my chronic chills,” Oskar replied as if her non sequitur was a completely ordinary attempt at conversation.

She walked closer to him, approximating the hip-sway of one of the older girls in the choir. “Your chronic chills?”

“Here,” he said, reaching out. “Feel my hand.”

She hesitated a moment before approaching the organ. Then she pressed two fingers gently into the skin of his outstretched palm. His fingers enveloped hers like a Venus flytrap closing around an insect at the Royal Botanic Gardens. The biting cold of his flesh shocked her. She’d heard rumors of his strange illness but had always assumed it was just town gossip.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to interrupt you.”

Only then did his grip relent. “I believe I was the one who interrupted you.”


Read this and other chilling tales in Tainted Love: Women in Horror Anthology! Check out the pre-order giveaway here!


Book Review & Author Interview: Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo

Don’t forget to pay the Piper…”

Pre-Order on Amazon!

Release Date: February 9, 2021

Publisher: Agora Books

Price: $26 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

When Detective Lauren Medina sees the calling card at a murder scene in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, she knows the Pied Piper has returned. When another teenager is brutally murdered at the same lagoon where her sister’s body was found floating years before, she is certain that the Pied Piper is not just back, he’s looking for payment he’s owed from her. Lauren’s torn between protecting the city she has sworn to keep safe, and keeping a promise she made long ago with her sister’s murderer. She may have to ruin her life by exposing her secrets and lies to stop the Pied Piper before he collects.

Grade: A


I decided to dive into Cynthia Pelayo’s Children of Chicago with no notion of the plot summary. I recently had read her harrowing true-crime poetry collection, Into the Forest and All the Way Through, as well as her short stories featured in the female driven anthology she edited with Gemma Amour and Laurel Hightower, We Are Wolves, and decided that I would take a leap of faith. I never could’ve been happier with my choice. I’m an avid reader of fairytales and the fact that Children of Chicago expertly weaves the fairytale of The Pied Piper and giving it a Candyman angle, made it a very intriguing read. The writing is both lush and concise, allowing the reader to be emerged in the Chicagoan city life as well as the dark realms of the fairytale forest. It’s a deep dive into darkness and for readers of horror, you will love this.

We follow homicide detective Lauren Medina who’s tasked with trying to figure out who is killing the teens of Chicago, in a city, notorious for its bloody past and violent present. Reality fuses with the supernatural and the reader is never certain if we’re witnessing true events or if the characters are simply victims of a mass hysteria.

The novel is part police procedural and part supernatural horror with hints of magical realism all coming to head with a very explosive truth about the protagonist that will leave readers reevaluating everything that’s happened throughout the novel. Fast-paced and eerily dark, Children of Chicago is the perfect winter read.

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


I’m a huge fan of fairytales so reading the novel, this really drew me in. There are so many fairytales to choose from, and of course the Brother Grimms are the most popular, but what exactly drew you to the tale of the Pied Piper and why is he the bad guy in the novel?

It’s very odd, but I usually get an image for my stories before I start writing them and I had an image of a man in a black suit and a black top hat standing outside of a hospital waiting to whisk a small child away. That was all I had. Ultimately that image didn’t make it into the novel, but that’s where his story started. Then I started thinking about who he was. Why was he dressed in such old-fashioned clothes and why did he want to take a child? For a long time I thought maybe he was Slenderman, but that wasn’t quite right. Then the Slenderman stabbing happened in Wisconsin in 2014 and I put the story away in my head, because it just felt like it was in bad taste to continue on with the story during that tragedy.

I had taken courses in my MFA in Writing specifically on fairy tales, and so I have a lot of fairy tale books, and just a fascination with them and their history. It probably was not until I started going back to those books and reading them to my children that I found the Pied Piper again and it clicked. The man in the black suit was the Pied Piper and he wanted to lure the children of Chicago away. Then from there, it was just a manic rush to write the story while it was fresh in my head.

There are some accounts that claim that part of the Pied Piper story is true, to an extent, that children were led away from the town of Hamelin and they never returned. So, I wanted to speak to that tragedy, of this mysterious figure with only ill intent to destroy a society by taking away what was most precious to them, their children.

I also discovered that it wasn’t just the Pied Piper that needed to be weaved into the story, but much of the foundation of fairy tale lore, and other fairy tales, because so many fairy tales are based on some small, and gruesome, truth.

Chicago is as much a character in the novel as also the setting. What made you pick Chicago as the setting as opposed to any other big city instead?

I live in inner city Chicago. Not in the suburbs. Not in a fancy neighborhood in the city, but in a regular working class neighborhood in the city, with a high immigrant population, and a high poverty rate. I went to college, have a great professional career, but it was important for me to stay in the community that raised me, and what I later discovered was that Walt Disney was born just a few blocks away from me in a wooden house. L. Frank Baum who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz wrote parts of that legendary book at the park that I have frequented my entire life. So, it was magical to learn that in my neighborhood, comprised of regular people, that magic was made here.

In addition to that, I can’t ignore the violence of the city that I grew up with, and that I live with still. So, there’s this strange dichotomy, a city that was founded on a lake and that has been home to creative legends that gifted us wonderful works of art, but a city that is plagued by violence, and historically has been plagued by violence – its founding was based on violence.

I wanted to then showcase this place where I live and love and to tell people that Chicago is the prime location for a dark fairy tale.

I feel that Children of Chicago can be read as a fairytale, meaning that most original fairytales served as cautionary tales. I feel that in the novel, we’re cautioned not to put our faith in supernatural entities because the price you have to pay may be bigger than you expect. And yet, I feel like humans tend to lean towards the supernatural if even on a low-key base such as sharing chainletters or keeping lucky charms or totems to ward off evil. Why is that?

Yes, I really would love if people read it as a fairy tale about fairy tales. There’s a lot that I was hoping to accomplish that I hope the careful reader catches on to, like my mentions of other fairy tales, and fairy tale devices, Chicago history and how I tried to hold a mirror up to the city and show the city its beauty, but its cruelty as well.

What I was hoping to communicate with the payment is due aspect of the story is that whatever energy you put out into the universe is the type of energy you are going to receive. If you are putting out negative energy, that is the energy that will return to you and serve you. I’m pretty spiritual and part of my path teaches me that we are all one consciousness, you, me, everyone. So, if I do or wish harm to someone else then I am doing or wishing harm to myself.

We turn to the supernatural for protections for a variety of reasons, religion, faith, but ultimately for the belief that the supernatural can shift our experiences and reality. For example, with regards to violence and harm, these things can sometimes be random, or there are people who just live in toxic situations or places. They turn to these things for the hope that the supernatural can guide them to a safer position.

I believe people need to do what gives them comfort, as long as it is not harming anyone, with regards to owning supernatural devices. However, I want to stress to anyone reading that if you are in a violent or harmful environment then please seek help and do so in a safe manner.

I also believe our words and actions are spells. I believe in being positive and speaking positively so that this is the type of energy we are granted.

This is a loaded question, but what is your favorite fairytale and why?

I love this question.

I love so many of them, but the one that I think about often and have written about is Hansel and Gretel.

It’s about the cruelty that can be done to us by those that are meant to love and protect us, and the tragedy of even when you find what you think is safety you aren’t really safe. There is betrayal. Ultimately, it shows that the only person you can trust is really and truly yourself, or in this case little brother and little sister who trust and save each other in the fairy tale. Hansel and Gretel teaches us that no one in the outside world can ever truly be trusted.

Humans often have motives that are beyond cruel, they are deadly.

What are you currently working on and do you have any other releases on the horizon?

I’m working on a middle grade novel I’m hoping to finish and get to my agent in a few days. I’m also working on a novella I hope to deliver in June. I’m not sure when that will be published but I will announce that soon. Then, I am working on the sequel to the “Chicago fairy tale series” which is not really a sequel to Children of Chicago but another fairy tale that takes place in the city. I also have a few short stories I’m working on. I’ve been very busy but it’s a great kind of busy and I am grateful for all of these creative opportunities.


Cynthia “Cina” Pelayo is the author of LOTERIA, SANTA MUERTE, THE MISSING, and POEMS OF MY NIGHT, all of which have been nominated for International Latino Book Awards. POEMS OF MY NIGHT was also nominated for an Elgin Award. Her recent collection of poetry, INTO THE FOREST AND ALL THE WAY THROUGH explores true crime, that of the epidemic of missing and murdered women in the United States. Her modern day horror retelling of the Pied Piper fairy tale, CHILDREN OF CHICAGO will be released by Agora Books on 2/9/21. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, a Master of Science in Marketing, a Master of Fine Arts in Writing, and is a Doctoral Candidate in Business Psychology. Cina was raised in inner city Chicago, where she lives with her husband and children. Find her online at www.cinapelayo.com and on Twitter @cinapelayo.


Pre-Order Giveaway For Tainted Love!

Pre-Order Tainted Love: Women in Horror Anthology in ebook or paperback format from Amazon before February 16, submit an image of your receipt with the date and email it to: azzurranox (@) yahoo.com Then you’ll receive a gift pack that includes:

An exclusive never released before short story from Azzurr Nox

An exclusive high-res digital poster of the book cover

An ebook copy of My American Nightmare: Women in Horror Anthology

A chance to win even bigger prizes, including swag & signed books because your name will be put in a raffle ( one winner will be selected at random).

So what are you waiting for? Pre-order your copy of Tainted Girls: Women in Horror Anthology today!


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



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.


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


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


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!


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!


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/