I’ve Applied to be a Mentee in Author Mentor Match!

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What is Author Mentor Match?

In short, Author Mentor Match is a mentorship program that pairs aspiring authors (or self-published authors) with seasoned published and agented authors. The awesome thing about this program is that it’s supposed to help authors who have a completed manuscript and are in the process of querying agents, improve both their manuscript and query letters. The reason why this program is so sought after because the authors you’re paired up with have already gone through the query and publishing process so whatever advice they may have for you is truly valuable and sound.

Why have I decided to Enter this program?

I came across this program by chance (through a Twitter hashtag no less!), but it reminds me a lot of Pitch Wars, which I submitted to last summer but sadly didn’t receive a mentorship through that. However, since I participated in Nanowrimo this past November, I have a new manuscript that I think is ten times better than my Pitch Wars submission, so I wish to try my luck with this.

What I hope to get out of this program is:

  • Write a powerful query letter.
  • Feedback from a professional of both my letter and manuscript.
  • Forging a friendship/professional relationship with a fellow writer, as only writers can understand certain things about what you go through!

My Project

GIRL THAT YOU FEAR, a YA Horror that’s Speak meets The Exorcist.

Spencer Torres seemingly has it all, she’s beautiful, popular, smart, and on her way to becoming the school’s valedictorian. However, after a visit on the Queen Mary ship, something goes amiss. It all begins with the ominous taps she hers on the walls and the nightmares of an enigmatic, yet creepy young man called Dever. Her therapist believes she’s simply under stress. But Spencer secretly believes another truth. One far more sinister. She thinks she may be possessed by the demon Dever, and a part of her doesn’t mind. A part of her relishes in her new power. Especially when triggered by a song she remembers a sexual assault that she had repressed in her mind. Now, with vengeance as her sole companion, she seeks out to destroy all of those that were to blame for her rape. She doesn’t care if it even means that she will lose her soul in the process.

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Who else is participating in Author Mentor Match? Let me know!

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Poetry: Mourning Glorie

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Photo courtesy of parisapartment.wordpress.com

These frigid sheets mourn your soul.

This barren bed cries your name.

There’s nothing left of you in me.

You tore every particle that belonged

To you away.

This pale white pillow misses the weight of your head.

These useless rose petals wait to fall upon you.

Loneliness wraps its icy claws around me.

Devouring me without mercy.

You’re no longer here to cling to.

You’re no longer here to move closer to.

This bed never seemed so vast—so endless—

Without you—it’s infinite.

I hide beneath the covers but still no warmth I feel.

This room is in eternal winter

Ever since you left.

These fragile sheets yearn for your body.

This immense bed bleeds your essence.

I’m waiting here for you.

I shall always remain here—

Waiting for your return.

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Travel Post – Rotterdam (Part 3)

The Buttplug Gnome AKA Santa Clause_preview

The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is. – Erasmus

Since the WWII bombing that flattened the city in 1940, poor Rotterdam has been like a misunderstood wild child with a non-traditional upbringing. She’s been called ‘The City Without a Heart.’ Shaped by many different events and architects since then, Rotterdam doesn’t quite fit into the Dutch culture the way Amsterdam, The Hague, or Delft does. On more than one occasion, my enthusiasm for Rotterdam was met by locals with a lifted eyebrow and reply along the lines of,

“Really? Why Rotterdam? (Insert Dutch city) is so much more charming.”

Rotterdam is not what the Dutch would call gezellig: that warm, squishy feeling you get when all is time-honored, quaint, and cozy. No, she sticks out from traditional European cities like a sore thumb.

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Bright yellow ‘Cube Houses’ balance on their corners atop a busy overpass like thrown dice frozen mid-roll. Blaak Station looks like a landed UFO in the market square. The angular, swan-like Erasmus Bridge poses high over the river Nieuwe Maas. There’s nothing traditional or charming about it. It’s tall, proud, sleek – just like the rest of the city. Though bruised from an unfair fight, Rotterdam’s modern and colorful. She’s survived a torrid upbringing. Amidst inner turmoil, she grew through misdiagnosed remedies and therapies and prevailed with hopes of a happier future. Formed at the hands of so many others’ desires, Rotterdam’s own identity seems ambiguous. She complicated.

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But look closer. She is one of the most important cities of her time. The largest port in Europe, fourth largest in the world. An international haven – probably more so in the near future with the coming of Brexit. She welcomes in the world, serving as a gateway to an expanded, cohesive way of thinking. And she does it quietly, compassionately, without theatrics or fuss.

I relate to Rotterdam. I’ve had my fair share of personal ‘bombings’ and well-meaning ‘architects’ try to build and reshape me throughout my life. It’s helped me see who I was and, now, envision who I want to become. A lot of people don’t understand the way I think or act. I’ve always stuck out like a sore thumb myself. It’s only until now that I’m finally learning to be okay with that. For me, pushing through my comfort zone and finding my true self is like coming home. Like stumbling toward the heart of a place that isn’t on a map. It’s the same reason I find Rotterdam gezellig.

On my last day in Rotterdam, it snowed. I didn’t recognize it at first, this white fluffy thing that had landed on my scarf, then another. It had been years since I’d seen an actual snowflake. But when I looked up, the flurry swirled in around me, lit up by the late afternoon sunlight. I stopped and scanned the street, wondering if I was the only one witnessing this wondrous moment. It was just me and an old man walking his Jack Russell Terrier up ahead in the distance. I was suddenly in my own private snow globe. The subdued disappointment I’d been mulling over about my final hours in the city evaporated, instantly replaced with the buzz of excitement. I gazed up into the gray clouds billowing above the high buildings, half-expecting to catch the glimmer of a glass dome in the sky. The air glittered all around me. It was like an ending from a movie; the city saying goodbye.

Is it narcissistic to see a part of myself in such a great city? Perhaps. But it’s the potential to assume her best qualities that I yearn to emulate the most: her even-keeled nature, her sensibility, her acceptance, unassuming charm and colorful personality. Many don’t understand her because she is so different. But I think Rotterdam’s beautiful. She allows room for the possibilities.

By: Erica Ruhe

 

Travel Post – Rotterdam (Part 2)

Rotterdam Centraal Station_preview

Where I feel good, I’m at home. – Erasmus

A quick train ride in a sun-drenched morning and soon the naked trees and rural countryside gave way to the city of Rotterdam. From the slick, modern Centraal Station, I took my first steps into the city, feeling much like I had finally arrived home after a very long journey. The city’s personality put me right at ease. It was a short, straight shot down Endrachtsweg to the quaint 19th century B & B I’d reserved for my stay. Anno 1867 was as lovely as my hosts, Agnes and Anton, and exceeded all my expectations. Agnes had a wonderful laugh and easy spirit. She made me feel welcome from the first ‘hello’ and gave me a tour of the charming, multi-level house built in (can you guess?) 1867. Original wood floors, classic décor, tall, bright windows and all the creature comforts one could need set the backdrop for a cozy home base. Out of the two available rooms, I chose the Rode Kamer (the red room). Check it out here: http://www.anno1867.nl/red_room.php. Warm, clean, and comfortable with an updated bathroom, it became one of those places that I could have easily stayed for weeks or months. But sadly, my first stay would be my last. The house had been sold a few weeks earlier and Agnes and Anton would be handing over the keys at the end of March to explore a new adventure in Italy. I hope they set up another B & B there!

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Vegan Hot Chocolate at “Kek” – Delft, Netherlands

Agnes also accommodated me with colorful vegan breakfasts presented on beautiful floral porcelain ware. Fresh cut fruit with soy yogurt and nuts. Unique blends of smoothies in a fine glass goblet and paper straw. And every morning she’d prepare me for my outings with a snack bar or package of trail mix, a choice from the tea box, and hot water for my thermos. I’d step out the front door with a flask of tea steaming in the cold February air, belly warm and full, and begin my trek of the city. It was glorious.

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Tourists enjoying Vessel 11’s Hottug in Rotterdam’s Old Port.

Rotterdam was the Netherlands I came for. It must have been my home in another life. How else can I explain the familiarity and joy I feel in this fantastic city? There’s graffiti and a few city corners gathering rubbish, but streets are relatively clean and green spaces are well-kept. Museums for every interest dapple downtown. Rustic houseboats float in canals just beyond the busy street curbs. Eclectic architecture rises up like modern memorials. There’s even growing cuisine options for the vegan-minded, as I discovered on a visit to Green Delight on Nieuwe Binnenweg. And French fries. Oh, the French fries. Yes, I think I must have lived here before, but, seeing as my spoken Dutch is still horrendous after nearly a year of personal study, I conclude I was probably a happy foreigner getting by on exaggerated hand gestures and the occasional ja, nee, and dank u wel.

Space separates the bodies, not the minds. – Erasmus

Cat Cafe_preview

There’s a wonderful mix of cultures and ethnicities here. The fantastic eats around the city are tasty evidence enough. Delicious Vietnamese pho soup on West-Kruiskade. Fabulous Panang curry at Hua Hin near the sleepy, picturesque neighborhood of Kralingen. I even found a Japanese restaurant with my beloved iced boba tea – no matter if I froze the tips of my fingers right off drinking it in twenty-eight-degree weather.

Rotterdam brings in a diverse body of students as well with Erasmus University just around the corner. It feels like a city full of tradespeople and families. The vibe here is quintessentially Dutch. Not so much in a traditional sense, like Delft, but it is a general sense of well-being and progressive respect for oneself and the public. It’s easy-going, laid back and there seems to be no agenda except for efficiency and self-expression.

Cube Houses_preview

While the calm hum of Dutch humanity plays out, there is an unspoken, non-judgmental air; a motto of ‘live and let live’ here. Rotterdammers have embraced Desiderius Erasmus as their patron scholar, along with his tempered approach to the religious zeal of the Christian Reformation. He was a Dutch humanist in the late 15th and early 16th century that encouraged a free will, Via Media (middle road) line of thinking, especially when it came to church teachings. His poetic quotes are painted all throughout the city – sentiments of open-mindedness, cultural acceptance, and autonomous thought. What novel ideas.

This type of thinking promotes a potent culture of common sense and decency, especially on the roads. Respect for cyclists and pedestrians were quite the revelation for me. Coming from Florida, where vehicles are used as tools of intimidation, it’s a refreshing respite to have drivers deliberately stop for people in crosswalks. The first time it happened, I was stunned. I had to fight against my natural instincts and cross in front of a waiting car. I forced my feet forward, thinking,

“Move! Walk! Someone is actually waiting for you!”

Dutch cyclists, however, will threaten to run right over your toes if you step in their lane. But there’s no better way to zoom around a city without leaving a carbon footprint and it warms my green, little heart to see so many people not driving a car. I think it’s an even trade-off. I never felt uneasy or unsafe in my travels around the city. I crossed the Erasmus Bridge and throughout surrounding neighborhoods as well. (Being that I was a solo female, I was also smart about the time of day I ventured about and sharply aware of my surroundings. Let’s not throw out common sense here and label it ‘innocent naivety’.)

To be brutally honest, I feel a lot safer in Europe than I do living in the US. America is relatively isolated in its egotistical bubble and suffers a lack of understanding and compassion because of it. In Europe, the cultures are so closely packed and borders are so frequently crossed that the declaration of a mother country is seen as a conversation starter rather than a battle cry to exercise exclusion.

And I get it. No place is perfect. There’s a crisis going on in Europe as I write this. Countries are bickering over who should take the next wave of refugees as people struggle to find a safe place in society. But as a majority, and especially in Rotterdam, the mingling of so many different ethnicities is considered enrichment of the city, not a detriment.

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One of the highlights of my stay was a free walking tour offered by a highly knowledgeable, cheerful guide. A group of passionate locals decided to start the Free Walking Tour of Rotterdam, offering a detailed history of the major sites in the city. Anyone interested in tagging along has simply to show up at 13:30 pm in front of the famous Markthal. To my surprise, about sixty eager tourists turned out! Our guides wisely split us up into to two tour groups and off we went. We hit the Maritime Museum, the Cube Houses, Zadkine’s sculpture/memorial to honor the destroyed heart of the city in WWII. Then a quick stop in a favorite hot spot for bitterballen. Bitterballen are basically a Dutch version of meat ‘hushpuppies’. Many people said they were delicious but I decided on a cone-full of hot, crispy fries instead. Wow! Draw a big green circle on your map around “Ter Marsch & Co.” on Witte de Withstraat. (You’ll also find the world famous “De Witte Aap” bar just a few steps away!) We saw an old church riddled with bullet holes from the war (sometimes it doubles as a rave party venue), and ended at Erasmus’ birthplace. In all, the tour took just under two hours and it was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon.

https://freewalkingtourrotterdam.com/

Tips are not expected, but they are a nice gesture to show your guide your appreciation. If you visit Rotterdam, do not miss this!

Check out Part 3 of my Rotterdam travels next Tuesday!

Read PART ONE HERE!

By: Erica Ruhe

7 Things I Learned From Directing a Short Horror Film

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In 2016 I embarked on a very ambitious project, I decided to direct, star, and write the screenplay for my very first short horror. Now, being someone who loves the horror genre, and who loves film in general, I wanted to create a horror film where the woman wasn’t only the victim, but that she could also be the villain. So I managed to convince some friends and my boyfriend to help me bring this project to fruition, and that’s how DEVIL IN THE DETAILS became my first short.

Since it was my first short and the only experience I had with film was working in front of the camera and not behind one, I didn’t quite anticipate a lot of the things that came up later in the process. With a bit of arrogance, I thought, if Quentin Tarantino could direct a film without ever stepping foot in a film school, then I too, could create an entertaining short in with grindhouse horror elements.

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The SEVEN THINGS I learned from Directing a Short Horror Film:

  1. Choose your cameramen wisely. When I first started out, I had two cameramen, and I figured that I could rely on them to know how to take good shots and edit. Well, it turns out that it’s easier to direct both actors and crew to get what you want done when you’re literally behind the camera than rather when you’re also acting in scenes. Being both the actor and director turned out to be far more complicated than anticipated. Also, you need to be able to trust that your cameramen are responsible, I made the mistake of not asking for my filmed scenes till I had filmed them all, which caused for some of the footage to be lost when the cameramen were unable to locate one of the SD cards.
  2. You will bruise or get hurt whilst filming. No one realises how intensive it is to be a horror actor. Hats off to all the veterans of horror and scream queens, because I didn’t realise how labor intensive it is to be a horror actor. I had to put up with fleas from being tied to a post, got bruises on my back from being tied to said post and bruises again from pretending to pass out and trying to make it look natural.
  3. Fake blood will haunt you for days. If you’re one of the actors who dies or gets hurt (as my character did in the short) then you will be splattered with fake blood. The funny thing about fake blood is that no matter how many times you’ve showered, you will somehow miss a spot and won’t know till someone randomly mentions to you two days later, “Are you bleeding?” and then you notice that you have a rogue bloodstain on the inner corner of your elbow.
  4. Don’t have a big cast. If someone would’ve told me just how difficult it is to coordinate everyone’s schedules when most people work on a rotating schedule, I wouldn’t have cast so many characters for the short. So my advice is, start small. Have three characters max, not seven like I did, and three crew members (which makes ten people total), cause let me tell you, trying to coordinate the schedule of ten people is difficult (although since I finished the project, not impossible).
  5. Create a budget. There are many expenses you need to consider when making a short. Some people may have to pay actors (I managed to cut that expense by getting my friends to act), you may need to pay for editing services (again, I managed to cut that expense by approaching a friend of mine from high school that works in film to help me with that, and I greatly appreciate the time and sweat he put behind it to deliver the finished project), buy props (most of our money went towards making the fake blood, but we also had to buy costumes, wig, and lights). Some filmmakers have had to pay for the location, I was lucky that my boyfriend allowed me to use his family’s historic barn house as the location of my film, again cutting expenses. Then there are film fest fees. Some film fests aren’t expensive, you can pay as low as $5, but others will ask as much as $20 or $50.
  6. Be realistic. Chances are your first film won’t be selected to play at Sundance, so don’t even bother sending it to that (not to mention having to pay a $50 entrance fee) because Sundance only accepts around 5% of the films sent to them. You’re better off using that money to enter in lesser-known festivals who are more apt to accept your entry. In fact, you should enter the majority of festivals that fit with your specific genre first, and then enter in ones that are close to where you live as more festivals are apt to select people who will be able to attend the actual festival than if they can’t.
  7. Have fun! Remember, you aren’t making films to make money or become famous (although of course, who wouldn’t want both?), but you must remember that you did this because you LOVE film and want to create something original. If you don’t love the world of film, then you won’t be able to survive the lesser fun and glamorous aspects of film.scream queenAlthough my short fell in post-production hell for two years, DEVIL IN THE DETAILS is finally complete and is currently being considered for several film festivals. Let me know if you’re a filmmaker or an aspiring filmmaker and if you have any advice or suggestions in the comments below!

     

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Welcome, new readers!

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Since I’ve been gaining more and more followers every day, I’ve decided to make a little impromptu post that kinda explains the blog and the direction of the blog and posting times!

First and foremost, THANK YOU for following The Inkblotters! I’m excited for every single follower and grateful that you’ve decided to follow the blog. When I decided to start a blog last year after many years of not really writing any articles or posts (I used to run a website called Plastic Venus where I interviewed various musicians, models, authors, actors, and other amazing creatives), I knew that I still wanted to include all my passions in one blog, hence why I decided to go with the lifestyle blog as opposed to others, where it chronicles my journey as a writer, but also individual.

Some of the subjects that I post a lot about are: skincare, healthy living/clean eating, beauty reviews, book reviews (usually with author interviews), writing, film reviews, some travel, some recipes, and relationships.

A few of my ongoing mini-series are: Skincare (where I talk about different ways to combat acne), My Bad Romance (this series details my experience with exes, told more as snapshots of my past), Beauty in Breakfast (I share recipes on skin-healthy foods to jump-start your day in a good way!), and Poetry (where I share poetry that I’ve written).

After a year of blogging, I’ve finally managed to figure out a posting schedule that would work for me. From the very beginning, I’ve always posted twice a week, but never on a specific day of the week. Although now I promise to post TWICE a week, with posts up on TUESDAYS and THURSDAYS.

In the meantime, the all-femme horror anthology that I edited last year, MY AMERICAN NIGHTMARE is currently on sale for 99 cents till May 19th! So, if you’re into horror, short stories, or just wanna support women authors, then pick up a copy today, here on Amazon!

Let me know what kind of blog posts you’d like to see more of, and I can see if I can explore new topics. Tell me in the comments below! Also, if anyone is interested in any guest posts or collaborations, please let me know in comments or email me at: azzurranox[@]yahoo.com.

And thank you again for following me! If you wish, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest too!

xo

Azzurra Nox

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Poetry: Hollywood Summer

Hollywood-sign

We got high at Griffith Park

Looked up at the Hollywood sign

and felt alive.

We shared kisses in Venice Beach

You strummed your guitar

and sang to me.

We danced along the streets

of Sunset Boulevard

While people watched with smiles.

It was summer,

The height of our love.

When winter came,

It took you away.

And I drove alone at

night in the lonely streets

of L.A.

Crying over our hapless Hollywood love

that no longer was.

By: Azzurra Nox

Poetry: Siren

girl

You were devoured by her eyes.

I saw how you allowed her to grasp your heart.

She reeled you into her world.

Persuaded you to fall into her bed.

You prayed for that moment to never end.

I could sense her in your mind,

While you slithered in my bed.

I could hear her voice while you slept.

Slipping her name from your tongue.

She bore her power into your mind.

She swims in your veins.

I could smell her scent on your flesh.

That mixture of musk and peony

It clung to you so well.

I saw how she held onto you.

How you followed in her steps.

You prayed for time to stop

As she kissed your silky lips.

I knew it all along,

The reason for your neglect.

You were devoured by her eyes

As I hid behind a veil of icy lies.

All I wanted was to reject, the burning truth.

But her presence was ever more in flesh

And there was nothing left for me to do.

But to give into the murderous truth.

By: Azzurra Nox

 

Poetry: Late

cakegone

I’ve arrived too late.

You’ve used up all your love and

outrageous displays of affections on someone else.

So that when Valentine’s Day passes by,

There are no flowers or romantic adventures.

You tell me, “I’ve done this all before—I’m tired.”

But you’ve done nothing with me

For me.

I’m left picking up the crumbs,

cause I’ve come too late.

And someone else has already eaten my cake.

By: Azzurra Nox