I have some exciting news for 2020! In January, I’m launching a new poetry journal Ephemeral Elegies to support new and emerging poets. We are open to submissions, and you can learn more about submissions guidelines here.
Ephemeral Elegies aims to be the home for poems about emotional experiences. Inspired by confessional poets such as Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, we invite submissions about personal experiences and reflections. Confessional poetry can be a great catharsis for a poet, and we want to support you on your journey of self-discovery, growth, and healing.
I hope you’ll consider submitting to Ephemeral Elegies or exploring it post-launch to support and discover some new poets!
Merry (Almost) Christmas! It occurred to me today that I had a story come out in October and I completely forgot to post a link. “The Aftermath of Giving Up” is a story I wrote a long time ago as an undergrad. It actually won an award in UC’s English department and was the story that got me into grad school, which was validating at the time, but it has taken 6 years to actually find it a publisher (which was substantially less validating). While it is dark, it’s also a huge departure from my usual style – it’s slower, domestic realism. I’m so grateful for The Scarlet Leaf Review for giving this story a home.
I am beyond thrilled that Disney+ is finally here (and yes, I did pre-pay for 3 years of service already!) After a busy week and an even busier start to the weekend, I am spending the next 36 hours just chilling out and watching Disney+. This is the perfect time of year for it to launch too because I feel like this is the time when I’m most nostalgic for my childhood – so what better way to recapture my youth than to do nothing but watch Disney movies from my couch?
Halloween is so close! I’m thrilled for tomorrow, especially since I have two costumes (one for work and one for my party). I think that Halloween is the perfect time to experiment with makeup even if you’re not donning a costume this year, so I wanted to share two classic lipstick looks that are perfect for this time of year.
I think that red lipstick knows no season and is classic all year round, but if it’s something you’ve always been too scared to try then this is the perfect time to take the plunge. The one I’m wearing in the picture above is both affordable and super easy to apply – Almay Lip Vibes in Treat Yourself (available at Ulta for just $7.99). I love that it wears evenly, applies smoothly and opaquely, and doesn’t dry out my lips.
Of course, if you’re feeling extra bold this Halloween, why not rock a black lip? In the picture above I’m wearing Wet n Wild MegaLast Catsuit Matte Lipstick in So Noir Cool (available from Ulta for $4.99). I haven’t worn this one for a significant amount of time yet because I’ve been saving it for Halloween, but I’ve tried to apply it a few times. While it’s trickier to apply evenly (which is often the case for cheaper lipsticks), I appreciate that it really doesn’t seem to budge once it’s dry. Anyway, hopefully it lasts through my whole work day tomorrow!
Are you dressing up for Halloween tomorrow? What will you be wearing? Be sure to let me know in the comment section!
Halloween is nearly upon us! I can’t believe that this time next week, my apartment will be decorated for Christmas (don’t judge me!) Anyway, Halloween isn’t until Thursday so you definitely still have time to squeeze in another horror novel. Here are my top 7 suggestions for what you should read next!
1.The Shining by Stephen King – This is one I read pretty much every Halloween. I’m a huge fan of both the book and movie (I even have an Overlook Hotel keychain!) This is some great horror that truly balances plot and character development. It’s atmospheric – the hotel almost seems like its own character. Overall, it’s just a really fun read!
2.We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver – This is a heavy one filled with realistic horrors. There’s some amazing psychology to unpack in this book that really questions the nature vs. nurture argument for what happens when children do unbelievably evil things.
3.Dracula by Bram Stoker – This is another one I tend to read every year. While not the first vampire novel, it is for sure one of the most famous of the vampire classics. I like the epistolary style and the gothic vibes. There’s a reason this one inspired so many retellings.
4.House of Bathory by Linda Lafferty – Elizabeth Bathory, one of history’s most prolific female serial killers, is at the heart of this novel. I thought this was a fun exploration of both history and a modern mystery. It’s fast-paced and super creepy!
5.The Ruins by Scott B. Smith – While killer plants in the Mexican jungle seems like a cheesy plot, I actually loved this book. It’s fascinating and delves into more psychological aspects of the characters than I was expecting. I couldn’t put this one down!
6.The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey – I actually HATE zombies (they just typically bore me) but I adored this book. It was such a unique addition to the super tired and overdone zombie subgenre. I’m really glad I gave it a chance.
7.Help for the Haunted by John Searles – This is more mystery than horror but it has enough paranormal stuff that I feel comfortable including it on the list. It definitely has spooky moments but the driving force really is the mystery of the protagonist’s parents deaths.
What’s your favorite horror novel? Be sure to let me know in the comments section – and while you’re there, tell me what costume you’ll be rocking this year!
Halloween is less than 2 weeks away! In between prepping for a wedding (not mine) and a Halloween party (mine), I’ve been watching so many horror movies again this year. Of course, I think horror is a great genre year-round, but for those of you who only dabble in the black arts during Autumn, I thought I’d share my top 10 picks!
IMDB Description: “Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.”
I think this is one of the greatest modern horror movies. It’s based on a fascinating true story, and the cinematography is top-notch. It’s moody/atmospheric and the jump scares are kept to a minimum (which means that you’re always on guard and aren’t able to get used to them). There’s a reason that this film was successful enough to launch a huge franchise (The Conjuring 2, The Nun, Annabelle, etc.)
IMDB Description: “Five years after an unexplained malfunction causes the death of 15 tour-goers and staff on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour, a documentary crew travels back to the scene of the tragedy to find out what really happened.”
This is for sure one of my favorite independent horror movies. Again, instead of being replete with jump scares, there are lots of subtly creepy things that gradually build into a great ending. I highly recommend this one (but I do not recommend its two sequels). Bonus: creepy clowns.
IMDB Description: “A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators.”
This movie has multiple things going for it: female friendship, claustrophobia, and weird underground creatures. My favorite thing about it really is how well it manages to make the viewer to feel trapped as well. This is a fascinating, unique film (which did not need a sequel – don’t watch the sequel).
IMDB Description: “A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone one week to the day after they view it.”
I watched this film in junior high so it has a special place in my dark heart as being one of my first real horror movie experiences. Fun fact: I had a friend who was terrified of this movie. One day, she left her locker open and I put a note that said, “Seven Days” inside the locker and closed it. To this day, I think that’s one of the meanest things I’ve ever done. Overall, this is just a well-done horror movie with a surprisingly heartfelt plot and some stylistic cinematography.
IMDB Description: “A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game.”
I love that this is a self-aware horror movie. Fans of horror will love the references to various horror tropes that pervade this film. I love the entire Scream franchise (including the spin-off TV series). These movies are great slasher flicks which don’t take themselves too seriously.
IMDB Description: “American seminary student Michael Kovak travels to Italy to take an exorcism course.”
Inspired by a true story, this is a great movie about faith. The acting is also superb since it stars none other than Sir Anthony Hopkins! This is the kind of movie that has plenty of scares but also makes you think about your own beliefs.
IMDB Description: “A young African-American visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point.”
This is a groundbreaking movie that deserves a place in history for causing critics to start taking horror more seriously. This film, through its fantastic and nuanced discussion of race in America, proved that horror can have something to say. I highly recommend this one!
IMDB Description: “A woman, Rose, goes in search for her adopted daughter within the confines of a strange, desolate town called Silent Hill.”
This is definitely my most controversial pick as it was panned by critics and horror-lovers alike. But I don’t care – I love this movie! Yes, it’s cheesy and based on a video game, but I think the special effects are great and some of the monsters (the nurses, pyramid-head, etc.) are super cool!
IMDB Description: “Five interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband; and a mean old man meets his match with a demonic, supernatural trick-or-treater.”
I don’t often like anthology films, but this is a really good one (which is also perfect thematically for Halloween). What sets this film apart is that the five stories are actually connected in a loose but organic way which makes it feel really complete. This one is definitely worth a watch!
IMDB Description: “Suspecting that people around him are turning into evil creatures, a troubled man questions whether to protect his only friend from an impending war, or from himself.”
I love psychological horror and this one kept me guessing until the very end – is this guy crazy or are evil things lurking about? This one is dark and suspenseful but more disturbing than scary. Overall, it’s one of the best low-budget horror options out there.
Well, I hope I’ve inspired you to give horror a try this Halloween season! Are you already a horror fan? What are some of your favorites? Please, let me know in the comment section!
Happy Autumn! The weather is finally seasonally appropriate here in Cincinnati – crisp air, colorful leaves, and Halloween decorations creeping up everywhere! As the seasons have been transitioning, I’ve been thinking about my own changes. This has been a great year for personal growth (even though there’s a lot I still need to work through). I know I haven’t blogged much this year, but I’ve just been focusing on other things: friends, family, fitness, poetry, and discovering other things that bring me happiness. However, I am missing blogging about books, movies, and beauty/fashion. While I did delete my dedicated beauty/fashion blog when it began to feel too all-consuming, I’d like to start incorporating some of those interests here in this blog.
For my first post, I’ve been thinking about the scents of autumn. While I gravitate toward light floral scents during spring and summer, I definitely crave something warmer as the weather cools. These are my top three scents for autumn:
Manufacturer’s Description: “Gourmand. Deep Amber. Sugar Kisses. Chasing sunsets.”
Okay, well Victoria’s Secret definitely should have a better description for this one. It is definitely a sweet amber scent, although “gourmand” makes it sound like it smells more like a dessert than it does. While I’m not typically a fan of sugary scents, this one is warm enough that the sweetness is balanced out by the amber. It’s a great, inexpensive everyday scent that evokes autumn evenings.
Manufacturer’s Description: “Created for a contemporary libertine, Gucci Guilty for Her is defined by a signature Fougère accord of Geranium usually found in men’s scents. Intimate and magical lilac flower is laced with amber to radiate warmth and grace at the fragrance’s heart.”
First we had an overly simplistic description, and now we have an overly flowery one. However, I like that it suggests a hint of masculine energy. While not really a typical unisex scent, there is something less feminine about this scent that I’m drawn to. When I need to feel like a strong, powerful go-getter, I grab this perfume. It always gives me the professional boost I need. Like the first fragrance, one if its main notes is amber, although this one is accompanied by geranium, pepper, and patchouli. It has a hint of musk which lends it maturity but it is not overpowering or matronly.
Manufacturer’s Description: “Black Opium Eau de Parfum is the seductively intoxicating feminine fragrance from Yves Saint Laurent. The opening notes of adrenaline-rich coffee and the sweet sensuality of vanilla recline into the softness of white flowers for a modern, young, addictive fragrance. YSL Black Opium perfume is a gourmand women’s fragrance. The seductive perfumes of black coffee and white flowers make this a sensuous perfume with an edge.”
This is a great description of this scent. The blend of coffee and vanilla mixed with a gentle floral hint makes this a great fragrance that seems quite sensual. It’s not a sugary scent because the vanilla is quite warm already, but it does have a nice sweetness to its fragrance.
Well, those are my three scents for this season. I’ve found myself grabbing for one of these every single day. Do you find that your fragrance preferences change seasonally? What scent are you gravitating towards right now? Feel free to let me know in the comments section!
Every so often, a book comes along that haunts me long after the last page. As a voracious reader, I feel like it takes a lot to impress me, but I recently had the opportunity to read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and I was absolutely blown away!
I can confidently say that this book is one that I’ll have to reread multiple times. At it’s heart, this is a character-driven narrative about a girl who grows up in near-isolation in a marsh. But it’s so much more than that. This close character study is a heart-wrenching coming-of-age tale mixed with a love story entangled within a murder mystery. Here’s a breakdown of the major elements:
Character – Kya is a dynamic character. Watching her grow up on these pages was amazing. The characterization was heartfelt and I shared in her joys and sorrows. The way the author builds this empathy was fantastic and allowed the character-building to be a main driving force in this story.
Plot – While a secondary characteristic, there was still enough plot that this book didn’t feel aimless. The murder mystery in the story is not a typical whodunnit that builds escalating suspense, but it does provide a needed structure. Since the book jumps around between time periods, it also acts as an anchor to the “present.”
Writing Style – Owens’ writing style is hauntingly beautiful. Her lyrical words and expert metaphors made me want to reread sentences over again and continually experience the poetic beauty of her prose. While also a research scientist, this is Owens’ first novel, and her love of nature is absolutely evident. Her descriptions of the setting make it come alive as if it is a character in its own rights.
I can’t say enough good things about this book! I’ve already purchased two copies because I want to lend them out to everyone I know. If you’re in a book club, this would also be a great (easy to discuss) selection.
Have you read this one? If so, please share your thoughts in the comment section.
I have exciting news! One of my favorite short stories is now available to read FREE on Fiction on the Web. I wrote “St. Isabelle’s Downfall” as an undergrad, and it took a really long time to find it a home. It’s a psychological horror story about a character I was developing at the time for a novel that I finished but was never happy with. I know I’ve grown so much as a writer since this story (this was pre-MFA!) but I just have always liked the concept and couldn’t give up on it.
Going back through the short stories I’ve workshopped over the years has really reminded me that I prefer shorter mediums. I just don’t think I have the attention span needed to be a good novelist, and I honestly prefer the brevity and experimentation that are allowed in short stories and flash fiction. Hopefully, I’ll have more stories to share soon!
It’s already June! It’s crazy to think about how quickly this year is flying by, but it’s been a great one so far.
Regarding writing, I’ve had three acceptances so far this year: two short stories and one poem. The more I try to write longer works, the more it seems apparent that writing shorter things just comes more naturally. So, I think that’s what I’m going to focus on for a while.
Anyway, I just wanted to check in and share a bit:
Here’s one of the short stories from this year – “Appendix A”
And here’s a poem that won’t be in print until February but is available online already – “The Vanishing Act”
And stay tuned for July 8th when my short story “St. Isabelle’s Downfall” comes out in that issue of Fiction on the Web. It’s one of my favorites of all the stories I’ve written, and it’s taken literally 7 years to find it a home!