Real-Life Holiday Horrors



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(Pawpurrazzi aka Stalker Kitty, sticking her tongue out at me)

Hello, all,

It’s been a good – but very busy – season, complete with all the nerve-rattling, teeth-grinding fiascos we’ve come to expect from the holidays. This year, however, my dithers and dilemmas were not of the usual variety. I learned some things… and I’d like to spread the knowledge…

My feline companion, Pawpurrazzi, has reached the age when they say you should have them spayed… so I made an appointment and took her in. The surgery went well, and the next day I picked her up… a perfectly simple act which spawned a mind-boggling string of theatrics that  left me with cuts, bruises, and a possibly permanent embittered scowl. Oh yes… there was drama to be had…

In the parking lot, as we strode merrily back to the car, the kitty went into some kind of shock. She looked at me and her eyes were strange. Somehow I could tell she didn’t recognize me. Not at all. She panicked very suddenly, clawed herself free of me, and ran as fast and far away as she could. I chased after her, staying close behind and finally cornering her in a stairwell behind the clinic where she sought refuge.

When I caught up to her, I was winded, but I slowed my breathing, not wanting to scare her any more than she already apparently was. Her eyes still had the wild glint of survival mode in them, and she began jumping, easily eight feet high, trying – and failing – to get out of the well… and away from me. I would gently tip-toe down the stairs toward her, I decided. And whisper her name as I delicately approached.

It was then that I slipped and took a violent and undignified spill down the ice-covered steps. My flailing, arm-waving, leg-kicking, 90 mile per hour, hair-whipping-in-the-wind descent down the stairs somehow only startled and confused her more. She puffed up, darted past me, and had disappeared before I even finished off my first, and only, vibrato F-bomb.

The guilt was heavy though, and I returned to the clinic, this time with two friends assisting in the search. Three, if you count a dear cat-loving friend I had on the phone who gave me much excellent cat-advice. I was certain the kitty was gone though, and I was feeling grim to put it lightly.

After about twenty or thirty minutes, though, we found her in a thicket of dead bush branches near a fence at the edge of the property. She’s a very talkative kitty, and we heard her before we saw her. When she poked her head out, I snatched her up, expecting the same uncharacteristic craziness of earlier, but by then, she was back to herself, purring gleefully, washing my face and combing my hair with her tongue. She was genuinely happy to see me, and no doubt eager to be home.

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(After my shoulder or the top of my head, this is Stalker Kitty’s favorite post)

I tell this story because I committed a cat-owner no-no, and I hope to reduce some of my guilt by possibly preventing another cat daddy or mommy from making the same mistake. Pawpurrazzi is the first cat I’ve had as an adult, and until this debacle, I’d forgotten the vast differences between cats and dogs. Cats are far less domesticated than dogs, and they slip into feral mode pretty quickly. I knew they weren’t entirely tame and I had a harness on her when I dropped her off, but the vet had to take it off for the surgery. When I paid the bill, they handed me the cat, then the harness, and I didn’t bother putting it on her. I reasoned it was a mere ten steps from the exit to the car… what could go wrong?

I have a new rule now: Never take kitty anywhere without a crate. And a harness. It seems harsh to confine them this way, but not as harsh as the other potential issues. If I’d never found her, she’d be wandering around in the cold with stitches in that need to come out in ten days. These would have become infected more than likely, and eventually, it could kill her.  Plus, some cats might survive well outdoors, but Pawpurrazzi isn’t one of them. Wherever it was she came from on that fateful day that she appeared stalking me and meowing at my window, it wasn’t from the wild. Someone domesticated her… and then apparently lost her, deserted her, or dropped her off somewhere. So, she might have found someone else and conned them into adopting her like she did me, but what if she didn’t find a good person? What if they took her to the pound? I can’t stand to think of it…

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(Sven, watching over Pawpurrazzi while she heals)

So… my adventures and lessons in feline fatherhood continue. As I write this, Pawpurrazzi is perched on my shoulder, showing her forgiveness by rubbing her purring head along the edges of my jaw, an activity that I’ve learned means something happy and positive. I assume she was somewhat traumatized by the experience at the vet clinic, and have since learned that these kinds of reactions are not entirely uncommon. In hindsight, it wasn’t smart of me to assume she would be content after something like that, but I’m happy to report that she’s healing happily at home… and we are friends again…

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(Kitty in the window)

Take pity. Crate the kitty.

Yours,

AC~

Scary Christmas to All…


Merry Christmas morning everyone. It is after five a.m. here and I’ve been up all night wrapping gifts while Pawpurrazzi – my feline accomplice – pawed at the tape dispenser, played in the curtains, and finally fell into a peaceful slumber on my lap.

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I’ve heard the stores on Christmas Eve are a frenzied mess, and yesterday, I found those rumors to be true. I spent a deplorable hour or two squeezing through the cluster of shoppers only to find that everything I was looking for was already sold out. I have never gone shopping the day before Christmas before, and of this I’m certain: I never will again. I despise stores enough as it is, but unfortunately, I was completely unprepared for the holidays this year. It’s been terribly busy with writing, getting the Alistair Cross website up, and dealing with a backlog of general marketing events.  But, for my Christmas Eve gifts – a tradition we observe every year – I received the American Horror Story: Asylum series on DVD – which I am a huge fan of – and some much-needed new household items, and some of my favorite cologne… so that soothed my mood a little. Plus, I am excited to see what I get tomorrow.

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2013 has been a year of erratic twists and unforeseen changes of direction that have, to my surprise, served to bring me greater overall happiness. I had unforgettable adventures this year and I learned things about myself and my work that have already proven themselves priceless. I’ve made amazing friends, seen fascinating places, grown substantially as a writer, and discovered that contentment and fulfillment are readily available… and – thankfully – portable. It’s been a wonderful year and I can’t say I’d change anything about it.

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2014 will hopefully be as good. If all goes according to my Master Plan, the new year will see the publication of Grandma’s Rack, the humorously horrific novel I began with Tamara Thorne several months ago, as well as the beginning of Belinda the serialized erotica she and I will begin shortly after the new year, and hopefully, the completion of The White Room, my solo project about a lusty faction of insatiable vampires and their fang-banging human counterparts. So… the workload continues… but I believe it will be well worth the effort…

I wish all of you a very merry – and somewhat scary – Christmas, and a fulfilling new year.

AC~

Welcome to the Dungeon…


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After a grueling couple weeks of getting everything together in order to set my website live, success has been obtained. It’s been over a year since I decided I really needed to get one, and almost nine months since I’ve been been actively working at making it happen. Naturally, there were bumps in the road: domain availability complications, changes in SEO, design delays, and content and development learning curves on my part… to name a few. But at long last, it is done… and it is live.

I’ve lovingly termed my site The Dungeon, and I think you’ll find it fitting. My vision was to create a little online haunt where lovers of horror, dark humor, and maybe even a little kink could kick back, browse around, and feel at home… and with the help of many hands, I am satisfied with the outcome.

I’ve included personal photos, a library of my work – including my poetry – a collection of interviews and guest posts, a page dedicated to future works where you can view the cover of the upcoming novel I’ve been working on with Tamara Thorne, and an “Ask Alistair” page, where I will answer readers’ questions.

Many thanks to all the people who advised me, worked on the design, and devoted their time to making it happen:

Berlin Malcom

Mike Rivera

Andrew Harderson

Cheryl S.

Zeb Jenkins

Jon Deem

and Heidi in the “slicing” department.

To visit The Dungeon, go to http://www.alistaircross.com, or click on “The Dungeon” above. Have a look around. Stay a while. Become one with the darkness…

Yours,

~Mr. Cross~

GRANDMA’S RACK Revealed!!


 

There’s a new coven in town…

War of the Witches

The plague witches have declared war, and ten-year-old Joey is in more trouble than he can even imagine. As the town of Milkwort becomes a battleground of magic and mayhem, the only thing he seems to have on his side is the sweet, soft-spoken woman who cares for him – his grandmother. And Grandma has a secret…

Grandma’s Secret Weapons

When a gruesome murder is committed, the residents of Milkwort suddenly don’t seem to be themselves. Little Joey is going to have to grow up fast if he wants to survive. Can he and Grandma uncover the heinous secrets and unravel the twisted mysteries that lie just beneath the surface of this seemingly quiet, small town?

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Thorne & Cross

Grandma’s Rack, the first collaborative novel from Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross arrives this spring.

Almost There…


We’re only four days away from the cover reveal for the collaborative novel Tamara Thorne and I are working on. Currently, the artwork is done, and it is just going through some minor revisions. Also on Monday, my website – which I am lovingly referring to as The Dungeon – is going live.

Thank you to everyone who submitted questions for the Ask Alistair page. I’m pretty sure I got them all answered, and they will be up as soon as the site is live.

~Alistair~

P.S. ~ Night three of our adventures in the allegedly haunted cabin is coming up very soon, so keep an eye out for it…

Exposing, Disclosing, and Revealing


My website is officially schedule to go live December 16th, one week from tomorrow. At that time, there will also be a cover reveal for the joint project  Tamara Thorne and I are writing. I will post it here, and it will also be on my website. Along with the cover, we will be giving a brief plot teaser so readers will know a little more about what we’ve been writing all this time.

We spent the majority of our time last week working out some of the final kinks in the story. We’re both a bit brain-fried from the overtime, but we’re thrilled about the results.

Also, we’ll soon be posting about the third night at the allegedly haunted cabin. Night three was an especially eerie one, so if you like your adventures on the spooky side, you’ll enjoy reading about it more than I did living it. Click here to read about the first night, and here for night two.

Till next time, haunt on.

~Alistair~

The Truth About Fiction


I’m always amazed at what goes into writing a book, and as I approach the beginning of the end of my current collaboration with Tamara Thorne, I’m reminded of how precious this really is to me.

I can remember the days when it was new; back when I wrote little more than an occasional stray paragraph – or jotted down an abstract character profile on the back of a napkin somewhere – and wondered when, if ever, I would find a way to plant it into a world of my own making. These kinds of things were my ideas of fun. I already knew I wasn’t, by nature, a huge fan of reality, and that was cool with me. I grew up hearing words like ‘creative’ or ‘imaginative,’ and sometimes even ‘artistic,’ but I couldn’t exactly identify myself in these terms. I wasn’t artistic. I was looking for the best language to interpret my perception of the world.

Since the day I realized there were two sides of the human experience – the cold, concrete existence and its cozier, imaginary counterpart, I developed an appetite to somehow fuse them. As neither of these views of the world are accurate, it stands to reason that the truth is to be found somewhere between them. I wanted to take the sterile, gray underbelly of life in one hand, and the fantastical and romantic highlife – which is as much a part of reality as anything – in my other hand, strike them together, and create a livable middle ground.

Balance.

But how?

Strangely, it didn’t occur to me till earlier today that I’ve been doing just that since I discovered fiction writing several years ago.

Tamara and I were a few hours deep into a work session when I realized that we’d found the truth. We were writing fiction, but we were telling a truth more absolute than any other, and I realized that the pursuit – and attainment – of this truth is the reason I write.

The truth is not easy to spot. There doesn’t seem to be any exact method of discovery. You write and write, and suddenly, you’re on the right track. You just feel it. Characters start talking. Motives are revealed. Plans are made. Several pages later, you wonder: Where the hell did this come from?

I’ve pondered the old theory that all art is a portrait of its artist. I’ve wondered if maybe every character we create – no matter how vulgar or refined – isn’t just a visage of ourselves… every plot concept – no matter how rational or outlandish – a peek into our individual and collective social perspectives. This theory always eluded me though, because I’m generally nothing like my characters. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the opposite is true: that I am nothing like these people. And yet I can’t deny that they tell the world their truths, and therefore – in some way – my own, no matter how much I may or may not agree with their views, but I’ve ultimately concluded that I can’t be sure how much of myself is expressed by my characters – and that maybe this is what it means to reach the peak of the creative process: no longer being able to distinguish yourself from your own fiction.

Over all, I don’t think finding the truth of fiction has much to do with the writer. It doesn’t seem to matter how well or poorly the characters reflect their writer’s attitudes. Instead, I think it’s a matter of discovering the psychological truth of your characters. And the psychological truth of fictional creatures is the same truth of humanity in general. Whatever it is or isn’t, Tamara and I found the truth today. And we told it.

The book we’re currently writing began as an idea for a short story which quickly grew into a novella, and finally developed into a full-length novel, so the entire process has been an ever-evolving matter of discovery. All along, we have known this story intimately, but today, many of the hidden truths were revealed, making the whole thing very real. It is, to be dramatic, like a baby taking its first breath, confirming its intention to survive.

This is a solid story now. And it’s a good one. It’s alive… and regardless of where it goes from here, I’m happy. I write because I believe in fantasy and romance – and I write for the freedom I find in telling my own truths in my own way. That’s what we did today. It was absolutely wonderful… and that ain’t fiction.

It’s just a matter of days now until we reveal our book cover. Soon, we will be posting all about it. We’ve still got a ways to go on the novel itself, but it’s coming together well enough that I can say with confidence that I’m already very proud of it.

Websites, and New Years, and Books, Oh My!


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The art design for my website is back from ‘slicing’ – whatever that means – and now, it’s just a matter of adding the content to the pages before we can set it live. That shouldn’t take more than a week or two, I think, as I have been working on the content already for some time now. So, as per my initial goal several months ago, I will – unless something goes terribly awry – have a website by the end of this year. I’m going to need it because Tamara and I have received the finalized draft of the cover art for our upcoming collaborative novel and marketing for it needs to begin.

Once the front cover and the “back” cover are complete, we will do a reveal on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and of course, here and on our websites. Great big thanks to Mike Rivera, Michele, Zeb, Berlin, Cheryl, and Jon for the work they’ve put into the website and cover art. You all rock. And to the cover art model whose name I can not reveal – thank you.

Yesterday, Tamara and I also did some work on our upcoming serial novel, which I blogged about yesterday. While Tamara worked on Belinda’s personal history, I worked on some of the other characters she will interact with once her sordid journey begins. I’m getting very excited about this one too, as I watch it come to life. Working on it was a nice change of pace, but our focus remains on the novel, which we hadn’t originally intended to be full-length.

In the meantime, our Haunted Cabin saga continues. We quickly found we couldn’t condense it into one – or even two – blog posts, so we’re taking it one night at a time. Night three will be coming shortly, so stay tuned. Also, my friend, Michael Aronovitz’s collection of short stories, The Voices In Our Heads, is due out in February and will feature an introduction by Tamara, so be sure to check him out. I’m here to tell you… this guy’s good. You’ll love him.

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Finally, once the new year comes, I will be returning full-time to my solo project, The White Room, while the collaboration is in edits. I put White Room on a temporary hold in order to make as much progress as possible on the current book, and I’m glad I did, as many of the plot problems with it worked themselves out while I was looking the other way. It’s been whispering my name these past weeks, and by this year’s end, my scenes for the collaboration will be written, and I can justify getting back to it.

It’s been a wonderful year, 2013, and as I look back on it, I am awed by the creative results and the turns my life has taken. I do hope for a somewhat calmer 2014 in which I can divide my attention more equally, though. As fruitful a year as it has been, 2013 was a terribly busy one for writing, which has left me isolated and well, somewhat lonesome. I’m up till all hours of the night, I sleep all day, and the warm glow of the computer monitor has done nothing for my tan… so I’m slowly learning the discipline of time management, and coming to respect it as the vital ingredient to happiness that it is.

But in the end… I think will be worth it.

~Mr. Cross~

Who’s That Girl?


A collaborative post by

Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross

 

If you’ve been following our progress you probably know we are nearing the end of our soon-to-be-revealed collaborative project. You also might have heard us talking about a woman named Belinda. Recently, we’ve had some people ask us who she is, so we decided it’s time to tell you a little more about her.

Belinda is the protagonist of a series of adventures we will soon have underway. And hers is a fascinating story that we’re getting restless to tell.

Since all this talk of collaborating began over a year ago, we’ve come up with a surplus of exciting ideas we probably won’t live long enough to write, but once we finally settled on the best storyline to begin with and the writing process began, we were thrilled—but not entirely surprised—by how naturally our styles integrated and meshed to form a single-minded unit.

Of the story concepts we’ve entertained, we’ve have a few favorites, and one of these is an erotic paranormally-inclined novel. It would center on a morally apt young woman and her inexhaustible desire to learn everything about the art of lovemaking in order to attract her handsome but out-of-reach employer.  Her name, we knew immediately, was Belinda.

We promptly put Belinda into a now vast file of story ideas, and although we knew this was not a throw-away, we didn’t necessarily expect to be stepping it up to the front of the line so soon… but an interesting thing happened recently.

The publisher for our first collaboration asked us recently how we felt about doing an erotic serial for the eBook market. Sex and scary of the literary variety are two of our favorite things, so we agreed that this would be a lot of fun, especially since we had Belinda on the backburner already and a serial would allow us to do our regular writing and have some sex on the side.

Each installment of Belinda will have a different cover. From the beginning, we knew exactly who Belinda was and that only this person could possibly represent her.

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The model’s name is Heather and she has agreed to represent our character, Belinda. Heather has been a great asset to us, and she is, in our minds, a dead ringer for the heroine of this story. We look forward to working with her.

In the interim, our current project has crossed that line between novella and novel, so a little extra time will be needed to tend to the recently added layers…. but Belinda will begin as early as possible in 2014. Details are being fine-tuned, but we suspect chapter-length installments will be released approximately every 4 to 6 weeks.

This is a little different than anything either of us has done before and we are excited to meet the challenge. This story is alive in our minds and we’re eager to give it wings. It isn’t the new year’s only project, though.

Aside from Belinda and our current collaboration, we will also be returning to our solo projects full-swing before moving on to our next collaborative novel. We can hardly wait!  It’s going to be a very busy year and we’re both preparing ourselves for the dedication and discipline it’s going to take to accomplish it. But with all the hard work, there is also a bottomless goldmine of fun to be had, and we will no doubt enjoy every bit of it along the way.

And for now, that’s the story of Belinda.

Meanwhile, the cover art for the current project is nearing completion, and is soon to be revealed, along with a teaser about the tale itself. We’ve been tight-lipped about the storyline and it’s going to feel good to finally be able to talk — a little — about what we’ve been writing all this time!