I am Now Officially Fully Vaccinated … and I Don’t Care …


I got my second COVID-19 vaccine today … and I’m proud of it. I realize that getting vaccinated is basically as controversial as not getting vaccinated at this point, but I don’t care. I’ve long accepted that no matter what you choose to do, you’ll incite the ire of someone for one reason or another – and I don’t care.

I don’t care if anyone makes fun of me for “living in fear of COVID” or “giving in to the man,” or … whatever it is they think. Nor do I care if they presume to understand my views of the world or my political affiliations because of my choice to be vaccinated. That this virus (and now its treatment) was politicized in the first place is, in my opinion, not only the height of social irresponsibility but of human stupidity, and I don’t have any respect for those who subscribe to the conspiracy theories surrounding it.

I didn’t do it for them, anyway. I did it for those close to me with medical conditions who might not survive catching the virus (and I happen to be very close to some folks who most definitely would not survive.) I did it for those who would survive it but might suffer lingering or even permanent effects (and plenty of them exist, regardless of what your news stations of choice might be telling you.)

I did it because I believe it’s the right thing to do. I’ll take my one in one million chance of getting blood clots as a result, and given that we all know I’m far more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke at the hands of the fast food industry, I feel confident in my decision.

Tamara Thorne’s ETERNITY is now Available in Audiobook


Eternity by Tamara Thorne is available in audiobook at Audible.com!

Eternity features Sheriff Zach Tully, who is now getting his very own series, so this is a great place to start.

Welcome To Eternity … A Little Bit Of Hell On Earth

Eternity, California, is the sort of charming spot tourists flock to every summer and leave every fall when the heavy snows render it an isolated ghost town. Tourists and New Agers all talk about the strange energy coming from Eternity’s greatest attraction: a mountain called Icehouse. But the locals talk about something else.

The seemingly quiet town has been haunted by strange deaths, grisly murders, unspeakable mutilations, all the work of a serial killer who some say is the same serial killer for over a century. Now as the first snow starts to fall, terror grips Eternity as an undying evil begins its hunt once again…

To Write a Thrilling Thriller


In honor a Mother’s Day – here’s a little about the Thorne & Cross thriller, Mother ... and writing thrillers in general …

Thrillers are a little different from mystery and a little different from horror. Though all these genres tend to blend and merge to varying degrees, writing them – and reading them – is a slightly difference experience.

Generally speaking, the mystery novel’s goal is to solve a crime while thrillers seek to prevent it, but never having been big on following rules and regulations, my collaborator Tamara Thorne and I fiendishly merged these standards together for our thriller, Mother. We eagerly thrust our protagonists, expectant couple Claire and Jason Holbrook, into the hotbed of an already deadly situation; by the time they arrive at the scene, many unsolved crimes have already commenced. Unbeknownst to them, of course, the greatest offense has yet to be committed, and it’s up to them (with the help of some eccentric neighbors and a couple of reluctant priests) to prevent it from happening.

As well as mystery and suspense, Mother also incorporates strong elements of horror and black comedy – but at its core, this is definitely a thriller. That being said, there are a few things we’ve learned along the way that we believe not only apply to the thriller genre, but all genres.

The most important thing, we believe, is to keep the readers reading. No one wants to trudge through page after page of information to get to the good stuff, nor should they have to, so the first thing we focus our attention on is the opening scene.

The opening scene is a tough one because it should have enough action to excite and enough information to intrigue while still retaining its mystery; it should make promises of more to come. This requires walking a thin line, indeed. In Mother, we began at the end of the original “crime” – which becomes the driving force that propels our protagonists.

The protagonists are very important … and therefore, often the most difficult to write. While side characters can often get away with being one-dimensional, the main characters need a few more layers. It’s important that they be likable, but not boring. They should have weaknesses and strengths, triumphs and failures, and plenty of psychological complexity. And though they might do what they believe is right, they must make mistakes. If every character made the right choice at every turn, there would be a major shortage of damn good stories out there.

Andrew Neiderman, AKA V.C. Andrews, on the Thorne & Cross thriller, MOTHER

And having a damn good story is everything in this business. There are only so many themes in literature which have been recycled over the centuries, and it’s important to know what yours is. Are you writing a story about death and rebirth? A quest for higher understanding? An attempt to restore order and normalcy? A crusade to make the world a better place, or – as it is in Mother – a slaying of the dragon to reassert independence? Whatever your theme, know it and know it well, and make sure your characters go through hell to deliver it to the reader.

No one likes a story about people who coast through life, and this is why it’s important to put your characters through hell. Bestow upon them unimaginable grief and unspeakable horrors, and just when you feel like any further affliction will surely shatter your beloved character into a thousand pieces, double up on the damage. We want to see them struggle. We want to see them writhe and scramble and strive. Of course, we want to see them triumph, too … but not until the end … and sometimes not even then. But above all, we want to see them change – and grow.

Creating characters that change and grow as a result of their trials and tribulations is imperative. Think of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge goes through a night of torture that brings him face-to-face with the demons of his past, the misery of his present, and the horror of his future. By morning, he’s a changed man … and we love it.

We love it because it teaches us something about being human … and teaching the readers is perhaps the trickiest thing of all; fiction readers generally want to be entertained, not taught. Yet, if a writer is smooth enough to educate without hindering the flow of the plot, the story resonates with readers on a deeper, more meaningful level. But good authors do not take advantage of their readers and use their attention as an opportunity to sermonize or push opinions. In Mother, our “lesson” was simple: The real monsters are not necessarily strangers – often, they’re the people you trust and love, the people you look at every day. Our goal was to get this point across through the story, not by wagging our finger at the reader and lecturing.

There are a million ways to tell a story and an endless list of do’s and dont’s, but no matter how you go about it, one thing is certain: Readers want to be thrilled. Whether by means of terror and dread or by the promise of justice, they want to be ensnared by a story that compels them to keep turning pages. And writing a thriller that really thrills is the best way to make that happen.

RIP Tawny Kitaen


I’m saddened to hear about the passing of actress and 80s video vixen, Tawny Kitaen. I was always a huge fan of Witchboard, not to mention those awesome Whitesnake videos. Rest in peace. Read the article here.

From Wikipedia:

“Kitaen was born Julie Kitaen in San DiegoCalifornia in 1961, the daughter of Linda Kitaen (née Taylor), a housewife and one-time beauty pageant participant, and Terry Kitaen, an employee of a neon sign company. She was Jewish.[2][3] Kitaen began using the nickname “Tawny” at the age of 12 on her own initiative. At the age of 14, with backstage passes after a Peter Frampton concert at Balboa Stadium, Kitaen witnessed the VIP treatment afforded to Frampton’s girlfriend Penny and aspired to achieve it for herself.

“… On May 7, 2021, Kitaen died at her Newport Beach home at the age of 59.Her death was confirmed to The New York Times by her daughter Wynter Finley, who told the paper that the cause of death was not immediately known.”

False Starts … or Oh, How I Hate the Beginning


Every writer has their problem area, some part of the plot that just gives them fits. It’s usually what’s infamously known as the “sagging middle,” but for me, it’s the beginning. Always. Not the entire first act, just the opening scenes – especially that first one. 

I’ve accepted that when I’m beginning a new book, a few false starts is just part of my process. It takes me a minute to find my balance – to get the plot moving while revealing enough about the characters to get emotional buy-in from the reader. And this starts with treating your characters like real people. As a writer, I think it’s important to remember that your characters have lived their entire lives up to the point at which you begin their story. In other words, you can’t introduce them in a way that feels like they just now came into existence; the reader should feel like they’re hopping on a train that’s been going full-speed long before they opened the book. And this applies to stand-alones as well as when you’re writing a series, as I am now.  

A few weeks ago, The Black Wasp went to the editors and I didn’t want to wait to get started on the next one. It picks up immediately where the last one leaves off, so I wanted to keep things moving while I was still in the zone. Simple enough, you’d think, but even so, I’m two false starts into it already and am just now finding my footing. For me, starting the next book always feels like some aggravating dream where I’m trying to find my room in a hotel with no room numbers on the doors. I head down the long, nondescript hallway and start trying my key until I find the lock it fits.

I’m finally at the right door now. I know because the characters are fully alive and the story is moving (not to mention that warm buzz of bone-deep deliciousness I believe every writer feels when they know they’ve just struck gold.) 

So “TMR,” book 4 of The Vampires of Crimson Cove series, is officially in full-swing now. Because The Black Wasp hasn’t even been released yet, I obviously can’t say much about TMR  … except that I’m very excited about it. I’ve been trying to move this series into a certain direction for a while now – one that will open things up and allow new possibilities that will keep things fresh and exciting – and it’s with this book that I’m finally setting my feet onto that fertile ground. This is the place I’ve been trying to get to and I can’t wait to find out where it goes from here. 

That said, book 3, The Black Wasp, is in the final stages of revision, which means an official release date is imminent. I shall keep you apprised …

Cats, The Writer’s Familiar


Pawpurrazzi and me

I’m a cat person. I just seem to have been born that way. Some of my first memories are of the family cat, a big gray tabby named Tiger. I wanted desperately to win his affection and can vividly remember inflicting upon him kisses, hugs, and vast quantities of unsolicited loves. As you might imagine, this did little to impress him. My sister, who was older than me – and therefore gentler – was Tiger’s favorite, but I loved him anyway. I just love cats. I always have.

When I first started writing at about the age of eight, I even put cats in my stories. Lots of them. In fact, my tales most often revolved around unmanageably large casts of talking cats, so it wasn’t too surprising that when I got published many years later, cats began showing up in my novels.

Pawpurrazzi and Sir Purrcival, looking thrilled to have their picture taken … again

Enter Sir Purrcival, star (or so he likes to believe) of the Vampires of Crimson Cove series. He makes his first appearance in book one, The Crimson Corset, when Cade Colter and his older brother Brooks are out for a jog in the woods behind their cabin. I didn’t plan to put a cat in the book, he just kind of showed up, and I’m glad he did – later, Purrcy’s presence helps bring things together so that Cade and company can confront the bad guys.

I described Purrcy as a chubby tuxedo cat with golden-green eyes, and I had no idea that a couple years later, I would meet him in the real world. I was looking for a friend for Pawpurrazzi, the female tortie who showed up at my house a few months before and decided we belonged together. Pawpurrazzi is a very affectionate and friendly cat and I thought she might like some feline company – so I began checking out the local Humane Societies. I didn’t have to look far. I found him at the first place I stopped. He looked just like the Purrcy from The Crimson Corset and I knew right away that’s who I’d name him after (of course, I don’t tell him that. I tell him that the fictional Purrcy is named after him, not the other way around.)

Sir Purrcival, “star” of the Vampires of Crimson Cove series

I soon found out I’m not the only writer besotted by felines. Not only do the vast majority of my writer friends own cats, but apparently, cats and writers have a long history together. Margaret Atwood, Gloria Steinem, Joyce Carol Oates, and Neil Gaiman are all said to be cat lovers. Not to mention Dickens, Twain, Burroughs, Hemingway, Chandler, Capote, Churchill, Plath, and Poe, all of whom famously claimed a deep appreciation of their feline familiars.

From Kerouac to King, cats seem to be a writer thing, and I’m not sure how to explain it. It’s not as if they help the writing process. Ask any author who owns cats and they’ll tell you how Muffin or Fluffy or Jezebel just loves to nap right on the keyboard.

Purrcy, giving me a high-five after a hard day of writing

Or maybe cats do help writers write in some mysterious way. Maybe there’s more to them than meets the eye. Maybe the ancient Egyptians were onto something, after all …

If nothing else, they provide excellent distraction. When Tamara and I are writing together on Skype, our kitties love nothing more than when we turn on our cameras so they can see and talk to each other. It gives us a nice excuse to spend a few minutes relaxing between chapters.

Pawpurrazzi, helping me write

How Gretchen Got Her (Gruesome) Groove Back


Gretchen VanTreese is back – and more furious than ever.

If you’ve read The Silver Dagger (book 2 in the Vampires of Crimson Cove series) you know she went through some, er, hard times and lost a little of her mojo for a while there, but in The Black Wasp, she’s back to her old undead self again … and then some. As you can see in the image below (artwork by Stefan Ellis) she’s even rebuilding her little army of beautiful human blood (and sex) slaves.

But the inevitable wreckage of Gretchen’s rage is just one of many disasters that go down in The Black Wasp. Here there be murder, dark magick, mysterious women in black, and of course, flesh-eating, soul-corroding poisonous black wasps … but I can’t say any more about that for now. You’ll have to wait until the book drops, which happens in mid-June. The exact date is still pending but as soon as I have it, I’ll be spreading the word!

Gretchen VanTreese with her two new pets, “Foxy” and “Pretty Boy.”
Artwork by Stefan Ellis

When You Join, It’s for Life …


As of today, you can get Tamara Thorne’s cheerleader-centric horror/comedy, The Sorority in audiobook at Audible.com. The Sorority is read by the inimitable Caroline Kiley – who also narrated Tamara’s classic, Haunted. I asked Tamara to tell you guys a little more about The Sorority and here’s what she had to say about it:

“My mother planted the seeds of The Sorority with her tales of a drowned town. She’d lived in a mountain village as a girl and the residents moved north so that the original town could be flooded as part of a new reservoir.  She watched the town drown with fascination. 

Then, years later, on their honeymoon, my parents visited the lake and went swimming. My mom got spooked when she saw the tall pines beneath her and got out, but my father went deep and swam around the old church steeple.

I dragged this tale out of my mother over and over again through the years. And it gave birth to The Sorority’s Applehead Lake. 

The Sorority is an odd book.  It’s often silly, as any book featuring cheerleaders ought to be, but it also deals with nature elementals and ghosts, and harbors loads of thinly disguised Arthurian lore. The primary ghost is named Holly Gayle. There’s something about a stone in the hilt of a sword … There are football players named Arthur and Lance Lake. We learn about Sir Gwaine’s Green Knight (and greenjacks) via Professor Dan S. McCobb’s folklore class. 

Eve, Merilynn, and Samantha, our three heroines, are joining the cheerleader-heavy Gamma Eta Pi Sorority. They should know better … but they have their reasons and because of that, they will experience frights and horrors, along with feminine hygiene spells and cult rituals that will make your short and curlies clutch their pearls and run screaming.  

The sorority president, Malory Thomas, was once the bane of King Arthur’s existence, and she’s here to cause … (drumroll)… More Dread among the good guys.  Featured on the cover, is her Veep and familiar, Brittany. (She’s not Sarah Michelle Gellar, even though she looks like her, and she has a thing for peanuts you wouldn’t believe.)

Reading the Audible version is the fabulous Caroline Kiley, who also voiced Haunted.  When you hear her read flashbacks to our heroines’ childhood days at Applehead Cheerleading Camp, she’ll make you laugh. When you hear her voice Malory, you’ll  get the creeping willies, and when when you hear her do her rendition of peanut-munching Brittany, you’ll crack up.

That’s all, except for Alistair’s favorite quote from The Sorority:”

A Reading of my Poem, Connemara Eyes, by Mike Davidson


Poetry has always been an emotional and creative outlet for me. It allows me to express all kinds of things about my life and the world I live in without actually giving away anything too terribly personal. As a rule, I don’t like explaining the meaning of my poems because I want the reader to be able to interpret in his or her own way. What I’ll say about this poem, though, is that it’s truly one of my favorites. Connemara Eyes was written about someone who meant – and still means – a lot to me. Most of it was written in a tiny little room in someone else’s house, and originally, it was very, very long (I probably cut about a dozen stanzas that either ended up in other poems or on the “cutting room floor.”)

Anyway, it really was October and every time I got stumped, I just looked out the window at the frost and the turning leaves for inspiration. The air has an entirely different quality in October, and it seemed to me that subject of this poem really was the embodiment of that season.

Here is an oral reading from Mike Davidson – an excellent poet you can learn more about below. Thank you, Mike, the for the great reading. You can find more of my poetry in the collection, The Book of Strange Persuasions.

About Mike Davidson

Mike Davidson is a writer and poet from Kansas City, MO. Starting in his youth he utilized language to overcome a speech impediment; wielding polysyllabic vocabulary to paint the concepts of love, loss, and awakening onto his canvass. His words are described as powerful, inspiring, and familiar to heart; able to move the soul through pen and paper. He believes that cradling both agony and passion allows others to view the extremes of life in an entirely new way; as a collective, not it’s individual parts. Mike has been featured in publications from Impspired, 300 South Media Group, and Open Skies. His debut self-publication The Arsonist’s Manifesto released in 2020.

Five Nights in a Haunted Cabin


A while back, my collaborator, Tamara Thorne, and I spent five nights documenting the phenomena inside – and outside – of an allegedly haunted cabin tucked deep in the woods in Gold Country. This being my first paranormal investigation, I was happy to be joining someone with Tamara’s experience, but I’ll be honest – I didn’t expect much. I’ve always tried to keep an open mind, and in truth, I’ve even experienced a few things I can’t exactly explain … but I wouldn’t say I was a firm believer in anything supernatural. That said, this trip to the haunted cabin definitely changed my mind about some things. Tamara and I came away with great new story ideas – and some new ideas about the paranormal. 

Now, not only can you read about our experiences in Five Nights in a Haunted Cabin, but you can listen to the whole thing, night by night, at Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre – read by Jamison Walker and Caroline Kiley: 

Check out all the episodes:

Night One

Night Two

Night Three

Night Four

Night Five

An Audio Excerpt from Dream Reaper


An audio excerpt from my novel, Dream Reaper, narrated by Jamison Walker. Cover art by Mike Rivera. Available now at Audible.com

About Dream Reaper

Angel or Demon?

Naive and heart-stoppingly handsome, he calls himself Alejandro, and Madison O’Riley has no clue what to do with him. As they set out to recover his lost identity, Madison realizes the mysterious man who saved her life harbors deep, otherworldly secrets that will put her in grave danger.

The Devil is in the Details

Gremory Jones has something for everyone, and for a price, he’s willing to make a deal. Walking the streets in top hat and trench coat, he tempts the citizens with mysterious wares from his shiny black briefcase. But buyer beware: All sales are final – and fatal.

A Scorching New Terror Has Come to Town

The townspeople are changing in appalling ways and it’s up to Madison – with the help of a psychic, a local priest, and the new chief of police – to help Alejandro unlock his forgotten powers before an unspeakable evil tears apart the fabric of existence … and costs them their very souls …

Another Brick Wall in Spite House


Of all the books Tamara and I have written together, none have taken longer, been more complicated, or evolved over time as much as Spite House, the one we’re writing now. 

We had a plot — we weren’t writing blind — but it kept shooting off in all sorts of directions and as much as we enjoyed this, we realized something was wrong. With the book nearly completed, we reread it yet again and made some final tweaks and thought we were golden until a couple of seemingly minor questions raised their warty little heads again. Like always.

Well, we scratched and talked and tried to figure out what was wrong. Everything was falling into place… But it wasn’t.  Why not?  We’ve never run into a problem like that before. 

Then it came to us out of the blue: We realized one of the characters wasn’t able to perform as wanted. We given that person every opportunity to have a grand old time and run away with the story, but they wouldn’t do it… They couldn’t do it.

Know why?

It was the wrong character!  Once we realized that, we gave the role to someone else; a character psychologically capable of doing the things required to make the plot work. We’re now in what we feel is the final version of the book thanks to the new character.  

We look forward to sharing more when Spite House is published later this year.

A Gothic Recipe for Horror


The Thorne and Cross thriller, The Witches of Ravencrest, is the latest to come to audiobook and to celebrate, we’re sharing our recipe for Gothic horror. But first … a little about the book …

Narrated by film and voice actor, Nathan Foss, The Witches of Ravencrest is book 2 of The Ravencrest Saga, preceded by The Ghosts of Ravencrest (also now available at Audible.com) and followed by book 3, Exorcism – which is on its way to audiobook as I write this.

But wait … there’s more …

As of today, Shadowland, book 4 in The Ravencrest Saga, is complete – as in, we literally finished it today! – and it, too, will be available in all formats, including audiobook, very soon.

On a more personal note, The Ravencrest Saga is the first thing Tamara and I began writing together. It was this series that proved to us that not only were we compatible collaborators, but that we complimented each other as writers. We love this series and foresee no end to it – probably because it has everything in it that we love … which leads us to our Gothic Recipe for Horror …

Thorne & Cross’ Gothic Recipe for Horror

3 cups mystery
2 cups ghosts
1 cup romance
½ cup miscellaneous monstrosities
All the witches you want
A whiff of zombies
3 bleeding nuns
A half a cup of looming shadows
2 candelabra, with candles 
A pinch of hysteria
A dollop of sex
A few drops of blood

Sprinkle with a few demented harlequins, stir in an abundance of twisted family history, then mix all of it together in an old spooky mansion on a hill. Add an unsuspecting governess and a mysterious, handsome millionaire, and you’re on your way to creating a good solid gothic. That’s how we did it, anyway.

Gothic novels are all about atmosphere, and to achieve a perfect dish, you can’t just mix these things willy-nilly and expect them to come out gourmet-quality. A good chef – or writer – must use a deft hand to achieve the perfect flavor. First, you need strong characters, proper pacing, and a damned good story – then you stir in the eerie gothic atmosphere.

If you don’t mix your ingredients properly – or if you get creative and don’t carefully consider your extra additions, your cake – or book – may fall flat. Too much – or too little – of anything can ruin what you’re trying to create.

For example, if you add shadows to a sunny day, you must place them in the proper spot to achieve the eerie flavor you desire. Shadows under a tree in summer probably won’t work – unless the tree is situated correctly – perhaps in a lonely cemetery. What accents should you add? A freshly dug grave nearby? A mysterious mist hovering just inside the glass door of a nearby family mausoleum? Wilted flowers on a grave? Or are they fresh but sprinkled with blood? Or, did the flowers mysteriously appear when you turned your back? All these variations provide mystery. Who – or what – brought the flowers? Why is there mist hovering in a mausoleum on a warm sunny day? Is someone lurking? A human? A ghost? And what are their intentions? Your answers will affect just how atmospheric your story is.

Consider the definition of Gothic from dictionary.com: 
7. noting or pertaining to a style of literature characterized by a gloomy setting, grotesque, mysterious, or violent events, and an atmosphere of degeneration and decay.

This very definition screams for an old and spooky residence. For us, it’s a sprawling manor house built centuries ago in England. Already steeped in dark history, Ravencrest Manor was imported stone by stone to the California coast in the early 1800s. It arrived with its sordid past intact, and since then, it has accrued many more mysteries, ghosts, and family secrets.

While Ravencrest Manor is beautifully kept up, it’s still full of long halls and longer shadows – and if you dare enter the door that locks away the forbidden east wing, things intensify. Why the wing was locked up in the first place is a major mystery. Within, flickering lights, dizzying corridors, and some nasty – and nice – spirits all add to the gothic ambience. We’ve already seen a trio of horrible, bloody nuns, the ghost of a little girl, and a headless woman lurking there, just to name a few. The honeycombed rooms contain more horrors than even we know about yet; we feel the presence of spirits and more frightening things as we write and this adds a sense of foreboding for us. And because we feel it, we think our readers will as well.

And those are the most important ingredients in our recipe for ambience and atmosphere in The Ravencrest Saga. Our goal from the beginning was to pay homage to the gothics we teethed on – gothics like Dark Shadows and Rebecca – and in our series’ second full-length novel, The Witches of Ravencrest, we had a particularly good time with atmosphere because not only did we explore more of the mansion itself, but we took some of the story into the town of Devilswood, an old coastal village that serves as the backdrop to the saga.

But whether writing in the gothic genre or not, we’re firm believers that atmosphere is one of the most critical elements to a story. Atmosphere is a reflection of the characters, the locale, and a major influence on the plot itself, so – we believe – there should be no shortage of it.

More about The Witches of Ravencrest

Dark and Unnatural Powers


In a remote part of California just above the coastal town of Devilswood, Ravencrest Manor, imported stone-by-stone from England more than two centuries ago, looms tall and terrifying, gathering its dark and unnatural powers, and drawing those it wants as its own.


Murder Lurks in the Shadows


Governess Belinda Moorland has settled into life at Ravencrest, and, as summer gives way to autumn, romance is in the air. She and multi-millionaire Eric Manning are falling in love…but powerful forces will stop at nothing to keep them apart. And as the annual Harvest Ball is set to begin, evil abounds at Ravencrest. Murder lurks in the shadows, evil spirits freely roam the halls, a phantom baby cries, signaling a death in the mansion, and in the notoriously haunted east wing, three blood-soaked nuns, Sisters Faith, Hope, and Charity, tend to the demented needs of a maid gone mad.

Vengeful Spirits


Ravencrest has come to life. In the gardens below, granite statues dance by moonlight, and a scarecrow goes on a killing rampage, collecting a gruesome assortment of body parts from unwilling donors…. But Belinda’s greatest danger is the vengeful spirit of Rebecca Dane. Once the mistress of Ravencrest, Rebecca Dane has a centuries-old ax to grind with the powerful witch, Cordelia Heller – and Belinda becomes her weapon of choice.

The complete series … so far …


Witches, Ghosts, and Murder, Oh My!


Many of you die-hard horror fans out there will be familiar with Moonfall, Tamara Thorne’s Halloween-themed classic about witches, gargoyles, magick, and evil nuns – and now, for the first time ever, it’s available in audiobook at Audible.com, narrated by the inimitable Jamison Walker.

Moonfall is the first Tamara Thorne novel I ever read. This was back in the 90s when I was a teen who dreamed of one day being a writer myself – and Moonfall was one of the books that prompted me to put pen to paper. I was utterly taken by the atmosphere and so thoroughly immersed in the world she’d created that I wanted to one day have that same power. Tamara Thorne – anger book Moonfall in particular – is one of the main reasons I’m an author today.  I never would have dreamed that so many years later, I’d be writing books with her. 

Life … she’s a strange beast indeed. And speaking of strange beasts, here’s a little about Moonfall:

Moonfall, the picturesque town nestled in the mountains of southern California, is a quaint hamlet of antique stores, cider mills, and pie shops, and Apple Heaven, run by the dedicated nuns of St. Gertrude’s Home for Girls, is the most popular destination of all. As autumn fills the air, the townspeople prepare for the Halloween Haunt, Moonfall’s most popular tourist attraction. Even a series of unsolved deaths over the years hasn’t dimmed Moonfall’s enthusiasm for the holiday.

Now, orphan Sara Hawthorne returns to teach in the hallowed halls of St. Gertrude’s where, twelve years before, her best friend died a horrible death. In Sara’s old room, distant voices echo in the dark and the tormented cries of children shatter the moon-kissed night.

But that’s just the beginning. For Sara Hawthorne is about to uncover St. Gertrude’s hellish secret…a secret she may well carry with her to the grave.

“Tamara Thorne has become one of those must-read horror writers.” –Horror World

A New Book Cover for Sleep Savannah Sleep


Sometimes, as much as you love your book cover, you have to admit that it just isn’t right – that even though it’s good, it could be better. That’s the conclusion I recently drew with my novel, Sleep Savannah Sleep. Don’t get me wrong: I love the original cover art for this book. From the spindly tree branches and fog to the owl perched on the gravestone and the rich, mouthwatering purple sky, it has all the makings of a respectable book cover of its genre … but it just isn’t focused enough. It doesn’t say what it needs to. 

Sleep Savannah Sleep is a paranormal murder mystery that goes heavy on the horror. It’s chock-full of deadly small-town secrets, nasty slander, jealous husbands, crooked cops, murder and ghosts – or a ghost, anyway. There are some pretty serious scares here, something that I believe the cover art should more clearly express. The owl is cute and all but the fact is, it doesn’t scare me – and I want to be scared.

That’s why I decided it was time to revisit the artwork for this book. My cover artist, Mike – who is an absolute genius – allows me to watch as he does the design work, allowing me to make suggestions and give feedback as he goes along. The temptation here, of course, is to get a little too involved in the process and forget who the professional designer is (SPOILER ALERT: it isn’t me.) This is what happened with the first Savannah cover, and it almost happened with the new one, too. 

But luckily, I don’t travel alone. I always, always take my collaborator, Tamara Thorne, as well as my publicist, Berlin, with me to my design meetings and the reason is simple: The more eyes, the better the result. But not only do these lovely ladies see things I don’t, they also keep me from getting too fixated on an idea. Such was the case during the making of the new Savannah cover today. I wanted a cemetery. And a ghost. And fog. And trees. And a moon. Needless to say, it was overcrowded. It wasn’t working and we all knew it – and that’s when Tamara suggested a new idea. She explained her basic vision and I was sold. Thirty minutes later I had a new cover for Sleep Savannah Sleep – and I love it.

I really think this one captures the mood and atmosphere of this story. Savannah is a macabre jaunt into the unknown, a walk in the darkness all by yourself … and now the artwork makes me feel it. Now I really believe it … 

Thanks go to Mike for making it, Berlin for prying me off my ideals, and Tamara for her idea 

10 Things I’ve Learned About Writing in the Past 10 Years


I’ve been writing all my life, but it wasn’t until ten years ago that I got serious about it. And I didn’t want to be a hobby-writer, either. I wanted to be a real-life, full-time professional who spends his time writing, editing, marketing, and well … doing it all – because that’s what writers do these days.

The road was long and winding, but in 2012, I finally got published. Since then, I’ve written several novels on my own as well as with bestselling author, Tamara Thorne.

And Tamara and I didn’t stop there. We also began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, and, more recently, Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where we interview authors, paranormal investigators, forensics experts, and anyone else who likes frolicking in the darkness with us. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know some amazing people, and in the decade since I plunged myself into the strange world of creative enterprise, I’ve learned some things about writers, readers, the craft, and the business.

Some of these lessons were learned first hand and some of them through the wisdom of others, but all of them have proved profoundly valuable to me. The list that follows comes from my experience in the writing world, and I hope some of it may be useful to other writers … and interesting for readers.

1. Reading is the single most important thing to do if you want to improve your craft. Read everything … and read it with an active eye, taking in plot devices, pacing, theme, voice, dialogue, and character development. Reading trains the unconscious mind to find its own writing rhythm and gives you an “ear” for storytelling. So read. Not a little, but a lot. As Stephen King famously says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

2. There’s no such thing as ‘just a writer’ anymore. Gone are the days (if they ever existed) when publishers spent copious amounts of time and money getting the word out about your new book. You’re not just an author anymore. You’re also a marketer, a public relations specialist, a social media virtuoso, and a business manager, among other things. Make peace with that, keeping in mind that no one will work as hard for you as you will. They never have and they never will. So be accountable for your career.

3. The cream rises to the top. In an age of do-it-yourself digital delirium, everyone’s an author. It’s easy to look at the bottomless pit of other writers and wonder how the hell anyone is going to find your work. But look closer and you’ll see how many of those authors fall off the map, disenchanted when their dreams of instant fame and fortune are promptly torn to pieces. Not to mention the profusion of books out there that simply aren’t any good. Readers are smart people and they know the difference between a good story and a poor one. They don’t come back to authors who write bad books. Keep writing damned good books and, like the proverbial cream, you’ll rise to the top.

4. Have heroes. Learn from the best. Once you’ve established what kind of writer you want to be, keep a close eye on those authors who inspire you. Study their work, learn from them. Stalk them on Twitter. But don’t get too stalkery. No one likes a creepster.

5. Set goals. Whether it’s a page amount, a word amount, or a paragraph amount, set daily goals. Don’t settle for the “when I get around to it” approach to writing. No one ever “gets around to it.”

6. Know the difference between a hobby and a job. If you want writing to be your job, you have to treat it like a job or no one else will. That means you set hours. The phone is off. The door is shut. You’re not readily accessible. If you don’t spend your time wisely, other people will happily spend it for you, so unless writing is a mere pastime for you, don’t let other people spend your time.

7.   Go big or go home. Don’t think you can only write for small markets, or that a high-powered literary agent won’t be interested, or that a big-name author is going to look down his or her nose at you. Know your worth and aim for the stars.

8. Walk through every door that opens. And if you keep at it, people will open doors for you. But getting through the door is the easy part. It’s up to you to earn your place in the room.

9. Never read your reviews. For better or worse, reviews are necessary, but they’re designed with other readers in mind – not the author. If you’re looking for a critique, get it from your agent, your editor, your publisher, another author, or an objective friend … anywhere but from the reviews section of the book retailer. Reading reviews – whether they be glowing or insulting – isn’t really doing you any favors.

10. Trust your characters. Some writers will say that you must keep your characters on a short leash and remain in full command of them at all times lest they sully your painstakingly-plotted story with their whimsical meanderings. But here’s the thing: Those seemingly frivolous departures from your plans are where the characters come to life. And when the characters come to life, that’s when the magic happens. I say let your characters go where they want, let them say what they want … let them tell you their story. Let yourself be as delighted and surprised by them as your readers will be.

The Black Wasp – Artwork by Stefan Ellis


Artwork by Stefan Ellis

Here’s a piece of artwork depicting the Black Wasp, the character from my upcoming novel of the same name. She’s a different kind of monster, and in many ways she’s my creepiest creation. But there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye – which you’ll learn all about in The Black Wasp, book three of the Vampires of Crimson Cove series, coming in June.

The artwork is done by Stefan Ellis, a reader, a supporter, a wonderful artist and friend. Thank you, Stefan, for this and all the other pieces you’ve done. You rock.

The First-Ever Excerpt from The Black Wasp


Good news for those awaiting The Black Wasp! I’ve just received word that it’s currently scheduled for a mid-June release, and while I don’t have an exact date yet ( know, I know) I will very soon. I promise to share that information here as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, (and, of course, the Thorne & Cross newsletter) as soon as I have it.

Now that I know its release is imminent, I feel safe sharing an excerpt – something I’m always a little reluctant to do (with my luck, I’ll pick something with major spoilers and ruin the whole book for everyone.) I don’t think I did that here…

The scene I’ve chosen for The Black Wasp’s first-ever excerpt is taken from chapter 20, which is titled, Hard-Blessed to Believe, and in it, Cade Colter is in desperate search of whatever anti-vampire paraphernalia he can get his hands on. The reason for this is that he needs to get (and keep) his undead night guard, Chynna (one of the good guys) out of his house in order to execute some rather pressing vampire-related plans that involve … things I can’t tell you about yet.

The point is, with Crimson Cove’s only Catholic supplies shop, The Immaculate Connection, being temporarily closed, Cade’s best bet is Father Vincent Scarlotti, the local priest who lives in the old rectory at St. Anthony’s. So, he decides to pay the Father a visit … but how do you explain to a man of God that vampires are a thing and that you need to safeguard your house against them? The answer, Cade wisely decides, is that you don’t …

The Black Wasp, book three of The Vampires of Crimson Cove series, is coming this June.

He didn’t touch his tea, just stared down at his hands, wondering how to proceed. For long moments, the only sound was the hypnotic snick-snack that came from the grandfather clock in the corner, and when he finally spoke, Cade’s words had none of the finesse he’d planned. “Um, I have a ghost in my house.” Oh, the originality.

“A ghost?”

“Mm-hmm.” With no small effort, he met the priest’s eye. 

Father Scarlotti blinked at him.

“But not just any ghost,” Cade added at a gallop. “An evil one. A demon, I think.”

Scarlotti’s brow furrowed. “We don’t really do exorcisms anymore, if that’s what you’re asking, Mr. Colter. I’m afraid I can’t-”

“I don’t mean an exorcism,” said Cade. “Just … I don’t know. Maybe you have some … stuff I could place around the house. You know … holy stuff.”

A pause while the clock’s pendulum patiently swung. “Holy stuff?” 

“Yeah, like crosses or something,” said Cade. “A Bible, maybe. Saint medallions. Things like that.”

“I’m not sure-”

“Or holy water! Maybe you could bless my tap water and I could fill up some buckets and put them around the house or something.”

Snick-snack went the grandfather clock as Father Scarlotti regarded Cade with the kind of caution reserved for untamed animals, escaped convicts, and unstable mental patients.

“Look,” said Cade, “I know it sounds crazy, but … well, how is it any crazier than that?” He nodded at a painting of the haloed saint above the fireplace. “Or that?” At the open Bible on the cherrywood coffee table. 

“I see your point, Cade, believe me, I do. I’m more open-minded than you’re giving me credit for … but … a ghost?”

“Yes. Or a demon, maybe. I don’t know. Something evil, for sure, though.”

“Evil? What makes you think it’s evil?” 

Cade shifted uncomfortably. “Um, because I can feel it, you know?”

“I see.” The priest’s eyes narrowed. “And this … entity … have you … seen it?”

Cade shook his head. “No. But it’s doing stuff, you know?”

“Doing stuff?”

Cade thought fast – too fast. “Um, well, it’s moving my kitchen chairs around and making sounds from my television. Really scary sounds, like voices and stuff.” Hearing himself, he wished he’d thought this through a little more. If Scarlotti had ever seen Poltergeist, he’d know Cade was plagiarizing in the worst way. “And banging on the walls.” This, from The Haunting of Hill House, just to shake things up a little. “And my cat. It’s scaring my cat. He almost attacked me yesterday.” The Legend of Hell House. Cade stopped short of claiming to have mystery bite-marks around his nipples; no need to get too carried away.

Scarlotti’s skepticism was obvious. “Well … I suppose I could give the place a blessing.”

“A blessing? And that will keep the … damned away?”

“The damned?” The priest cocked his head. “That’s an interesting word choice.”

“I just meant the demon or whatever it is. You know, the evil. Will a house blessing keep it away?”

 Scarlotti eyed him with a strange new interest. “Ideally, yes, it will ward off evil and-”

“Great. When can you do it?”

“I could come by tomorrow and-”

“But I need it today,” said Cade. “Well, tonight.” Not until sunset, until after I can get Chynna out of the house! “Yeah, definitely tonight.”

Another beat of that puzzled silence.

“After sunset,” Cade quickly added, “That’s when the ghost is most active.”

“I see.” Scarlotti’s tone was cautious. “Then I guess you can expect me tonight after sunset.”

“Great. Thanks.” Cade gave the man his address and hurried home, wondering how the hell he was going to get Chynna out of the house once the sun went down. 

Think, think, think … 

An idea came to him … but no. He couldn’t do that. 

It would definitely get her out of the house, though … 

But could I live with it? By the time he got back home, Cade had come up with nothing better and supposed that he’d have to live with it, though he couldn’t believe what he was about to do. He hoped he’d be forgiven for it one day.

The Art of Blaming the Industry


In 2010, I completed my first novel and the rush it gave me was of greater magnitude than anything else I’d ever experienced. After years of trying, I had finally done it: I had written my very first book. I was elated, bubbling with pride, and eager to get it out into the world where everyone could appreciate all my hard work. Everything was going swimmingly. That is, until I started submitting it to agents and publishers. Suffice it to say, this part of the process did not go as I’d planned.

After two years and nearly 200 hundred rejections, I gave up. Not on writing or my dream of being published, but I gave up on my theory that my book was a misunderstood masterpiece. I might have blamed any number of sources for my failure – poor judgment on the parts of the agents and publishers, lack of industry funds, the changing marketplace, etc. – but I was never comfortable putting that much of my fate into someone else’s hands. I admitted to myself that the problem might be me. So I pulled my manuscript out of circulation and gave it a long, hard, honest look. Lo and behold, I found some issues. Issues that, deep down inside, in a place I don’t like looking at, I suspected were there all along.

Taken from an interview in 2018

The characters needed to be amped up and more clearly defined. There were some loose threads that never really went anywhere. The scenery wasn’t clear. Yes, there were issues, but also, there was enough potential that I couldn’t just scrap the novel – even though I tried.

Fast forward to 2015. My collaborator, Tamara Thorne, and I had just gotten our haunted hotel novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, published – and it was time to start the next project. We were all set, but there was something I had to do first. I had to re-work the manuscript I’d completed in 2010. So, I put many things on hold, dug my heels in, and refused to go forward on anything else until I gave my solo novel one more hard, honest rewrite.

What ended up happening was, again, not what I had planned. Rather than reworking the existing novel, I rewrote it entirely, keeping only the plot’s most skeletal basics – a few characters, and about three scenes I felt were strong enough to make the cut. I switched the point-of-view from first to third person, rearranged some plot points, and added new layers of texture to the characters and their relationships with each other. What I ended up with was an entirely different story – a better one that had no trouble seeing publication.

Its title is The Crimson Corset, and it was released in early August of 2015. Finally. Five years is a long time, especially in writer-speak. But in that time, I kept writing and managed to get a few other works published. More importantly, I developed, becoming a stronger writer with a keener eye, a sharper focus, and a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of good storytelling. The Crimson Corset went on to become a bestseller, earning praise from vampire-lit veteran Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Jay Bonansinga, New York Times author of The Walking Dead books …

But it came from humble beginnings and I won’t lie. It burns to realize your novel isn’t good enough. It’s disheartening, it’s aggravating, and because it’s your own hard work, it is personal, regardless of what they tell you. But there is a great mercy in the midst of this misfortune, and that is seeing how much you’ve improved with time. It wasn’t that my story wasn’t good enough – it’s that I simply wasn’t ready to tell it. I needed a little time, a little more experience, and only with those ingredients could I give full justice to the novel I was trying to write.

And I never resented having to rewrite this novel; I loved every minute of it – so much, in fact, that I’ve agreed to make it the first in a series: The Vampires of Crimson Cove (book 2, The Silver Dagger, is out now, and book 3, The Black Wasp, is coming this summer.)

I have never subscribed to the philosophy that creating art is a painful, grueling process. If I believed that, I don’t know that I would continue. If writing was as painful as some claim it is, I would simply do something else, something that didn’t hurt quite so much, something more suitable to my abilities. But the fact is, I love writing. Even rewriting. Sure it’s hard work, but when you write what you love, hard work is fun work. And the industry has nothing to do with it. A writer’s business is to write the kinds of books that readers want to read. Do that, and the rest will take care of itself.

Behind the Book: Sleep Savannah Sleep


One night, days after finishing my novel Dream Reaper, I was in bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering what to write next. I considered going back to the Crimson Cove series but I felt like there was a different story in me trying to get out. The trouble was, I didn’t know anything about it yet – I literally had no other ideas – so I started asking questions. 

I’ve always believed it’s the writer’s obligation to push their main character as hard as they can – that just when the protagonist might crack under the pressures of their dilemma, it’s time to give them one more problem – so the question I asked myself that night as I sought my next idea was this: What’s the worst thing I could possibly do to my main character in this book? 

It took some thinking, but a short time later, I finally had it: the absolute worst crisis possible (which I can’t say anything about without spoiling the book.) Suffice it to say that even now, I can’t imagine anything more awful than what Jason, my main character, goes through in this book. Anyway, once I had that, I worked backwards from there, something I’ve never done before. 

I started outlining this book that night and I was so excited about it that I never went to bed – but by the time the sun came up, Savannah was plotted out in its entirety, from the opening scene to the last. While this isn’t how I usually do things, I will say that it makes for much quicker novel writing: Sleep Savannah Sleep was written in twenty-five days. The first draft, that is. Edits and revisions still took a few months – but I’ve never written a first draft that fast. It was both exhilarating and exhausting, and though I don’t plan to do again any time soon, I loved it.

Sleep Savannah Sleep was a slightly different animal for me. I knew almost right away that this was a murder mystery so my process was a little different this time around. Usually, I know about where I want to end up and I just start writing toward that, allowing the plot to go where it sees fit (within reason, of course). In a murder mystery though, you need to have a concrete end at the beginning. You need to know your ending well and work strictly toward it, all the while leaving subtle clues that become apparent to the reader only after they’ve finished the book. This requires lots of heavy plotting and lots of precision, and for those reasons, I’m especially proud of Savannah.

As any writer will attest, each book is special in its own way, and to me, the thing that really sets this one apart from my others is not only its style but what it did for me, personally: It proved to me that I could expand. And for a writer who’s always looking for the next fresh angle, that’s important.


P.S. – Sleep Savannah Sleep (narrated by Isaiah Fowler) is available now in audiobook at Audible.com. You can also get it in paperback and ebook at Amazon.

Classic Horror Movies I’m Just Now (Somehow) Seeing for the First Time


I know, I know … as a self-proclaimed lover of horror, it’s pretty ridiculous that I haven’t seen some of these movies until now, but I have an excuse: I grew up in the days of movie rentals on VHS in a small conservative town in the midst of the “satanic panic.” In short, the horror selections at the local movie rental joint really, really sucked. I must have seen Carrie, Poltergeist, and Psychos 2, 3, and 4 a hundred times, but aside from that (and the occasional showings of the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street movies on HBO) I pretty much had to sustain myself with weekly episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Tales From the Crypt.

I loved horror and watched anything and everything available to me, but looking back, there are a lot of movies I missed out on. In the days of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, however, there are no excuses for this kind of behavior, so I’ve made it my mission to watch some of the classics that slipped past me in my youth. Here they are, in no particular order.

  1. The House on Sorority Row (1982)

This tale of a college prank gone wrong embodies just about everything that was great about 80s horror: violence, bad acting, and scantily clad women. While probably not gory enough to satisfy the gore-fiends out there, this movie has plenty of suspense and even incorporates some murder mystery.

Highlights:

  • A really bad band with really bad hair that plays really bad music – but does it really, really well.
  • Pretty nice final showdown
  • A girl named Stevie

Meh Factors:

  • Pretty unimaginative death scenes

2. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Given that this came out before I was born, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised I never saw it – but I am. Alice, Sweet Alice is a surprisingly twisted tale about a little girl suspected of her own sister’s savage murder during her First Communion … and that’s just the beginning. I couldn’t take my eyes off this one for a single moment.

Highlights:

  • Brooke Shields in her first role
  • Spooky little girl horror
  • Surprise ending
  • That creepy mask!

Meh Factors:

  • The gross, fat neighbor. Ugh. I hated that guy

3. Trilogy of Terror (1975)

A three-part horror story starring Karen Black in the roles of four different women, Trilogy of Terror is one that I’d never even heard of (somehow) until my friend and collaborator, Tamara Thorne, suggested it to me. The subject came up when we were writing our gothic thriller, The Witches of Ravencrest. We were looking for inspiration for “crazy” … and hoo boy, no one does crazy like Karen Black in the final scene with those eyes, those teeth … that knife.

Highlights:

  • Lots of Karen Black
  • Good acting
  • Best doll horror ever

Meh Factors:

  • Male camel-toe

4. The Fog (1980)

I know! How did I not see this until now!? As the little coastal town of Antonio Bay prepares to celebrate its centennial, an impenetrably thick mist rolls across the community causing unexplainable disappearances and begging the question: What’s in the fog!?

Highlights:

  • Jamie Lee Curtis and Janet Leigh together
  • Great atmosphere
  • It’s John Carpenter
  • Another girl named Stevie

Meh Factor:

  • I just wasn’t feeling the relationship between Jamie Lee and Tom Atkins. Awkward

5. Burnt Offerings (1976)

It’s said that this inspired Stephen King’s The Shining, and after watching it, I believe it. I also see shades of Pet Sematary and a few other things. It stars Karen Black (again) and Oliver Reed as married couple, along with their son and aunt Elizabeth (played by Bette Davis – and I’ll watch anything with her in it). When the family moves into a creepy old mansion they learn the place appears to have an eerie, supernatural influence over its residents.

Highlights:

  • Good acting
  • A secret in the attic!
  • A super creepy hearse driver
  • Burgess Meredith because, well, it’s Burgess Meredith

Meh Factor:

  • The filming is really … “foggy.” I suspect they were going for atmosphere or something but the constant hazy pall gets distracting in some scenes
  • The little boy got on my nerves. It’s not his fault. Most children do.

6. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

Written (to my pleasant surprise) by Rita Mae Brown and directed by Amy Holden Jones, The Slumber Party Massacre is pretty much as good as it gets. It’s got guts, glory, girls, and gore – but watch closely and you’ll see a surprisingly smart tribute to female empowerment.

Highlights:

  • Great pacing
  • Palatable levels of symbolism
  • A killer with a drill
  • Women with agency at a time (and in a genre) when they were customarily victims
  • The line: “Hey, it’s not the size of your mouth; it’s what’s in it that counts.”

Meh Factors:

  • Rather predictable

7. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

A young Jodie Foster stars in a bizarre thriller about a 12-year-old girl living alone who leads a life of secrets and danger. It doesn’t get much better than this. I actually read the book before I saw the movie – both are excellent.

Highlights:

  • Intrigue upon intrigue upon intrigue
  • Martin Sheen as a convincing and compelling villain
  • Halloween!

Meh Factors:

  • The nude scene with underaged Jodie Foster. And yes, I know it’s actually her older (legal) sister standing in, but it’s still too much for me. It really needs to go IMO.
  • Jodie Foster’s wig. It’s just so bad.

8. Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)

While not horror per se, this film makes my list because it is horrific. From the (fantastic) book of the same name, Looking for Mr. Goodbar is the true story about a schoolteacher (Diane Keaton) who begins frequenting bars in search of various lovers with whom she can engage in increasingly violent and dangerous sexual affairs. Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t end well.

Highlights:

  • Emotionally compelling
  • A nice glimpse into the 1970 city nightlife
  • Excellent closing scene
  • A unique ending

Meh Factor:

  • Richard Gere in a jockstrap. 😦

9. When a Stranger Calls (1979)

The infamous tale of the psychopathic killer who terrorizes the babysitter. But there’s more to this story than “The call is coming from inside the house!” When a Stranger Calls is also a cat-and-mouse thriller between a detective and his prey, as well as a psychologically sound (and sometimes even sympathetic) glimpse into the mind of a madman.

Highlights:

  • One of the best openings in horror history
  • Mainly off-screen horror – which adds to the intrigue
  • Excellent characterization

Meh Factor:

  • I didn’t feel as much connection to Seven-Years-Later Jill as I did High-School-Babysitter Jill

10. When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)

A surprisingly strong follow-up, When a Stranger Calls Back sees the return of Jill (who is much more empowered these days) as well as the psychopath who stalked her and the detective on his trail. It adds a new character, a young woman named Julia, who ends up in a similarly dangerous (but pleasingly unique) babysitting crisis. Like its predecessor, the majority of horror here takes place off-screen – which always makes it extra spooky (I’m haunted by the faceless man who’s entering Julia’s house for the sole purpose of moving things around.) In many ways, When a Stranger Calls Back is stronger than the prequel.

Highlights:

  • The return of the original cast
  • An extremely spooky late night visitor
  • Jill’s personal growth and empowerment
  • Great pacing

Meh Factors:

  • Julia’s godawful early-90s female mullet. I seriously can’t even handle it.

Finishing Books and Listening to Your Characters


Coming this summer

On March 5th, I finished The Black Wasp, book 3 in the Vampires of Crimson Cove series, and I’m astounded by the direction these books have taken. This is in so small part due to the Black Wasp herself – a character who showed up in the middle of the previous book, The Silver Dagger.

I can still remember the moment she made her first appearance. I was in the midst of writing a scene that had nothing to do with strange, ancient women in old-fashioned mourning clothes, but there she was, all white-faced and creepy-eyed, waiting to be written. I put her off at first because I knew she’d do exactly what she did – which was forever alter the DNA of this series – but eventually, I could ignore her no longer. And I’m glad I didn’t.

Unlike the other supernatural creatures in Crimson Cove, she’s not a vampire – not in the usual sense, anyway – but something much darker, much deadlier. While she does feed on humans, it isn’t blood their that satiates her, but their fear and pain. In that respect, I suppose she’s a kind of “psychic vampire,” though I never refer to her as that in the book. She’s a different species altogether, her own kind of monster – a monster that’s opened new doors of possibility for the story arc and added deeper layers of intrigue (and terror) to my fictional world. Figuring her out has been one of the creative highlights of my writing life, and I still have a lot to learn about her.

I love it when characters feel this alive because early in my writing career, I was advised – by someone who didn’t know what the hell they were talking about – to never let the the characters guide the plot. Not knowing any better (and to my own detriment) I followed that advice, and my writing – when it came at all – suffered badly for it.

I nearly gave the up entirely more than once, but eventually, I heard someone say that writers should listen to their characters, and decided to give that a try … and that’s when my fictional world flourished and my plots gained real ambition.

It undoubtedly sounds crazy to non-writers (and probably to some writers as well, depending on their own processes) to say that the characters know what’s best, that it’s the author’s job is to transcribe more than actually invent the story, but – in my case, at least – it’s the absolute truth. Had I ignored the promptings of the Black Wasp character, the Crimson Cove series wouldn’t be taking the turns it is – and I love where it’s going.

The same thing happened in the first book, The Crimson Corset, with Gretchen VanTreese. It’s pretty hard to believe now that my central antagonist was originally intended to die in her first and only scene, but she was. Somehow, though, by that mysterious process of creation, things changed along the way, taking on an entirely new and unexpected shape. Without Gretchen, this series would be something entirely different. Assuming it existed at all, it certainly wouldn’t be the story I currently know and love.

And this is why I use every opportunity to tell new writers to a) trust their characters, and b) be very selective about what advice they follow. Every writer has their own process which needs to be discovered organically, and the only way to do that is to write. And write and write and write.

So keep writing …

And always, always listen to your characters.

P.S. The Black Wasp is currently with the editors and should be out sometime in early-to-mid summer.

Discovering Horror


Not too long ago, I took a late-night, spur-of-the-moment, why-the-hell-not trip to my old hometown and wow … does this bring back memories. And one of the best memories that came back to me was right here.

It was here, on this bridge ~ which is, ironically, right in front of the local morgue ~ where I first heard of Stephen King … and where I first dreamed of being a writer. This was in 1986 and I was 9 years old.

Earlier that day, through some mutual friends, I met a kid who would go on to be a very good friend for many years. He was the son of the local mortician … and he was the first REAL horror lover besides myself that I’d ever met. Even though he was a couple years older than me, we quickly bonded over scary movies and books. He told me all about Cujo, It, and Christine… and I was riveted. Up till then my experience with the horror genre was limited to the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street movies.

We decided that very day to write our own book and created a small but fascinating cast of characters: a vampire named Countis Himeburger and his fortune telling wife, Eliza. Over the years we built on their strange and sordid story, but the book, of course, never got written. At that age, we just didn’t have the skills – or the stamina – to see it through.

But I never forgot those characters and, having always been especially fond of Eliza, I promised myself that one day, in one of my books, I would find a place for her …

And in 2019, I finally did. In The Silver Dagger, book two of my Vampires of Crimson Cove series, Eliza is the shopkeeper of Ancient Ways, a kitschy little occult store in the downtown district of Crimson Cove where Cade Colter comes across the very dagger for which the book is named ~ Eliza herself is the one who sells him the fated blade …

So … if you’re reading The Silver Dagger, when you come across Eliza, now you know that this is the bridge that she – and my dream of being a writer – was born on, 34 years ago …

Today is the First Day of a New Book


Today is the day I began a new book. With The Black Wasp (book 3 of the Vampires of Crimson Cove series) in the editor’s hands, and not a lot going on besides some book marketing and the disposal of an old sofa, I figured I might as well do some writing. Since I’m dying to find out what happens next, I’ve decided to dive right into book 4 of the Crimson Cove series which, for now, I am referring to only as TMR.

TMR picks up where The Black Wasp leaves off, and given that it hasn’t even been released yet, I can’t say a whole lot more about it except that things have really changed for my protagonist, Cade Colter. The Black Wasp not only introduced new characters, but new motives as well – and those motives are what will drive TMR and leave poor Cade with some pretty big fish to fry. And by “pretty big” I actually mean huge.

To simplify it, he’s in way over his head, and when The Black Wasp comes out (this summer!) you’ll see why. Even as I was writing today, I realized just how much Cade is underestimating his situation and how little he actually understands. I’m currently feeling very bad for him, but I can’t help it – I’m a sucker for the drama. There’s nothing more fun than a character who’s bitten off way more than they can chew (insert evil laugh here.)

The Black Wasp is coming soon

With so many endings on the horizon, I’m feeling especially excited about the new project (not only was The Black Wasp recently finished, but Tamara and I are creeping up on the climax of our next Thorne & Cross standalone, Spite House, as well as wrapping up the final scenes in Shadowlands, book 4 of The Ravencrest Saga), and no doubt adding to my excitement is the fact that this, the beginning, is my favorite part of the book. It might sound strange to say I prefer the beginnings and (and even the middles) to the endings, but I do – and not just in the books I’m writing, the ones I’m reading, too. Endings just kind of depress me, I guess, but the good news is, you can always start the next one – so, that’s what I did.

I wish I could tell you more about it, but for now, I need to keep its secrets close. When The Black Wasp comes out in the next month or two, maybe I’ll be able to say more …

Until then, happy reading, writing, or whatever it is that makes you shine, and just because, apropos of nothing, here’s me with my familiar, Pawpurrazzi, who oversees all my writing.

Pawpurrazzi and me, sometime last year

NEW RELEASE Available for Pre-Order


The Angel Alejandro is available for pre-order. Buy it today and have it directly sent to your Kindle on January 25th: http://tinyurl.com/z9mc5un
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A Man without a Past
 
After a near-fatal accident, Madison O’Riley is faced with an astonishing problem: What to do with the man who saved her life. Naive and heart-stoppingly handsome, he calls himself Alejandro … and he has no memory of his past. As they set out to recover his lost identity, Madison realizes he harbors deep – and otherworldly – secrets that will shatter her understanding of reality … secrets that may put her in grave danger.
 
The Devil in the Details
 
And now, there’s another stranger in town. Gremory Jones has something for everyone, and for a small price, he’s willing to make a deal. By day, he walks the streets of Prominence in top hat and trench coat, tempting the citizens with nefarious wares from his shiny black briefcase. By night, he and his legion of insatiable acolytes corrupt the locals at Club Mephistopheles, a den of unholy delights housed in an abandoned church.
 
The Battle has Begun …
 
The townspeople are changing in outrageous and appalling ways and it’s up to Madison – with the help of a psychic, a local priest, and the new chief of police – to help Alejandro unlock his forgotten powers before an unspeakable evil tears apart the fabric of existence … and costs them their very souls …
 
#angels
#demons
#amreading
#pnr
#horror

Halloween Blow-Out Sale! — Thorne & Cross


Now through the end of the month, get three Thorne & Cross ghost stories for just three bucks at Amazon. Check the poster below for sale dates. Book descriptions: The Cliffhouse Haunting When the Blue Lady Walks… Since 1887, Cliffhouse Lodge has been famous for its luxurious accommodations, fine dining… and its ghosts. Overlooking Blue […]

via Halloween Blow-Out Sale! — Thorne & Cross

THE CRIMSON CORSET is on SALE!


To celebrate October, Halloween, and last week’s show at Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! with vampire author extraordinaire, Laurell K. Hamilton, THE CRIMSON CORSET is on sale at Amazon for just $0.99 in ebook, now through October 6th.

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“Alistair Cross’ new novel THE CRIMSON CORSET … is taut and elegantly written taking us into the realms where the erotic and the horrific meet. Reminiscent of the work of Sheridan Le Fanu (CARMILLA, UNCLE SILAS) in its hothouse, almost Victorian intensity, it tells a multi-leveled story of misalliance and mixed motives. The language is darkly lyrical, and the tale is compelling. Read it; you’ll be glad you did.” – Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, author of the Saint-Germain Cycle

“This drop-deadly tale of seduction and terror will leave you begging to be fanged … ” – Tamara Thorne, international bestselling author of HAUNTED and MOONFALL

“I couldn’t put this book down. It’s got more hooks than a day boat out of San Pedro Harbor!”  – QL Pearce, bestselling author of SCARY STORIES FOR SLEEP-OVERS

Real Ghosts


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Remember when the parapsychologists in Poltergeist tell the Freelings about a fantastic poltergeist experience they’d had just before they see what’s going on in Carol Ann’s room? It goes like this:

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Yes, Ryan photographed an extraordinary episode on a case in Redlands.

RYAN

A child’s toy, a small matchbox vehicle, rolled seven feet across a linoleum surface. The duration of the event was seven hours.

STEVEN

Seven hours for what?

RYAN

For the vehicle to complete the distance. This would never register on the naked eye, but I have the event on the time-lapse camera.

Poltergeist (1982) has a number of realistic incidents (mixed with many not-so-real ones) in the first portion of the movie – even the chairs stacked on the kitchen table are not far off from the more spectacular of documented poltergeist incidents. (In fact, Tamara witnessed something similar – but far less artistic – in an anomaly-laden house, not once, but three times in succession.)

The most realistic thing in Poltergeist is the investigators’ excitement over that little Matchbox car moving by itself. In reality, assuming the floor was level and there were no other factors that might affect it, that movement would be pretty amazing – unless you believe everything you see on shows like Ghost Hunters.

The truth is, anomalies don’t perform on command, and for something truly anomalous to happen while a TV crew is filming, would be truly jaw-dropping. Reality TV is entertainment, pure and simple. Oh, there’s no doubt episodes are based in true stories and experiences, but we guarantee you that real events caught on camera on a weekly series, are about as likely to happen as water turning into wine.

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Recently, someone asked us why nothing “big” happens in Five Nights in a Haunted Cabin, our account of our stay in an allegedly haunted little house in the woods.  We were surprised by the question because we were trying our best to recount what really happened and didn’t want to exaggerate the events for the sake of entertainment. Rather, we wanted to document them. We had been given a specific duty: to investigate and report. We were not there as a TV-style ghost hunters.

That’s why we went in with as little knowledge of the history of the cabin as possible. We didn’t want to have any expectations because the mind plays tricks, makes connections, and leaps to conclusions when you’ve been fed information, and that leads to inaccurate reporting.

That said, we were pretty amazed by what did happen. We even conceived of The Cliffhouse Haunting during our stay and were inspired by several events we witnessed.

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But as far as reality goes, Tamara has spent many hours in allegedly haunted locales over the last thirty years and has been fortunate enough to witness a handful of anomalies that are pretty impressive. But the cabin was the gift that kept on giving. We saw, heard, and felt things in and around it that were peculiar – and occasionally quite frightening. While we can find possible explanations for most – if we try very hard to dig some up – we can’t explain everything we experienced. We were, to put it mildly, impressed.

Compared to the ghost-of-the-week TV reality shows, our experiences are pretty tame, but from the moment we walked in, there were minor anomalies that would thrill a serious non-entertainment-oriented ghost hunter. They certainly excited and inspired us.

We hope you enjoy our account for what it is – a realistic look at a “haunted” house.  We admit that going back in and reliving it while we prepared it for publication gave us both the shivers, but we’ll tell you up front that neither of us levitated, spoke in tongues, or spotted any demons. However, we did experience some things that made us wonder if we’d ever agree to go back.

We probably would, but we’re just crazy that way.

And speaking of ghosts, don’t forget that our Gothic Horror novel, The Ghosts of Ravencrest, is available now for just .99!

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Dirty Ghosts, Dirt Cheap


THE GHOSTS OF RAVENCREST is available at: http://tinyurl.com/hzvae3e
 
“The Ghosts of Ravencrest delivers on every level. Delicate, creepy, detailed, and beautifully crafted, this reinvention of the gothic ghost story into a sexy, sleek modern chiller is a marvel of suspense and atmosphere. A knockout of a horror yarn!”
 
-Jay Bonansinga, the New York Times bestselling author of The Walking Dead: Invasion, Lucid, and Self Storage.
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.99 Cents For Jim Morrison, Elvis, and Jack the Ripper?


Tamara Thorne’s ETERNITY goes on sale for .99 on Monday, August 1st! Get a copy at: http://tinyurl.com/hgo8xzw Read a review of ETERNITY at HELLNOTES: http://tinyurl.com/jktk5xm
 
Currently, she and I are writing a collaboration that takes place in Eternity, which is a sequel to CANDLE BAY and features Michael, Winter, Chynna, and Arnie from my novel,THE CRIMSON CORSET. It will be out later this year. Until then, catch up with the folks in Eternity for .99
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ETERNITY by Tamara
 
When Zach Tully leaves Los Angeles to take over as sheriff of Eternity, a tiny mountain town in northern California, he’s expecting to find peace and quiet in his own private Mayberry. But he’s in for a surprise. Curmudgeonly Mayor Abbott is a ringer for long-missing writer Ambrose Bierce. There are two Elvises in town, a shirtless Jim Morrison, and a woman who has more than a passing resemblance to Amelia Earhart. And that’s only the beginning.
 
Eternity is the sort of charming spot tourists flock to every summer and leave every fall when the heavy snows render it an isolated ghost town. Tourists and New Agers all talk about the strange energy coming from Eternity’s greatest attraction: a mountain called Icehouse, replete with legends of Bigfoot, UFOs, Ascended Masters, and more. But the locals talk about something else.
 
The seemingly quiet town is plagued by strange deaths, grisly murders, and unspeakable mutilations, all the work of a serial killer the locals insist is Jack the Ripper. And they want Zach Tully to stop him.
 
Now, as the tourists leave and the first snow starts to fall, terror grips Eternity as an undying evil begins its hunt once again…

VAMPIRES for .99!


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Some years ago a young woman named Amanda Pearce came to a sleepy little California town on the central coast where she began work as concierge at the Candle Bay Hotel & Spa. She liked Natasha and Stephen Darling – the siblings who owned the inn, and was especially attracted to Stephen, a tall, broody drink of … water.  A good girl, Amanda didn’t even allow herself to fantasize about him because she knew you shouldn’t have affairs in the workplace. And Stephen, though attracted to her, kept his fangs to himself.

She met Natasha and Stephen’s uncle, Orion Darling and thought him eccentric because of his identification with The Godfather – even his office was an exact replica of the one in the movie – but that was fine with her. And then, along came a stranger, an old family friend – or so he claimed – named Julian Valentyn. There was something about him that frightened her, but Amanda was too happy in her new position to question things.

But after a run-in or three with Stephen’s lascivious, eternally sixteen-year-old twin sisters, Lucy and Ivy, and then finding a bloodless body in a laundry cart that never seemed to stay in one place, she began to think the hotel wasn’t quite what she’d bargained for.  

The bodies began piling up, but Amanda, her love for Stephen growing, persevered through every trial, through the strange dreams about Julian Valentyne, and despite threats and dangers at every turn. And at the end of the story she and Stephen had their first kiss.

But the question was never answered: Did he turn her or didn’t he?

At last, that – and many other questions – will be answered.

The sequel to Candle Bay had been planned for years, but simmered on a backburner until after Alistair wrote his vampire novel, The Crimson Corset, and asked if he might give the Darling clan cameo roles in the book. Tamara happily agreed and it went so well that she and Alistair decided to tackle the Candle Bay sequel as a collaboration, bringing together both Tamara’s Darlings (and Julian Valentyn, of course) and Alistair’s vamps – particularly peace-loving Michael and his lieutenants, Winter – the big lusty fellow with a deadly sense of humor – and Chynna – a beautiful warrior with a soft spot for her white tigers, Absinthe and Hyacinthe.

In the sequel, there is a vampiric festival coming up – a very special one that only occurs every century or so – in Eternity, California, a tiny town in the shadows of Icehouse Mountain, where Sheriff Zach Tully once battled a time-travelling Jack the Ripper. It’s a town where people like Ambrose Bierce, Elvis, and Amelia Earhart are rumored to live thanks to a supernaturally-charged prehistoric monument known as ‘Little Stonehenge.’  

Eternity is also on the bucket list for vampires as it was once the home-away-from-home for vamps misplaced after Atlantis met its watery death thousands of years ago. Icehouse Mountain is rumored to be the site of a very special vampiric holiday where the vamps gather to celebrate their long ago champion and king, the Trueborn, Kelieu. Think of it as Christmas with fangs.

Natasha Darling of Candle Bay and Michael Ward of Crimson Cove are travelling together to the festival in Eternity, and they have an intense past together. But these days, Michael is celibate while Natasha remains hot as hellfire, igniting their reunion with plenty of sparks and steam. And when Juicy Lucy and Poison Ivy carpool with Winter and Chynna, well, Chynna finds herself in charge of keeping everyone’s hands – and fangs – to themselves. As for Stephen, Julian, and Amanda, that eternal triangle is coming to a head. Will wedding bells chime? Will fangs fly? Will blood spill? Will the serial killer have a stake in the action? Will Sheriff Tully decide he’s had enough?

In the sequel, we again meet all these vampires and humans – as well as some fresh faces – as they head up to Eternity, some for marriage, some for fun, some to kill vampires, some to seduce them. Even the rarely-seen-but-oft-heard deejay, Coastal Eddie Fortune, is going. He’d really rather not – he’s no fool – but what can you do when you’re in love … with the mother of a serial killer?

We are hard at work on the sequel, approaching mid-point, and expect to see it in print before 2016 ends. Until then, you can read Candle Bay for just .99 now through Sunday, to refresh your memory and get ready for the sequel! Eternity and The Crimson Corset are also available if you really want to do your homework.

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The Angel Alejandro


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THE ANGEL ALEJANDRO – coming later this year.
 
After a near-fatal accident, Madison O’Riley is faced with an extraordinary problem: What to do with the man who saved her life. He calls himself Alejandro … and he has no memory of who he is or where he came from. As they set out to recover his past, Madison realizes there’s something different about him – something that goes beyond his child-like innocence and unearthly good looks.
 
And now there’s another stranger in town. By day, Gremory Jones, in top hat and trenchcoat, tempts the citizens of Prominence with mysterious wares from his shiny black briefcase. By night, he manages Club Mephistopheles, housed in an old Catholic church he’s renovated into a den of darkness and desire.
 
The townspeople are changing in outrageous and appalling ways and it’s up to Madison – with the help of a psychic, a local priest, and the new chief of police – to uncover Alejandro’s lost identity before an unspeakable evil tears apart the fabric of reality … and costs them their very souls …

MOTHER is on Sale at AMAZON!


MOTHER is on sale for .99! : http://tinyurl.com/hzghpsa

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A Girl’s Worst Nightmare is Her Mother …
Priscilla Martin. She’s the diva of Morning Glory Circle and a driving force in the quaint California town of Snapdragon. Overseer of garage sales and neighborhood Christmas decorations, she is widely admired. But few people know the real woman behind the perfectly coiffed hair and Opium perfume.

Family is Forever. And Ever and Ever …
No one escapes Prissy’s watchful eye. No one that is, except her son, who committed suicide many years ago, and her daughter, Claire, who left home more than a decade past and hasn’t spoken to her since. But now, Priscilla’s daughter and son-in-law have fallen on hard times. Expecting their first child, the couple is forced to move back … And Prissy is there to welcome them home with open arms … and to reclaim her broken family.

The Past Isn’t Always as Bad as You Remember.
Sometimes it’s Worse …
Claire has terrible memories of her mother, but now it seems Priscilla has mended her ways. When a cache of vile family secrets is uncovered, Claire struggles to determine fact from fiction, and her husband, Jason, begins to wonder who the monster really is. Lives are in danger – and Claire and Jason must face a horrifying truth … a truth that may destroy them … and will forever change their definition of “Mother.”

THE CLIFFHOUSE HAUNTING is on sale!


A deranged doctor with an appalling side-hobby, a macabre groundskeeper who delights in terrifying children, an unlikely vandal with vulgar talents, a lovestruck cop, a 60s Scream Queen, a death-portending ghost, and an egomanaical self-proclaimed psychic who wants to write a book about it. What happens when they all end up in a cozy cliff side lodge, and bodies start piling up? Find out for .99! THE CLIFFHOUSE HAUNTING is 80% off today and tomorrow only: http://tinyurl.com/zeyyekv

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And here’s what’s happening in the town of Cliffside this week!

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THE CLIFFHOUSE HAUNTING is on sale NOW for .99!


Today through Saturday, The Cliffhouse Haunting is on sale for only .99 at Amazon! To celebrate, here is this week’s copy of the The Cliffside Weekly Chronicle! Just click the pic below to obtain your .99 cent copy!

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THE CLIFFSIDE WEEKLY CHRONICLE

Another Death at the Peppermint Stix Motel

Another body has been found in Cliffside. The unidentified male was discovered by Bernard Cox, owner of the Peppermint Stix Motel on Main Street. “I’ve seen a lot of disgusting things – I’ve been running this run-down piece of sh*t motel for years – but I ain’t never seen anything the likes of this!” Cox went on to describe the scene. “So this fellow – he was ripped apart. A leg here, an arm there. And there was water everywhere. And his intestines, or something like that, was pulled out of him and draped around like festoons on the fourth of July!”

The body was taken to the Cliffside Funeral Home where coroner Gene Holmes, M.D., was expected to autopsy it this morning. Police Chief Jackson Ballou refused to answer questions, saying it was too early in the investigation. “This savage murder is just the latest in a series of deaths that may or may not be related. We haven’t even ruled out a bear attack at this point.”

But Cliffside residents have theories of their own. According to young locals Belle Tabrum and Lacey Mylett, there’s “obviously a serial killer on the loose, you know?” When asked what made them so certain, they seemed at a loss and failed to respond. Tessa Cornhull, RN, also believes the murders are connected. “It’s practically common sense,” says Cornhull. “Each of the victims is torn apart, but that’s not even what kills them. They die by drowning. Water in the lungs. That sounds like an MO to me!” Neither the police nor the coroner would confirm Cornhull’s claims of water being present in the lungs of the deceased, saying only that “The investigations are ongoing,” though Cornhull retains her belief that murder is afoot.

But Walter Gardner, groundskeeper of the Cliffside Lodge, has a different theory. Says Gardner, “It’s the Blue Lady. She’s come back. And when the Blue Lady walks, death walks with her.” Maggie O’Connor, a maid at the lodge, concurs with Gardner, saying, “I saw her. In the mirror in a room on the third floor. It scared me to death and I almost quit my job until my boss talked me into staying.”

Unable to obtain any substantial findings, we contacted local doctor, Roger Siechert, who was physician to several of the deceased. When told of the locals’ speculations, Dr. Siechert gave a boisterous laugh, saying, “I don’t know about all that, but are you guys coming to Oktoberfest this year? I’m making my famous Weisswurst. I’m going to win the contest this year! You just watch and see!”

According to Pastor Harry Beaver of the Baptist church, that comes as no surprise. Says Beaver, “Dr. Siechert wins first place every gosh darned year. It’d be nice to see someone else take that ribbon for once.”

So Who is the Blue Lady?

Interest in Cliffside’s own local ghost, the Blue Lady, has increased since long-time Cliffhouse Groundsman, Walter Gardner, said that he thinks the latest murders in our town – specifically at the Peppermint Stix Motel – may be connected to the deaths. And he says his theory has nothing to do with the unverified rumor that the victims’ lungs are full of water.

The Blue Lady sightings date back to the late 1700s when a short-lived Spanish Settlement occupied the area, then reemerged in 1886 when the Cliffhouse Lodge was built. The Blue Lady is often connected to serial murders such as those committed by The Gaslight Killer in the 1880s and The Bodice Ripper of the Prohibition Era. Local lore has it that the Blue Lady, a vengeful spirit of unknown origin, is said to appear during times of violence and death, and that such sightings are a prelude to murder.

It is most commonly believed that the ghost makes her home in or near the water, hence the name of the small lake near the Cliffside Lodge, Blue Lady Lake.

Self-Proclaimed Psychic Signs at the Crystal Cavern

Psychic medium Constance Welling has written many books on the occult and will be at the Crystal Cavern Occult Book Shop this Saturday from 2pm to 4pm signing her latest book in the Crystal Method series, The Kiss of the Wild Crystal. She will also be a giving a talk on getting in touch with your inner spirit guide. Her own spirit guide, (referred to as Eliza,) has been with her since childhood, after a near-fatal accident. Welling says Eliza has given her insight and guided her hand while writing her many books, as well as “helping others with their spiritual needs.”

Welling is currently staying at the Cliffhouse Lodge and says it’s extremely haunted. The medium says she hopes that the owners, Adam and Teddy Baxter-Bellamy, will relent and allow her to hold a seance in the lodge to speak with notorious 1920s serial killer, the Bodice Ripper. She hopes to once and for all identify the Ripper so that, “his many victims can at last go into the light.”

Adam Baxter-Bellamy responded to this reporter’s question. “We want to reassure our guests – past, present, and future, that Cliffhouse is not haunted – except possibly by a friendly feline ghost – and that no ghost-hunting or seances will happen here.”

Ms. Welling vehemently disagrees, stating that most non-gifted persons are unaware of ghostly goings-on. According to Ms. Welling, she is the only member of her family to have inherited what she calls the “gift.” Says Welling, “I used to tell my older sister what her dates were going to be like, and I was always right.” Constance’s only sibling, Phyllis Stine of Snapdragon, California, refused to comment, saying only that she had to get off the phone as a pressing neighborhood matter required her immediate attention. “Just make sure she has the best of everything,” said Stine, “and she’ll make you a few bucks. She insists on dining and traveling in style.”

And Ms. Welling is not traveling alone. She’s brought a hired hand to “help her manage her schedule,” and to “keep the fans at bay.” When asked if he thought his employer was as psychically gifted as she claims, Welling’s personal assistant, Luke Donovan, abruptly excused himself.

Welling’s The Crystal Method Series, as well as her children’s book, My Crystal and Me, are published by Faerie Dust Press, a small publisher based in Bakerton, California, owned by Rodney Hicks. You can obtain copies of Ms. Welling’s ebooks through Amazon. For paperback copies, send self-addressed stamped 6X9” envelopes to Rodney at his mother’s residence at: 17 Peanut Berry Circle, Bakerton, CA. For signed copies of her books, Ms. Welling says, “You’ll just have to come to one of my signings.”

Sadly, Ms. Welling’s first book, Beautiful Cluster, has gone out of print.

Wine Tasting Weekend at The Cliffhouse Lodge

The Cliffhouse Lodge will host their bi-monthly wine tasting this Saturday evening from seven to nine pm. The event is free to guests of the lodge and open to the public for $10 a person. Chantrieri wines from California’s own Valentyn Vineyards will be served along with Cliffhouse’s own Blue Springs Sparkling Water and an assortment of o’dourves prepared at the in-house bistro, Le Chatte Rouge. The event takes place in Cliffhouse’s historic lobby and features Jordan Cartwright on the piano.

“Our evening wine tastings are very popular,” says co-owner Sara Baxter-Bellamy. “Cliffhouse is an amazing place, one of the first hotels ever built in the San Bernardino Mountains. The lobby is breathtaking and even has a natural brook running through it. Try it once, you’ll want to come again.”

Dinner will be served from 4 pm through 10 pm at La Chatte Rouge and manager Paul Butters says they will be featuring their own California cuisine, including Asiago and Kale pizza, Trout with Cranberry and Peppercorn Glaze, and Filet Mignon with Framboise du Congélateur.

Old West Days

Later this month, as part of Cliffside’s, Welcome to Summer festivities, The Cliffhouse Lodge will play host to Old West Days, a reenactment of the old west that’s been a popular event for over fifty years. “Back in the day, it was called ‘Cowboys and Indians Days,” explains local historian Stanford Swiller, “but we aren’t allowed to say that anymore. Nor are we allowed to depict battles but there will be a rodeo in the field by the Cliffside Stables near the lodge.”

On the Great Lawn, there will be native American dances and crafts, Cowboy crafts, including a class in whittling led by our own chief of police, Jackson Ballou, knot-tying classes, a reenactment of the Gunfight at the OK Corral and plenty of strolling, strumming, singing cowboys. The hotel will sponsor a barbecue in conjunction in La Chatte Rouge and welcome plenty of concession stands for food and libations. Other concessions will sell cowboy and native gear for young and old alike and each evening there will be square-dancing under the stars.

Admission to Old West Days is $15 per person. Cliffhouse Lodge will supply a free shuttle to ferry guests between the hotel and the stables.

Obituary

Services for Eliot “Rainbow” Nash, 43, will be held at the Cliffside Funeral Home Thursday at 10 a.m. Mr. Nash is survived by his wife, Myrna, and children Greenwich, Daffodil, Hoody, and Solstice. Mr. Nash was a locally famous glassblower whose Pine Street shop, Tinkling Things, was destroyed in the freak explosion that took Mr. Nash’s life. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, mourners donate to Old Seamen’s Retirement Home in Red Cay.

Film Festival Honoring Maisy Hart

Next Friday night, the Cliffside Arts Theater will feature an evening of films starring our own Maisy Hart. Miss Hart, who is a permanent resident at the Cliffhouse Lodge, was a scream queen back in the 1960s, starring in such films as Creature of the Indigo Swamp, Scream of the Shrew Monster, Screaming Girls of Calaveras County and Screams of the Sorority Sisters.

Miss Hart will be there in person to answer questions and autograph DVDs. Admission is $12. The doors open at 5 pm.

Person of the Week

We all know yearly Person of the Week, Noble Mason, who regularly helps Cliffside residents deal with everything from plumbing problems to choosing the right paint, but how many know about Pat Matthews, his righthand man and brother-in-law? This week, Pat is our Person of the Week.

Pat has worked for Noble Mason since marrying Noble’s sister, Taffilynn, fifteen years ago and they, along with their twelve children, are prominent residents of our fair village. “Pat’s a good guy,” says Noble. “He follows my orders with a smile and takes good care of my baby sister and all my little nieces and nephews.”

Pat, who hails from Twin Falls, Idaho, says he loves Cliffside and is glad to be a part of our town. In addition to acting as handyman, he likes to spend lots of time with his wife and children. “Taffilynn has one in the oven, if you know what I mean, and we’re hoping eventually to have enough kids to make two baseball teams. That would be great. Just great!”

Pat works full time taking care of problems for the town’s residents while Taffilynn is a stay-at-home mom who fills her days taking care of their children. “She loves it,” says Pat. “She was born to be a mom. And I was born to be a dad. It’s great. Just great.”

Taffilynn declined to be interviewed but Truthanne and Shrudilee, their twin girls, said of their dad, “He’s great. When Mom’s not home, he lets us watch The Walking Dead!

Police Blotter

Loyd McRoid, aka Loyd the Roid, was arrested for illegally occupying a hotel room and cleaning out honor bar at the Doc Holliday Inn. McRoid, 53, evidently slipped into the unoccupied room and spent the night. Hotel worker Felicia Hornblower found him passed out naked on the bed, the entire contents of the honor bar strewn about him. Everything had been consumed. Two empty bottles of whiskey were also found in the room, one filled with urine. The bathroom was untouched.

Harvey Tanbottum, 37, was arrested after throwing a barstool through a window at Bloodhound’s Bar Wednesday night. Tanbottum claimed a blue-skinned woman had tried to sodomize him in the bathroom. When other patrons disregarded his claims, Tanbottum “Just lost it!” says an anonymous drinker. Bloodhound’s – locally known as Boozehound’s – is next door to the Peppermint Stix Motel, but police say Tanbottum, despite staying at the motel, was not involved in recent deaths there.

Carlotta Wellbourne, 52, was arrested for shoplifting at Cliffside Market Tuesday afternoon after she was seen stuffing lobster claws into her blouse. The society matron is famous for her charitable works, particularly for her annual Scotsman’s Balls in which attendees come dressed in kilts and other Scottish attire.

 

THE CRIMSON CORSET is on SALE!


The sale starts tomorrow: http://tinyurl.com/jrmrvjz

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Welcome to Crimson Cove

Sheltered by ancient redwoods overlooking the California coast, the cozy village of Crimson Cove has it all: sophisticated retreats, fine dining, and a notorious nightclub, The Crimson Corset. It seems like a perfect place to relax and get close to nature. But not everything in Crimson Cove is natural.

When Cade Colter moves to town, he expects it to be peaceful to the point of boredom. But he quickly learns that after the sun sets and the fog rolls in, the little tourist town takes on a whole new kind of life – and death.

Darkness at the Edge of Town

Renowned for its wild parties and history of debauchery, The Crimson Corset looms on the edge of town, inviting patrons to sate their most depraved desires and slake their darkest thirsts. Proprietor Gretchen VanTreese has waited centuries to annihilate the Old World vampires on the other side of town and create a new race – a race that she alone will rule. When she realizes Cade Colter has the key that will unlock her plan, she begins laying an elaborate trap that will put everyone around him in mortal danger.

Blood Wars

The streets are running red with blood, and as violence and murder ravage the night, Cade must face the darkest forces inside himself, and perhaps even abandon his own humanity, in order to protect what he loves.

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MOTHER: Available Tomorrow


Tomorrow’s the big day. MOTHER will be available to buy! Links to follow.
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“Mother is a thriller in the truest sense of the word. What begins with a walk through a nice neighborhood in a nice town quickly becomes a chilling and unnerving descent into madness that is harder and harder to escape. Because I wear a fitness tracker I have scientific proof that the finale is a wild ride. Although I was curled up on the couch reading, Mother caused my heart rate to go up ten points! I’ll never look at a neighborhood block party the same way.”
-Q.L. Pearce, bestselling author of Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs
“Mother is about as disturbing as one can get. Thorne and Cross are seriously twisted individuals that know how to horrify and entertain at the same time.
-Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews
“A delightfully sinister walk up the shadowed staircase to the room Mother arranged especially for you. So, what’s in the cupboard? What’s she hiding in the basement? Inside the garage? Under the floorboards? With Mother, Thorne and Cross reanimate the “familiar,” leading you down a path of familial treachery that gets midnight-dark all too quickly.”
– Michael Aronovitz – author of Phantom Effect

Guest Post: Mother by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross


Until MOTHER arrives, here’s a preview tour of the neighborhood …

We Read That Too

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to our tour. Today we’re exploring the neighborhood in which our new thriller, Mother, takes place. Think about the street you grew up on. Much like every other neighborhood, it was probably complete with the mean old man who yelled at kids who dared step on his lawn, the neighbor who walked his dog and didn’t pick up the droppings, the nosy neighbor, the noisy neighbor, the neighbor who had the worst-looking lawn, and the one who had the best, the drama queen, the street organizer . . . and on and on. Now imagine what that same neighborhood would look like if you were able to get inside the houses and minds of your neighbors.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at this seemingly innocuous neighborhood and peel back some of its layers. As you’ll see, Morning Glory Circle, built…

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At Last


The 4th (or is it the 5th?) and FINAL read-through of MOTHER is finished. All that’s left is a quick detail check. MOTHER will go to publication next week and Tamara and I will return to The Witches of Ravencrest, our solos, and begin research and development on the Candle Bay sequel.

I will never read MOTHER again. I never read my work after it goes to publication because, by then, I’m sick of the sight of it. Usually, I’m pleased to never lay eyes on it again, but this time, I admit to a certain sadness. I will miss MOTHER … and all the folks of Morning Glory Circle.

This book, I believe, is the best work Tamara and I have done … so far. I am pleased. And that’s rare.

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Suspending the Pen


I’ve been in the writing dungeon so long that the sunlight streaming from the windows has begun to burn my eyes and an evening trip to Wal-Mart – or some other dreadful place – is starting to feel like an outing, a night on the town, rather than the necessary evil it actually is.

With reviewers waiting for proof copies, editors expecting the next round, and readers anticipating the finished product, the work has been non-stop. For weeks, Tamara and I have stumbled from our beds, gone straight to our computers, and pecked the keys without pause until sunset. We’ve even been doing some moonlighting, too. Tonight, after hours, Tamara kept at it, finalizing the details of the uncorrected proof copies. After eating – and taking a much-needed shower – I got back to it as well, sorting out upcoming interviews, guest posts, and various writing-related events – all the little things that need to happen when a book is edging release.

But we’re in the final stages of edits: the touch-ups. This is when we tighten the narrative, cut the fat, and sprinkle a little glitter over the prose. Tomorrow our dark psychological thriller, Mother, will be ready for reviewers. Then, after another round of revisions and a final read-through, it will go to publication.

Mother has been one of the most intense and multi-layered stories we’ve ever told … but I also believe it’s our best. The hard work is really paying off, and I’m proud of the balancing act we’ve managed to maintain. Though first conceived in 2013, we weren’t able to begin Mother in earnest until last year, and considering the many projects we’ve undertaken throughout the writing of this book, I’d say we’ve done our jobs with balletic grace – and in record time, too.

But the energy depletion is extraordinary. We’re both ready to drop, and I’m getting that snippy-little-Chihuahua tone in my voice that says I’m overdue for a breather.

So, I’m taking a mini-vacation this weekend – I’m suspending the pen.

Thursday night after the radio show, I’m getting in the car and going … somewhere else.

Maybe Wyoming – I’m not sure yet.

Somewhere quiet.

Yeah, probably Wyoming.

I’ll rent a hotel room and just be for a few days. I’ll take long, hot baths, eat things I’ll regret, and do plenty of joy-reading. Then Sunday – or maybe Monday – I’ll come home.

Tuesday, I’ll dig back in with both hands, and make sure that Mother is as polished as a diamond, ready to be introduced to the world in April – as planned.

 

Nasty Neighbors


Have a neighbor you just can’t stand?

In honor of the upcoming release of our thriller, Mother, which takes place in a gossip-laden cul-de-sac called Morning Glory Circle, we want to hear your Nasty Neighbor stories! Whether it’s someone who listens to polka music too loud, or someone you’re sure has corpses piling up in their crawlspace, if your neighbors are behaving badly, your Nasty Neighbor story needs to be told! And, for an extra helping of gabby good times, we’ll read your story on our radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!

By emailing us your story, you guarantee all names and locations are anonymous and agree to possible publication. The top three winners will win an ebook copy of MOTHER upon its release it April. Stories must be under 200 words. Email your Nasty Neighbor story to hauntednightslive@gmail.com

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In The Land of Moms and Monsters


We wrote an article over at Risingshadow about what inspired our upcoming thriller, Mother, titled In the Land of Moms and Monsters.

Mother is a psychological thriller in the vein of Psycho and Misery, with a pinch of Peyton Place and a dash of Gaslight. Expectant couple Claire and Jason Holbrook have fallen on hard times, forcing them to move in with Claire’s estranged mother. Claire vowed to have no contact with the overbearing woman ever again, but Mother is thrilled at the prospect of a grandchild.

At Mother’s, Claire and Jason begin experiencing things that make them determined to leave immediately … but when a cruel twist of fate makes that impossible, Claire becomes obsessed with her mother’s motives. Fantasy and fact blur together as her compulsion consumes her, and Jason wonders who the villain really is.

When a cache of macabre family secrets is uncovered, Claire and Jason find the answers they’re looking for – answers that will change them forever … assuming anyone can get out of Mother’s house alive.

Mother will be available in ebook and paperback in April.

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FACEBOOK EVENT Today at 7 – 8 pm EST


Today, at 7 – 8 pm EST, Tamara Thorne​ and I will be chatting about our upcoming book, MOTHER, on Facebook at The Edge of Madness Release Party.
Just go to this page, join the event, and come hang out with us from 7 – 8 pm EST, where we’ll be discussing writing, MOTHER, books, and anything you’d like to know!

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The First Interview About “MOTHER”


Here is the very first interview about our book “MOTHER.” Tamara Thorne dishes a little dirt about this twisted little soon-to-be-released psychological thriller, over at Fiona Mcvie’s Author Interviews.

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