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

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 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 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.

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

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

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.

 

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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V.C. Andrews Visits Thorne & Cross


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Sage’s Eyes, V. C. Andrews’ newest thriller, has just arrived in bookstores and we’ll be celebrating the release on Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! today, January 29, at 5 pm Pacific, 6 Mountain, 7 Central, and 8 Eastern.

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Yes, the author will be joining us. Andrews designated  author Andrew Neiderman as her successor decades ago (during The Casteel Series) and most of her books have been written by him, making him a very special kind of ghost writer. (See this page, if you’d like to know who wrote what.)

From Flowers in the Attic to Sage’s Eyes, V.C. Andrews books have thrilled millions of readers. Come listen and see what it’s all about. The link will be available on Facebook at showtime.

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THE WALKING DEAD Author, Jay Bonansinga, Joins Us for a Chat


If you missed last night’s show with THE WALKING DEAD author, Jay Bonansinga, be sure to give it a listen. We talked about Daryl, Carol, Rick, Carl, and Michonne, and got an inside peek at the creation of this crazy-addictive series.

Jay also told us about SELF-STORAGE, his new supernatural thriller about a lonely divorced graphic novelist, Johnny Fitzgerald, who has a six-year old son … and a drug problem. Deserted for ten days in a self-storage unit, they face horrors both real and imagined as they battle hunger, thirst, and withdrawal symptoms. My co-host, Tamara Thorne, and I agree that SELF-STORAGE is one of the best books we’ve read. Ever. Just click the pic below to listen.

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MOTHER: Coming Soon From Thorne & Cross


Coming this spring: MOTHER – a new novel by Thorne & Cross.

MOTHER

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 …

Nothing escapes Prissy’s watchful eye, nothing 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.

 

Home is Where the Terror Is …

Jason Holbrook loves his wife. He’s heard Claire’s stories about Priscilla, but now it seems Mother has mended her ways, and as he uncovers a cache of vile family secrets, he begins to wonder who the real monster is. Lives are in danger – and Jason must face a horrifying truth … a truth that may destroy him … and will forever change his definition of “Mother.”

THE CRIMSON CORSET is Now Available in Paper


At long last, THE CRIMSON CORSET is available in paperback. You can also get it on Kindle.

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“Put Bram Stoker in a giant cocktail shaker, add a pinch of Laurell K. Hamilton, a shot of John Carpenter, and a healthy jigger of absinthe, and you’ll end up with Alistair Cross’s modern Gothic chiller, “The Crimson Corset” – a deliciously terrifying tale that will sink its teeth into you from page one.”
– Jay Bonansinga, New York Times Bestselling author of THE WALKING DEAD: INVASION and LUCID

“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

“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 and the CHESTERTON HOLT MYSTERIES

“THE CRIMSON CORSET is a good read. There is a colorful cast of characters, a clever plot, and an intricate structure … there are surprises and jumps and starts, sex and death, beauty and gore, something for everyone … if you are looking for set-up and pay-off, this novel will not disappoint.”

-HELLNOTES

“This was an awesome read. Mainly because it kept me entertained and excited for the entire book. THE CRIMSON CORSET isn’t every other vampire book.”

-FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC REVIEWS

“Falling somewhere between paranormal romance and vintage horror, THE CRIMSON CORSET is a tale of small towns, family ties, and vampires. Alistair Cross puts just enough of a spin on vampire mythology to distinguish his tale from the competition, and tells it with a slow-burning, subtle sort of flair that really pays off in the end …THE CRIMSON CORSET is one of those rare novels that manages to succeed across the board.”

-BEAUTY IN RUINS

“Do yourself a HUGE favour – if you only read ONE horror/vampire themed book this year then be sure to make it THE CRIMSON CORSET by Alistair Cross. Horror lovers will adore its unashamed gore and graveyard humour and it has plenty of romance to satisfy paranormal romance fans who fancy a darker, Gothic inspired read … a tale that not only has a lot of bite but also plays with the readers’ emotions, in one scary, bloody and lust-filled ride!”

-A READER’S REVIEW BLOG

THE CRIMSON CORSET


The Crimson Corset is available now.

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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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“Put Bram Stoker in a giant cocktail shaker, add a pinch of Laurell K. Hamilton, a shot of John Carpenter, and a healthy jigger of absinthe, and you’ll end up with Alistair Cross’s modern Gothic chiller, “The Crimson Corset” – a deliciously terrifying tale that will sink its teeth into you from page one.”
– Jay Bonansinga, New York Times Bestselling author of THE WALKING DEAD: INVASION and LUCID

“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

In Good Company


Check out THE CRIMSON CORSET, hanging out with Louis, Laurell, and Lestat at no. 27 on Amazon!

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Be sure to read my latest interviews at excerpts, too:

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BeachBound Books

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Haunted Nights LIVE!

And here are some guest post I did:

SEX AND VAMPIRES at Beauty in Ruins

THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF WRITING HORROR at Reading Shy with Aly

Click the pic below for your copy of THE CRIMSON CORSET

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And here’s what Jay Bonansinga, New York Times Bestselling author of THE WALKING DEAD has to say about THE CRIMSON CORSET:

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NIGHT MOVES Cover Reveal


At long last, we have settled on the final cover art for The Ghosts of Ravencrest’s 5th installment, Night Moves. I know I said I wanted something with lots of red for this installment, but as soon as I saw the completed version of this one, I knew it was the right cover. I love it, and I am excited to announce that Night Moves will be available to buy later this week.

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The Ghosts of Ravencrest is a serialized novel. A new installment is released about every four to six weeks. Although the installments vary a little in length, they average about 10,000 words, each. With the inclusion of Night Moves, the entire Ravencrest saga is currently at about 50,000 words. Within the next three or four installments, this story arc will be completed and compiled into a full- length novel. After that novel’s release, we plan to continue the story, with a new story arc, in the same format as the first (serialized installments).

For the whole story – so far – you can buy the first four installments at Amazon. The first three installments (The New Governess, Awakening, and Darker Shadows) are available in an omnibus edition titled, The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Darker Shadows. The novella-length Christmas-themed fourth installment, titled, The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Christmas Spirits, is also available and can be read as part of the series, or as a standalone. Click the images below to buy the installments, and thank you for loving this series enough to allow us to continue writing it!

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What’s Coming Up…


I’m getting very excited about the upcoming guests on Haunted Nights LIVE! and am thrilled to be meeting so many truly awesome, amazingly talented people. Keep listening for folks such as NYT Bestseller, Kevin O’Brien — actress (from “Growing Pains” and “Who’s the Boss?”) screenwriter, and country musician, Riley Weston — Grand Master Award-winning author, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro — co-author of THE WALKING DEAD, Jay Bonansinga — World-renowned paranormal expert – Professor Paranormal himself, Loyd Auerbach — Bram Stoker Award-winner Elizabeth Massie — author, award-winning journalist, and television writer, Robert Masello — plus the returns of horror author Michael Aronovitz and NYT bestseller Doug Clegg! – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg… You can check the full guest list here: http://alistaircross.com/Haunted-Nights-LIVE

Join us tonight when we talk to a guest we’re both stoked to talk to again, author and paranormal expert, Sylvia Shults! You can also see her on an episode of GHOST HUNTERS (“Prescription for Fear”) which aired in January of 2013!

Click the link below at 9 pm EST 6 Pacific to hear her on Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/authorsontheairbookstoo/2015/01/16/sylvia-shults-joins-thorne-cross-haunted-nights-live 

Why I Dig My Collaborator


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‘Tis the season for gratitude, and although I have never enjoyed any of the traditional Thanksgivings customs, I do like to take a little time out around this time of year to reflect on the things I’m grateful for, and there are a lot of them. A lot. I am thankful to my family for their ongoing support, my friends for their love and loyalty, my kitty, Pawpurrazzi, for amusing me, my dog, Sven, for refusing to die after all these years, and my friend, my mate, my manager, Berlin, who has earned every title given here and without whom I would not be where I am… in many, many ways. Also, I am grateful to the models who allow me to photograph them in strange ways for our book covers and e-posters. Like these guys…

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Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to mention my collaborator, Tamara Thorne. I began reading Tamara’s horror novels in the ’90s and was a huge fan. Then, through a series of events (which basically means I stalked her), we met and became fast friends. In 2012, she asked me to collaborate with her on a novel and I said yes. And my whole life changed. That collaboration worked so well, we haven’t stopped. In 2014 so far, we’ve written two full-length novels and a considerable amount on a serial novel called The Ghosts of Ravencrest.

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Because Tamara has been so good to me these past years, I have a lot of gratitude for her; too much to just say, “Thanks for everything…” and I’m not sure I have ever really properly thanked her. So here is a list of reasons I’m thankful for her. These are the reasons I adore this woman.

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1. She trusts my writing. For someone who precedes me by almost 20 years in the publishing business, she might easily  insist on doing things her own way, but she doesn’t.

2. She shares the same vision as me. We’re almost always going the same direction and I love that.

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  1. She loves my kitty almost as much as I do!
  1. She’s loyal. After all this time, she hasn’t once tossed me aside, thrown me over for someone more interesting, or made me feel irrelevant. Even in the presence of some truly amazing people, she’s never treated me like a second-class citizen.
  1. There is no drama. Ever. Period.
  1. She loves my characters. She invests in my fictional creations and flatters me endlessly by delighting in them as much as I do.

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  1. She respects my time and space. She doesn’t interfere or impose.
  1. She wants me to succeed. That is more rare than many of you might realize.
  1. She is a hobbit. I think she’s only like 4 foot 9 or something, and that is funny. (Okay, she’s 5’2” but, whatever. I like to tell her she’s 4’9”.)

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  1. She doesn’t have to be the teacher. She respects me as a writer in my own right and gives me credit for having practical sensibilities. She trusts my senses of ethics, business, and creative direction. And she’s secure enough in her own intellect to be teachable.
  1. She knows the most amazing people… and she introduces me to them. Seriously. I have met some truly incredible folks. Writers, agents, editors, entertainers, film directors… she knows some really awesome people.
  1. She’s a great writer. She writes by instinct, not formula. She’s a natural-born and that keeps her writing fresh, unpredictable, and engaging.
  1. She’s an excellent researcher. Before she starts a story, she digs in, gets her hands dirty, and makes sure she knows what she’s writing about. I admire this in a writer.

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  1. She’s hilarious. Her sense of humor – and lack of gloom and self-pity – is constant and uplifting. On and off the page, she knows how to make me laugh.
  1. There is no competition between us. There are no games, no popularity contests, no bullshit; just a consistent genuine resolve that we succeed, both as individuals and as a unit.
  2. She’s a great radio show co-host. I wouldn’t do Haunted Nights LIVE! without her.

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The Debut of Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!


Haunted Nights LIVE! debuted last week with our first guest, Q.L. Pearce, the bestselling author of more than 150 books including film tie-ins for the Fox animated film Titan AE and the Universal animated series Land Before Time. Click here to go to the show.

Later this month, our guest will be New York Times bestseller, Doug Clegg and, in just a few days, Michael Aronovitz, author of Alice Walks and The Voices in Our Heads, will be joining us. For the full guest list (so far) visit my website at the Haunted Nights LIVE! page.

Stay tuned to Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! where we’ll be talking about all things horror with the biggest names in the business. From fiction writers and paranormal investigators to haunted spots and true ghost stories supplied by our listeners, Haunted Nights LIVE! features fact, fiction, and that indiscernible gray area in between. This show is part of the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network with more than 2 million listeners in 44 countries, and we’re excited to be part of it! Give us a like on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!

Be there if you dare…

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Thunder Road


Thunder Road, one of my favorite novels by my collaborator, Tamara Thorne, will be returning to bookstore shelves and the land of the internet this September. Here are some photos of the cover, as well as a little bit about the book:

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And…

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Thunder Road is published by Kensington Books and will be available everywhere books are sold. Here is a little more about it:

Book description:

The California desert town of Madelyn boasts all sorts of attractions for visitors. Join the audience at the El Dorado Ranch for a Wild West show. Take a ride through the haunted mine at Madland Amusement Park. Scan the horizon for UFOs. Find religion with the Prophet’s Apostles–and be prepared for the coming apocalypse.

Because the apocalypse has arrived in Madelyn. People are disappearing. Strange shapes and lights dart across the night sky. And a young man embraces a violent destiny–inspired by a serial killer whose reign of terror was buried years ago.

But each of these events is merely setting the stage in preparation for the final confrontation. A horror of catastrophic proportions is slouching toward Madelyn in the form of four horsemen–and they’re picking up speed. . .

Praise for Tamara Thorne: 

“Tamara Thorne has become one of those must-read horror writers. From her strong characters to her unique use of the supernatural, anything she writes entertains as much as it chills.” —Horror World

“Tamara Thorne is the new wave of horror–her novels are fascinating rides into the heart of terror and mayhem.” –Douglas Clegg

This is one of many great books by Tamara Thorne. Visit her at www.tamarathorne.com and keep watching for our upcoming collaborative novel, Grandma’s Rackslated for release later this year by Avalerion Books. You can visit me at: www.alistaircross.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Mr. Cross~