The Truth About Dreams


The edits for The Crimson Corset are completed and this keeps us on schedule for the July 31st release as originally planned. Things change, so I’m always reluctant to give concrete dates, but give or take a few days, this book will be available by the end of the month.

It’s always a mixed bag, finishing a book, and this one – being my first solo novel – is especially so. This project has been a long time coming, so I’m elated it’s finished… but I’m a little bummed that it’s over, too. I’d probably be much more depressed if it was over over, but I plan to begin a sequel next year, and I think that’s kept me from experiencing that empty sense of loss I have in the past when a book is finally done.

I feel like a should be a little nervous too, but I’m not. I think the past several years of publishing as a co-author have padded me against a lot of the fear. Gone are the days of nail-biting self-consciousness and anxiety over how my work will be received – and good riddance, I say. I know not everyone will love this book, I accept that. But I’m also confident in it enough to know it’s a good book, and I’m very proud of it.

As I mentioned, this project has been a long time coming – ten years in fact. That isn’t to say this book took a decade to write – but it has been that long since I decided I wanted to be a professional writer… and this was the first plot I intended to pen. I gave up on it many times and re-started it just as many. In the meantime, of course, I wrote and published other works, but this one, The Crimson Corset, is the one that haunted me – the one I kept going back to and kept trying to get right.

Ten years. A decade. A lot of amazing things have happened since I made the decision to write. I’ve met the great authors of my generation and gotten to know many of them quite well. I’ve written with one of my long-time literary heroes, Tamara Thorne, and together we’ve forged our own brand – Thorne & Cross – and intend to write many, many books together. Over all, it’s worked out for me far better than I’d imagined. But these things don’t just happen. It really is a lot of work.

Even in the early days, when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I took writing very seriously. Back when I didn’t even know what to write, I sat down and wrote. I did this almost every day. I’ve learned that inspiration is a flake; it can’t be depended on. I’ve learned that marketing is everything and rejection means nothing. And I have been rejected – over and over and over. But most of all, I’ve learned that dreams come true.

This is the first time I will ever see my first solo novel published. That is my dream come true.

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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, perhaps even abandon his own humanity, in order to protect what he loves.

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Writing with T & A: Two Heads Are Better Than One


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We’re nearly finished with the first volume of The Ghosts of Ravencrest and are already planning the next. We love Ravencrest because it allows us to stay current or to hop into history. Every lord of Ravencrest and his family has a story that plays into the tale of its current master, Eric Manning. Finding out what those stories are, what made his ancestors tick – and how this history affects our modern-day governess, Belinda Moorland – has become a game of literary Hide-and-Seek for us.

We couldn’t write these stories without shifting points of view.

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Experiential differentiation is our thing. Imagine a red rose. To a young woman in love it reminds her of the bouquet she received last Valentine’s Day. It may bring a smile to a murderer’s lips because it reminds him of his last victim’s blood. If you’re writing an historical, an early Christian character may see the rose as a symbol of the wounds of Christ, or the blood of martyrs.

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To a man with allergies, the rose is a hated bringer of sneezing, watery eyes and stuffed sinuses. To a jilted woman, it inspires fury because it reminds her of the man who left her at the altar. Someone else might avoid the rose because they dread the painful thorns. For a widower, it reignites great sorrow over the loss of his beloved wife who used to tend their garden. It makes him weep, so he tears the roses out. Or shoots himself among them to join her. But to the professional gardener, a rose might symbolize prosperity because where there are roses, there’s work.

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And it doesn’t end with roses. To one little boy, a baseball bat might represent play and joy while inspiring dread and embarrassment in a less athletic child. To a grown man, it brings nostalgia, and to an abused housewife, abject terror. The rose may squirt water on an annoying mother-in-law, or a threatening bat might be foam rubber, turning tragedy to comedy.

In a mystery novel, knowing the differences in suspects’ feelings lends the detective more clues about the criminal. In a story of survival, individual knowledge about something most perceive as ordinary, may save a life.

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Considering that such innocuous objects as a rose or baseball bat can inspire so many emotions, we’re like kids in a candy store when it comes to exploring the loves and fears, the prejudices and motives, of our characters. We want to find out what the baseball bats and roses mean to each character. And this is why we prefer the third person point of view.

We enjoy taking on viewpoints that are new to us. One of the most difficult things to do is to come from a point of view you don’t yet understand and when you attempt this, you either fall on your face or grow. For Tamara, the Prophet Sinclair in Thunder Road was a true growth experience. She saw him as a sleazy evangelist using his good looks and persuasive voice to grab money and bed women. But Sinclair insisted on growing and did something so foreign to Tamara’s own nature that to this day, she’s blown away.

For Alistair, coming from the perspective of Gretchen VanTreese in his upcoming novel, The Crimson Corset, was a major stretch, too. He had to learn to view the world through the eyes of a woman who uses sex (much of it creepy), manipulation, and murder to attain her objectives.

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As confirmed character writers, we like rummaging around in different psyches, and as readers we prefer third person narratives for the same reason. That being said, a few of our favorite books have been written in the first person, leading us to believe that, when done well, this is a powerful and effective approach to storytelling… if that’s your preference.

It’s a matter of writing what you love, and we love multiple points of view. We’ve both written in the first person and found ourselves bored and switching to third.

In fact, when we began The Ghosts of Ravencrest, our initial intention was to stick to Belinda Moorland’s point of view, but immediately found ourselves itching to get into the heads of Mrs. Heller, Grant Phister, Eric Manning, and all the other characters we found so fascinating. If we’d maintained our original plan, we’d have grown tired of Ravencrest after one volume, but as it is, we have countless storylines to explore and we can’t wait to dig deeper into the myriad characters, both contemporary and historical, living and dead, who roam the halls of Ravencrest Manor.

Walking Fine Lines… and Writing Them, Too


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Even as a kid, I loved writing and spent hours composing poems, song lyrics, and scribbling out short stories. As I grew older, my interest in the craft continued to build, but none of these formats gave me the room I needed. For me, writing novels was the next logical step. Between 1997 and 2005, I made countless starts on would-be cliffhangers, murder mysteries, and nail-biting tales of terror. But, as it turns out, writing a book is a lot more grueling and complicated than the masters make it out to be, and none of these early unfinished efforts survived outside of my notebooks.

Then in 2005, after one of those rare life-changing revelations everyone talks about, I finally decided I was going to do this writing thing… and I wasn’t taking no for an answer. It helped that, for the first time, I had a solid story line that was good enough to be told, and perhaps, more importantly, I was finally old enough to tell it. And so I began…

When you start a book and don’t finish it, it hangs around your head until you get it right – for years, if it has to. I did finish the novel I began in 2005, but I didn’t finish the story. For the next few years, the manuscript was in circulation, promptly being rejected left and right. While the Thanks-But-No-Thanks’ continued piling up, I kept writing – and when you keep writing, an interesting thing happens: you get better at it. I eventually got published – but it was the next novel, a different one – not the one I’d spent so much time on. By then, I knew my writing had improved and I pulled the first manuscript out of circulation. After re-reading it, I could clearly see why it wasn’t selling. I decided it needed a serious facelift before I submitted it anywhere else. Discouraged, I set it aside and started the next book.

In 2012, I met Tamara (Thorne, co-author). We hit it off, had the same sensibilities about writing, and immediately began making plans. In collaboration, we’ve since completed two novels, one ongoing serialized Gothic tale, and have become the hosts of our own horror-themed internet radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!  As 2014 came to a close, I finally had a few things under my belt, and I knew it was time to return to that solo novel.

I’ve had to dig my heels in a little – at times I’ve surely been nothing short of an asshole – but as of January 1st, every previous version of my solo novel has been torn down, totaled, and trashed, and I am 25,000 words into the new one.

I love collaborating with Tamara, and although I never envisioned collaborating with anyone, I’m grateful beyond my capacity to express it that she, an already established bestseller, took enough interest in me to make me a part of her journey. I couldn’t have foreseen such a thing five years ago; I was unconscious to any such possibility, but my gratitude is timeless, and as long as she’s inclined, I will continue writing with her. But I must also build a body of solo work.

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I’m learning that hosting a radio show and bouncing between collaborating and writing solo requires a good deal of balance – it’s a lot to take on. There are days I’m overwhelmed. Some mornings, I wake up wondering where to begin, and wishing I could take the day off.  But then I get up, get on it, and soon I’m into the rhythm of things – and even on the bad days, I don’t take it for granted. This is what I wanted. For years, I have been obsessed by writing, not as a hobby, but as a profession. For the past decade, I’ve spent every waking hour trying to find a way to make it happen, and now that I feel like I’ve finally gotten my career off the ground, I’m going back to the beginning – back to the first story I really wanted to tell.

My solo novel’s original title was The White Room, but – for many reasons – I’m no longer calling it that. It has a stronger voice and it deserves a stronger title. I’ve given it one, but until I’m closer to completion, I simply call it “CC.” “CC” is a vampire novel, but its themes are not romantic. Under its fangs – if I do it right – it’s a tale of redemption, addiction, and the power of family ties. At 25,000 words, I’m only about one-third into it, but already, I am more deeply in love with it than I’ve ever been before. It has dimensions I wasn’t able to explore until now. It tells a deeper, more powerful story this time. It’s found its missing spine.

In the ten years since its conception, this book has been revised, revamped, re-written, kicked, mauled, set aside, and left for dead. It’s had a pretty rough life, but it’s on track at last, and I’ll do everything in my power to prevent it from being knocked off the rails again. I intend to complete it this spring.

Regarding Thorne & Cross, it’s great to be preparing for the release of The Ghosts of Ravencrest’s fifth installment, Night Moves, which has been sent to the editor and heads to production next week. We’re also looking forward to the completion of our witchy tale of terror – and first collaborative concept – Grandma’s Rack, which, right this very minute, is being polished and refined for public consumption. Our other completed novel, which we have to be tight-lipped about for now, is in some stage or another of the publication process, and as soon as the vacancy sign lights up – which we anticipate happening in March or April – we have the next collaboration waiting in the wings. It’s a stormy little thriller that we’re both itching to get to, and I have a feeling this one is going to make some major waves…

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