Two a.m.


March 12, 2015

It’s been a decade since I began concentrating my energy and aiming my efforts at a specific destination – and only in the past year or two have things started to make some sense. The journey from there to here has been a long hard practice in blind faith, and while the distance ahead is just as daunting, it’s hard not to look back from time to time and say, ‘Wow. What a ride.’

People have come; people have gone. Some of them knew me; some saw only their own ideals. But the few who really understood me and where I was trying to go – those who remain at my side today… they have my unending loyalty and love. They are my tribe, and I think that’s what it’s all about: Finding your tribe.

I have found my tribe. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m in the right place at the right time. I’m doing something that utilizes every detail of who I am. Through writing, I’ve become fulfilled – which is, I believe, as close to any kind of lasting happiness as one can possibly get.

It hasn’t come easy, but on an innate level, I always believed that if I plowed onward, despite adversity and doubt, that by one means or another, I’d acquire the things I’d need to get where I was going. I’m happy to report that, so far, this has proven true for me. Also, I believe in leaps of faith, and understand faith to be a verb and not an idle state of mind. I’m grateful for that understanding because it hasn’t allowed me to be taken in by illusions of fate, privilege, or chance; I knew I’d have to work hard for this, and I that there’s a lot more work ahead of me. But I’m grateful for where I am now. Truly. And there’s much to be grateful for.

As I write this, my co-author, Tamara Thorne, and I are on the brink of releasing our debut novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting. While we’ve had five installments of The Ghosts of Ravencrest published – with the sixth on its way –  Cliffhouse is special because it’s the first story line Tamara and I ever discussed together – it is the reason we’re still collaborating on so many projects, including Grandma’s Rack, which is in the final stages of production. Also, I am 60,000 words into my first solo novel, which has been a long time coming, and on top of all this, Tamara and I are happily hosting our own horror-themed internet radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, where, once a week, I get to meet some of the biggest names in the business. It’s all so surreal and I never would have predicted any of it. I don’t take these things for granted, and even if it ended now, I’d say that, yeah… persistence pays off. And then some.

~ A

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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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A Good Day to Write


I wrote 2,741 words on the solo novel today, bringing it to a grand total of 23,764 words since the first of the year.

The setting has been established, the conflict has been appointed, the players are in position and waiting to strike (or be struck), the questions have been asked and are demanding their answers, and the creepy weirdness is playing its cold dead fingertips along the edges of the plot, waiting for just the right moment to drive its fist right into the dark nefarious heart of it all….

It was a good day for writing.

~A

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The End Is Upon Us


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If you had told me ten years ago, when I really got serious about this writing thing, that I would one day write a novel with Tamara Thorneone of my longtime horror heroes – I would have scoffed, chortled, guffawed and otherwise vehemently disbelieved you. But as I’ve always said, life has a curious way of providing you with what you actively seek, and today, that is exactly what happened. Tamara Thorne and I have just finished our novel. We have written the final words. The first draft is complete. Weighing in at a staggering 171,486 words, the story wrapped itself up at 7:15 pm today.

We started this book about four months ago while finishing up the first draft of another horror novel called Grandma’s Rack. We took this sudden sharp turn for a few reasons. First, Grandma’s Rack needed to sit a while so we could return to it with fresh eyes before finalizing it. We’d hit it hard and fast and both felt it needed some air. Then, another writing prospect emerged, one with a deadline, and one that would – as the fates would have it – fulfill the initial story line Tamara and I discussed when we first decided to write together.

Although, for professional reasons, I can’t say much about this book’s plot, I can say that it was inspired by our experiences during the five nights we spent at an allegedly haunted cabin in California’s gold country a while back (you can read a night-by-night account of that here). I can also say that this novel includes a character of mine who was developed in 2011, during the writing of Beautiful Monster, that I haven’t, until now, been able to find a home for. He fits nicely into this book.

As for the process, these have been the most demanding circumstances I’ve written under. For four months, we’ve worked eight to twelve hour days, six – and more recently – seven days a week, and the rigid time crunch hasn’t been the only factor contributing to the intensity. This plot is complex – more intricate than anything I’ve written. It’s character-dense with upward of a dozen major players, each with his or her own story, and each requiring enough stage time to tell it.

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I’ve had to learn how to weave multiple threads, fuse varying subplots, and play puppet master to a slew of characters with intertwining story lines. I’ve loved every minute of it, even though the whole thing has been painstakingly meticulous. Even the setting is complex – a small California resort town that we built one character, one tiny life-like detail, at a time. Admittedly, it’s the kind of place I’d love to live in – minus all the violence and depravity, of course – but this kind of world-building is mentally taxing and surprisingly exhausting. However, I am by no means complaining. This is the kind of novel I’ve always wanted to write.

This book has taught me more about writing than anything else ever has. Ever. And I’m learning from the best. Tamara, who is a veteran to this lifestyle, has surfed the waves smoothly and without visible distress. I, on the other hand, am cranky, fatigued, and at this point, brain dead. But we did it, and ridiculously, as we neared the end, I think we both felt a little twinge of sadness. Even though we intend to write together more in the future, this is the last time it will ever be the first time we wrote a book together. I will treasure this for the rest of my life.

Now that the book is written, we begin the process of cutting and revising. Given its tremendous length, this will be an interesting task, but we will nip, tuck, and tighten by any means necessary in order to sculpt this story into the finest, most powerful version of itself possible, and I know we will be fine.

Due to the particular publishing process of this book, I have no idea when it will be released, but as soon as finishing touches are complete, we will be sending it to the editor, and then we will be returning to, and finishing off Grandma’s Rack, which will be available by the end of this year. In the interim, we’re working on the third installment of Belinda, which will be undergoing some favorable changes that will be apparent with the new release.

In closing, I want to thank everyone around me for supporting this project and respecting my inability these past weeks to do anything but sit in front of my computer and write, write, write. I still have a lot to do, and it will be a while before I have a lot of free time, but I will have a little more of it after a few more weeks. I think, anyway…

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