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 …

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.

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

VAMPIRES for .99!


ttcover3

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.

1Black_background (1)

THE CRIMSON CORSET: Foreword


ccpics

As THE CRIMSON CORSET nears availability as a paperback, I’d like to share the foreword, written by my friend, my collaborator, my favorite author, Tamara Thorne, whose books I’ve adored since my teen years when I never could have imagined I would ever meet her, let alone one day write books with her.

I can think of no better way to be introduced into the world of writing than by horror-lit royalty like Tamara Thorne. She has published so many books that I love, and have loved, for so many years, and to hear her praise my work is, in itself, a dream come true.

0000CCFinal CC-Large

THE CRIMSON CORSET
FOREWORD
by Tamara Thorne

“Alistair Cross is a hell of a good writer, and I’m not just saying that because he’s the collaborator of my dreams. It’s because I’ve read the novel you now hold in your hands half a dozen times – from first draft through final edit – and with each read, it just kept getting better, addicting me more and more to its gripping – and at times, eye-popping – plot.

The characters are lucid and sublimely alive as they take Alistair’s story and run with it, delivering strong doses of excitement, terror, humor, and sexuality. His dialogue shines; I can hear his characters so clearly it’s as if I’m eavesdropping … and it’s a juicy conversation.

The Colter Brothers, Cade and Brooks, are hunky, hilarious, and a pleasure to get to know. They could be your next door neighbors (if you’re lucky!) but as they face their demons, they teach us so much about growth, about confronting adversity, and about the nature of the human spirit that it would be impossible to write them off as mere entertainers. Watching these brothers develop, watching how they argue, joke, and then work together is not only delightful, it’s inspiring. Theirs is a bromance worthy of Sam and Dean Winchester’s and this adds a fascinating layer to an already riveting piece of fiction.

And then there’s the sheriff, Ethan Hunter. While so many of his kind are stereotypical, Ethan has strengths, weaknesses, amusing quirks – and some very interesting hobbies – that deliver him from the trenches of mediocrity and place him under a spotlight of his own. Ethan is more than a means of moving the plot forward and relaying information – he’s a man with a story. And it’s the kind of story that will keep you up at night.

At Eudemonia, a pricey and beautiful health spa, lives the messianic Michael, leader of the peaceful faction of vampires. Michael is in equal parts magnetic and mysterious – a thoroughly fascinating figure even without Reaper, the movie-quoting raven on his shoulder. Through Michael’s eyes, we see a world that is never sullied, never without hope – a world in which we’d all love to spend some time. Perhaps less blinded by idealism is Winter, his second-in-command, and slightly medieval buddy. This guy is the kind of fearless grinning sidekick any leader would be glad to have, and together, Michael and Winter are a compelling force capable of making any villain flinch.

Which brings us to the bad guys – the vampires of the Crimson Corset, a notorious nightclub at the other end of town. Its inhabitants are complete well-rounded characters with intrigues of their own. There’s my personal favorite, the psychotic and beautiful little leader, Gretchen VanTreese, who’s never met a man she didn’t want to dominate. We are also treated to her lieutenant, Jazminka of the thigh-high boots, questionable sexuality, and thick Slavic accent she hasn’t lost in 200 years. Then there’s Aidan and Ambrose, the beautiful twin boys that Gretchen keeps as pets – but these guys have nothing on her favorite plaything of all, her bodyguard Scythe, whose anatomy is so impressive she calls it Vlad the Impaler.

As an added treat, there are several cameos by vampires from my own novel, Candle Bay. When Alistair asked if they could stop by The Crimson Corset, I was surprised and pleased. And he wrote them like a boss. He understood my guys completely and put exactly the right words in their mouths. I was so impressed I asked him to collaborate on my sequel to Candle Bay. He agreed, and we intend to release it sometime in 2016, so you’ll get another dose of the Crimson Cove vamps as they join the fanged ones of Candle Bay on a very special road trip.

As for Mr. Cross, the writer: He always delivers. Failure is not an option. Writing with him – or watching him write a solo in our virtual office – is a study in inspiration. He meets every deadline and makes sure we reach our individual and collaborative goals. He takes his job seriously, makes no excuses, and has the grit and determination to make things happen. And his prose is absolutely beautiful. What a combination!

This is a man who is going places, I guarantee it. He’ll write many more solos and I’ll read and love them all. I also look forward to our future collaborations. I don’t take Alistair for granted, and I never will. Neither should you. It’s my pleasure to introduce this outstanding new author and his remarkable debut novel – so unsheathe your claws, sharpen your fangs and step on in to The Crimson Corset. I’m confident that you’ll enjoy your stay – and look forward to his future works – every bit as much as I do.”

                           –  Tamara Thorne, July 15, 2015

THE CRIMSON CORSET


The Crimson Corset is available now.

0011745955_748379521934467_1098048651828138527_n

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.

11014843_741116165994136_6990734116762148896_n

“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

THE CRIMSON CORSET is AVAILABLE NOW!


Just click the pic for your copy!

11014843_741116165994136_6990734116762148896_n

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.

Praise for The Crimson Corset:

“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