Guest Post: Alistair Cross

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Today, Alistair Cross has hi-jacked my blog.

Here’s a little info on the fiend who dared trespass here.

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Alistair Cross’ debut novel, The Crimson Corset, a vampiric tale of terror and seduction, was an immediate bestseller earning praise from veteran vampire-lit author, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and New York Times bestseller, Jay Bonansinga, author of The Walking Dead series. In 2012, Alistair joined forces with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write – among other things – the successful Gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their debut collaboration, The Cliffhouse Haunting, reached the bestseller’s list in its first week of release. They are currently at work on their next solo novels and a new collaborative project.

In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has featured such guests as Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of HELLRAISER 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore.

Top Ten Writing Lessons I’ve Learned in Ten Years

Though I’ve been writing all my life, 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 with bestselling author, Tamara Thorne, and am now completing my second solo novel, The Angel Alejandro, which will be out early in 2017, as well as several other collaborations and solo projects.

And Tamara and I didn’t stop there. We also began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, 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.”

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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.

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You can stalk Alistair at the following places:

★ Author’s website: http://www.alistaircross.com/

★ Author’s social media links:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Alistair-Cross/e/B00N446AZS/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6517308.Alistair_Cross

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crossalistair

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CrossAlistair

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/alistaircross/

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13 Questions with Alistair Cross

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Alistair Cross-BWIt’s been a while since I had a 13 Questions segment, but today we have author Alistair Cross in the hot seat. Since his first publication with Damnation Books in 2012, Alistair has authored the successful serial novel, The Ghosts of Ravencrest, as well as the Amazon Best Seller, The Cliffhouse Haunting with international bestselling author, Tamara Thorne.

Together, they host the popular Horror, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal themed radio show, Thorne & Cross Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has included such guests as Chelsea Quinn Yarbro of the Saint-Germain vampire series, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series, True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels that inspired the hit television series, Jay Bonansinga of the Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels, and New York Times bestsellers Christopher Rice, Jonathan Maberry, and Christopher Moore.

You can visit Alistair Cross’ website at www.alistaircross.com.

1. What drives you to write?

An irrepressible, insurmountable, burning need to give expression to the stories and characters that have existed in my imagination as far back as I can remember.

2. What attracted you to writing horror?

I discovered the horror genre at about eight years old and was promptly captivated by its immediacy, its drama, and its command of the audience’s emotions.

3. Who are your favourite horror writers?

Edgar Allan Poe, Daphne DuMaurier, Ira Levin, Richard Laymon, Tamara Thorne, and Oscar Wilde.

4. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?

Dracula by Bram Stoker, It by Stephen King, Hell House by Richard Matheson, Violin by Anne Rice, and plenty of true crime because that’s where the real horror comes from.

5. Ebooks or paperback?

It doesn’t make much difference to me at this point, although I admit having avoided ebooks for a long time. I’ve since realized it’s the story, not the delivery of the story, that matters to me. Kindle, paper, or computer screen. It’s all the same to me. If a story is good enough, I’ll read it off the stall of a public restroom.

6. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?

The cover. That’s always what gets me to pick it up. Then I read the back, and then, as the final decision maker, I read the first paragraph of the first page.

7. Who is your favourite fictional character?

I have a few! Madame DeFarge from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, Dorian Gray from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Renfield in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, and Margaret White in Stephen King’s Carrie. I’m also fond of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. He’s a bit of a dick, but I can relate.

8. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?Final CC Book Cover

My process lies somewhere between pantsing and plotting. I get to know my characters before I start. I try to find the beginning, middle, and a few possible endings, then I just start writing and let the story tell itself.

9. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?

Absolutely. Intensive plotting has proven to be an exercise in futility for me as my characters rarely follow the directions I’ve given them. But this is where 90% of the magic comes from. I like the surprises and have learned to trust the characters. I don’t know if this is the case for all writers but I’m better off letting the characters express themselves on their own terms, so long as they don’t wander too far from the plot.

In my latest release, The Crimson Corset, the character of Gretchen VanTreese was originally cast as a throw-away – her sole purpose being to demonstrate the ways in which my vampires could meet their ends. But she took over, re-shaped the story, and made it all about her … which turned out to be a good thing. If I’d insisted she remain in place, I would have ended up with a much weaker story.

10. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?

I don’t need silence but other words trip me up when I’m writing. Instrumental music is okay, but I don’t want to listen to someone singing or talking.

11. Do you do a lot of research for your stories?

Yes. Research is vital and I like to write pretty far outside of the familiar. I believe you should write what you know, but more importantly, I think you should KNOW what you write. Which requires lots of research.

12. Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook. Asking me to say something in 240 characters or less is just asking for trouble.

13. What really pisses you off about writing? (feel free to really vent here)

The thing that really pisses me off about writing is how you can spend so much time trying to say something just right … then in edits, after you’ve lost those hours of agonizing over the perfect phrasing, the very simple solution jumps out at you – and a second a half later, it’s fixed. So … overthinking. That’s what pisses me off about the process. Simplicity is power. I forget that regularly.

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Blurb by Jay Bonansinga for CC
Alistair’s new release is the Crimson Corset. Presented in the form of contemporary vampire literature, The Crimson Corset is a representation of human descent, the power of influence, the corruption of greed, and the lust for domination. It is an illustration of the human will and a testament to the strength of family ties.
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.

Author Links:
Website: http://alistaircross.com
Twitter: @crossalistair
Blog: http://alistaircross.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlistairCoss
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/crossalistair
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/jsascribes
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Alistair-Cross/e/B00N446AZS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1417836165&sr=1-2
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/alistaircross/