deadlyeverafter

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

I CAN WRITE THREE BOOKS AT ONCE OR MAYBE NOT by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin anything.

By Julie

SUMMER IS OVER. Also known as The Dark Night of the Writing Soul, at least for me. Our summer was awesome. My little boys were happy most of the time just being home. So wonderful and weird. Last year we had a difficult summer—okay, it was an absolutely torturous summer—and this year it was twice as easy. But tiring. My days were a tumult of park visits, querying THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, endless games of chess, Uno, Rummy, doctor visits and therapy appointments, playdates, editing for clients, readying for THE HARPY release, maintaining a sort of working household….. so many things.

And also plotting books.

Every summer I say, “By the end of the summer I’ll have X Book’s first draft finished!” I never do. Then I put this wild deadline on myself to finish the project in the first month of the school year. Too hard. So this summer I gave myself a break and didn’t pressure myself to write 1000 words a day. Instead I planned. I planned a lot.

Turns out I planned three books, all of which have equal space in my head. I’ve been trying to figure out which one to write first: the final Shinigami vampire book, the prequel to THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, or the sequel to THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS. (We need not mention the post-apocalyptic badass character that keeps popping up in my head.)

I tried, and tried to figure out which to write first. They all have a good argument. So guess what?

I’M WRITING ALL THREE AT ONCE.

Yeah, you heard me. A lot of it will probably be on paper, and one will emerge victorious in the race, but right now I’m feeling all three books.

NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.

DON’T YELL AT ME, I HAVE REASONS. HERE:

  • My writing routine changes with every damn book anyway. Why not make MASSIVE CHANGE? I make the damn rules around here.
  • For the first time ever I will have 2 hours five days a week to myself, now that both Sam and Ben will be going to the same school—five minutes from home. This is a luxury for me.
  • Editing business is strong. I’m busy. And the more I edit, the better writer I become. Also, as nuts as it is, the more I have to DO, the more regimented I become. The less likely I am to let free time slide.
  • With three books to work on, my 1000 Word A Day Diet will be easy to achieve. It will probably become 2000 words or more on some occasions. This keeps my mind healthy, and keeps me IN the books. And finally….
  • If it doesn’t work, IT’S OKAY. I will let it be okay. There are no mistakes in creativity. And if I find out there are, well, I’ll make better mistakes tomorrow. And trust me, I know mistakes. I could write a fourth book on HOW TO MAKE PUBLISHING MISTAKES. But there is one indisputable fact: I couldn’t fail unless I try.

No Strings Attached Is Here!

Today’s brew: Sangria! Because that’s what Leah would drink.

All my book babies are special, but here’s why No Strings Attached is close to my heart.  It was born in the most organic way possible, out of a conversation over text. A friend of mine enlightened me that someone I thought was a model was a male escort.

Whut.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Maybe I was envious of a woman who had the brass tacks to call an escort agency and hire a man to show her a good time.  It seems like a simple thing to do, but it’s not. But even more than that, I couldn’t stop thinking about the guys. Talk about work/life balance problems. How does an escort go to work and then come home to his girlfriend or family? How would his personal life fare with a job like that?

So I started to talk to the hive mind about this idea.  They brought up things I never thought of. There was definitely a story here.

I needed to create a confident woman who could afford to hire an escort (these guys aren’t cheap), but I had to give her a reason to take a chance on hiring a date.  And it was time to give my escort some work/life balance.

No Strings Attached was born.  A successful woman brings a male escort to her twentieth high school reunion.

It was supposed to be something that stayed on the surface, but it went much deeper than that.

I hope you’ll read the book to find out the rest.

No Strings Attached Kristen Strassel Cover

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1EdPZH2
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1EPqVkm
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/1PKONvM
Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/1U8Ahie

No Strings Attached is available in Kindle Unlimited.

Leah Godfrey has almost everything she could ask for– 

She’s got an interior design business with an A-list clientele, a weekly spot on a national morning TV show, and a great daughter–but she doesn’t have a date for her twentieth high school reunion. It wouldn’t be a big deal, but her ex-husband was her high school sweetheart, and now he’s married to the woman Leah caught him with in bed. She won’t let the biggest failure of her life overshadow her success.
When her best friend suggests she hire a date, Leah thinks the idea is scandalous. But for one weekend, she wants to forget her mistakes and pretend she has everything her ex took away from her.
Jagger Holiday makes women’s fantasies come true–
But working as a male escort leaves him feeling empty. He turns to photography to fill the void. When Jagger gets a call from a lonely single mom who needs the same thing he does, he wants more. He wants her.
Leah and Jagger have no problem convincing everyone at the reunion they’re together. She should’ve known better than to think there’d be no strings attached.
After all, he’s a professional.

NO STRINGS ATTACHED Cover Reveal!!

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How excited am I today?  I’ve been teasing everyone for weeks about this book, but I haven’t been able to show you anything.  Today is the day!  FINALLY!! Here’s the cover for No Strings Attached!

No Strings Attached Kristen Strassel Cover

 

 

The cover model is Grigoris Drakakis and the lovely Sotia Lazu designed the cover.  No Strings Attached is available on preorder at a special introductory price. You can grab yours NOW, and this gorgeous man will be waiting for you on your Kindle when you wake up the morning of August 24.  Can’t say I’m not looking out for you. ;)

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Leah Godfrey has almost everything she could ask for—
She’s got an interior design business with an A-list clientele, a weekly spot on a national morning TV show, and a great daughter—but she doesn’t have a date for her twentieth high school reunion. It wouldn’t be a big deal, but her ex-husband was her high school sweetheart, and now he’s married to the slut Leah caught him with in bed. She won’t let the biggest failure of her life overshadow her success.

When her best friend suggests she hire a date, Leah thinks the idea is scandalous. But for one weekend, she wants to forget her mistakes and pretend she has everything her ex took away from her.
Jagger Holiday makes women’s fantasies come true—
But working as a male escort leaves him feeling empty. He turns to photography to fill the void. When Jagger gets a call from a lonely single mom who needs the same thing he does, he wants more. He wants her.

Leah and Jagger have no problem convincing everyone at the reunion they’re together. She should’ve known better than to think there’d be no strings attached.

After all, he’s a professional.

buy links

AMAZON US | AMAZON UK

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The doors closed behind us. Jagger backed me up against the wall, and there was nowhere I could look but his eyes. One knee was between my legs, and his hands burned the skin on my stomach underneath my sweater. “You look amazing,” he whispered.
I hadn’t planned anything special for tonight. New underwear, that was all. Maybe I should’ve paid more attention to Kari when she told me about the schedule. I’d worn a sweater, scarf, jeans, and knee-high boots. “So do you,” I murmured back. Jagger was one step ahead of me in black dress pants and a deep blue button down shirt. It perfectly complemented his olive skin and dark hair. The more I thought of Jagger in terms of art, the more beautiful he became.
Jagger cupped my bra as his lips once again found mine. We could barely complete a sentence since he’d come to my room without our mouths crashing against each other. Going to this party was a terrible idea. After a drink or two I’d be begging him to take me on the bar. His fingers drew slow circles, dipping inside my bra, brushing back and forth against my nipples. They pebbled at his touch. I tangled my hands in his long hair, pulling him closer to me as I moaned against his mouth.
I hadn’t even noticed we weren’t moving until the alarm went off. We jumped away from each other. “What did you do?” I asked. “Didn’t you just hit the lobby button?”
“I hit stop.” Jagger had his hands up like he was about to get arrested.
“You can’t do that here.” I slammed my hand repeatedly against the lobby button to make the alarm stop screaming. The elevator started moving. “The fire department is probably already on their way. This is a small town. They’ll be talking about this until the next reunion.”
My stomach tied itself in knots complicated enough to flummox a boy scout as we walked through the lobby. The older woman at the front desk glared at us. “See?” I bumped against Jagger, who smiled and winked at the clerk. She turned bright red as she looked back to the computer. “We were seconds away from thanking the firemen for their commitment to service.”
Every head in the bar turned as we walked in. I made a beeline for the bartender, pulling Jagger along with me. He ordered our drinks. “You didn’t ask me what I wanted.”
“Don’t you want sangria?” He surprised me even more by pulling out his wallet. “You practically purred when you drank it in Washington. I’m not sure what you liked more, me or the sangria. But I know I liked the way it tasted on your lips.”
“How did you even know they had it? Some places throw bar garnish and Sprite into cheap wine and try to pass it off as the nectar of the Gods.” I leaned back against the bar, hooking my boot into the barstool, trying to play this cool. If Jagger had any idea he could knock me over with a feather right now he might stop trying so hard. I wanted to see what else he had in him. “They can’t fool me with that crap.”
“I checked before you got here.” Jagger tapped his glass against mine before taking a long sip of whatever he got.
I knew all along they had it. I’d been here more times than I could count. “And if they didn’t?”
“We’d find someplace that did.” Those hazel eyes smoldered. So many emotions I couldn’t read yet marched through them.
I put the glass down on the bar and turned back to him. It took everything I had to keep my hands to myself. “And if that wasn’t what I was craving?”
Jagger leaned closer to me and I could feel every eye on the room on us. “I will make sure you’re satisfied.”
We took stools at the bar. It was still pretty early. A cover band I’d been going to see since my twenties was setting up in the corner, and only a handful of my classmates had shown up so far. I wondered if we’d see many locals. Getting a babysitter two nights in a row was such a bitch.
“So that’s Eric. He went out to LA to act and he’s had a bunch of bit parts in movies, and it looks like he’s here with…” I squinted to see better, then squealed when he took the hand of someone I didn’t expect. “Michael. Nice. I think he’s still in the Marines. I knew he was stationed at Camp Pendleton, but I didn’t realize they were a couple. It makes total sense, now that I think about it, they’re always together in their Facebook stuff.”
After finding the bottom of my drink, I had no problem openly pointing out the weekend’s players to Jagger. A fresh drink appeared like magic, and I dove right into it. “And that’s Marcy. She was my manager at Design Spot. We used to put wine in our coffee cups to deal with the monotony of that place. Oh, God. You must think I’m a total lush, right?”
“No.” Jagger laughed. “Which one is Karina?”
I had to think about before answering him. “Who’s Karina?”
“Your best friend?” Jagger slid the glass away from me. “The guys at the agency have nothing but good things to say about her.”
“Oh! Kari.” I took it back. “I never think of her like that. Unless I’m giving her a hard time. Her reputation would precede her.” Good for her. “I don’t know. She should be here. She’s technically our host.”
She’d been coy in the last couple weeks, much more concerned with my plans for the reunion than sharing hers. Probably because being here was just as much of a nightmare for her as it was for me, even if our reasons were completely different. She’d definitely bring a date to the battle ground.
The band started, tearing through their nineties set with slightly less fire than they had in the actual nineties, and Jagger started drumming the beat against the bar. “Let’s dance,” he suggested.
“Sounds fantastic.” After the second sangria it easier to join the few other couples on the floor, and I waved to the people I’d pointed out from the bar. So far, we weren’t behind enemy lines. None of those people had shown up yet. I twirled around Jagger, singing the lyrics of the song to him as he put his arms around my waist and pressed my back against his body. We swayed together to the beat, his hair falling into my face as he joined me on the harmonies. I turned into him when the song changed, our hips grinding to the raunchy beat of the song. If this was any indication of what I had to look forward to when we went back upstairs, I had no idea why we were still here.
Jagger’s hands stayed on my hips, directing them, and I hooked my arms around his neck. His forehead rested on mine and I could only look at him. The rest of the room spun on a different axis. I hadn’t had too much to drink, I was drunk off of Jagger.
“Can I have this dance?” Kari managed to wedge herself between the two of us and I grabbed her arms to steady myself from the shock. She swung around, offering a hand to Jagger. “I’m Karina Gomez. Leah’s best friend. And I’m a United States prosecutor, so when I say I know where to hide the bodies…”
“Kari!” I jerked her away from Jagger before she said anything I regretted.
“I’ve heard all about you. Nothing but wonderful things of course.” Jagger ran his fingers under my chin. Kari didn’t release her death grip on my arms. “I’ll meet you over at the bar.”
My new dance partner spun me around. “First of all, he’s insanely gorgeous. I don’t get intimidated by many men, but it’s hard to breathe looking at him.”
“Where have you been?” I asked. I wanted to change the subject before it turned into a lecture.
“Here, for like a half an hour.” Kari rolled her eyes. “You were too busy eye-fucking your escort to notice anyone.”
My head whipped around the room. “Oh God, who else is here?”
“Pretty much everyone, and you are the topic of conversation.”
“Why?” Another quick scan of the room, but I didn’t spot Rich or Shelley.
“Because the two of you look like you’re going to crawl inside of each other. We’re all choking off the pheromones. Would you please go upstairs and fuck his brains out before some of the single ladies in the crowd abduct him?”
Nobody had to tell me twice. “Yes, ma’am.” I headed off the dance floor, but Kari still had my hand.
“Don’t ever call me ma’am.” Kari yanked me back into her. “Leah, please be careful tonight.”
“I will, ma’am.” I laughed when Kari looked like she might puke. “I brought protection.”
She squeezed my hand. “That’s not what I’m talking about, and you know it.”

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Kristen Strassel writes books about rock stars and vampires. After all, they tell you to write what you know. She is a passionate music fan who also loves football games and diner food. Kristen works as a makeup artist on film and TV shows when she’s not writing, and loves being behind the scenes. A former resident of Las Vegas, Kristen now lives in the Boston area.

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Lukas by Carian Cole Blog Tour

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Book Title: Lukas (Ashes & Embers #3)

Author: Carian Cole

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: July 30, 2015

Hosted by: Book Fancy

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Synopsis5

Storm’s younger cousin.

Vandal’s little brother.

You’ve met him in the background.

The sweet one.

The nice one.

The one they can all rely on.

The good one.

He’s a tattoo artist. He plays metal and classical music – on the violin.

He’s got a body built for sin.

He’s 24.

In comes Ivy. She’s a 36 year old single mom who hasn’t dated in 18 years.

All she wanted was a tattoo.

She got a helluva lot more :)

Being good has never been so bad.

 

Kristen’s review:
Carian is one of my auto-buy authors, so I was psyched to get the chance to review Lukas. I couldn’t wait to read this book as soon as I found out what the set up was. I could definitely relate to Ivy.  That’s what I love about all the characters in this series, they go through ish that is dark and scary, but real. They have real reactions and they’re not perfect.  I loved that Carian took the time to develop Lukas and Ivy’s relationship, gave them doubts, and let things unfold.

And oh my God, that little biznatch. That’s all I’m going to say without spoiling.

My only complaint is that I would’ve loved more at the end. Two major events happened off-page, and they would’ve really shown us more about Lukas and Ivy’s new life together. (Maybe that means there’s another Lukas book?) Otherwise, if you need me, I’ll be getting a new tattoo, hoping to find my Lukas.  If you love romance with hot, sweet tattooed rocker boys, pick these up. And let me know when you’re finished so we can fan girl together.

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Lukas full cover

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Storm (Ashes & Embers #1) Buy Links:

Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble Nook

Kobo

iTunes

Vandal cover

Vandal (Ashes & Embers #2) Buy Links:

Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble Nook

Google Play

iTunes

meetauthor

I have a passion for the bad boys, those covered in tattoos, sexy smirks, ripped jeans, fast cars, motorcycles and of course, the sweet girls that try to tame them and win their hearts. My debut series, Ashes & Embers, follows the lives of rock band members as they find, and sometimes lose, the loves of their lives.

My first novel in the Ashes & Embers series, Storm, was published in September of 2014 and book 2, Vandal, was published in February 2015 with several more of this series planned throughout 2015.

Born and raised a Jersey girl, I now reside in beautiful New Hampshire with my husband and our multitude of furry pets and spend most of my time writing, reading, and vacuuming.

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On Apologizing For Writing by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Milk Shake. Thank you, Target.

By Julie

“Remember, this is only a first draft.”

“I should have gone over it one more time before giving it to anyone.”

“I can’t believe I wrote that.”

“Reading my first book is so embarrassing.”

These are just a few of the things I hear writers say every single day. I’m guilty, too, but then I shut my damn face because every once in a while something like this happens:

“I followed you on Twitter because you remind me of the character I just wrote in my book, THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS.”

“You wrote a book??? That’s awesome!”

She didn’t say:

  • “WHO IS YOUR AGENT?”
  • “WHAT PUBLISHING HOUSE PICKED YOU UP?”
  • “IS IT A NY TIMES BEST SELLER?”
  • “IS THERE EVEN ONE TYPO IN IT?”
  • “ARE YOUR CHARACTERS ONE DIMENSIONAL?”
  • “WELL, DOES ANYONE ELSE LIKE IT?”

None of these things came up. She just said “you wrote a book? That’s awesome!”

You know what? The book could be about frigging cats that sell hot dogs to the Taliban, and if I wrote it from beginning to end, if I committed to completing it and stuck to that idea enough to make it real, even if it was just for my own eyes, THAT IS AWESOME.

*slaps you* GODDAMMIT YOU LISTEN TO ME.

DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR THE THING YOU CREATED.

YOU BROUGHT A THING TO LIFE.

A THING THAT DIDN’T EXIST EVEN IN THEORY BEFORE YOU DID IT.

DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR MAKING THINGS.

DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR NOT BEING BETTER.

YOU’RE A CREATOR. FEEL AWESOME ABOUT IT.

Lost Scene From The Fire Dancer

The things I find when I go through my notebooks!  This would’ve never fit into The Fire Dancer, but it was a fun little exploration piece when I was figuring out Holly’s relationship with Callie and Tristan.  Holly travels back to the Seasons in the Sun days for this one, so this was cool for me to see how these two characters, the first I ever came up with, have grown!
(please remember this is raw and unedited, straight from the scribbles in my notebook)

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Fourth of July weekend and the Vineyard was packed. I threaded through the crowds on the sidewalk, seeking refuge in a colorful coffee shop. It reminded me of my favorite café in Santa Fe, and I knew this kind of place would have some funky brew of iced tea. Never sure if it was a dream or if I was time traveling at first, I needed to find a place that would ground me.
Women swarmed around the barista station even after they’d picked up their iced lattes. Trevor George’s son, Tristan, was behind the counter. My heart pounded when I saw him, he was the one who brought me here. I went up on my tiptoes to get a better look at him. Looks and charm ran in the family. Waiting in line to place my order, I was captivated. His dark eyes glittered when he spoke, his lips curled up in a slow, easy smile. The things that mouth could probably do already.
“Can I help you?” A girl too young to be working asked with enough force to make me believe it wasn’t the first time she tried to get my attention. She rolled her eyes when I jumped, then shot a quick glare over to Tristan, knowing who’d stolen my attention away from her. Not in a jealous way, but a don’t even bother because he’s mine way. That wasn’t the only reason she caught me off guard. I didn’t expect to give Callie, the future mistress of the most powerful vampire clan in Las Vegas, my drink order.
No, she was the one who brought me here. She had no idea who I was, just another girl staring at her boyfriend. This was a hiccup for me, a trip of five years or so. I always had trouble in my time travels, not blurting something out that would scare the hell out of people. But this time, saying something would change everything. For me. And it was tempting.
“I’d like a large pomegranate orange iced tea, please.” If I didn’t get this tea I was going to explode. Traveling back to another time didn’t make my fire go away. Chaos would break out on the island if I dripped even a spark here.
Waiting for my drink, I had an excuse to watch him. He was just a boy. Jailbait. No matter how good looking he was, it was disgusting to watch women old enough to be his mother flirt shamelessly with him. He took it in stride, born to celebrity through and through, smiling at each one of them like he’d come to work just to make their latte.
Callie joined him to thin the crowd. He softened when she came over. The show didn’t stop, but it changed. Young as she was, she was awfully cute. Tawny skin, green eyes, honey colored hair escaping from a braid. She already had fire inside her, too. Good. She was going to needed it. I smiled as she whipped through the line.
She grabbed Tristan’s arm. “Why didn’t you tell me we were out of soy?” She pushed a honey curl back into her braid.
“Who drinks that shit, anyway?” The smile he gave her was like the sun breaking through the dark sky at dawn. Pure adoration, everyone disappearing around them. The other women waiting for their drinks might as well have had their picture taken with a cardboard cutout. How could they not notice that? I was actually envious of this little girl. She had everything I wanted.
“Half the island does!” Callie threw her arms up before stomping into a back room.
“Holly!” Tristan called out, still snickering from Callie’s outburst. “Pomegranate orange iced tea.”
Our fingers brushed as he handed me the drink. No sparks. Our eyes locked but the moment was cheapened because I knew I’d never believe his lie. He’d never be able to love anyone but her.
I wondered if I told him his future, if it would change a thing.
“Thanks.” I turned and pushed past the crowd. I needed air.
Even though in many respects Tristan was already a man, with Callie he could be a boy. Their fates were already hopelessly intertwined, floating together above the earth in a bubble. When it shattered, it would rain down on everyone. And no amount of fire would alter the outcome. I needed to fight my battles in the present, not the past.
Taking a cool, fruity sip of my drink, I was glad I kept my mouth shut. Even if it wasn’t what they expected, they both got what they wanted. Each other.

THE CRIMSON CORSET: Interview and Excerpt with the Amazing Alistair Cross

TODAY’S BREW: Target brand Chocolate Cupcake AND IT REALLY TASTES LIKE ONE!

By Julie

Alistair Cross is a great friend and an amaaaazing writer. His poetry and his horror work is so sensual and evocative, it’s unparalleled. So when I demanded the opportunity to preview his first solo novel, THE CRIMSON CORSET on Deadly Ever After. I seriously cannot wait. HERE, LET ME SHOW YOU ONE OF MY FAVORITE POEMS OF HIS AND YOU’LL SEE WHY. https://alistaircross.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/battle-kiss/

And THIS is about THE CRIMSON CORSET

NOW BUY THE CRIMSON CORSET: http://www.amazon.com/Crimson-Corset-Vampires-Cove-Book-ebook/dp/B0139K6N7Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1438549888&sr=1-1&keywords=the+crimson+corset+by+alistair+cross

NOW I ASK ALL THE QUESTIONS.

  • You’ve come up with some really unique and beautifully disturbing ideas for THE CRIMSON CORSET that remind me of your poetry, which as you know, I’m in love with. Tell us about the crimson corset itself.

Thanks for loving the poetry! The poetry loves you, too!

Regarding the actual crimson corset … it refers to two things. First and foremost, it is a literal corset – a very special garment worn by my undead antagonist, Gretchen VanTreese, when she’s feeling uninspired. There are specific reasons this article of clothing is so special to her – macabre, gruesome reasons that I can’t expound upon without giving spoilers. I can say that some very special care went into the construction of the garment and because of those unnamed specifics, the corset represents to Gretchen a passage into power, and freedom from her past – it is a symbol of what she could become.

Then there’s Gretchen’s nightclub, The Crimson Corset, named for that very special red bodice of hers. Purchased in 1912 when Gretchen and her band of Loyals settled in Crimson Cove, the Swiss-Chalet-style former lodge is notorious for its wild parties and long history of debauchery and excess. Built over underground tunnels of the rum-running days of Prohibition, there’s a lot more to this club than any of the locals know. This club was a ton of fun to write and it became a character in its own right as a lot of the action and danger takes place there.

As for the book … The Crimson Corset is the first in a series titled The Vampires of Crimson Cove. It begins when a seemingly ordinary young man named Cade Colter who moves to the little California village of Crimson Cove where he discovers he’s not so ordinary after all. Unbeknownst to him, Cade has a genetic rarity that makes him very extraordinary, indeed … and very valuable Gretchen VanTreese.

As Cade becomes the object of Gretchen’s obsession, the peaceful faction of vampires on the other side of town must call off the ancient and uneasy truce between their Loyals and Gretchen’s in order to protect Cade Colter. But Gretchen has already begun laying an elaborate trap that will put Cade, and everyone around him, in mortal danger.

  • Tell us about Jazminka and her very unique weapon choices.

Jazminka is Gretchen’s second-in-command, and she’s one of my favorite characters in this book. Born in Yugoslavia in the 1700s, Jazminka has had plenty of time to perfect her skills. She can drain a grown man of blood in six seconds or less without spilling a single drop, and she uses weapons of only the most fashionable kind to do it. From her steel-tipped stiletto heels, to the flowing chiffon of her glove-sleeves that serve as garottes, Jazminka is a woman who dresses to kill. Literally.

  • We share a love of making vampires that stand out amongst the others in the genre, but you like your classic vampire to stay that way. What makes your vampires yours?

I actually never envisioned myself writing a vampire novel and I haven’t read much vampire fiction in recent years, so it’s hard for me to say what makes my vampires different – because I don’t know what to compare them to. I do know that I have a respect for the traditional vampire genre, and didn’t want to stray too terribly far from that, so I hope that if my vampires are particularly unique for something, it’s because they aren’t so unique that they lose the integrity of the legend.

  • You’re a self-proclaimed character writer. Tell me about it.

Before I sit down to write, I do two things. First, I spent several weeks submerged in research and story development – and then I consider two to three possible endings for the story. After that, I just write. It’s difficult to explain how your characters can execute the story according to their own wills, but that is exactly what happens. Some writers understand this and some don’t. I think it’s just one of many inexplicable creative processes. How can anyone explain creativity of any kind? Where does it come from? It’s a slippery slope, my friend.

  • You’ve got mermaids and vampires in one book! Talk!

Ha ha! Well, the mermaids are vampires. Now, before you start thinking I have actual mermaids with sharp fangs swimming around and biting scuba divers, let me explain. Near Crimson Cove is a very real little town with an old, abandoned lodge called The Brookdale Lodge, which lent some inspiration to the club in The Crimson Corset. At the Brookdale, there was a glassed-in area of the pool where prostitutes dressed as mermaids swam for the men at the bar, and in much the same way people at restaurants can choose their lobster from a tank, these gentlemen would choose a “mermaid” for the evening. This concept fascinated me, and I created the vampires, Violet and Scarlett, to be the Crimson Corset’s finned – and fanged – ladies of the night. They are not, however, real mermaids.

  • What do you see yourself writing next?

Oh, I already know what I’m writing next and have already begun it. Or, them, to be accurate (there are several projects currently in progress.)

I’m in the beginnings of the next solo novel which, although not related to The Crimson Corset, will feature some familiar faces. While writing, I’m often introduced to what I call “surprise characters.” These are characters that weren’t part of the original plan. Usually, these unplanned characters further the story and end up being great additions … other times, they go nowhere and either need to be cut out entirely, or moved to a different story.

In The Crimson Corset, there is one character in particular, Deputy Nick Grayson, who really seemed to have a strong story behind him – more than I could explore in The Crimson Corset. I didn’t want to leave him behind so as I wrapped up The Crimson Corset, I gave him a job offer in a neighboring fictional town, where I will be able to tell his story. While this new book has no vampires – it focuses on angels and demons – it will be a lot of good, gruesome fun and I’m very excited about it.

Also, my collaborator, Tamara Thorne, and I are finishing up volume one of the serialized Ravencrest saga, The Ghosts of Ravencrest. Immediately after that, the next volume begins, as well as another novel –  a hard-hitting, fast-paced, balls-to-the-wall psychological thriller that we’ve been talking about for a while. So yeah. It’ll be a busy year.

  • What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done? Don’t hold back now.

Honestly? Getting my name on a book next to Tamara Thorne’s! Seriously. If you don’t believe me, check out The Cliffhouse Haunting. There I am … right next to her. It’s awesome. And it was an incredibly fun book to write, too! I’ve been a fan of Tamara’s since the 90s, so to be able to meet my hero and write books with her is – without a doubt – the coolest thing that has ever happened to me.

the crimson corset cover

EXCERPT

In his dreams, he saw Alison. At first, she was smiling, sitting on a towel on Bonny Doon beach, her blond hair moving gently in a light breeze. She and Ethan were the only two there and at first, it didn’t seem strange to him that there was no sun. He looked up into the black sky, saw the sprinkle of silver stars and the crescent of the moon. “Come on,” he said to his sister. “It’s dark.”

Alison smiled at him but there was something sinister about it.

He stepped closer to her. “We need to go.”

Her mouth didn’t move, but he heard the words clearly: “Not yet.”

He looked around for anything they’d brought that needed to be taken back with them. But there was nothing, just sand … and the water. It gleamed like onyx and lapped at the shore, suddenly much closer than it had been moments before. “The tide’s coming in,” he said, but Alison wasn’t listening. She just sat, staring into the distance, that strange smile on her face.

A new sound came – rain? – but he didn’t feel any of it. He looked up again. The sky was blacker and the stars were missing. He searched for the moon and couldn’t find it.

Alison turned her head and faced him. “A storm’s coming.” Her once-pretty features were gone now, replaced by blue-white skin, hollow eyes, and thin lips. Her face had gone cadaver-thin and her body, clad in a bright orange bikini, had begun to show signs of decay.

The dark sea water turned the color of blood and was close enough now that it lapped at the tips of her toes, as if tasting her. As the water – the blood! – receded, it took Alison’s flesh with it, leaving behind only the bones of her feet.

She threw her head back and laughed, it might have pleased him if only it hadn’t sounded so mad. She scooted closer to the ocean of blood, tossing her head back and giggling as if the water – as it spirited away her flesh – was merely tickling her.

“No!” He ran toward her. His legs pumped and his lungs burned, but he couldn’t get any closer. It was as if he were running in place. He watched, terror-stricken, as a massive wave rose and crashed down on his sister. “Alison!”

She disappeared under the red water and moments later, the tide returned to the sea, leaving behind the smell of burning flesh – and what was left of Alison.

His heart pounded and his stomach heaved at the sight.

She was little more than bones now, with intermittent strips of charred, melted flesh hanging from her frame. To Ethan’s horror, his sister rose and began ambling toward him. Her jawbone worked feverishly before she found her terrible croaking voice. “You did this to me! You!” She raised her arms, her finger bones curling in as she reached for his throat.

He tried to turn, but couldn’t. Glued in place, he felt the cold wet bones of her hand close around his neck.

“You did this to me!”

Ethan shot up in bed, his heart pounding high in his chest. He screamed, kicked the quilts off, kicking, kicking, grasping at his throat. His eyes flicked open and he was somewhere else: His bedroom. The smell of burnt flesh receded, making way for the stink of his own sweat, which drenched his T-shirt and bed sheets. He gasped for breath for several long moments. It was just a dream. Just a dream. Rain still tapped at the windowpane, reminding him of the click of finger bones. He shuddered, cold, and pulled the blankets closer.

Reaching into the nightstand drawer, he retrieved a half-drunk pint of whiskey and took a long pull. This wasn’t the first dream he’d had about Alison – and it wasn’t the worst. He told himself he could handle it. Just let the whiskey do its work and go back to bed. It was just a dream. But he knew it wasn’t just a dream. It was much, much more than that.

 

alistair cross

Alistair Cross was born in the western United States and began penning his own stories by the age of eight. First published by Damnation Books in 2012, Alistair has since published several more novels. In 2012, he joined forces with international bestselling author, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write the successful Gothic series, The Ghosts of Ravencrest. Their newest novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, is an Amazon Best Seller, and this summer also sees the release of Alistair’s solo novel, The Crimson Corset.

In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the internet radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! Haunted Nights LIVE! premiered to great acclaim and has featured 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 best sellers Christopher Rice, Jonathan Maberry, and Christopher Moore.

Alistair is currently at work on several projects including a solo novel and a new Thorne & Cross collaboration. His influences include the works of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul, Ira Levin, and William Peter Blatty.

website: alistaircross.com

blog: alistaircross.wordpress.com

twitter: @crossalistair

Facebook: facebook.com/alistaircoss

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

How to Have Infinite Patience/ Unlimited Coffee with Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Cinnamon Hazelnut. Because it’s always autumn in my cup.

By Julie

I asked Twitter what to blog about and my lovely friend Roselle Kaes (go find her here http://t.co/ZJ1jxwH1IK) said she admires my infinite patience and wants to know how coffee contributes. Because coffee is the thing I cannot live without, and it is THE thing that grounds me. (Get it, grounds me? Coffee grounds.)

Let’s be up front. I am addicted to coffee. No question. I have no problem with it.

I am patient. I’m quick to tell the kids “baby, I love you but if you don’t quiet down I will decapitate you,” but I do it in such a way that they laugh and generally do as I ask. When they don’t I remind them that I support the things they need to do, and they should do the same for me. (Just had this conversation this very moment.) When they still don’t listen I yell really quick and sometimes cry. This is okay. We all have feelings.

Coffee is the way I mentally get started, several different ways. I don’t like writing without a cup. I CAN write without a cup, don’t like it. If the kids and I or life and I have a bad roundabout, I start over with a new cup of coffee. Then it’s over. Time to reboot.

Coffee is also meditative for me. I learned this little meditation trick at a spa in Arizona when I was a fancy Victoria’s Secret employee–not everyone has time for or responds to sitting down with a bunch of incense and meditating. But if you can find something that you do several times a day, or even an hour–back then it was every time I used my manager’s keys–take a deep breath (in through your nose, out through your mouth), close your eyes and say a word that makes you calm in your head. I don’t always say the word, but I do the other stuff. It helps every time. When I’m writing and need a second to regroup, when I feel myself getting tense, when I just need a moment to myself no matter what’s going on around me.

My house is where I do 99% of my writing and everything else, and it’s also small, with 2 wild kids, a needy dog, a tv in front of me most of the time. I can work under these distractions but I remind myself not to be part of the tornado by insisting I have that cup of coffee uninterrupted. Doesn’t always happen. Usually doesn’t happen. But the fact that I say “I just want this one quiet cup of coffee” reminds me that I have this thing I WILL have. I insist upon it. It’s not life or death–for the most part, except for that one guy– but it says “this is my comfort spot and I will not give it up.” That puts me in a mindset where I’m not running in the hamster wheel, I’m stopping it and building a new one.

Also, everything good happens over coffee. A million memories flood to mind when I think of it. And even though I can literally fall asleep with a cup in my hand now, I feel invigorated when I have it. All good things require patience and patience requires effort. Effort requires energy. ENERGY COMES IN A CUP AND MAKES ME A SUPERHERO.

batman coffee

The moral of the story is patience requires a lot of giving, and you need to fill the well. Take something, too. Even if it’s just a cup of coffee.

Fairy Tale Confessions Cover Reveal

I’m super excited about this anthology and all the fun stuff that comes with it!  My story is Sleeping Beauty. Try and guess what I’m going to do with it.

(maniacal laugh)

BOOK INFO:
Fairy Tale Confessions Collection
Published by: Amber Leaf Publishing
Publication date: October 1st 2015
Genres: Fairy Tales
Synopsis:

Fourteen bestselling authors twist up your favorite tales. Will your favorite have a happily-ever-after?

Get ready to meet some sexy, not-so-valiant princes, punk-rock princesses, villains turned heroes, and truly vile monsters, causing  havoc within our favorite happily-ever-afters.

Read about Dancing Princesses getting their groove on in a disco club, a seriously sexy Rumpelstiltskin, and one alluring Puss-in-Boots, plus many, many more captivating characters in these fourteen all new short-stories.

In association with RT 2016 come meet the twisted fairy tale girls: M. Clarke, Amy Daws, L.P. Dover, Elizabeth Montgomery, Shannon Morton, Brynn Myers, Wendy Owens, Sarah J. Pepper, Cameo Renae, Kellie Sheridan, Jessica Sorensen, Kristen Strassel, Tish Thawer, and K.R. Wilburn. If you’ll be in Vegas for RT 2016, join hosts, Sarah J. Pepper and Tish Thawer at the Fairy Tale Costume Party where you could see a traditional Snow-White, or a completely gothed-out Belle roaming the scene, win dinner with Prince Charming, and snag gift baskets from all the participating authors.

FairyTaleConfessions
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Relishing Rejection with Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Target brand anything. It’s my favorite morning coffee.

By Julie

This week begins the dreaded querying. This is the process by which a writer boils down the book they’ve poured their heart into for a bunch of months into a letter that is one part storytelling, one part ass kissing, one part making yourself sound like you somehow enjoy writing query letters.

Yet, this is not what writers seem to overall hate about querying. That actual letter, that is the thing that makes me cringe. For most others, it’s the inevitable wait of six to eight weeks as you watch a thousand other books be born, all to be told nine times out of ten (or more appropriately 59 times out of 60) that:

  • while your storytelling is unique, I didn’t quite connect with the character
  • the story seems too much like XYZ book
  • in a crowded genre, the story and character would not stand out enough
  • it sounds wonderful but isn’t the right fit for me at this time
  • I wish you the best of luck

Rejection is the reason why writers generally hate querying. It’s disheartening to say the least. It’s not only a matter of “I didn’t like your book,” it feels like, “I don’t like YOU.”

I feel like a jerk saying that rejection doesn’t bother me. It really doesn’t and it never has since I began querying RUNNING HOME years ago. I’m not bragging. I hope to give you some of the same outlook for when you get that sonofabitching email in your box. This is my mindset:

I expect it. Rejection is part of the game. Just is. It’s low-level hazing. But know this as the rejections continuously roll in…..it only takes one agent to love it.

I wrote the strongest possible book I could write. This is more helpful when it comes to getting reviews. I just got a one star review a week ago. I harbor zero resentment. It wasn’t that reader’s cup of tea, but it is mine. If I wasn’t confident in my book, I’d hurt over every bad word said against it, but I love the book, know that it was the best book I could have put out then, and that’s why I write. Not to please everybody else. (Sorry, everybody else.) Now, when it comes to querying to agents, you really want them to love the book. Not just any ol’ reader but this specific person who you’re trusting with your life’s work. With that in mind, I submit the strongest book I can, and I listen to alllllll the feedback I can get. I take what works for me and I apply it. And what I don’t find useful for me, I discard. This isn’t a yes/no test. You won’t ever just GET IT RIGHT. There’s always something that can be tweaked in a concept, the delivery, the writing style….it’s evolution for every writer. But in the end, same rule applies…..the book is YOURS. Make it to suit you, nobody else. Be confident in what you’ve done and that means knowing when to listen to how it could be better as well.

Querying is a process of elimination. This is the most important element for me. This is the one thing I remember above all else, to the point now that I don’t have to remember it, it just IS.

MY BOOKS ARE COMING OUT. ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. REJECTIONS JUST MEAN THAT IT ISN’T THAT WAY WITH THAT AGENT OR PUBLISHER.

The agent is round one. If I don’t pick up an agent, or if I don’t find the right one for me, I go to small press. If I don’t find a small press (highly unlikely, as I love small presses and one in particular WINK WINK), I will self-publish. The book is coming out. All of the books.

BE DETERMINED TO GET YOUR BOOKS OUT WHEN THEY’RE UP TO YOUR STANDARD, AND REJECTION BECOMES PART OF THE PATH, NOT THE END OF IT.

Having an optimistic outlook doesn’t just mean that you think, “This is the agent that’s going to love me and they’ll land this publisher that I’ve wanted all my life and I’ll get the biggest deal and I’ll be on the red carpet in two years.” That’s the dream, and don’t get me wrong, LOVE THE DREAM. FANTASIZE ABOUT THE DREAM, STRIVE FOR THE DREAM. But I don’t make my dream my measure of success. If it happens, it will be the most lovely thing that I can ever, well, dream of. But success comes in steps and it comes in hard work. It comes with mistakes. It comes with burnt bridges. It comes with trouble and sadness and small victories and excitement and exhaustion. To me, success means I worked for it until I was absolutely satisfied with what I’ve made and I feel as though I’ve grown. Rejection can’t touch that feeling. The best part? You can feel that over and over and over again until you achieve the dream, or the dream changes.

Don’t reject yourself. Looking at that rejection letter, do not take the words “not for me” and make them in your tired little mind into “not for anybody.” Don’t turn “crowded genre” into “not a chance in hell, little person.” Don’t make “characters I couldn’t connect with” become “I couldn’t connect with YOU and nobody ever ever will.” Be honest with yourself IN BOTH DIRECTIONS….if the criticism is that the characters seemed one dimensional, ask yourself if it’s true for you. Do you think they could be deeper, really? If it’s not quite a standout concept, is there something you could do to make it MORE STANDOUT? But also, be honest in your own favor, too. Maybe the characters are deep enough by your standard. Maybe the concept is solid enough, and this just isn’t the right agent or publisher for you. Be a good friend to yourself. Be honest.

The triple bitch. I use this in everything that has to do with a book. IF I HEAR THE SAME CRITICISM THREE TIMES, I WILL FIX THE PROBLEM. If I hear it once, unless it really rings true, I don’t change a thing. I made the mistake before of listening to EVERY opinion and catered to them. It violated my honesty rule: I didn’t honestly think the changes made the book better and so I ended up going back to my original plan. And yeah, the majority can still be wrong, you could still feel absolutely the same about the way you did whatever the thing is that nobody likes. Again, be honest with yourself….would it hurt you to change it to be more appealing to the masses? Maybe. Maybe you want it your way and you’ll defend it. Or maybe it’s a little thing and if you change it, it might mean one less rejection and it didn’t affect the story or the characters for YOU in a bad way. I might be repeating myself here, but THE BOOK IS YOURS. MAKE SURE YOU’RE HAPPY WITH IT OR YOU’LL NEVER BE HAPPY WITH WHAT HAPPENS WITH IT.

Now get out there, writerlies. Be brave. Be ready. Be awesome.

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