What’s Going On With Lexx?

Greetings everyone! It’s been quite some time since we talked. See what happened was, I normally updated my blog at work when there was nothing else going on. Then, several months ago, “The Powers That Be” decided that we needed to lock down the internet to save bandwidth. They nixed WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, and lots of other sites. Hence, my blog fell by the wayside. But don’t worry, I’ve resolved to fix it and get myself back on a schedule. In the meantime, I’d love for you all to visit my new website at:

http://lexxxchristian.wixsite.com/alexandrachristian

It has news, appearances, book info, and you can sign up for my newsletter, “The Hell’s Belles.” Each month I’ll feature authors, give updates on events, share writing tips, and give away free books! So basically, I’m leaving my blog here to be my heart and my website to be my head.

So what’s been going on? A lot! As you guys who read the blog regularly know, I’ve been trying to sell my book about the shapeshifting superspy for YEARS. Well guess what? I just signed a 4 book deal with Boroughs Publishing Group to release my new series, Phoenix Rising, starring the incredibly sexy spy, Cage St. John. The first book, NAKED, will release on April 13, 2017!

Also, y’all know about my obsession with Sherlock Holmes right? Well it finally paid off! I’ve just signed a contract with Falstaff Books to produce 4 novellas starring Dr. John Watson. In the novellas, Watson will find himself in situations most dire where he’ll need to rely on his wits to escape monsters lurking in the underbelly of Victorian London. And he might even get a little help from his friend, Sherlock Holmes.

So I’ve been super-busy lately! But I also feel super-lucky. I do hope you guys will keep coming back!

Author Seeking Complex Readers

 

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Greetings from the world of the living! It’s been a while, but I hope you’ve all been well. I’ve been writing my little heart out the last month trying to finish up my upcoming release from Little Red Hen Romance. It’s a charming little #Sherlock Holmes #mystery entitled “Chasing the Dragon.” It’s a bit longer than the regular LRH release, coming in at just under 30K. But the 30K are well worth it in my humble opinion. As I was talking to my editor about it this morning, we inevitably veered the conversation into that deep, dark pit– how to sell more books? It’s a question that is always on the minds of writers these days. Many of my colleagues have gone from selling enough books to make their car payment to barely selling enough to warrant a check. There are so many layers to this question that we can’t even begin to examine all of them, but I wanted to focus this blog post on the most important one:  YOU, dear reader.

Picture it, Facebook: 2016. A beautiful young writer is browsing the author groups and reading blogs. She is puzzled, as she keeps seeing words like “BESTSELLER” and “5 STARS.” The problem is, all the books that had been tagged as “BESTSELLER” or “5 STARS” seemed to be carbon copies of one another. And they certainly weren’t the kinds of books that the young writer was churning out at light speed. Romances that weren’t even remotely romantic that featured predatory relationships, unreal situations, no high-stakes conflict, increasingly whacked-out scenarios– the list goes on. And apparently readers are lapping it up like milk and honey.

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Something about this just doesn’t gel.

I know readers, particularly romance readers, are smarter than this. I know they want complex stories that aren’t just about the sicky-sweet love and the increasingly disturbing sex. And how these two things exist in the same story still escapes me.

Here’s what I want in a reader: 

Someone who believes in love. I often get the impression that the people writing 50 Shades knock-offs think that love is a joke. That the fairy tale stuff doesn’t exist so we may as well make it a humiliating experience that no one will enjoy. Love ISN’T perfect, but it is out there. Sometimes hiding in the most unlikely of places.

Not a hopeless romantic, but a hopeful one.

Someone who wants adventure and a complex storyline in their romance. It doesn’t have to be all about the romance. There should be more at stake than an old boyfriend blowing back into town. Romance CAN exist in the midst of an international incident. Or on an interplanetary mission to save the sun. Or between a dragon and the slayer sent to kill him on behalf of the government. Romance novels don’t HAVE to be Hallmark Channel movies of the week.

Someone who isn’t just reading from one sex scene to the next to get off. That’s what Penthouse Letters are for.


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So where can you find these amazing feats of literary fitness? Well look no further than Little Red Hen Romance. It’s co-op of authors, Lucy Blue and yours truly, work tirelessly to bring meaty love stories to the complex reader. That reader that wants to lose themselves in the magic and adventure of a damn good story and feel the heart flutter as they witness two people falling in love.

I know you’re out there.

GUEST POST: Thomas Fortenberry on Chasing Sherlock Holmes

Hey there kittens! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!  On my blog today I’m hosting one of my authors from An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. His name is Thomas Fortenberry and he’s a phenomenal writer!  He dabbles in spy stories and H.P. Lovecraft, two things I just love in a writer.  This article originally appeared on his own site:   http://thomasfortenberry.net/ but he’s letting me lift it for my own purposes today.


AVAILABLE NOW!

AVAILABLE NOW!

I’m pleased to see you’ve made it through the fog-shrouded streets of London to cozy little 221-B. Now, take a cup of tea and pack your pipe, gather round the fireplace in a comfortable chair, and let’s talk about our dear old friend, Mr. Holmes.

There is cause for celebration as a new anthology has arrived, An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I am proud to admit I contributed a tale to it.

I had an absolute blast writing a story for this collection. It was an opportunity at which I jumped, because Sherlock Holmes is one of the literary icons I have spent a lifetime admiring, yet who rarely become available to explore or write due to ever-increasing (-ly insane) copyright laws. I am still waiting on a chance to have adventures with Doc Savage, for instance. Just recently I thought I had an opportunity to write a James Bond tale, but it turns out I had to be Canadian. So close, yet so far north of litigation. As my Grandfather explained to me as a child, Ca Nada means, “Nothing here.” I expect nothing there for me, Mr. Bond.

Therefore, you see, these chances can be extremely rare. The case of Sherlock Holmes is newly won as he has entered the public domain this year. Voila! We write.

Crafting Sherlock Holmes tales have a few intrinsic difficulties. Most obviously, there is the mystery. Sherlock Homes is the world’s most famous detective, hence, this will be crime story that needs solving. But, more on this in a moment.

Next is the fact that these are period pieces. Luckily I love history, so in my case this proved quite fun. Any excuse to research a given era or culture. I read up on English history, specifically the Victorian and Edwardian Eras. My challenge was not to get lost in all the details. For instance, when Holmes and Watson needed to get across town, I started researching different types of conveniences, and then found myself studying styles of carriages, how they are pulled and how they are made, and then begin thinking of ways to include in the story a certain stitching in the seats, or wheel and axle, or breed of horse, and… you begin to see. It is always a matter of trimming back hundreds of hours of research into a few pertinent details rather than, literally (ar-ar), a flood of historical proportions.

Then, the most wonderful portion is also the most difficult. The attraction of these types of serial tales is the characters themselves. From pulp adventures to cozy mysteries, these are self-contained universes. Half the fun of reading one is to get to see what Fritz cooks for Archie and Nero’s dinner, or what Monk and Ham are fighting over this week while Doc is ensconced in his lab developing his next great invention, or what tomb Amelia and Radcliffe are exploring when the next corpse is discovered. It isn’t just the mystery that draws us in, it is the familiar banter between Holmes and Watson in the comfort of their 221-B domicile. This is what I loved writing, but also what I found most daunting, because it was not my own world and yet I had to honor it explicitly. Therefore, I reread every Holmes short story and novel in preparation for this write. That was the best way to pick up the flavor of their speech and nuances of their relationship. Because, in my opinion, it is paramount to honor these characters as they are created and the world they inhabit.

Furthermore, whenever possible and for my own enjoyment, I mention or embed characters from other worlds in most of my stories and did so here. I love writing cameos. So several non-Sherlockian people were featured in this tale, some from my own writings and some from others. Enjoy hunting those “Easter eggs,” as my children say. In this particular tale, since this was an historic Holmes horror, the confluence of subgenres lent itself to certain types of crossovers.

Now, back to the mystery. I love mysteries, but in the case of Sherlock Holmes it is a wee bit difficult to write simply because he is the Great Deducer (Deduceretur) or Cluemeister (to coin some fun). That is, how do you craft a mystery when the protagonist is constantly figuring it all out before you want to reveal it? Hard times, indeed. Nevertheless, it is a joy to write with such a vibrant, intelligent character. Also, since this had a slight supernatural vibe to it, I was able to keep Sherlock in the proverbial dark, exploring unknown territory as well.

All in all, a fantastic time. I hope you enjoy reading the stories in this new anthology as much as we did crafting them.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Thomas Fortenberry is an American author, editor, reviewer, and publisher. A Pushcart Prize-nominated writer and history teacher, he has also judged many literary contests, including The Georgia Author of the Year Awards and The Robert Penn Warren Prize for Fiction. A lifelong fan of Sherlock, mysteries, and Pulp Era adventures, he is very honored to participate in a crossing of two of his favorite “worlds,” that of Sherlock Holmes and the Cthulhu Mythos.  He can be found strolling the internet on his website: www.thomasfortenberry.net.


EXCERPT From “The Hunt of the Red Boar” by Thomas Fortenberry

Another cry arose from the tortured soul below and I could tarry no longer, pondering my strange weapon of choice. I ran down the stairs to face our threat.

Downstairs I found Holmes engaged in a struggle. The Lord of the manor was wrestling with my friend, bending him back upon a table whereupon a young lady was strapped. Wild-eyed, black hair bristling atop his head, the tall Lord Eoforred looked to be quite insane. He was throttling Holmes and slavering somewhat whilst making incoherent sounds. It might have been articulations, but if the sounds were words all I could fathom were random noises, like snarls and grunts. I fully believe, to this day that this once noble man had gone stark raving mad.

A naked lady, obviously Eoforred’s maid, was tied to the table. For modesty’s sake, I tried to look away. As I did my eyes were drawn to a book in the corner. It was a large volume, lying open upon a stand near the head of the table like a Bible in a church. Only this was no Bible. My vision seemed to be pulled into it, as if it were a well drawing me down. My blood froze and my breath caught, for most bizarre of all, from its pages there emanated an eerie darkness. A living shadow rose into the air. This shadow seemed to shift and grow, almost like some figure attempting to stand.

I was terrified beyond words, but the young lady’s screams wrenched me from my reverie. But she screamed with ample cause. A… thing was crawling up her naked body. It was a creature, a living nightmare of slimy, grayish-green skin. It seemed to be like an octopus, only more odious. It crawled upon a writhing mass of appendages from a large, ornately-carved ceramic bowl placed between her bound feet. The thing moved in a sinuous manner up her chest, smearing the blood-soaked pentagram carved into her flesh. It wrapped its tentacles around her neck, and constricted her flesh. Her scream abruptly ended.

My Love Affair with Sherlock Holmes, or How I Became a Sapiosexual

BU Tour poster

CLICK HERE to be sure and visit the other participants in the Tour!

As is pretty obvious from my blog, I’ve written a lot of romance in my day.  Of course anyone who knows me personally thinks that my romantic endeavors is pretty funny.  I’m the girl who prefers gory horror movies to RomComs.  My husband and I express our love usually through a series of expletives.  So the fact that I’m a closet romantic is a source of much jocularity for my family and friends.  Of course, the one thing I have in my corner that makes my romances unique is my love of super geniuses. No, I’m not being affected by a full moon.  Yes folks.  My name is Alexandra and I am a sapiosexual.

A sapiosexual is defined as a person who is sexually aroused by intelligence.  A lot of women are obsessed with meatheads that have rock hard abs and powerful thighs.  Not that those things aren’t nice, but I do love a man who can read.  And if he has a really big….. vocabulary then so much the better.

Which brings me to Sherlock Holmes.  Now, Sherlock would scold us all soundly for being affected by the moon OR sexuality.  However, my new release this month ISN’T a romance. I’m not actually the author.  I’m the editor of a new book of paranormal Sherlock Holmes stories called “An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.”  The reason why I was so excited to do this project was because I’ve been in love with Sherlock Holmes since I was ten and saw Nicholas Rowe in the Spielberg movie “Young Sherlock Holmes.” And what’s not to love?  He’s super-intelligent, funny, irreverent, and physically adept. It’s also one of the only portrayals of Holmes that contains a plausible romantic storyline that also explains why there hasn’t ever been a romantic storyline.  I think that part of the reason for the popularity of Sherlock Holmes these days (other than the inexplicable beauty that is Benedict Cumberbatch) is that intelligence is a rare commodity at the moment. At least it seems that way given the barrage of reality TV, Kardashian updates, and freakshow television we’re assaulted with on a daily basis.  Sherlock is a breath of fresh air in a world that stinks of stupidity.  Our anthology seeks to highlight Holmes’s genius while at the same time calling him out on the fact that sometimes– shit happens and there’s no viable explanation.  And I think my authors accomplish that goal quite effectively.


If you love Holmes or are a sapiosexual– check out the teaser below:

Click me to PREORDER NOW!!

Click me to PREORDER NOW!!

In An Improbable Truth:  The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 14 authors of horror and mystery have come together to create a unique anthology that sets Holmes on some of his most terrifying adventures.  A pair of sisters willing to sacrifice young girls to an ancient demon for a taste of success, a sinister device that can manipulate time itself, and a madman that can raise corpses from the dead are just a few among the grisly tales that can be found within these pages. 

You can also hit up the “An Improbable Truth” tab for excerpts!


Be sure to visit the other ladies on the Full Moon Blog Tour!

Now, down to brass tacks.  The ladies over at Broad Universe are hosting a little contest where you can win books, swag, and all manner of goodies.  All you have to do is click the Rafflecopter widget below to enter! Winners will be chosen on NOVEMBER 10, 2015.

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COVER REVEAL: An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

internal screamingWhy yes!  It’s finally here!  After months of planning, reading stories, and basically driving all my loved ones insane, I can finally reveal the cover for the Sherlock anthology!  It’s such an honor for me, as a Sherlock Holmes fangirl but also because I had the chance to work with one of my favorite people, Anne Rosario.  Anne is the stupidly talented artist who rendered this beautiful cover.  More importantly she put up with me and all my harebrained ideas to come up with something that’s unique and absolutely fits the tone of the book.


Coming October 27, 2015!!!

“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most recognizable characters in Western literature.  Conan Doyle’s inimitable detective has been the subject of literally thousands of books, movies, television shows, plays and even songs.  With the rise of the BBC series and the release of all copyrights, the beloved character has found a new life among modern audiences.

In An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 14 authors of horror and mystery have come together to create a unique anthology that sets Holmes on some of his most terrifying adventures.  A pair of sisters willing to sacrifice young girls to an ancient demon for a taste of success, a sinister device that can manipulate time itself, and a madman that can raise corpses from the dead are just a few among the grisly tales that can be found within these pages.

Curl up with a warm cuppa and leave all the lights on.  This is not your grandfather’s Sherlock Holmes.


Look at this list of stories!  Doesn’t it sound fantastic??!!

The Fairy Pool by Lucy Blue

Sherlock Holmes and the Hungry Ghost by Katie Magnusson

The Diamond Carter Ghost by Matthew Wilson

The Haunted Branch Line by Tally Johnson

The Arendall Horror by Thomas Olbert

Worlds Collide by S. H. Roddey

Time is Running Out, Watson by Adrian Cross

A Voice in the Blood by Dan Shaurette

The Hunt of the Red Boar by Thomas Fortenberry

The Canaries of Clee Hills Mine by Robert Perret

The Chase by Melissa McArthur

The Adventure of the Missing Trophy by Mark W. Coulter

The Case of the Rising Dead by Trenton Mabey

The Adventure of the Slow Death by Harding McFadden

I know, I know… I’m stalling.  It’s called BUILDING THE SUSPENSE.  But now, without further ado…

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COMING 10.27.15

What I’ve Learned About Editing

me and amy (2)OMG… can it be that The Belle herself is posting on the blog today?  Why yes!  Your eyes don’t deceive you.  It’s really me this time.  I figured that I should share my genius with you since it’s been a while (tongue placed firmly in cheek).  The truth is, I’ve been really busy the last few weeks.  I know it doesn’t seem like it, but I really have.  I’ve got two new releases with Little Red Hen Romance this month and I literally finished the edits on one of those stories the day before release.  I’ve also been knee-deep in the edits for the Sherlock Holmes anthology, An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which will be hitting eBook shelves on October 27, 2015.  And speaking of editing, that’s the purpose of my article today.

I’ve been a part of several anthologies as an author but An Improbable Truth is the first time that I’ve been on the other side of the editorial desk.  Yes, my evil alter-ego, A.C. Thompson is the editor of this collection.  And lemme tell you, kittens– it’s been a learning experience.  It’s had its ups and downs but I like to think the process has been pretty smooth for all those involved.  But now that I have something to compare it to, here are some things that I’ve learned.

  1. Have a schedule in place.  This is actually good advice for most endeavors, but it’s really essential if you’re going to take responsibility of other people’s work.  Before the call ever goes out, you should have a clear timeline in your head of not just when the release date is but other important things like:  when will the submission window close, when will everyone’s stories be accepted or rejected, how are you going to let them know, when do contracts go out, when do you project having your first round of edits done, your authors turn in those edits by what date, when is the deadline for cover art, etc.  Now these dates don’t need to be set in stone, but you should have some idea.  No one should be floundering at the last minute.
  2. Be a professional.  Let me say that again.  *In her best Christian Bale voice* BE A FUCKING PROFESSIONAL.  Ahem, that felt good.  Anyway, remember kittens– this is not the church bake sale.  This is someone’s hard work that you’re screwing around with here.  These people are not donating their work to your cause, they’re giving you something for publication that they will hopefully make a little money from.  That means that you cannot keep their work indefinitely in limbo never telling them whether their story got in or not or never sending them a contract.  Authors should NOT find out that their story wasn’t accepted by reading the release announcement. Nor should you keep them on a mailing list that constantly says “just because you’re getting this doesn’t mean you’re in the anthology, just fyi.”  It’s rude, it’s confusing, and it keeps an author’s story on the hook for ages when they could be submitting it to someone that might accept it. Rejections are the most un-fun part of the process, but they’re just as necessary as the acceptances.
  3. Don’t become an editor if you don’t have any credentials other than you’ve read a book before.  I decided to pitch the idea of An Improbable Truth because I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, the copyrights had been released, and there weren’t any other paranormal/ horror Sherlock anthologies out there.  Before I made the decision to pitch to my wonderful publisher, Nicole Kurtz, I thought about whether or not I was equipped to edit someone else’s work.  So here it is:  I graduated from Winthrop University with a degree in Education.  Part of that program required that I complete college level work in writing and grammar.  Up to this point I’ve published two novels a slew of short stories and novellas, and a magazine article with several reputable presses.  I’ve written five novels.  I have also been through a hard edit with a professional “big 5” author and editor.  Do I think I know it all?  Hell no!  I have called on the help of my sister who has a Master’s Degree in English as well as other editors many times.  Trust me, commas are not my friends. But if you don’t have a grasp of language in your own writing, you probably shouldn’t be an editor.  Sadly, this is an epidemic in the self-pubbing/ indie world.  We scream that we want to be taken seriously, but kids– big time publishing is never going to take us seriously until we hold our authors to the same standard as they do.  And that means good writing and professional editing.
  4. I am your editor, not your mama!!  Therefore, it is not my job to teach you to write or completely re-write your first draft.  I actually overheard an author tell someone, “It doesn’t matter if I can write.  That’s what the editor is for.”  WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!! It is your job as the writer to write a great story, polish it up (DO NOT SEND YOUR FIRST DRAFT), and edit– not write a ten page dissertation on why the editor is wrong and you’re right.  The editor is an unbiased third party whose only interest is in making your story the best it can be.  Don’t fight them every step of the way.  If you disagree with something, discuss it.  Don’t stomp your feet like a toddler and refuse to change it.  Or make up some silly excuse as to WHY you can’t edit.  It is worth noting that I did NOT have this problem on the Sherlock anthology.  Every single author I have is the picture of professionalism and talent.  I may be slightly biased, but seriously… these guys and gals rock!
  5. Have a plan for promotion.  This is particularly for the editors of anthologies.  Now you might say, “That’s not my division.”  Well Lestrade, yes it is.  If you’re editing an anthology for a small press it IS your division.  Finding as many places to get the word out about your authors and your book is part of your job description.  You don’t just send these things out into the world and expect them to swim on their own!  You have to be creative.  Think outside the box.  While you’re sitting here reading this ridiculously long diatribe, five anthologies just hit the shelves.  You have to make your book stand out.  Why should people buy YOUR anthology and not the other one.  And don’t worry, you aren’t alone.  Your publisher and all those lovely people who contributed to the anthology are there to help you.  They should have a plan for what they’re going to do as well.  And you’ll, hopefully, all succeed together.

So that’s it. That’s what I’ve learned so far and trust me– it’s a process.  I don’t know it all and probably never will.  And of course, these are all just my opinions.  We’ll see if they work at all in a few weeks.

OPEN SUBMISSION CALL: AN IMPROBABLE TRUTH, THE PARANORMAL ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

SUBMISSION CALL!

SUBMISSION CALL!

It’s been a busy spring so far and I hope that continues.  Not because I particularly like not having any time to myself, but because busy means that good work is being produced.  I’ve finished a novel and thrown three different shorts out there for publication in the very near future.  Stay tuned on that front.  But today, kids, I’m not going to talk about me and my exciting projects.  I know– shocker!  Well, I suppose this one IS one of my exciting projects.  Probably the MOST exciting project that I’m working on right now because this one is near and dear to my heart.

Recently, I was working on a story for another anthology call when this idea hit me like a ton of bricks!  My husband and I were talking about said anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories and how the market is going to be so ripe for those right now.  Both of us are avid Sherlockians and are very excited about the upswing, due to the release of the copyrights.  We both expressed a desire to write a new and different sort of Sherlock story that hadn’t been seen before.  Something horrific and bloody and paranormal.  And then it hit me– do your own, Lexxx!  So I managed to sweet talk my amazing publisher at Mocha Memoirs Press to let me put together an anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories that were specifically horror.  The mystery should be paranormal and should NOT have the Scooby Doo moment.  You know the one.  The one where Holmes solves the mystery and pulls the mask off the ghoul only to find Old Mr. Frederickson underneath.  No masked men, but actual vampires, ghosts, demons or elder gods.

So if you think that this might be something you’re interested in, CLICK on the tab marked “An Improbable Truth” to see the specifics on submissions.  The short version is this:

Submission Window:  April 1- July 1, 2015

Payment:  Split Royalties + 1 contributor copy

Word Count:  3,000- 8,000 words

An Improbable Truth is looking for stories that set Holmes on a paranormal adventure.  The settings may be any place and time from the original Victorian England all the way to modern day, future and any fantasy world in between (weird west, cyberpunk, steampunk, noir, Lovecraftian, dystopia).  The only catch is that the stories must have a distinctly dark and paranormal edge.  Push the envelope and let the mystery run wild.  Ghosts, serial killers, vampires, zombies, monsters of all types are welcome.  Keep in mind:  if this book were on the shelf at your local bookshop, it would be in the HORROR section (sci-fi is great as long as it’s Aliens-type sci-fi and not Star Trek-type sci-fi).

…oh, and we are NOT looking for erotica.  I don’t know why I felt I had to mention that, but well… there it is.

So that’s it!  Get those creative juices flowing and pen me a story, Authors.  Don’t worry– it can be your first time. We’ll be gentle.  If you have any questions, you can contact me at animprobabletruth.mmp@gmail.com and I’ll be glad to take a crack at it.