Vacant & Guest Post ~ Alex Hughes


  • Vacant-coverAuthor: Alex Hughes
  • Published: December 2014 by Roc
  • Series: Mindscape Investigations Book 4

Nothing ruins a romantic evening like a brawl with lowlifes—especially when one of them later turns up dead and my date, Detective Isabella Cherabino, is the #1 suspect. My history with the Atlanta PD on both sides of the law makes me an unreliable witness, so while Cherabino is suspended, I’m paying my bills by taking an FBI gig.

I’ve been hired to play telepathic bodyguard for Tommy, the ten-year-old son of a superior court judge in Savannah presiding over the murder trial of a mob-connected mogul. After an attempt on the kid’s life, the Feds believe he’s been targeted by the businessman’s “associates.”

Turns out, Tommy’s a nascent telepath, so I’m trying to help him get a handle on his Ability. But it doesn’t take a mind reader to see that there’s something going on with this kid’s parents that’s stressing him out more than a death threat…

Vacant may be purchased through the following links:  GoodReadsAmazon USAmazon UKBooks-A-MillionBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboIndieBound

And if you prefer to read the series in order; Rabbit Trick (.5) Clean (1) Payoff (1.5) Sharp (2) Marked (3) Vacant (4)



Christmas Makes Me Feel Old

A blog post by Alex Hughes

I’m in my early thirties. To my twelve year old self, this age would have been ancient, a number beyond belief. And this time of year, when my twelve year old inner child hears all the happy Christmas music everywhere I go, when that inner child sits up and squees at the Charlie Brown Christmas tree and the Macy’s decorations and the cranberry bread and cookies, well… it’s fun. A lot of fun. But I can’t help but feeling, now and again, very very old.

I like socks as a present nowadays, for example, the brighter the colors the better. Even white socks are fun, fresh and clean from the package. My younger self saw socks as a punishment only slightly above a lump of coal. Socks were for losers. Obviously I am old.

My younger self loved Christmas trees and decorations and shiny baubles around the whole house. I looked forward to the day we’d get out the lights and unstring them, testing every strand. I loved unwrapping the greenery around the porch, and sending out cards as soon as humanly possible. My older self gets busy and pulls out the tiny Charlie Brown tree on the coffee table halfway through the month, only then thinking about presents. I am old.

When I was little, my favorite thing about the holidays was baking Christmas cookies with my family. I’d even invite friends over for us to bake dozens and dozens of cookies together playing Christmas music as loud as possible while we ate the cookie dough and giggled. These days it’s a great year if I get a lump of refrigerated gingerbread dough and slice it for cookies to ice with a drizzle. By myself, or with Sam. Or both. (You can buy two tubes of dough, and they freeze!) Clearly I am old.

When I was younger, I loved tearing through presents for me. Me! Me! All mine. These days I have a lot more fun seeing other peoples’ faces when I give them their presents. I am old here too, but I don’t mind.

When I was little, I’d watch my grandfather literally assemble his presents into forts for the kids—he bought that many toys. Christmas was bright and shiny with tinsel and paper and wrapping, love and bickering and two weeks of a huge family in a tiny house in Texas. Now Christmas is small, with plain wrapping and a tiny tree, a short trip with a long car ride and a few quiet relatives. I am old, and I miss what was.

When you’re little, you think the holidays, the celebrations, the traditions are forever. When you’re older, you find out they took effort, and the effortless magic was instead a carefully orchestrated symphony of many parts that may not come again. You find out that things change. Things change, and I feel old, and I long for the magic to come again.

And then, in the middle of a grocery store with an old happy song playing Christmas cheer, I am a kid again, joyful and giddy, and the magic breathes a small breath, a small moment, into being again. I am not so old. I am, again, a child, staring at the wonder of Christmas.

About the author

Hughes_authorphoto2_verysmall-681x1024Alex Hughes, the author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc, has lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily all at the same time! For all the latest news and free short stories, join Alex’s email list at

You can find out more about Alex through the following links



Guest Post ~ Paul Cross

PaulCrossToday, I’m pleased to welcome Paul Cross, author of A Counterfeit Priest (which is on my review list for the near future). Paul has kindly written a post charting the differences in writing a screenplay as opposed to a novel.

Paul is an award-winning screenwriter, actor, director and producer with many feature films including OPERATION TERROR, and SEVERE VISIBILITY, and television movies such as STUDS LONIGAN and AMAZONS to his credits. He is also the writer/director/producer of the award-winning documentaries, FOLLOW the LEADER and WEST END STORY. His novel A COUNTERFEIT PRIEST is the basis for his screenplay by the same title. Paul lives in Hollywood, California. 

The Art of Writing a Screenplay VS a Novel

Someone asked me recently what was more difficult to write, a novel or a screenplay? The first response that came to mind was a novel. But before I answered I thought, wait a minute that’s not necessarily true. In analyzing that question one would think that because a screenplay has roughly ninety to a hundred and twenty pages, generally speaking, and of those said amount of pages most of the page is left empty with a few lines for description of the action and characters with approximately a four-inch space in the middle of the page for dialogue running down the page, that this would be easier. A novel on the other hand, has roughly anywhere from let’s say, two hundred to five hundred or more pages with the printing taking up most of the page. So it would appear at first thought that it would be harder to write a novel than a screenplay. But this can be deceptive because it’s more of a challenge to make a statement in a few words as opposed to as many as you want. Any writer, either for the screen or for a novel can tell you that it’s not easy to write a log line (a one sentence description of your screenplay or novel) or a synopsis consisting of several paragraphs of your work. Bear in mind that this work has probably taken you months, or even years to write. Frankly, I’d rather have a root canal than write a logline or synopsis. A root cannel only takes a few hours but summing up your book or film with all the many characters and plot lines that span a certain period of time takes FOREVER!

I have also done the opposite where I’ve taken a novel and turned it into a screenplay. This time the source material, the novel, wasn’t mine and I felt a genuine obligation to the novelist to try and remain true to her book. That was easier said than done. No matter how hard I tried to stay faithful to her written word, I found myself taking a sufficient amount of liberties with what she had written in order to make it cinematic. As we all know a film is a visual medium and the camera, actors, director, etc., can fill in a lot of what’s not written in the script. But this can’t be done the opposite way around. In a novel it all has to be on the page because the visual is being created for you only with words. You, the reader is the one who has to provide the mental images with help from the writer of course. In a novel the reader becomes the director, the director of photography, and the actors since you imagine how they are saying their dialogue and how they’re moving. This is all part of the excitement of reading.

After I had novelized my screenplay A COUNTERFEIT PRIEST, I then revisited the script in an attempt to add some of the elements that I had the freedom to include in the novel. This, I soon discovered was a trap. It was great building up all my characters from the screenplay for the book, but,…I soon found out, after adding seventy plus pages to my script bringing the total page count to one-hundred eighty-five, that there simply was no room to put all this new information and I’m still trying to find a way to make some of the new stuff fit in. It’s like having a suit that you bought when you weighed 170 pounds, and then gaining an additional fifty pounds while still trying to fit into the suit you bought before you became fat. You just can’t squeeze it all in no matter how hard you try! If a script is more than 120 pages and that’s pushing it, then no one who’s a professional in the film industry is going to take your script seriously when you try to get it produced. So if you were going to a wedding and you’ re dead set on wearing that suit, there would be no choice other than losing the extra fifty pounds! And we all know that’s not an easy feat to accomplish. However, the good news is it can be done, it just takes a fair amount of time and discipline.

I discovered early on in my screenwriting career, that brevity was a key factor in writing a film. It was one of the most difficult aspects of writing for the screen that I had to learn and get the hang of. After writing several screenplays and by watching an incalculable amount of films, I eventually fell into the groove. Also, reading books whose topics are of interest to me by authors I related to and who I found I was emotionally and creatively compatible with, I was able to gauge their technique so to speak and adapt it to my own style of writing. I could not, I soon disappointedly discovered by trial and error, write as much as I wanted to just because I was writing a novel. Writing a book didn’t mean that I could write on and on until I discovered that I had written an encyclopedia. My first draft of A COUNTERFEIT PRIEST was almost double in page count then it ended up being in the final draft which is 366 pages. I finally had the freedom from brevity and the confinements of script writing, but still needed to stay on topic and not deter from ‘what is this book about?’ Babbling on and on not only runs the risk of boring the reader to tears, but can also confuse the point that you’re trying to make.

There’s no end to this topic I suppose, but the final analysis is this. Writing a screenplay and writing a novel are two totally separate worlds demanding different approaches as each has its own unwritten ‘rules’ and techniques. To really find out what the differences are I suggest doing two very enjoyable exercises on a daily basis. Watch films and read books. You will find that the answers are right there in front of you.

-Paul Cross