Archive for March, 2018

Welcome to the April 2018 issue of my newsletter, “News from the Crypt,” and please visit Carter’s Crypt, devoted to my horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance work, especially focusing on vampires and shapeshifting beasties. If you have a particular fondness for vampires, check out the chronology of my series in the link labeled “Vanishing Breed Vampire Universe.” For my recommendations of “must read” classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the Vampires:
Realm of the Vampires

Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romances Blog

The long-time distributor of THE VAMPIRE’S CRYPT has closed its website. If you would like to read any issue of this fanzine, which contains fiction, interviews, and a detailed book review column, e-mail me to request the desired issue, and I’ll send you a free PDF of it. My e-mail address is at the end of this newsletter. Find information about the contents of each issue on this page of my website:

Vampire’s Crypt

A complete list of my available works, arranged roughly by genre, with purchase links (gradually being updated as the Amber Quill and Ellora’s Cave works are being republished):

Complete Works

This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!
Facebook

Here’s my page in Barnes and Noble’s Nook store. These items include some of the short stories that used to be on Fictionwise:
Barnes and Noble

Go here and scroll down to “Available Short Fiction” for a list of those stories with their Amazon links:
Kindle Works

Here’s the list of my Kindle books on Amazon. (The final page, however, includes some Ellora’s Cave anthologies in which I don’t have stories):
Carter Kindle Books

Here’s a shortcut URL to my author page on Amazon:
Amazon

Interested in horror-related artwork and wallpaper? On this site, you can find over 155,000 free eerie, enchanting horror images:
Free Horror Art

I’ve released a Kindle collection of fantasy stories, HARVEST OF MAGIC, mainly comprising fiction by my husband, Leslie Roy Carter, and me first published in the webzines SORCEROUS SIGNALS and LORELEI SIGNAL:

Harvest of Magic

One story, “Stalking Wild Magic,” has never appeared anywhere before. Like a couple of other pieces in the volume, it’s a spinoff from our “Wild Sorceress” series but can be read on its own. An excerpt appears below.

This month I’m interviewing romance and urban fantasy author Chandelle LaVaun.

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Interview with Chandelle LaVaun:

What inspired you to begin writing?

My cousin Candace. Almost a decade ago. We loved reading the same books—Twilight, Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments, JR Ward’s black dagger brotherhood—we would discuss them for hours. One day she told me she was starting to write one of her own. I was so impressed I wanted to try too. I’d always had these stories going on in my head, it was my cousin who helped me get them out.

What genres do you work in?

Right now I’m focusing on YA urban fantasy. But I also write adult paranormal romance and contemporary romance. I’ve even got an idea for Middle Grade.

Do you outline, “wing it,” or something in between?

I have extreme OCD. I outline, but they’re like mini synopsis for each scene. I write down every thought in my brain for each scene so I don’t forget it…but it’s more like guidelines. I let the story morph freely then adapt.

What have been the major influences on your writing (favorite authors, life experiences, or whatever)?

JR Ward, Cassandra Clare, LJ Smith, Rick Riordan, Kresley Cole…and my first favorite author, Agatha Christie. But mostly, I’d have to say Harry Potter. Just knowing one person’s imagination could give the world something we cherish so dearly makes me want to give it a try. I know I won’t reach her level, but if I could give a handful of readers a fun escape then I’m happy.

Has your background in art and fashion design affected your writing? If so, how?

I spent 7 years in a fine arts program; this kind of training really enhanced my photographic brain. I see my stories in vivid images in my head so when I’m describing it I can actually see it—I think this helps me give detailed descriptions. I want my readers to see it as clearly as I do. Also, I think my visual arts and fashion design background allowed me to see not only the world, but individual people through a variety of telescopes. I’ve known so many types of people and personalities, I’ve seen firsthand wild wardrobes and bold styles. All of this enhances the worlds I create.

How does the magic system in your fiction work? How did you come up with this approach?

I mixed many different types of magic… the traditional kind we see in fantasy books with spells and fun gifts. The realistic kind that some people (myself included) practice in the real world—like with crystals, herbs, and moon phases, etc. but then I also used the really fun kind where my characters can affect the elements, because this is really everyone’s wish. Lol.

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?

At the end of February I released book 1 in my Elemental Magic series, The Lost Witch. Book 2—The Brave Witch—is releasing March 29th, and book 3 at the end of April. I hope to keep this pattern up through summer.

What are you working on now?

I just started book 3, The Rebel Witch, in the same series.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Just like the pirate’s code, writing rules are more like guidelines. Lol. Study the genre you want to write, read as many of those books as you can. Write something that’s in your heart but is also popular in the market. And write FAST.

But honestly, my best advice is to make writer friends. I would be lost without mine, lost and insane. My career wouldn’t exist without the help of my friends Megan Elizabeth, Michelle Madow, and Linsey Hall. I’m not even exaggerating. So I highly, highly recommend finding some writer friends of your own. Go to book conferences like RWA and RT (among many, many others) and learn everything you possibly can and then make friends with the people around you! They may change your life 🙂

What’s the URL of your website? Your blog? Where else can we find you on the web?

My website is ChanelleLaVaun.com
If you sign up for my newsletter you get a FREE prequel novella to my Elemental Magic series! Also, you can sign up for my review team. 🙂
Or find me:
Facebook
Chandelle LaVaun Street Team
Instagram – ChandelleLaVaun
Twitter @chandellelavaun
Pinterest.com/chandellelavaun

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Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

ENLIGHTENMENT NOW, by Steven Pinker, is psychologist Pinker’s follow-up to his 2011 book THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE: WHY VIOLENCE HAS DECLINED. In that earlier work, he demonstrated with page after page of hard facts that we’re living in the least violent period in recorded history. ENLIGHTENMENT NOW, subtitled “The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress,” expands that project to support the claim that human well-being has increased in virtually every measurable way since the dawn of the Enlightenment in the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries. (I have to confess that I bristled a bit at the title itself, since “Enlightenment,” like “Renaissance,” was a self-designated and overstated, self-serving label meant to dismiss previous eras as centuries of benighted superstition, barbarism, and stagnation.) Contrary to the widespread belief that the world is going to Hell in a handbasket, according to Pinker this is the best time in history to be born, even in third-world nations. The headlines that give the opposite impression represent, in Pinker’s view, a distortion of the facts. After all, shocking, unusual events make the news. We never see articles headed, “No schools got attacked today.” Health, education, the spread of representative government, overall quality of life (evaluated by leisure time, household conveniences, access to information and entertainment, etc.), among many other metrics, have measurably improved. Fewer children die in childhood, fewer women die in giving birth, many diseases have been conquered or even eradicated, in the U.S. drug addiction and unwed teen pregnancy have decreased, fewer people worldwide live in extreme poverty, and in the developed world even the poorest possess wealth (in the form of clean running water, electricity, and other modern conveniences) that nobody could have at any price a couple of centuries ago. As for violence, Pinker refers in both books to what he calls “The Long Peace,” the period since 1945 in which no major world powers have clashed head-on in war. What about the proxy wars such as the Korean and Vietnam conflicts? Faded away with the Cold War itself. Anarchy and bloody conflicts in third-world countries? While horrible present-day examples can easily be cited, the number of them has also decreased. Pinker also disputes, with supporting figures, the hype about “epidemics” of depression and suicide. We’re misled by psychological phenomena such as the availability heuristic (whatever comes to mind most readily seems more common), the negativity heuristic (for survival-related reasons, negative events stick in our minds better than positive ones), and the ever-popular confirmation bias (we selectively remember and accept facts that support our already established beliefs). Even though I differ with Pinker on a fundamental worldview level—he’s a secular humanist and proud of it—I find his statistics convincing and agree with him at almost every point on the mundane, practical level. I particularly like his championship of reason over the postmodern emphasis on irrational motives and “relative” truth. Recommended for readers seeking grounds for hopefulness in the midst of today’s scary headlines.

PRIDE AND PROMETHEUS, by John Kessel. Remember Mary Bennet, one of the younger sisters in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE? I always thought Jane Austen treated her rather shabbily, portraying her bookish preoccupations and attempts to share (or show off) her learning as objects of mockery rather than sympathy. In Kessel’s novel, set thirteen years after Austen’s, Mary is a young spinster fascinated by fossils. She meets Victor Frankenstein when he travels to the British Isles to create a mate for his creature. The author has to fudge the chronology to have the action of FRANKENSTEIN take place close to the time of its publication rather than in the 1790s, but otherwise he sticks to the “facts” of the two source novels. The third-person sections of the novel from Mary’s viewpoint present her as an intelligent, sympathetic character burdened by difficulty in decoding people’s reactions and navigating social situations (we might diagnose her on the autism spectrum nowadays). Other parts of the story are narrated in first person by Victor and the monster. Mary ends up following Victor to the remote island where he undertakes his second experiment. She and the male creature become traveling companions. In the process, she has to cope first with the limitations her society places on a young, unmarried woman and later with the consequences of being robbed of her money and other trappings of her upper-middle-class status. Along the way to the north of Scotland, she discovers what it’s like to be regarded as a beggar, thief, or half-mad vagrant. In Kessel’s adaptation, Victor later lies about having destroyed the unfinished female creature. She’s completed and brought to life (and inevitably named Eve), and Mary takes on the task of educating her, while her would-be mate impatiently waits on the sidelines for Mary to decide the artificial woman is ready for his courtship. Since Kessel doesn’t change the essential plotline of Shelley’s original work, we know the story has to end tragically for Victor and his two creations. Mary, however, returns home wiser and more confident. In addition to the character interactions, the historical setting, and the skillful merging of the worlds of two very different novels, another point of interest is the presentation of the science of the early nineteenth century as natural philosophers of that period conceived it.

PRINCESS HOLY AURA, by Ryk E. Spoor. You don’t have to be a fan of Magical Girl anime and manga to appreciate this book, but familiarity with the genre would greatly enhance your enjoyment. It’s a lot of fun to see the standard tropes play out in a believable urban fantasy novel. There’s humor, yes, but also suspense, danger, serious choices, and the potential for tragedy. Plus Lovecraftian eldritch abominations. One evening on his walk home from work, Steve Russ, an ordinary American thirty-something bachelor nerd working at a bagel shop, rescues a little boy from a pack of night-gaunts. Afterward, a white rat named Silvertail, actually a wizard from ancient Lemuria, tells him about the millennia-old war against enemies like those and much worse. Silvertail needs a new Mystic Galaxy Defender Princess Holy Aura to lead the Apocalypse Maidens in the current iteration of the conflict. Not willing to recruit yet another innocent teenager for this dangerous role, he asks Steve to become Princess Holy Aura—which requires a transformation into a fourteen-year-old girl. After detailed explanations and much soul-searching, Steve accepts the mission. After it ends, if Princess Holy Aura defeats the enemy and the world survives, Steve and the other Maidens will revert to their normal lives, and everyone will forget the barely-averted apocalypse, including the Maidens themselves. Silvertail promises, however, that Steve will enjoy fulfillment and success forever after. Steve has to leave behind his current life, including his friends in his Dungeons and Dragons group. Even in the first couple of chapters, I found much to like in this novel. Steve weighs about 300 pounds, but he’s not a stereotypical weakling; some of that mass consists of muscle. The D&D scenes are written by an author who clearly understands and appreciates the game; there’s not a trace of sneering condescension. After parting with his friends under the cover story of getting a better job in a distant location, Steve assumes the form of fourteen-year-old Holly. He decides to stay in that shape all the time unless reverting to his male body becomes absolutely necessary, because he wants to live into the role to avoid careless slip-ups. Silvertail poses as his father. The rat can take the form of a man when necessary, but the change requires most of his magic, so he can’t work powerful spells unless he’s in rat shape. Naturally, at first Steve has trouble adjusting to the life of not only a high-school student but a female one. Gradually, though, he becomes so used to inhabiting the Holly persona that he feels emotionally and physically uncomfortable on the few occasions he has to become Steve again. The gender-bending dimension of the story is highlighted by the use of feminine pronouns for the protagonist whenever he/she is Holly. Holly makes friends and awakens the other Apocalypse Maidens while the attacks from eldritch entities become more frequent and dangerous. To her dismay, Dexter, a teenage boy from her gaming group, attends the same high school. They become friends, she learns Dex has a magical secret identity of his own, and they start to fall in love. Because the Apocalypse Maidens and their allies and adversaries are shaped by the cultural memes applicable to their situation, the novel is full of Magical Girl tropes. The Maidens have an animal-shaped wizardly mentor, cute costumes, iconic weapons, and a catch-phrase (“This Apocalypse Maiden says you are going down!”). As the cosmic threat builds to the climactic battle, Holly and her teammates become more and more reluctant to accept the loss of their friendship and memories after the hoped-for victory. This prospect lends the story a bittersweet tone. PRINCESS HOLY AURA is emotionally engaging as well as fun.

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Excerpt from “Stalking Wild Magic”:

Running down the forest trail dodging arrows was not Coleni’s idea of her mission in life. She was supposed to be protected from such hazards by a platoon of guardsmen, who unfortunately lay scattered on the trail behind, having done what they were meant to do. When the guard lieutenant screamed for her squad to run before turning to face the Delmathian onslaught, Coleni had not spared a moment’s thought to question why a common soldier was giving a sorcerer officer orders.

Her quick reaction had given her the advantage of being ahead of the pack of her fleeing, robe-encumbered compatriots. They had delayed their flight from the hill they had been standing on to watch the slaughter of the troops falling under the barrage of arrows. She had lengthened her lead a little when she jerked her novice uniform robe off over her head and freed her legs from the flapping inconvenience. A glance over her shoulder revealed several other novices on the ground, having tripped and trying to fend off swords with their bare hands.

She concentrated on the trail ahead and saw it widening out, rising to join the road that crossed its path. That would make it easier to run but gave a clearer shot to the pursuing soldiers. The road led to the safety of their base camp, but she questioned whether she could reach it. The undergrowth along the trail was thinning, and she could see that the trees around her grew far enough apart for her to dodge between them. Leaping into the bushes slowed her as the branches tore at her undershift and scraped the skin of her arms and legs. Hoping to slow the armored men even more, she dashed around a wide tree in front of her, putting it between her and the crashing sound closing in on her.

When the ground fell away from a stream crossing her flight, she leaped as far as she could into the gap. The water was knee deep, and her momentum pitched her face forward. She managed to straighten her arms and push off the stream’s pebbly bottom. Staggering upright, she clambered up the slope in front of her and through the weeds along the top. The sounds behind her grew faint as the majority of the Delmathians ran down the remaining members of her squad, but she wasn’t sure how many had chased her into the wood. The babble of the swiftly running water was all she heard close to her position. She dared not move and listened for a while, wondering how long someone nearby would wait for her to make a noise. She was good at slowing her breathing, concentrating her body to stillness, focusing her mind – that was what she was trained for.

Commander Telori is really gonna be ticked off! Coleni thought, when she had her body and mind under control. This was supposed to be a simple harassment-interdiction mission easily handled by a squad of novice illusionists led by one of their own. Get in, lay a false bridge over the gully, and get out before the Delmathian patrol they were sent to ambush got there. Nothing to it, she told herself.

A bird took off from the tree above Coleni. The flutter of wings sent a nervous shock through her system. Trying to remain motionless, she reminded herself that it was a good sign that wildlife was starting to stir around her. Maybe it’s time for you to leave as well, she thought, slowly moving her head to scan the area in front of her. The chittering of a squirrel off to her left, up in a tree, drew her attention, and she saw it glancing in her direction. Somebody knows you are here.

Coleni closed her eyes and began to imagine herself as a raccoon crouched beside a stream, intent on watching the water below for her favorite prey of crayfish. Seeing none, she slowly rose to her paws and turned away from the stream. The spell Coleni released closed around hers, and the squirrel watched the brown-coated predator move off into the trees. The soft padding of its departure barely rustled the thick leaves covering the forest floor.

Coleni held the illusion for a half hour, long enough for her to clear the area. Crawling through the increasingly dense undergrowth was killing her elbows and knees, but she couldn’t risk breaking profile to stand. Once she put more trees between her and any pursuit, she’d break the spell. Then she would stop to think.

-end of excerpt-

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My Publishers:

Writers Exchange E-Publishing: Writers Exchange
Harlequin: Harlequin
Hard Shell Word Factory: Hard Shell
Whiskey Creek: Whiskey Creek

You can contact me at: MLCVamp@aol.com

“Beast” wishes until next time—
Margaret L. Carter