Archive for July, 2018

Welcome to the July 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

My vampire romance PASSION IN THE BLOOD has been re-released:

Passion in the Blood

To save her kidnapped sister, Cordelia turns to Karl, an old family friend. Until that crisis, she has no idea that he’s a vampire or that her own background holds a secret she never suspected. In the excerpt below, Karl comes home early one evening and catches Cordelia breaking into his house.

This month’s interview features multi-genre author Laurie Ryan.

*****

Interview with Laurie Ryan:

What inspired you to begin writing?

Quitting the day job. Seriously, that’s what did it. I’ve read all my life. I can still stay up half the night reading if the story is good. I’ve always been that way. And I’ve always had characters rumbling around in my head. But I held off putting “pen to paper” until I could devote enough time to it. I don’t multi-task well and truly admire those who can raise a family, work a job, and still manage to get their words in every day.

What genres do you work in?

I’ve published in romance and women’s fiction, but the influences of Tolkien, McCaffrey, and so many more fantasy authors have been knocking on my head to get me to write the fantasy series I’ve been structuring for a few years. So that’s my current focus.

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

I’m more of a plotter than a pantser, but characters have a way of taking stories in completely different directions. What I’ve found is most effective for me is to write an outline, then a stream-of-consciousness first draft. After that, I take some time to map my chapters and emotions out before I begin edits. So I guess that’s something in between?

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

I’ve already mentioned a couple of authors I love. J.R.R. Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey…I have dog-eared copies of hobbit and dragon stories. The initial spark for my stories, though, are drawn from life. In my work in progress, Guardian Druids: The Royan Legacy, Earth has been decimated by man’s overuse. I started imagining a world where everything stopped working because we’d used up all our resources, and this series came out of that.

You have several series listed on your website. Do you typically work on multiple novels in one series at a stretch, or do you alternate between books in different series? And do you maintain series “bibles” of characters, settings, etc.?

At first, I never planned to write series. I kept falling in love with secondary characters, though, so then I had to write their stories. Now, I’m actively designing a series. Actually, two of them, set in the same post-apocalyptic world. I’d never be able to keep it straight without a series bible. I’m constantly referring to it to check hair color, characteristics, or where in this world I placed things. My local RWA chapter spent several meetings working on how to create a series bible. That was a huge help.

What sources have you used for your fiction on druids? Modern pirates?

I now own several books on the druid way of life, as well as books about runes, since they play heavily into my series. I tried to combine the scholastic with the lore to portray both in the way they were meant to be.

As for the pirates, well, my Tropical Persuasions series is contemporary and my pirate very modern-day. I pretty much created him out of my fantasies.

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

Since release of my fantasy series is still several months away, at least, I have a shorter reunion romance novel that should be out in early Autumn.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the third book in the Guardian Druids: The Royan Legacy series, the emotional wrap-up of Rianthe Royan and Kaiden Darcy’s stories.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write, write, and write some more. And keep at it. The best marketing for your first release is to get the second book written. And the third, and the fourth. You have to be a little bit thick-skinned in this business, but it’s sooooo worth it. Oh, one more thing. Join a writing group. That is the single best way to learn about the pitfalls of publishing before you fall into them.

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

I love to have people stop by and say hi! All my books, blogs, and social links can be found on my website:
Laurie Ryan Author

Thank you so much for interviewing me, Margaret. You’re no stranger to writing in multiple genres yourself. It’s fun, isn’t it?

*****

Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

THE THORN AND THE BLOSSOM, by Theodora Goss. An earlier book by the author of THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER. (The sequel to the latter comes out this month, adding Professor Van Helsing’s daughter to the cast, and I can hardly wait.) THE THORN AND THE BLOSSOM is an odd novel in more than one respect. It tells the same story twice, with appropriate variations, from the respective viewpoints of the heroine and the hero. Furthermore, its physical format is unique, as far as I know; it doesn’t place the two novella-length versions of the action back-to-back upside down, like the vintage Ace Double paperbacks. Instead, it’s bound “accordion” style; while reading one iteration, you don’t see the other version at all. Despite this construction, a beautiful slipcase, and four interior illustrations, it’s priced at below the typical hardcover cost. You can read either “Evelyn’s Story” or “Brendan’s Story” first. I read them in that order, and in my opinion that’s the way it works better, since Evelyn comes into the setting as an outsider. While visiting a village in Cornwall from which some of her ancestors emigrated, she meets Brendan, working in his father’s bookshop. A common interest in a Cornish variation on “Gawain and the Green Knight” draws them together. Evelyn has written her dissertation and a book of poetry on this rather obscure tale; Brendan produces a new translation of it and later rewrites it as a children’s story. Evelyn has spent a lot of time in therapy and on medication over the years because of her “hallucinations” of fairies and similar beings and phenomena superimposed on the “real” world. The reader seems meant to understand these apparent symptoms of mental illness as visions of a parallel reality alongside the one we know. Just as she and Brendan begin to fall in love, she has a vision that terrifies her into fleeing from him and the town. They meet again years later, and she learns a secret about him. The legend of the Green Knight shapes their love story, as if they are reenacting elements from the myth. Neither ending states a definite conclusion, but both narratives seem to imply that the two will find each other once more and get together permanently. I found the accordion arrangement slightly awkward to read, because the “spine” tended to collapse unless I held the book carefully, but I adjusted. I recommend the story for anyone who enjoys a tender romance with a haunting, fairy-tale atmosphere.

THE HILLS HAVE SPIES, by Mercedes Lackey. This book, the first of the “Family Spies” novels, follows the “Herald Spy” subseries in the Valdemar universe. Mags, a former enslaved orphan turned Herald, has grown into a mature adult with a trusted position in the inner circle of Valdemar’s royal family. He and his wife, Amily, the King’s Own Herald, have several children. The oldest, Perry (for Peregrine), age thirteen, relishes his training in weapons and spycraft. He possesses the gift of Animal Mindspeech. He’s ambivalent about not yet having been chosen as a Herald; he worries that his parents might be expecting that role of him, but he’s not altogether sure he wants the responsibility. Mags gets a report from an elderly, semi-retired Herald in a remote village near the Pelagir Hills, to the effect that people have gone missing—at a higher rate than should be expected even in that enigmatic region. Mags and his Companion (an intelligent, magical equine) take Perry along to investigate the rumors while giving Perry some experience in survival away from the big-city environment familiar to him. Perry finds the trip less adventurous than he’d hoped, until he gets chosen as a bondmate by a kyree, a member of an intelligent, wolf-like species native to the Pelagirs. As guests of the old Herald, Mags and Perry pick up hints that something sinister may indeed be going on. As Perry’s gift of speaking with animals helps to discover, the trouble seems to center on a remote fortress where mercenaries are taking the kidnapped people. Perry wants to rush to the rescue immediately, a course of action Mags vetoes. With the cooperation of his new kyree friend, Perry sneaks off to investigate, infiltrating the compound under the guise of a simple-minded dog caretaker. He unearths horrors occurring under the rule of a thoroughly creepy villain, while Mags tries to work out a safe way to rescue the victims while not endangering Perry any further. A fun fact about this book: The first printing of the dust jacket (the one I have, which should become a collector’s item) bears a blurb with only a remote resemblance to the actual plot of the novel. Even the main character’s name is wrong. Whichever version of the cover you happen to get, you’ll find THE HILLS HAVE SPIES a solid adventure tale with sympathetic characters. It’s nice to see Mags as a husband and father, and I like the detail that he has outgrown the lower-class accent he spoke with as a boy. Perry behaves like a believable teenager, bright and good-hearted but impulsive and not immune to occasional outbreaks of sulking and minor rebellion. While I don’t think I’d recommend this novel as an introduction to Valdemar, if you’re a fan of that series at all, you’ll probably enjoy this installment.

SHELTER IN PLACE, by Nora Roberts. Nominally romantic suspense (although the two protagonists don’t meet until the middle of the book), this novel begins with a “ripped from the headlines” scenario of three teenage boys on a shooting spree in a mall in a fictional small town near Portland, Maine. Like most of Roberts’s novels, this one uses multiple viewpoints; the story, however, centers on Reed, a college student working in a shop in the mall, where he saves a little boy’s life by getting the two of them under cover, and Simone, a teenage girl who survives because she happens to be in the ladies’ room in a movie theater, where she hides and makes the first 9-1-1 call reporting the incident. Of her two best friends with her that day, one gets killed and other severely injured. Growing up, Simone tries to live as if the catastrophe never happened, leading a superficially exciting (with international travel and many short-term sexual affairs) but unfocused, emotionally shallow life. The aftermath of the trauma poisons her relationship with her parents and sister. As an adult, Simone eventually begins to face her memories and fears. Encouraged by her beloved old-hippie grandmother, a famous artist, she finds her vocation as a sculptor. Meanwhile, Reed, inspired by a female police officer who worked the case and befriends him, becomes a police detective. Early in the novel we learn that the true mastermind of the mass murder was Patricia, the sociopathic sister of one of the three boys (all killed at the crime scene). We see numerous scenes through her viewpoint as she plots her revenge on the people who defied her plan by failing to die. She targets high-profile survivors, who’ve not only made fulfilling lives for themselves but have gained media attention for their post-trauma triumphs. Reed and Simone, in particular, stand at the top of Patricia’s list. Much of the story, though, focuses on their adjustment and growth, with the healing of their emotions and relationships, rather than on the killer stalking in the background. Around the time Reed begins to suspect the deaths of survivors fit a systematic pattern of serial murder, his path and Simone’s intersect. Moving to the island off the coast of Maine where she and her grandmother live, he gets to know them. While the villain—an intriguing portrait of the rare phenomenon of a female serial killer—moves up her list to her supreme goal of destroying Reed and Simone, we enjoy watching Reed settle into the island community and become close to Simone and her family and friends. Since SHELTER IN PLACE is a Nora Roberts novel, we know the hero and heroine will survive, thrive, and ultimately get together, but we can’t be sure about other characters, so the suspense remains genuine. The small-town setting and its people are deeply engaging. The warmly satisfying conclusion brought me to tears, which I can’t remember ever experiencing with this author before.

*****

Excerpt from PASSION IN THE BLOOD:

When Karl stared right at her and spoke to her, Cordelia’s vision went gray. Why didn’t her trick work? It always had before. By the time she’d discovered that talent, in high school, she’d known better than to ask her dad about it. It had first come over her at a party where a boy whose emotions made her feel slimy had pursued her from room to room. She’d finally slipped outside and ducked behind a gardenia bush. She’d prayed, Don’t let him see me. She’d visualized herself wrapped in a cloud of fog. The boy had walked right past her and glanced behind the bush without seeing her. Later, wondering if she’d imagined the incident, she’d experimented. The trick had worked every time. She hadn’t even dared to reveal it to Miranda, the only other person who knew about and shared her ability to read emotions.

Or had it ever actually worked after all? Had she deluded herself all these years? She shook off that recurring qualm and focused on Karl.

His violet-gray eyes drew her like a leash around her neck. Shaking, she walked into the trap of his gaze like a mouse crawling to a cat instead of running away like a sensible quarry. Normally she couldn’t feel his emotions. For a second, though, a blast of anger flared from him. He quenched it instantly. Now she sensed only the same cool reflective surface that always met her tries at probing him.

She squelched the panic that hammered in her chest. Nothing to be afraid of. It’s just Karl.

Now he was touching her, a rare event. Touching her the way she’d so often fantasized. His fingers hovered at the hollow of her throat before wandering to the back of her neck, where he caressed her under the hairline. She tilted her head to stare up at him, one of the few men she knew who towered over her.

Raindrops glittered in his mane of sable hair, streaked with auburn highlights and sprinkled with silver at the temples. The damp shirt clung to his chest. She longed to sculpt the lean shape with both hands. He kept talking to her, repeating words she couldn’t process. She only hoped he couldn’t tell she was melting inside, the way she always did when he got close to her. He kept ordering her to relax, as if she could while his cool fingers inexplicably left fiery trails on her skin.

If only she could sense his emotions like every other man’s. Her inability to read him made her feel helpless.

She did sense one thing from him―pressure. He pushed at her mind. “Tell me why you’re here. Tell me everything.”

The mental coils tightening around her chilled her desire. She blinked away the mist in front of her eyes, shook her head, and pushed back.

“What are you doing in my house?” She caught a whiff of his breath, like peppers seared on heated metal. His faint trace of a German accent made her shiver with pleasure, as always. She’d love to listen to his voice all night, but not while it spun a web of fog around her brain.

“What are you doing to my head?”

“It doesn’t work on you, does it? Interesting. You can’t affect me with your psychic invisibility, so for the moment we’re even.”

His open reference to that secret she’d hidden from everyone made her stagger in shock. He steadied her with both hands on her shoulders. “You saw me?” she whispered. “I mean, you saw me trying to keep you from seeing me?”

To her relief, he didn’t laugh at her babbling. “Of course. I’m surprised at your talent, though I suppose I shouldn’t be.”

“Then I’m not crazy.” Light-headed, she clutched his forearms.

For the first time since he’d walked in, he smiled. She felt the pressure on her brain ease. “Hardly. You’re gifted. Since I can’t compel you to answer, I’ll ask politely. Why are you searching my office? And why shouldn’t I call the police on you?”

Could she trust him enough to answer truthfully? He seemed ready to listen, and now that he’d caught her, she had no hope of getting the book unless he handed it over. She saw little choice but to confide in him.

“I broke into your house because Randy’s been kidnapped.” Speaking the words aloud for the first time made the situation feel both more bizarre and more frightening.

His thick eyebrows arched. “What in the name of sanity does that have to do with your taking up a life of crime?”

“I was looking for that journal in the secret compartment. I need it to ransom her.”

-end of excerpt-

*****

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