Archive for September, 2019

Welcome to the September 2019 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!

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:

My Goodreads page:

“Yokai Magic” received an excellent review from Manic Readers:

Manic Readers

The reviewer says, “This engaging tale is a great combination of contemporary challenges and fantasy elements.”

There’s an excerpt below from “Foxfire,” one of the stories in my animal-bridegroom collection BEASTS AND THEIR BEAUTIES, a contemporary paranormal romance featuring a kitsune (fox shapeshifter) hero. The heroine, Tabitha, has asked Kenji, the kitsune (whose true nature she doesn’t know yet), to help find her runaway sister, Chloe. The collection can be found here:

Beasts and Their Beauties

This month’s interview features historical fiction author Diane Scott Lewis.


Interview with Diane Scott Lewis:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I’ve always told tales, even before I could write. I’d illustrate the story and ask my mother to write the words. I wrote my first novel at age ten, a story set in ancient Rome. Later, I wrote a western, which I never completed. I had a short story (which I’ve since lost) submitted to a literary festival from my high school. I let writing go when I married and had children, but picked it up again when my children were in high school.

What genres do you work in?

Historical fiction mostly, with romantic elements. I like a love interest but weave it into the plot and try to make it ‘natural’ and not Sudden Attraction. I wrote one historical time travel, which was fun.

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

I mostly ‘wing it’. That can lead to complications. A novel that rambles, or is too long (my first efforts). I’ve tried to outline to some extent, but my characters often take over and send me in different directions.

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

All of that. I read popular historical novels and authors, to see what their style is, how can I improve on mine, etc. Phillipa Gregory’s early novels inspired me. I like Susanna Kearsley, too. Deanna Rayburn. My travels around the US inspired my current release, Her Vanquished Land. A novel set during the American Revolution. I’ve visited battlefields from that conflict.

Did your naval service affect your development as an author, and if so, how?

I love to travel; my one duty station was in Greece, where I met my husband. We had a navy reunion in Greece in June, and I’ve recently begun a novel set in 1950s Greece.

What attracted you to the historical periods you write about?

At first, I knew I didn’t want to do Victorian novels since so many were writing in that era. I chose the eighteenth century, researched extensively at the Library of Congress (no internet then), and England in the time of the French Revolution, 1780s thru 1790s caught my interest.

What kinds of research sources do you use for your historical fiction? Please tell us a bit about the “Research Links” page on your website.

At first, libraries were my go-to places for research. I was lucky to have the huge collection of the Library of Congress (we lived near Washington, DC) and the Library of Virginia. I got library loans for rarer books. Now the internet is very handy for research. I do double check the sources there.
My research links, I need to add more, are interesting sites I’ve come across in researching the French Revolution, Napoleon, and Cornwall, England. Also important links to the Eighteenth Century.

What is your latest-released or soon-forthcoming work?

My just released novel is Her Vanquished Land. Here is a blurb: In 1780, Rowena Marsh decodes messages for the British during the American Revolution. When the rebels overrun her home state of Pennsylvania, she flees with her family. Are the people loyal to England welcome anywhere in the burgeoning United States? Rowena struggles with possible defeat and permanent exile, plus her growing love for an enigmatic Welshman who may have little need for affection. Will the war destroy both their lives?

What are you working on now?

My Greek story, A Spark to the Ashes, a Mary Stewart inspired suspense novel set in 1955.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Perfect your craft. Not only the creative part of style and plot, but the basics of grammar, and how to write and punctuate dialogue. Attend writers’ conferences, network with other authors, and take workshops to improve your craft.

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

Diane Scott Lewis Website


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

THE BIG BOOK OF CLASSIC FANTASY, edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer. This new anthology, a trade paperback over 800 pages long (but reasonably priced), presents tales exemplifying the broad field of fantastic fiction from the early nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth-century advent of fantasy as a marketing genre. In chronological order of their writing, it begins with a story published in 1808 and ends, appropriately, with Tolkien’s metafictional “Leaf by Niggle.” The word “Classic” and the book’s subtitle, “The Ultimate Collection,” imply (to me, at least) that the reader should expect an encyclopedic compilation of high-profile stories that shaped the concept of “fantasy” and exerted strong influence on works that followed them. That’s not what we get. The editors, in fact, explicitly state that they often avoid well-known stories in favor of highlighting more obscure ones, partly because the familiar works are so readily available elsewhere. A college instructor wanting to assign a text that traces the mainline history of fantastic fiction and brings together the “must read” sources, therefore, wouldn’t choose this one. It includes numerous well-known tales, of course (e.g., Poe’s “Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” Forster’s “Celestial Omnibus,” Hawthorne’s “Feathertop,” Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market,” E. Nesbit’s “The Aunt and Amabel,” Grahame’s “Reluctant Dragon,” etc.), but many that will be new to most readers. A few, never before translated into English, or even published here for the first time, can’t have influenced the modern fantasy genre as we know it. One, Herman Melville’s “The Tartarus of Maids” (an account of the dismal working conditions of female employees in a paper mill), doesn’t even belong here, in my opinion; despite its Gothic tone, it’s in no way fantasy. A nineteenth-century omission that surprises me, by the way, is the absence of a selection from the “Uncle Remus” tales. Also, the editors’ choices are weighted more than I like toward surrealistic works. That said, the book is packed with remarkable stories in a variety of styles from predominantly Anglophone authors but also quite a few who wrote in other languages, including some non-European writers. The editors supply a summary of the author’s background and literary career before each story. Most lovers of fantasy will find many hours of enjoyment in this volume.

TRACE, by Pat Cummings. The thirteen-year-old, black protagonist of this new YA ghost novel, Theodore, nicknamed Trace, lives with his aunt in a New York City brownstone because his parents died in a car crash he barely escaped. He’s vague on how, exactly, he got out of a submerged car with closed windows, and he doesn’t want to talk about the accident or his parents to anyone, including his therapist, or even to think about them much. He also suffers recurring nightmares about the wreck, for which he blames himself (for a reason we learn well into the story). One positive feature of the novel is that it doesn’t lapse into the cliché of a cold, distant guardian who makes the orphaned hero’s life even more miserable. Trace’s Aunt Lea, retaining her hippie spirit into middle age, is an affectionate, madly creative person who opens her home to all sorts of people. Even when Trace’s grief makes him unresponsive to her, aside from everyday courtesies and earnest attempts to cause as little inconvenience as possible, he acknowledges that she’s “cool.” He does, however, have to cope with the usual new-kid problems at school. Because of his general withdrawal from life, he makes only one friend, Ty, essentially by accident. Trace’s circle expands when he has to work on a history assignment with Ty and two girls, one who makes it clear that she thinks Trace and the project are beneath her, the other a brilliant, younger student who peppers her conversation with multisyllabic words. She turns out to have a bit of psychic ability, a factor that becomes important to the plot. The group has to present a report on the 1860s; not surprisingly, Trace gets tasked with researching the race-related events of the period. In the public library, he blunders into a basement level he shouldn’t be able to access and meets the sad ghost of a little boy who, he eventually learns, died in a fire that destroyed an orphanage for black children. Trace’s investigation of the fire and the ghost leads to revelations about his own ancestors. Meanwhile, he gradually opens up to the world and learns to enjoy life again, as well as confronting instead of avoiding the loss of his parents. The novel develops into a warm and realistic (aside from the ghost) story of family and friendship with a satisfying conclusion.

OUT OF TUNE, edited by Jonathan Maberry. An anthology of original stories based on traditional folk ballads. Some are closely faithful retellings, others loosely inspired by their models. In one of my favorites, “Wendy, Darling” by Christopher Golden, the heroine of PETER PAN, grown up and about to be married, appears as the infanticidal protagonist of “The Cruel Mother.” A dark exploration of loss and grief, Seanan McGuire’s “Driving Jenny Home” retells the urban legend of the vanishing hitchhiker with echoes of “The Unquiet Grave.” Some other songs referenced in this volume include “Tam Lin,” “Sweet William’s Ghost,” “The Mermaid,” “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” “Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight,” and “John Barleycorn.” Nancy Holder combines “Barbara Allen,” Poe, and a touch of Lovecraft in “In Arkham Town, Where I Was Bound.” Additional contributors include Jeff Strand, Kelley Armstrong, Del Howison Jack Ketchum, Simon R. Green, Gary Braunbeck, and Lisa Morton, among others. Most of the tales tend toward the darker end of the spectrum, and almost all fall into the fantastic rather than strictly realistic realm. Each author supplies an afterword commenting on his or her story, the history of the source ballad, and the connection between them. Readers don’t have to be familiar with the ballads to enjoy this anthology, but the tales will appeal particularly to those who do recognize their sources.

SNOW, GLASS, APPLES, by Neil Gaiman. Wow! A graphic novel adaptation of Gaiman’s short story, illustrated by Collen Doran. Decades earlier, in “Red as Blood,” Tanith Lee portrayed Snow White as a vampire from birth and the queen as a good witch; Gaiman, using the same premise, created an even darker version of the fairy tale. This hardcover graphic novel faithfully reproduces Gaiman’s plot and language. Doran’s art, inspired by late nineteenth-century artists such as Aubrey Beardsley, uses mostly black backgrounds, with contrasting lush, vivid color (especially splashes of red for iconic images such as apples and blood) for the figures and objects. Characters wear exotic, medieval-style garb. The erotic scenes convey a blend of sensuality and revulsion through nudity without over-explicitness. Most of the pages teem with fantastic and Gothic details that will reward multiple viewings. The images of the nonhuman “forest folk” are especially fascinating. After the story, the artist spends several pages explaining her creative process and some of the choices she made. If you’re familiar with the original story, you won’t want to miss this lavish adaptation. For fans of Gaiman, vampires, or fairy tales who haven’t read “Snow, Glass, Apples” before, this is definitely a must-have book.


Excerpt from “Foxfire”:

As soon as he reached the shelter of the trees, Kenji stripped naked and prepared to search. He would have to backtrack toward Tabitha’s house in hope of crossing the girl’s trail. Since Tabitha’s and Chloe’s should be the only human female scents in the area, finding the spoor shouldn’t pose a problem.

Tucking his clothes into the fork of a branch for safekeeping, he wondered what had possessed him to agree to this quest. He couldn’t fool himself that he just wanted to do the neighborly thing. He liked Tabitha and didn’t want to see her worried and scared. He lusted after her and wanted to make a good impression, regardless of the impossibility of a relationship. Neither of those impulses justified putting himself in the risky position of having to explain how he could find a teenage girl in the woods in the middle of the night. He groaned to himself at the memory of the lame excuse he’d given Tabitha for making her stay behind. With luck, she’d feel so relieved to have her sister safe that she wouldn’t think to ask for details right away, and he wouldn’t give her a chance to ask later. They wouldn’t see each other again except for their usual chance meetings on the trails.

Why did that prospect depress him so much? Until tonight, he’d thought he’d become resigned to his solitary life.

Naked, he crouched on all fours and willed the change.

He transformed more smoothly than when strong emotion made him shift involuntarily. Now his bones and muscles melted into their new shape with a sensuous pleasure like hot water flowing over his bare limbs. The fur that enveloped him felt more natural than skin, as if he’d awakened from a dream of bipedal awkwardness and returned to his true self, with the claws of all four feet denting the soft loam. Darkness became shades of gray and silver in the moonlight. When human, he could see in the dark better than normal people, but nothing like this. His whiskers twitched at random puffs of wind, and his nostrils flared to absorb the odors of the forest. Rabbits, squirrels, and raccoons crouched or crawled in the underbrush and tree branches. Ordinarily, he might hunt one of them for the sport even though he’d already fed on a rabbit earlier that night. Now, though, he had a job to do.

He shook his head, aware of how quickly his human purpose had escaped his mind. Getting distracted by animal sensations and appetites was always a hazard when he changed. Normally it wouldn’t matter if he let instinct sweep thought into the background. But he couldn’t succumb to that temptation at the moment.

He trotted uphill in the direction of Tabitha’s house. His ears twitched at every sound. He heard no human noises, only an owl hooting overhead and small animals scurrying out of his path. Along the way, he disturbed a doe with a pair of fawns, who bounded through the trees to avoid him. He scented the footprints of a bear, left over from at least a day ago, nothing to worry about now. At the bottom of his neighbor’s driveway, he circled, sniffing the ground, in search of human traces. His plumed tail lashed with pleasure at Tabitha’s aroma, permeating the area. He forced his mind back to the reason he’d come here. Casting a little farther from the house, he picked up the scent of another female. With a low bark of satisfaction, he followed the track downhill.

In the daytime even human eyes could probably have tracked the girl. She’d left footprints in the damp soil and broken twigs on bushes. Shortly, she’d stumbled onto one of the narrow trails and followed that in the general direction of the road. For most of its length, this trail stayed on level or gently sloping ground. Farther on, though, it bordered a steep bank on one side. That was where he heard labored breathing from human lungs. A broken thorn-bush and scuffed dirt showed where the girl had tripped and failed to catch herself. The breeze carried the scent of blood.

He edged around the spot until he reached an easier point to climb down into the ravine. He conjured a ball of foxfire to augment his night vision in the shadowed hollow. The girl lay on her back with her left shin bleeding. A flashlight, still glowing, had rolled out of her reach. An occasional whimper punctuated her rasping breaths. She didn’t catch sight of him until he’d approached close enough to touch. With a shriek, she snatched up a small rock and flung it at him. It bounced off his flank.

He growled at the sting and dodged the next stone. He couldn’t do anything for her in this shape. Extinguishing the foxfire, he clambered up the bank and trotted along the trail to its juncture with one that led in the direction of his house. Able to make good time on the cleared surfaces, within a few minutes he reached the place where he’d left his clothes. After dressing, he hurried back to the spot where Chloe had fallen. Cutting through the brush and climbing down the bank to reach the girl gave him a few scratches on arms and legs, but no discomfort he couldn’t ignore.

-end of excerpt-


My Publishers:

Writers Exchange E-Publishing: Writers Exchange
Harlequin: Harlequin
Whiskey Creek: Whiskey Creek
Wild Rose Press: Wild Rose Press

You can contact me at:

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