Archive for October, 2020

Welcome to the October 2020 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

For anyone who would like to read previous issues of this newsletter, now that the Yahoo group is useless for that purpose, they’re posted on my website here (starting from January 2018):


This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!

Here’s my page in Barnes and Noble’s Nook store:
Barnes and Noble

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:

Happy Halloween!

If you’re a fan of C. S. Lewis’s THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, you might enjoy my attempt at writing a Screwtape letter for these times. I hope I’ve achieved my goal of critiquing the current political climate in a nonpartisan way. It’s on my website here:

Screwtape in Election Year

My fox shapeshifter paranormal romance novella, KITSUNE ENCHANTMENT, has been released into the world! It’s technically a sequel to YOKAI MAGIC but can stand on its own. On the verge of losing her job, Shannon leaps at the chance to sell her graphic novel series to a major publisher. If only she could trust her reclusive artist partner, Ryo, to show up for editorial meetings at the science fiction convention they’re attending. She’d love to have a closer relationship with him, but how can she count on a man who keeps disappearing with the flimsiest of excuses? Ryo, who’s half kitsune, is prone to transforming into a fox at inopportune moments. Furthermore, a bungling amateur sorcerer is stalking him. Ryo returns Shannon’s feelings but fears she couldn’t accept the truth about him.

Kitsune Enchantment

There’s another brief excerpt below. In this scene, Ryo and Shannon are sharing dessert in his room at the convention hotel. Raptor and Vixen are their graphic-novel characters.

This month I’m interviewing vampire romance author R. E. Mullins.


Interview with R. E. Mullins:

What inspired you to begin writing?

Divorce. That’s the honest, albeit unsavory, answer. My husband left for, uh, a younger pasture after twenty years of marriage. Long and short of it: After eighteen years as a homemaker, all previous skills were pretty rusty. I found a continuing education course catalog, and became a phlebotomist. I was lucky enough to work at a clinic that allowed me a flexible schedule. I was able to drop my youngest off at school before work and got off in time to pick him up. I worked weekends and holidays when his father had visitation. And, at night after my kids were in bed, I started to write.

Writing was something I’d fantasized about doing, but never seriously.

What genres do you work in?

Romance in the paranormal or fantasy genres. It seemed only natural that a phlebotomist would write about blood. Daily, while drawing my patients’ blood, I fantasized about a female phlebotomist. What would happen if a phlebotomist, working the nightshift, got bitten by a vampire? At night, I began putting those thoughts into a word file that kept getting bigger and bigger. Before I realized it I had a 96,000-word document that became: It’s A Wonderful Undead Life.

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

I don’t have a set pattern. With my first novel, It’s A Wonderful Undead Life, I ‘thought’ it out first. The Blautsaugers are (an old Bavarian word for Bloodsucker) an ancient family of vampires. When they find themselves the target of an evil plot, it’s up to the eldest brother, Gabe, to protect his family.

The second book, Vampire In The Scrying Glass, features the youngest brother of the Blautsauger family. I definitely winged that one. In fact, it seemed as if I had little to do but write down what the characters told me write. My third novel in the series, A Vampire To Be Reckoned With, my favorite, was fun to write as I loved researching the historical elements in the glimpses into Metta’s background. This led to a more organized style of writing. For better or worse, I reverted during the writing of the last book in the Blautsaugers of Amber Heights series. Cold Hearted Vampire was done completely by the seat of my pants.

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

As a child, I LOVED the Dark Shadows series on TV. I guess it gave me an early love for vampires. As for books, I tend to favor vampire books with some humor as in Nina Bangs and Lynsay Sands.

How do your vampires differ from the traditional type (if they do)?

As human ancestors learned to use fire and tools, so did vampires learn to cope with the world. Their need to go out in direct sunlight led them to invent both sunglasses and sunscreen. Still, they do prefer the nights. It must also be pointed out that, due to their long age span, they mature slowly. They don’t reach their majority until they pass the century mark, and it is celebrated in much the same way as a twenty-one-year-old human.

Please tell us about your Amber Heights setting and series. What other supernatural beings besides vampires does it include?

Amber Heights, Missouri is a fictional town but shares a lot of landmarks with the area I grew up in. Grand Falls, Shoal Creek, the Greenway Trail, and the low-water bridge are all part of my old stomping grounds.

Amber Heights isn’t just home to vampires, but a family of witches also reside there. Morgan Maguire’s story is found in Vampire in The Scrying Glass. After a spell goes horribly wrong, the young Morgan refuses her gifts. Now she must face her fears and learn to control her power in order to save Rafe Blautsauger.

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

Diaper Duty Vampire is a novella that bridges the gap between
The Blautsaugers of Amber Heights Series and The Vampires of Amber Heights series. It tells the story of John Alden, Rafe Blautsauger’s Enforcement partner, and Joann Clarkson, Dr. Michaela Blautsauger’s laboratory assistant. Hilarity ensues as John unwillingly finds himself babysitting Joann’s toddler, Cody.

What are you working on now?

For over a year now, I’ve been working on the first complete novel in The Vampires of Amber Heights series. The working title varies between, Waking Up Dead and Waking Dead. Unfortunately, I’ve been battling some health issues that make it uncomfortable to type for any length of time. Some of the pain meds have also contributed to a major case of writer’s block. Yet, I keep plugging away. Hoping for inspiration to strike.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Put your butt in the seat and keep trying. So many aspiring writers have asked me how I managed to write 4 novels and 2 novellas. Some have a plot in mind, some a character, but every one of them seems to suffer from the same problem. And, that is sticking to it. Words don’t magically appear on the page. You must write. Remember to frequently save your work. And when you’ve enough words you start to edit. Edit, Edit. And edit some more. All of this is before you even start to worry about professional editors or agents or publishers.

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

R. E. Mullins




And my books can be purchased at

Or any online book seller.


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

CINDERELLA IS DEAD, by Kalynn Bayron. Two centuries after Cinderella’s death, her fairy tale has become established as the compulsory pattern for every woman’s life. As soon as each girl in the kingdom reaches marriageable age, the law—imposed by the king descended from Cinderella and Prince Charming—dictates that she must attend a royal ball, where she may be chosen as a bride. Any female who offers herself at three balls and remains unchosen becomes a “forfeit.” Nobody knows the fate of the rejected girls. Bayron portrays an authoritarian, patriarchal society in which everyone lives in fear of the monarch and his cohorts. Even in fairly happy families, parents feel they have no choice but to steer their daughters toward the legally and socially required destiny. Girls eager to be chosen by their own equivalents of Prince Charming obsess over their costumes for the ball and dream of encountering a fairy godmother, which seldom or never happens. At sixteen, Sophia does not want to be chosen by any man. She’s in love with her best friend, Erin, who rejects the proposition of running away together. (Somewhat understandably—where would they go? And when they’d almost certainly get caught, they would face a dire fate.) Another close friend, Luke, prefers boys over girls. In their country, of course, same-sex romance is not only taboo but nearly unthinkable. On the night of the ball, their plan for Luke to choose Sophia catastrophically fails. She escapes to a series of adventures that upend her entire concept of how the world works. Discovering the long-lost tomb of Cinderella, she meets Constance, the only surviving descendant of one of Cinderella’s stepsisters. From Constance, with whom she quickly develops a strong mutual attraction, Sophia learns the true story of Cinderella, her “evil” stepmother and stepsisters, and the perfidy of the original Prince Charming. Together, the two young women discover the king’s dark secret, and they set out to overthrow him. While I love the premise of this novel, it has some plot weaknesses, in my opinion. Sophia wanders around aimlessly much of the time, blundering into important discoveries (such as Cinderella’s tomb) and finding useful things and people by sheer luck. She ignores good advice but, thanks to her protagonist plot armor, survives and succeeds anyway. Still, she struck me as a sympathetic character despite my urge to shake sense into her sometimes. On the plus side, the story doesn’t imply that disposing of the wicked king will automatically make life perfect for all women and girls under his reign. Most fans of revisionist fairy-tale retellings should find this novel fresh and thought-provoking.

JUST ELLA, by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Another re-imagining of Cinderella, this one published in 1999. I came across it among our thousands of books and didn’t remember reading it, although I must have when I bought it. It’s possibly unique in retelling the tale with no magic at all. Narrated in the first person, it begins with Ella, renamed Cynthiana Eleanora now that she’s betrothed to the Prince, waking in her cold castle bedroom. She’s afraid to re-start the dead fire because she’s been scolded for previously doing such an un-princess-like thing. She’s astonished when she learns of the rumors about her fairy godmother. In fact, Ella dressed herself and got to the ball on her own by cleverness and hard work. She hadn’t even thought of dancing with Prince Charming, much less becoming engaged to him. She hoped to make connections with wealthy people who might hire her as a tutor, allowing her to escape from her stepmother and the Step-Evils, as Ella calls her stepsisters. Now she’s living in the castle (in the guise of a foreign princess unfamiliar with local customs), being trained for her new status in preparation for the wedding under the ruthless domination of Madame Bisset, her instructor in etiquette and protocol. Ella is never allowed outside the castle and sees the Prince only briefly, once a day, with a chaperone. Her only relief comes from clandestine frank conversations with a serving maid and Jed Reston, who’s tutoring Ella in religion as a substitute for his ailing father. Jed has ambitious plans to establish care centers for refugees from their country’s long-running war with a neighboring realm, while Ella has escaped from a life of drudgery into one of stifling dullness. She gradually realizes the Prince is boring and empty-headed. In fact, it dawns on her that she has never been in love with him, only dazzled by his charm and good looks. But how can she get out of the engagement? Her attempts to assert herself, naturally, make matters worse, until she lands in a desperate plight where her only recourse is to flee the castle and become a fugitive. Despite the absence of magic, I found this novel enthralling and its conclusion completely satisfying.

A WIZARD’S GUIDE TO DEFENSIVE BAKING, by T. Kingfisher. This YA fantasy novel set in a secondary world is quite different in tone and content from Kingfisher’s superb adult horror novel THE TWISTED ONES. The only obvious similarity is that both are narrated in first person by female characters with distinctive, witty voices. Fourteen-year-old orphaned teenager Mona works in her aunt’s bakery. Mona’s baking talent encompasses more than mundane skills. In this world, many people have magical gifts, although more often small and specialized than big and flashy, and Mona can do amazing things with dough. She entertains customers by making gingerbread men dance, and she has one long-lived animated gingerbread figure she keeps as a sort of pet. Her other mascot is a bucket of sentient sourdough starter named Bob. He’s kept in the basement because of his habit of eating animals that stray within his reach. As the story begins early one morning, Mona finds a dead girl on the bakery floor. Local law enforcement takes Mona into custody for questioning, and things get worse from there. Following her release after many hours, she’s attacked by ten-year-old Spindle, brother of the murdered girl. After Mona convinces him of her and her family’s innocence, the two of them team up to uncover the truth. A mysterious figure known as the Spring Green Man seems to be involved. Magic-users have been disappearing or dying. Aside from Mona herself, one of the few left in the city is Molly, a kindly but deranged woman whose gift is animating dead horses; she wanders around with a dried-up, nearly skeletal zombie horse. Meanwhile, their city-state is at war, and the authorities are cracking down on magical folk. In desperation, Mona and Spindle eventually sneak into the castle to appeal to the Duchess herself. As the plot thickens, Mona gets unwillingly involved in combat and discovers extraordinary uses for the baking magic she’s always considered minor and ordinary. While fast-paced and entertaining, with moments of humor, this novel also delves into issues such as the nature of responsibility and heroism.

BRYONY AND ROSES, by T. Kingfisher. In this 2016 fantasy, Kingfisher retells “Beauty and the Beast” with some variations unique to her. As in Robin McKinley’s ROSE DAUGHTER (whose influence Kingfisher cites), the heroine is an avid gardener, and roses play a central role. Bryony, however, far from beautiful, is the plainest of the three sisters, a pragmatic young woman whose third-person narrative viewpoint is tart, self-aware, and tinged with snark. Unlike the heroines of other versions, she doesn’t much care for roses, considering them more trouble than they’re worth and often outright vicious (all those thorns). The backstory follows the usual pattern, a widowed merchant losing all his wealth and property except for a cottage in a remote village, where he retires with his three daughters. In this novel, both parents have died already, leaving the young women on their own. Bryony’s sisters are affectionate and hardworking rather than vain and jealous as in the classic tale. Holly is as practical and astringent as Bryony, while Iris is beautiful, delicate, and romantic. As the novel opens, it’s Bryony who gets stuck in a snowstorm and takes refuge, with her pony, in the mysterious, palatial manor house. After being feasted and sheltered, she tries to take a rose for Iris, provoking the Beast’s wrath. She delivers a chest full of coins to her home, packs a supply of plants and seeds, and returns to the Beast’s mansion. The house proves to be sentient and eagerly helpful almost to the point of smothering. As she cultivates her garden and grows to care for the Beast, she finds that he can’t talk about the crucial elements of his past. The magic forcibly prevents him. As in some earlier adaptations, she dreams of a seductive man. Both the dreams and the house itself, though, have sinister undertones. This version is darker than any other I’ve seen or read, with a climax verging on horror. The Beast’s origin story reveals him as neither an innocent victim of a malicious curse (as in the familiar fairy tale) nor a selfish brute needing to reform (as in the Disney version). He did bring his punishment upon himself, but the penalty was disproportionate to the offense, and he has long since repented and matured. The background of his transformation—and that of the house—is eerie and otherworldly. To my delight, he doesn’t revert to human form at the end. That denouement has always felt like a letdown to me, no matter how well written or acted.



“What kind of babies would Raptor and Vixen produce if they did mate? Winged fox cubs hatched from eagle eggs?” He polished off the last of his cake.

“I’m almost tempted to write that scenario just to see you draw it.” To avoid the sight of Ryo licking chocolate from his fork, Shannon concentrated on finishing her dessert, too.

“Considering the fans of a certain major film franchise don’t seem to have a problem with dragon-donkey hybrids, it’s not so farfetched.”

He set his empty box on the coffee table, then took hers from her and did the same with it. Turning toward her, he clasped her hand before she could withdraw it.

His skin felt fever-hot, a heat that radiated up her arm. On the other hand, like he said, sometimes we should live dangerously. She swayed closer to him.

“Magic,” he murmured. “Magic can do almost anything.”

He cupped her cheek with his free hand. He leaned in, giving her plenty of time to draw back if she chose.

She didn’t. Instead, she parted her lips, waiting. His lips brushed hers. The heat spread over her whole body and flared at her core. His tongue teased hers, and she twined one arm around his neck. Her nipples peaked and tingled. Twisting sideways to close the space between them, she couldn’t suppress a sigh of pleasure when he drew her into a loose embrace that tightened as she snuggled up to him.

Her eyes drifting shut, she ran her fingers through the dense pelt of his hair while he deepened the kiss. Waves of sensation rippled through her. As she moved her hand downward to skim over his cheek, fuzz tickled her palm. Whiskers? Surely she would have noticed if he’d been unshaven. Besides, this growth felt more like velvet than sandpaper. She opened her eyes.

Ryo flinched and pulled back. In the twilit dimness relieved only by the light from the overhead fixture just inside the door, his skin definitely looked lightly furred. Not only that, his teeth looked, well—sharp. She scooted to the end of the couch.

Ryo snapped his mouth shut and covered it with one hand. Springing to his feet, he mumbled, “Sorry—not feeling well all of a sudden. I’ll see you tomorrow morning. Sorry!” He scurried to the bathroom and slammed the door.

Staring after him, Shannon stood up, suddenly lightheaded, and gripped the back of the couch to steady herself. What’s gotten into him? And his ears—why do they look the wrong shape?

Did he expect her to leave just like that? Assuming he was actually sick, he would have asked for help if he’d wanted it. So, yes, he apparently did expect her to clear out. Well, she wasn’t about to beg him to let her stay. Tears prickling her eyes, she grabbed her purse and stomped out.

-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