Archive for May, 2021

Fiction Bibliography from DIFFERENT BLOOD: THE VAMPIRE AS ALIEN, by Margaret L. Carter (Writers Exchange E-Publishing, 2019):

Aldiss, Brian. Dracula Unbound. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.

Benson, E. F. “Negotium Perambulans”, in Visible and Invisible. London: Hutchinson, 1923. Rpt. in The Collected Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson, ed. Richard Dalby. New York: Carroll and Graf, 1992.

Bergstrom, Elaine. Shattered Glass. New York: Berkley, 1989.

Bixby, Jerome, and Joe E. Dean. “Share Alike”. Beyond 1, 1 (1953). Rpt. in Weird Vampire Tales, ed. Robert Weinberg, et al. New York: Gramercy Books, 1992.

Blackwood, Algernon. “The Willows”, in The Listener and Other Stories. London: Eveleigh Nash, 1907. Rpt. in Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood, ed. E. F. Bleiler. New York: Dover, 1975.

Bloch, Robert. “The Shambler from the Stars”. Weird Tales 26, 3 (September 1935). Rpt. in Mysteries of the Worm. Oakland, CA: Chaosium, 1993.

Bradbury, Ray. “Homecoming”. Mademoiselle (October 1946). Rpt. in The October Country. New York: Ballantine, 1956.
–“The Man Upstairs”. Harper’s Magazine 194 (March 1947). Rpt. in The October Country. New York: Ballantine, 1956.
–“Uncle Einar”. 1947. Rpt. in The October Country. New York: Ballantine, 1956.

Brennan, M. L. Generation V. New York: Penguin, 2013.

Brite, Poppy Z. Lost Souls. New York: Delacorte, 1992.

Brown, Fredric. “Blood”. Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 8, 2 (February 1955).

Butler, Jack. Nightshade. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1989.

Butler, Octavia. Fledgling. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005.

Charnas, Suzy McKee. Vampire Dreams. New York: Broadway Play Publishing, 2001.
–The Vampire Tapestry. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980. Rpt. New York: Pocket Books, 1981.
–and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. “Advocates”, in Under the Fang, ed. Robert R. McCammon. New York: Pocket Books, 1991.

Ciencin, Scott. The Vampire Odyssey. New York: Zebra, 1992.

Collins, Nancy A. Sunglasses After Dark. New York: New American Library, 1989.

Cresswell, Jasmine. Prince of the Night. New York: Topaz, 1995.

Farmer, Philip Jose. Image of the Beast. Chicago: Playboy Books, 1979. Rpt. New York: Berkley, 1985. Incorporates Image of the Beast (1968) and Blown (1969).

Gilden, Mel. How to Be a Vampire in One Easy Lesson. New York: Avon, 1990.
–M Is for Monster. New York: Avon, 1987.

Graverson, Pat. Sweet Blood. New York: Zebra, 1992.

Henderson, Zenna. “Food to All Flesh.” Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (1954). Rpt. in The Anything Box. New York: Doubleday, 1965.

Hodgman, Ann. There’s a Batwing in My Lunchbox. New York: Avon, 1988.

Karr, Phyllis Ann. “A Cold Stake”, in Vampires, ed. Jane Yolen and Martin H. Greenberg. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.

Kornbluth, Cyril M. “The Mindworm”. Worlds Beyond 1 (December 1950). Rpt. in Weird Vampire Tales, ed. Robert Weinberg, et al. New York: Gramercy Books, 1992.

Krinard, Susan. Prince of Dreams. New York: Bantam, 1995.

Lee, Tanith. “Bite-Me-Not or, Fleur de Feu”. Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine 8, 10 (October 1984). Rpt. in Vampires, ed. Alan Ryan. New York: Doubleday, 1987.
–Dark Dance. New York: Dell, 1992.
–Sabella or The Blood Stone. New York: DAW, 1980.

Leman, Bob. “The Pilgrimage of Clifford M”. Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 66, 5 (May 1984), 8-30.

Lewis, C. S. Out of the Silent Planet. London: John Lane, 1938. Rpt. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

Lichtenberg, Jacqueline. House of Zeor. New York: Doubleday, 1974. Rpt. New York: Pocket Books, 1977.
–Those of My Blood. New York: St. Martin’s, 1988.

Long, Frank Belknap, Jr. “The Horror from the Hills”. Weird Tales 17, 1-2 (January-March 1931). Rpt. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1963. Rpt. in Odd Science Fiction. New York: Belmont, 1964.

Lovecraft, H. P. “The Dunwich Horror”. Weird Tales 13, 4 (April 1929). Rpt. in The Dunwich Horror and Others. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1939. Rpt. New York: Lancer, 1963.
–“The Shunned House.” Weird Tales 30, 4 (October 1937). Rpt. in At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror. New York: Beagle Books, 1971.

Lumley, Brian. Blood Brothers. New York: Tor, 1992.
–Necroscope. New York: Tor, 1988.
–The Source. New York: Tor, 1989.

McDowell, Michael. “Halley’s Passing”. Twilight Zone 7, 2 (June 1989).

MacEwen, P. H. “A Winter’s Night”, in Writers of the Future, Volume IV, ed. Algis Budrys. Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, 1988.

Martin, George R. R. Fevre Dream. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.

Matheson, Richard. “Dress of White Silk”. Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 2, 5 (1951). Rpt. in Vamps, ed. Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh. New York: DAW, 1987.
–“Drink My Red Blood”. Imagination 2, 2 (April 1951). Rpt. as “Drink My Blood” in The Midnight People, ed. Peter Haining. London: Leslie Frewin, 1968.
–I Am Legend. New York: Fawcett, 1954.

Maupassant, Guy de. “Le Horla”. Gil Blas (26 October 1886). Rpt. Paris: Paul Ollendorff, 1887. Trans. Marjorie Laurie and rpt. as “The Horla” in The Vampire, ed. Ornella Volta and Valeria Riva. London: Neville Spearman Ltd., 1963.

Moore, C. L. “Shambleau”. Weird Tales 22, 5 (November 1933). Rpt. in Weird Vampire Tales, ed. Robert Weinberg, et al. New York: Gramercy Books, 1992.

Navarro, Yvonne. AfterAge. New York: Bantam, 1993.

Newman, Kim. Bad Dreams. London: Simon and Schuster, 1990. Rpt. New York: Carroll and Graf, 1991.

O’Brien, Fitz-James. “What Was It? A Mystery”. Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (March 1859). Rpt. in The Supernatural Tales of Fitz-James O’Brien: Volume One: Macabre Tales, ed. Jessica Amanda Salmonson. New York: Doubleday, 1988.

Petrey, Susan. “The Healer’s Touch”. Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 62, 2 (February 1982). Rpt. in Gifts of Blood. New York: Baen, 1992.
–“Leechcraft”. Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 62, 5 (May 1982). Rpt. in Gifts of Blood. New York: Baen, 1992.

Powers, Tim. The Stress of Her Regard. Lynbrook, NY: Charnel House, 1989. Rpt. New York: Ace, 1991.

Ptacek, Kathryn. Blood Autumn. New York: Tor, 1985.
–In Silence Sealed. New York: Tor, 1988.

Rein-Hagen, Mark, ed. Book of the Kindred. Clarkston, GA: White Wolf, 1996.

Relling, William, Jr. “The Obsession”, in The Bradbury Chronicles, ed. William F. Nolan and Martin H. Greenberg. New York: Penguin, 1991.

Robinson, Phil. “The Last of the Vampires”. The Contemporary Review 63 (March 1893). Rpt. in Vampire, ed. Peter Haining. London: Severn House Publishers, 1985.

Rusch, Kristine Kathryn. Sins of the Blood. New York: Dell, 1994.
–“Victims”, in Sisters of the Night, ed. Barbara Hambly and Martin H. Greenberg. New York: Warner Books, 1995.

Russell, Eric Frank. Sinister Barrier. Unknown (March 1939). Rpt. Reading, PA: Fantasy Press, 1948.

Scott, Jody. I, Vampire. New York: Ace, 1984.

Simmons, Dan. Children of the Night. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1992.
–“Dying in Bangkok”, in Lovedeath. New York: Warner, 1993. Revised reprint of “Death in Bangkok.” Playboy (June 1993).

Smith, L. J. Daughters of Darkness. New York: Pocket Books, 1996.
–Secret Vampire. New York: Pocket Books, 1996.

Spruill, Steven. Rulers of Darkness. New York: St. Martin’s, 1995.

Stableford, Brian. The Empire of Fear. UK: Simon and Schuster, 1988.
–“The Hunger and Ecstasy of Vampires”. Interzone (January/February 1995). Rpt. in Virtuous Vampires, ed. Stefan Dziemianowicz, et al. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996.

Stirling, S. M. The Council of Shadows. New York: New American Library, 2011.
— Shadows of Falling Night. New York: New American Library, 2013.
— A Taint in the Blood. New York: New American Library, 2010.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Westminster: A. Constable, 1897. Rpt. as The Essential Dracula, ed. Leonard Wolf. New York: Penguin, 1993.

Straum, Niel. “Vanishing Breed”, in Curse of the Undead, ed. M. L. Carter. New York: Fawcett, 1970. Revised rpt. as by “Leslie Roy Carter” in Tomorrow Sucks, ed. Greg Cox and T. K. Weisskopf. New York: Baen, 1994.

Strieber, Whitley. The Hunger. New York: William Morrow, 1981.

Tem, Melanie. Desmodus. New York: Dell, 1995.

Tenn, William. “The Human Angle”. Famous Fantastic Mysteries (1948). Rpt. in The Human Angle. New York: Ballantine, 1956.
–“She Only Goes Out at Night”. Fantastic Universe 6, 3 (1956). Rpt. in Weird Vampire Tales, ed. Robert Weinberg, et al. New York: Gramercy Books, 1992.

Tiptree, James, Jr. “And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side”. 1971. Rpt. in Ten Thousand Light Years from Home. New York: Ace, 1973.

Van Vogt, A. E. “Asylum”. Astounding Science Fiction 29, 3 (May 1942).
–“The Proxy Intelligence”. Worlds of If 18, 10 (October 1968).

Ward, J. R. Dark Lover. New York: Signet, 2005.

Wells, H. G. The War of the Worlds. London: William Heinemann, 1898. Rpt. in Seven Science Fiction Novels of H. G. Wells. New York: Dover, 1950.

Williamson, Jack. Darker Than You Think. Unknown 4, 4 (December 1940). Rpt. New York: Berkley, 1969.

Wilson, Colin. The Mind Parasites. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1967. Rpt. New York: Bantam, 1968.
–The Philosopher’s Stone. New York: Crown Publishers, 1969. Rpt. New York: Warner, 1974.
–The Space Vampires. New York: Random House, 1976. Rpt. New York: Pocket Books, 1977.

Yarbro, Chelsea Quinn. The Saint-Germain Chronicles. New York: Pocket Books, 1983.
–“Salome”, in The Bradbury Chronicles, ed. William F. Nolan and Martin H. Greenberg. New York: Penguin, 1991.

Welcome to the May 2021 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:

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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

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The Wild Rose Press has accepted my light paranormal romance novella KAPPA COMPANION, a loose sequel to YOKAI MAGIC and KITSUNE ENCHANTMENT. Objects mysteriously moving in the house, a turtle creature trespassing in the yard—Heidi’s and her son’s new home would be perfect if not for the supernatural denizens left behind by former tenants. There’s an excerpt below. (Adam is the seven-year-old son of Heidi, the widowed heroine.)

This month’s interview features multi-genre romance writer Emma Kaye, another of my fellow Wild Rose Press authors who had a story with me in the SWEET SCOOPS ice cream theme anthology, which is here:

Sweet Scoops


Interview with Emma Kaye:

Hello everyone. Thanks so much for inviting me for this interview, Margaret!

What inspired you to begin writing?

I began writing when my kids were little. I needed something to occupy my mind other than diapers and cartoons. I would read when I could and was always searching for time travel romances. I had a story in my head and couldn’t find it on the shelves. One day my husband and I were talking, and I mentioned the crazy idea of writing the story myself. To my surprise, he said it was a great idea. Not long after that conversation he gave me a beautiful leather journal to write my first draft. I haven’t stopped since.

What genres do you work in?

Time travel, Regency, small town magic, and fantasy – all romance.

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

Something in between, and each book is different. The shorter the story, the more I outline. If I’m writing a full-length novel, I usually have a vague idea of the major events and the ending, but I don’t outline scene by scene as I do for a novella or short story.

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

I love being swept away by my reading and hope to do the same for others when I write. Some of my favorite authors are Frank Herbert (Dune is one of my earliest favorites that sparked my love of reading), Mercedes Lackey, Victoria Alexander, Kristen Painter, Diana Gabaldon, JK Rowling, Georgette Heyer… I could go on forever, I think. There are so many great writers out there. My dream is to make someone else’s favorite list someday.

What kinds of research do you do for your historical and time-travel romances?

It depends on what I need for the story. I look up the information I need – books, websites, classes. If I’m not sure of a bit of history as I’m writing, I’ll make a comment in my draft and look it up later. Sometimes, I’ll be doing some general research before I start to write and come across something that changes the direction of what I originally planned. That can be fun (and frustrating!)

For years, I was a member of The Beau Monde group at RWA just to soak up all the knowledge on the email loop. (The Beau Monde focuses on all things Regency.) I learned the answers to questions I’d never even thought to ask. They’re a great bunch, very knowledgeable. They offer online classes all the time and I try to take the ones that might be useful whenever I can.

I love the bargain section at B&N. I’ve picked up tons of books just on the idea that maybe someday… I have books on weapons, fashion, major battles, etc. I never know what might spark the idea for the next book.

Please tell us about the background and development of the Havenport series.

The Havenport series began as an anthology written with my critique partners—Ruth A. Casie, Lita Harris, and Nicole S. Patrick. We introduced Havenport in our fifth Timeless series book, Timeless Moments. I don’t think we realized how much we would enjoy our little town, but we certainly did. And we didn’t want to leave! So, we changed Timeless Moments to Christmas in Havenport and it became number one in a new series. All of our stories in each anthology were connected in some way, whether we all attended the big Fourth of July parade in Welcome to Havenport or took shelter from the winter snowstorm in Snowbound in Havenport. Our stories were interwoven. We had to spend a lot of time brainstorming and going over each other’s stories to make it work, but that was what we all loved most about our little town.

We all write in different genres though, so eventually we decided it would be better to release our books separately. Since all my characters belonged to the local coven, I named my series the Witches of Havenport. Ruth writes Havenport Romance (romantic suspense), Lita writes Women of Havenport (women’s fiction), and Nicole writes Heroes of Havenport (military heroes.)

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

The last story I published was Waffle Cone Magic, my contribution to the Sweet Scoops anthology. That was such a fun story to write, and I was thrilled to be included in the anthology with Margaret, Marilyn, Fran, and Jael. I enjoy writing for The Wild Rose Press’s submission calls—Waffle Cone Magic is my third. I also have stories in the Lobster Cove and Candy Hearts series. It’s a fun challenge to pick up someone else’s writing prompt and come up with something that fits the call but also stays true to what I love to write.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a short Regency Christmas story called A Letter for Miss Brixton. It’s about two people who corresponded for years, fell in love, but never met. Until now. It will release in October/November this year in an anthology with several other Regency authors. This will be my third year participating in this anthology.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Everyone’s writing journey is different and you don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s life, so don’t judge yourself based on how you view someone else’s career.

What is the URL of your website? What about other internet presence?

Emma Kaye Website


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

MEXICAN GOTHIC, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This horror novel hits all the classic notes for a Gothic story. It takes place in an old mansion haunted by dark family secrets and features a young woman in mysterious danger, possibly from her own husband. The protagonist, Noemi, the daughter of an upper-class family in Mexico City in the 1950s, leads a life of socializing, shopping, and partying while trying to settle on a college major. She has only one serious long-term interest, playing the piano. When her father receives an alarming letter from her recently married cousin, Catalina, he sends Noemi to investigate. Catalina married into an English family who have lived in their home, High Place, for several generations, since becoming wealthy from a now-defunct silver mine. In her letter, she claims her husband, Virgil, may be trying to poison her, the house is “sick with rot,” and she hears voices in the walls. Noemi’s father thinks Catalina may need psychiatric treatment and directs Noemi to find out what’s going on, especially since Virgil’s communication on the subject has been reserved and uncooperative. Noemi reluctantly undertakes the trip to the remote village adjacent to Virgil’s isolated house. There she meets his cousin Francis, the only member of the household who seems to welcome her. The needs of Virgil’s father, an infirm old man who spends most of his time in his room, place restrictions on the household such as silence during meals, because sounds carry through the building and disturb him. Francis’s mother autocratically announces the other rules of the house to Noemi, going so far as to severely limit Noemi’s contact with Catalina. Catalina is supposedly recovering from tuberculosis, but would that condition cause her apparently deranged fears? Virgil’s father is obsessed with eugenics, with “superior” and “inferior” races. The mansion is opulent yet poorly maintained, infested with mold and fungus, reminiscent of the House of Usher. The isolation, with Noemi’s access to transportation into town restricted, exacerbates the atmosphere of creeping dread. Are supernatural phenomena happening, or is the structure contaminated by some kind of toxin that causes surreal nightmares and Catalina’s alleged voices? Can Noemi trust anyone, even Francis? The story builds slowly, like a traditional Gothic romance, but the truth about the house and the family’s sinister history provides a satisfying payoff. Without spoilers, I can reveal that the danger looming over Noemi and her cousin is not imaginary, and the source of the threat isn’t quite like any other horror premise I’ve read before. In a unique way, house and family mutually feed off each other, again analogous to Poe’s Usher clan.

LOST IN THE NEVER WOODS, by Aiden Thomas. This YA novel is a sequel to PETER PAN set in the present day. It clearly takes place in a slightly different universe, one in which James Barrie’s play and stories about Peter Pan don’t exist, for the backstory of this novel retells the original classic in a small town in modern Oregon. Thomas’s Wendy Darling has gone through experiences similar to those of Barrie’s heroine. After hearing tales about Peter Pan from their mother, Wendy and her two brothers, John and Michael, disappeared from their home years earlier. Five years ago, Wendy returned alone. Unlike Barrie’s Wendy, she has no memory of spending time in Neverland with mermaids and pirates. Nor does she remember what happened to her brothers. Now children have begun vanishing, and the police probe to find out whether Wendy has recalled anything about her ordeal. Her only trace of memory expresses itself in compulsive drawing. Often without realizing she’s doing it, she sketches pictures of Peter Pan and scribbles images of an ominous-looking tree. When Peter himself shows up, Wendy has to accept that something paranormal happened to her when she went missing. As in Barrie’s play, Peter is looking for his lost shadow, but this loss has much more sinister implications than in the original classic. The shadow has a mind of its own, being a malevolent entity responsible for the disappearance of the child victims. Meanwhile, Peter starts to grow, maturing over a few days from a preadolescent boy into a teenager apparently Wendy’s age or older. In the process, he becomes weaker and begins to lose his magic. Together, he and Wendy search for the tree that may hold the answer to the current kidnappings as well as the fate of John and Michael. The quest reveals a darker aspect of Neverland that Peter has been hiding from Wendy. In the midst of the fairy-tale crisis, Wendy faces the realistic problems of dealing with the police, explaining Peter to her parents and friends, and suffering the consequences of sneaking into the forbidden woods. The climactic horrifying revelations when Peter and Wendy find the tree and confront the shadow lead to an appropriately bittersweet conclusion. While the traumatic experiences change her, Peter, regaining his magic, reverts to his true nature as the boy who never grows up. Even so, he’s far more humanly sympathetic than Barrie’s amoral hero incapable of deep attachments or long-term memory. My one significant complaint about the novel is that the connection between the woods adjacent to Wendy’s home town and Neverland remains vague. The forest has a solid, mundane reality; people can freely walk in and out of it. Peter takes lost children, as he once took Wendy, to an enchanted tropical island of pirates, native tribes, and mermaids. Exactly how they got from the Oregon woods to that other-dimensional realm, however, isn’t specified.

THE BLUE GIRL, by Charles de Lint. I’d previously overlooked this YA novel from 2004. While I’ve liked everything I’ve read by this distinguished author, I haven’t read anywhere near all of his work. The characters in his fiction often inhabit a space where urban fantasy and fairy tales overlap. THE BLUE GIRL, like many of de Lint’s stories, takes place in his invented Canadian city of Newford, where Imogene, her brother, Jared, and their single mother have recently moved. Chapters are narrated in the first person by Imogene; her new best friend, Maxine; and Adrian, a boy who hangs around Imogene at their high school. Present-day scenes are labeled “Now” and written in the present tense. Past events, marked “Then,” are in past tense, so, with the name of the narrator in the heading of each chapter, the reader has no trouble keeping track of person and time. We soon learn Adrian is a ghost, who died by jumping off the school roof a few years earlier. He’s interested in Imogene partly because of the way she stands up to bullies, a byproduct of her association with a rough crowd at her previous school, and he’s grateful that she’s willing to meet and talk with him. In life, he was a stereotypical nerd with no friends, until he got acquainted with the school’s resident fairies. Not sparkly, gauze-winged pixies, but tricksters who look like grotesque little men, for whom “hob” or “brownie” is a more suitable name. Even for people they befriend, they’re not completely safe to associate with. Adrian has also become aware of beings he calls “angels,” who try to persuade ghosts to move on to whatever lies beyond this world. In addition, he has to beware of dark entities that devour the souls of ghosts and people with the power to see into the spirit realm. At first Imogene doubts Adrian’s claims about fairies, because the only supernatural creatures she can see are Adrian himself and her half-forgotten childhood “imaginary” friend, Pelly. When she comes to terms with the reality of the other entities, she has to acknowledge the threat from the soul-eaters, too. Supported by advice from a folklore expert Maxine contacts on the internet, she, Imogene, Jared, and Adrian, along with Pelly and the ambiguous fairies, face the soul-eaters in deadly combat. In the process, Imogene matures and her relationship with her brother changes, while both she and Maxine forge deeper understandings with their respective mothers. By the end, Adrian has to confront the decision he has evaded since his death, whether to leave behind his mostly safe but limited in-between state for an unknown higher plane. The characters are three-dimensional and sympathetic, and the story is all one would expect from a Charles de Lint fantasy.

THE WRITING LIFE, by Jeff Strand. Strand, best known for his humorous horror novels, served as MC at several award banquets presented by EPIC (a now-defunct organization for e-book authors and publishers), an unforgettable experience for those who witnessed his hilarious routines. THE WRITING LIFE is not a writing craft manual. It doesn’t focus on information about the publishing industry and marketing advice for authors, although readers may pick up tips on those topics along the way. It’s not a memoir, although it comprises mainly anecdotes from Strand’s firsthand experiences. His introduction cautions the reader not to expect any of those things, although he does have a chapter on the “creative process.” The first chapter’s title announces the overarching theme of the book, “My Journey Through the Changing World of Publishing.” At the beginning of his career, e-books were new, regarded with suspicion and often disdain, a format resorted to if an author couldn’t get her or his work published as a “real book,” to be abandoned as soon as feasible. Self-publishing was for losers, and self-published works received no respect. Strand built his writing resume through “baby steps” rather than breakout bestsellers, in the process publishing in just about every available format and marketing model. Topics include rejection, negative feedback, critique groups, agents, imposter syndrome, networking, collaboration, day jobs, “Squandered Opportunities,” “Near-Misses,” “A Trio of Early Disasters,” and many others. In his characteristic style, Strand makes humorous reading of even the most painful episodes. While warning the aspiring author against making similar mistakes, he also reassures us that a diligent writer can navigate those rocky roads and still achieve success (however one personally defines success). The book’s subtitle, “Recollections, Reflections, and a Lot of Cursing,” forewarned me of what to expect, so when the numerous words that used to be labeled “unprintable” popped up, I gritted my teeth and mentally bleeped over them. One example of Strand’s irresistible humor, on the very first page, as he responds to the assertion that writing is the hardest job in the world: “This is, of course, total b—s–. There’s plenty of stuff that’s harder than writing. . . . I very much doubt that somebody working retail, in the thick of the psychotic Black Friday crowds, is thinking, ‘Well, at least I’m not writing a novel!’” If that style appeals to you, and you have any aspirations to a writing career, don’t miss this book.



Heidi opened the door, and they stepped inside with Adam in the lead. She stopped short in the foyer and gaped at the living room couch. The throw pillows she’d left in a neat row that morning lay on the floor and the coffee table. “What in the world?”

Shannon looked around at the otherwise tidy space. “I gather it’s not usually like this.”

“Ha, ha.” Heidi strode into the center of the room and picked up one of the cushions. “I wonder if Ebony knocked them off somehow. She’s never done that before, though.” The sleek, all-black cat was nowhere in sight.

Joining her to help straighten up the couch, Shannon said, “Would a cat even be strong enough? Maybe it was an earthquake.”

Heidi answered the joking remark half seriously. “Earthquakes happen in this area, but less than once in a blue moon. Besides, we would’ve felt it at school. Also, things would be knocked off shelves, too.”

“Speaking of shelves, the cat or a quake couldn’t do that, could they?” Shannon pointed to the bookcase beside the television cabinet.

A cushion lay on top of the bookcase, where Heidi herself could barely reach while standing on the floor. Her stomach knotted as she retrieved the misplaced object. What kind of craziness is going on here? Only one halfway plausible notion occurred to her. “For weeks I’ve been running around like a decapitated chicken between getting ready for the fall term and unpacking. Maybe I did it without thinking.”

“Unless you’ve got a poltergeist.” Shannon punctuated the suggestion with a laugh.

Adam spoke up. “I bet Zashi did it.”

“Who’s Zashi?” Heidi asked as she stepped over to the far wall to turn on the central air conditioning.

“She’s my new friend who plays with me in the yard.”

Recalling “Window” and “Tomorrow,” Heidi asked, “Are you sure that’s her name?” Not that offhand she could come up with a real name “Zashi” resembled.

“I think so.”

“Well, there’s no way she could have gotten into the house while we were gone. Is she a friend from school?”

“No, she hangs around here. She can be anywhere. She’s magic. May I take my dinosaurs outside to show her?”

“I guess so.” As soon as he headed for the stairs, an alarming idea struck her. “Oh, no, what if somebody did get into the house?” Her heartbeat surged into overdrive. Followed by Shannon, she checked the living room windows, then hurried along the hall with a detour into the dining room. Ending up in the kitchen, they found no broken or open windows on the way. Both outside doors in the kitchen were locked and deadbolted. Nothing aside from the couch cushions looked disturbed. Heidi leaned on the kitchen counter to catch her breath.

“There you are,” Shannon said. “Cat, poltergeist, or Zashi, whoever she is. Maybe she’s an imaginary friend like the turtle boy. If he is imaginary.”

-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