Archive for December, 2021

Welcome to the December 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:

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, they’re posted on my website here (starting from January 2018):


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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

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The Fiction Database displays a comprehensive list of my books (although with a handful of fairy tales by a different Margaret Carter near the end):

Fiction Database

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Happy winter holidays to all!

“Chocolate Chip Charm,” my Christmas Cookies story from the Wild Rose Press, was published in November. What can you do when a love potion baked into a cookie goes disastrously wrong—or maybe surprisingly right? An excerpt appears below.

The publisher’s page:
Chocolate Chip Charm

The Amazon page:
Chocolate Chip Charm on Amazon

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This month’s interview introduces thriller author Glenda Thompson.


Interview with Glenda Thompson:

Q. What inspired you to begin writing?

A. For as long as I can remember, reading has been an escape mechanism for me. Whenever life would get too dark or too heavy or just not fun, I would hide in a book. Reading propelled me through some rough times allowing me to revel in someone else’s victories or realize others’ problems were worse than mine. Sometimes, reading just gave me a breather in a hectic day. I wanted to be able to provide that escapism to others.

Q. What genres do you work in?

A. Currently, the only book I have published is a thriller but I also write westerns and am attempting to write a romance. So far, I’m struggling with the romance. I guess being a non-romantic in real life (my ideal of a romantic getaway is going deep sea fishing) makes it difficult for me to get into the heads of my characters who want roses, moonlight, and champagne.

I do better with criminal activities and darkness. Probably comes from having been exposed to so much as an EMT and being married to a law enforcement officer although if I’m completely transparent here, I’ve always preferred reading Dean Koontz, John Sandford, James Patterson, and the ilk.

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

A. I’m somewhere in between. I start with my characters and their problems. Each of them has a hidden secret or challenge they are trying to overcome. From there, I pick a crime that I feel needs attention. In Broken Toys, the focus is on human trafficking—not the grab-a-kid-off-the-street kind that most people think of first off, but instead the Romeo.

The Romeo is a young person of the opposite sex who moves in on a vulnerable teen and makes them feel wanted, important, and loved. Over a period of time, they isolate this teen from friends and family, from anyone who could help them, and convince them it would be a grand adventure to run away together and live madly in love happily forever after. In reality, the Romeo gets the teen away from anyone who could help them and either sells them into slavery or pimps them out. Either way, the teen is lost in a world of sexual abuse, drugs, and no hope.

Once I have my characters and my crime, I put together a loose, organic outline. I have an idea of a list of things I want or need to happen and build scenes around each of them and then “quilt” each of these blocks/scenes into the story. My outline is a living document that changes as the story grows. Sometimes I refer to my outline as my vomit draft. I just kind of open up and dump everything into the outline.

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

A. Interesting question… So many things in my life have influenced my writing from a rocky adolescence with an alcoholic father and violent, drug-addicted stepmonster to dealing with mental health issues of my own. Many of these experiences color my writing.

Some of my favorite authors include Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, Nora Roberts writing as JD Robb, and Lee Childs. I guess I’ve always been drawn to the dark.

Q. How has your former career as an EMT contributed to your fiction?

A. Having been at numerous emergency scenes (I was an Emergency Medical Technician and volunteer firefighter) I’ve experienced the adrenaline rush first hand and try to convey that feeling to my readers through the thoughts and actions of my characters. Working as an EMT exposes you to many different people and situations. Sometimes the littlest details make the biggest difference in a scene.

I also spend a lot of time listening to Darlin’s law enforcement radio. It allows me to immerse myself in the jargon and the emotion shown through the voices of the dispatchers and the officers. I’ve also had inside access to reports on certain crimes that I’ve studied to learn investigative techniques. Hint: if you are a criminal, you should really limit what you post on social media. It’s amazing the amount of incriminating photographic evidence that gets posted on Facebook.

I love having a built-in technical advisor. My husband aka Darlin’ reads everything I write and lets me know whether or not I’ve nailed it. His pet peeve is when a magazine for a gun is referred to as a clip. Clips are for hair, not guns. Just ask him. ;p

Q. Please tell us about your Broken World series.

A. I was visiting with an old friend who was going through a divorce when he made an offhand comment about no one wanting him because he was a broken toy. His comment hit a nerve with me. I realized we are all broken in some way, even the heroes among us. Each of us has a lie that we believe to be truth. Often that lie is hidden in the foundation of who we are and holds us back from achieving our best. My Broken world explores that premise.

Each book in the series revolves around a Texas Ranger trying to solve a horrendous crime while dealing with his or her personal demons.

Q. Tell us about some of the resources available on your website.

A. On the resources page of my website ( you can find links to some of the best helps I know of including the Ten Minute Novelists group, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s One Stop for Writers, K.M. Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors, Janice Hardy’s Fiction University, and Unleashing the Next Chapter.

Q. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

A. My latest, also my first and only published book at the moment, is Broken Toys.

Texas Ranger Noah Morgan has his life together—with a great job and the girl of his dreams. Too bad it’s all based on a lie. A single phone call threatens to bring it all crashing down. After an irate citizen complains shoddy workmanship has left him with a booby-trapped driveway, and the local sheriff’s office is too busy to respond, Noah takes the call. The investigation of local scam artists uncovers a human trafficking ring. Noah fights to avoid being swept back into the sights of his murderous family—people he escaped at the age of seventeen.

Can he keep his past a secret or will his carefully crafted life come to a violent end?

Q. What are you working on now?

A: I have a whole universe of books riding around in my brain ready to follow Broken Toys.

The one I am working on now is Rhyden (the support character from Broken Toys) Trammell’s story. Poor Rhyden, he’s a single father of three fantastic but challenging girls ranging in age from six to eighteen. And he’s in the middle of an investigation where a sniper is setting fires as bait to draw in first responders and then picking them off one at a time. At the same time, an ER nurse is nagging him about starting an internal investigation off the books because she believes the serial rapist targeting sixteen to eighteen year old girls is a deputy in the sheriff’s office. To top it off, Rhyden has a secret battle of his own but you’ll have to read the story to find out what it is.

After Broken Dreams, I plan to write Broken Wings about a helicopter pilot who assists the Rangers; Broken Vows—a prequel to Broken Dreams; Broken Minds—the story of Rochelle from Broken Toys; and several others that build on characters introduced along the way.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A. I know all the standard advice given to aspiring writers. Things like “you can’t edit a blank page” or “write drunk, edit sober” but I think the most important advice I can offer is stay true to yourself. This is your story and you are the only one who can tell it.
It doesn’t matter if the premise is the same as a show you saw on television or another book you read as long as you make the story your own. I believe it’s true there are no new ideas. But there are endless ways to present these ideas. No one else has your background, your experience, your emotions in the exact same way you do. I’m not saying copy someone else’s story, absolutely not. I’m saying be true to your inner heart. Reach inside yourself and write YOUR story.

I think Dr. Seuss said it best. “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
Go with that. Don’t give up. Get your story on the page. Make your characters come to life. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, and never, ever compare your first draft to someone else’s published work. Most importantly? Write.

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

A: My website is Glenda Thompson and my email address is
Or you can follow me on Facebook at Facebook Page
Or on Twitter @PressRattler
Or on Instagram at Instagram
Or on Amazon at Amazon Page


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

DRAGON’S GREEN, by Scarlett Thomas. This quirky YA portal fantasy is the first book of a series but, thankfully, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. The heroine spends part of the story in a magical realm; unusually, though, the world where she originates isn’t quite ours. In Euphemia (Effie) Truelove’s version of the modern world, a “worldquake” struck in the recent past, recent enough that old people can remember when electricity was reliable, the internet consisted of more than bulletin boards accessible by dial-up modems, and cell phones had functions other than taking photos and substituting for flashlights. (Those who can afford two-way radios use them as a substitute.) Books hold such potency that if all copies but one of a book are destroyed, the Last Reader of that final copy gains special power. Magic is loose in the world, but few people believe in or approve of it. For example, Effie’s father scoffs at her grandfather’s magical studies and discourages Effie from listening to the old man. On her grandfather’s deathbed, he emphasizes the importance of a ring he has given her, tells her to “get as many boons” as possible, and warns her against the “Diberi.” He also promises her his library of old books. Her father, however, dismisses the notion of keeping a collection he considers useless and has no room for. When he sells the books to a dealer with obviously sinister motives, Effie persuades an oddly assorted group of new friends to help her try to steal back her grandfather’s library. She discovers “boons” are magic items. She has the power to use one of them, the ring, while each of her friends has the ability to master one of the other objects she has inherited. In the midst of their quest, she temporarily crosses over into the Otherworld, which most people in her “real” world don’t believe in. There she becomes a sacrifice to a dragon with whom she has to match wits in a riddle game. So this novel is part urban fantasy and part fairy-tale-like high fantasy. As a Truelove, Effie is special and has to face the challenges and dangers of “chosen one” status in both her home world and the Otherworld, while unearthing the secrets of her family heritage. Thanks to her character growth and sometimes prickly interactions with her allies, as well as the conditions of her eccentric world, this novel held my interest enough that I immediately ordered the other two volumes. The loose threads left dangling in DRAGON’S GREEN, such as the truth about the disappearance of Effie’s mother, tantalize without frustrating the reader.

STRANGE TALES FROM JAPAN, retold by Keisuke Nishimoto, translated by William Scott Wilson. The introduction to this collection distinguishes the kinds of supernatural stories in the book from “folk tales,” probably what we would think of as fairy tales. Folk tales in this sense have no fixed location or date; happening “once upon a time,” they retain the same basic elements wherever they crop up. The stories in STRANGE TALES always claim to occur in a definite place, sometimes with the approximate time period mentioned. In that respect they resemble urban legends, except that all these incidents take place in bygone eras rather than the present. The book is divided into two parts, “Traditional Tales” and “Strange Tales,” with multiple subdivisions under each. To me, the choice of where to place particular stories seems rather arbitrary. Why do “Spirits and Ghosts,” “Demons and Wolves,” and “Tanuki and Foxes” appear under the first heading but “Ghosts’ Requests,” “Shape-Shifting Cats,” and “Being Deceived by Foxes” under the second? Maybe there are historical and cultural reasons that escape me. Anyway, it’s intriguing to read these authentic legends of demons, ghosts, and other yokai (supernatural beings and phenomena) from Japanese traditional lore. Some creatures are mischievous, dangerous, or downright evil, while others are beneficent. The stories range roughly from two to four pages long, so it’s easy to pick up the book at random and read one or more at a sitting. In fact, I’d recommend not reading too many in a row at once, because naturally they display a certain similarity and can feel repetitious if consumed in large quantities without a break. The book is illustrated with numerous full-color reproductions of Japanese art depicting ghosts, demons, and monsters like those in the narratives.

ARCH OF BONE, by Jane Yolen. This YA sequel to MOBY-DICK takes place in nineteenth-century Nantucket and features as protagonist the fourteen-year-old son of the Pequod’s first mate, Starbuck. The story begins with a predawn knock on the door that awakens young Josiah Starbuck. As a whaler’s son, he knows to brace himself for bad news. The visitor, introducing himself as Ishmael Black, reports the sinking of the Pequod and the loss of the entire crew except for himself. Josiah naturally feels less than kindly toward this harbinger of grief and barely refrains from outright rudeness under the calmly firm gaze of his Quaker mother. He reacts like a very realistic teenager, suspicious of the messenger’s honesty, searching for any pretext to believe Ishmael is lying about the great whale and the destruction of the ship and its company, and jealous of his mother’s friendliness to the visitor. At last Josiah heads to town, where he meets up with a group of boys his own age, shares his news, and, going to the harbormaster’s office, impulsively tries to sign onto a whaling ship on the spot. Rejected because he’s too young to ship out without a parent’s permission, Josiah decides to go for a sail in his boat to clear his head. When a storm springs up, he and his faithful dog, Zeke, are blown away from Nantucket and stranded on a nearly barren island. With a damaged boat and limited sources of food, Josiah struggles to survive. Months go by before he finds enough meager supplies even to attempt the repair of his craft. Meanwhile, he comes upon the arch of the title, made from the huge jawbone of a whale. This artifact generates the book’s only fantastic content, a series of dream visions in which he witnesses scenes from his father’s service on the Pequod. Between the visions and the effects of solitude and hardship, Josiah begins to come to terms with his loss. This coming-of-age novel vividly portrays the historic milieu and the rugged natural setting as well as the teenage hero’s emotional growth. The book lives up to the quality one would expect from Jane Yolen. My only disappointment was that the story ends slightly before I wanted it to. When I got to the last page, I mentally squealed, “What? That’s it?” But I realize what happens next isn’t the main point; the point is the change in Josiah, and from that perspective, the novel culminates at the proper moment.

SO MANY BEGINNINGS, by Bethany C. Morrow. Subtitled “A Little Women Remix,” this novel, like Louise May Alcott’s classic, follows the coming-of-age of four sisters named Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy during and after the Civil War. Morrow’s March family, however, consists of Black Southerners, not white New Englanders. Former slaves, they live in the Freedpeople’s Colony on the island of Roanoke, North Carolina. Meg teaches school; Jo writes articles in her spare time while helping to build houses; Beth works as a seamstress; Amy aspires to become a dancer. Their father, during the early part of the book, is away from home serving in the Union Army. Although the girls have the benefit of education and the opportunity to support themselves as free women, they have to work hard while dealing with the Union officers who oversee the colony and the well-meaning Christian abolitionists who’ve migrated from the North to “uplift” the freed slaves. Reminiscences of the “old life” highlight how far they’ve come and how far they still have to go. Even though the March family didn’t suffer under a cruel Simon-Legree type of master, it’s made clear that nobody could be truly secure or happy as a slave. For instance, Meg’s former teenage mistress cherished the blithe assumption that Meg would feel privileged to go along as a lady’s maid after the young mistress’s marriage (instead of being devastated by the separation from her own family). That mindset is echoed in the present by white people who either want to use the former slaves for their own purposes or think they know what’s best for Black people better than the latter do themselves. The girls strive for independence and success in their vocations, explore romantic relationships, and undergo painful losses as well as some triumphs. Jo’s articles are well received in Northern abolitionist circles, but at one point she confronts a white editor’s strongly worded request to change her style from standard English to Black dialect for greater mass appeal. She rightly refuses to dumb down her prose. The incident raises a question, though: Why do ALL the Black characters, regardless of background and educational level, speak standard English? If not an obviously Black mode of speech as such, why not a Carolina dialect, at least? In my own (white) family, my father’s mother, from North Carolina, spoke with an unmistakable Carolinian accent and vocabulary, and her sole surviving offspring, my elderly aunt, still does. This linguistic issue was the only detail that pulled me out of the story. The historical setting held fascinating surprises for me, particularly the existence of the Freedpeople’s Colony, which was real. I had no idea free Black towns thrived in the South at the height of the war. This book, by the way, would stand on its own perfectly well without the few LITTLE WOMEN allusions. Recommended for anyone interested in historical fiction set in nineteenth-century America.

SCALES AND SENSIBILITY, by Stephanie Burgis. This Regency romance with dragons takes place in a version of England different from either the world of the author’s “Kat Incorrigible” novels for preteens or her “Harwood Spellbook” alternate Britain. Elinor, the protagonist of SCALES AND SENSIBILITY, lives as the stereotypical poor relation in the home of her timid aunt, overbearing uncle, and obnoxiously self-absorbed cousin Penelope, currently preparing for her debut. Since every fashionable young lady is “doomed to social failure” without a dragon, naturally Penelope has one. These dragons aren’t noble, fire-breathing monsters, but pets about two feet long customarily draped around their mistresses’ shoulders like animated decorative stoles. Unfortunately, Penelope’s dragon, Sir Jessamyn, untrained and high-strung, suffers messy incontinence whenever he gets nervous, which happens often around his insufferable, often abusive owner. Elinor, in her status as grateful object of charity, has to clean up after the dragon, of whom she’s quite fond. In the opening scene, Penelope goes too far for even Elinor’s tolerance. Elinor blows up and leaves the house with all her few worldly possessions, plus Sir Jessamyn. After she’s nearly run over by a carriage belonging to the charming Benedict Hawkins and his eccentric, dragon-obsessed best friend, the gentlemen make amends by putting her up at an inn for the night. It turns out Benedict is on his way to pay court to Penelope, whom he has never met, because he’s in desperate need of a wealthy bride. Wishing out loud that she were more like Mrs. De Lacey, an old friend of her aunt’s and a formidable arbiter of society, Elinor makes an astonishing discovery: Dragons aren’t merely pets and living ornaments. Sir Jessamyn possesses magic that grants her wish by turning her into a replica of Mrs. De Lacey. As such, she receives a lavish welcome from her aunt and Penelope. Of course, Elinor then has to worry about slipping up through ignorance of things Mrs. De Lacey would know, not to mention having no idea how long the spell will last. Meanwhile, she finds herself falling in love with Benedict Hawkins, who’s likable and kind for a fortune hunter. One madcap mishap after another follows. Another impulsive wish causes her aunt to grow a spine, stand up to her husband, and express herself with no fear of the opinions of others, a condition she enjoys so much that she stays that way after the magic wears off. The humor in this novel, like most good comedy, arises from situations dire to the characters but funny to the audience. Suffice it to say that Elinor earns her happy ending through twists and reversals that will keep the reader wondering whether she’ll ever extricate herself from the tangle of complications.


Excerpt from “Chocolate Chip Charm”:

Inside, Stacy piled most of the loose books back into the carton, hauled it into the office, and carried the holiday cookbook into the kitchen. As an afterthought, she turned around to retrieve the spell notebook, too. After setting it on the end of the counter for later perusal, she flipped to the chocolate chip cookie page. She’d already bought chocolate bits, the red and green candies, and peppermint extract, knowing she’d need those if she found the recipe. She ought to have the rest of the necessary items on hand. Checking the list, she confirmed that assumption.

As she got out ingredients, bowls, utensils, and cookie cutters, her unruly brain wandered to Rob again. If he and Doreen can make each other happy, that’s what I want. If only I could fix this for them, she mused while sifting flour and sugar into a mixing bowl. That’s what a true friend would do, right?

Her gaze shifted from the recipe page to the notebook at the end of the short counter in her cramped kitchen. A love potion could fix it, if that really worked.

Laughing at herself, she opened the loose-leaf pages to the love spell anyway. Come to think of it, hadn’t Grammie dropped hints now and then that some of her old friends’ magic seemed to produce real-world effects? Speaking of rational, this is not definitely not it. On the other hand, I can treat it like a science experiment. What can it hurt to try, as long as the concoction doesn’t include anything poisonous?

The page was labeled, “To Awaken Love.” She scanned the list of ingredients. Nothing harmful or likely to ruin the taste of the cookies, just ordinary kitchen supplies such as cinnamon for heat, ginger for spiciness and protection, honey for sweetness, and cardamom to allegedly make the user irresistible. Sounds like flavoring for a mince pie. In fact, it sounded too simple to be magic, if there was such a thing. Reading on, she found a note at the bottom stating that passionate intention and a firm will were the most important components. The instructions finished with a charm to recite while mixing the potion. For best results, she should brew it in spring water. Okay, she had a plastic jug of that on hand.

The directions admonished the spellcaster to work with pure motives, seeking the best for the other person, not applying coercion. That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m not trying to force them into anything. I only want what’s best for them.

With that mindset, trying a magic spell couldn’t be evil, could it? Besides, her grandmother wasn’t the type to dabble in anything morally dubious.

Stacy reread the whole thing once more, searching for any hidden trap of the kind that always seemed to lurk in fairy-tale enchantments. From all she’d read or heard, magic, like gaming, law, and computer programming, followed rules. This example of it looked safe enough, guaranteeing that the one who consumed the potion would fall in love with the next suitable person he or she saw. Suitable. Good, she’d run no risk of Rob’s developing a mad crush on the church office’s resident cat, like Titania and donkey-headed Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream. On the farfetched assumption that this enchantment worked, it couldn’t do any harm. Furthermore, the spell manual claimed the charm would wear off after seven days. In that time, the magical kick-start, if any, should revitalize Rob and Doreen’s mutual affection.

-end of excerpt-

My Publishers:

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

You can contact me at:

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