Archive for July, 2022

Welcome to the July 2022 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

You can subscribe to this monthly newsletter here:


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):


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:

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

My Goodreads page:

Please “Like” my author Facebook page (cited above) to see reminders when each monthly newsletter is uploaded. I’ve also noticed that I’m more likely to be shown posts from liked or friended sources in my Facebook feed when I’ve “Liked” some of their individual posts, so you might want to do that, too. Thanks!

My erotic paranormal romance “Calling Back Love,” in defunct-publisher-limbo for ten years, was republished in June. The heroine, Kirsten, uses magic to twist time in order to get one last weekend with her fiancé, missing and presumed dead in battle. There’s an excerpt below. You can find the story here (or on Amazon):

Calling Back Love

Another “orphaned” erotic paranormal romance novella, “Merry Twinness,” set on Christmas Eve and featuring telepathic twins with a twist, has a release date of November 2.

In this issue, I’m interviewing urban fantasy author Mark Rosendorf, who works as a guidance counselor and has performed magic onstage.


Interview with Mark Rosendorf:

What inspired you to begin writing? What genres do you work in?

Writing has always been something I’ve enjoyed since middle school. Since then, I always knew I’d eventually become a writer. Interesting note, however, this is actually my second time as a writer.

Between 2009 and 2013, I had written four books and a short story. At that time, I had a limited knowledge of the industry, and by the time I fully did understand how to navigate the industry, my books felt somewhat outdated. I was burnt out, both on creativity and promoting, so I decided to quit writing.

I was sure writing was in my rearview mirror. I still had ideas for great stories, but I was no longer motivated to put pen to paper. Years had passed. Then, one night at around 2 a.m., a random thought hit me…about witches. As a magician myself, I asked “What if witches used their powers to put on a magic show?” Most people wouldn’t know the difference; the audience would just see it as amazing magic. For the witches, it would be a perfect way to hide in plain sight, because they could practice their powers without being discovered or persecuted.

I figured these witches would end up in Las Vegas because that’s the magic capital of the world. They’d amaze their audience. Plus, they wouldn’t incur the cost of the typical magic show since they’re using their powers to create the performance. But how would this affect the rest of the Las Vegas magic community? They’d never be able to keep up; what would happen to them? The first two characters formed in my head, two teenagers, one is Isis Rivera, the teenage member of the witches. The other is Zack Galloway, a teenage magician’s assistant who has watched his family suffer because of The Witches’ superior performance.

Before I knew it, I had written a new story, in a new genre, and for a new audience. It’s not a continuation of my writing career, I restarted and became an author all over again. That’s why I call myself a “born again writer”.

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

My ideas are like lightning, meaning one bright flash, then it’s gone. That is why I keep note pads everywhere. They’re next to my bed with a flashlight, they’re taped to wall outside of my shower, I have one in the car. Whenever an idea hits me, I write it on one of these pads. Then, I use these notes when writing a chapter in a notebook. At this stage, I’m not worried about grammar or sentence structure, I just want to get the idea on paper.

Next, I type out the chapter. That’s when I’m focused on the writing part. Thanks to this process, the first time I’m typing the chapter, it feels like I’m on my second draft. Once the book is complete, the edits, insertions, deletions and rewrites take place. It’s a long process, but well worth it in the end.

But before any of that happens, the first part of any writing process is coming up with a concept. In the past, my first part of the writing process was mapping out what was going to happen in the story from beginning to end. That’s where The Witches of Vegas is unique in that the story actually came to me as if it were shot into my brain, from beginning to end. For this story, the process involved a lot less mapping out and more writing up the details so I could commit them to memory.

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

Working both as a guidance counselor and a magician have certainly influenced The Witches of Vegas. I also read a lot of books and watch a lot of movies and TV shows, particularly in the sci-fi and fantasy genres.

How has your work with students affected your writing?

The biggest advantage of working in a school is that the day ends by 3:00 which leaves me plenty of time to write. Also, as a high school guidance counselor, I work intimately with my students, discussing behaviors and feelings. I’ve worked with students with special needs—many of which are emotional—for many years. Through this experience, I’ve come to understand the teenage mind regarding outlook and motivations. I believe that years of working with my students has helped in making my teenage literary characters feel real to readers.

The ironic part was that most of the criticism I received about my writing prior to “The Witches of Vegas” was that even though I was writing for adults, the language was better for a young adult audience. That’s probably because of all the time I spend talking to teenagers, analyzing them, and helping them work through daily drama. At the time, I never thought I would end up writing young adult books, but it turned out the criticism was right; it is a great fit.

You’ve performed stage magic—sounds like fun. Please tell us a bit about that.

My interest in magic started for me when I was in high school. In my junior year, I was required to take a class on public speaking where we had to make speeches. With the first speech we had to present an area of interest to the class. This was a concern for me because I wasn’t popular among my peers, I had a slight stutter, and I didn’t really have an interest that my classmates would find impressive. I certainly couldn’t go up in front of the class and talk about my comic book collection. What could I do?

My Grandmother lived in Long Island and there happened to be a magic shop in her neighborhood. I went there and told the magician behind the counter about my situation. He showed me some “dummy-proof tricks” (meaning they require little to no skill) that would look impressive to an audience. I performed them for my class and wowed them. From the front, I watched kids who constantly bullied me with stunned looks on their faces and jaws hanging down. More importantly, throughout the entire ten-minute presentation, I did not stutter once.

The next weekend, I went back to the magic shop and told the man behind the counter (Herb) all about the reaction. He proceeded to teach me, and sell me, more magic tricks which included a video on card tricks. Soon, I went there every weekend and Herb had me speaking with, and learning from, magicians who frequented the shop. I took all I learned to college where I performed in the talent shows, and then campus’ nightclub. So, to say magic changed my life is a literal truth.

After college I performed at birthday parties and bar-mitzvahs. Although I no longer perform, as a guidance counselor in my school, I also run the performing arts program and I teach magic to my students. I teach it to build their confidence and self-esteem just as magic did for me when I was their age. Our performing arts team have had opportunities to perform at other schools (mostly before Covid although that program is starting up again) which helps create the momentum for them to succeed in their studies and their job training. This leads to them all overcoming their special needs and being successful in their career paths after they leave our school.

Now magic has helped my writing as I have used my experience both on stage and behind the scenes in The Witches of Vegas. I consider this my best writing because my passion for magic and all it has done for me shines through. Some of the secrets of magic are revealed in those pages…so if you have a curious mind when it comes to magic, you may pick up on a few secrets from the magician characters that I am able to share.

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

The Witches of Vegas series has certainly made an impact. The first book, The Witches of Vegas, won the 2021 RONE award in the YA category. As of this printing, the sequel, Journey To New Salem, is a 2022 finalist in both the Young Adult and Audiobook categories. The third book which just recently came out, Witch’s Gamble, is perhaps my favorite of the series as it presents a unique take on a time travel story within the world of The Witches of Vegas and brings all three books together.

I’m happy to announce the fourth book, Portal to Vegas, is on its way as I have recently submitted the manuscript to my publisher, The Wild Rose Press. Now, I am working on the rough draft of book number five. The funny thing is that originally, the entire series was supposed to be a trilogy. Apparently, Isis Rivera, Zack Galloway, and The Witches of Vegas had more adventures to share.

What are you working on now?

Okay, huge news to share…I am currently working with a scriptwriter on adapting the first book, The Witches of Vegas, into a script. I’ve also been in touch with the head of a production company who connected with a few studios (such as universal and Netflix) and is interested in funding the movie. Granted, it’s early in the process, which means anything can happen, but hopefully this leads to good things.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

My advice is to get ready for a long, frustrating, and exhausting process, and that’s after the book is written. Whether you’re looking for a traditional publisher or you want to self-publish, you have a lot of work ahead of you. But, remember, nothing in life worth doing is easy. When you finally see your book in print, when you look at your cover for the first time, all that hard work is well worth it.

One thing to keep in mind: when your book finally becomes real, understand that’s not the goal…that’s the starting line. It doesn’t mean you won your race, it means you are now entering the race, a race that never ends because there are always people out there that haven’t read your book yet and you want them to know about it.

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

My website is Mark Rosendorf. I am also on Twitter and Facebook. As well, I have video trailers on youtube, each under the titles of the books (The Witches of Vegas, Journey To New Salem, and Witch’s Gamble), each are 90 seconds long.

You can also hear an exclusive interview with teen witch, Isis Rivera, about being a member of The Witches of Vegas. Check it out at:
Witches of Vegas Interview


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

DEATH AND HARD CIDER, by Barbara Hambly. I’ve enjoyed every novel in the Benjamin January historical mystery series, set in and around antebellum New Orleans, from the beginning, A FREE MAN OF COLOR. All except this newest volume I’ve read at least twice, many of them several times. DEATH AND HARD CIDER brings us, with musician and trained surgeon January, to the presidential election of 1840. Although they can’t vote, he and his Black friends, both free and enslaved, are naturally interested in the outcome. He’s well-informed about the issues despite his belief that no matter who wins, nothing substantive will be done about slavery or the plight of the Black population. Henry Clay, “The Great Compromiser,” plays a prominent role in this novel. January admires him, as much as he could any politician, but suffers a disillusioning blow after learning about ostensibly anti-slavery Clay’s treatment of one of his own slaves. Clay supports William Henry Harrison, of “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too” fame. Throughout the book people keep asking, “Who the hell is Tyler?” even though John Tyler had a career of government service as extensive as if not more than Harrison’s, whose main claim to fame consisted of his military record, especially in combat against Native Americans (notably, of course, the battle of Tippecanoe). The election of 1840 provides an early example of flamboyant political campaigning in the modern style, whereas previously it had been assumed that a gentleman seeking public office, especially the presidency, shouldn’t “toot his own horn.” Despite his cynicism about the whole process, January welcomes the political rallies (lubricated by free cider), parties, and balls for the money he and his musician friends will earn playing at them. He listens with obligatory courtesy to the opinions of white men on both sides of the contest, while privately thinking the giant rawhide ball covered with signatures in support of Harrison is the stupidest idea he’s ever heard. He becomes personally involved in the whites’ problems when a flirtatious, much-courted young woman is murdered. By one of her rejected suitors? By another woman out for revenge? A close friend of his, a free Black woman, gets arrested for the crime, being the most plausible suspect who’s not well-to-do and white. In his attempt to solve the murder, January becomes personally acquainted with Clay, who treats him with respect despite the unbridgeable distance between them. January, like most fictional amateur detectives, gets injured at least once per book, and this mystery is no exception. We have the pleasure of re-encountering his brilliant wife, Rose, who runs a school for free girls of mixed-race parentage, his voodoo-healer sister, his Irish musician friend and recovering alcoholic, Hannibal, and homespun but incisively intelligent policeman Abishag Shaw, along with other recurring characters. As always, one entertaining aspect of the novel is the exposure to free and enslaved Black viewpoints on the foibles of white folks. They take a particularly caustic attitude toward the ”colonization” scheme Henry Clay advocates. How many people born in America, regardless of ethnicity and ancestry, would really want to be shipped to Africa to farm marginal land while battling unfamiliar diseases and unwelcoming natives? Reading those passages of dialogue, one wonders how the “return to Africa” movement ever gained enough recruits to found the nation of Liberia. January, of course, helps to expose the true murderer and, as a bonus, saves Clay’s life in a climactic scene.

THE SCIENCE OF STAR TREK, by Mark Brake. This book uses STAR TREK (the entire fictional universe, not just the original series) as a gateway to exploration of various scientific concepts, particularly but not exclusively those related to space travel. As the author states in the introduction, he doesn’t devote a lot of wordage to the hardware but deals mostly with big-picture issues. The body of the book is divided into four sections, titled Space, Time, Machine, and Monster. The beginning of the Space section intriguingly compares interstellar exploration to the diffusion of human settlers across the Pacific Ocean and proposes a plausible solution to the Fermi Paradox. Other topics in this part include the probability of intelligent life and alien civilizations, the practicality of terraforming, how STAR TREK has influenced real-life space culture, and the portrayal of aliens in the series. The rest of the book touches upon alternate history (e.g., the pitfalls of stepping through the Guardian of Forever), panspermia, evolution and extinctions, language, replicators, the holodeck, interstellar communication, machine intelligence, and the series’ speculations about politics and war. There’s a whole chapter on how much it would cost in today’s dollars to build the Enterprise. Another presents “a history of STAR TREK in seven objects,” defining “object” broadly to include such things as the groundbreaking interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura. The Machine section includes the one chapter explicitly focused on the question of which STAR TREK technology has come true so far. These examples represent only a few of the many topics on which the author speculates. I was surprised and a little disappointed, however, to find no discussion of Vulcan telepathic powers or the feasibility of warp drives and faster-than-light travel. The final chapter, “Are We Borg?”, tries too earnestly and specifically, in my opinion, to connect the themes of STAR TREK with recent cultural trends and geopolitical crises. The book redeems itself from this brief lapse, though, by concluding with allusions to Gene Roddenberry’s hope of a brighter future for humanity as envisioned in the STAR TREK universe.

LINKED, by E. Rose Sabin. A fantasy romance in a secondary world not connected to other series by the author, with an unusual premise. One of the co-protagonists, Aradal, is a Cutter. Cutters are immortals who serve the Guardians (who have jurisdiction over the spirits of the dead) by severing links between the dead and the living to enable the souls of the deceased to move on to their destined afterlives. Aradal has the assignment of severing the too-strong link between twin girls, one dead and the other alive. Nine-year-old Yralle, granddaughter of the queen of Lapala, is the only person who knows what happened to her twin, Ellary, who went missing and presumed dead as a small child. The dead girl fell down an abandoned, forgotten well accessible only by a crevice too small for an adult. Yralle can sense Ellary’s presence anywhere in the palace complex, but they can converse only at the site of Ellary’s remains. Lapala is always ruled by women, so the marriage prospects of Yralle’s mother (the crown princess) and two aunts hold vital importance. Trey, one of the two younger princesses, enjoys gardening more than diplomacy and courtly gatherings, and, like the shy, bookish middle sister, she receives scant approval from her mother and older sister. When Aradal appears in the garden on his search for the link he’s been sent to sever, Trey is suspicious of this strange man who gives no satisfactory account of himself, yet they’re immediately attracted to each other. Aradal has the ability to become unnoticeable or literally invisible, and he can revert to his immaterial spirit form at will, although it’s wise to avoid doing so very often. He’s not supposed to get involved with human affairs, much less become infatuated with a human woman, yet he can’t suppress his attraction to Trey. He comes to care for her and, indirectly, the royal household so that the distractions jeopardize his mission. Trey becomes progressively more torn between her unwilling feelings for him and misgivings about whether whatever he’s up to endangers her family. Yralle, sensing that Aradal means to separate her from her twin, tries her childish best to thwart him. Meanwhile, tensions with a neighboring kingdom break into open hostility. And who is the newborn boy whose skeleton turns up in the garden, and why doesn’t anyone seem to know of his existence and origin? The royal family’s problems and the fraught relationship between Trey and Aradal become more and more dire, while he faces the prospect of punishment for failing his duty. Although we know Aradal and Trey will somehow find happiness, at the darkest moments that outcome seems impossible. The solution comes as credible but not predictable. The book begins and ends with chapters in Yralle’s voice in present tense, and she speaks at intervals throughout the story. Aradal’s chapters are also in first person and present tense (the latter device for no obvious reason). Trey’s viewpoint scenes appear in third person, past tense. My only reservation about the story’s development concerns the infatuation at first sight between Trey and Aradal. It seems inadequately justified, driven by plot necessity rather than organic character interaction. Their relationship grows believably close later, though. The author skillfully plays with variations on the concept of “links,” between the various living characters as well as between the living and the dead, and the forbidden bond that grows between Trey and Aradal.

FORESTBORN, by Elayne Audrey Becker. Another fantasy set in an imaginary world, this one shadowed by conflict between humans and the magical inhabitants of the Vale. Again, for no apparent reason, young adult shapeshifter Rora narrates in present tense. (What is with this entirely too widespread fad, anyway?) Nevertheless, I quickly became immersed in her story. She and her brother, Helos, belong to one of the magical species viewed with suspicion and fear by inhabitants of the human realms. The powers and limitations of shapeshifters are clearly specified, so that when these features become critical to the plot, the reader is prepared. Rora and Helos can assume the likeness of any person they’ve met, but their particularly useful gift, taking animal form, allows them to become a maximum of three different animals. The latter power develops gradually as a shapeshifter grows, with each new shape manifesting at a moment of crisis. As children, Rora and Helos saw their home destroyed and their father killed. Their mother disappeared. When they’re taken under the protection of the king of Telyan, Rora grows up to spy for him, while Helos becomes a healer. Despite the king’s patronage, a supernatural Prediction read in public every year threatens their security, for it seems to portend deadly danger from two shifters. Since the queen died at the same time the brother and sister were found, many people see them as harbingers of doom. They’ve become close friends with the king’s younger, misfit son, Finley, while the crown princess has little contact with them and the older prince, Weslyn, seems to barely tolerate them. As the book opens, a deadly disease of magical origin, the Fallow Throes, is ravaging the human lands. They discover Finley, who’s secretly in love with Helos and vice versa, has fallen ill with the sickness. With madness and death inevitable unless a cure can be found, the king sends Weslyn, Rora, and Helos incognito into the Vale to seek the magical substance called “stardust.” As they encounter giants and other nonhuman creatures, dangers beset them at every turn. The author creates a perilous, enchanted region where the terrain can change unpredictably in an instant. Worse still are the human villains who want to wipe out all the “Forestborn.” The narrative maintains a well-paced balance between suspenseful action and character interaction. The relationship between Rora and Weslyn develops believably from the coolness of reluctant alliance to a deep bond that delivers an emotional punch when it’s strained by Rora’s desperate choices. The love between brother and sister also suffers a severe test. Toward the end of the novel, at moments all seems irreparably lost. To my dismay, this book turns out to be the first part of a duology, which I hadn’t realized when I started it. The second half, WILDBOUND, won’t be out until August.


Excerpt from “Calling Back Love”:

“No magic can call back the dead. And even if it could, you know that never ends well. You’ve read ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ and that book about the cursed pet cemetery.”

“But I can’t leave it like this. When we talked on Skype the night before his last patrol, we had another fight about his career. I came this close to making him choose between the Army and me. We didn’t have a real goodbye. If there’s any way magic can give me one more chance, I’ll take it.” In the two months since the report of Shawn’s presumed death in Afghanistan, the memory of that argument had been eating her alive.

“When I promised your grandmother I’d mentor you in the Craft, I accepted certain responsibilities, one of which is to stop you from making reckless choices.”

Kirsten rubbed her eyes, sore from yet another crying fit just before she’d come here, and stared at her mentor with wild hope. “You wouldn’t talk about stopping me if it weren’t possible in the first place. Okay, witchcraft can’t bring the dead back to life. How about calling up his spirit so we can have one last conversation?”

“Have you ever seen me conduct a séance? Me or any other responsible witch? It’s against nature to disturb the peace of the dead.” Estelle strolled to the counter to pour two mugs of coffee. The window over the sink framed her silhouette against a serene background of sun-dappled trees, in ironic contrast to the turmoil that racked Kirsten. Her teacher’s spacious kitchen with its granite floor, exposed oak beams and aromas of drying herbs usually welcomed her with its warmth. Today it felt as bleak as the rest of the world.

“I don’t believe he’s at peace. He was blown to bits on a mountainside with nothing left to bring home.” Survivors of the platoon had reported two explosions, the second of which had obliterated Shawn. No remains had been found, not even a minute fragment, hence the “missing and presumed dead” conclusion that left him in official limbo. “We were supposed to get married after he finished this tour. The IED stole that from us. I’m not at peace with that so how can he be, wherever he is?” She shoved aside the mug Estelle set in front of her.

The older woman clasped her hand across the table. “When the gift for magic skipped your mother, your grandmother entrusted your training to me. She’d find a way to rise up and haunt me if I let you risk yourself with any such dark working.”

“There you go again, hinting at something you’re hiding from me. Well, maybe I don’t need your help. There’s got to be somebody on the left-hand path who’ll teach me what I need to know.”

Estelle’s thin face hardened, as stern as an avenging angel’s, her blue eyes turning icy. “Don’t even think that. Do you imagine for one minute the Goddess would shelter you from the consequences?”

-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