Archive for September, 2023

“In the Tentacles of Love”: Lauren isn’t sure what to make of her inexplicably shy fiancé, who insists they wait to engage in full intimacy—and nudity—until after the wedding. Does his reticence have something to do with his family’s eccentric customs and pagan rituals? When Blake takes Lauren to visit the family’s Victorian beach house, where the two of them will spend their honeymoon, her questions are answered. First, he introduces her to his twin brother, who lives in a boarded-up attic room… for a very good reason. He looks more like their father than Blake does. Then Blake finally unveils his true self. If Lauren can accept the mind-blowing revelation, their love may expand to a whole new dimension.

“Weird Wedding Guest”: At Lauren’s wedding, bridesmaid Roxanne can’t wait to meet her mysterious e-mail pal, Wilbur, the groom’s reclusive brother. To her shock, he proves to be truly out of this world—a half-alien, amorphous, six-foot-tall collage of scintillating tentacles and eye stalks. How can their meeting of minds rise above the radical differences between their bodies?

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Welcome to the September 2023 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.”

Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romances Blog

You can subscribe to this monthly newsletter here:


For other web links of possible interest, please scroll to the end.

My Lovecraftian erotic dark paranormal romance novella “Song from the Abyss” (formerly from Ellora’s Cave and unavailable for several years) was published on July 26:

Song from the Abyss

My lighthearted erotic ghost romance “Sweeter Than Wine” appeared earlier in the same month:

Sweeter Than Wine

Both of these e-books have been slightly revised from their Ellora’s Cave versions but without substantive changes.

Barbara Custer, editor of NIGHT TO DAWN magazine, gave “Sweeter Than Wine” a lovely 5-star review on Amazon:

Sweeter Than Wine Review

I have a story, “In Mountain Mist,” in the charity anthology DARK CORNERS OF THE OLD DOMINION, an anthology of horror stories written by Virginia-connected authors and set in Virginia. (I was born in that state and graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.) The protagonist of my tale gets stranded at night on the Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Information about the book, to be released on September 8, here:

Death Knell Press

You can read the beginning of my story below.

Here’s a follow-up interview with multi-genre author Babs Mountjoy, who also appeared in Newsletter 203.


Interview with Babs Mountjoy:

Why do you choose to write under two different pen names? What genres does each of them specialize in?

At the time I started getting novel contracts, I was a full-time practicing attorney. Writing fantasies about elves in Montana was…well…you know. Not very lawyerish. So I used Lyndi Alexander for that. When I was later inspired to write romance and suspense, I wanted a different name so readers would know this was not with my sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Do you have some favorite research resources you’d recommend to other writers of fantasy and science fiction?

Fantasy Whenever I need a detail—a name, a place, and I’m stuck—this is a fun site. But much of the time I just take it that these are lands of the imagination, and just let ‘er rip. 😊

With so many works on the market, how do you handle promotion? Any particularly useful tips to pass on to other authors?

I think different promotion works for different people. I’m not huge on social media, and shy about being on camera, so Instagram and Tiktok aren’t on my radar. I seek out review sites and trade reviews with other authors. I’m sure I don’t serve each work what it deserves, with 25 books out there, but I try to pass the spotlight around equally.

Your website shows books in multiple series. Please tell us about some of those series.

My romance series features the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers, a triad of suspenseful books with each heroine practicing law in Pittsburgh. For those who love the city, there are plenty of local settings and details that put the stories right in place.
I also have the aforementioned series about elves in modern-day Montana, an urban fantasy in four books, with an anthology of short stories and novellas joining next year.
The series that are the books of my heart is the Color of Fear YA post-apocalyptic series that follow a world where a plague has attacked the Caucasian race and the minorities become the majority. In addition to the hard conditions the young girl from Hong Kong and her friends find challenging, they are also up against a white supremacist cult leader and have a Chinese assassin on their trail. Very exciting!

How about a few examples of stand-alone works?

I have a YA fantasy novel with an autistic heroine called THE LOST CHORD.
The Lost Chord
Bee, the heroine, is based on my own daughter on the spectrum. The story also has a fair amount of gamer experience, as the boys in the story use their gaming skills in their hunt.
One of my favorites is ENCOUNTER: When a group of lawyers go on a retreat to a remote ranch in northern New Mexico, they have no idea their lives are about to intersect with those of a truckload of illegal immigrants stranded in a freak March snowstorm. The intersection of these people, the collision of their cultures, the revelation of their secrets — all these things lead to violence, death, and even redemption in their New Mexico ENCOUNTER.
I also have an historical romance, PROPHECIES AND PROMISES, set in turn of the century Key West amid the Spanish-American War—with pirates!

Please tell us about your recently published novel.

REMNANTS OF FIRE is a supernatural thriller, set in the recent past, and a heroine based on my seven years as a small-town newspaper reporter.
In her mad rush to escape a failed marriage, Sara Woods takes the first job available and lands in the middle of a mystery. Her first assignment as a news reporter for the Ralston Courier is the investigation of a string of deaths, all young women, all her age.
She becomes a patient at the Goldstone Clinic, a local healing center, to deal with chronic pain from her past. But all is not as it seems at the Goldstone, its doctors and nurses all the picture of perfect beauty and health. Patients at the clinic first seem to get better and then deteriorate.
Sara enlists the help of Dr. Rick Paulsen, who teaches her how to access her internal power, skills she never knew she had, revealing secrets from her past. Police officer Brendon Zale also takes an interest in Sara, but he acts like a stalker, watching her every move, and he won’t leave her alone.
As she digs deeper into the story, she tries to choose allies wisely, but not until the last confrontation does she discover the identity of her true enemy.
By then, it’s too late.

What are you working on now?

A rewrite of a science fiction romance novel I got my rights back on, where our hero is a shapeshifting lizard, and our heroine a spunky young scientist-agent investigating the serial deaths of mutated women.

Where can we find the primary websites and Facebook pages of your two author identities?

Website Alana Lorens
Facebook Alana Lorens Facebook

Website and Blog Lyndi Alexander
Facebook Lyndi Alexander Facebook


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

PATHOGENESIS, by Jonathan Kennedy. Subtitled “A History of the World in Eight Plagues,” this historical survey of the impact of infectious diseases though the ages brings to mind Arno Karlen’s fascinating MAN AND MICROBES (1996). The two books differ significantly in their major emphases, however. Karlen’s history focuses on biological, medical, and epidemiological developments. PATHOGENESIS, as hinted by its subtitle, mainly explores anthropological and geopolitical results of epidemics and pandemics. Kennedy explains and analyzes how infectious disease has shaped major turning points in human evolution and history. Contrary to the phrase “eight plagues,” almost every chapter delves into the background and outcome of more than one disease, aside from “Medieval Plagues,” an in-depth explanation of the far-reaching consequences of history’s best-known pandemic, the Black Death. Other chapters, arranged in chronological order: Paleolithic Plagues (did diseases play a major role in the survival of modern Homo sapiens versus the extinction of Neanderthals?); Neolithic Plagues (the development of agriculture); Ancient Plagues (epidemics and pandemics in Greek and Roman antiquity); Colonial Plagues (European diseases devastating native populations and European colonizers struck down by unfamiliar microbes and parasites in the colonies); Revolutionary Plagues (the transatlantic slave trade and various uprisings); Industrial Plagues (the Industrial Revolution, of course, and urbanization, mainly the nineteenth century); Plagues of Poverty (contemporary inequities between rich and poor nations). I do have a few complaints: One teeth-grinding turnoff for me is the author’s habit of writing “literally decimated” when he means “almost obliterated,” two oft-abused words misused in a single phrase. The book contains exhaustive footnotes, yet inconveniently no bibliography. More importantly, in my opinion the chapter on Medieval Plagues over-generalizes to the extent of rehashing discredited stereotypes about the “dark” aspects of that period in contrast to the self-styled “Enlightenment.” But that kind of thing probably can’t be completely avoided in a work whose subject spans millennia and attempts a global scope. The contemporary chapter interested me the least; it strikes me as too polemical. However, most of the book abounds in meaty facts and unexpected connections. While I probably won’t reread it, unlike MAN AND MICROBES, which I’ve read several times, I found PATHOGENESIS absorbing and recommend it to anyone intrigued by its theme of “the humble microbe that wins wars and topples empires” (to quote the cover blurb).

GRYPHON IN LIGHT, by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon. This Valdemar novel begins a new sub-series, set after the chronologically latest books in the overarching series. Therefore, anyone who has read any of the previous installments set in this world can pick up this one with little or no difficulty in understanding the background (although, of course, more familiarity with the history of Valdemar, would enhance the reader’s appreciation). Following a battle against violent would-be secessionists, Valdemaran officer Hallock Stavern and gryphon warrior Kevren, both near-fatally wounded, share convalescent quarters and become friends. To heal Hallock, Kevren drains himself of the last of his magic. An experimental last-ditch attempt to restore it by means of a Heartstone renders Kevren not only healed and rejuvenated but supernaturally glowing. After a stunning battlefield display, he flies back to his home. To his shock and dismay, he doesn’t receive a hero’s welcome with the glory he expects, but instead faces suspicion. Rather than a heroic savior, he’s regarded by most observers as a Scary Monster. The caution turns out to be somewhat justified, for his overflowing magic and literally flammable emotional state pose a danger to those around him. Meanwhile, Valdemar faces a delicate political situation, with traditional enemy nations Hardorn and Karse no longer hostile but not exactly friends. Hallock has to readjust to his military unit, thrust into a leadership position he doesn’t feel comfortable with. The third principal character, Healer Firesong, who’s training Kevren to control his wild magic, copes with a midlife crisis, supported by his same-sex Hawkbrother partner, Silverfox. We also get introduced to several well-developed secondary characters, as well as a host of interesting minor ones of various species. Unlike most Valdemar novels, GRYPHON IN LIGHT doesn’t focus primarily on Heralds and their Companions, who stay mostly in the background of the story. An expedition is organized to investigate the mysteries of Lake Evendim, which seems to have some connection with the recently ended Mage Storms. The trek involves traveling through the preternaturally dangerous Pelagirs Forest. Partly to get Kevren out of Valdemar until he masters his involuntary flame power and partly because his abilities may actually be useful, he’s invited to go along, as are Firesong, Hallock, and their mates. This journey is no Dungeons & Dragons or Lord of the Rings quest undertaken by a small band of comrades. It requires complicated planning, elaborate transportation and supply logistics, and dozens of humans and other people. Kevren begins to transform from his earlier vainglorious, overconfident persona into a more modest and thoughtful gryphon. Hallock and Firesong are also sympathetic, multi-dimensional characters whose development will rivet most readers’ interest. And devotees of typical high fantasy as well as D&D will find much to enjoy in terms of adventurous encounters, including a message from the gods. Long-time fans of the Valdemar universe will delight in references to creatures and events from throughout the series. Caution: By starting this book, you’re making a multi-volume commitment. At the end of this one, the heroes are still far from their ultimate goal.

SHAKESPEARE UNLEASHED, edited by James Aquilone. An all-original anthology of horror stories, plus a few dark sonnets, based on the works of Shakespeare. The reader gets a lot for the price in this trade paperback, over forty separate works. A pair of brief introductions sets the stage (so to speak). Distinguished authors include Joe R. Lansdale, Steve Rasnic Tem, Gemma Files, Seanan McGuire, Jonathan Maberry, JG Faherty, and many others. Variations on the anthology’s theme include twisted retellings of the plays; sequels and spinoffs, often from the viewpoints of secondary or even minor characters; and modern stories updating or inspired by the originals. One of my favorites, “Nothing Like the Sun,” by Donna J. W. Munro, presents first-person narrator Rosaline (Romeo’s quickly forgotten first love) as a witch manipulating the entire plot behind the scenes. Ian Doescher’s “Thirteenth Night, or What You Kill,” a short verse drama in the style of the Bard, portrays Malvolio implementing the revenge he had promised in TWELFTH NIGHT; the final couplet has an unexpected sting in its tail. Jonathan Maberry’s “When I Waked I Cried to Dream Again,” a sequel to THE TEMPEST, undercuts the happy ending with dark terrors on the voyage home from Prospero’s island. Some of the stories don’t exactly fit into my idea of horror; for instance, “The Case of the Bitter Witch,” by Kasey Lansdale and Joe R. Lansdale, a paranormal mystery, doesn’t have a horror “feel” at all. I was mildly surprised to find only one vampire story (“The Hungry Wives of Windsor,” by Zachary Rosenberg, in which Falstaff meets a bloody end). One would think ROMEO AND JULIET, for instance, would lend itself to that treatment. Overall, this book is a don’t-miss read for crossover fans of Shakespeare and the dark fantastic. As a bonus, it has creepy black-and-white illustrations. The same editor has also compiled CLASSIC MONSTERS UNLEASHED, an anthology inspired by vintage horror movies, mainly the ones filmed by Universal. In that book, naturally, you’ll find quite a few vampires, as well as a variety of other creatures.

THORNHEDGE, by T. Kingfisher. A unique, emotionally stirring re-vision of “Sleeping Beauty” from the viewpoint of the fairy who casts the sleep spell. Suppose there’s a very good reason why the princess shouldn’t be allowed to wake up? The protagonist, Toadling, a were-toad (it makes sense in context), has spent countless years lurking outside the deserted keep within its nearly impenetrable barrier of thorns and brambles, guarding the magic that keeps the princess in suspended animation. Meanwhile, the outside world rolls on through catastrophic historical events, such as a devastating plague, of which Toadling knows nothing until a curious knight arrives on the scene. At first she only wants him to go away, but loneliness and the intriguing novelty of having someone to talk with overcome her reluctance to interact with the stranger. We gradually learn her background and the truth of the princess in the tower in a series of flashbacks as Toadling reveals her story to the knight. Born human, daughter of a minor king and queen, she was snatched from her cradle and replaced by a changeling. Since the fairies’ sole purpose for this action is to place the changeling with an unwitting family, they usually abandon the human child. The protagonist was found by greenteeth, marsh-dwelling faerie creatures; instead of eating her, as they often do with children, they lovingly raised her as one of their own. Growing up more fay than human, she learned water magic and shapeshifting into a toad. Later, she got instruction in spellcasting to prepare her for her destined mission—to save her real parents from impending danger. Time in faerie unfolds at a different speed from mortal time; in this case, many years pass in faerie during mere hours or days in the mundane world (the reverse of the more common lore). So Toadling arrives in the royal court on the day of her substitute’s christening. A slip of the tongue makes her prepared spell go disastrously wrong. She’s barred from faerie and stuck with watching over the little changeling princess. Halim, a Muslim knight who’s far from distinguished or wealthy, has little or no interest in tourneys or fighting in general. Instead, he has an insatiable drive to investigate mysteries and an open-minded, compassionate nature. When Toadling gives up trying to drive him away, they become friends of a sort as he attempts to break her “curse” by every method he can think of. Once he accepts her insistence that she herself is not cursed, he decides to enter the keep and convinces her to help him. Maybe they can find a way to free Toadling from her centuries-long vigil and exile from her home. In Toadling and Halim, Kingfisher has created two more of her typically thoughtful, quick-witted characters who don’t fit into the patterns of the roles they would play in most traditional fantasies or fairy tales. Their dialogues are delightful and the bond that grows between them deeply moving in a quiet way. Kingfisher’s afterword labels this book a “sweet” story, and I agree. Though there’s no hint of a potential sequel, I’d love to read the further adventures of these characters. In my opinion, THORNHEDGE is practically perfect, except that it’s too short.

For my recommendations of “must read” classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the Vampires:
Realm of the Vampires


Excerpt from “In Mountain Mist”:

In the fog, or possibly a low-lying cloud, the headlights illuminated only a yard or two of pavement in front of the car. Otherwise, mere spectral silhouettes of roadside trees stood out from the backdrop of featureless gray-white.

“Slow down, for heaven’s sake.” Judith gritted her teeth to keep from yelling when Don cruised around another curve as if driving in clear daylight.

Grumbling under his breath, he eased off the accelerator. “At this rate it’ll be midnight when we get back to the campsite.”

“If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t have to go through this in the first place.”

“How is it my fault? This afternoon the weather app didn’t say a thing about fog.”

“We wouldn’t be out here if you hadn’t insisted on camping instead of spending the night at the lodge.” After a meal in the lodge dining room and an interview with a desk clerk for an article Judith was working on, they’d hung around for two more hours to listen to an Appalachian folk singer in the bar. “It’ll be fun, you said. Just like a second honeymoon, you said.” She heard the sarcastic edge in her own voice but was too annoyed to soften it.

He relaxed and glanced at her with a fleeting smile. “Well, that is literally how we spent our honeymoon.”

“Yeah, twenty-six years ago. And, in case you’ve forgotten after all this time, we camped out because we couldn’t afford a week in a hotel. We’re not young, energetic, or broke anymore.” Her back already twinged in anticipation of a night in a sleeping bag on a thin air mattress—if they managed to reach the campsite safely in the first place. “Not to mention that you didn’t have a-fib and high blood pressure then.”

“You’ll notice I didn’t drop dead from assembling a tent.”

At least they couldn’t possibly get lost, even without a functioning GPS. Although wireless reception at this altitude in the Blue Ridge Mountains was erratic at best, all they had to do was drive directly along the Skyline Drive back to the campground where they’d set up their tent. The main hazard they had to worry about, as long as they didn’t slip off the shoulder or crash into a car heading the opposite direction, was overshooting the turnoff into the woods. She kept an eye on the mileage indicator, ready to alert Don if he seemed about to miss the narrow side road.

-end of excerpt-


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 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