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Author Archive

Welcome to the January 2019 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

This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!
Facebook

Here’s my page in Barnes and Noble’s Nook store. These items include some of the short stories that used to be on Fictionwise:
Barnes and Noble

Go here and scroll down to “Available Short Fiction” for a list of those stories with their Amazon links:
Kindle Works

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:
Amazon

I’ve cleaned up the “Links” page on my website. As far as I know, now all the links are accurate and active:

Links

My paranormal romance novel LOVE UNLEASHED, featuring a man cursed into the shape of a St. Bernard, aside from reverting to human form during the hours between sunset and midnight, has been re-released on Kindle under the new title ENCHANTMENT UNLEASHED (with the level of graphic sex toned down). There’s an excerpt below. (Nick is heroine Vicki’s brother.)

Enchantment Unleashed

Recently, I’ve also combined my stories from the Marion Zimmer Bradley “Sword and Sorceress” anthologies, most of which have gone out of print, into a collection called PERILOUS MAGIC. It also includes two other previously published tales, “Manila Peril” (exotic vampire) and “Prey of the Goat” (Lovecraftian).

Perilous Magic

The only one of my S&S contributions not included is the oldest one, “Sorcerer’s Pet,” from SWORD AND SORCERESS 5, because I don’t have the file anymore. If you’d like to read that story, though, you can find reasonably priced used copies of the anthology on Amazon.

Please enjoy the following interview with mystery author Jo Hiestand.

*****

Interview with Jo Hiestand:

What inspired you to begin writing?

Probably my love of books in general. I grew up reading Dumas, Twain, duMaurier, Dickens and the Brontes. I loved the atmosphere of those books. Add the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes movies, and the moods of 1940s/50s movies like Brief Encounter, Night Must Fall, and The Thirty-Nine Steps, and I knew I wanted to write mysteries, and the books had to be set in Britain. That was a must even though I knew only what I’d seen in the movies and read in the novels. But the British pull was tenacious.
This feeling was all well and good, but I needed to immerse myself in the British countryside and villages for my books. I needed the ‘feel’ of the locations. England beckoned and I bee-lined to Derbyshire, feeling it was the ‘home’ of my books. Derbyshire also bestowed the essential English police contacts and transformed me into an Anglophile. The bond was made stronger when a retired Detective-Superintendent of C.I.D. and a working Detective-Sergeant agreed to read my manuscripts for police procedure accuracy and to provide investigation techniques. With everything more or less in place, I took a deep breath and wrote my first novel, A Staged Murder, which was published in 2004.

What genres do you work in?

Mainly mystery. I have two British series out. The Peak District mysteries feature a Derbyshire Constabulary CID Team, and The McLaren mysteries feature ex-police detective Michael McLaren, who investigates cold cases on his own. I also write an amateur sleuth series set in Missouri. Those are the Linn House mysteries, and feature Rona Murray, who owns a bakery/events center in Klim, MO. She and her ex-husband, Johnny, become embroiled in mysteries. They’re not as serious as the British series.

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

I start with paragraphs of the plot, scene by scene, snippets of dialogue. As I write, something usually occurs to me, so I add that to what I’m writing in the first (or even second!) drafts or to the plot scenes. It’s a combo of structure and zaps from out of the blue.

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

By far, I’ve been influenced greatly by Golden Age mystery author Ngaio March. Then, perhaps, Josephine Tey. Nature also plays a large part in my writing, as does the ‘feel’ of places. I try to write so the reader sees or smells or hears the scene my protagonist is in. I think this brings the story alive, and the reader can experience what’s happening to my characters. Of course, the other influence has been my trips to Britain, mainly England and Scotland. I’ve used many of the places that I’ve vacationed at or lived in as locations for my stories. Physically being there and later on recalling those experiences really helps with my writing.

Would you classify your detective stories as “cozy” (along the lines of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers) or more “gritty”?

The term cozy seems to be changing from what it initially was, so I guess I’d term my amateur mystery series books as cozy. My two British series have cozy elements such as closed group of suspects, no graphic violence, occurs in a village, personal motives instead of terror or world domination… But I’d classify the two British series more as classic mysteries because the focus on the story is the solving of who, what, when, where, how and why. They could be a cozy with police procedural bits, though, instead of thrillers. And definitely not suspense.

How do you carry out research for the background of your British mysteries (e.g., on police procedures, settings, local customs)?

Wow, I’d say research is about half of my writing. I’m lucky in that I have three English police friends (in England) who answer my emails about procedure et al. Once I asked one friend what the road was like from a specific town to a specific village—I’d been there and driven it, but it was years before I wrote the book, so I wasn’t certain if the bridge was concrete or steel or if the road rose to it. He told me the specifics. One of my friends is a retired Detective Superintendent, so he was very high rank in the CID. He reads my manuscripts when they’re finished to see if I have procedure correct and if any American words have unintentionally crept in. I do a lot of online research, such as what time is sunrise or sunset, the moon phases for the month of my books, the rate of the incoming tide in Morecambe Bay, what things are smuggled into Britain… Some information I need, such as river flow rate and water depth, is lacking (or I can’t find the right place). I then email a person in what I hope is the correct agency or society or whatever, and ask. I’ve contacted employees in the Peak District National Park Authority, a nature reserve, a university professor, a castle curator… They’ve all been extremely helpful. I know I will have mistakes in my books, but I try to lessen them.
For local customs (they form the backbones of the plots of The Peak District mysteries), I was fortunate to have visited Derbyshire many times, so I know a few things. But I own some books on British customs: those come in handy to look up a majority of customs. It’s fun to discover a tradition I knew nothing about, and then figure out how I can create a mystery around it. For instance, in The Stone Hex, the custom is turning the devil’s stone. The famous event is in Devon but I have my fictitious villagers do their own version. They use crowbars and ropes to turn over a one-ton boulder once a year because to ignore it is to bring calamity upon the villagers. For Searching Shadows, the custom is watching the church porch. Again, this is a real custom in which participating villagers take assigned times to sit in the church porch at night. They’re looking for the spirits of the villagers to march past the church. The sighting of a person’s spirit foretells that person’s death within the year. In the upcoming book, An Old Remedy, I use May Day customs as the pivotal point of the plot. Some customs are really odd: how in the world did some of them start? All are real customs. Some are still practiced. Those that have fallen by the wayside are resurrected in my books!

You’ve published a book of Groundhog Day carols, which sounds like great fun. Please tell us about that.

That is a very good selling book, believe it or don’t! Copies even sell throughout the year! I love groundhogs. At a previous house I owned, a succession of groundhogs waddled up to my back deck. I started feeding them because I wanted them to stick around so I could photograph them. Again, tied in with my Peak District mystery series, I love customs. I’ve celebrated Groundhog’s Day throughout my life. I thought it was an overlooked holiday and it didn’t have any carols, at least I never heard any. So I wrote some! Actually, I wrote the lyrics. The tunes are public domain folk songs and Christmas carols. Besides the songs, I’ve also included ideas for hosting a Groundhog’s Day party: decoration and recipe ideas, as well as games suggestions.

What would we find in TEA IN A TIN CUP, your book of memoirs, and what inspired you to write it?

I’ve loved to cook and bake ever since childhood. It recently occurred to me that many of the major or fun events in my life incorporated food in some way. The more I thought of this tie-in, the more I recalled that most of the events were quite humorous. The few people who knew some of them thought they were funny and unique. So, I wrote them down and they gradually became a little book. They’re very short reminiscences, such as being bitten by a rabid skunk, making egg cups from an egg carton so the members of the Scottish folk singing group The McCalmans could eat their breakfast, baking cakes to celebrate Broderick Crawford Day (the movie/TV actor), how I met my future folk singing group members through a spaghetti fight, a visit to a gold rush-era New Zealand town where I first tasted reindeer meat… Things like that. It’s a fast, easy read.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished the second draft of the eleventh McLaren mystery, Black Moon. The editor now has it. The next Peak District mystery, An Old Remedy, should be seeing the light of day very soon, if it hasn’t already. With those in the finishing stages, I’m a lady of leisure. But I have the kernel of an idea for the twelfth McLaren book. I just have to flesh it out.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I think I’d say don’t stop writing. Each book sharpens your skill; you’re constantly learning how to express ideas. You learn this only through writing. Realize you’re in this for the long haul and stay at it. If you quit, you’ll never succeed, so please keep writing.

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

My website: Jo Hiestand
Other places on the web where I can be found: BookBub, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads and I have book trailers on YouTube.

Thanks for including me in your newsletter, Margaret. This was fun!

*****

Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

LENT, by Jo Walton. From what I’ve read of Walton’s work, every novel or series she’s written is different from every other. LENT follows that pattern; in fact, among fantasy novels in general, I’ve never read anything quite like it. A fictionalized life of Girolamo Savonarola, the brilliant monk who shaped the destiny of Florence for a few years in the late fifteenth century, LENT at first appears to have only two fantasy elements: Girolamo can see and cast out demons, and he receives valid revelations of future events. The story begins in 1492 and continues until his execution as a heretic in 1498. All the principal characters are historical persons, such as Lorenzo the Magnificent and Count Pico della Mirandola, a close friend of Girolamo. Girolamo aspires to transform Florence into the Ark, the City of God, the new Jerusalem. For a brief period, he almost succeeds. Then, halfway through the novel, he dies. Here’s where the book turns uniquely strange. Unfortunately, I can’t reveal the devastating truth that death reveals to Girolamo, because it would be too much of a spoiler. I can say, since it’s hinted in the cover blurb, that he lives those years over and over. Because of a magical green stone (probably jade) that he finds in the first chapter, he can now recall past iterations. Each time he dies and returns, he tries different paths to change the future from what he remembers. He has to face the sorrow of starting over every time with people who had become dear friends in past lives. He also has to decide whom to share the truth with and try to convince them of its reality without terrifying them. Girolamo is a vivid, sympathetic character, whose agony over the state of his soul is believable and moving. Walton does an excellent job of immersing the reader in the culture and mindset of Renaissance Italy, brimming with artistic, philosophical, and scientific energy while still dominated by the Church and pervaded by heartfelt belief in Christian theology.

MARVEL YEAR BY YEAR: A VISUAL HISTORY, by Cefn Ridout, et al. If you’re a devoted fan of the Marvel Comics universe and don’t mind the expense (although I found a reasonably priced used copy in good shape), check out this exhaustive, lavishly illustrated volume. It follows the company’s history all the way from its founding as Timely Publications in 1939, and the release of MARVEL COMICS #1, through 2016. Every year has a one-or-two-page spread highlighting the significant characters, plots, and magazine issues of that time span. Each annual section also includes a sidebar listing important real-world events as well as memorable movies released that year. So we get an overview of how the Marvel publications fit into the culture of the various eras through which they’ve developed. Being only a casual fan, I’d had no idea of the many different genres of comics the company had produced in addition to their superhero universe(s), especially in the early years. Needless to say, a major appeal of this massive tome for most readers will be the reproductions of covers and other illustrations from the magazines. Because the book focuses on the history of the comics, films and TV series are mentioned only briefly. Also, be warned that this thing is heavy! I had to rest it open on a flattish surface to read it without hurting my wrists. It’s worth the trouble, though. 😊

THE LAST TSAR’S DRAGONS, by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple. In this relatively short (180-page) novel, Yolen and her son offer a unique account of the Russian Revolution—with dragons. The tsar keeps a stable of black dragons, which he uses to exterminate Jewish communities when the whim strikes him. Unfortunately, the beasts don’t reliably discriminate among targets, perpetrating significant collateral damage, either unknown or unimportant to the tsar. The population’s only defense is to hide underground and wait for the devastation to pass; the few who possess a detection device called a drachometer have a better chance of taking refuge in time to survive. The dragons are often compared to Cossacks, the former being essentially a deadlier variation on the latter. The social and institutional contempt for Jews forms a constant background theme, so it’s not surprising that the heavy Jewish participation in revolutionary movements is also emphasized. One Jewish Marxist conspirator secretly acquires a supply of dragon eggs and hatches a swarm of red dragons to support Lenin’s uprising. Meanwhile, other major viewpoint characters include the mad monk Rasputin and the tsar’s wife. Not fully accepted by the Russian court (courtiers nickname her “German Alix”) even after years in her position and the birth of several children, the tsarina struggles to fulfill her duty as empress despite her distaste for many features of her adopted country. The only first-person narrator as well as the only invented major figure in the book, a nameless bureaucrat whose overriding goal is his own professional and personal survival, pulls the story together with his behind-the-scenes observations. His opening and closing monologues, thirty years later when he’s been condemned to death for corruption and treason, frame the narrative. Intelligent and cynical, he’d had no compunctions about switching sides when it became clear that the revolution would triumph. The story involves dragons in Rasputin’s demise and gives the deposed tsar and his family a swift, fiery death by dragon attack. To me, no characters come across as terribly likable except maybe the royal princesses and the well-meaning but not too bright tsarina. Knowing the ultimate destiny of the nation and the combatants on both sides, I felt pity for the characters rather than deep emotional engagement. The authors conclude the book with an absorbing eight-page commentary about the history behind the fiction.

*****

Excerpt from ENCHANTMENT UNLEASHED:

Nick slowed the car on the curve just before the strip mall where Vicki worked as a veterinary technician. “Are you sure you’re doing the right thing, leaving Phil this way without telling him in advance? He doesn’t seem like the type to accept that too calmly.”

“Yeah, I know I’m taking the coward’s way out, but I couldn’t face another argument. I left a note along with the spare key he gave me. He’ll get the idea.”

“What if he comes after you?”

“To do what? He may be a jerk, like you said, but he isn’t dangerous.”

“I’m not so sure about that. He never paid much attention to anything you said. How do you know he’ll accept that you really mean it about breaking up?”

“He’ll believe I’m serious when he sees I’ve moved my stuff out, that’s what. Don’t worry about it.” Sometimes she appreciated big-brother protectiveness, but other times it felt more constricting than comforting. Since their mother’s death, Nick tended to treat Vicki as if the age gap between them were more than the actual four years. He looked more like a twin than her elder, with his chestnut hair and neatly trimmed beard still free of gray. She had hair of the same color, except for her auburn highlights, and they both had blue eyes.

“Maybe you should get another dog, just in case.”

“To protect me from the big bad beltway bandit?” she said, referring to Phil’s job with a defense contracting firm in Washington. She laughed at the idea of any danger from uptight, super-civilized Phil Garrett. He favored sarcasm rather than violence as a weapon.

“Trixie has been dead almost a year. You need a dog around the house. There are other dangers for a woman on her own, you know.”

“Come on, I don’t live in the rough part of town or anything like that.” She brushed aside the wistful memory of the old Border Collie she’d inherited from their folks along with the house.

“Annapolis isn’t that big a town. The rough part is only a couple of miles from the safe part.”

“Mom and Dad lived in that house for most of their lives and never had any trouble.” She glanced ahead at the vet’s storefront office, where they were going to pick up her paycheck before driving back to her home to unload the SUV. “Maybe you’re right about a new pet, though. Symbolic fresh start, first day of the rest of my life and all that.” If she didn’t fall in instant love with a puppy at the SPCA, the doctors she worked for could steer her toward a local breeder. Or maybe she should get a cat, which would take less trouble. Phil claimed to be allergic, so she hadn’t been able to consider a kitten before now. There were lots of things she could do now that she didn’t have to worry about his quirks.

Just as Nick turned into the parking lot, a huge, brown-and-white blur hurtled toward Vicki’s window. She let out a screech. Nick slammed on the brakes, and the thing rammed into the passenger door.

Vicki jumped out, her heart hammering, and fell to her knees beside the animal. It lay on its side, apparently stunned. Nick hurried around the car to join her. “Good grief, a kamikaze dog,” he said.

The creature was the biggest Saint Bernard she’d ever seen. When she touched its head, the chocolate-brown eyes flickered open for a second. “We have to get him into the office right away.”

“I’m not about to carry him across the parking lot. Help me lift him into the car.” After pulling out of the path of traffic, Nick shifted boxes to clear a space in the back of the SUV. Meanwhile, Vicki felt over the dog’s legs, hips, and rib cage.

“I don’t think anything’s broken.” She cradled the animal’s head and neck, while her brother handled the bulk of the weight. Together, they hefted the half-conscious dog into the vehicle.

“See, it’s an omen,” Nick said. “Practically the minute I said you needed a pet, a dog came along and threw himself at you.”

“Well, I can’t keep this one. I’m sure he belongs to somebody. He’s wearing something around his neck.”

Nick drove the car up to the vet’s office, luckily finding a parking space only two slots from the door. Vicki ran inside to ask for help. Fred, a vet tech in his early twenties with curly hair and one gold earring, was covering the front desk. Stressful though the argument had been at the time, she almost giggled at the memory of Phil’s accusation when he’d picked her up after work the other day and spotted her chatting with Fred. As Nick had implied, her young co-worker was a nice enough guy but one of the last people she’d consider fooling around with. He glanced up when the bell above the door rang. “Hi. You’re here for your check, right?”

“Yeah, but I also brought a patient. A dog ran into Nick’s car. Could you help us bring him in?”

On the way out, Fred asked, “Don’t you mean the car ran into the dog?”

“Not exactly.”

Fred and Nick lugged the animal inside. The only other patient in the waiting room was a caged cat, who hissed at the sight of the dog. When they laid him on the floor, he opened his eyes, started panting, and gave a feeble thump of his tail. Vicki knelt down and stroked his head. His tongue flicked out to brush her hand. “I didn’t want to take the time to drive him all the way across town to the emergency vet. Do you think one of the docs can fit him in?”

“I’ll check.” Fred went into the back room and returned almost immediately with the reply that Dr. Brodie, the senior partner, had a few minutes free. “Big one, isn’t he?” he said, eyeing the dog. “Might as well try to weigh him.”

When they started to lift the dog, he struggled to his feet, still panting. With Vicki’s fingers twined in his neck fur, he wobbled over to the flatbed scale. He stood quietly while they waited for the digital readout to appear. Fred whistled. “Almost a hundred and ninety pounds. You are a big one, aren’t you?”

While Nick waited out front, the two of them managed to get the dog to stagger into the examining room under his own power. Fred coaxed him onto the table, then operated the hydraulic lift to raise it to a comfortable level for the examiner. The dog’s droopy eyes shifted to follow Vicki’s every move. She fondled the black velvet of his ears and rubbed the back of his neck. “What in the world is this?” Her probing revealed a chain of fine silver links. When she worked it over his head, it turned out to be a necklace with a disk about the size of an old-fashioned silver dollar, embossed with a five-pointed star, dangling from it.

Fred stared at the thing when she held it up. “Why would anybody put jewelry on an animal?”

“I have no idea. And no collar, just this.” The dog turned his head to follow the movement of her hand and whined, as if he wanted his ornament back. “Sorry, it looks too valuable. I’d better hang onto it for you.”

-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: MLCVamp@aol.com

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

Welcome to the June 2019 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

This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!
Facebook

Here’s my page in Barnes and Noble’s Nook store. These items include some of the short stories that used to be on Fictionwise:
Barnes and Noble

Go here and scroll down to “Available Short Fiction” for a list of those stories with their Amazon links:
Kindle Works

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:
Amazon

In case you’re a fan of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and haven’t read the essay anthology SEVEN SEASONS OF BUFFY, in which many distinguished fantasy, SF, and horror authors discuss their favorite episodes, characters, and themes, it’s still available (in both e-book and paperback) here:

Seven Seasons of Buffy

My essay in this volume, “A World Without Shrimp,” explores the trope of alternate realities in the series. There’s an excerpt below to give you a sense of how I approach the subject.

I’ve recently re-released as Kindle e-books two works originally published by companies that have gone out of business. Mundania Press (which had absorbed Hard Shell Word Factory) unexpectedly announced its closing not long ago. So I combined DARK CHANGELING (my first vampire novel, originally released by Hard Shell) and its direct sequel set over a decade later, CHILD OF TWILIGHT, into a two-novel omnibus, TWILIGHT’S CHANGELINGS. The books have been lightly re-edited for minor corrections and changes, nothing substantive:

Twilight’s Changelings

LOVE UNLEASHED, my Ellora’s Cave paranormal romance about a man cursed into the form of a Saint Bernard, reverting to humanity only between sunset and midnight every night, has been retitled ENCHANTMENT UNLEASHED. (It’s mind-boggling how many books Amazon lists with the title LOVE UNLEASHED.) I revised it to downplay the graphic sex level from erotic to spicy/steamy.

Enchantment Unleashed

This month I’m interviewing Maria Imbalzano, author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction.

*****

Interview with Maria Imbalzano:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I happened to be reading a best-selling novel and I grew frustrated with the author. She had told the reader the same thing within pages of each other. Being an avid reader, I knew what good writing was, and I couldn’t believe this book had made it through the publishing process and onto the bookshelves. In my naïve, optimistic world I told myself, “I can do this.”

Easier said than done, of course. I didn’t know where to start. As fate would have it, a flier came across my desk for a legal education seminar called “How to Write Your Book in 14 Days (A Lawyer’s Guide)”. I quickly signed up, thinking no one else would be there. I was wrong. The room was packed with would-be John Grishams hoping to write that blockbuster manuscript, sell it, make a fortune and retire from law.

The seminar was exactly what I needed to get started – although to this day, I have not been able to write a book in fourteen days.

What genres do you work in?

Contemporary Romance and Women’s Fiction

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

I plot my stories to the n’th degree. I start with developing the heroine and hero, then determine their internal and external conflicts. I then start with chapter one and blueprint each scene/paragraph by asking questions and then giving three words as answers. Although this may take a month, when I sit down to start writing the book, it practically writes itself.

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

Since my books are character driven, I’m influenced by personalities of people I know and use those traits in developing my characters – making them real. For settings, I use places I’ve either lived in (NYC, Philadelphia, the Jersey shore, Princeton) or visited. Some of my books have lawyer characters and after having practiced law for many years, I know how lawyers think. It was also easy for me to add conflict through a lawsuit or area of practice that conflicts with the hero’s business.

What effect has your career as a lawyer had on your fiction? Do any skills required for legal writing carry over into creative writing?

Lawyers are analytical, organized, and choose words carefully. When I was in high school and college, I hated creative writing. I wasn’t good at it. In law school, I loved legal writing. I understood it. I was also a crazy, mad editor of my own legal briefs, memoranda, and letters. The correct words are so important when making legal arguments. Those qualities have helped me greatly in my creative writing. I actually like to edit my work and I will spend time coming up with the correct word if I think the original word I chose doesn’t work.

How do you integrate fiction writing into a schedule with a demanding day job?

In the past, I would write at night from around 8 – 11pm and on weekends if other obligations didn’t interfere. Of course, board meetings or the kids’ activities always came first, so it took me forever to learn this craft and sign my first publishing contract – fifteen years to be exact. I recently retired from practicing law so I could now write full time. And I’m loving every minute of it.

What are you working on now?

I’m in the middle of a four-book series, The Sworn Sisters Series. The Sworn Sisters are four high school girlfriends who are now in their early thirties. Each friend has their own story, but they are in each other’s stories as well. The first book in the series, “Sworn to Forget” (Nicki’s story) was published last July, and the second book, “Sworn to Remember” (Sam’s story) was released on May 15th. I am now working on the next book in the series.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Never stop learning the craft of writing. And never give up.

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

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

*****

Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

DRINK, SLAY, LOVE, by Sarah Beth Durst. I became aware of this 2012 YA novel by reading a recent interview with the author. It has one of the most quirkily unusual premises of any vampire novel I’ve ever read. The narrator, Pearl, lives in the crowded household of her vampire family and shares the worldview expected of her kind—amoral, self-centered, and predatory. These vampires’ avoidance of killing (most of the time) springs from caution, not compassion. Since Pearl was born a vampire, not transformed like her parents and most of her relatives, she’s actually the age she looks, sixteen. In the opening scene, she and her vampire boyfriend steal a car and stop by a twenty-four-hour ice-cream shop. There Pearl drinks from the clerk, Brad, and erases his memory of the bite. In the alley behind the store just before dawn, however, she encounters a unicorn. Its horn stabs her through the torso. To her surprise, instead of dying, she wakes up in the shelter of her own home, where some unknown person had left her unconscious on the front porch. She soon realizes she’s changing. First, she becomes able to stay awake during the day and face the sun without harm. Her elders regard this mysterious development as an advantage, because they have the duty of hosting the vampire council in the near future and must provide a supply of victims as refreshments for the guests. Since Pearl can now mingle with the human population unnoticed (they hope), her parents enroll her in the local high school and task her with luring a suitable group of students into the vampires’ lair on the appropriate night. While becoming acquainted with her new classmates, passing off her cluelessness and social ineptitude as byproducts of homeschooling, she discovers more traumatic results of her change. She catches herself worrying about what humans think and feel, becoming reluctant to hurt them, and actually behaving like a nice person at random moments. To her dismay, Brad, her victim of the fateful night, is one of her fellow students. He and a perky girl named Bethany seem determined to become Pearl’s friends. The darkly humorous story takes a turn toward darker in the second half. At the climax, Pearl and the circle of friends and classmates she has reluctantly embraced cooperate to oversee the Gothic-themed prom, which Pearl has arranged to host in her family’s mansion. Now that she actually cares about her fellow students, how can she manage to keep them all from getting slaughtered in a vampire feast? Meanwhile, she has discovered that Brad and Bethany, much more than the nerdy high-schoolers they seem, are hiding a fantastic secret. A weirdly fun novel.

THEATER OF SPIES, by S. M. Stirling. Second in the “Black Chamber” alternate history series. It’s now 1916, four years after Theodore Roosevelt regained the presidency (the point of departure from our own timeline). Secret agent Luz O’Malley and Ciara Whelan, her new partner, return from the first novel. Boston-Irish Ciara, Luz’s young lover, is a largely self-taught mathematical and engineering genius. Luz, in addition to her natural gift for languages and the advantages of her upbringing as daughter of Hispanic and Irish-American parents (brutally murdered by Mexican revolutionaries) as well as her family’s friendship with “Uncle Teddy,” has, of course, all the training one would expect for a hard-core spy. She and Ciara are spending their “honeymoon” at Luz’s luxurious home in California when they receive their new assignment. By a roundabout route involving changes of identity and flights on a succession of airships, they arrive in Berlin, where they settle in a modest neighborhood under the guise of a Bavarian widow and her slightly “simple” young friend. Their mission is to investigate reports of a new German secret project. The futuristic technology, code-named Heimdall, sounds a lot like radar. Luz and Ciara make themselves familiar to their neighbors and develop a friendly relationship with the sergeant who guards the entry to the factory where they hope to find the Heimdall project. Luz also makes contact with captured Frenchwomen who perform menial chores such as cleaning in the factory. Readers won’t be surprised that Horst Von Duckler, principal antagonist in BLACK CHAMBER, survived the end of that novel and is relentlessly hunting Luz. Most of the book consists of preparation for the climactic strike, which contains enough fast-moving action to please any spy-thriller fan. My favorite aspects of the novel, however, are the relationship between Luz and Ciara, the background information about this changed world, the interaction between the heroines and the people of many nationalities and ethnic groups they encounter, the multilingual conversations and the richly varied menus (as always, Stirling excels at descriptions of food), and the many incidental glimpses of life in war-torn Europe and the culture of the United States under Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive Party. In some ways, this World War I is grimmer than ours. The “terror gas” of the first novel devastated France and England, and Germany is winning; they’ve already conquered Russia. With Teddy in charge, though, I trust Stirling will give us an Allied victory in the end. The conclusion of THEATER OF SPIES definitely feels more optimistic than that of BLACK CHAMBER. I’m delighted with the character of Ciara, bright, enthusiastic, and nerdy in the best way. The love between her and Luz helps to soften the character of Luz and reveal her complexity as a person, demonstrating that there’s more to her than a trained spy and killer. A few readers label her a “Mary Sue,” but in fact she has believable flaws (such as being left in the dust by Ciara’s mathematical and technical expertise), and her broad skill set simply reflects her credible experience and training; a spy without those skills wouldn’t have been sent on this mission in the first place.

IRON, FIRE AND ICE, by Ed West. This book shouldn’t be missed by fans at the intersection of the two fields of interest addressed in the subtitle, “The Real History That Inspired the Game of Thrones.” Both informative and entertaining, West goes into great detail about the nations, cultures, events, and individuals in the history of Britain and Eurasia that have counterparts in George R. R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” saga. Sometimes West cites Martin’s explicit statements about a particular incident or character’s real-world inspiration; more often, West draws general analogies. He covers a broad period from antiquity to the high middle ages but focuses heavily on the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and Martin’s acknowledged principal source, the Wars of the Roses. I had a little trouble following West’s exposition at times, because he skips around among regions and centuries, sometimes within a single chapter. The fact that multiple persons in the same or related royal and noble houses have the same names doesn’t help. I wish the book included timelines of the rulers of each separate nation discussed in the text. There are extensive footnotes, but the bibliography is really just a checklist of titles and authors, omitting publishers and dates of publication, and the index is less exhaustive than many readers may want. In general, though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I recommend it to any fan of Martin’s novels or the TV series (West refers regularly to both) who’s also interested in history. You’ll probably come away with the same conclusion I did: As Martin himself has mentioned on occasion, you may think the violence in his series is extreme, but the real-life events were even worse.

*****

Excerpt from “A World Without Shrimp”:

“Alternate realities are neat,” declares Anya in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Superstar” (4-17). Apparently the creators of the series agree, for the malleable nature of “reality” proves to be one of the Buffyverse’s central themes. Anya reminds us of the infinite variety of possible worlds and the great differences that seemingly minor changes can produce: “You could, uh, have a world without shrimp. Or with, you know, nothing but shrimp” (“Superstar,” 4-17). Or Buffy could inhabit a world with or without a younger sister.

The advent of Dawn at the end of the first episode of season five sharply draws the viewer’s attention to the fluidity of this fictional universe. The transformation of the Buffyverse by the sudden appearance of Dawn (“sudden” to the audience, not to the characters, who “know” Buffy has always had a sister) highlights the importance of the “alternate reality” theme in this series. Most television programs imitate the presumed stability of the primary world, the “real” world we live in. At most, the average series may feature an occasional fantasy sequence or It’s a Wonderful Life pastiche. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in contrast, presents several alternate reality episodes that produce major dislocations of the world as the characters know it. This recurring motif infects the Buffyverse with a fundamental instability. The introduction of a younger sister retroactively transforms Buffy’s entire family history. Cordelia wishes into existence (or possibly just reveals) a timeline in which Buffy never moved to Sunnydale. Jonathan works a spell to create a timeline in which he stars as a superhero. And the episode “Normal Again” (6-17) reveals a timeline in which Buffy is, rather than the powerful Slayer, a helpless mental patient.

Unlike most secondary (i.e., invented) worlds, the reality of Buffy undergoes frequent, unsettling alterations. All these episodes produce deviations from the “original” reality of Buffy, the world we viewers recognize as being altered when Dawn appears, which I refer to as the dominant reality, or dominant timeline. The magical transformations in the various episodes create alternate realities, worlds that resemble our own but deviate at some point in their history to generate timelines that can vary widely from the dominant one as a result of a single critical change. I use “alternate reality” and “alternate universe” interchangeably. Note, however, that the various transformed realities in the series are not all of the same type, but belong to at least two different categories. If the alternate reality exists in complete independence from the dominant timeline, I classify it as a separate dimensional plane. Alternate realities that replace the dominant one and run in the “real time” of the characters’ lives can be labeled alternate histories. I consider “The Wish” (3-9), for example, to belong to the first category and “Superstar” (4-17) to the second. As for the “demon” or “hell” dimensions often mentioned in the series, they exist on other dimensional planes but do not qualify as alternate realities in the sense being considered, because they do not conform to the model of a universe that parallels ours except for the ramifications of one critical change.

-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: MLCVamp@aol.com

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

Welcome to the May 2019 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

This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!
Facebook

Here’s my page in Barnes and Noble’s Nook store. These items include some of the short stories that used to be on Fictionwise:
Barnes and Noble

Go here and scroll down to “Available Short Fiction” for a list of those stories with their Amazon links:
Kindle Works

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:
Amazon

As I mentioned in an earlier newsletter, my lighthearted story “Therapy for a Vampire” appears as a two-part serial in NIGHT TO DAWN magazine. Part One was published in issue 35, and the second half will appear in issue 36 this fall. You can find out about the magazine here:

Night to Dawn

In this story, psychiatrists Roger Darvell (vampire) and Britt Loren (human) attempt to cure a young vampire of his neuroses, including a phobia of religious objects. In the excerpt below, they try to desensitize him enough to spend time in a church so he can attend a concert there.

The publisher of DARK CHANGELING (my first vampire novel, where Roger and Britt are introduced) and CHILD OF TWILIGHT, its direct sequel, has closed. Therefore, I’ve self-published both novels together in a Kindle two-book omnibus, TWILIGHT’S CHANGELINGS. I’ve made some minor changes and corrections, but nothing substantive, so you may not want to buy this edition if you’ve already read the books. (The little alterations do improve them, though, I think.) If you haven’t, here’s your chance to get the new, improved versions at a modest price:

Twilight’s Changelings

This month I’ve interviewed multi-genre author Laura Strickland.

*****

Interview with Laura Strickland:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I began writing because I loved reading so much. I have a wonderful elder sister who took me to our tiny branch library in Buffalo, New York every week, when I was young. Limited as the choices there were, it always felt like being admitted to a treasure trove, one from which I was allowed to choose whatever I wanted. I encountered some of my favorite children’s books there. But after I finished reading them, I always wanted more of the story. And it occurred to me that if I wrote the stories, I could make them as lengthy as I liked.

What genres do you work in?

I’m what I like to call a “genre-hopper”, which means I jump around between different styles of fiction quite a bit. My first love, and my first big break-through with The Wild Rose Press, was a Scottish Historical Romance, Devil Black. But the gods have blessed me with a fabulous editor who’s willing to take a look at whatever my fevered brain produces. I’ve written and published Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy, Historical Sagas, and most recently a series of Faery Tale Rewrites. The second book in that series, Rum Paul Stillskin, will release on May 27.

Very dear to my heart are my Steampunk Romances, set in my native city of Buffalo, New York in the 1880s. Both ground-breaking and addictive, they show no signs of stopping. I’m up to book number seven in the series, which includes gritty heroes and heroines, monstrous villains, and hybrid automatons seeking their rights.

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

I’m definitely a pantser. When I get an idea for a new story, it usually shows up as a small glimmer of light. When I give some attention to it, it expands on its own. I’m not the woman to mess with that, and in fact if I try to make an outline, or sometimes just share what’s come to me, it dies an early death. It’s as if expressing the idea removes the need to tell the story. While in the thick of writing a book, I sometimes jot down notes and possible directions the story wants to go, just so I won’t forget them later. But all too often, I can’t read the notes, when I return to them.

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

I think for a writer, a little of everything he or she experiences winds up in the writing. Life shapes us, and we shape the words on the page accordingly. As for writing influences, they have been many. Patricia Finney’s ancient Irish tales inspired my first Celtic sagas, and the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s body of work, mainly the books of his Discworld Series, showed me just what Fantasy can be. Music always inspires me greatly. I have a favorite artist for every genre. (Jethro Tull is excellent for writing Steampunk!)

What attracted you to the particular historical periods you write about?

I like the dark side, a truth that’s apparent to anyone who reads my books. The periods toward which I’ve gravitated seem to contain that glint of dark, and lend themselves well to the inclusion of black humor. To be truthful, I’m never sure what era in history may grab me next.

What kinds of research do you use in writing historical fiction?

I favor immersion. When I get interested in a period, or a story that requires research occurs to me, I read and study everything I can get my hands or eyes on. I let it all percolate a bit and imagine what it would be like to live in that time. I think what I’d need to exist, and how things would feel, day-to-day. Then when I write, the details flow naturally, and it tends to eliminate preachiness or info-dumps.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience with animal rescue?

Ah, now there’s a subject dear to my heart. It seems as if I came into this world wanting a canine companion. I love felines too—in fact, I value all animals highly and will fight for them—but a dog is a requirement for me. I’ve had so many wonderful canine companions during my life. The last four have all been rescues, one adopted from an animal shelter and the other three from rescue organizations. Two of those were senior rescues, when my husband and I adopted girls who’d lost their owners very late in life. We were privileged to guide both those sweet darlings through a number of happy years and to their end-of-life experiences, with us at their sides. They’re so easy to love, and so hard to lose.

Lacy, our latest adoptee, came to us from Kentucky via a local rescue. She was picked up as a stray with one puppy, who was also adopted into a wonderful home. We got lucky, again. She’s a little angel without wings.

What are you working on now?

I’m working two projects at the same time, half way through transcribing and editing my next Steampunk, and writing a Historical Young Adult novel set in Victorian London. I enjoy both the creating and the editing.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Love what you write and write what you love. Your readers will be able to tell, and if you don’t love your story, they won’t either.

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

Web site: Laura Strickland Books
Facebook
Twitter

*****

Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

THE GRAVES ARE WALKING, by John Kelly. If you’re interested in the Irish potato famine of the 1840s and want to read an exhaustive, in-depth account of it, this is the book to get. It’s fairly recent (2012) and very comprehensive. From the onset of the potato blight to the aftermath of the “great hunger,” with historical background information to set the scene, Kelly covers the period from every angle in a highly readable style. Broad political and social issues as well as the human suffering on the ground receive equally thorough treatment. Narratives of individual experiences personalize the multi-year catastrophe, and quotations from numerous contemporary sources reveal the opinions and positions of people, of both exalted and modest status, involved in the complicated process of trying to mitigate the disastrous effects of repeated potato crop failures. Irish land policy as well as reliance on the potato as the only staple food crop for small farmers made Ireland far more vulnerable to those failures than other nations. Kelly emphasizes how relief efforts were hampered by the British philosophy that “dependence on government” was one of Ireland’s most serious problems. The English attempts to help the starving population while avoiding both such “dependence” and damage to British commercial interests (through provision of cheap imported food) led to ever more complex problems. Furthermore, the English view of the Irish as ignorant peasants and barbarians (plus the religious dimension of most poor Irish being Catholic and therefore suspect in the eyes of British Protestants) undermined their sympathy for the hungry masses. Two chapters explore the impact of emigration upon both Ireland and North America. Kelly concludes that although English policies did not deliberately inflict genocide upon the Irish, the ultimate result was largely the same as if they had.

POPPIES AND ROSES, by Allison Norfolk. A retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” during World War I. Unlike PHOENIX AND ASHES, Mercedes Lackey’s fantastic World-War-I reframing of “Cinderella,” POPPIES AND ROSES mostly translates the fairy-tale plot into naturalistic terms, keeping the magical elements low-key. The hero, Lord David Montgomery, sent home with mysteriously unhealing wounds, has been cursed by a German hedgewitch (a woman who uses herbs and other plants in her magic spells). In a twist on the usual tale, the curse is ultimately intended for his good. The witch, whose son David killed in battle, has seen too much death and hatred to want gratuitous revenge. She sets up the curse so that David must learn to open his heart to love in order to be healed. His wounds continue to bleed but never endanger his life or even become infected. His hired nurse, Clara Prescott, temporarily removed from battlefield duty while recovering from a leg injury, is also a hedgewitch. Therefore, she believes the truth about David’s condition when he reveals it to her, and she has a chance of curing him with her specialized skills. She grew up in the village where he lives, a source of unhappy memories. After her mother’s death, Clara’s alcoholic father paid no attention to her. She “ran wild” and gained a completely undeserved reputation as the town bad girl (in the sexual sense). After straightening out her life and becoming a nurse, she hasn’t returned home or had contact with her father. David and Clara, although both scarred by their ordeals, have to learn to trust each other and regain faith in the goodness of life in general, in the context of wartime trauma and, at the climax of the novel, the postwar influenza epidemic. The magic weaves smoothly through the mundane elements of the story to lead these two strong characters into an emotionally satisfying relationship against a believable historical background.

MOCKINGBIRD, by Sean Stewart. This novel in the first-person voice of a female protagonist might legitimately be labeled magical realism rather than fantasy. The heroine, Toni, and her sister, Candy, take the supernatural legacy of their mother for granted as an inescapable part of life; the story might develop almost the same if Toni had inherited mental illness rather than unwanted magic. The book begins with her mother Elena’s funeral. We meet a cast of quirky characters and learn that Elena could see the future. Her fraught relationship with Toni is encapsulated in her epitaph: “There are some gifts which cannot be refused.” For as long as Elena’s daughters can remember, she was periodically possessed by her “Riders,” spirits embodied in a collection of puppets, dolls, etc. stored on the shelves of a cabinet in Elena’s house. In addition to the six Riders, the family is haunted by tales of an enigmatic figure they know as the Lost Little Girl. Candy has prophetic dreams that show only happy futures, while Toni gets stuck with her mother’s affinity for the Riders. After Elena’s death, leaving nothing much besides the house, the Riders, and a pile of debt, Toni decides to make a fresh start in life by becoming pregnant. She gets herself artificially inseminated, then sets out to find a father for her forthcoming child. Despite her attempted refusal of the Riders, we aren’t surprised to see her getting possessed at the worst possible moments. Meanwhile, she loses her job and discovers a previously unknown half-sister from a short prior marriage Elena had never mentioned. Toni is an actuary by profession, and her brilliant grasp of numbers and finance combine with her magical legacy to make her a unique character. Her highly individual narrative voice makes the story darkly funny where it might otherwise be painful to read. The Houston setting, in geography, climate, and culture, is vividly realized. The story reaches its climax in the midst of a hurricane, a fitting outward reflection of Toni’s inner turmoil. I’ve never read a fantasy novel quite like this and found it fascinating.

*****

Excerpt from “Therapy for a Vampire”:

Accordingly, on the following night, a breezy, pleasantly cool September evening, the two of them strolled from Britt’s condo apartment near the Naval Academy to Church Circle at the top of the half-mile, brick-paved Main Street in the heart of the historic district. They found Franz waiting outside the wrought-iron gates opening onto the grounds of Saint Anne’s, which occupied the entire circle. At least he showed up, Roger thought. That’s hopeful. “Shall we proceed?” He held the gate ajar. The nave of the church would be open, even if the rest of the building was locked. He strode up the walk to the three steps leading to the double doors of the red-brick, nineteenth-century structure. Franz, with Britt falling in behind him, had little choice but to follow.

The young man stepped inside the foyer and froze, clutching the door frame. Roger paused halfway to the inner door and cast an annoyed glance over his shoulder. “Come, now, do I have to pry your fingers loose and pull you along like a dog on a leash? You’ve touched a crucifix. Simply entering a room should be easy by now.”

“Suppose I hold your hand?” Britt said. “This building is open to the public, so you don’t need an invitation. If your unconscious mind insists you do, I’m a member here, and I invite you.”

“Okay.” Despite the strain in his voice, he managed to take a step forward and accept her offered hand. Together they walked across the foyer.

Roger opened the door to the main worship space, dim, cool, and smelling faintly dusty. The only light came from low-wattage lamps above the altar. “Gaze into my eyes and believe what I tell you. Nothing here will harm you. It’s safe and peaceful.”

Franz’s breathing and pulse slowed. “Yes, Doctor.”

“You’ll take one step inside, then return to this spot. I have confidence you can do that.”

Clasping Britt’s hand, the young vampire did as commanded.

“Well done,” she said. “Next, try two paces.”

They worked their way up, advancing and retreating step by step, until the three of them stood in the back of the church behind the last row of pews. Roger blocked Franz’s path when the patient would have withdrawn again. “Enough of that. We’ve demonstrated you can come inside with no problem. Now we’re going to walk all the way to the front.”

Franz took one more pace and froze. “What do you think is going to happen?” Roger asked, struggling to rein in his impatience. “Do you expect to crumble into a pile of ashes?”

“Of course not.” With a tremulous laugh, Franz stepped forward again, then halted. His head whipped from side to side as he took in his surroundings. His heartbeat thundered in Roger’s ears. Sounding half strangled, he whispered, “But they’re everywhere.”

“What?” Britt said.

“The pictures. Staring at me.” He squeezed her hand.

She winced. Sensing her pain, Roger said, “Relax. You’re hurting her. Remember your strength.”

Franz released a shuddering breath and obeyed.

Roger faced him to snare his gaze. “You mean the windows?”

A shaky nod.

“They’re inanimate works of art, completely harmless, as you know perfectly well on a conscious level. Don’t you?”

Another nod.

“You will come with us to the altar rail, and nothing will go wrong. Understand?”

The young vampire’s tension visibly eased under the pressure of Roger’s hypnotic stare. He took a pace forward as if heading for his execution. Roger and Britt flanked him on each side. They proceeded up the aisle past an array of stained-glass windows depicting figures such as Christ the Good Shepherd, an angel proclaiming the Resurrection, Saint Anne with her daughter, the Virgin Mary, as a young girl, and many others. In the deep shadows, they were plainly visible to the two vampires’ night vision, but not to Britt’s human eyes. Thoroughly familiar with the layout of the sanctuary, though, she pointed out a Tiffany window as they passed it. “Don’t worry, the saints won’t leap out of the frame and pounce on you. If they try, I’ll protect you.”

Franz’s surge of indignation at the idea of being “protected” by an ephemeral kept him moving. She then drew his attention to the pipe organ in the choir loft. “Eyes on the prize. Think of the music you’re going to hear.” Finally they halted at the top of the aisle, facing the altar and its cross.

-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: MLCVamp@aol.com

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