Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Welcome to the December 2018 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 uploaded two Darkover fanfic stories by my husband (Leslie Roy Carter) and me on the “Other Goodies” page of my website:
Other Goodies

My light paranormal romance novella “Yokai Magic” will be released on January 7 by the Wild Rose Press. Heroine Val accidentally activates the magic in a Japanese scroll her late grandfather acquired during his service in the Korean War. As a result, her house becomes haunted by spirits both benign and threatening. An excerpt appears below.

This month’s guest is science fiction writer S. B. K. Burns.

*****

Interview with S. B. K. Burns:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I’ve been writing plays and poems from junior high school age. Lots of that was motivated by reading the works of Shakespeare and the centerfold Broadway plays/scripts in my parents’ Theatre Arts magazines. My parents acted in little theater, and so I got to read lots of scripts that fueled my bare bones panstering dialogue.

Later, very recently, I joined a read and critique group at La Mesa Senior Center and in one year (about five pages per week), I had my first romance novel, FORBIDDEN PLAYGROUND, first book in my LEGENDS OF THE GOLDENS series, published by Soul Mate.

What genres do you work in?

I have a separate website called THE UNION OF OPPOSITES. Before I retired from engineering to writing, a professional scientific journal published my research—funded by the National Science Foundation. The experiment I ran helped me to organize both my scientific and spiritual worlds in thought experiments about human consciousness. So, it’s no wonder I like to apply some of my ideas to the psychic realm, but a realm that may be based in science. All of my novels have at least elements of science, even if contemporary (OPEN SEASON: a tennis contemporary soon to be self-published this year and JUST ONE LITTLE DROP OF BLACK: last year’s NANOWRIMO that examines prejudice (both featuring modern forensics).

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

I started out as a pantser, and now I’d consider myself a hybrid. Plots weren’t as much fun to write, because I had to force my characters into stifling roles. I more enjoy being surprised. For example: this year’s NANOWRIMO is BAZOOKA TIME MACHINE where I let my android and human females decide their relationship as the story proceeds. I’ll organize and rewrite after it’s written.

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

Okay, I’m coming out, right here, right now. I’m Bi. But I’m happily married to a wonderful husband. He knows.
To me, committing to someone means forever, so the idea of being bisexual (especially as a writer who must get into many roles) isn’t a big thing. However, I did grow up with the greats of science fiction, especially Hugo Award winners like Clifford Simak who focused on positive ideals and deep character development. Written by a San Diego State English prof, ACROSS THE WOUNDED GALAXIES introduced me to Octavia Butler, her SFRs and other science fictions.
My first space opera SFR, A SPACE FOR US, was very much based on my aerospace forensics work at Carswell AFB.

How has your work in oceanography and other scientific fields affected your fiction?

As you might have guessed, my first story, a novella, was about oceanic genetic engineering gone bad in GETTING THEM UP, published by Whiskey Creek. It was my first try at showing bisexual friendship, but the publisher needed me to make it more hetero. I plan to soon take back the novella from the publisher and rewrite it with my original intent.

I’ve already mentioned my UNION OF OPPOSITES website (http://www.TheUnionOfOpposites.com) where I explore thought experiments and a new language to bridge the gap between science and spiritualism.

Please tell us about your two series.

Thanks for asking. I’ve written two series. The first, LEGENDS OF THE GOLDENS (four books), is about generations of psychic alien vampires (the good guys) that attempt to save Earth humans from generations of the bad vampires. Goldens look somewhat like Tanzanian albinos. They can telepath, teleport, shape shift, and create worlds. They also have a population of slaves, the Everett Androids, who eventually revolt in the last book. A free novella in this series, A FAR FAR BETTER THING, is a romance between a powerful psychic female golden and a male wetware Everett Android who is supposed to be protecting her, not falling for her.

My second series, AGES OF INVENTION, answers the question, what if history were different than we think it is, especially scientifically. In the first book, ENTANGLED, a Stephen Hawking-type character, a physics professor, invents a time machine. There are two societies in his world—those who are allowed to attend college and those who are not. Of course our lovers are from the two different groups. The hero, an Olympic weight lifter, can dream himself to historical places. The heroine, a psychologist, going undercover for her PhD, uses past life regression. The fun happens when each character goes back in time with different agendas and using the different methods.

What do you consider the main differences between writing “New Adult” fiction and (for want of a better term) “regular” adult fiction?

I’ve been saying it like a pirate—YARWA—for years, but as a NA writer. My novels are adult in that they contain sexual situations, but the characters are under thirty, and they have parent or origin issues. Before they belong to their parents or their community, they’re trying to find themselves. At the end of the story, the hero and heroine do find themselves in belonging to one another (The HEA is kind of like a Whither-Thou-Goest… Biblical moment).

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?

I work an editing assembly line—I have a completed NA tennis contemporary that has been picked over by the NY publishing crowd, including a rewrite. Instead of having it sit there, I’ll self-publish it before the end of the year. I also have a humorous erotic romance completed that was picked over by publishers, but—you know—it wasn’t for them. So I guess within the next couple of months, I’ll be self-publishing those.

I also put my first YA on the backburner because the plot was quite technically heavy. My hubby and I developed the science for the YA novella, OTHER, at The Singularity Symposium in San Francisco (Leaders in emerging technical fields are invited to present to members and attend workshops). I will probably finish running it through my groups next year.

Right now, I’m in the polishing stages of my space opera SFR, A SPACE FOR US, in which a captive psychic alien, more human than alien—is raised by the first lady until someone removes the woman’s consciousness. At that point, the crazy president pits the heroine alien, Jade, against his top aerospace plane test pilot, Major Shepard Monroe. But as they get to know one another, a kill command seems superfluous.

What are you working on now?

Last year for NANOWRIMO 2017, I wrote JUST ONE LITTLE DROP OF BLACK, an NA contemporary about prejudice. I have two groups in which I present pages of my work for editing (a weekly read and critique group and a monthly critique partner group). When done with editing, I polish and send my work to my editor who does an extremely thorough beta read. She’s within the NA group I’m aiming at.

In this year’s NANOWRIMO (2018) I’m trying to get my 50,000 words (BAZOOKA TIME MACHINE) in by the end of November. Then I’ll run the story by my groups and edit away before sending it to my editor.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I know this sounds weird, but—WRITE CRAP. If nothing is there, nothing can be done with it. I write like I sculpt (put a little clay/words on and take a little clay/words off until you have a unique creation). Let it be about something you know and feelings you’ve experienced. If you don’t want to have writers block then only create when you’re at your computer. Leave your creative mind free during the day to actually live and experience life. I know not everyone manages their writing that way, but in the last ten years, I’ve never had a blockage using that method.

Author Page: Susan Burns Author
Facebook Page: Facebook
Philosophy Page: Union of Opposites

*****

Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

ELEVATION, by Stephen King. Like GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX, this short novel takes place in Castle Rock, Maine, which was destroyed at the end of NEEDFUL THINGS. While GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX appears to be set in the past, before the town’s obliteration, this latest book clearly occurs in the present, because the 2016 election is mentioned. Maybe it’s set in an alternate universe? Anyway, ELEVATION offers an odd twist on the premise of the “Richard Bachman” novel THINNER. Middle-aged, divorced web designer Scott Carey (who works from home, fortunately for his financial solvency in the long run) starts losing weight. Not mass or size, just weight. There’s no attempt to explain why Scott suffers this strange affliction; it’s simply a given, like a spell in a fairy tale. The narrative plunges straight into the midst of the quandary, as Scott reveals his inexplicable condition to a retired doctor friend. At first, the weird phenomenon seems more beneficial than not. Scott has boundless energy and eats lavishly without gaining in girth or affecting the rate of weight loss. In fact, the loss of poundage steadily accelerates. Meanwhile, he tries to repair his conflict with Deirdre McComb and Missy Donaldson, a lesbian couple on his street. New in town, they own a vegetarian Mexican restaurant, which isn’t prospering in accordance with the quality of its food because many people in the conservative-leaning town resent the presence of an openly married same-sex pair. Their two dogs frequently make messes on Scott’s lawn, while Deirdre brushes off his complaints with open hostility. When other attempts at reconciliation fail, Scott signs up for the annual Turkey Trot, a race for charity, and makes a bet with Deirdre that he can beat her. If he wins, she’ll have to accept his overture of friendship or at least détente. Ordinarily, he would have no chance, since she’s an experienced runner of near-Olympic level. His abnormal lack of gravity, however, gives him a secret advantage. The relationship between Scott and the two women evolves, and meanwhile, he resist his doctor friend’s urgings to present himself for medical study. Eventually, the loss of weight changes from a delightful novelty into a disability. What will happen when the number on the scale reaches zero? ELEVATION is a kinder, gentler story than most of King’s novels. (It’s even light on the “four-letter” words that often infest his prose to an extent that distracts and irritates me.) A tightly focused work with a bittersweet ending.

THE ODDLING PRINCE, by Nancy Springer. A fantasy novel with fairy-tale overtones, set in the imaginary medieval Scottish kingdom of Calidon. The king’s son and heir, Aric, narrates the story in a smoothly flowing, yet slightly archaic and formal (but not at all “forsoothly”) style. As the tale begins, the king lies dying of a mysterious ailment, apparently caused by a glowing ring that inexplicably appeared on his hand one day when he and the rest of the court went hawking. A strange young man on a fey horse rides into the castle grounds and offers to heal the king. After removing the baleful ring, the stranger reveals his identity. He claims to be the king’s younger son by the Faerie Queen. In a split second during that pleasure ride in the forest, the king was spirited away to the Faerie realm, where he spent years as the Queen’s unwilling lover. Having fallen in love with him, she desires his happiness and finally returns him to his own world, but with no memory of his time in hers. Therefore, he doesn’t remember Albaric, the half-human son who loves him. Aric, immediately drawn to Albaric, soon forms an intense fraternal bond with him. The king, on the other hand, suspects the “oddling” of being an imposter with ulterior motives. As Aric and Albaric grow closer, the king becomes increasingly more paranoid and unlike himself. Aric and Albaric leave the court to visit neighboring noble houses, on the pretext of seeking a bride for Aric, while Albaric plays the role of the prince’s harpist. Courtship, intrigue, battle, and a daring rescue lead at last to a surprising yet satisfying conclusion and ultimate reconciliation.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON HEART, by Stephanie Burgis. Sequel to THE DRAGON WITH A CHOCOLATE HEART, the story of shapechanging dragon girl Aventurine, who became an apprentice in a chocolate shop in Drachenburg, a city in a vaguely Germanic invented country. In this new book, Silke, Aventurine’s human friend, part-time waitress in the shop, narrates her story in first person. A born storyteller, Silke aspires to become something more than a waitress in order to achieve her dream of a home of her own that she can never lose. When Silke and her older brother were traveling through the woods with a band of refugees several years earlier, their parents disappeared during an attack by the fairies who haunt the forest. Now the two of them live in a tent among the homeless poor of the city’s riverbank district, supporting themselves by running a market stall. Their relationship has deteriorated, with Silke’s brother disliking the amount of time she spends at the chocolate shop and behaving as if he’s always disappointed in her. Her life changes when the Crown Princess hires her to pose as a lady-in-waiting to the younger princess, Sofia, in order to spy on the fairy king and queen and their courtiers, making their first diplomatic visit to the kingdom. What do the fairies really want? The situation is complicated by the alliance made between the human kingdom and the dragons at the end of the previous book. The fairies loathe and fear dragons, while dragons think fairies are good only to eat. Silke gets off on the wrong foot with Sofia and, in her usual bold, impulsive manner, does the very opposite of staying unobtrusive like a proper spy. Her well-meant actions make things worse, until the fairies reveal their true agenda in a series of disastrous developments. It’s delightful to watch Silke’s cleverness retrieve success from the jaws of catastrophe through her genius at storytelling and learn what really happened to her parents. She realizes she can depend on others to care for and support her rather than insisting defiantly on her independence. At last, she begins to reconcile with her brother and attains the true home she has always yearned for.

HOW TO FRACTURE A FAIRY TALE, by Jane Yolen. This volume reprints almost thirty of Yolen’s stories (most of which were new to me) that retell or re-vision legends and fairy tales. The second part of the book contains the author’s comments on the stories, with an original poem for each. The tales range from humorous to very dark. Some examples: “Snow in Summer,” Snow White in Appalachia, which eventually grew into a novel. “Granny Rumple,” placing Rumpelstiltskin in a medieval ghetto. “Sleeping Ugly,” the text of one of Yolen’s children’s books. A story of a Jewish girl swept into the past by Elijah, anticipating Yolen’s Holocaust time-travel novel, THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC. Tales of a Japanese kitsune (fox shapeshifter) and a Native American maiden who marries a bear. An Appalachian vampire story, “Mama Gone.” A modernized reiteration of the Pied Piper legend, this time with a plague of frogs. The “Three Billy Goats Gruff” as told by the troll’s bridge. Three residents of the Old Wolves’ Home tell their sides of “Little Red Riding Hood,” “The Three Little Pigs,” and “Peter and the Wolf” to Nurse Lamb. A grim, incestuous retelling of “Donkeyskin” with echoes of “Cinderella.” On the funny side, “Cinder Elephant.” And those are only a few of the collection’s delights. Highly recommended.

*****

Excerpt from “Yokai Magic”:

Just as Val switched off the computer, a yowl from downstairs made her jump with alarm. She scurried to the living room. Toby crouched in the middle of the carpet, his ears flattened and tail lashing. He glared at the corner where the television sat in its niche, flanked by shelves of DVDs. His cry segued into a drawn-out growl she’d never heard from him. She tiptoed closer, reaching out but afraid to touch the fur that bristled along his back. Following the direction of his stare, she asked, “What’s wrong with you? Something behind the TV?”

He paid no attention to her. She sidled around him and peered into the corner. With only a single end-table lamp lit on the other side of the room, she couldn’t get a good look. I hope it’s not a mouse. Or, dear God, a snake. Behind her, Toby’s growl modulated into a hiss. She thought she glimpsed movement behind the TV case. Did something rustle? With the cat making so much noise, she couldn’t be sure. There, the electric cords moved as if something had disturbed them. She straightened up and glanced at Toby.

He leaped at something that darted from behind the TV. All she saw was a flash of white, gone so quickly it could have been an optical illusion. The cat sprinted through the dining room into the kitchen. Val ran after him. When she got there, she found him in the middle of the linoleum floor, the tip of his tail flicking from side to side and his fur still standing up in a ridge along his spine. She saw no sign of his quarry, though. Naturally, the door leading into the garage was closed. If the fleeing creature, whatever it was, had veered off to the dining room or the den, Toby would have chased it there. With a flashlight, she checked under the stove and behind the refrigerator. Nothing but dust.

“Way to go,” she said to the cat. “You flushed out some kind of creepy-crawly and then lost it. Now I have to spend all night worrying if it’s loose in the house.” He sat down and licked his front paws, each in turn, with his ears twitching as if he acknowledged her scolding but couldn’t bother with a response. “Best case, it was just a big, white moth. I could live with that.”

After one more scan of the kitchen and a survey of the dining room, just in case, she succumbed to second thoughts and checked the den and laundry room as well. Nothing. In the den, she did notice that the high-backed, rattan papasan chair, another souvenir her grandfather had picked up in Japan, sat in the middle of the floor instead of where it belonged. She’d taken photos of it the evening before to compare with online images of furniture of similar origin and age, in case it might be valuable enough to bother selling. Probably she’d repositioned it for better lighting and absentmindedly neglected to move it back. She shrugged at her own flakiness and tugged the chair into its usual corner.

-end of excerpt-

*****

My Publishers:

Writers Exchange E-Publishing: Writers Exchange
Harlequin: Harlequin
Hard Shell Word Factory: Hard Shell
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 November 2018 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

Happy American Thanksgiving!

I have a light paranormal romance novella, “Yokai Magic,” inspired by Japanese folklore, coming out from the Wild Rose Press on January 7, 2019. I’ve posted the cover in the Photos section of the Yahoo group. The heroine, Val, inherits a magical Japanese scroll, which conjures up a cat yokai (spirit) who’s being hunted by a wolf demon. As Val’s house becomes infested by magic, she has to turn for help to her former high-school boyfriend, now an officer in the Navy.

My humorous ghost story “Haunted Book Nook” will appear in SWORD AND SORCERESS 33, release date November 2. It takes place in the rare books room of a magical university’s library, where books and other objects have been mysteriously vanishing. An excerpt appears below. (Fenice is the librarian, and Milo is her assistant.) You can find the Kindle edition of the anthology here. (There should be a trade paperback, too, but it doesn’t show on Amazon yet.):

Sword and Sorceress 33

Here’s a post where the editor of the anthology interviews me:

Sword and Sorceress Interview

The Romance Reviews website is having a huge giveaway promotion for the entire month of November. I’ll be giving away a PDF of my story collection DAME ONYX TREASURES. Check for my contest question on November 23:

The Romance Reviews

This month, I’m interviewing paranormal and SF romance author Mary Auclair.

*****

Interview with Mary Auclair:

What inspired you to begin writing?

Like most writers, I have written for as long as I remember. My mother kept some of my earlier writing from first grade, and it already showed how much I loved putting my internal world onto a page as a story. So I guess I just never stopped!
I have been working more seriously in the past 5 years, as I chose to take a break from my engineering career to focus on being a mother. I now write full time, and I would never go back!

What genres do you work in?

I love everything paranormal and science fiction, and I also like historical work, although I have mainly focused on paranormal and science fiction romance lately.

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

As an engineer, I’m a stickler for order and control. I outline generously and with lots of detail. Only then do I feel confident enough to start writing a novel.

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

As a reader, I’m fairly diverse in my taste. I do adore Stephen King and Nalini Singh, but I also revere the great classics like Alexandre Dumas and George Sand. My absolute favorite is Anne Hebert, a French Canadian poet and writer whom I have discovered in my late teens.

How has your mechanical engineering background affected your fiction (if it has)?

I guess it made my writing life more ordered than most artists. I create checklists and outlines for all my stories, from the general series arc to each novel inside it. I also create a calendar with predicted end date for each story, and I work very hard to stick to it.
As I’m not writing hard science fiction as of late, I don’t really apply my scientific knowledge to my work, but it’s certainly in the plans.

Do you maintain a systematic “bible” for each of your series?

I maintain a bible for each series, with a glossary and timeline. I’m a control freak!

How would you describe your dragon species?

I intended the Dawn of Dragon series as a breach between fantasy and science fiction. I am quite enamored of dragons, although I wanted to steer clear of the dragon-shifter, so I imagined a world where powerful aliens would maintain a symbiotic relationship with dragons.

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?

I am working on two series right now, alternating between them for release. I just released Venomous Hunger (Book 2 in the Eok warriors series) and I’m in the final stage of editing Caress of Fire (Dawn of Dragons, book 2).

What are you working on now?

I’m currently outlining Venomous Heart (Eok Warriors, book 3) and I am in the final stages of editing Caress of Fire (Dawn of Dragons, book 2).

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Keep writing, no matter how much you self doubt. Also, consume as much as you can on books about writing. And learn to outline, whether it’s scene by scene or in broad strokes is up to you. Experiment to see what works for you. There is no method out there that works for all of us, so you need to search for what works for you, then stick to it.
And above all, believe in yourself.

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

I maintain my website fairly often, here at www.maryauclair.com, and I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I love Pinterest and maintain vision boards for all my novels!

Website: Mary Auclair
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

Thank you for the chance at being featured in your newsletter!

Mary Auclair

*****

Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD, by Paul Tremblay. Even stranger than the author’s horror novels, A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS and DISAPPEARANCE AT DEVIL’S ROCK. Those two books employ familiar horror motifs, even though in unsettling and ultimately ambiguous ways. This latest book approaches the currently popular apocalyptic tropes from a microcosmic, personal angle in a unique scenario. Chinese-born Wen, almost eight years old, is vacationing with her two adoptive fathers, Eric and Andrew, in an isolated cabin deliberately chosen for its lack of wi-fi and cell phone reception. One day, a seemingly nice man named Leonard walks out of the woods and starts a conversation with her. When she becomes uneasy enough to run for the house and tell her dads about the stranger, two women and another man join Leonard and demand to be let in. They insist they mean no harm but have an urgent message for Eric and Andrew. Eventually, they manage to break in. With the tautly suspenseful action, the reader hardly notices that almost a third of the book has gone by before the intruders announce the revelation hinted at in the cover blurb. They claim to have separately received “messages” about the imminent end of the world (although it soon becomes clear that what they expect is the end of human civilization, not the literal destruction of Earth). They deliver the ultimatum that either Eric, Andrew, or Wen must die by the willing hand of one of the other two in order to forestall the apocalypse. They display sorrow over their mission and treat the captives kindly, aside from tying up the two men. Are they deranged killers? Sociopathic liars on a homophobic rampage (Andrew’s hypothesis)? Well-meaning but delusional fanatics? Or could their claim of having received a supernatural revelation be true? The cabin has cable TV, so Leonard and his companions can access news reports that seem to validate their “message.” Every bit of evidence in their favor can be explained away, though. They announce a deadline, exacerbating the relentless suspense. The immediacy of the timeline probably accounts for the author’s use of present-tense narrative (sigh). Scenes are told in third person from the viewpoints of various characters, mainly Wen and her fathers. The portrayal of the child’s thought processes struck me as convincing. Near the end of the book, perspective shifts to first-person singular and plural voices. Readers who hope for a conclusive resolution to the questions of truth and falsehood, not to mention the nature of a deity who would impose such a condition (if the intruders are telling the truth), will be disappointed. As in his other supernatural fantasies, Tremblay maintains ambiguity, leaving the reader to draw conclusions from the evidence provided. Also, if you can’t stand graphic violence, skip this novel. I didn’t care for the quantity and intensity of it, but I stuck with the book to find out how the sympathetically portrayed family survives (or not) their horrific plight.

THE ADVENTURE OF THE INCOGNITA COUNTESS, by Cynthia Ward. A short trade paperback novel (110 pages) in the publisher’s “Conversation Pieces” line, this quirky story takes place in an alternate history reminiscent of Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula series. Like Newman, Ward populates historical events with fictional characters from a wide range of sources. Although her world doesn’t measure up to the complexity and depth of Newman’s (at least as apparent from this brief sample), it’s cleverly constructed and offers the fun of spotting the allusions. The narrator, Lucy Harker, dhampir daughter of Mina Harker and Dracula, serves as a secret agent for the British government. The head of her organization, M (of course), actually Mycroft Holmes, is also her stepfather, having married Mina after her divorce from Jonathan. Lucy’s step-uncle, the famous “consulting detective,” is mentioned several times. M assigns her to travel first class on a new transatlantic steamship leaving England in April 1912, in order to protect an American military officer carrying confidential documents about the reverse-engineering of the recently recovered submarine Nautilus. Thanks to technology derived from the failed Martian invasion in the late nineteenth century, the highly advanced ship is claimed to be unsinkable. The reader, naturally, knows we’re on the Titanic well before its name is mentioned. Lucy meets vampire Carmilla Karnstein, now using the name Clarimal. Other passengers include a pair of German agents and an English peer, Lord Greyborough, and his wife, Joanne (stand-ins for Lord Greystoke—Tarzan—and Jane). Lucy and Clarimal, drawn together by instant, ardent passion, become sexually intimate, even though Lucy considers it her duty to stake vampires on sight. Clarimal claims eagerness to be released from her cursed existence, but somehow they keep putting off the fatal deed night after night. Lucy doubts their mutual attachment because she has always believed vampires to be incapable of genuine emotion. The fast-paced plot culminates in the anticipated collision with the iceberg, and all Hell breaks loose. Thanks to Clarimal and Lord Greyborough, Lucy succeeds in foiling the Germans’ scheme, at least for the present. I enjoyed the story but didn’t feel a deep emotional connection to the characters. We don’t get to know Clarimal well enough for the growing love between her and Lucy to be, for me, fully convincing. Still, this quick, fun read would appeal to most fans of classic vampire fiction. There’s a sequel, THE ADVENTURE OF THE DUX BELLORUM, set during World War I.

THE BARTERED BRIDES, by Mercedes Lackey. Another fantasy novel with a Sherlock Holmes connection, this is the third in the Elemental Masters subseries featuring Holmes, John and Mary Watson (Elemental Mages), and medium Sarah and psychic Nan from the main series. A more suitable title, actually, for the sake of accuracy in addition to alliteration, would be “Beheaded Brides,” since the “bartering” isn’t that important a plot point; “Beheaded” might give away a bit too much at first glance, though. As the book opens, the public believes Sherlock Holmes plunged to his death along with Professor Moriarty. Wisely, the narrative doesn’t drag out artificial suspense on this point. Holmes reveals himself to the Watsons, Nan, and Sarah almost immediately, although his survival is to be kept a secret among his inner circle for the present. Moriarty, though dead, lingers as a ghost bound to a talisman prepared beforehand by a necromancer henchman of his. The beheaded corpses of young women, many of them mere girls, turn up dressed as brides. We get numerous scenes from the necromancer’s viewpoint, so we know what he’s up to long before the heroes do. By constructing a sort of “battery” of psychic energy from the girls’ bound spirits, he plans to transfer Moriarty’s spirit into a new body. For that purpose, the villain snares a disgruntled young would-be poet in opium addiction. The suspense arises from watching Nan, Sarah, and the Watsons pull together seemingly unrelated threads to discover that the various crimes and attacks plaguing them come from the same person. Their preternaturally intelligent birds, Grey and Neville, of course play vital roles in the investigation. So does the ghost of a young woman, Caro, prematurely dead after leading the sheltered life of an invalid, whom Sarah befriends. For a while toward the end of the book, the heroes engage in more waiting and watching, reactive rather than proactive, than is usual in a Lackey novel, but there is a certain amount of realism in recognizing that they’ve hit a dead end in their investigation. Good ultimately triumphs, of course, with a happy ending for everyone who deserves it, even Caro, except the murdered “brides” (unless one considers their escape into the peace of the afterlife as such). Unlike almost all the other Elemental Masters fantasies, this book doesn’t rework a fairy tale, aside from one scene’s allusion to the poisoned apple in “Snow White.”

*****

Excerpt from “Haunted Book Nook”:

That evening Fenice and Milo met in the deserted hall outside the Rare Books Archive. After unlocking the outer door to the suite, she cast invisibility spells on her assistant and herself. Milo’s clothes rustled as if he were flapping his arms. “Wow,” he whispered. “This feels weird.”

“You’ll get used to it.” She groped for the doorknob and let the two of them into the anteroom, then shut the door behind them. Although the lamps on the reading desks had been extinguished for the night, a smaller, dimmer version of the ceiling globe in the book vault allowed them to see their way to the inner portal. They stepped inside and closed that door, too. “Nobody here,” she said. “My first guess would be that somebody is filching objects by long-distance teleportation, but the wards should prevent that.”

Milo bumped into her and murmured an apology. “However they’re doing it, I wonder why they’re taking ink and stuff like that. Valuable books, I can understand.”

She felt around until she could clasp one of his hands, clammy to her touch. She guided him to the corner next to the oversized painting and pulled him down beside her. “We’ll be out of the way here in case a flesh-and-blood person shows up. We don’t want them to trip over us. Now we should stay quiet.”

A tedious stretch of time followed. In the windowless room, no sounds broke the stillness except the flutter of the pen in the drawer and the skittering of the glass cat’s paws. After a while, her legs and rear ached from sitting on the hardwood floor. She cautiously shifted position to ease cramps and heard muted scrapings and rustlings as her assistant probably did the same. Just when she wondered whether they’d waited long enough and ought to give up until the following night, a chill crept over her. The next moment, the temperature of the air fell from its usual dry coolness to the cold of a bleak autumn day.

Milo gasped. Fenice squeezed his hand to remind him of the need for silence. Directly across from them, several books in the center of a shelf halfway up began quivering. After a few seconds, one of them detached itself from its place and floated across the room toward the picture. About an arm’s length from the wall, the volume blinked out of existence, or so it appeared.

-end of excerpt-

*****

My Publishers:

Writers Exchange E-Publishing: Writers Exchange
Harlequin: Harlequin
Hard Shell Word Factory: Hard Shell
Whiskey Creek: Whiskey Creek

You can contact me at: MLCVamp@aol.com

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

Welcome to the October 2018 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

Happy Halloween!

Harlequin has scheduled a 31-percent-off Halloween sale. On Halloween, visit their website and apply this code: NEVERMORE31

For those who haven’t read EMBRACING DARKNESS, a stand-alone vampire romance in my “Vanishing Breed” universe, here’s a chance to buy the e-book at a large discount:

Harlequin

An excerpt appears below. Heroine Linnet and hero Max (a vampire, though she doesn’t know that yet) are preparing to interrogate a minion of the female vampire responsible for the deaths of Linnet’s niece and Max’s younger brother.

G. Kent (whose vampire trilogy I review below) posted a wonderful 5-star review of DARK CHANGELING on Amazon:

Amazon Review of Dark Changeling

October’s interviewee is multi-genre romance author Marie Dry.

*****

Interview with Marie Dry:

Thanks for having me over Margaret. I love talking about writing and my stories.

*What inspired you to begin writing?*

I’ve made up stories ever since I can remember. I first wrote something down at seven. Sadly that masterpiece was lost.

*What genres do you work in?*

I have one Paranormal Romance book and six Science Fiction Romance Books published. I am also working on a steampunk trilogy, contemporary romance and more Paranormal Romance Series and a Dragon Story. If it’s a romance genre I probably have an idea somewhere in a file or on my computer that will fit the genre.

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

I “wing it”. I’d love to be able to outline and shave some time off my process but that just doesn’t work for me. Any planning I do is with character development. I always have this suspicion that people that plot know things I’m supposed to know.

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

Jayne Anne Krentz is one of the biggest influences. A few of my favorite authors are Nalini Singh, Georgette Heyer, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan and of course my CP Cassandra L. Shaw and many more. The stories have always been there, I think of myself as a story teller and through good times and bad I could depend on the characters in my head to get me through anything.

*How would you describe your dragons?*

Different from what you’d expect a dragon to be and about to meet a catalyst in the form of my heroine.

*How do your vampires differ from the “traditional” type?*

They are elitist and arrogant, so not that much different from most vampires. When I write Alaina and the Vampire I will learn more about them.

*What’s your world-building procedure for alien cultures? Do you keep a series “bible” for each of your series?*

I have a rough bible for the Zyrgin Warrior series. I have an extra set of my books which I use to keep myself reminded of all the facts in the series. It’s full of post-it stickers and with relevant passages highlighted. I do world building the way I plot. By the seat of my pants.

*What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?*

Dawn of the Cyborg came out 1 September and next will be Alien Redeemed. After that I will either write the next Cyborg or Alien Rescue.

*What are you working on now?*

Alien Redeemed.

*What advice would you give to aspiring writers?*

Write every day, enjoy the writing process and learn the craft of writing. But above all enjoy the characters in your head and their stories.

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

Marie Dry

Facebook

*****

Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

GRANADA HILLS BLOOD WAR and GRANADA HILLS BLOOD LUST, by G. Kent. These two novels complete the vampire trilogy begun in GRANADA HILLS BLOOD. In the first novel, Bach, a native of Bakersfield, California, now living and teaching high school in Granada Hills, gets transformed into a vampire. He quits his job, embraces a new lifestyle, and learns of the ongoing feud between the minority of killer vampires and the generally benign majority. Bach reconnects with Annie Mosher, a former girlfriend, who aligns with the killer vampires and betrays him. He converts and falls in love with a woman named Sophie. In the second and third novels, Bach becomes more deeply initiated into the vampire world. He meets older, wiser undead and teams up with police officers who know about the killer vampires and, in a sometimes precarious alliance, fight against them alongside the non-killers. Annie reappears, her allegiance and moral stance remaining ambiguous. Some people Bach honors and cares for die. In the course of the “blood war,” he discovers the dangerously addictive quality of draining blood, especially vampire blood, in act of killing. Bach’s California milieu is permeated with popular culture, especially the movies of recent decades. Film stars are frequently name-checked and sometimes appear in person. The practice of including living celebrities as characters strikes me as legally risky, although at least the narrator doesn’t say anything derogatory about them. Johnny Depp appears as a vampire, but he’s a nice one. I admire the way this author gives his vampires several unique features. A fledgling vamp will become ill if he tries to go outside the boundaries of his territory. He also needs to consume blood from residents of his home territory. As a vampire grows older, his or her range gradually expands. Although these vampires do need blood, they can also eat and drink ordinary foods and beverages. In an intriguing innovation, mercury acts like “kryptonite” for vampires. A knife blade or a bullet coated with mercury can seriously wound or even kill one of the undead. Bach struggles with not only addiction to the kill (a not-uncommon motif in vampire fiction), but also, more unusually, with depression, personified as the “black dog” of melancholy. It bothers me that Bach so casually resorts to stealing to support himself (even if he can’t teach or coach in the high school anymore, there are plenty of night jobs he might work at). Otherwise, though, he’s a pretty decent guy. Fans of stories that explore the plight of an ordinary person adjusting to the demands of a vampire existence should enjoy this trilogy.

ALTERNATE ROUTES, by Tim Powers. This is a rich and strange work of fantasy, as one would expect from the author of THE STRESS OF HER REGARD and THE ANUBIS GATES. This latest novel reveals ghosts haunting the Los Angeles freeway system. The “currents” generated by the flow of traffic on the freeways attract the spirits of the dead. Ex-Secret-Service agent Sebastian Vickery (not his real name) is in danger from a covert branch of his former service that investigates the freeway ghosts or, as they’re officially labeled, “deleted persons.” Vickery had to leave the Secret Service when he accidentally overheard a fragment of speech the authorities didn’t want him to know about. Now he drives for a “supernatural evasion car service” (as the cover blurb puts it) disguised as a fleet of food trucks. In the first chapter, Ingrid Castine, an agent who has become disillusioned with her organization, saves his life in a gunfight. Thus begins a shared road trip along the highways of both mundane southern California and a surreal alternate dimension. The covert agents, under the supervision of Terracotta, a creepy antagonist who has rejected the concept of free will and the reality of consciousness, monitor and sometimes communicate with deleted persons. Precautions must be taken; for instance, if you speak to a ghost in complete sentences, it may be able to track you down. Therefore, a circle of three or four agents reads a message from a written script, one word per person at a time. As fugitives on the L.A. freeways, Vickery and Castine seek help from several quirky characters. Also, Vickery encounters his dead wife, who committed suicide after learning that they couldn’t conceive children (because he had a vasectomy before they met). The conventional wisdom holds that ghosts aren’t the people they appear to be, but only simulacra with their memories. Yet they THINK they are the people who died, so don’t they deserve to be treated with consideration? In addition to the spirits of the dead, the freeway also harbors the “never born,” shades of individuals who might have existed in a different reality but never lived in ours. Vickery and Castine meet one such shade, his potential daughter. When Castine drives onto an on-ramp that shouldn’t be there and instantly vanishes after passing through the portal, Vickery follows her into the other dimension to bring her back. They have to anchor themselves against the chaos of that realm by fixating on logical, immutable facts such as basic math. They each carry a string abacus and constantly remind each other (for example) that two and two equal four. At the heart of the chaotic landscape stands “the factory,” opposite to the ever-shifting unreality of that world—a site, rather, of “hyper-reality.” Similarly to the mythological allusions in THE STRESS OF HER REGARD, this novel identifies the alternate-dimension freeway Labyrinth with the maze constructed by Daedalus in Greek legend. ALTERNATE ROUTES offers a riveting combination of terror, courage, love, and fascinatingly weird science-fantasy inventiveness.

FLIGHT OR FRIGHT, edited by Stephen King and Bev Vincent. A mostly-reprint anthology of horror stories featuring airplanes. It begins with an introduction by King and ends with an afterword by Vincent, and King prefaces each story with brief commentary. “About the Authors” includes a full paragraph of biographical background on each contributor. The contents range as far into the past as “The Horror of the Heights,” a terrifying adventure by Arthur Conan Doyle, and Ambrose Bierce’s sardonic short-short piece, “The Flying Machine.” The best-known tale in the batch is Richard Matheson’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” about an airline passenger who spots a gremlin on the wing, filmed as a classic TWILIGHT ZONE episode. Almost all the others were new to me. This book provides a valuable historical overview of air travel as a motif in horror fiction. Naturally, I like some of the stories more than others, but they all showcase high-quality writing. Two were written especially for this volume: “The Turbulence Expert,” by Stephen King, features a man who has the covert job of riding on commercial flights, going through traumatic psychic ordeals to prevent them from crashing. “You Are Released,” by King’s son Joe Hill, told from the viewpoints of multiple passengers and crew members on a commercial jet, follows the airliner’s suspenseful quest for safe harbor after an international crisis erupts into war. My one gripe about this volume is that the stories appear neither in alphabetical order by author nor in chronological order of publication (which would be preferable). Why do so many anthologies have apparently random layouts?

*****

Excerpt from EMBRACING DARKNESS:

The door behind her swung open. Linnet jumped. In the heat of the conversation, she’d forgotten about Max lurking outside. He darted around her so fast her head spun, grabbed the young man, and shoved him onto the couch. “Linnet, lock the door,” he growled without looking at her.

Shaking, she fumbled for the doorknob, closed and locked the door, and hooked the chain. The man didn’t even try to fight off Max. Instead, he gibbered incoherent phrases that conveyed nothing but terror.

“Shut up.” At Max’s quiet command, the man fell silent. “You will be quiet and listen. You will not speak or move unless I order you to. Is that clear?” The man nodded. Though he slumped, with his arms limp at his sides, his eyes stayed wide open. “Good. Now sit still.”

Linnet couldn’t help retreating a step when Max walked over to her. “You hypnotized him somehow.” She’d never heard of any form of hypnosis that worked so fast, with no soothing chants or shiny focal objects.

“More or less.” His hands skimmed up her bare arms to settle on her shoulders.

Recalling the vertigo that swept over her each time his eyes captured hers, she said, “You tried to do the same to me. But you can’t.”

“So I’ve concluded. Very intriguing.” One of his hands crept from her shoulder to her neck. His cool fingers on the flushed skin made her shiver. “But I don’t want you to hear my conversation with our host, so—”

She felt pressure on the side of her neck. Gray spots clustered before her eyes. He’s strangling me! The gray thickened to black. With a sensation like a rapid fall in an elevator, she tumbled into the blackness.

-end of excerpt-

*****

My Publishers:

Writers Exchange E-Publishing: Writers Exchange
Harlequin: Harlequin
Hard Shell Word Factory: Hard Shell
Whiskey Creek: Whiskey Creek

You can contact me at: MLCVamp@aol.com

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