Welcome to the March 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

This is issue number 150 of the newsletter! Hard to believe I’ve been doing it for so long. Thanks for sticking around! In celebration, I’ll give a free PDF of my story collection DAME ONYX TREASURES to anyone who requests it between now and March 10. I’d gratefully appreciate some Amazon reviews if you have time. E-mail me at: MLCVamp@aol.com.

I’ve compiled a collection of fantasy tales by my husband, Leslie Roy Carter, and me, most of which were published in the webzine SORCEROUS SIGNALS (now closed). A few are spin-offs from our “Wild Sorceress” series but can be read completely on their own. You can check it out here:

Harvest of Magic

I’m happy to report that FROM THE DARK PLACES, my urban fantasy / horror novel with Lovecraftian elements and a romantic subplot, has just been re-released:

From the Dark Places

It’s been lightly re-edited, mainly to change the setting from explicitly the late 1970s to the indefinite past. When Dr. Ray Benson and Father Michael Emeric warn young widow Kate Jacobs that she and her four-year-old daughter have become targets of dark forces from beyond our space-time continuum, Kate at first thinks they’re deranged fanatics. Then a sinister attack on her little girl changes Kate’s mind. An excerpt from that incident appears below.

This month I’m interviewing fantasy author C. J. Bahr.

*****

Interview with C. J. Bahr:

What inspired you to begin writing?

My love of reading. I grew up in a household where my parents and older sisters always had a book in hand, which set a great example for me. As I grew older, sometimes I didn’t find the stories I wanted to read, so I started to write my own. I think it was around junior high and have been writing ever since. It wasn’t until my late twenties I decided to try and get my work published. I managed to sell a short story to a Marion Zimmer Bradley anthology. I thought I was a one hit wonder until almost twenty years later I sold my first novel.

What genres do you work in?

I write mostly fantasy, in the sub-genres of contemporary and paranormal romance.

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

I’m mostly a “seat-of-the-pants” writer. I really wish I could outline, I think it would make me a faster writer, but no matter how I try, I just can’t make myself accomplish it. I always know how my story starts and the ending, but getting from the beginning to the conclusion is always an adventure.

What have been the major influences on your writing?

First, my fellow author and friend, Marla. She’s so inspiring and such a cheerleader, she kept me going through the drought of not being published. Second, the authors I avidly read, who I’d love to be when I grow up, so to speak. In fantasy, it would be Raymond E. Feist, Mercedes Lackey, Barbara Hambly and Kevin Hearne. In paranormal, such authors as Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher, Nalini Singh and Karen Marie Moning.

Your bio mentions that you’ve done music editing for television. What does that entail, and has it affected your writing career?

Music editing is part of post production just like film and sound editing; however, instead of pictures or effects, I work with music. I help build the soundtracks you hear in television and films. I work directly with a composer and collaborate with the show’s creditor to build and supervise the music that goes into shows. It’s super fun and uses both right and left-brain skills because there is a creative side of making music but also a technical side of the computer software I use to build the soundtracks.

My day career hasn’t really affected my writing except for making time to write, which can be difficult at times. Another way my job influences, I tend to “score” my writing, lol. I always write with music playing in the background. It has to be instrumental because vocals distract me. If I’m writing an action scene, I’ll cue up some fun battle music from various movies to help get me in the groove, or something dark for my villain scenes or bouncy music for my bantering dialogue. It’s like creating my own personal soundtrack for my book.

Please tell us about your experience with having Walking Through Fire released as an audiobook.

My publisher, The Wild Rose Press, gets the ball rolling by posting it to the group of narrators they use. When a narrator picks it up, they give a short sample and I get a say if I like them or not. Once the narrator is chosen, the chapters come in for approval and corrections, which I do on my own. I developed quite the relationship with my narrator, Ben Eastman, because he actually got seriously ill during the recording; it was scary there for a bit. He’s all better now and the audiobook was released on February 15th. Currently Ben and I are collaborating on book 2 of the Fire Chronicles, and we’re having fun figuring out all the different characters’ voices.

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

“Forged In Fire”, book 2 in the Fire Chronicles series released this past November. It’s a time travel romance set in 1795 in Yorkshire, England. I finally got to write a handsome, roguish highwayman story!

Here’s the blurb:

Beth Leighton moved to Scotland to marry the love of her life. But then he betrays her and she is fatally shot. However the Archangel Remiel interferes, and she awakes to find herself in 18th century England. Alive but confused and lost, she wants to go home. Despite a roguish and handsome highwayman.

Christopher “Kit” Locke is haunted by his past mistakes and lives on danger’s edge, not caring if he lives or dies. He will leave that choice to Fate. Intrigued by the spirited Beth, he is drawn from his spiraling descent and is enlisted to help steal an evil artifact, the Viper’s Eye, a demonic soul-stealing jewel.

While the Archangel and the Duke of Hell battle it out, both Beth and Kit must also fight evil. When the stone seeks Kit’s soul, can Beth’s love keep him from falling victim to the Viper’s Eye or will she lose Kit to Hell’s fire?

I’m also taking the plunge into self-publishing and hope to have my first contemporary fantasy, “Valley Fever”, released in a few months. It’s set in Southern California and it’s super fast paced and taking place across seven days. It has monsters, elves and an earthquake.

What are you working on now?

Currently I’m working on book 3 of my Fire Chronicles series, which has the potential of seven books, all meant to be stand alones (though book 2 has a bit of a cross over…). It is tentatively called “Playing With Fire.” This time, it is set in present day New Orleans and hopefully I’ll write this one faster! When I get stuck, I jump over to an urban fantasy I’ve been playing around with starring a kick-ass time cop.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Two things… First, find a fellow writer friend. It has helped me so much to have a trusted and talented friend to bounce ideas off of and someone who will give me her honest opinion and critiques. My writing improves dramatically being able have her insight. Second, never give up! I was first published in 1994 with a short story, and I didn’t strike again until 2014. It would have been so easy to throw in the towel, but I believed in myself and hung in there. It helps that I love to write, so I was going to continue whether I published again or not. Dreams can come true, you have to be persistent and keep growing and improving. It will happen.

Website:
C. J. Bahr

Blog:
Blog

Twitter:
@cjbahr (https://twitter.com/cjbahr)

Facebook:
Facebook

Goodreads:
Goodreads

Bookbub:
Bookbub

*****

Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

BECOMING MADELEINE, by Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Lena Roy. A life of Madeleine L’Engle by her granddaughters, aimed at teen readers. It isn’t a comprehensive biography; the main body of the work ends with the publication of A WRINKLE IN TIME, because the authors felt (as explained in the afterword) that young readers would find L’Engle’s early years most interesting and because WRINKLE marks a major turning point in her career. The rest of her life is summarized in the epilogue. BECOMING MADELEINE is a quick read and very engaging, illustrated by numerous photos of L’Engle and her family as well as excerpts from her letters and journals with photocopied samples of those and other relevant documents, even school report cards. While the authors don’t gloss over her flaws, mistakes, and periods of discouragement and depression, on the whole they offer a highly positive and deeply loving portrait of their grandmother. This is a short book, though, omitting many of the details that can be found in L’Engle’s own autobiographical memoirs such as TWO-PART INVENTION and SUMMER OF THE GREAT-GRANDMOTHER. My own most significant disappointment is that, as a biography for teens, it doesn’t delve into contentious matters such as the extent to which L’Engle re-shaped her life in retelling it. (Was her father actually gassed in World War I? According to other sources I’ve come upon, there is some doubt.) There’s no mention, understandably, of her husband’s rumored drinking problem and infidelity or the fact that their son’s early death resulted from alcohol abuse. When an author incorporates so much of her own life into her works, I think it’s reasonable to want to know how closely the writings correspond to the events they’re inspired by. I had especially hoped for a discussion of her children’s negative reaction to some of her novels, such as MEET THE AUSTINS; the fact that they felt hurt by her fiction and she never fully understood why is briefly alluded to but not explored. Still, until an in-depth biography for adults comes along, this is a delightful and insightful book any fan of L’Engle’s work will enjoy reading.

THE CACKLE OF CTHULHU, edited by Alex Shvarstman. The title of this mostly-reprint anthology is self-explanatory: It contains 22 humorous tales based on Lovecraft’s mythos. Contributions come from such distinguished writers as Neil Gaiman, Esther Friesner, Jody Lynn Nye, Mike Resnick, and Yvonne Navarro, among others. Friesner’s “The Shunned Trailer” is as funny as one would expect from her. Other standouts, in my opinion, include Nye’s “My Little Old One,” Kevin Wetmore’s “Tales of a Fourth-Grade Shoggoth,” Shaenon K. Garrity’s “To Whatever” (notes to “the thing that lives in the walls”), “The Innsmouth of the South,” by Rachael K. Jones, and “In the Employee Manual of Madness,” by G. Scott Huggins. A few, such as “But Someone’s Got to Do It,” by Konstantine Paradias, and “A Stiff Bargain,” by Matt Mikalatos, impress me as more disturbing than funny. My favorite is Gaiman’s “Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar,” featuring a clueless American tourist who, while hiking across the English countryside, stumbles upon an isolated village with a pub frequented by decidedly odd customers. The dialogue sparkles with dry, British-style humor. (Glossing the iconic phrase “Strange Aeons,” one of the batrachian locals explains, “We are not talking your normal Aeons here at all.”) A must-read tome for dedicated fans of the Cthulhu Mythos.

DARK IN DEATH, by J. D. Robb. I especially liked this latest Eve Dallas mystery because of the subject matter. Two seemingly unrelated murders turn out to have nothing to do with the victims personally at all. The murderer is reenacting crimes from the works of a bestselling mystery author in order to “rewrite” them to make the villains win. She (we learn the antagonist’s motive and probable gender early in the story) chooses the victims solely on the basis of how well they match characters from the published novels. So her ultimate target is the author, not the individual victims. Eve and her team unearth letters and e-mails that chart the killer’s progress from devoted fan and aspiring writer to a bitter enemy who feels betrayed by the author she’d deluded herself into considering a friend and mentor. The motive comes across as all too believable. I enjoyed the inside glimpses of the publishing business and the writing life. Especially pointed is the absurdity of the criminal’s notion that the author’s latest novel was plagiarized from an unpublished manuscript the author sent back unopened and unread—only four months before the publication of the novel. All the favorite secondary characters make appearances except Summerset, who’s on vacation. The anticipated scenes play out as usual—banter between Eve and her partner; interviews with her reporter friend and the department’s psychological profiler; sex with her multi-billionaire husband, Roarke; suspenseful, narrowly missed opportunities to nab the culprit; and finally Eve’s interrogation of the captured murderer. As always, Eve’s New York feels to me like a thoroughly believable picture of the 2060s, just futuristic enough.

THE WILD GIRL, by Kate Forsyth. The author of “Rapunzel” novel BITTER GREENS offers a fictional exploration of the early life of Dortchen Wild, wife of Wilhelm Grimm, from her initial crush on him at age twelve up to their marriage in their thirties. Their families were close neighbors. Their relationship, as told by Forsyth, suffered many bumps in the road until they acknowledged their mutual love, and even then many years passed before they married. Through Dortchen’s viewpoint, we witness the Grimms’ financial struggles, her difficult family life with an always stern and authoritarian father who became outright abusive after his wife’s death, and the cultural and political atmosphere of the German states in the early nineteenth century. Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm often found themselves in political hot water while trying to find jobs that would enable them to support their siblings. Their trailblazing collection of tales took a long time to find a publisher and still longer to win the acclaim it deserved. Dortchen’s father opposed her relationship with Wilhelm, but even after her father’s death, the couple waited ten years to marry. Forsyth theorizes, on the basis of changes from original to published versions of certain tales, that Dortchen may have been molested by her father. Contrary to popular belief, the Grimms did not travel around the countryside collecting fairy tales from old peasants. Many if not most of their stories were told to them by informants, mainly women, of their own class and social circle. Dortchen contributed at least a quarter of the total. Her family’s long-time servant “Old Marie” serves as an example of a bridge between the middle-class informants and the original folklore sources. The novel includes the texts of many tales, with the geographical source, who supplied them to the Grimms, and the date they were recorded. Although this book, unlike BITTER GREENS, doesn’t contain any fantastic elements outside the fairy tales themselves, it makes a fascinating read. One can’t help yearning for the Grimms’ success and Dortchen’s happiness.

*****

Excerpt from FROM THE DARK PLACES:

Kate dashed to the telephone in the kitchen. Just as she reached it, the doorbell buzzed. She scurried to the front door. “Who’s there?” Her voice sounded shrill, like a stranger’s.

“Ray Benson.”

Momentarily forgetting his betrayal, she scrambled to unfasten the locks. When he stepped inside, she remembered her fury at his breach of trust. “What are you doing here? I told you–”

“I had to come.” He clutched her arm. “What’s happened? Something is terribly wrong, isn’t it?”

“Oh, God, yes! It’s Sara!” Together they hurried to the back bedroom. “How did you know?”

“A few minutes ago I woke up out of a dead sleep and knew you needed me. I had a feeling of urgency. What’s wrong with Sara?”

She pulled him into the room and flicked the light switch. “Look at her!”

Ray bent over the bed, flexing Sara’s limbs, checking her pulse.

“She woke me up, screaming,” said Kate, “and when I got here, she was like this.” Her voice shook, along with her hands. She intertwined her fingers, struggling for control. “Shouldn’t I call an ambulance?”

“No.”

“No! Have you lost your mind?” The cry tore from her throat.

Without answering, Ray stood up, glanced at the window–open, Kate suddenly realized, though she had locked it. He gazed bleakly at her. “Kate, you must gather all your courage and try to believe me. This is not Sara.”

Paralyzed by the incomprehensible words, she simply stared at him. In a harsh whisper she said, “What are you talking about?”

“I’m sorry to have to do this, but I can’t explain. Just watch.” He placed his left hand on the little girl’s forehead.

Kate grabbed his right arm and cried, “Don’t touch her, you maniac!”

“Please, Kate.” His eyes held such anguished appeal that she no longer doubted his sincerity. While he might still be insane, he meant her no harm. He cared about her and Sara.

When Kate released his right arm, he raised it as if taking oath in court. He muttered a phrase in a language she didn’t recognize. At the same time, he traced a cross on the child’s brow.

Sara’s shape collapsed like a deflated balloon. Her features withered. A stick figure with hair and clothing like dry leaves lay on the bed. Within seconds, it crumbled into a scattering of gray dust.

Kate screamed. She continued screaming as Ray half-carried her from the bedroom. Blackness swirled before her eyes. She felt hands shaking her. When she opened her eyes, she was sitting at the kitchen table. Ray pressed a glass into her fingers. She drank. Sherry.

He clasped her head between his hands and made her gaze into his eyes. “Listen to me. That was not Sara. Sara is alive.”

She had to take a longer swallow before she could process that remark well enough to respond. “What makes you think so?” The room lurched around her. Was he lying? How she yearned to believe him!

“Because if they only wanted her dead, they wouldn’t have gone to all that trouble to take her. They’d have killed her on the spot.”

“They?” Conspiracy again. God, could it all be true?

“Wait here.” He patted her shoulder, then left the room. She closed her eyes, trying to blank out what she’d seen. Shortly Ray reappeared. He pulled her to her feet. “Come with me.”

She guessed where he wanted to lead her. “No! I can’t go in there!”

“It’s all right. There’s nothing terrible to see.” He put his arm around her shoulders.

Letting him guide her, she forced herself to look at Sara’s bed. To her relief, Ray had stripped it. “I want to show you the window,” he said. When he pushed the window down to give her a view of the four panes of glass, she saw that the top right had a circular hole in it. “Glass cutter and suction cup,” said Ray. “Standard burglary skills. Someone broke in this way, took Sara–probably after giving her some kind of sedative by injection –and left a golem.” Until that moment, she’d still half feared that the thing on the bed was her daughter. The marks of a break-in supported Ray’s theory.

“How?” Shuddering, Kate hid her face on Ray’s shoulder and burst into tears.

He held her for a long time. When her mind cleared again, they were sitting together on the living room couch. “What was that thing?” she whispered.

“A decoy to give them a head start on us. If you’d depended on ordinary medical knowledge, you might not have realized Sara was gone for days, until the thing disintegrated on its own.” He clasped her hand with a gentleness in marked contrast to the grim expression on his face. “A very old trick. The late medieval inquisitors claimed a witch on her way to the Sabbat could deceive her family by leaving a poppet, a lifelike image of herself, in bed in her place. Looks like the legends have a bit of truth in them.”

“You’re talking about magic.” She pressed her knuckles to her mouth to keep from screaming again. After a few deep breaths, she could speak coherently. “Literal black magic, right here in modern San Francisco.”

“I’m not surprised you didn’t believe it when we tried to explain this afternoon.”

For a fleeting instant, she wondered whether Ray and Father Emeric had set up this bizarre disappearance to convert her to their views. But she immediately dismissed the idea. If Ray’s concern wasn’t genuine, she couldn’t trust any of her perceptions about anything. Then that means I have real enemies–supernatural enemies. “I’m sorry I accused you of such terrible things.”

-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