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