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