Welcome to the September 2022 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

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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

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Carter Kindle Books

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My dark paranormal erotic romance novella with Lovecraftian elements “Crossing the Border” was published by the Wild Rose Press in August. A horror author’s widow learns why he urged her not to publish his final book—because the terrifying alternate dimension in his fiction is real.

Crossing the Border

An excerpt from the heroine’s memory of her husband’s final night appears below.

My erotic paranormal ghost romance “Heart Diamond” will be re-released by the Wild Rose Press in September.

In this issue I introduce mystery and suspense author Randy Overbeck.


Interview with Randy Overbeck:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I’ve been a writer most of my life, one way or the other. During my high school years, I had dreams of becoming a novelist, but real life intervened and I became an educator instead. Over almost four decades, I served children as a teacher, college professor and school leader and loved it. I also found there was a good bit of writing in all these roles, especially as an administrator, so my work kept nurturing my writing gene. As I was completing my career in education, I returned to my first love and began doing creative writing again. Now four, almost five novels later, I’m definitely an author now.

What genres do you work in?

As with most things in my life, I like to push myself, always looking for new challenges. My first novel, published in 2012, LEAVE NO CHILD BEHIND, is a thriller about a terrorist cell which takes over a Midwest high school and the teacher who fights the terrorists. My three most recent titles, the Haunted Shores Mysteries, are paranormal mysteries featuring a ghost-whispering teacher and coach. I’m currently shopping my newest work, HARD LESSONS, an amateur sleuth mystery about a rogue drug in 1995 responsible for the death of five middle school kids. And I’m hard at work on my newest writing project, a historical suspense novel about colonial spies in the Revolutionary War.

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

I clearly straddle the middle between these two camps. In order to write with clarity, when I starting, I need to have some basic organization—murder, ghost, larger crime, primary suspects and of course location—all laid out and planned. I usually use some kind of basic outline—though it looks nothing like the outline taught in school—to guide me through the first 40% of the narrative. Once I’m well into the manuscript, I let the story evolve as it develops. BTW this might be interesting to your readers. I don’t decide on the murderer until I’m almost finished the narrative. As I write, I place clues for several characters to be the murderer. “They all could have done it!” Then, as I’m nearing the climax, the “perfect” culprit comes to me and voila! I have my killer. It’s a little unorthodox but it works for me.

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

While several factors have influenced my work, my experience as an educator has had the most impact, but I’ll address this in the next question. From my travels I gained inspiration and an appreciation for the culture, people, natural beauty of other places. For example, my return trips to the magnificent Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay inspired me to craft a mystery there for the first entry in the series, BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE. Early on, I was fortunate to attend a few great writing conferences and met several major authors like Hank Philippi Ryan and William Kent Kreuger. I found them to be rather down to earth and very much like me when they started out. They gave me the courage to move forward with my writing.

What impact has your career as an educator had on your fiction?

One of maxims for writers is “Write what you know.” Over my almost forty years in education, I was blessed to meet and work with thousands of teachers, administrators, parents, students and board members. This experience has given me a tremendous respect for those who toil quietly and without fanfare to give our children the best chance at happy, successful and productive lives. I interacted with them in all kinds of situations from mundane to crises and believe educators are truly the unsung heroes of our country. And I’ve seen them at their best and their worst. This has given me a wealth of experiences to draw on to craft engaging and believable fictional stories. I write what I know. It should be no surprise that the heroes in my tales are and will continue to be educators.

What kinds of research do you do for your mysteries? Have you visited all the locations featured in your novels?

Research was one of the skills that transferred well from education to writing. In my school career, I was the person responsible for research on curriculum, on technology, on grants. So when I began writing in earnest, I used the same researching skills to make sure my tales were authentic. Not only did I visit the location for each entry, I spent time with the locals, completed on-the-ground research at the local library, met and worked with town and Chamber representatives. I worked to learn the idioms and culture of each area. Plus each story required new areas of research—sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, learning about the lives of migrant workers, discovering the unique history of the area. I have to admit I love the research almost as much as I love the writing.

I notice your blog covers a wide variety of topics. Please highlight a few for the benefit of our readers.

I view my blog as a conversation between my readers and me. At times, I share a bit about my writing or some writing advice I’ve found quite helpful. Other times I’ll blog about some of the social issues exposed in my novels. For example, January is Human Trafficking Awareness month. Since the second title in my series, CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY, exposes the horror of this crime, I do a post that month sharing some important information. My recent posts in December, the giving season, have shared organizations and non-profits particularly deserving of our support. Oh, and since ghosts play an important role in my series, I share a post about the spirit world every few months. In fact, I have another ghost blog post coming up next month.

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

My latest book is the third entry in the Haunted Shores Mysteries, SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER. In the tale, my teacher hero, Darrell, is taking his new bride on their honeymoon to a quaint small town on the Gulf coast of Florida. But their newlywed celebrations are interrupted by the ghosts of two murdered children, who plead with Darrell to help them find justice. (And of course, only he can see them.) Even though it is third installment, SCARLET can be read separately from the first two, and is a Christmas mystery as well. The novel has already earned three national awards and scores of 5-star reviews.
“Author Randy Overbeck intrigues the reader with a tantalizing mystery, cleverly drawn characters, haunting paranormal activity, and a great story steeped in contemporary social issues and interests.”

Review of Scarlet at Crystal River

What are you working on now?

As I mentioned earlier, I’m currently deep at work on a new manuscript of a historical suspense about the Culper spy ring which helped Washington win the Revolutionary War. The preparation and execution is requiring the most extensive research I’ve ever done for a novel, but I’m excited to be doing it. It’s still early but it’s coming together well and shows promise. And guess what? The hero, er I should say heroine, is a teacher. Big surprise.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

The only advice I can give is what has worked for me. Make sure to attend one or more writing conferences. Most good ones may require some travel and come at a cost, but the benefits are worth it. New writers get to mingle with and learn from both veterans and those who may be a little ahead of them on the learning curve. Conferences also enable newbies to build a network of support, in addition to all they learn at the sessions. Second, if they are serious about their writing, aspiring writers should participate in a strong writers’ critique group. Even though writing is at its essence a solitary experience, emerging writers can benefit tremendously by getting feedback from colleagues on their writing…and learning from the feedback.

What is the URL of your website? What about other internet presence?
Here are the details:

Website: Author Randy Overbeck
Facebook: Facebook
Twitter: Twitter
Instagram: Instagram
BookBub: BookBub
Amazon: Amazon
Goodreads: Goodreads
Podcast: Podcast

Also my latest project is a new podcast, GREAT STORIES ABOUT GREAT STORYTELLERS, where I share the unusual and weird backstories about famous authors, poets and directors. The podcast is available wherever listeners get their podcasts—Spotify, iHeart, Apple Podcasts or they can also get them at this link on my website
Great Stories Podcast

Dr. Randy Overbeck is a best-selling author of the award-winning series, The Haunted Shores Mysteries, each a cold case murder mystery wrapped in ghost story served with a side romance, set in a beautiful resort location. He is the author and voice of a new podcast, “Great Stories about Great Storytellers,” which reveals the unusual backstories of famous authors, directors and poets. He is also a speaker in much demand, sharing his multi-media presentations, “Thanks Still Go Bump in the Night” and “A Few Favorite Haunts” with audiences all over the country. More info about his novels, programs and podcast can be found at his website:
Author Randy Overbeck


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

BITCH: ON THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES, by Lucy Cooke. The author, a British zoologist and documentary filmmaker, presents a fascinating survey of the long-neglected status of females in biologists’ studies of the animal kingdom—or should that be “queendom”? As Cooke describes the state of the field until recent decades, zoologists regarded males as overwhelmingly the primary drivers of evolutionary change, with females dismissed as “passive” and boring. She takes on the mission of demonstrating how wrong those scientists were. She begins at the microscopic level, with gametes, revealing flaws in the image of the female’s egg as passively floating around waiting to be penetrated by one of the active sperm cells. In fact, the ovum has ways of controlling which sperm will be allowed to fertilize it. Chapter One, “The Anarchy of Sex: What Is a Female?” covers the development of the embryo, what determines its sex, and many examples of ambiguous sex among animals. Cooke goes on in subsequent chapters to explore the “mysteries of mate choice” (in which females are much more active than had been assumed in the past), the assertiveness and competitiveness of females of various species, female-dominated animal social groups, how mating patterns can function as competition between male and female, sexual behavior in supposedly monogamous species, nonreproductive sexual encounters, the complicated nature of maternal behaviors, females who devour their mates, “primate politics,” parthenogenesis, and the vital importance of older females in the societies of animals such as elephants and orcas. The final chapter, “Beyond the Binary,” discusses intersex phenomena, animal homosexuality, and creatures who change sex. Some species can switch back and forth, and one fish is known to change sex up to twenty times in a day for optimal reproductive efficiency. The author writes from a feminist perspective, justifiably if the masculinist bias in biology continued to dominate research as recently as she suggests. But this slant on the theme doesn’t in any way overshadow the abundance of concrete information she entertainingly provides.

PALADIN’S GRACE, by T. Kingfisher. This fantasy romance is the first in the “Saint of Steel” trilogy, connected novels starring three different characters in the same order of paladins. Their god, the Saint of Steel, suddenly and inexplicably died, leaving them with a void in their souls. As berserkers, often possessed by the god in combat, they’re now at risk of being overcome by the “black tide” of battle madness with no divine force to channel it. Those who survived this catastrophe now live as best they can under the patronage of the White Rat God, whose domains are healing and law. The trilogy takes place in the same world as SWORDHEART, and Zale, a legal advocate who plays a major role in that novel, also appears in PALADIN’S GRACE. Paladin Stephen more or less accidentally rescues Grace, a gifted perfume-maker. They feel an instant mutual attraction, which both resist, Stephen because of the unpredictable battle madness and Grace because of experiences with the emotionally abusive husband from whom she fled. Nevertheless, as one would expect, their paths keep crossing. Grace receives a commission to create a perfume for a foreign prince, a job that gets her unwillingly entangled in the hazards of court politics. By the time she falls under suspicion of poisoning and witchcraft, she and Stephen are so deeply involved that he risks everything to save her. The Temple of the White Rat comes to their aid, as, in a more subtle and problematic way, does Grace’s landlady and best friend, who turns out to be a professional spy. In addition to the devotees of the White Rat (of whom I can’t get enough), these books include an entertaining nonhuman species, gnoles, three-foot-tall, badger-like humanoids who perform a variety of jobs. One of their common sayings, “Humans can’t smell,” encapsulates their perception that most humans are so oblivious we can hardly be blamed for our ignorance. The gnoles’ own language applies gender pronouns according to class rather than biological sex. In the human tongue, though, they hardly ever use pronouns or proper names at all (except when very rarely being unusually formal and precise). A gnole refers to itself in the third person as “a gnole,” other creatures as “a human,” “an ox,” etc. The author’s afterword states that she wanted to write a fluffy fantasy romance in the world of SWORDHEART and the Clocktaur duology. By the time she finished, she realized fluffy romances don’t usually contain so many severed heads. The other two books in the Saint of Steel trilogy star two of Stephen’s comrades in their own love stories. In PALADIN’S STRENGTH, the love interest is a bear-shapeshifter lay sister of the Order of St. Ursa on a mission to rescue a group of kidnapped werebear nuns. In PALADIN’S HOPE, it’s a lich-doctor, this society’s equivalent of a medical examiner, who has the secret ability to view the final moments of any dead person or animal he touches. All these novels display Kingfisher’s irresistible wit and sparkling characterization.

CLOCKWORK BOYS and THE WONDER ENGINE, by T. Kingfisher. These two novels, which actually comprise a single book split into two volumes because of its length, predate the Saint of Steel trilogy. The author’s afterword to CLOCKWORK BOYS explains that she conceived the story in reaction against the brooding, guilt-ridden paladin with a dark past too common in fantasy games. While her paladins are burdened by dark pasts and specialize in guilt, they offset their brooding tendencies with sardonic self-reflection and Kingfisher’s trademark snappy dialogue. Sir Caliban, to a reader already familiar with the other books in this world, foreshadows the traumatized Saint of Steel paladins. He serves the Dreaming God, whose devotees specialize in vanquishing demons. We meet him in prison after he committed mass murder while possessed by a demon he was trying to exorcise. Only the possession kept him from being sentenced to death, but he was expelled from his order anyway, and the decaying remnants of the dead demon still haunt his soul, while he feels himself cut off from his god. Slate, an expert forger, lock-picker, and document thief, imprisoned after she committed an inadvertent act of treason, recruits Caliban to join her and her best friend (really, her only one, for a certain value of “friend”) and former lover, assassin Brenner, on a potential suicide mission. Both she and Caliban wear magical tattoos that will come to life and painfully bite them if they stray from the assignment. They’re sent to an enemy city to investigate and, if possible, eliminate the Clocktaurs or “Clockwork Boys,” an incongruously playful-sounding nickname for terrifying, gargantuan, unstoppable, magically animated war machines. Unfortunately, Slate has grave reasons to fear returning to that city, a backstory not revealed to either her companions or the reader until well into the novel. Along with them goes Learned Edmund, a naïve, young scholar of an order traditionally suspicious and disdainful of women. Edmund, naturally, learns better as he travels and fights alongside Slate. A gnole also joins the group, and we get glimpses of gnole culture. The story would make an excellent Dungeons & Dragons campaign, with an oddly-assorted party of reluctant allies, side adventures that tie into the main quest in surprising ways, and an epic final showdown in which the skill sets of all the characters play vital roles. The climax goes to very dark places, yet the second book ultimately reaches a satisfying conclusion in which the overarching mystery is solved, while Slate and Caliban achieve the romantic fulfillment they and the reader have been impatiently anticipating. Again, if you decide to read the Clocktaur duology, be sure to get both volumes because they make up one continuous story.

THE EASTER RISING: A GUIDE TO DUBLIN IN 1916, by Conor Kostick and Lorcan Collins. Basically a printed counterpart to the authors’ 1916-themed walking tour of Dublin, this book covers dozens of sites associated with the Easter Rising. Since it’s organized by location rather than dates, it doesn’t lay out the progress of the rebellion in strict chronological order. However, a timeline at the beginning lists important events from 1884 to Easter Monday, 1916, and the book’s introduction provides an overview of the background that led up to the Rising. The final chapter, “Dublin Castle Courtyard,” summarizes the aftermath. So there’s a chronological framework for the site-specific historical facts. Also, despite the unavoidable skipping around in time, a rough impression of forward movement remains. The book is profusely illustrated with black-and-white photographs. Each chapter includes biographical sidebars about the significant people discussed therein. An appendix offers more detailed information about the seven men who signed the Proclamation of Irish independence. There’s also a selected bibliography for further reading. Anyone seeking information about the 1916 Rising or the history of modern Ireland in general will find this book of absorbing interest.


Excerpt from “Crossing the Border”:

Paula quickly realized Kyle was headed for the labyrinth. He’d shown her the place right after they’d moved in, and she’d avoided the trail to it ever since. Not because she feared a plain patch of ground, of course, just that the barren clearing looked so dreary. A labyrinth was supposed to provide a peaceful space for meditation, but this one made her nerves twang. By the time she reached it, her fingers and toes felt chilled, as if the temperature had fallen ten degrees since she’d left the house.

Stopping at the edge of the clearing and turning off the flashlight, she hid among the trees to watch Kyle pace along the spiral to the center. In the moonlight she could make out his moving silhouette but no details. When he stepped into the heart of the labyrinth, though, a glow suffused the spot.

Paula stifled a gasp. A violet-blue aura surrounded Kyle, expanding as she watched. Had he lit some kind of lamp? No, by the unnatural light she saw that he wasn’t holding anything, and no such device sat on the ground next to him. He stretched his arms over his head and took one more step.

And vanished.

A second later, the glow blinked out of existence. She rubbed her eyes, sparks flashing behind the lids. He’s got to be here somewhere. She ran to the edge of the labyrinth and aimed her flashlight beam at the center. Nothing. She swept the beam over the entire clearing. He couldn’t have dashed out of sight that quickly. “Kyle, where are you? Stop scaring me.” No answer.

She paced the perimeter of the clearing, certain in advance that she wouldn’t find any sign of him. Shivering even though the air couldn’t be much cooler than sixty degrees, she retraced her steps to the house. This time she wouldn’t let him escape without an explanation.

For over an hour, she sat on the bed watching the office cottage from the window. Oh, God, what if he never comes back? The moment the office light switched on, she rushed downstairs, outside, and across the yard to the little building.

When she burst in, Kyle, slumped in the desk chair, looked up with that stunned, dazed expression. “Paula?”

She gripped his arms. The heat of his skin seared her palms. “What happened to you? Where have you been?” She fingered the red marks. “And what’s this?”

“The blob. It got me when I let go of the talisman.” He nodded toward the desk.

-end of excerpt-

My Publishers:

Writers Exchange E-Publishing: Writers Exchange
Harlequin: Harlequin
Wild Rose Press: Wild Rose Press

You can contact me at:

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