Archive for June, 2020

Welcome to the June 2020 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

For anyone who would like to read previous issues of this newsletter, now that the Yahoo group is useless for that purpose, they’re posted on my website here (starting from January 2018):


This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!

Here’s my page in Barnes and Noble’s Nook store:
Barnes and Noble

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:

My Goodreads page:

The Wild Rose Press has released my lighthearted ghost story “Spooky Tutti Frutti” in its summer reading “One Scoop or Two” ice-cream-themed series:

Spooky Tutti Frutti

Here’s a spreadsheet displaying all (or most) of the covers and blurbs of e-books in the “One Scoop or Two” series:

One Scoop or Two Spreadsheet

And the page for the series on the publisher’s website:

One Scoop or Two Overview

Another snippet from the story appears below.

I’ve started posting some of my self-published works on Draft2Digital, in case readers want to acquire them in formats other than Kindle. The two so far:

Demon’s Fall

Vampire’s Tribute

On the release date of “Spooky Tutti Frutti,” I was interviewed on the Wild Rose Press blog:

Carter Blog Interview


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

IF IT BLEEDS, by Stephen King. A collection of four new novellas. The title story, the one I was most eager to read, measuring about 190 pages, could qualify as a stand-alone novel. It’s a sequel to THE OUTSIDER, with Holly Gibney as the central character. Observing one particular TV news reporter who covers an abnormally high number of disasters, she becomes suspicious of him and gathers evidence that he’s a type of creature related to the shapeshifting “Outsider” she helped to destroy. Not quite the same, this entity feeds on pain and suffering without necessarily causing it. In that role, he’s not unlike a natural scavenger surviving on roadkill, like a vulture. Lately, though, he has become greedy. Now that he has the potential to turn into a serial murderer, Holly feels compelled to track down and eradicate him. Meanwhile, her beloved uncle’s Alzheimer’s has progressed so far that he has to be committed to a nursing home. The crisis forces her to deal with her mother, who dominated Holly for decades, crushing her spirit and keeping her dependent until the events of MR. MERCEDES changed her life. I love reading about Holly, whose non-neurotypical quirks are an intrinsic part of her personality and contribute to her strengths as an investigator. Combine this delightful character with a psychic vampire, and what more could I ask for in a short novel by Stephen King? In his concluding Author’s Note, he doesn’t mention the possible source “If It Bleeds” immediately brought to mind for me, a classic story by Ray Bradbury about certain people who mysteriously appear at the scene of every fatal accident. My second favorite story in the book, which I’ll definitely reread, “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” draws upon King’s strengths in writing about children and adolescents. The first-person narrator reminisces about his odd friendship with the title character, beginning when smart phones were new and exciting. Mr. Harrigan, fabulously rich yet frugal and reclusive, hires young Craig to read to him and perform other incidental chores. He sends greeting cards to the boy on major holidays, with lottery tickets enclosed as gifts. After an astonishingly large win, Craig gratefully presents the old-fashioned, technophobic millionaire with a smart phone. Initially skeptical, Mr. Harrigan comes to appreciate the gadget’s advantages (for instance, up-to-the-minute stock market reports). After Mr. Harrigan’s death several years later, Craig sentimentally slips the phone into the old man’s pocket in the coffin. When Craig calls the number to listen to the voice mail message one more time, he gets a cryptic text response. There’s no doubt Mr. Harrigan is dead, so is the reply a software glitch or a supernatural phenomenon? Various events over the years hint at the latter, yet they could be coincidence. This being a Stephen King story, I prefer to believe in the supernatural explanation. This story reminds me of a TV episode (from THE TWILIGHT ZONE, maybe?) about phone calls ultimately traced to a fallen wire hanging over a grave (probably not the same program King mentions as an inspiration). I also tend to embrace the supernatural in the story “Rat,” one of King’s fascinating glimpses into the workings of a writer’s mind. The protagonist, a modestly successful short-story author, has failed several times to finish a novel. Now he has a new idea that he’s sure will flow to a successful conclusion, and he retreats alone to the family’s vacation cabin in the Maine woods to work on the projected book. Unfortunately, a major winter storm closes in, and he comes down with a cough and fever. On the bright side, the novel progresses brilliantly—until it doesn’t. The writer finds a dying rat at the door and brings it inside to perish in comfort beside the fire. Instead, the rat revives and talks to him, offering a devil’s bargain as a reward. After agreeing to the proposal, the protagonist does triumphantly finish his novel. Or are the conversations with the rat the product of a fever-dream and the subsequent events purely coincidental? The dilemma remains unresolved. In addition to the insight into the author protagonist’s process, the glimpses of life in the wilds of rural Maine also make this novella memorable. My least favorite of the four, “The Life of Chuck,” is still worth reading. Its experimental structure presents its three “Acts” in reverse order. The first act, the longest and (to me) most interesting of the three, portrays a world in the process of disintegrating into a gradual yet apocalyptic collapse. Billboards and other media begin to display the message “Charles Krantz. 39 Great Years! Thanks, Chuck!” whose meaning nobody seems to know. At the end of that section, we meet Chuck, dying in a hospital of a brain tumor. The other two sections narrate earlier episodes from his life. The novella turns out to be an extended development of the metaphor that every person contains an entire world. Since this point becomes clear fairly early, I don’t feel I’m giving away a major spoiler here. As always, I enjoyed King’s discussion of how he came to write these stories. While some readers may skip this kind of thing, I’m always disappointed if it’s omitted.

THE MOMENT OF TENDERNESS, by Madeleine L’Engle. The stories in this collection were unearthed and compiled by L’Engle’s granddaughter, Charlotte Jones Voiklis. She freely acknowledges that readers expecting “vintage L’Engle” won’t find that kind of fiction in most of these pieces, almost all written from L’Engle’s college years through the 1950s. Only the last four (as far as I recall)—The Fact of the Matter,” “Poor Little Saturday,” “That Which Is Left,” and “A Sign for a Sparrow”—constitute fantasy or science fiction. Some of the stories are early versions of material that later appeared in L’Engle’s volumes of autobiographical memoirs. Others, dealing with the inner lives of lonely, sensitive children, teenagers, and young adults (mostly female), reflect the author’s own youthful experiences. There are also slice-of-life glimpses into mature marriages, often troubled. Although these stories are, of course, exquisitely written, if I’d encountered this volume before L’Engle’s novels I wouldn’t have felt motivated to seek any more of her work (and she wouldn’t have become one of my favorite authors). I must regretfully confess that I find several of the early pieces downright depressing, when they leave their young protagonists in solitary unhappiness with no immediate prospect of change. For a longtime fan of the author, however, all the contents are worth reading for the insights they provide into her early career, her creative processes, and some aspects of her own life.

THE GOOD BROTHER, by E. L. Chen, author of SUMMERWOOD / WINTERWOOD (reviewed in last month’s newsletter). Like SUMMERWOOD / WINTERWOOD, this novel has an Asian-Canadian protagonist. Tori Wong has dropped out of college and moved out of her parents’ house, where she felt suffocated by their traditional Chinese attitudes. The death of her overachieving older brother, Seymour, made her life more difficult, for now she’s being judged against an idealized figure. Tori herself is a bit of an underachiever, happy with her low-paid job at a bookstore, where she takes justified pride in being able to find whatever a customer needs. Barely scraping by financially, she rents a room in the house of a male acquaintance. As the story opens, the Festival of Hungry Ghosts is beginning. During Ghost Month, neglected spirits supposedly roam the Earth. Families burn ceremonial paper money and paper images of other things spirits might need in the afterlife. Tori’s mother expects her to perform this service for her late brother, a duty Tori wants nothing to do with. The apparition of Seymour appears to her in the bookstore, and her right arm instantly becomes numb and paralyzed. Although the effect wears off, then comes and goes erratically, she discovers Seymour can take control of her arm at will. He also has some ability to affect the physical environment, poltergeist-like. He doesn’t speak but still finds ways to make demands of her. She tries with limited success to figure out exactly what he wants so he’ll leave her alone. The ghost is a Good Brother in the sense that fairies have often been called the Good People—to avoid offending dangerous supernatural entities. Then two more ghosts arrive, not spirits of the dead, but something more intimately related to Tori. To avoid spoilers, I won’t be more specific. The ghosts are literally hungry; when Tori provides them with food, they eat it, sometimes right off her plate without permission. Because of their erratic behavior, especially Seymour’s, Tori gets into trouble at work and in her already shaky relationships. Her life, far from perfect to begin with, starts to disintegrate. The climactic blow falls when she realizes the full truth about her brother’s death. Since she narrates the story in first person, we discover layers of truth about herself and her family at the same time she does. Chen pulls off the difficult task of writing about a depressed protagonist without being depressing, although at times I did get exasperated with Tori for figuratively shooting herself in the foot even without the interference of ghosts. Like the protagonist of SUMMERWOOD / WINTERWOOD, however, she eventually grows into self-awareness and finds a measure of peace.


Excerpt from “Spooky Tutti Frutti”:

Celia started at a rapid clicking behind her. Turning toward the entrance, she came face-to-face with the source of the noise. A huge, black, hairy dog—a Newfoundland. He panted and wagged his tail at the sight of her.

“What the heck are you doing in here?” She glanced at the door—securely shut, of course.

The dog sat in the middle of the floor and stared up at her with a goofy, tongue-lolling expression. When she offered her hand, he sniffed it. “Wherever you came from, you can’t stay.”

As she leaned over to look at his collar, a feminine voice said, “Oh, neat, you found Nigel.”

Again Celia flinched in surprise. She whirled around to discover a girl who looked no more than twenty, at least fifteen years younger than Celia herself, leaning against the counter.

Where did she come from? Again Celia checked the door, which was still definitely closed and locked. “How did you get in?”

“I saw your sign about needing help.” Which wasn’t an answer. The intruder, petite and lightly freckled, had flame-red hair in a pixie cut with fringed bangs. Dressed in white capri pants, a loose, white, V-necked blouse trimmed in red and blue, and canvas deck shoes, she looked as if she’d just come from a boating excursion.

“Is this your dog?” Celia frowned down at the girl, whose delicate frame made her feel even taller than she normally did. “He can’t stay in here. It’s against health regulations.”

“Oh, sorry.” The girl opened the front door and shooed the dog outside. “Go on, Nigel.” A second later, the door closed again, and the dog was gone.

I didn’t see her turn the deadbolt or the knob either time. I must be falling asleep on my feet. “Wait, will he be okay? You can’t just let him wander the streets.”

“It’s cool. My boyfriend will take care of him.”

Celia marched to the entrance and peeked through the glass. She didn’t see any sign of the animal by the glow of the nearby street lamp. The alleged boyfriend must have whisked him away instantly.

She turned back to the visitor. “You’re interested in the temporary job? I’d rather you’d have come during regular hours, but since you’re already here…” She gestured for the girl to take a seat at the nearest table. “I’m Celia Rossi, the owner.”

“I’m Suzie Conroy. Making ice cream is my hobby, so I’d love to work however long you need me.” She scanned the room. “It’s so different from before.” She spoke softly, as if to herself.

“Oh, you used to come here when the previous owner had the place?”

“Longer ago than that.”

-end of excerpt-


My Publishers:

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

You can contact me at:

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