Archive for February, 2021

Welcome to the February 2021 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, 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:

Please “Like” my author Facebook page (cited above) to see reminders when each monthly newsletter is uploaded. I’ve also noticed that I’m more likely to be shown posts from liked or friended sources in my Facebook feed when I’ve “Liked” some of their individual posts, so you might want to do that, too. Thanks!

Writers Exchange E-Publishing has recently published AGAINST THE DARK DEVOURER, my dark paranormal romance with Lovecraftian elements. Although a next-generation sequel to FROM THE DARK PLACES, it could be read on its own. When her mother dies unexpectedly, Deborah learns she has a destiny to fight against invasive entities from beyond our space-time continuum. Meanwhile, Victor, who has been brought up with the mission of either turning her to the dark side or luring her in to be destroyed, finds himself falling in love with her, an attraction she reluctantly returns. An excerpt from the opening scene appears below.

Against the Dark Devourer

I’ve finished preparing this year’s vampire fiction bibliography update, comprising mostly 2020 publications along with a few older works and some January 2021 releases. If you’d like a copy of the file, please e-mail me at the address at the end of the newsletter.

In this month of Valentine’s Day, I’m interviewing Marilyn Baron, a romance author who has a story with me in the “One Scoop or Two” themed anthology SWEET SCOOPS, which you can find here:

Sweet Scoops


Interview with Marilyn Baron:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I read Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder and I knew I wanted to be a writer. I majored in Journalism (Public Relations) and minored in English (Creative Writing) in college. After graduation, I was a corporate communications manager with AT&T, then owner of a public relations firm. I’ve been writing ever since. My first novel was published in 2013, and to date, I’ve written 25 works of fiction, with two more expected to be published this year.

What genres do you work in?

I write in a variety of genres, from women’s fiction to historical romantic thrillers and romantic suspense to paranormal/fantasy. Conventional wisdom says stick to one genre, but I Iike the flexibility and variety genre switching offers. I’ve just written my first cozy mystery and really enjoyed the experience.

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

I would say I wing it. I’m more of a “pantser.” I don’t outline or plot in advance. I write and edit as I go along. I always have to have the title of the book and the names of the main characters before I start a novel. I also know the ending, but things can go anywhere in between.

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

I had some great teachers who inspired and encouraged me to write. I always wrote for the school newspaper either as editor or feature writer, poetry for the school literary magazine, and I wrote scripts for school assembly programs. I’m an avid reader and I believe the more you read and the more you write, the better writer you’ll become. As far as life experiences, travel really influences my writing. The six months I spent in college in Florence, Italy, studying Italian, art history and mythology, made a big impression. Many of my novels are set either fully or partially in Florence or other places I’ve visited.

You’ve written several historical thrillers. How do you carry out research for historical fiction?

I did extensive research for my first book, Under the Moon Gate. I was in the process of writing it for 10 years on and off. It was set in contemporary and WW II Bermuda and I did a lot of research at the public library. I read old copies of The New York Times during the war years and The Royal Gazette, published in Bermuda, and my family and I vacationed in Bermuda a dozen times. My novel, Stumble Stones, set in Berlin, was inspired by a trip I took to that city. My favorite time period to write is WW II so I was already pretty familiar with that era. The Siege, set in Greece, was also inspired by a trip I took to Greece many years ago. The Saffron Conspiracy, set in Austria and Scotland, was inspired by a river cruise my husband and I took along the Danube and an excursion to a saffron farm. I did a lot of research about saffron and saffron farming. When I’m researching, I always pick a little-known nugget of information that fascinates me and I fashion a story with fictional characters around true events.

In addition to your personal experience of Florence, did you need to do any specific research for your “One Scoop or Two” story, “Stracciatella Gelato: Melting Time”?

I didn’t do much research for that story since I based parts of it on real-life experiences. My husband and I spent time in Italy (Lake Como, Rome, Amalfi Coast and Florence) before COVID in October 2019, because I said I wanted to revisit some of the places in Italy I thought I might never see again. When we were there, he asked ‘what if?’ What if you could go back in time to your college days and know now what you didn’t know then? The action is set off by a reverse Roma curse. I was actually cursed by a gypsy while I was a student in Florence. The story practically wrote itself. Since I’d recently returned to all my old haunts, everything became familiar again.

How, if at all, does your day job in public relations affect your writing career (e.g., marketing strategies)?

Having my own PR firm was helpful in developing my writing craft, interviewing people for research, and it definitely helped in marketing my books (writing press releases, planning special events, etc.). Majoring in Journalism and working with corporate clients instilled in me a dedication to meeting deadlines, which is critical in this profession.

What are you working on now?

I have a contract with The Wild Rose Press for a contemporary novel with a dual timeframe called The Romanov Legacy. It’s a high-concept women’s fiction with a fast-paced contemporary and historical timeline about two women, born a century apart, who fall in love with the wrong men, with disastrous consequences that could change the world. When a young single mother discovers she’s descended from the last Tsar, Nicholas II, she becomes the best hope of a secret society, Guardians of the Romanov Legacy, dedicated to restoring a Romanov to the throne.

And I’ve submitted a cozy mystery series (The Case of the Missing Botticelli, A Massimo Domingo Mystery, Book 1). In the first book of the series, American art history major Hadley Evans joins an art detective agency in Florence, Italy, working for Massimo Domingo, once a major player, now the ‘Inspector Clouseau’ of the art world. Determined to save the flailing agency and prove her worth, Hadley and her sexy Carabinieri boyfriend, Luca Ferrari, take on a mysterious client behind her boss’s back. Hot on the trail of a missing masterpiece, Hadley and Luca discover a hidden cache of stolen Nazi art in a Venetian villa and encounter an enemy with a link to an evil past. For this book I did some more research about stolen Nazi art, a theme that is featured in many of my books.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Finish the book. You can always correct a work in progress, but you can’t fix a blank page. Never give up on your dreams.

What is the URL of your website?

Marilyn Baron

What about other Internet presence?

Twitter (@MarilynBaron)
Facebook Marilyn Baron, Author


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

TALES FROM THE HINTERLAND, by Melissa Albert. After reading Albert’s portal fantasy THE HAZEL WOOD, I wished the fairy tale collection written by the reclusive grandmother of the narrator, Alice, existed in this world. Well, here it is. As foreshadowed in THE HAZEL WOOD, these stories are uniformly twisted and dark. The book is designed like an old-fashioned volume of fairy tales, with creepy illustrations in black and red. Some of the stories echo familiar lore, such as “The Door That Wasn’t There,” with a Cinderella evil-stepmother premise, and “The Sea Cellar,” reminiscent of “Bluebeard,” about a mysterious house inhabited by an unknown person or creature, where brides go and never come out. Others feature classic fairy-tale motifs without retelling any particular single story. They contain elements such as queens longing for children, seductive but lethal forest or undersea denizens, the Moon watching over her half-mortal granddaughter, the undead, and encounters with Death personified. Almost none of the stories have happy or even potentially happy endings. This Gothic-toned collection can be read entirely independently of THE HAZEL WOOD but will have added resonance for readers of the novel. “Alice-Three-Times,” in particular, enhances the backstory revealed in THE HAZEL WOOD. The latter has a sequel, THE NIGHT COUNTRY, published in 2019, which I recently discovered. It begins with Alice back in the primary world, holding a job in a secondhand book shop in New York and finally settled down with her mother in a seemingly permanent home. Alice attends a support group for Hinterland refugees but otherwise considers herself free of her otherworldly past. Then she hears ominous reports of the murders of refugees, and the influence of the Hinterland overshadows her again, with Alice herself suspected of the crimes. Part of the novel is narrated by Ellery Finch, her friend who chose to stay in the Hinterland and now roams from world to world. If you enjoyed THE HAZEL WOOD, you’ll want to read this follow-up book.

ACROSS THE GREEN GRASS FIELDS, by Seanan McGuire. This latest installment in the Wayward Children series, as claimed in the cover blurb, can be read on its own. It doesn’t even mention Miss Eleanor’s boarding school, a refuge for children and teenagers who have visited other worlds and unwillingly returned to ours. Heroine Regan, however, ten years old when she stumbles upon her door, would definitely fit into the school. Preoccupied almost to the point of obsession with playing the role of a “normal” girl, she loves horses, fortunately an acceptable passion for a preteen girl. When she learns a secret about herself that devastates her sense of normality, she finds her way into the Hooflands. Meeting a young female centaur who’s rounding up an escapee from her family’s unicorn herd, Regan discovers that this world’s sentient inhabitants are all hooved human-animal hybrids such as centaurs, minotaurs, and satyrs. For the centaur clan, hosting a human is a thrilling honor. On the rare occasions when a human visitor appears, it’s a critical event, because he or she has a destined mission to perform for the welfare of the Hooflands. Regan has no desire to rush off to the Queen’s castle to find out what her mission is. With the centaurs agreeing that there’s no time limit, Regan lives happily among them for six years, although she has to beware of others who might want to kidnap her and get the reward for finding the human themselves. When she finally has to make the pilgrimage to accept her destiny as the land’s savior, she discovers that neither her own fate nor the Hooflands’ ruler is anything like what she expected. The society and culture of the centaurs is interestingly developed, and as in all the other books in the series, the worldbuilding is inventive and absorbing. I found Regan a sympathetic character, although I couldn’t fully identify with her desperate longing to fit in among the “normal” girls. (As far back as I clearly remember, I’ve considered myself slightly weird and proud of it, and I was oblivious to whatever maneuvering for popularity went on around me.) Anyway, in the Hooflands Regan finds the place where she truly belongs. While she worries about her parents at first, those feelings fade as the years go by. I must admit the final page left me asking, “Huh? That’s it? What happens now?” Maybe next year’s novel will give us a hint.

HOUSE OF THE PATRIARCH, by Barbara Hambly. I’ve been a loyal fan of Hambly’s Benjamin January historical mysteries, set in antebellum New Orleans (this novel takes place in mid-1840), since the first book, A FREE MAN OF COLOR. While I’ve enjoyed and reread all of them, my least favorite have been the installments that range away from Louisiana, with the exception of the one in which January visits Washington, DC, and meets Edgar Allan Poe. HOUSE OF THE PATRIARCH, set mostly in upstate New York, is another exception and may become one of my favorites among the later books of the series. The married lover of January’s sister (a liaison openly accepted by his wife, under the peculiar system known as “placage”) introduces him to an English couple whose daughter, Eve, disappeared off a steamboat in broad daylight. The family isn’t wealthy enough to tempt kidnapping for ransom, and Eve has no particular suitor that they know of. Her father confides that she has been avidly collecting pamphlets about utopian religious communities, and he fears that, being more intellectually curious than considered normal for a young lady, she may have run away to such a community. Both as a favor to his sister’s protector and to earn the money offered by the girl’s parents, January agrees to undertake the search, although reluctant to leave his wife and children, not to mention the relative safety of New Orleans, where his status as a respected member of the free colored subculture is well known. He narrows down Eve’s probable destination to an eccentric religious group in a rural area of New York, where an alleged clairvoyant woman holds seances. The leader of the community has a reputation for Underground Railroad activities that have shepherded countless escaped slaves into Canada. January gets an introduction to the “patriarch” in the role of such a runaway. He quickly finds reasons to doubt not only the spiritualist medium’s honesty but also the patriarch’s altruism. As usual, January soon gets entangled in sinister plots that endanger his freedom and even his life. This novel explores fascinating details about the Underground Railroad, nineteenth-century religious and utopian movements, and the spiritualist fad. Also, January meets another soon-to-be famous figure, P. T. Barnum, whose help proves vital in solving the mystery. To my delight, one small incident remains unexplained, leaving a hint of the true supernatural. This novel will repay multiple re-readings not only for the enthralling story but for the vibrantly rendered historical background.

THE LEFT-HANDED BOOKSELLERS OF LONDON, by Garth Nix. A very unusual fantasy novel set in England in 1983. Susan’s mother has always been vague about Susan’s paternity, so the young woman sets out to discover her father’s identity. One of her meager clues leads her to a “crime boss” friend of the family who, as the jacket blurb puts it, gets “turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin” just as she arrives to question him. Thus she makes the acquaintance of Merlin, one of the Booksellers of London, his sister Vivien, and their eccentric family. Left-handed booksellers, such as Merlin, comprise the action-oriented branch of the organization, while the right-handed are the researchers and magic-wielders. Susan’s quest for her father intersects with Merlin’s investigation of his mother’s death, thus introducing Susan to the secret magical realm called the Old World, hidden behind and under our mundane, technological New World. She encounters supernatural creatures, including a vampire (in a brief appearance) and other undead. Caught up in the tangled plots and conspiracies centered on the Grail, herein a cauldron that restores the dead to a sort of life, she eventually crosses over into the Old World and faces a life-threatening choice. The revelation of her own true nature and her father’s identity shakes her to the core (and will probably come as a shock to most readers). Meanwhile, she and Merlin form a bond that leads to a romantic attachment, not without numerous rocky bumps along the way. The novel reaches a satisfying culmination that allows, without demanding, a sequel. My only reservation is that the early part of the book moves at a pace I found rapid to the point of exhaustion, breathlessly racing from one crisis to the next. Fortunately, it later slows down enough to leave room for plenty of in-depth exposition. The world-building is fantastic in both senses of the word.



The colors in the transparent tetrahedron swirled like smoke. The motion made Victor dizzy, and his stomach churned. He swallowed, tasting bile. He shook his head, impatient with his body’s reaction. By now he should be hardened to the crystal’s effects, even if he didn’t get the privilege of gazing into it very often. He didn’t want to appear weak in front of his guardian.

Uncle Hugh—no genetic relation, really, but his lifelong mentor—gave a small frown of obvious impatience at the way Victor clutched the pedestal where the object sat on one of its four triangular faces. “Straighten up. You act like you’re expecting an earthquake any second.”

“I haven’t had as much practice with this stuff as you have.” Victor kept any note of defiance out of his voice, not eager for the tongue-lashing an argument would certainly earn him. He shifted his eyes from the undulating tangle of violet tendrils. His head pounded. The decor of the windowless room didn’t help—the walls painted midnight indigo, the parquet floor of oak so dark it was nearly black, all illuminated only by a few low-wattage bulbs in wall sconces.

“Well, focus! We don’t have all day.”

Victor drew a deep breath and dragged his gaze back to the crystal. Each time he used it, he half expected the smoky whorls inside to clear away and open a peephole into a dimension of alien geometry and amorphous monsters. He had viewed that scene only once, but once was enough. Following his mentor’s instructions, he focused with all his will on the scene he wanted to scry. The luminous tendrils vanished like melting icicles. An ordinary living room shimmered into view.

A middle-aged woman with short, gray-streaked, auburn hair sat in the single armchair. Against a pile of throw pillows on a couch with faded upholstery that matched the chair reclined a woman apparently in her twenties, with hair the color of dark honey. Her tight jeans displayed generous curves. Victor willed the image to widen its scope. At the counter marking the boundary of the kitchenette stood a slim girl in a miniskirt, taller and a few years younger than the one on the couch. After watching her tie back her hair, light brown with dark blonde highlights, he moved his psychic vantage point to watch the other two women from behind her, over her shoulder. As he virtually passed in front of her, her blue eyes shifted, as if she sensed an invisible observer.

“These are our targets?” Uncle Hugh said quietly.

“Yeah, that’s them,” Victor said, keeping his eyes fixed on the scene in the crystal.

“Pull back. Try to view the outside of the house.”

Years of relentless drills made the procedure easy enough. Drifting through the closed door of the first-floor apartment like a ghost, Victor visualized himself standing in the hallway.

“Farther, now. You need to confirm the location of the building.”

Squelching a spasm of irritation at the unnecessary directions, Victor imagined himself panning the corridor with a wide-angle lens. His viewpoint moved to an exit at the end of the hall and floated into the parking lot. The building number matched the address label pasted in the hardback novel he was using as a tracer, latest installment in a bestselling sword-and-sorcery epic.

“Very good. That’s enough.”

Relaxing his cramped fingers from their grip on the pedestal, Victor exhaled a long breath and allowed the picture to fade. He stepped away, bending to pick up the book, and staggered with vertigo. His guardian clasped his elbow and led him from the room into the antechamber, graced with open windows, upholstered furniture, and a wet bar. Another door opened into Uncle Hugh’s office, a third into the corridor. “By now you shouldn’t find it such a strain, my boy.” He guided Victor to an armchair and poured him a Scotch and soda on the rocks.

After a sip of the cool drink, Victor said, “I guess I just don’t have your strength.” Though the range of Victor’s psychic gifts far exceeded the older man’s, Uncle Hugh did excel in remote viewing talent.

“Nonsense, you and your sister wouldn’t have been trained for this mission if you didn’t have the necessary ability.” He picked up a floral-patterned rain scarf from the marble-topped coffee table. “You’re quite sure the scarf belongs to the mother?”

“Well, I saw her wearing it. How else could I possibly tell?” Why did Uncle Hugh have to be so damned picky about everything? “I did the whole operation exactly the way you planned.” The evening before, he’d gone to a Vincent Price film marathon at the small, private college the two girls attended. Sitting two rows behind them, he’d used a delicate flick of telekinesis to make the scarf slip out of the mother’s jacket pocket and the book fall from the elder sister’s open shoulder bag. Another mental nudge had hidden the objects under the seat where the women wouldn’t notice and pick them up. “What do you want the scarf for, anyhow?”

“I may need a link to them again at some later time, and the more personal, the better. Other than that, the fewer details you know from this point on, the more spontaneous your reactions will appear. Telekinetically disable their car, and once you’re inside the house, you’ll know what to do when the time comes.”

-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