Archive for July, 2021

Welcome to the July 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:

The Fiction Database displays a comprehensive list of my books (although with a handful of fairy tales by a different Margaret Carter near the end):

Fiction Database

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!

My vampire romance with suspense and touches of humor, SEALED IN BLOOD, has been republished by Writers Exchange E-Publishing. I love the new cover, which seems to capture the SF-con milieu of the first couple of chapters.

Science fiction conventions attract some strange people, but Sherri Hudson never expected to spend a con weekend helping a sexy man in a cape steal photos of a winged alien. When the photographer is murdered and Nigel Jamison reveals to Sherri that the “alien” is actually his sister, the situation gets intriguingly complicated.

Unwillingly swept up in Nigel’s quest to rescue his sister, Sherri can’t help being fascinated with him. By the time she finds out he’s a vampire, the fascination has become mutual–and too strong to resist.

Sealed in Blood

There’s an excerpt below. At the convention hotel, Sherri and Nigel are following the man who claims to have photos of Nigel’s sister. Sherri doesn’t yet know the truth about Nigel or why he’s pursuing this man.

This month’s interviewee is contemporary romance author Jennifer Wilck.


Interview with Jennifer Wilck:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I’ve been writing my thoughts down and creating stories since I was a kid. As an adult, I kept hearing voices in my head and I thought I was going crazy. Turns out, after talking to other writers, this is fairly normal, and those voices were characters. When I started writing down what they were saying, the voices quieted and I started writing novels!

What genres do you work in?

I write contemporary romance. Some of my stories have Jewish characters, others are more mainstream. I’ve also started to dabble in women’s fiction, but I’m a long way away from publishing in that genre.

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

I basically wing it. Like I said, I start with the voices in my head and go where they take me. Sometimes I do need to plot out where I’m going, but if I write from an outline exclusively, the stories don’t flow. I actually tried it once and wrote an entire romance without any romance in it. Now I save my outlines for the editing process, which I find helpful for consistency, plot and character development, etc.

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

I’d have to say my critique partners have been life savers. I always have a favorite author or two, but they tend to come and go. My critique partners are essential for plotting help and just overall making my writing better.

When writing stories that take place in cities where you haven’t lived, how do you research the settings?

The Internet is my friend! I read articles, look at photos, and do a lot of research. Social media is also really helpful.

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

My latest release (June 11) is Better Together in Boston, a contemporary romance that is part of a multi-author series, Ticket to True Love. Here’s the blurb:

Do you believe in the legend of True Springs?

Mr. Right doesn’t exist…

Anna Levinson was raised by a single mother, who sacrificed her dreams to give her daughter a warm, loving home. Now a respected professor on the tenure track, Anna is driven to live the life she thinks her mother should have had. She’s long since come to terms with the understanding that “having it all” is impossible if she wants a successful career.

He’s been told he’s Mr. Wrong more times than he can count…

Despite being left at the altar twice, Ben Diamond still believes his soul mate is out there. He’s ready to marry and start a family of his own. He just clearly won’t recognize her when he does find her. And then he meets the maid of honor at his cousin’s wedding, and his world is thrown off kilter.

Settling down might be more than they bargained for.

A long-distance relationship isn’t what either of them has in mind, and Anna isn’t about to ruin another person’s dreams. However, giving each other up is harder than it looks. Can Ben convince Anna that she’s got him all wrong, and that he’s finally gotten it right?

Fall in love with Anna & Ben in this steamy contemporary romance.

Ticket to True Love is a steamy contemporary romance series about new beginnings, second chances, and finding true love in unexpected places. Fall in love all over the world with bestselling and award-winning authors JB Schroeder, Savannah Kade, Moni Boyce, Shirley Hailstock, Holland Rae, Julie Strauss, & Jennifer Wilck. Start your next romance with Better Together in Boston now!

What are you working on now?

I’m currently writing a women’s fiction story about four female friends who play mah jongg together, and the lives that they lead.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. Keep plugging away, improve your craft, and talk to people.

What is the URL of your website? What about other internet presence?

Author Website


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

THE HUMMING ROOM, by Ellen Potter. This YA novel from 2012 reimagines THE SECRET GARDEN in the present day on an island in the St. Lawrence River. The site of the mansion, Cough Rock Island, bears that name because the house originated as a sanitarium for children with tuberculosis. Twelve-year-old Roo, like Mary in the classic novel, loses her parents in a traumatic event. Roo’s father and his girlfriend, however, were drug dealers, murdered while Roo crouched in her hiding place under their trailer. Ms. Valentine, an employee of her father’s wealthy brother, takes Roo to live with the uncle of whose existence she was unaware. A half-feral loner who bonds with animals rather than people, she enjoys the fact that most of the time the servants in the mansion seem to forget her existence. She likes the house’s nooks and crannies and the island’s hiding places, especially when she wants to escape from the private tutor forced upon her. Like Mary in the original, she reluctantly develops a friendship with a no-nonsense staff member, in Roo’s case a young woman named Violet from whom she learns scraps of information about the island and her uncle’s family. Roo, of course, eventually discovers the dormant garden—in this novel, a neglected greenhouse built for her uncle’s late South American wife—and her cousin, Phillip, a sickly boy subject to uncontrollable fits of rage. The collection of animal skeletons he has assembled adds an interesting wrinkle to his character. On the river, a strange boy named Jack, half-seriously rumored to be actually a water spirit, befriends Roo, introduces her to the wildlife of the area, and eventually helps her restore the garden. In short, the story unfolds parallel to the plot of THE SECRET GARDEN, with characters in similar roles. Yet the wild setting of the St. Lawrence islands and the haunting past of the mansion engender their own unique atmosphere. The novel includes tenuous hints of magic realism in the ambiguity of Jack’s nature as human boy or water spirit and the preternaturally rapid flourishing of the replanted garden.

THE DIRT ON CLEAN, by Katherine Ashenburg. Published in 2007, this nonfiction book fascinatingly surveys attitudes toward cleanliness and methods of keeping clean from antiquity to the contemporary era. The introduction lays out the theme continually reverted to throughout the book, that the definition of proper hygiene varies widely among different times and places. To each society, its own attitudes and customs in this area seem normal, while other cultural practices are either self-evidently over-fastidious or (more often) offensively dirty. As the author puts it, “hygiene has always been a convenient stick with which to beat other peoples, who never seem to get it right.” For example, few cultures in the past (and not all in the present) have shared our conviction that body odor is inherently disgusting. She focuses on Europe and America and sometimes the Middle East, with only occasional references to other regions of the world by way of comparison and contrast. The chapters cover, successively, ancient Greece and Rome, late antiquity up to the year 1000, the Middle Ages, 1550 to 1750 (whose uncleanness might surprise many readers), 1750 to 1815 (labeled “The Return of Water”), two chapters on 1815 to 1900 because Europe and America changed at different rates and embraced different levels of fastidiousness, 1900 to 1950, and finally 1900 to the present with emphasis on contemporary obsession with absolute cleanliness as essential to both health and beauty. Ashenburg debunks common misconceptions such as the idea of the Middle Ages in Europe as a nadir of filth, while in fact it was the self-styled Enlightenment period that rejected bathing. Through most of the history covered in this book, however, it’s true that immersing the body in hot water was regarded as a procedure to be undertaken with caution, for heat opened the pores and allowed harmful effluvia into the body. Also, hot and warm baths were often disdained as signs of hedonism, with bracing cold immersions recommended. Only in the nineteenth century and after did medical authorities proclaim the benefits of open pores, a doctrine that encouraged frequent bathing. The author writes in a lively style, in depth and in detail, exploring the shifting philosophies behind the customs as well as supplying factoids that both entertain and inform. Numerous sidebars expand on particular topics, and later chapters include advertisements from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that illustrate the intersections among popular beliefs, medical recommendations, and commercial exploitation of anxieties about dirt. In addition to bathing and washing the body or its parts, the text touches on oral hygiene but devotes little space to the primary use of the chamber Americans call the “bathroom.” (I suppose including the topic of toilet habits would have doubled the length of the book, at the very least.) My only reservation is a feeling that Ashenburg exaggerates the depth and extent of obsessive-compulsiveness about dirt and odors (especially among women) from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Yes, as amply demonstrated, advertisers want us to think that way, but how many of us have ever fully bought into that obsession?

THE PARASITE AND OTHER TALES OF TERROR, by Arthur Conan Doyle. This handsome, inexpensive trade paperback is the latest in a series of public-domain horror classics re-published by the Horror Writers Association, with introductions and footnotes. The dramatic phrase “Tales of Terror” isn’t applicable to all the contents of this collection. Two are humorous, one is a mystery without much fear involved, and not all have supernatural or paranormal elements. All make enjoyable reading anyway, and most will probably be new even to devoted Sherlock Holmes fans, if they haven’t delved into the rest of Doyle’s works. I had read “The Parasite,” of course, a classic psychic vampire novella, plus a couple of the others, but I encountered several for the first time in this volume. The title story, presented as the journal of Professor Gilroy, a physiologist, narrates his harrowing experience with Miss Penclosa, a mesmerist who exerts a terrible power over him despite his initial skepticism about the reality of psychic talents. “The Mystery of Sasassa Valley,” set in South Africa, deals with a supposedly haunted location that holds treasure but nothing truly supernatural. “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement” offers an ingenious and frightful, although non-paranormal, explanation for the mystery of the Marie Celeste (a real-life ship found derelict and inexplicably deserted in 1872). “The Captain of the Pole-Star” is a chilling (both literally and emotionally) yet poignant ghost story set aboard a whaling ship in the Arctic. “In the Great Keinplatz Experiment,” one of the comic tales, an exercise in astral projection through mesmerism goes wrong, causing a professor and his student assistant to switch bodies. “The Ring of Thoth” features an immortal Egyptian mystic lurking in a museum that holds the mummy of his lost beloved. Another ghost story, “The Bully of Brocas Court,” presents a match on a lonely road between a boxing champion and a deceased fighter from a previous era. “Selecting a Ghost: The Ghosts of Goresthorpe Grange,” another humorous piece, is told in the first person by a rich man whose pretensions to an ancient bloodline won’t be complete, he thinks, until he finds a ghost to haunt the medieval mansion he has bought; hiring an alleged spiritualist expert to fulfill that wish ends in disaster. “How It Happened,” a brief tale with little plot beyond the easily anticipated “surprise” ending, simply records a dead man’s experience of his own death as revealed through the pen of a spirit medium. Fans of Doyle’s detective stories and of Victorian supernatural fiction in general would enjoy this collection.

WENDY, DARLING, by A. C. Wise. One of the two darkest novels derived from PETER PAN I’ve ever read. (The other was THE CHILD THIEF, by Brom.) In Wise’s sequel to Barrie’s original tale, Wendy, now grown up and married, must find her way to Neverland to rescue her preteen daughter, Jane, when Peter Pan kidnaps the girl. The story begins as Wendy hears a sound from Jane’s room and realizes Peter has finally returned. After sneering at Wendy for growing up, he flies away with Jane, whom he persists in calling Wendy throughout the book. To him, apparently, all “Wendys” are interchangeable. This version of Peter is not only “heartless,” as in Barrie’s text, but outright cruel. Jane witnesses his capricious treatment of the Lost Boys, randomly either playful or bullying. She befriends a small, timid child named Timothy, who has only fragmentary, fleeting memories of a life before Neverland. Since her mother has never told her about Peter Pan, Jane has to figure out the situation on her own. Resisting the tendency to lapse into a dreamlike state where she accepts Peter’s fantasy world and even forgets her own name, she fights to hold onto her true self. With no desire to play “mother” to a group of strange boys or live on cauldrons of leaves, twigs, and stones magically transformed into soup (or the illusion of soup), she persuades Timothy, who hates Peter’s violent games such as boar-hunting, to sneak away with her. Meanwhile, Wendy reclaims her childhood power of flight and crosses into Neverland, a realm where even the stars are different. There she fully comprehends the truth she didn’t grasp as a child, that everything in Neverland is created by Peter, reflecting his idea of pirates, mermaids, and “injuns” on a paradisial island. Although the Lost Boys are apparently real people, there’s a chilling hint (during one of Jane’s viewpoint scenes) that at least some of them are actually dead. Wendy speculates on the horrifying possibility that Captain Hook may have been a real man trapped in a self-absorbed boy’s fantasy world. The mermaids’ bones lie in shallow water, and the pirates have vanished, leaving behind Hook’s wrecked ship. The one element I missed from the original was the pixies. What, no fairies? Even Tinkerbell isn’t mentioned. When Wendy encounters her dear friend Tiger Lily, the “Indian” princess has begun to wither like a mummy. Yet Wendy clings to the hope that Tiger Lily, at least, has a reality beyond Peter’s magical constructs. As Wendy searches for Jane, interspersed flashbacks reveal what happened after the return of Wendy, John, and Michael from Neverland. While her brothers quickly forgot the reality of the adventure, dismissing it as mere fantasy, Wendy refused to deny the truth she knew. Finally, as a young woman, she was committed by John to an insane asylum. During her ordeal there, she met Mary, a half-Native woman from Canada, who became a lifelong friend. In the present, Wendy, Tiger Lily, Jane, and Timothy must descend into the core of the island to discover the dark secret of Peter’s true nature. This deeply unsettling novel has a bittersweet ending that leaves both Wendy and Jane permanently changed.


Excerpt from SEALED IN BLOOD:

In the next hallway Brewster went into a conference room from whose open door guitar music emanated. At the entrance he paused to glance back at the thinning ranks of strollers that included Sherri and Nigel.

Instantly Nigel grabbed Sherri, backed her against the wall, and kissed her on the mouth. She bunched her arms between their chests, trying to push him away. She might as well have shoved the wall itself. He responded to her struggle to free her mouth by matching her every move, with firm but not grinding pressure. In spite of herself, her lips parted to admit his tongue. At that point she gave up the fight and switched to aggressive cooperation. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she teased his tongue with hers. In contrast to his hands, cool on the flesh exposed by the scoop neck of her dress, his mouth felt feverishly hot. She was just beginning to enjoy the duel when he released her so abruptly she staggered.

Sherri’s hands flew to her disheveled hair. “What was all that about?” Luckily anger–or so she chose to label it–choked her so that she couldn’t yell at him. “Don’t say uncontrollable passion, because I won’t buy it.”

“I didn’t want him to get a good look at our faces.”

Nigel stepped into the conference room and lounged by the door. Sherri peeked around him until he waved her back into the hall. The table had been moved to one side, leaving a circle of chairs occupied by ten or twelve people, Brewster among them, his back to the entrance. A filksing. The guitar player strummed a chord, and the group began a thumping chorus of “What do you do with a drunken hobbit?”

Nigel faded into the hall. Sherri saw him wince as the volume of the singing rose a few more decibels. “Sometimes having perfect pitch is a liability. How long would you expect that to go on?” he asked.

“At least a couple of hours. That’s why I like to get a room in the hotel. Who wants to drive home after a post-midnight singing marathon?”

“Oh, do you call it singing?” Nigel offered a wry smile. “I’m glad you don’t have to rush off, because I want to ask you a somewhat complicated favor. Will you join me for a drink in my room?”

Could all this rigmarole be an inventive plot to lure her into bed? Not likely–she didn’t consider herself irresistible enough to be worth so much trouble. Besides, these days a professional man, acutely health-conscious, would be no more likely to make that move on a first meeting than a sensible woman would. Well, she could learn what he really wanted only by listening to him. And what could he do to her in a crowded hotel, anyway?

“All right, I’ll accompany you to your lair.”

“Just a temporary lair,” said Nigel as he guided her to the elevator. “You should see the castle in the Carpathians, the one with the rat-infested dungeons and the hundred-foot tower.”

“Which location do you keep the captive maidens in?”

“Depends on their behavior. The ones who please me get immured in the tower, with the door bricked up.”

“And you visit them by magic,” said Sherri.

“Of course.”

-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