Archive for October, 2022

Welcome to the October 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

You can subscribe to this monthly newsletter here:


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!

Happy Halloween!

My erotic paranormal ghost romance novella “Heart Diamond” (another lightly edited former Ellora’s Cave publication) was released in September:

Heart Diamond

After losing her fiance to a car accident, Roseanne has one thing to remember him by—a ring with a gemstone made from his ashes. Anchored to the jewel, he returns to her from the other world. But the ghost of a love isn’t enough. An excerpt appears below.

Diamonds made from cremains are a real thing, by the way.

In November my next re-release will come out, a Christmas erotic paranormal romance novella titled “Merry Twinness.”

For the month of horror, I’m interviewing poet, artist, and fiction author Marge Simon. She created many illustrations for my former fanzine THE VAMPIRE’S CRYPT, and she’s a frequent contributor in fiction, verse, and artwork to the vampire and horror zine NIGHT TO DAWN. She also writes a column on dark poetry for the Horror Writers Association monthly newsletter. Moreover, she’s the cover artist for my story collection DOCTOR VAMPIRE, available here:

Doctor Vampire


Interview with Marge Simon:

What inspired you to begin writing?

As soon as I mastered writing my name, which is the same as yours, I figured I might as well learn some other words to write. At the time, it seemed that “Margaret” was as long as the alphabet. I couldn’t saddle my daughter with a long name. My daughter’s name only has 5 letters.

What genres do you work in?

Everything except Romance, Mystery, Detective and Westerns.

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

Depends, but I usually have an idea where I’m going with a poem or flash. I’m not sure what I’ll find along the way, for it’s not a cut-and-dried deal.

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

For my vampire stories and poems, I gained inspiration experience from Ann Rice’s series that begins with Interview with the Vampire, the Sonja Blue collection by Nancy Collins and Robert Steakley’s VAMPIRE$. Of course, I read Carmilla. These are the main influences on my imagination as I began writing on the subject. I knew the story of Dracula, and have read Dracul, by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker.

How does the writing of horror-themed poetry differ from the creation of other types of poetry, if it does?

It doesn’t. If you are a good poet, you can turn a mainstream poem like Frost’s “Stopping Through Woods on a Snowy Night” into a full blown horror story and have ideas left over for more.

Please tell us about the background and content of your collaborative Dracula-themed book, THE DEMETER DIARIES.

Dr. Bryan Dietrich asked me about collaborating on this set of poems one bright morning in spring of 2018 at an ICFA conference. We didn’t know what would happen, or how it would take shape – but we soon found our places, as if this were foreordained. Working on it was like writing a play that needed no rehearsal.

For the space of time it took, we assumed the identity of our characters while writing. It was amazing how Mina responded to Vlad, and vice versa – with very little discussion. I remember needing to know where Vlad was and how close, and how much longer the voyage would take. Things that happened in Mina’s life while Vlad was en route came so naturally for me to convey. I felt the days of Mina’s life were more discovered, than invented. Of course, I researched aspects of the Victorian era, including the pastimes and fashions, popular opinions, medicines, etc. Bryan’s poems gave me clues and in response, Mina would often perceive what Vlad was going through or thinking about. It was a work of unique harmony.

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

Sifting the Ashes (with Michael Bailey)

What are you working on now?

A short sf story about a time traveler with Shikhar Dixit.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

READ, READ all kinds of works, from non-fiction to mainstream, contemporary to the classics, and don’t stop! You will never regret it.

What is the URL of your website?

Marge Simon

What about other internet presence?



Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

I CONTAIN MULTITUDES, by Ed Yong. Subtitled “The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life,” this nonfiction book deals with a broader subject than the microbial life within human beings. It discusses a wide range of animals and other creatures as well. The first chapter (after the prologue), “Living Islands,” sets the tone. Every multicellular life-form is an “island” inhabited by millions of organisms in addition to its own cells. In the sentence, “Symbiosis hints at the threads that connect all life on Earth,” Yong (a Pulitzer-Prize-winning science writer) encapsulates the theme of the entire book. Chapter 2 briefly surveys the history of microbiology, beginning with Anton van Leeuwenhoek’s first glimpses of “animalcules” through his lenses in 1632. For a while after the germ theory of disease became accepted, there was a negative attitude toward “germs” in general. The more sterile, the better, it was believed. We now know that most microbes in our environment and our bodies are neutral or beneficial. Children brought up “too clean” are more susceptible to allergies. Many of the bacteria in symbiosis with us occupy niches that would otherwise be infested with harmful organisms. A robust internal ecosystem—microbiome—supporting the right kinds of symbionts is essential to overall health. Some insects and animals wouldn’t be able to digest the foods they live on without the help of certain gut microbes. In an engagingly readable style, Yong’s ten chapters explore these and many other roles, vital to life on Earth, played by microscopic organisms. The text’s structure varies between anecdotes about scientists studying the role of microbes in the web of life, often in remote regions scarcely touched by human development, and in-depth explorations of how those hidden connections work, sometimes with intricate discussions of biochemistry. (I confess I occasionally skimmed the more technical parts of those passages.) As a bonus, there are several pages of color photographs in the center of the book. The bibliography is huge and the index highly detailed.

OLLIE’S ODYSSEY, by William Joyce. This children’s chapter book with rather creepy illustrations was made into an excellent miniseries on Netflix, LOST OLLIE. I didn’t know it was a book until after watching the film, and contrary to my usual position, in this case I recommend reading the novel first. As good as the novel is in its way, I felt slightly let down upon reading it because I think the TV series made some improvements. Ollie is a homemade stuffed animal—a rabbit in the film, a bunny-bear hybrid in the book—sewn by Billy’s mother when he’s a baby. Inside the toy’s chest, she sews a bell that is the only remnant left from a doll she loved in childhood. Billy and Ollie become inseparable from the beginning. One outstanding feature of the novel is the way Ollie’s comprehension of the world clearly reflects and grows with Billy’s. They communicate with each other in their imaginative play, since children can understand the speech of anthropomorphic toys. In the film, adults (with one poignant exception at the end) can’t hear Ollie talk or see him move even when he does it right in front of them. In the book, not only toys but all inanimate objects imbued with life through being constantly used by humans can move, speak, and interact with children. It would be fair to say the film echoes TOY STORY in that respect, while the book, with its motley crew of animated things (including a pet rock, who can talk but not move independently), feels more like THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER. In both media, the antagonist, ZoZo, begins life as a toy clown in a carnival booth. As the carnival gradually goes downhill and eventually closes, a dancing doll, Nina, whom ZoZo loves, is taken away by a little girl. She pronounces Nina her new favorite toy. In the novel’s present day, ZoZo has conscripted a gang of minions who steal favorite toys for him to imprison and torment, not only out of malice toward all “favorites” but with a remote hope of finding his beloved again. The minions kidnap Ollie out of Billy’s backpack while Billy attends a wedding with his parents. Billy searches for Ollie and eventually becomes ZoZo’s prisoner. Ollie, who has meanwhile escaped from ZoZo’s underground lair, finds his way to a junkyard, where he wins a band of allies—toys and other discarded household objects—to help him rescue his boy. Wild, dangerous adventures ensue, culminating in a battle in ZoZo’s sinister underworld, with heroism, sacrifice, and love prominently on display. The limited and sometimes quirky view of the world held by household items and especially toys is vividly rendered. Ollie never steps out of character as a stuffed animal who understands his environment on the same level as the child he grew up with. A thrilling, heartfelt story for children, the novel also contains numerous cultural references and bits of humor designed to appeal to adults. Still, on the whole I prefer the film adaptation. It adds the illness and premature death of Billy’s mother, shown in flashbacks, which infuse the story with extra emotional depth. Instead of being stolen, Ollie gets lost in the aftermath of Billy’s mother’s death, as a result of Billy’s own despairing actions. By the time Billy remorsefully sets out in the night to search for his lifelong friend, Ollie has been picked up as abandoned and offered for sale in a secondhand shop. He meets ZoZo on the shelf where ZoZo ended up during his long, vain quest for Nina. In the series, ZoZo undergoes more complex character development, in my opinion. He bargains, apparently sincerely, to help Ollie search for home and Billy, if Ollie will help to find Nina. ZoZo finally snaps only when he notices Nina’s bell in Ollie’s heart. A character invented for the film, an old friend of ZoZo’s, adds another layer of complexity. The film device of revealing the backstories of Billy, Ollie, ZoZo, and Nina through a nonlinear structure, in flashbacks sprinkled throughout, enhances suspense. It also leads to a shocking, yet deeply moving zinger at the end as we abruptly have to revise our impression of the story’s time scale.

FAIRY TALE, by Stephen King. My favorite novel by King in a while. A fitting tagline might define it as a merging of “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” (a story in the IF IT BLEEDS collection, boy makes friends with an eccentric old man), 11/22/63 (protagonist inherits a magical portal), and THE TALISMAN (a quest for the means of saving a beloved life, through a fantasy landscape in an alternate dimension). King states in his afterword that he tried to keep FAIRY TALE separate from the Dark Tower universe, but stray references crept in. The most striking, for me, is the line, “There are other worlds than these.” The adventure begins with the unlikely friendship between the narrator, Charlie, a high-school athlete, and Mr. Bowditch, reclusive owner of the town’s archetypal decaying, spooky house, a borderline hoarder with no family or friends. After Charlie’s mother died, run over while walking across a dangerous bridge, his father sank into alcoholism and eventually lost his job. Charlie spent a long time taking care of his father as well as himself. Now that his father has been in recovery for several years thanks to the AA program, their lives are stable and their relationship strong. Fortunately, Charlie has long since pulled himself out of a threatened slide into juvenile delinquency. This background helps to account for his strong sense of responsibility. The present-day adventure begins with Mr. Bowditch’s female dog, Radar, who has acquired a perhaps undeservedly fierce reputation among the local kids but is now old and feeble. As Charlies is passing the house one day, she runs out, howling for help, and leads him to her master, lying on the ground with a broken leg. After Charlie calls 9-1-1 and the paramedics arrive, Mr. Bowditch, although he doesn’t trust anybody, has no choice but to let Charlie take care of Radar during his hospital stay. On his daily visits, Charlie becomes attached to the dog and also does what he can to mitigate the rundown condition of the house. By the time Mr. Bowditch comes home, the seeds of friendship have begun to sprout, and eventually Charlie wins the old man’s full trust. Thus, when Mr. Bowditch dies, Charlie inherits not only his property but a tape cassette revealing secrets of his friend’s longevity and financial status. Below the shed behind the house, a staircase leads to a portal into another world. The lure of mystery and gold draws Charlie, of course, but his main purpose in crossing over to the other dimension is to heal Radar’s infirmities and extend her life. Achieving this goal, of course, proves to be only the beginning of the adventure, as a larger quest pulls him in. Like the protagonist of THE TALISMAN, Charlie is mistaken for a promised savior. He does end up saving the kingdom, although far from singlehandedly. The realm is plagued by a disease that causes gray skin and other, more serious effects. The members of the royal family are immune to it but suffer from a cruel curse conjured by their treacherous brother, afflicting each of them with a different handicap. Charlie stands out because of his rarity as a “whole” (non-diseased) person. One feature of FAIRY TALE that especially appeals to me is the style of the chapter headings. As in many Victorian novels, the title of each chapter lays out an overview of the events to come. My one reservation about the book concerns the prevalent association of evil with ugliness and deformity. On the other hand, almost all the good people suffer some kind of physical defect, too, given the curse on the kingdom. Echoes of “Rumpelstiltskin” and THE WIZARD OF OZ permeate the story, along with numerous references to other fairy tales. Through Charlie’s first-person narrative voice, King manages to make him both a believable teenager and an obviously kindhearted, heroic person, as much as he resists being labeled a hero.


Excerpt from “Heart Diamond”:

Roseanne’s eyes snapped open. A man’s shape lay beside her. A neon-blue glow surrounded it. Tim’s face and body, translucent except for the gray-blue eyes. His hand flowed over her like cold water. A shudder coursed through her.

“Roseanne? Don’t be afraid, love. I’m sorry I scared you at first.” The voice sounded so real, exactly like her memory of Tim’s.

“Of course it sounds the way I remember it,” she muttered, “because it’s coming from my imagination.”

“No, it’s not,” he said. “I’m really here.”

She gasped and sat up. When the apparition’s fingers trailed down the valley between her breasts, she drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around them to shield herself.

He reached for her again. She let out a half-stifled scream.

He blinked in and out of visibility like a failing light bulb. “Please don’t.”

A chill enveloped her. “What are you?” she whispered.

“It’s me. Honest.”

Shaking her head, she squeezed her eyes shut then opened them. He hadn’t vanished.

“Why are you afraid?” Lying on his side, he leaned on one elbow and gazed into her eyes. She noticed his elbow and hip didn’t dent the mattress. With one finger he touched the diamond. At the moment of contact, his outline momentarily became sharper.

“Are you kidding? Because if you aren’t a dream, you’re a ghost.”

“Well, yeah,” he said with a sad smile. “Considering I’m, you know, dead and all that.”

Her throat constricted so that for a few seconds she couldn’t choke out any words. “Why? How?”

“Why? Because I couldn’t stand being torn away from you. I’m able to reach you now because of the diamond.”

She stared at the gem, which glimmered in the eerie light he radiated. “You’re haunting the ring?”

“If you want to put it that way.”

-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