Welcome to the November 2019 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

This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!

Here’s my page in Barnes and Noble’s Nook store. These items include some of the short stories that used to be on Fictionwise:
Barnes and Noble

Go here and scroll down to “Available Short Fiction” for a list of those stories with their Amazon links:
Kindle Works

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:

You’ve probably heard the dismaying news about Yahoo’s changes to its groups:

Yahoo Announcement

“Message History” is one feature going away. Does this mean you won’t be able to read previous newsletters on the Yahoo site anymore? If so, you can access old issues back to January 2018 on my website’s Newsletter page here:


People are speculating that this cutback in services is a prelude to shutting down the groups altogether. If that happens, I’ll continue to post monthly newsletters on my website’s Newsletter page.

Brenda Whiteside welcomed me as a guest on her blog in mid-October, featuring some background about “Yokai Magic.”

Brenda Whiteside’s Blog

Here’s an interview with me that appeared on the Writers Exchange E-Publishing website:

Writers Exchange Interview

Below is an excerpt of the beginning of “Mad Magic,” from my collection PERILOUS MAGIC, which includes (among other pieces) four of my five stories first published in the “Sword and Sorceress” anthologies.

Perilous Magic

This month I’m interviewing romance author Linda Nightingale.


Interview with Linda Nightingale:

What inspired you to begin writing?

All those gothic romances I read as a young girl like Rebecca, Kirkland Revels, and the Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart. My favorites were Jean Plaity with her historical romances, Daphne DuMaurier, and Victoria Holt as well as Mary Stewart. I loved them and would sit and read for hours and hours. I’m dating myself with these oldies but goodies, but they were great. I also liked sci-fi and fantasy, but first story I wrote wasn’t a gothic romance. It was a sci-fi about an alien with pink hair running through London.

What genres do you work in?

Almost all genres of romance from paranormal to contemporary, but I don’t yet have the nerve to try historical. That must be a difficult genre to write. The research alone is daunting.

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

I wing it, starting with one character and letting him or her tell me the story. Usually it works; sometimes not. The book plays like a movie in my head. I watch the characters move and react, listening to the dialogue. It’s a fun way to write unless the characters stop talking!

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

The old Gothic writers I mentioned above like Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Daphne DuMaurier.

How has your experience with horses featured in your fiction?

All of my books mention horses, usually Andalusians. I bred, trained and showed the magnificent Andalusian for many years. I have a poster that says, “This horse will change your life”, and it’s true. But back to the question, I wrote one book strictly about horse lovers (a contemporary romance) titled Gambler’s Choice, the name of a class in a hunter-jumper horse show. It gives a peek at the equestrian world.

How do your vampires differ from the traditional supernatural undead?

My vampires aren’t resurrected corpses. In my mythos, the Vampyre (the race) are viral mutations of human DNA. I recently read an article that said most people’s DNA has been mutated by this or that virus. Luckily, not the Vampyre Virus which changes mortals into immortals. My vampires (individual) can’t go out in the sun, but the cross and garlic doesn’t affect them. They don’t regenerate, like limbs, but heal quickly. They can see themselves in the mirror and don’t change into bats. They can appear to vanish since they can move so fast. They have fangs and drink blood solely. The fangs and the elliptical pupils are Glamoured by holding the picture of a normal man firmly in the vampire’s mind.

Please tell us about the mythic background of the angels in your novels.

Mainly the Grigori, the angels who were sent to Earth to teach Man and fell from Grace. Their story is in the Book of Enoch, which was deleted from the Bible, but there is one reference to them still in Genesis 6;2: “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose”. Gylded Wings is a dark fantasy romance starring Lucifer as the good guy. I did a lot of research for this one, including spending an evening talking with a Jewish scholar.

What is your latest-released or soon-forthcoming work?

Sinners’ Opera – ‘Death is his punishment. She is his prize.’

Sinners’ Opera was released by The Wild Rose Press on Monday, October 7th. Sinners’ is a vampire paranormal romance. It is the book of my heart and the first book I wrote. The main character is an English lord, a concert pianist…and a 300-year-old vampire. Reviewers have called Morgan D’Arcy a “tour de force of egotism, wit, sensuality, and talent.” He has everything except what he most desires—Isabeau.

This is a quote from the New York Journal of Books review:
Morgan and John (his rival) begin their rivalry dueling with words.
“With a perfectly straight face, I said, “Size does count. The length of the strings produces deeper resonance.”
“Some men drive big trucks.” Payne slid an arm around Isabeau’s shoulders,
tucking her close to his side. “Some, I guess, play big pianos.”
Thus Morgan begins his courtship of the woman he’s loved since before her birth. Isabeau responds, but soon their affair whirls out of control.
The review also calls him a ‘tour de force’ of egotism, wit, sensuality, and talent, as well as a determination to bring about his plan while protecting Isabeau from harm.
Other reviewers have called Sinners’ Opera ‘intense and thrilling’, ‘beautifully written, and ‘haunt you long after you finish reading’.

Here’s the blurb:
Morgan D’Arcy is an English lord, a classical pianist, and a vampire. He has everything except what he desires most—Isabeau. When she was a child, he appeared to her as the Angel Gabriel, steering her life and career choice, preparing her to become Lady D’Arcy. Many forces oppose Morgan’s daring plan—not the least of which is Vampyre law.
Isabeau Gervase is a brilliant geneticist. Though she no longer believes in angels, she sees a ticket to a Nobel Prize in Gabriel’s secrets—secrets that have led her to a startling conclusion. Gabriel isn’t human, and she fully intends to identify the species she named the Angel Genome.
Morgan is ready to come back into Isabeau’s life, but this time as a man not an angel. Will he outsmart his enemies, protect his beloved and escape death himself? For the first time in eternity, the clock is ticking.

What are you working on now?

Another Morgan book titled Mr. Piano Man. The story is told in a frame, beginning in 1989 in Charleston, South Carolina, with Morgan working in a piano bar, segueing to 1941 during the Battle of Britain—the Blitz of London. Morgan is a RAF fighter pilot. That story left with he and the heroine parting when his plane is shot down over France, the book returns to 1989 when Morgan and the heroine meet again. But she is now in her late 60s, and he still is young and beautiful.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Persevere. Constantly improve your craft. Even talent can benefit from learning then breaking the rules. Don’t put away your Christmas tree if you have one. Decorate it with the painful emails from publishers who don’t recognize a good book and laugh as the tree fills up. Or wallpaper your bathroom walls with them. Do take to heart any constructive criticism you feel might be justified.

All my links and contact information, as well as the books and their descriptions can be found on my website at Linda Nightingale.

Thank you, Margaret, for allowing me to meet your lovely readers.


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

A HEAT WAVE IN THE HELLERS, by Deborah J. Ross. This collection contains Ross’s stories published in Darkover anthologies over the years. Although I own all of those books, I bought this one because it also includes four other tales, one from a fanzine and three never before published. My favorite of the previously anthologized works is “The Death of Brendon Ensolare” (inspired by a classic Russian story), about an imaginary cadet accidentally “created” by a mistake in a roll call; the other cadets find their nonexistent comrade useful to have around, until a sad event makes it clear that they have to get rid of him somehow. The title story, “A Heat Wave in the Hellers,” is a sort of fanfic that humorously incorporates all the elements forbidden by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s submission guidelines for the anthologies. Darkover fans who haven’t read the anthologies should definitely get this collection, and even if you own the anthology series, you might find the trade-paperback price worthwhile for the sake of the new pieces.

THE TWISTED ONES, by T. Kingfisher. I consider this the best horror novel I’ve read in many years and possibly the only one I’ve found really scary since the original publication of PET SEMATARY. The narrator, Melissa, nicknamed Mouse, receives a call from her elderly father about clearing out his recently deceased mother’s house. The house has been locked and uninhabited for the past two years, since his mother went into a home for the aged. He warns Mouse the place could be “bad,” but she accepts the task, since there’s nobody else to do it. If it turns out to be too much for her, he assures her he’d be okay with having the house razed instead of sold. Even with only vague hints from the blurb about the prospective horrors, I was captivated by this beginning. Mouse’s narrative voice makes the most mundane decisions and chores interesting. She grabbed me on page two with this statement: “I’m a freelance editor. I turn decent books into decently readable books and hopeless books into hopeless books with better grammar.” She and her rescue hound, Bongo, dutifully head for her grandmother’s house in rural North Carolina. Her grandmother was a hateful person who turns out also to have been a hoarder. “Bad” doesn’t begin to describe the house. At least, however, there’s no rotting food inside, and the water, electricity, and stove work. Mouse finds one bedroom untouched by the piles of accumulated junk (including a room stuffed with creepy dolls). It had belonged to her step-grandfather, Frederick Cotgrave, an immigrant from Wales whom she recalls only as a colorless, silent man constantly browbeaten by his wife. She does have one fond memory of his teaching her to draw the “Kilroy” cartoon popular in World War II, which becomes vitally important later in the story. She finds a journal written by Cotgrave and later a hidden manuscript referenced in the journal. At first she thinks the weird references in his writings imply that the old man suffered from dementia and paranoia. On the other hand, the petty persecution he mentions would have been totally in character for her grandmother. What about the things Cotgrave claims to have seen in the woods? When Mouse and her dog come across a strange cluster of stones with grotesque carvings on them, in a spot that should not exist in the local geography, she begins to suspect Cotgrave wasn’t losing his mind after all. By the time she discovers his hidden manuscript, she’s inclined to believe the dark things it hints at. It reconstructs as much as he can recall of another journal, the “Green Book,” written by a young girl who’d had sinister encounters with what she called the “white people.” Are the horrors that nineteenth-century girl witnessed being duplicated in North Carolina? Do similar things lurk in secret places all over the world? In the midst of her struggle with the house, Mouse glimpses what appear to be effigies made of sticks, bones, and miscellaneous debris topped by deer skulls. Moreover, she reluctantly entertains the possibility that they are animated. She makes friends with the three middle-aged “hippies” on a nearby property, and they acknowledge that all the locals know there are vague but dangerous “things” in the woods. I can’t be more specific because I don’t want to give away spoilers. As the plot accelerates, unexpected, terrifying events come at every turn. Yet even in the tensest moments, Mouse’s narrative interjects wry humor. She labors on the house to a background of the local NPR station’s Pledge Break week (another detail that pays off in the end). This novel includes an abundance of my favorite horror trope, the unearthing of dark secrets from the past. It was also a thrill to recognize this story as essentially a sequel to Arthur Machen’s classic story “The White People,” as the author explains in her afterword. She, of course, puts a different spin on his plot elements. The dog, Bongo, is a character in his own right but not unrealistically sapient. As Mouse frequently notes, he’s as dumb as a box of rocks aside from his almost preternatural tracking ability. Unlike too many horror-fiction characters, Mouse has sound motives for sticking around despite the frightful incidents and, later, for venturing deeper into the forest. Another feature of the novel I admire is that she has a credible reason for writing down her experience—to sort out the traumatic experiences in her own mind—and that, unlike many horror protagonists, she doesn’t blithely move on with her life unscathed after escaping the monsters. Furthermore, Cotgrave’s manuscript sounds believably uncertain at points, not (as Kingfisher discusses in the afterword) as if he had a photographic memory. I’ve rambled on long enough, so I can only urge horror fans to read this fantastic (in both senses) story.

THE WATERS AND THE WILD, by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill. This latest installment in Lackey’s “Bedlam Bards” urban fantasy series about elves in modern America centers on a teenage girl, Olivia, depressed because her parents are breaking up. Her life holds only one bright spot, her boyfriend, Blake, a star athlete on the swimming team. It seems incredible that the most popular boy in school has chosen the rather nondescript Olivia as his girlfriend. When he invites her to his family’s summer cabin after their senior year of high school, she welcomes the chance to escape the cold war between her parents. When they arrive at the lakeside resort area, though, she discovers the cabin is more rustic than she expected, Internet and cell phone access are erratic, Blake’s parents seem unsure what to do with her, and Blake himself ignores her most of the time. The reader, of course, realizes before Olivia does that something sinister is going on. It turns out that Blake has courted her and invited her on the trip for ulterior motives. Furthermore, there’s a Lamia in the lake. A Selkie bonds with Olivia, and eventually elves get involved. When confronted with magical phenomena, she’s neither absurdly gullible nor stubbornly skeptical, a good balance for a fantasy novel character and difficult to achieve. She presents a convincing characterization of a teenager suffering from depression yet able to cope with the weird events that entangle her. By the climactic clash between the elven cohorts and the monster in the lake, she has found her strength. I enjoyed the novel very much, like all the installments in this series, and there’s a fun twist at the end when Olivia learns of unsuspected magic in her mother’s past. Unfortunately, one inexplicable error in this book, repeated too often to be a one-time lapse, made my teeth grind in exasperation: The authors think Long Beach (where Olivia plans to attend college) is in San Diego. No, they’re in two different counties, separated by a drive of at least an hour, depending on where in San Diego you start. Granted that Lackey lives in Oklahoma (I don’t know where Edghill lives) and the publisher’s office is in New York, shouldn’t SOMEBODY in the production process still have noticed this obvious blunder?

THE SINISTER MYSTERY OF THE MESMERIZING GIRL, by Theodora Goss. This third volume in the Athena Club trilogy, starring the daughters, whether begotten or created, of the principal Victorian mad scientists (Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, and Lucinda Van Helsing), wraps up with an air of finality, suggesting a definite conclusion to the series. I’d have been happen to see it continue for several more volumes. At the end of the last book, EUROPEAN TRAVEL FOR THE MONSTROUS GENTLEWOMAN, Mary’s faithful kitchen maid, Alice, has been kidnapped. She turns out to be the daughter of Helen Vaughn from Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan.” Like her mother, Alice has a powerful gift of mesmerism, able to warp reality or at least cast an illusion of doing so. Her mother (introduced in the previous novels as “Mrs. Raymond”) wants to make use of Alice’s power. The Athena Club must rescue Alice and save the world from an occult conspiracy, in an uneasy alliance with Ayesha (of Rider Haggard’s SHE), head of the alchemical society to which the heroines’ fathers belonged. Irene Norton, Professor Moriarty, Dracula, Carmilla, and Mycroft Holmes, among others, make return appearances. Sherlock Holmes, however, stays offstage until about halfway through. In the climactic magical battle, the heroines save England, Europe, and Queen Victoria. I was delighted to see Queen Tera, the resurrected mummy from Bram Stoker’s JEWEL OF SEVEN STARS, as the main antagonist, intent on world domination. As in the previous two books, it’s also fun to read the interpolated comments by Catherine Moreau (the in-universe writer of the three volumes) with remarks and rebuttals from other characters, including Mary Jekyll’s housekeeper, Mrs. Poole. If you’re a fan of classic nineteenth-century horror and fantasy and haven’t read this trilogy, dive into it as soon as possible, starting with THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER, and savor the lively, articulate, intelligent protagonists, the suspense, the clever plotting, and numerous allusions to the literature of the period.


Excerpt from “Mad Magic”:

The windows of the mansion shone with the glow of dozens of oilnut lamps. To Lorita, the spectacle looked more threatening than welcoming. She didn’t belong in this setting. She stepped from the carriage and smoothed the skirt of her unfamiliar evening gown, which rippled blue-green like a waterfall. Her employer, the wizard Arlen, had assured her that she and her magically forged invitation would easily pass inspection. Still, she would have felt more at ease in her usual tunic and trousers, not to mention boots instead of these impractical shoes. She’d had to practice before she could walk in them without stumbling.

Tallis, the apprentice mage driving the carriage, scowled down at her. The frown and his rakishly disheveled raven hair slightly marred his disguise as a coachman, but with luck none of the guests or staff would get close enough to notice. “I should go in with you,” he said for possibly the tenth time that evening.

“Don’t start that again. Master Arlen and Mistress Irina agreed this way is the safest. You’re known by sight to Sylene’s guardians. I’m not.”

“Aunt Irina could have cast a glamour so they wouldn’t recognize me.”

“And if it didn’t last long enough, happened to fail in the middle of a crowd?” They’d gone through this whole argument several times over. “Your job is to wait here and be ready so we can make a fast getaway after I sneak her out.”

This escapade seemed like a lot of trouble to go through to free a mad girl from a greedy aunt and uncle who wanted to keep control of her fortune. No, not mad, Lorita reminded herself. Mistress Irina swore financial motives alone had caused Sylene’s guardians to lock her up and forbid her either to study magic with Irina or to marry Tallis. Either course would take their niece’s inheritance out of the couple’s clutches, not to mention impoverishing their own son, whose betrothal tonight’s festivity celebrated.

Arlen had offered his colleague Irina aid in freeing her would-be student and sent Lorita to carry out the task. She patted the elaborately coiffed black wig that covered her own short, brown hair and took the invitation out of the embroidered purse on her belt, where she’d also tucked the prepared spells Arlen had given her in the form of crystal beads.

The liveried guard at the door barely glanced at the square of parchment. She checked one last time to make sure her flowing sleeves hid the creature wrapped around her arm like a translucent ribbon. Her familiar, Arlen called it, though technically, as more thief than wizard, she couldn’t have a true familiar. It reacted to her nervousness by tightening its coils.

Easy, Taper. Nothing to worry about. While it couldn’t answer her in words, even silently, she sensed its relaxation. Her skin tingled from the myriad tiny needles on its underside as it absorbed a few drops of her blood. The usual rush of pleasure from the contact boosted her confidence. She stepped over the threshold into the entry hall. Fragrances of lamp oil and scented candles perfumed the air. Cloying heat replaced the cool of the night air. Lamps in wall sconces lit the way to the ballroom, where richly dressed people danced to a quartet of musicians on one side or clustered around the refreshment table on the other side. Draperies in the household’s colors of crimson and gold adorned the walls, the red hue matched by bouquets of roses on the table. All she had to do was thread her way through the crowd and slip out the far door into the corridor without attracting notice. She’d memorized Tallis’s directions to Sylene’s chamber.

She took a deep breath and stepped into the middle of the room. Strolling at a leisurely pace to avoid standing out, she paused at the buffet. Food aromas tickled her nose. Strips of rare meat on skewers, shrimp on a bed of ice with a bowl of sauce for dipping, and the miniature eggs of some exotic bird tempted her. Well, why not take advantage of the rare chance to try delicacies she never came across in her normal life? She wanted to blend in, didn’t she? She chose a sample of the meat and nibbled on it while watching the nearby guests. Pepper and hints of spices she didn’t recognize flavored it.

As she set aside the empty skewer and reached for a glass of chilled, amber-colored wine, a young man also picking up a drink turned to her with a smile. Tall and copper-haired, he wore an emerald green robe embroidered in gold. “Good evening.” He scanned up and down her body before returning his gaze to her face. “I’m Orrin, a distant cousin of our hosts.” He clasped her hand and bowed over it before she could dodge. “I’m sure I haven’t met you before. I would remember.”

Lorita almost laughed at the trite attempt at flattery, but his winning smile made up for the blatant falseness of the words. “My name is Lorita.” No reason to invent a false name, since the family wouldn’t have heard of her. “I’m a friend of Sylene’s. I’d hoped to see her here, but she doesn’t seem to be around.” She made the claim on impulse, hoping to find out whether the story about Sylene’s madness was generally believed.

Orrin’s smile faded. “I haven’t seen her in months. I’ve heard she’s very ill, poor girl.”

“Then perhaps I should pay her a visit. She must get lonely if she’s been confined to her room for so long.”

He evaded her eyes. “I’m sure she could use a friend. But from what I hear, she’s not allowed visitors.”

-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