Welcome to the June 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):


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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:

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Below is another excerpt from my forthcoming light paranormal romance novella KAPPA COMPANION, which now has an official release date—August 4 of this year. Heidi is a widow who has recently bought an old house. Adam is her seven-year-old son, “Zashi” is his possibly imaginary friend, and Ebony is the cat.

This month’s interview guest is multi-genre romance author Liz Crowe.


Interview with Liz Crowe:

What inspired you to begin writing?

The very idea that I could create entire worlds and characters that I’d want to read, and hope that others might too.

What genres do you work in?

Mostly contemporary romance, some rom coms and mainstream fiction with romantic elements. I’m currently working on my first mystery/thriller.

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

I am a total pantser. Or as the manuscript developer I’m working with on my mystery/thriller calls me: total chaotic pantser. I’m being forced into outlines for that book and I’ll admit that it’s teaching me new skills.

What about series works? In each case, did you know in advance that the novels were going to be part of a series and plan accordingly?

I’ve done a bit of both—planning out books in a series (like the Love Brothers, for instance where each brother has his own novel) and winging it for series that grew in my brain a bit more organically (like The Stewart Realty series, which runs through two generations of characters).

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

I bring a fair bit of life experience to my books, at least in terms of settings. I read across almost all genres so I also take a lot from my favorite authors like Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Lee Child, Barbara Kingsolver, and Lianne Moriarty just to name a few.

How have you incorporated your experience in real estate and beer brewery into your books?

I use them as settings and bring the sort of veracity that I sometimes find lacking in books. I’ve worked for years in both industries and know a lot about how they both work so I try to make it (the setting) almost as interesting as a character each time.

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

I’ll be releasing a second chance romance July 13 called Backup Offer. It will be the final book in my best selling Stewart Realty series but is a stand alone, a sort of 10-years-later look at a couple who were teenagers in the book before it. My hope is that it snags new readers for this series who will then go back and read the 8-book backstory. Or if not, that they’ll enjoy the story of a couple in their early thirties who were a mess as teenagers but now have their acts together alone—and they reunite.

What are you working on now?

I’m finalizing edits for Backup Offer and also am starting book 4 of The Detroit Sports Network series, called SMASH. It’s an enemies/rivals to lovers story in the series about a fictional TV sports network/website run by women. I’m also still outlining the mystery /thriller and look forward to being in a place where I can actually begin writing it soon.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Never turn down the opportunity for a good, honest critique or editing session but don’t take it personally. The book is not your baby. It might be really bad and need a lot of work. Most first drafts are terrible and always need work. Keep working at it to make it better!

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

Here are all of my links:
TWITTER: Twitter

FACEBOOK: Facebook


INSTAGRAM: Instagram





WEBSITE: Liz Crowe



Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

THE LIGHT OF THE MIDNIGHT STARS, by Rena Rossner. An unusual fantasy novel set in the late Middle Ages in Eastern Europe. In a Hungarian village, Rabbi Isaac (who sometimes rides a cloud dragon) and his three daughters preserve the sacred magic inherited from their illustrious ancestor, King Solomon himself. Steady, bookish Hannah has gifts for growing plants and healing. Volatile, rebellious Sarah has power over fire that she can’t control. Shy Levana, at first a less strongly defined character (to me, at least), is fascinated by the secrets of the stars. Summoned to heal the mysterious illness of a Gentile noblewoman, Hannah falls in love with Jakob, the lady’s son. The rabbi agrees on the conditions that they wait until Hannah comes of age and that Jakob convert to Judaism. Around the same time, the Black Mist creeps over the land, inflicting blight on plants and sickness on people and animals. Although Levana secretly fears the worst, having seen ominous portents in the night sky, Hannah’s engagement proceeds as planned. The happiness of the wedding, however, is tragically shattered when Jakob faces execution as a heretic for abandoning his family’s religion. Meanwhile, Sarah, painfully aware that her parents consider her difficult and disappointing, covertly forms an attachment to Guvriel, a fox shapeshifter who teaches her to channel her powers. In the second half of the novel, the family, forced to flee from their home, starts afresh under a new identity. There Levana has a love affair with a man who’s actually a fallen star in human form, while her sisters are courted by young men of the local prince’s entourage. What will happen when the family’s Jewish heritage comes to light? And what about the Black Mist (which the author’s afterword describes as a combination of the medieval Black Death and biblical leprosy, used as “a metaphor for antisemitism”)? Several different voices tell the story. Interludes by an omniscient narrator, in the past tense, supply background information and an overview from a historical or legendary perspective. Sections narrated by the three daughters are in present tense (for no particular reason I can see, but I got used to it). Toward the end of the book, Levana’s words are framed as free verse rather than prose. The intertwined plot threads culminate in a bittersweet ending reminiscent of the darker type of fairy tale. Rossner’s afterword discusses the history, family memories, fairy tales, and legends she combined and modified to create the story.

SPARROW HILL ROAD, by Seanan McGuire. Opening novel of a trilogy narrated in first person (aside from a few short inserts from fictional documentary sources about contemporary folklore) by a hitchhiking ghost, Rose Marshall. I don’t find its present-tense narrative as obtrusive as usual; the device seems to fit this story, especially given the achronic order of the chapters in this opening volume. As Rose explains in a later book, ghosts don’t experience time the same way the living do but exist in a sort of perpetual present. As a sixteen-year-old girl from a poor family in a small town in Michigan, she died in 1952 on what would have been the night of her prom. Urban legends call her the Girl in the Green Silk Gown, the Phantom Prom Date, and many other names. Her car crashed when she was deliberately run off the road by Bobby Cross, a James-Dean-type actor who disappeared into the desert, presumed dead. He isn’t dead, though. He made a bargain at a crossroads for perpetual life and youth, provided he fuels his car with the souls of people he kills with that vehicle. Thus his weakness is that he’s bound to the car and the road. Rose, as the one who got away, becoming a “hitcher” instead of a sacrifice to his immortality, obsesses him. SPARROW HILL ROAD originated as a series of short stories, and some of the chapters could still stand on their own. The episodes skip around in time and place, with the location and year at the head of each. Rose serves as a psychopomp, helping people who die in traffic accidents move on to their destiny. A few stay in the “twilight” between life and the final destination, whatever that may be, rising as hitchers, phantom riders, or spirits trying in vain to go home. At truck stops and diners on the twilight level, Rose encounters other spirits and routewitches, still-living people who work their magic while traveling the roads, ruled by a Queen named Apple, a young-looking Japanese-American woman. Rose often stops at the Last Dance Diner, run by a bean sidhe named Emma. These are only a few examples of characters and settings from McGuire’s extensive mythology, borrowed from both traditional folklore and urban legends. Not surprisingly, many contradictory tales have attached themselves to Rose. Some stories accuse her of killing drivers who offer her rides, while in fact she does her best to prevent accidents she foresees. In one episode, she witnesses the death of a boy, Tommy, in a drag race; he and his car rise together, and he becomes a phantom rider. Decades later, his girlfriend, Laura, a college professor who has devoted her career to studying contemporary ghosts, tries to get revenge on Rose for supposedly killing her one true love. (People my age will recognize the popular song origin of Tommy and Laura.) Rose also runs into one of her few surviving relatives, who has an ulterior agenda. She later finds her way to the deathbed of her boyfriend, now a very old man, who has never stopped loving her. Throughout the book, Bobby Cross pops up, forever striving to complete the sacrifice he started by killing Rose. Sometimes she temporarily defeats him, while on other occasions she barely escapes. The two subsequent volumes in the trilogy, THE GIRL IN THE GREEN SILK GOWN and ANGEL OF THE OVERPASS, have more conventionally linear novel plots, focused on the escalating conflict between Rose and Bobby. Each book includes a glossary of supernatural entities; the first volume also contains lyrics of associated songs written by McGuire. Rose is a sympathetic character who can seldom resist helping those who need it, despite her tough-gal façade and sometimes abrasive personality (and her habitual use of obscene language, which she must have picked up after death, because innocent girls in the 1950s seldom talked that way). Most fans of ghost stories and especially urban legends will find this trilogy enthralling.

THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS, by Lev Grossman. An e-published novelette by the author of THE MAGICIANS. A movie of this story is available on Amazon Prime Video. The teenage narrator, Mark, is caught in a “Groundhog Day” loop. Grossman doesn’t waste space on a setup. As the story begins, Mark has already relived August fourth numerous times. On the whole, this situation is okay with him. He’s in the midst of reading through the entire science fiction and fantasy section of the public library, although at this point he’s still in the A shelves. He has considered devoting his apparently endless free time to discovering a cure for cancer, but he realizes he doesn’t have the background or resources for such an endeavor, not to mention the problem that any records he tries to keep will have disappeared each morning when he wakes up in bed again. So, to the best of his ability, he relaxes and enjoys his unique position. As becomes clear later, however, he does suffer from an increased sense of disconnection, starting to think of all the people he encounters as mere automata, fated to repeat the same actions over and over in perpetuity. Then he meets Margaret, a girl who shares his awareness of the time loop. As they explore their bubble existence together, he begins to fall in love with her but doesn’t know whether she returns the attraction. She has secrets, exemplified by her disappearing without explanation for several hours each day, which he doesn’t feel free to pry into. Both of them rejoice in the “tiny perfect things” of the title, moments of wonder that repeat at the same time and place on every recurring August fourth. They record those incidents on a map, even though they have to re-draw it from memory every morning. When they try to find out whether the temporal anomaly covers the rest of the planet or only their town, the result serves as a catalyst for Mark to investigate Margaret’s activities while they’re apart. The revelation that follows impressed me as a surprising and poignant climax. Before reading much of the e-book, I watched the beginning of the Amazon Prime video but found it less engaging than I’d hoped. Mark’s intelligent, articulate narrative voice in the story doesn’t come across in the portion of the movie I viewed. Now that I know how the plot unfolds, though, I’ll probably give the rest of the video another chance.



Heidi woke to a bloodcurdling yowl. Heart pounding, she sat up in bed. After a second, she realized the noise wasn’t a remnant of a monster in a nightmare, but a cry from the cat. She’d never heard Ebony make a sound like that before. Maybe she’s protecting us from a wild, fierce mouse. She hoped not. The pre-sale home inspection hadn’t reported any pests. The caterwauling receded along the hall and down the stairs, then stopped.

Heidi lay back and closed her eyes, waiting for her breath and pulse to slow to normal. Now that Ebony had fallen silent, though, a different sound wafted from the hallway. Singing.

Sitting up again, Heidi strained her ears. A child’s soprano voice sang in a language she didn’t recognize. “Adam?” No answer. The voice grew fainter and faded away.

She extracted a flashlight from the nightstand and crept to the closed bedroom door. Leaning against it, she didn’t hear anything. She stepped into the hall and switched on the flashlight, not wanting to wake Adam with the overhead light if he’d slept through the cat’s cries and the song, assuming he hadn’t done the latter himself.

Tiptoeing toward his room, she glanced at the floor, which showed traces of water at regular intervals. At first sight, they looked like child-size wet footprints. Had Adam made the tracks after his bath? Surely she would have noticed them before, though, and anyway they would have dried by now. She nudged his partly open bedroom door farther ajar and peeked in. In the faint glow of the night light, he lay sprawled on his side, breathing deeply and evenly, with no sign of faking sleep. Also, when she thought to check the floor inside his room, that space showed no wet marks. Withdrawing into the hall, she found the tracks already drying.

After going downstairs to check all the doors, which were locked the way she’d left them, she returned to her own bed, shaking her head in bewilderment. If he wasn’t singing, what did I hear? The TV? She didn’t think she’d become so absent-minded at the age of thirty-four that she would leave the set on and forget doing it. Maybe the cat had stepped on the remote control in the living room just long enough to switch the TV on and off. And if she’d been pawing in her water bowl and then taken a stroll upstairs, that could explain the wet spots. Sure, blame it all on the cat. Considering the hypothetical identification of “Zashi” as the name of a ghost child, she emphatically preferred blaming the cat over suspecting a mischievous spirit.

She’d poured every dollar she could spare into the house. What would she do if it was actually haunted? Sue the home inspector for missing that problem? Abandoning her investment like a hysterical heroine in a horror movie wasn’t an option. She dismissed the whole idea with a shaky laugh. This place is our fresh start. There can’t be anything wrong with it. No way would I accept that—even if I did believe in ghosts, which I don’t.

-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