Welcome to the August 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

Also, all issues are now uploaded on DropBox (though some appear to have landed in sub-folders, but they’re all there), where you should be able to download them at this link:


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!

I’ve posted one of my old fantasy stories on my website, “Cold Magic,” first published in AFTER HOURS 15 (1992):

Cold Magic

An excerpt from the opening scene appears below.

Vampire and horror zine NIGHT TO DAWN, issue 40, includes “Desk Specter,” a lighthearted ghost story featuring my vampire-human hybrid psychiatrist, Roger Darvell. You can find NIGHT TO DAWN here:

Night to Dawn

Barbara Custer, editor of NIGHT TO DAWN, gave my recent dark paranormal novel AGAINST THE DARK DEVOURER a 5-star review on Amazon:

Amazon Review of Against the Dark Devourer

SEALED IN BLOOD, my light suspense vampire romance whose opening scenes take place at a science-fiction con in California, has been re-released and can be found here:

Sealed in Blood

On August 4, the Wild Rose Press will publish my new light paranormal romance novella KAPPA COMPANION, starring a young widow and her little boy haunted by a kappa (Japanese water monster) and a ghost child. Although a sequel to YOKAI MAGIC and KITSUNE ENCHANTMENT, it’s loosely connected enough to stand on its own.

My short e-book in the Wild Rose Press Christmas Cookies line, CHOCOLATE CHIP CHARM, a light paranormal romance featuring a love potion mix-up, will be released on November 16.

This month’s interviewee, Debby Grahl, also a Wild Rose Press author, writes contemporary and paranormal romance.


Interview with Debby Grahl:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I have a disease of the retina called Retinitis Pigmentosa which causes gradual vision loss. I lost the ability to read in my early twenties, but even when I had sight, seeing the printed word was always difficult for me. Reading a book would take me twice as long as a person with normal sight. I became frustrated with this and began to make up my own stories. It wasn’t until the invention of screen reading software that I was able to put my stories into print.

What genres do you work in?

I love a good mystery, so in both my contemporary and paranormal romances, there’s some kind of suspense. I also enjoy ghosts and witches, so they might appear as well.

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

I write by the seat of my pants, but I do begin with the location, story plot, and character development. After that, anything goes.

In writing a series, do you typically know in advance that there will be more than one book? Do you keep a series “bible” of characters, places, etc.?

Mountain Blaze is my first series book. As of now, there will be three stories all taking place in the Carolinas. Island Heat is the second and is set on Hilton Head Island. The third will be in Charleston, SC. I have my characters and plot, but I’m having trouble with the title. I wanted A Lowcountry Boil, but discovered it’s already a cookbook.

How did you become involved with the anthologies in which you’ve had stories published?

I actually have stories in three anthologies. A Magical Fall and Fall into Magic are part of The First Coast Romance Writers series Romancing The Holidays. Sundae My Love is part of Wild Rose’s One Scoop or Two anthology. And The Stagecoach to Badger’s Drift is in A Haunted West.

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

I’ve always loved to make up stories. I’ve been so fortunate to have wonderful support from family and friends. I come from a family of artists and graphic designers. I believe that since I can’t see to paint, my talent came out in words.

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

I’m hoping Island Heat will be released by next summer.

What are you working on now?

I actually have two projects, the next book in my Carolina series, and I’m hoping to reissue The Silver Crescent, a book that was published years ago by a small press no longer in business.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Learn as much as you can about the writing process and take writing classes. Trust me, I learned the hard way. My first mistake was thinking that you just write the book, send it to a publisher or agent, and away you go. Not! I sent the first twenty-five pages to a publisher who was offering a free critique. She wrote back and said I had a good idea for a story if I could write it. Ouch! She said she marked all my writing mistakes in red. Well, most of the page was in red.

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

Debby Grahl
Author of Mystery, Magic, and Romance
Available from Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble

Amazon Author Page
Mountain Blaze, from Wild Rose Press;
His Magic Touch, from Wild Rose Press;
Rue Toulouse,
The Silver Crescent,
Decorated to Death, a Christmas cozy mystery;
Romancing the Holidays anthology


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

FRIGHT FAVORITES, by David J. Skal. This attractive hardcover by a distinguished historian of the genre (author of, among many other books, HOLLYWOOD GOTHIC, about screen adaptations of DRACULA), lavishly illustrated with movie posters and stills, isn’t an exhaustive guide to horror films. As Skal points out, that would take up an encyclopedia’s worth of text. It’s just what the cover says, a “sampler” of thirty-one works he views as especially noteworthy, in chronological order. Apparently the book was designed as a sort of historical tribute to Halloween through the lens of horror movies. After an introductory overview of Halloween in the movies, he begins with two classic silent films, NOSFERATU and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. You’ll find the expected highlights, such as the vintage Universal monster movies and a selection of groundbreaking Hammer films. More recently, ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE EXORCIST, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, and THE SHINING are included, as well as numerous other high-profile movies. Toward the end, Skal necessarily has to be more selective, so the entries appear to reflect his personal tastes, although each movie has some claim to fame that makes it stand out among its peers of a particular decade. Each essay starts with a standardized information block listing studio, release date, running time, producer, director, writer, and major cast members. Along with brief plot summaries, Skal delves into the background, making, and cultural context of each movie. Most readers will find new tidbits of information in every chapter. Each also contains a sidebar that offers a “if you liked that movie, you may like this one” suggestion. FRIGHT FAVORITES is a don’t-miss tome for devoted horror movie fans, especially since it’s priced under $17.00 on Amazon.

LOST BOY, by Christina Henry. Another very dark spinoff from PETER PAN. Since this prequel has the subtitle “The True Story of Captain Hook,” it’s no secret who the narrator, Jamie, will grow up to be. This version of Neverland doesn’t appear to occupy an alternate dimension as in WENDY, DARLING. Although Henry’s Peter Pan brings boys from the Other Place (the mundane world) through a magic tunnel, the pirates sail freely in and out of the harbor, cruising the seas and visiting normal ports. They continually return to the island in hopes of discovering the hypothetical enchanted water that keeps the Lost Boys perpetually young. Fairies and mermaids are mentioned but not shown face-to-face; Tiger Lily’s Native tribe doesn’t exist in this version of Neverland. Jamie was the first boy Peter brought to the island and still goes with him to pick up new ones, a not-infrequent errand, since death often thins the ranks of the gang. Peter regards fighting and even killing as great fun. If things get too peaceful, he deliberately stirs up trouble. When members of the group get killed by pirates or Many-Eyed Ones—intelligent giant spiders—he soon forgets about them, as he forgets anything inconvenient to him. Although Jamie has lived on the island for well over a century and still looks about eleven years old, he has aged mentally and devotes attention to caring for the other boys, especially Charlie, a five-year-old Peter regrets having burdened the group with. A fight between Jamie and the bully of the group, a clash with the Many-Eyed Ones, and the catastrophic aftermath of an attack on the pirate camp cause the group’s precarious equilibrium to disintegrate. Jamie can no longer force himself to ignore Peter’s cruelty and love of violence for its own sake. Also, he gradually begins to remember his past in the Other Place and what really happened when Peter recruited him. Jamie and one of the surviving boys begin to grow up, a process that not only further alienates them from Peter but leads to epiphanies about the true nature of the island and Peter himself. This is a violent, sad novel, though fascinating in its approach to the Peter Pan mythos. Because we know from the first that Jamie will become Captain Hook, readers must unavoidably anticipate a tragic ending. If you can accept that inescapable conclusion, you might be enthralled with the author’s twists on Hook’s origin story and the ecology of Neverland.

JUNIPER WILES, by Charles de Lint. As de Lint discusses in his introduction, he’s regarded as one of the pioneers of urban fantasy, whose works helped to establish the subgenre. Yet what typically springs to mind at the mention of “urban fantasy” nowadays—a “kick-ass” heroine fighting supernatural evil in a present-day or sometimes nineteenth- or twentieth-century city (or an alternate-world analog of one) that harbors vampires, werewolves, witches, etc.—differs markedly from most of de Lint’s contemporary fantasies. In JUNIPER WILES, he plays with the currently dominant urban fantasy model by making his first-person narrator, Juniper, a young actress who achieved fame starring in a TV show as teenage detective Nora Constantine. After the cancellation of the series, tired of show business and uninterested in dealing with fans at conventions and other public events, Juniper came home to de Lint’s invented Canadian city of Newford. Here she returns to her first love, painting, shares a house with her brother, a musician, and hangs out with artist Jilly Coppercorn and her eccentric friends. Juniper assumes Jilly is joking when she talks about spending time in Faerie and associating with supernatural creatures. But then Juniper is approached in a coffee shop by a young man who claims to come from a universe where Nora Constantine is a real person and the adventures in the books featuring her really happened. He seems to believe Juniper is Nora and begs for her help. Readers won’t be surprised to learn that he’s neither lying nor mentally ill. Neither overly gullible nor unrealistically skeptical about the paranormal, Juniper eventually has to accept the alternate-world actuality of Nora Constantine and her (Juniper’s) own obligation to solve the murder of the ghost who accosted her. When she and her friends talk to the author of the original books, who naturally at first considers the whole tale a hoax or delusion, they learn the events surrounding the mystery originate in an unpublished manuscript. At last they’re forced to cross into the alternate reality to solve the case. This novel impressed me as great fun, and even urban fantasy fans not familiar with Jilly Coppercorn and her Newford friends would probably enjoy it.

BEYOND, by Mercedes Lackey. This latest book in the Valdemar universe stands first in the chronology of the series and will probably remain so, since it launches a new sub-series about the founding of the nation of Valdemar. I don’t know how many novels are projected in this sequence, but without much of a spoiler I can warn readers who, like me, hoped to witness the origin of Companions that we apparently have a way to go before reaching that point, maybe (with luck) in the next volume. This first book reveals how the Duke of Valdemar transports his family, his retainers, and many others under his protection to a distant new home. Valdemar, a small, unimportant, rural duchy, possesses nothing of importance except a reputation for breeding the finest horses in the Empire. Under the rule of a capricious, tyrannical emperor, Duke Kordas Valdemar wants to relocate his people to a refuge so far away the Empire and its royal mages will never find them. The Duke has carefully cultivated the façade of a simpleminded country lord with no interests or knowledge beyond his horses. He even helps to deliver foals with his own hands. He also makes it appear that Valdemar has little magic, while in fact he shelters the strongest mages in his realm—including a gaggle of crabby, eccentric old men far more powerful than they look—within the castle, where they can carry on research undetected. They construct a portal and discover a suitable location for their new country, while Kordas struggles to preserve good relations with the emperor, conceal his own true nature and goals, and misdirect the Empire’s spies. We know the huge, secret migration will ultimately succeed, of course, but plenty of obstacles and close calls maintain a high level of tension until the end. Kordas and his wife have an unusually comfortable relationship for spouses in an arranged marriage in fiction. Although not in love, they have a very warm friendship and apparently enjoy a fulfilling sex life (offstage). To avoid having their offspring “invited” to the Emperor’s court, the children have been brought up with tender care but no knowledge of their true parentage. Kordas’s young sister-in-law, Delia, the other principal viewpoint character, is infatuated with him but would never think of disrupting her sister’s marriage. Delia, who has no magic, does possess psychic talent that foreshadows the Gifts of the Heralds later in Valdemar’s history. Both she and Kordas are engaging characters; the reader enthusiastically roots for them and for the success of Kordas’s complex escape plot. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next volume, which, sadly, will doubtless be almost a year away.


Excerpt from “Cold Magic”:

The vial felt like a lump of ice in Devora’s open palm. Her empty hand, clammy with sweat, mechanically smoothed her tawny hair, as if a single strand out of place might betray the ferment inside her head. Did she dare to drink, unsure of the potion’s side effects?

I dare not do otherwise. If I surrender to Tyras, my life will be worthless in any case.

Flicking dust from the vial, whose minute weight dragged at her like a lump of lead, she glanced down into the secret drawer from which she had taken the potion. The compartment held her scant hoard of magical treasures — her ceremonial knife, a couple of rings, a few scrolls. Her father had presented her with this chest, concealed niche built in, out of a playful delight in secrecy that she shared with him, rather than any serious fear of thieves. The potion was the only dangerous item in the cache, the only one Devora had never used. Her father, the late Lord Guardian, a more accomplished sorcerer than she could hope to become, had given it to her as a curiosity.

Tears stung her eyes. She clutched the vial, its chill searing her skin. How Lord Girvan would grieve if he knew what had befallen his Ward! That’s why I must do this. Tears are a waste of energy.

A rapping sounded at her door. With a start that almost made her drop the vial, Devora sprang to her feet. Hastily she fumbled the bottle back into its hiding place and snapped the drawer shut. The latch on her chamber door lifted. She stepped over to her oval mirror of polished silver and pretended to inspect her pale violet gown.

An auburn-haired boy in his late teens, younger than Devora herself, entered the room. His eyes roamed insolently over her bare shoulders. “Lady Devora, Lord Tyras directs that you meet him in the antechamber to the great hall as soon as you’re dressed.” The servant’s tone, as usual, held no respect. Tyras did not encourage his men to show her any.

“Haven’t I ordered you to wait for permission before entering my quarters?”

Ignoring the rebuke, the boy said, “I’ll inform Lord Tyras that you will be down immediately.”

Shutting the door after him, Devora felt her hand shaking with anger, another indulgence she could not afford. The servant would doubtless assure Tyras that Devora was resigned to going through with the evening’s charade, and she had to maintain that illusion. Her plan depended on lulling the usurper into complacency. Tyras, her father’s cousin, had several times asked to marry Devora. Even as a child, she had disliked Tyras, a blunt, unimaginative man who could never share her scholarly interests. She had refused him. Her father, Lord Girvan, had backed her up, well aware that Tyras, as Lord Guardian of the adjoining Ward, wanted Devora only because she stood to inherit her father’s holdings.

At Lord Girvan’s death, Tyras had shown up with his retinue to pay his respects. Once more he had asked — no, demanded — that Devora become his wife. He must have expected the rejection he got, for his “ceremonial” retainers, unmasked as armed knights, had overrun the keep. They had easily overwhelmed Devora’s guards. Her family, ruling a small, quiet Ward, devoting themselves for generations to scholarship and the theory of magic, had little experience in warfare.

When Devora had not struck him down with a bolt of lightning on the spot, Tyras had apparently decided that her magic was as useless a trifle as he had always assumed. She had feigned surrender, awaiting her chance. This evening Tyras had summoned the leading knights and freeholders of the Ward to a banquet, where he planned to announce his betrothal to Devora, sealing his lordship in the eyes of his new subjects. She counted on the celebration to keep him occupied while she carried out her plan. That diversion, however, depended on her using the potion.

-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