Welcome to the September 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 urban fantasy elf romance PRINCE OF THE HOLLOW HILLS will soon be republished by Writers Exchange E-Publishing. There’s an excerpt below. A strange man enters the bookstore where heroine Fern works, searching for her sister, Ivy, a single mother who has recently sensed a premonition of danger to her baby son, Baird.

For fans of print fiction: My three connected Japanese-folklore-inspired paranormal romance novellas—YOKAI MAGIC, KITSUNE ENCHANTMENT, and KAPPA COMPANION—will be released together in a trade paperback collection called YOKAI ENCHANTMENTS on September 29.

This month, I’m interviewing romantic suspense author Desiree Holt.


Interview with Desiree Holt:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I loved reading from the time I was 6 and had an incredible urge to write stories myself. My brain would look at people and scenes when I was out and imagine stories about them so the next natural step was to write them down.

What genres do you work in?

Primarily romantic suspense, both high heat and erotic

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

Something in between. I’m at a point where my brain needs something more than “winging it” so I do a very bare bones outline. I make a lot of changes along the way but at least I have a road map.

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

First major influence was Linda Howard, whose CRY NO MORE inspired MOVING TARGET. I wanted to create a character like her Diaz. Others are Allison Brennan and Toni Anderson.
Life experience, always, although probably more character influence. I love to make up stories about people I meet.

How do you research the backgrounds of military professions such as SEALS?

First, I am blessed and honored to have a really good friend (a best selling author himself) who was a Navy SEAL for 20 years and who is willing to answer questions for me. I also am friends with a former Air Force Special Forces veteran as well as a retired Marine Brigadier General. The rest I get from the Internet.

How do you plan a series? For instance, do you plot an overall story arc and know from the beginning what the general topic of each book will be? Or are your series completely open-ended? Do you maintain a “series bible” for each?

I do a general outline of a series so I know what it’s about (example: Heroes Rising, where all books are about SEALs medically retired looking to find a new place in society and The Phoenix Agency, about 5 men each from a different branch of the military who are all friends and start a private agency that takes on the worst of the worst). I have a bible for each series so I keep to the theme and don’t misplace my characters. LOL!

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

I am currently working on ABSOLUTE ZERO, Book #4 in Galaxy, about 4 lifelong friend, all former SEALs who started a private agency and their office is on their plane. Then I have the lead book in TEAM TROJAN, in Elle James’ Colorado Brotherhood Protectors World and I just turned in MISSING PIECES, Book #6, Guardian Security. And in January I release SHADOW DEFENDER in the multi-author Shadow SEALs series.

What are you working on now?

ABSOLUTE ZERO, Book #4, Galaxy; SHADOW DEFENDER, an as yet untitled Phoenix Agency book with several others scheduled for 2022.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t worry about mechanics as much as you do the story. That and the characters are key. Don’t try to copy another author., Have your own style. Readers are always looking for freshness. Try to write at least one page a day. And spellcheck!

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

Here are all my links:

Desiree Holt
Facebook Page
Other Facebook Page
Twitter @desireeholt

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free book:


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

BILLY SUMMERS, by Stephen King. I wouldn’t pick up a novel on the well-worn premise of a professional hit man’s last job before retirement by any other author (except maybe Dean Koontz). Billy himself reflects on the familiarity of this trope and the fact that something always goes wrong (spoiler, it does). King, however, reliably creates irresistibly enthralling protagonists, and the narrator of this book doesn’t disappoint. In Dungeons and Dragons terms, Billy would be a chaotic good assassin. He kills only bad guys. He acknowledges, and becomes more deeply aware in the course of the story, that he isn’t a truly good person himself and that more people than he likes to admit are a mix of good and bad. Yet, despite a childhood trauma that could have warped him irreparably, he comes across as a basically nice person. He takes no pleasure in killing, aside from pride in using the phenomenal sniper skills he learned in the military, and he never murders anyone who doesn’t qualify as “bad” by any reasonable standard. The novel takes place in a small city in an unnamed southern border state, where Billy has been set up with a cover persona while awaiting the extradition of his target from California to be arraigned for murder. Since nobody knows for sure when this event will occur, Billy may have a wait of several months. In this respect the story resembles King’s time-travel novel about the traveler’s plan to prevent Kennedy’s death by assassinating Oswald. That character, too, settles into a false identity and becomes part of the community while awaiting the moment to strike, except that in 11/22/63 the protagonist has to inhabit his alter ego for years instead of months. Billy Summers performs the role of an aspiring author whose agent has supplied him with a rented house and an office, from which he’ll take the fatal shot. He knows it’s a bad idea to become close to people he meets on the job while under a fake persona, but friendships form anyway. Suspicious of the huge payment he’s offered, he establishes a second false identity, unknown to his employer, in a different part of the city. There, also, he unwillingly gets close to a neighboring family. The reader has to concentrate a bit to keep track of his three identities, four if we count what Billy calls his “dumb self.” This persona leads his employers to consider him a useful dimwit skilled at nothing except his brilliant shooting ability. In reality, he’s well-read and, if anything, of above-average intelligence. While playing the role of a beginning author, he decides to pass the time by actually writing his autobiography. The present-day action is narrated in the present tense, I suppose to enhance suspense, with the flashback passages he’s writing in past tense and in bold type (not italics, thank goodness). In tantalizing chunks, we learn how his mother’s boyfriend murdered Billy’s little sister, after which Billy killed him, and about Billy’s experiences in foster care and his eventual entry into the military and service in the Middle East. To my surprise, the climactic event of the professional hit occurs at the midpoint of the novel. The rest of the book narrates Billy’s preparations for disappearing into retirement, with the intention of possibly becoming a writer in earnest. In another surprising turn, King makes the risky choice of introducing a second major character at this point. (I don’t count Holly’s mid-book advent in THE OUTSIDER as the same kind of device, because Constant Readers already know her well from the Mr. Mercedes trilogy.) Billy’s new friend, Alice, a young woman he saves from a dire plight, becomes a source of complications as he plans his escape. Unlike most of King’s novels, this one sticks entirely to a single viewpoint, Billy’s, until a few pages before the end; by then Alice has grown into almost a co-protagonist. I don’t want to reveal any further spoilers to weaken the impact of the conclusion’s emotional roller coaster. To my delight, the book does contain a hint of the supernatural, apparently included as a bit of “fan service,” since it could be omitted with no impact on the characters or plot—occasional glimpses of a spectral vision of the burned-down Overlook Hotel. BILLY SUMMERS impresses me as another can’t-miss book for Stephen King’s fans. For readers not familiar with his work, fans of crime thrillers would probably love this story.

THE KING IN YELLOW, by Robert W. Chambers. This reprint of a story collection first published in 1895 is part of the Horror Writers Association’s Haunted Library of Horror Classics, a series of reissued public domain works (many undeservedly obscure to modern readers) lightly footnoted for vocabulary and historical context, with introductions by distinguished authors in the field, as well as bibliographies and suggestions for further reading. This volume has an introduction by Gothic mystery writer Nic Pizzolatto. In the 1890s, the color yellow was often associated with transgression, corruption, sensationalism, and decadence, as notoriously exemplified by the avant-garde literary magazine THE YELLOW BOOK. I’m surprised Pizzolatto doesn’t mention this connection, but, then, he declares up front that he isn’t a scholar of Chambers’s work. The title refers to a sinister play by that name, which features in several of the stories. It’s never summarized, only alluded to with character names and fragmentary quotations. This imaginary drama reputedly drives anyone who reads it to disaster and/or madness. Most horror fans will recognize it as having been incorporated into the Lovecraftian mythos. Not all the contents fall into the horror category or make reference to the play, however. About half, love stories of one kind or another, are set in the bohemian subculture of the Paris artistic community. The creepiest piece, in my opinion, is the first, “The Repairer of Reputations.” Not until the end does it become fully apparent that the homicidal narrator suffers from delusions, and he may have been driven mad by reading “The King in Yellow.” In “The Mask,” a sinister occult-scientific discovery turns living creatures to stone. The narrator of “The Court of the Dragon” flees from a black-clad figure hunting his soul while his body sits suspended in trance. In “The Yellow Sign,” the insidious corruption of “The King in Yellow” is associated with the living dead. These tales produce their effects, for the most part, by subtle suggestion rather than scenes of outright horror. A gentler story, “The Demoiselle D’ys,” involves the love-enchanted narrator with either time travel or ghosts. It won’t take the genre-savvy reader long to realize there’s something other-worldly about the old-fashioned lady in the ancient mansion. Fans of classic supernatural fiction would probably find this trade paperback a worthwhile purchase just for the first half of its contents, even for readers who consider (as I did) the Paris art-scene stories less alluring, although not without points of interest.

SCANDAL IN BABYLON, by Barbara Hambly. Devoted fans of Hambly’s work will instantly recognize the cast of this murder mystery in the Hollywood silent film era as alternate-universe versions of the people in her delightful fantasy novel BRIDE OF THE RAT GOD. The principal characters—young English widow Emma, her glamorous actress sister-in-law Kitty (aka Camille de la Rose), and photographer Zal, Emma’s love interest—are their counterparts from BRIDE OF THE RAT GOD under different names. Many secondary characters even have identical names to those in the earlier novel, including Kitty’s three Pekinese dogs. Although without any supernatural elements, SCANDAL IN BABYLON is equally captivating. Emma, still mourning her husband killed in the Great War and the loss of all her own immediate family, is nevertheless deeply grateful to Kitty for rescuing her from an oppressive existence as a paid companion. Emma has gradually realized Kitty is more than a beautiful featherhead who possesses “It” but can’t act worth a darn. Aching with homesickness for Oxford, where she’d shared her archaeologist father’s academic pursuits, Emma considers southern California as exotically fantastic as Oz, from the bizarre Hollywood culture right down to the unfamiliar climate and plant life. Yet it holds a certain fascination for her, and she’s rapidly falling in love with Zal, who makes no secret of his feelings but doesn’t push her. In addition to her tasks as Kitty’s all-purpose assistant, she does part-time work as a film scenarist (apparently the silent movie equivalent of a script writer), struggling to impose some order and sense upon the extravagant plots and historical blunders. As the story begins on the set of TEMPTRESS OF BABYLON, Kitty’s latest anachronism-packed costume epic, Emma receives a letter from her one surviving relative, an aunt who’s returning from Asia with her husband and proposes to pick up Emma on their way back to England. Emma may live with them in Oxford if she wishes. Throughout the novel, this offer lingers in the back of her mind. Of course she wants to return to the world she considers home, but what about Zal, not to mention hard-drinking, drug-taking, sexually adventurous Kitty’s obvious need for a keeper? Then Kitty’s sleazy first husband, who may or may not have ever divorced her, turns up shot to death in her dressing room. To Emma and Zal, it’s obvious Kitty is being framed, rather unconvincingly at that. Who would want her accused of murder, and who else might want the victim dead? Amid the publicity ramifications, dealings with the police and a private detective on the case, connections with bootleggers and other underworld figures, and the jealous oversight of Kitty’s lover, the head of the studio, Emma, Zal, and other members of the staff run in circles trying to keep everything from falling apart while the filming proceeds more or less as planned. While she and Zal probe for a solution to the murder in between film shots, Emma has to cope with Kitty’s cheerful debauchery, difficulty in sticking to any reasonable schedule, and romantic escapades (her patron’s jealousy being fully justified). Further violent incidents make it clear that Kitty herself is a target, possibly the main one. Along the way, Emma becomes acquainted with surprisingly polite mob enforcers and a courtly, elderly millionaire also infatuated with Kitty. Madcap chases and near-misses, fascinating details about the silent movie industry and southern California in the early 1920s, and a generous sprinkling of witty dialogue make the book unputdownable. As for Emma’s own future, her choice won’t surprise the reader, even though it may surprise Emma herself. I hope this novel proves to be the beginning of a series with the staying power of Hambly’s Benjamin January historical mysteries.



When the front door jingled again a second later, the man who stalked into the shop didn’t act like a customer. He didn’t spare a glance for the books. Instead, he marched straight to the counter. Tall and lean, he wore sleek-fitting, black jeans with a short-sleeved, blue polo shirt. Though his long hair, tied back with a leather thong, was entirely silver, his face, pale with a hawklike profile, showed no signs of old age. Despite his grim expression, he didn’t look much more than thirty.

Fern caught herself staring into his eyes, an unusual shade of light brown that looked almost amber in the shop’s overhead lighting. She swallowed and forced out the words, “Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for a woman.” He pulled out a wallet and flipped it open. Glancing down, Fern saw a private detective’s license. She blinked, trying to focus on the details, but he snapped it shut before she could even make out the man’s name. “I need to speak to Ivy MacGregor. Have you seen her today?”

The abrupt tone of the question put her on guard. “Yes, as a matter of fact, she was here earlier this afternoon.” His cold gaze induced a slight wariness that kept her from volunteering her relationship to Ivy.

“Do you know where she might be now?”

“Not a clue.” Fern felt sure her attempt at a cheerfully casual reply fell flat. He would probably pounce on her lie like a cat on a wind-up mouse.

‘Then perhaps you know where she lives.” Though relentless in its persistence, his voice was almost a pleasure to listen to, like the pealing of a bell.

Fern shook her head to dispel the ridiculous image. He sounded like any other man with a melodious tenor voice. “I can’t tell you that.”

“But do you know?” His tone shifted from inquisitorial demand to smooth persuasion. “If so, it’s important that you tell me. I must find her. I need to give her a warning.” He leaned on the counter, capturing her gaze again.

“About what?”

“She is being pursued by a man who intends to lay claim to her child. He’s a relative of Adair Hunter.”

The name broke the reverie Fern was drifting into. She dragged her eyes away from the detective’s. “What do you know about Adair?”

“That he has disappeared and that his family wants the boy. They’ve sent someone to kidnap him. You must help me warn Miss MacGregor before it’s too late.” He leaned still farther over the counter, until it almost seemed he meant to grab her.

The echo of Ivy’s claim that Baird was in danger knocked the breath out of Fern. Her fingers crept to the necklace her sister had insisted she wear. She drew the chain out of her blouse and nervously twirled the Celtic cross. “I can’t help you.” Her voice sounded thin and shaky to her, with none of the determination she wanted to project.

The man straightened up and took a step back. “All right. I’ll return and talk with you tomorrow, if I don’t find her before then. If you are her friend, I’m confident you’ll reconsider your—reticence.” He wheeled around and walked briskly out of the store.

-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