Welcome to the April 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

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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

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Barnes and Noble

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Carter Kindle Books

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Fiction Database

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The Wild Rose Press will release my erotic romance novella “Calling Back Love” (previously published by Ellora’s Cave) on June 13: War has stolen Kirsten’s fiance Shawn from her. After he’s reported missing and presumed dead in Afghanistan, she turns to witchcraft to bring him back. Though she can’t recall him from the dead, magic can grant them one last weekend together for a proper farewell. There is no way to make his return permanent—or is there?

An excerpt appears below.

This month’s interview features Karen Guzman, author of a women’s fiction book from the Wild Rose Press.


Interview with Karen Guzman:

What inspired you to begin writing?

The wonderful books of my childhood and teenage years.

What genres do you work in?

Fiction: novel, short story, flash fiction–I’m dabbling in !

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

Something in between. I tend to sketch out a very broad and flexible outline, highlighting just major plot points, and then I fill in all the connective tissue between them by winging it.

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

Some favorite authors who’ve really influenced me, in no particular (or even rational) order: F. Scott Fitzgerald. Anne Tyler, Graham Greene, Andre Dubus and Andre Dubus III, Chekhov, Raymond Carver, Marilynne Robinson, Elizabeth Strout, Evelyn Waugh, Kurt Vonnegut, Ellen Cooney, John Updike, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Wally Lamb, John Irving, Lorrie Moore, and on and on. I know this is a crazy eclectic list, and it’s also very partial. I continue to discover new writers all the time whose work I admire and who inspire me. Wish I could be more succinct!

How did your MFA degree contribute to your career as a novelist (if it did)?

My MFA did help me as a writer, but it would take years post-graduation until I saw the publishing evidence. Looking back on it, I think I was too young when I did my MFA. I wasn’t ready in terms of maturity and technical ability to put into practice many of the techniques and insights I encountered in workshops. I needed more time to marinate as a writer. In my mid to late 30s, though, it all started kicking in. The concepts came back to me, and I was in a much better place to understand and apply them. Something had just clicked. You can’t rush a writer’s growth, but it’s great when you hit new levels.
My MFA also introduced me to a dear friend and fellow writer, who continues to be my best reader and editor, as I hope I am for her.

What would you describe as the main differences between fiction writing and journalistic writing (aside from the obvious fiction vs. nonfiction distinction)?

Journalistic writing is pretty contrived, because you already know the ending and who’s involved. You know where the story is going and how you’re basically going to get there.
With fiction, the process of creation is one of discovery and surprise and following the story where it needs to go.

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

My latest book is my 2021 novel, Arborview, available everywhere now!

What are you working on now?

I am now working on a short story collection.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write what matters to you, the stuff that keeps you up at night. Don’t worry about trends. If you don’t love your work, nobody else will either. AND get a couple of good readers of your works-in-progress whose judgement (and motives) you really trust. It can get pretty ugly out there.

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

My website is Karen Guzman
My blog is Blog

Here are some social media handles:



Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

SWORDHEART, by T. Kingfisher. In addition to Kingfisher’s two superb horror novels, THE TWISTED ONES and THE HOLLOW PLACES, she has written numerous fantasy novels, and I’ve enjoyed all that I’ve read so far. For me, the most enthralling aspect of Kingfisher’s fiction consists of her protagonists’ irresistibly distinctive voices. Halla, heroine of SWORDHEART, is no exception, although this novel is narrated in third person rather than first. A widow in her thirties, she has just inherited the estate of her husband’s great-uncle, for whom she has kept house since her husband’s death. Her great-uncle by marriage, although stingy and eccentric, was always kind to her in his way. The postmortem gift of his house and fortune, however, proves far from a boon. Her in-laws, outraged at the bequest, want her to marry her unappealing cousin-in-law, Alver. Locked in her room, Halla rationally analyzes the pros and cons of either accepting that fate or killing herself with the only lethal instrument available to her, an ancient sword hanging on the bedroom wall. When she manages to wrest it out of its scabbard, a man appears from thin air. Long ago, Sarkis was cursed to become one with the sword, taking flesh when it’s drawn and vanishing when its wielder sheaths it. The total healing that occurs in the latter status (including the regrowth of amputated appendages) makes him immortal, a “gift” that he considers part of the curse. He has no clear idea of how many centuries he has existed in this condition because he spends the time “inside” the sword in a sort of suspended animation, barely conscious. The spell obligates him to serve the weapon’s wielder, who retains ownership of it until he or she dies or voluntarily gives it away. Therefore, Halla finds she has acquired an unkillable bodyguard. After he breaks her out of her makeshift prison, they decide to travel to the big city and enlist the help of an order of priests specializing in legal problems. On the way, it soon becomes clear that Halla’s trusting nature would get her into serious trouble without Sarkis’s protection. At their destination, the order assigns an advocate, Zale, to return home with Halla and bring a lawsuit to reclaim her rightful inheritance. Zale, a character with a delightfully dry wit and a relentlessly calm, logical attitude, presents as nonbinary. The text doesn’t make a point of this fact; Zale is simply referred to without comment as “they.” In one of my favorite scenes, they and Halla devise a series of experiments to find out whether everything detached from Sarkis’s body vanishes when he dematerializes into the sword. (It does; he agrees to the urine test but draws the line at such tests as having a fingertip removed.) During the adventurous journey, as one would expect, Halla and Sarkis progress from constant annoyance with each other through respect and friendship to romantic attraction. Sarkis considers himself unworthy of love, quite aside from his magical link with the sword, because of the circumstances that led to the curse. Gradually we learn fragments of his past. When he reveals the full truth to Halla, she reacts to the revelation with believable distress. Their reconciliation doesn’t come without effort, while the ultimate showdown with Halla’s in-laws looms, its result not a foregone conclusion. Even when that issue is settled, how can she and a warrior who’s also a sword, sort of, find happiness? The dialogue is constantly entertaining, even in the midst of problems that seem insoluble. Every stage along their quest kept me enthralled. Although their troubles eventually reach a satisfactory resolution, the epilogue contains a teaser for a potential sequel.

GWENDY’S FINAL TASK, by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar. The final book in a trilogy, after GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX and GWENDY’S MAGIC FEATHER (the latter with Chizmar as the sole author). At age twelve in the first novel, Gwendy Peterson received custody of the magic button box, alluring but dangerous, capable of cataclysmic destruction in the wrong hands. GWENDY’S FINAL TASK reveals that the box’s guardian, Richard Farris, is not an avatar of Randall Flagg, as I’d suspected. Although no longer quite human, Farris, despite his suggestive initials, serves the light. Now a U.S. Senator, Gwendy has been chosen by Farris as the only person he can trust with (as the cover blurb says) “a secret mission to save the world. And, maybe, all worlds.” Yes, I’m delighted to report that this novel has connections to the Dark Tower saga. The danger of the button box can be neutralized only by removing it from human reach altogether by launching it into space, the task Gwendy must perform during her brief stay on the Tet Corporation’s space station, unknown to anyone else aboard. Except, that is, the covert agent of the dark forces determined to stop her. To complicate her mission, she suffers from early onset Alzheimer’s, which she has so far managed to conceal from the public as well as the authorities who chose her as a passenger on the space station. Her struggle against memory lapses throughout the voyage is both suspenseful and heart-wrenching. She uses every trick she’s been taught to keep her focus, terrified of forgetting at the crucial moment why she’s in space at all. Gwendy and the secondary characters around her are as lifelike as we’d expect from Stephen King. The Dark Tower allusions lend the story a resonance that makes the threat of the box all the more compelling. The poignant conclusion evokes the Dark Tower universe with the familiar consolatory line, “There are other worlds than these.”

THE HIDDEN PALACE, by Helene Wecker. Ever since discovering THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI (2013), I’ve wished for a sequel. At last, here it is. In the first book, set in the 1890s, Chava, a golem created as a wife for an arrogant, lonely man, lost her master to appendicitis on the transatlantic voyage. When the ship docked in America, she ended up adrift and masterless in New York. Her fundamental nature as a servant and protector left her vulnerable to the thoughts, emotions, and wishes of everybody around her. Ahmad, a jinni imprisoned in a copper flask by a wizard, was accidentally freed after a thousand years by a Syrian immigrant tinsmith. Stuck in human form, Ahmad worked for his rescuer by day and roamed the city after dark. One night he met Chava, who, with no need for sleep, spent her nights the same way. The creature of fire and the creature of clay formed a deep bond. THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI ended with Ahmad’s departure for his desert home to safely dispose of the magic flask, with the evil wizard now trapped in it. As THE HIDDEN PALACE begins, he returns to New York. Chava, after the death of the man to whom she was briefly married, still works in a Jewish bakery. She and Ahmad resume their friendship, while he again takes up his metalworking craft. Their lives as outsiders among the human throngs go less smoothly than the opening chapters imply they might, though. While Chava’s nature draws her into the lives of ordinary humans, Ahmad prefers to remain aloof, although he doesn’t always manage that. In THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, he had an affair with Sophia, daughter of a wealthy family, who now suffers from a perpetual chill as a result. Distancing herself from her parents, she travels the world, and in the Middle East she encounters a jinniyeh (female jinn), Dima. Banished from her tribe and unsuitably curious about humanity, Dima yearns to cross the ocean and meet the enigmatic jinni trapped in human shape, of whom she’s heard tales. Sophia and Dima form a precarious alliance, which Sophia hopes will lead to her cure. Back in New York, the child of a rabbi, a girl with unfeminine aspirations to study Torah, is consigned to an orphanage. She’s secretly accompanied by the golem her late father constructed to protect her. This golem has none of the socialization Chava has gained. He lurks in a remote corner of the orphanage basement, waiting for the time his mistress may need him, her visits the only break in his monotonous existence. His and Chava’s paths cross when she takes a job as a teacher of domestic science in the orphanage. Meanwhile, Ahmad becomes absorbed in the crafting of wrought iron, despite the danger of that metal to his kind. After a grievous loss, he becomes a recluse obsessed with creating a masterpiece. The principal characters come together in a catastrophic climax involving both tragedy and reconciliation, healing the estrangement between the golem and the jinni. As in the previous novel, a major appeal for me is the exploration of the early-twentieth-century immigrant experience in a vibrantly multicultural New York City. Spanning well over a decade, the story touches upon the public events one would expect to see mentioned in that era, e.g., the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, the sinking of the Titanic, and the Great War. Against this background, fully realized characters both human and nonhuman struggle to bridge gaps between ethnicities and species.


Excerpt from “Calling Back Love”:

By the time Kirsten had the food cooked and served, her mood had cleared. She had to stay in the moment, make herself as oblivious to the inevitable end as Shawn was. When she poured syrup on her pancakes and sampled the result, her appetite sidetracked her from those worries. Both of them were hungry enough to eat in silence until they’d almost emptied their plates.

“The mimosas are cold and the coffee is hot. I can taste the food and feel the breeze from the window.” He reached over to squeeze her hand. “I can touch you in daylight, not just in bed making love.” After a pause for another forkful, he said, “You burned the first pancake. I might dream about sex with you but I don’t believe I’d dream this realistically about the smell of scorched batter.”

Unable to think of an answer that wouldn’t reveal more than she wanted, she responded only with a nervous laugh.

“Give it to me straight. This isn’t a dream or a vision. I’m home. How?”

She couldn’t tell him the truth, not only because she feared an explosive reaction from him but because she didn’t know how giving him that knowledge would affect the spell. “What do you think is happening?”

With a sigh, he bowed his head in his hands for a second before gazing into her eyes. “How the hell do I know? Maybe I suffered major brain trauma.” The bewilderment on his face made her heart clench. “All I can figure is that I got amnesia from a head injury and I’m just coming out of it.”

She poured him another drink from the pitcher. “Try not to think about it. Just relax and let your memories emerge naturally. Soon it will all make sense.”

He sipped from the champagne flute, his expression clearing. “Okay. This day is perfect and I sure don’t want to screw it up. I’ll go with the flow.”

He’d accepted his own explanation with surprising ease. Maybe some soothing component of the magic kept him from questioning too persistently.

-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