Welcome to the August 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

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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Barnes and Noble

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Carter Kindle Books

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Fiction Database

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“Chocolate Chip Charm,” my story in the Wild Rose Press Christmas Cookies series, can now be bought in paperback. This light paranormal romance novella about a love potion that goes wrong, or maybe unexpectedly right, is included in the new anthology A HINT OF VANILLA:

A Hint of Vanilla

My novella “Crossing the Border,” a former Ellora’s Cave erotic dark paranormal romance with Lovecraftian elements, lightly revised, was released today by the Wild Rose Press. Paula, a bestselling horror novelist’s widow, discovers his fiction was based on a terrifying alternate dimension he stumbled into through a labyrinth in the woods on their property. Right before his death, he warned her not to publish his final work in progress. However, Doug, his agent and literary executor, their best friend from their college years, urges Paula to get her husband’s posthumous work into print. Together they cross over into the eldritch realm, while coming to terms with their mutual attraction. The opening paragraphs appear below.

Crossing the Border

This month I’m interviewing multi-genre author Babs Mountjoy.


Interview with Babs Mountjoy:

What inspired you to begin writing?

It’s something I always had to do. My mother was a painter; my creativity came in stories. Even in elementary school, I remember I wrote this story about how my cat caught and killed a rabbit. Ugh, right? Maybe that foreshadowed my newspaper career. 🙂

What genres do you work in?

As Lyndi Alexander, I write fantasy, space opera, and science fiction romance. As Alana Lorens, I write romance, suspense and combinations of the two,

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

Usually I wing it for the first half of the book. I’ve got a general idea where I’m going, and I see what the characters generate. Then I outline vaguely for the next quarter, then the last 25% I outline closely to get where I want to end up.

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

There is some bit of my life experience in everything I write. The Clan Elves come from my time in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana. Such a beautiful area, and very old. I imagine all sorts of secrets are hidden in those forests. Setting is extremely important for most of my work, and becomes part of the action thread. Whether you’re in New Orleans, Miami, rural Pennsylvania or deep dark mountains, your story is going to evolve differently and hopefully organically from the places the characters find themselves,

How have your careers as a journalist and a lawyer affected your writing? Journalism and fiction are different, of course, but what crossover, if any, have you found in the skills required for those two types of writing?

My years as a news reporter helped hone research skills, so I have definitely benefited from that time. One of my heroines, in LOVE ME, KISS ME, KILL ME, is in fact a reporter, so she did for sure. My 30 years as a family law attorney are more useful in my romance and suspense books, many of which feature a lawyer as the main character. I also learned by practicing law that you can never know exactly how far one human can push another. It gives me freedom to reach for the stars.

Are your elves inspired more by fiction, folklore, or a bit of both?

A bit of both. They’re not cute little fairy type beings. They are human-sized, and every bit as politically savvy as Game of Thrones type skullduggery–a parallel line of development alongside humans of the area. The Native Americans in the area have deep roots in those forests–who’s to say their “spirits” might not be this sort of supernatural?

Please tell us about your work with shelter cats.

When I moved to Asheville, NC six years ago, some of the first social contacts I made were through foster organizations for cats. My daughter and I housed sick cats who needed to be out of shelter to heal, as well as taking on batches of kittens during the very real “kitten season,” spring through fall. We provided much-needed socialization for several weeks, then the kitties would go for adoption. We placed many–but we also “foster-failed” with Ziggy, Reba, Clarice, Daisy Mae, Korben Dallas, Dilly, Twilight Sparkle, Terra and lastly 21 year old Kitty Lou. Our house and hearts are full.

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

PROPHECIES AND PROMISES, an historical romance with pirates! From the Wild Rose Press, Tamsyn McKiernan thinks her dreams have come true. She’s engaged to a dashing Key West bachelor and finally in her widowed father’s good graces. But in her heart, she knows something’s wrong. She loves the ocean and the quiet pleasures of nature—so what does the aristocratic life she’ll lead truly hold for her?

Mercenary captain Drake Ashton is neck deep in preparations for the Spanish-American War, running guns and other supplies to Cuban natives who want out from under their Spanish masters. He and his brother Freddie risk their lives daily, focused on saving his friends on the island. Nothing else matters but his mission.

A chance encounter with a spiny sea urchin brings the two together, and neither of their lives will ever be the same again.

Tag Lines: When the ‘good’ man is bad, and the ‘bad’ man is good, how’s a young woman to choose?

Buy Links

Paperback Amazon

B&N Barnes & Noble

What are you working on now?

A thriller set in 1996 Miami, where the main character, a lawyer, wakes up next to a burnt-out car in the Everglades with a dead body in it. She has no memory of how she got there or who the dead person is.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

It’s so simple it sounds trite, but it’s true. LEARN and WRITE. I had my first piece published for money when I was 18, short stories and articles until I was 40. I was 42 when my first non fiction book was published, and then 43 when my first novel was picked up, THE ELF QUEEN. Since then, l’ve had 23 more novels published by mostly small press. I’ve gone to many conferences, taken classes online and in person and have a fantastic crit group in Fellowship of the Quill out of Pennwriters. But the hardest and most productive this is just to keep writing and getting better,

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

Author Links
Website and Blog: Lyndi Alexander
Facebook: Facebook
Goodreads: Goodreads
Amazon Author Page:
BookBub: BookBub
Smashwords — Lyndi Alexander: Smashwords
Instagram: Instagram
Twitter: Twitter or @AlexanderLyndi


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

THE CALL OF POOHTHULHU, edited by Neil Baker. Yes, believe it or not, ten authors wrote stories crossing the Lovecraft Mythos with the world of Winnie the Pooh. Imagine hunting a heffalump and finding a shoggoth. Baker’s introduction states that the idea for the anthology was spawned when Milne’s original WINNIE THE POOH entered the public domain. (When I began to wonder why Tigger doesn’t appear in this volume, it occurred to me that he doesn’t arrive until THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER, published later.) Some tales that, for me, merge the two fictional universes particularly well: “The Celery at the Threshold,” by John Linwood Grant, reveals what happens when Pooh and friends decide to search for the South Pole and encounter a very Small Elder Thing, separated from its family, and help it to find them. In “The Very Black Goat,” by Christine Morgan, Pooh and company barely escape the clutches of a devious girl (with goat) who turns out to be one of the children of the Goat with a Thousand Young. “Back to the Black Bog,” by Lee Clark Zumpe (a frequent contributor to the vampire and horror zine NIGHT TO DAWN), in which a Cosmic Lump lands in the Hundred Acre Wood, pastiches Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space.” I particularly enjoyed a direct Lovecraft parody, Eeyore’s report of his friend’s fatal descent into forbidden depths, “The Statement of Eeyore Carter,” by Kevin Wetmore. (“You fool! I already told you—Pooh is dead!”) A weakness of some stories, in my opinion, is that the characters speak and behave too maturely, out of keeping with the tone of Milne’s fiction. Eeyore is a valid exception, since he doesn’t act very childish even in the original, and as the introduction points out, his personality fits well into a Lovecraftian universe. A couple of pieces verge on metafictional, with the inclusion of Christopher Robin as a young man. The book’s final selection, “Acrewood,” by Jude Reid, although delectably creepy, is an anomaly. It’s straightforward folk horror with nothing distinctively Lovecraftian, aside from the motif of a cult in a rural setting. Moreover, it takes place in the primary world, not Milne’s fantasy realm, and readers could easily overlook the subtle allusions to the Pooh series if encountering the work somewhere other than this anthology.

NO ORDINARY PEOPLE, by Joel D. Heck. Subtitled “21 Friendships of C. S. Lewis,” this book takes its title from Lewis’s essay “The Weight of Glory,” in which he says we have never met an “ordinary” person, for every human being was created for eternal glory. The high value Lewis placed on friendship (as particularly highlighted in his THE FOUR LOVES) makes it appropriate to devote a book to his relationships with friends and colleagues not necessarily well know to the general public or even to Lewis devotees. The two main exceptions, his brother Warren and Mrs. Janie Moore, extensively discussed elsewhere, do make me wonder about the exclusion of Lewis’s wife, Joy Davidman Gresham, a dear friend for years before he married and fell in love with her (in that order). Granted, however, several entire books have already been written about that relationship. The author stretches the definition of “friendship” a bit, in my opinion, since a few of the people profiled seem more like cordial professional acquaintances than friends in the full sense of the word as defined in THE FOUR LOVES. Nevertheless, the breadth and depth of Heck’s research are impressive, as he delves into exhaustive detail about Lewis’s relationship with each person. We also get a thorough overview of the background of each subject, exploring them in terms of their own lives and careers, not just their importance in connection with Lewis. The extensive bibliography highlights the author’s care and diligence. Most hardcore Lewis fans will want to read this book, especially those who enjoy biography for its own sake.

TOUCHSTONES, by Stephanie Burgis. It’s not necessary to have read any of Burgis’s fantasy novels to enjoy this collection of stand-alone stories, but after reading them, you’ll probably want to explore her other works. While most of the tales display a light touch—although, of course, the characters’ plights are serious to them—a few darker pieces are included. “The Wrong Foot” introduces a girl whose foot coincidentally fits the glass slipper, but she didn’t even dance with the prince, whom she has absolutely no desire to marry. In “Undead Philosophy101,” vampires mingle unobtrusively among the residents of a university town, and the narrator, an outwardly nondescript girl from the wilds of northern Michigan, knows how to deal with them. The title character of “Dreaming Harry” is a boy whose dreams literally come to life, so his parents have to monitor his reading material carefully. In “Good Neighbors,” later incorporated as the first section of a novel, the heroine has to cope with a necromancer who moves to town and persists in sending her his zombies for repair. “The Disastrous Debut of Agatha Tremaine” stars a young woman happily studying magic until her overbearing aunt moves in and takes over her life for more sinister motives than immediately apparent. A queen decides to renegotiate her dynasty’s pact with a dragon in “A Cup of Comfort.” “Love, Your Flatmate” explores the protagonist’s tribulations with a fae roommate she unwillingly hosts. In one of the darker stories, “House of Secrets,” the narrator is summoned to the home of the father she’s never met and must face the grim truth that he wants her for reasons totally unlike the welcome she expected. Those titles comprise only a sample of the delightful contents. Since most of the stories were new to me, I found the book a satisfying addition to my library.

WHAT MOVES THE DEAD, by T. Kingfisher. Kingfisher’s two previous horror novels (both reviewed in previous newsletters), THE TWISTED ONES and THE HOLLOW PLACES, enthralled me. Both are modern-day sequels or spinoffs to classic stories, Arthur Machen’s “The White People” and Algernon Blackwood’s “The Willows,” respectively. WHAT MOVES THE DEAD, inspired by “The Fall of the House of Usher,” approaches its model differently. Kingfisher’s novel retells Poe’s tale in the 1890s in an imaginary middle-European country. The narrator, a friend of Roderick Usher (and, in this case, of Madeleine also, having known the twins in childhood) as in Poe’s original, marks an intriguing departure from the contemporary female narrators of the two previous horror novels. Alex Easton is a “sworn soldier” from the also imaginary Ruritanian country of Gallacia, a land inhabited by a “fierce warrior people” who happen to be very bad at warfare. Gallacian, a language with complexities difficult for foreigners to master, has at least two gender pronouns in addition to masculine and feminine. Priests, nuns, and preadolescent children are referred to as “va” rather than the Gallacian equivalent of “he” or “she.” (Applying the latter to a child may cause native speakers to suspect you of pedophilia.) Sworn soldiers go by the nonbinary “ka.” Some who’ve left the military revert to gendered pronouns and lifestyles. Many others, such as Alex, retain their nonbinary persona and pronouns for life. Alex has received a message informing kan that Madeleine is very ill, perhaps dying. When ka arrives at the Usher mansion, it turns out to be infested with fungi, as is the land surrounding the ominous-looking tarn. Roderick looks almost as sick as his sister. In addition to the Usher twins and their few remaining servants, Alex meets a brilliant amateur mycologist, Euphemia Potter. This fictitious spinster aunt of Beatrix Potter ultimately helps to solve the mystery of the “cursed” mansion. The dry wit of Alex’s narrative voice, even in the midst of the most dire events, kept me enthralled. Kingfisher always delivers a satisfying experience in that department. The major plot points unfold much the same as in Poe’s tale, but with a quasi-scientific rationale. The organisms infesting the landscape and the house prove to be far more than ordinary fungi. The fascinating Author’s Note at the end elaborates on her inspiration for the story and the decisions she made in writing it. My only complaint about this novel is that it’s too short (less than 160 pages not counting the afterword). By the way, the title has a gruesomely literal significance.


Excerpt from “Crossing the Border”:

“Why haven’t you answered any of my messages? I’m not lying, crazy, or putting you on. The stars are coming right soon. The danger’s real, and I can help. My number is—”

Paula deleted the voice mail without bothering to listen to the rest. Why wouldn’t that nutcase take the hint and leave her alone? It’s time to call Doug. I’ve put this off too long already.

She shook her head in irritation at the way her hand trembled as she picked up the phone. Her pulse accelerated when she punched the speed-dial number for Douglas MacNair, her late husband’s agent. Why would the prospect of talking to Doug make her breath quicken and her stomach flutter? She’d seen and spoken to him often enough in the year since Kyle’s death. Doug is just a friend. Always was, always will be. A close enough friend that he wouldn’t mind getting a call at home at nine in the evening.

When he answered, his bass voice flowed through her like molten honey. She’d often thought he should have become a singer or actor instead of a literary agent, with that voice. “It’s always great to hear from you, Paula, but what’s wrong?”

Damn, do I sound that shaken up? She swallowed and drew a deep breath to steady herself. “What makes you think anything’s wrong?”

“Come on, as if I didn’t know you well enough to hear it in your voice.” She imagined him lounging in the overstuffed chair by the window in the living room of his New York high-rise condo, doodling on a notepad the way he always did during conversations. “Besides, if this were some routine thing, you’d call in the daytime or send an email.”

“I’ve decided it’s time to go through Kyle’s unpublished stuff. How soon can you make it down here?”

“And this was too urgent for email? Let’s hear it—what brought on this decision all of a sudden, after I’ve been trying to talk you into it for the past six months?”

She twisted a lock of hair around an index finger the way Kyle had found so annoying. She almost stopped, then mentally snapped at herself, Kyle isn’t here. “There’s a guy who’s been bugging me with emails and phone messages. He’s got some kind of bat in his belfry about that unpublished novel Kyle posted excerpts from.”

Tension hardened Doug’s tone. “How long has this been going on?”

“Well…since the week after Kyle died.”

“And you didn’t say a word to me about it.” He sounded halfway between angry and hurt. “What am I here for anyway, if not to help with problems like that?”

“It wasn’t worth bothering you with. Not until he started phoning instead of just emailing. I decided the message he left a minute ago was the last straw. He keeps babbling about some kind of danger.”

A long sigh gusted over the phone. “Okay, who is this person?”

“Somebody named Gary Furness. He edits a webzine called Scribes of Darkness.”

“Sure, I know it. Won a couple of awards. He interviewed Kyle once. He didn’t seem crazier than anybody else in the field.”

“Yeah, that’s him. He must have tipped over the edge after that. We met him at a horror con the month before Kyle died. Furness trailed us around the hotel, harassing Kyle with his obsession over that unpubbed novel.” She had a vivid mental image of a weedy young man with rapid-fire speech, who wore his brown hair tied back in a ponytail.

“You can tell me all about it when I get down there.” After a brief silence, Doug went on, “Okay, I’m logged onto the ticket site. Looks like I can get a flight day after tomorrow. I’ll clear my schedule and stay as long as it takes.”

-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