Welcome to the July 2023 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.”

Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romances Blog

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For other web links of possible interest, please scroll to the end.

Barbara Custer, editor of NIGHT TO DAWN magazine, gave “Bunny Hunt” a five-star review on Amazon:

“I loved reading this. It was perfect for Easter. I especially enjoyed the use of the amulet and setting. Margaret Carter has worked her magic with her characters again. This is a must-read.”

The Wild Rose Press is releasing two of my former Ellora’s Cave erotic paranormal romance novellas this month, “Sweeter Than Wine” (July 3) and the quasi-Lovecraftian “Song from the Abyss” (July 26), very different in tone from each other.

“Sweeter Than Wine”: Maybe an amorous Revolutionary War ghost is just what Marie, widowed for a year and a half, needs to attract tourists to her historic bed-and-breakfast inn. “Song from the Abyss”: A recording of an eerie song summons Alyce’s old boyfriend from the alien dimension into which he vanished during an arcane ritual many years ago.

Below is an excerpt from “Sweeter Than Wine.”

This month I’m interviewing paranormal romance author Terry Newman (another writer in the “Jelly Beans and Spring Things” line).


Interview with Terry Newman:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I’m not sure there is one thing I can point to that was inspirational. I’ve wanted to write fiction since I was in grade school (sounds so cliché, I know). My earliest memory of my decision to be a writer was when I read The Happy Hollisters, a typical 1960s series for elementary and middle grade students. I fell in love with the characters and the places they went and the things they did. And I wanted to create a world of my own. At the time, I thought I would write my own books and illustrate them, too. You should be thankful I don’t illustrate my novels today.

What genres do you work in?

I write paranormal romance. But I’m laying out the characters and the plot for a cozy mystery. It’s about murders in an assisted living facility. The idea came to me when I was writing a scene for Heartquest, which will be a companion volume to Heartquake.
In the scene, several older women sit talking about a local television personality who they believe is good looking. When they talk about the assisted living facility, Lily of the Valley, one lady says it should be called Death Valley, since someone is killing of the residents. “Yes,” I said, rubbing my hands together. “Yes, they are.”

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

I pretty much wing it. I write romance, so I know the ending will be a happily-ever-after, but I don’t know much else. I usually have an opening scene in mind that sets the tone for the story and a few other scenes. I also have an idea of some of the points I want to make in the story. I try to let the characters take me where they want to go. I know that may sound crazy, but once I start writing the action, options I hadn’t thought of come to mind. That’s the thrill of the creative process.

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

My books reflect the author I admired most at the time of the writing. When I originally wrote the story that would become Rewrites of the Heart, I had been reading Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. I admired her humor and sometimes just bizarre circumstances she put Stephanie in.
Heartquake’s style was inspired by the romance novels of Jessica Bird. You probably know her better as J.R. Ward, the author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I was unsure if I pulled the story off well, but it’s a finalist for a RONE award, sponsored by Ind’tale Magazine.
My favorite-authors-of-the-moment are Ali Hazelwood and Alexis Hall. Their words keep me glued to the page. And Hall especially creates quirky characters that make his stories shine. Hazelwood’s The Love Hypothesis is a great take on the fake dating trope. It inspired me to write one myself. Its working title is Hearts on the Rocks.

It’s often said that humor is hard. Any tips on writing romantic comedy? For instance, how do you keep the stakes high for the characters while creating fluffy fun for the reader?

When I was a senior in high school, I had the role of Karen Nash in Act I of the play Plaza Suite, by Neil Simon. I fell in love with how he interjected humor in the midst of a tragic moment.
Timing is the key to good humor and that comes with practice. Once you’ve written something that makes you laugh, read it to someone else and gauge their reaction. If they don’t laugh, go back to the drawing board.
Many of the high stakes moments in a story can be defused with humor from the quirky secondary characters. Every great romantic comedy needs an offbeat character or two. Alexis Hall mastered this in Boyfriend Material. Don’t be afraid to make outrageous characters. You can always tone them down.
Finally, create characters who have a sense of humor. In this way, when something tragic strikes them they can naturally see the humor in it. And the comic relief will not be forced.

What inspired your story in the “Jelly Beans and Spring Things” line, THE WIZARD OF HER HEART?

I created a character who was a wizard, because I felt there were too few of them and too many witches in literature. That’s how Wyatt Ginn was born. It seemed only proper that a wizard in the real world would have a paranormal publishing house. And, of course, his new employee—and love interest—had to be a skeptic of magic. I thought the idea of casting love spells over jelly beans set the tone for a romantic comedy.
I enjoyed their meet-cute in front of the post office.
Once I began thinking of paranormal activity, I thought of UFOs and Bigfoot. I’ve attended many paranormal meetings and all the topics I use in the story, I’ve experienced in real meetings. And yes, I have attended a Bigfoot conference.

I enjoyed your trailer for that book. Can you tell us a bit about the process of creating a book trailer?

I’m still new to the process of making book trailers. Some individuals make trailers from still photos. I prefer short clips of videos. I use the blurb for the book, and edit it some. Then I look for clips that give me the feel of the description. I deliberately chose videos that were close to specific scenes and situations in the book.
Then it’s a matter of mastering the technology to get the length you want. I use Canva Pro. It has so many choices of text and options for transitions from one clip to another.

What is your latest or next-forthcoming work?

The Wizard of Her Heart is my latest book. Nothing is scheduled for release at the moment because, well, I’m still writing them.

What are you working on now?

I have two works-in-progress. The one I’m actively writing is Hearts on the Rocks. It’s a fake dating trope inspired by some of the romantic comedies I’ve read. The second, Heartquest, is a companion to Heartquake. I give the secondary characters, Jared Sparrow and Mel Milan, their own love story while they’re raising funds for an aviary for the local natural museum of history. I’m about three-quarters of the way done with that.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Make sure you really want to write. Determine whether it’s just a whim or “writer” is something you just want to call yourself. Once you know writing is your driving desire, then write. Write anything. Write often. You don’t have to write every day. But you write.
One of the habits I’ve found that has helped me is to keep Morning Pages. Julie Cameron, in The Artist’s Way, described them. I write 20 minutes every morning, pen and paper. Often I find myself creating scenes for stories I’m working on. Write anything during that time. The intent is to create a stream of consciousness-like writing flow.
If you’re serious about writing, don’t ever give up. Don’t let people say you’re not good enough. The only way to become good enough, to become great, is by writing. Writing. Writing.
And believe in yourself.

What is the URL of your website? What about other internet presence?
Social media links
Terry Newman
Facebook: Terry Newman
Twitter: @tnewmanwrites



Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

THE GRACE OF WILD THINGS, by Heather Fawcett. When I discovered that the author of EMILY WILDE’S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FAERIES (reviewed in the June newsletter) had written numerous children’s fantasy novels, I immediately decided to read a few of them. THE GRACE OF WILD THINGS, partly inspired by ANNE OF GREEN GABLES and also set on Prince Edward Island, features a preteen orphan girl who, like Anne, becomes the ward of a crotchety older woman who at first doesn’t want her. Grace, realizing she has some innate magic, runs away from an orphanage with the dream of becoming apprenticed to the woman rumored to be a child-eating witch. Learning from a witch has to be preferable to her dreary life so far. The witch, having no desire for an apprentice, shoves Grace into an oven littered with bones of former victims. Grace manages to make a deal: Within a designated time period, if she masters all 100 (and a half, the hardest challenge) spells in the witch’s grimoire, she’ll be accepted as a pupil. If not, the witch can take all her magical power. Like Anne, Grace loves poetry and longs for a home and friends. She soon comes to regard the witch’s cottage as home, and she makes a best friend. As in ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, Grace gets into trouble with her friend’s mother but wins acceptance by intervening in a crisis. Meanwhile, with her friend’s help Grace works through the grimoire, one spell at a time. Children have no trouble believing in magic, although most adults forget and/or rationalize such phenomena. It gradually becomes clear that the witch has actually come to like and depend on Grace, although the old woman maintains her curmudgeonly façade and constantly grumbles about what a nuisance the girl is. As Grace develops her magical gift, gains confidence, and wins other friends (even the school’s mean girl), the witch’s health declines, and a threat from her past looms. To save their home, Grace must draw upon her newfound power and the help of her friends. Her quirks and her warmhearted impulsiveness make her delightful. The old woman proves to have hidden depths beneath the outer layer of wicked-witch stereotypes she displays to the world, and the bond between her and Grace grows in a natural, believable way.

THE SCHOOL BETWEEN WINTER AND FAIRYLAND, by Heather Fawcett. In this novel’s magic-school setting, the protagonist isn’t one of the star pupils. Rather than a wizard in training, she’s a servant among many in and around Inglenook School, housed in a vast castle with the requisite secret passages and towers. Like her grandmother (her parents are dead), her brothers, and their ancestors before them, Autumn works as a beastkeeper, with the gift of animal communication. She and her family tend the monsters kept at the castle for student magicians to practice on. She gets along well with most monsters and has a boggart (a shapeshifting creature, amorphous and essentially invisible in its true form) as a loyal companion. Her twin brother, Winter, has disappeared, presumed dead by everyone except Autumn. She can sense his presence and spends most of her spare time vainly searching for him. A breakthrough occurs when she glimpses him in a reflecting surface. Is he trapped in a mirror dimension? This book does include a Chosen One, but it subverts that trope as well. Twelve-year-old Cai, handsome, intelligent, kind, and universally admired, lives under the shadow of a prophecy: Before he reaches the age of thirteen, he’s destined to slay the terrible Hollow Dragon that lurks in the forest, ironically called Gentlewood, adjacent to the school. Cai, however, has a severe dragon phobia. Whenever he gets near one, he becomes so paralyzed with fear he often passes out. Dragons come in many shapes, sizes, and degrees of danger or harmlessness, and although they guard hoards like classic dragons, their hoarding takes the form of cultivating gardens. Cai makes a deal with Autumn that she will help him overcome his phobia while he helps her look for Winter. Being treated like a human being by a magician, even a student, instead of being ignored or regarded as a lesser life form, is a new experience of which she’s suspicious. In the course of their shared quests, they become friends. Meanwhile, scenes from Winter’s viewpoint reveal what has happened to him, at least as far as he can remember, and raise the stakes of the timeline for his rescue. Eventually dire secrets about Cai’s background and destiny come to light, along with the truth about the prophecy and his link to the Hollow Dragon. Moreover, Autumn learns a mind-boggling fact about her own family line. Her fiercely single-minded focus on saving Winter makes her a sympathetic as well as compelling protagonist, although prone to rushing into frightful predicaments. The monsters, while resonating with familiar fictional and legendary portrayals of the same or similar creatures, have intriguing quirks to distinguish them from the typical beasts of fantastic tales, such as the gardening dragons. The revelation of the true nature of the Hollow Dragon is chillingly gruesome. The overall happy ending nevertheless includes irrevocable loss. One element of the story strains my suspension of disbelief, however: Autumn’s grandmother turns out to know much more about Winter’s fate than she has told Autumn, for reasons I don’t find totally convincing. Not quite an “idiot plot,” but still a bit hard to accept. On the whole, though, I highly recommend this novel for its characters and its fresh approach to the tropes it engages with. Fawcett seems to have a special interest in the theme of people who aren’t what they seem to be, e.g., Cai in this novel, the male lead in EMILY WILDE’S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FAERIES, the witch in THE GRACE OF WILD THINGS, and a boy in a book I haven’t reviewed, EMBER AND THE ICE DRAGONS (set at an Antarctic research station in an alternate-world nineteenth century), who’s a mystery to himself as well as others.

OUR HIDEOUS PROGENY, by C. E. McGill. The author’s afterword confesses a dislike for FRANKENSTEIN upon first reading. Later rereadings altered McGill’s attitude toward the classic book, aside from an unchanged conviction that Victor Frankenstein is a “wimp,” and this novel, set in the 1850s, is the result. The protagonist, Mary, is the granddaughter of Victor Frankenstein’s only surviving brother, but she knows nothing about her great-uncle except that he vanished in mysterious circumstances. She doesn’t stumble upon the letters that reveal his secret until about a quarter of the way through the book. Part I introduces us to Mary and her husband and lays out the background of her determination to recreate Victor’s discovery. She and her scientist husband, Henry, have recently lost a baby girl, who died within an hour of birth. The parallel with Mary Shelley, who also suffered the death of a very young baby, is obvious. The novel’s title quotes Shelley’s description of the book that won her fame. However, it’s also clearly meant to refer to the life Mary and Henry aspire to create. Later in the story, Mary indignantly repudiates the suggestion that this project serves as an outlet for her thwarted maternal drive, as if a woman existed only to produce children and couldn’t have any other ambition. Although she works as an equal research partner with her geologist and paleontologist husband, his scientist colleagues view her (if they think of her at all) as a mere secretary and illustrator. His unconventional theories about dinosaurs and his readiness to get into fights over them make him unpopular, while he’s determined to prove his correctness and his rivals’ wrongheadedness. This attitude doesn’t help the couple’s desperate financial straits. When Henry’s father’s death summons them to his ancestral home in Inverness, Mary meets the sister Henry labels “the dreaded Margaret.” To her surprise, Margaret (nicknamed Maisie) turns out to be a sickly but cheerful and affectionate girl younger than Mary herself. Disappointed by the provisions of his father’s will, Henry returns home depressed and embittered. While the loss of a child sometimes brings a couple closer together, it has done the opposite to Henry and Mary. Her discovery of his gambling debts makes matters worse. They need something to mend their relationship as well as vindicate Henry’s theories. In her great-uncle’s secret, Mary finds that “something.” Rather than attempting to build an artificial man, they plan to recreate one of the extinct aquatic saurians. They decide to complete their work at the family estate in Inverness, where Mary and Maisie form a close bond. Mary’s gradually worsening estrangement from her husband is believable and heart-wrenching. Meanwhile, an obnoxious professional rival forces himself on them and tries to take over. Mary finds her cherished creature in danger and herself robbed of any credit for the grand achievement that was her idea in the first place. The story draws the reader deeply into the plight of women in the mid-nineteenth century, especially intelligent women frustrated by society’s limitations. Mary stands for the many female scientists of that period whom mainstream history has virtually erased. The science-fiction dimension of the novel is equally fascinating. The experiment apparently succeeds, but are the wide-ranging applications of it imagined by the villain possible, or have the experimenters merely animated dead flesh rather than creating life?

THE GOD OF ENDINGS, by Jacqueline Holland. An unusual vampire novel in the first-person voice of a woman transformed as a child of ten. In this author’s mythos, undead children grow to adulthood; they “bloom but do not decay.” Therefore, the horror and pathos of Anne Rice’s child vampire Claudia play no part in Holland’s story. Other features of her novel more than make up for this difference, though. The horror and pathos of protagonist Anna’s afterlife spring from the many losses she suffers through her unnaturally prolonged life, her loneliness and estrangement from ordinary mortals despite her repeated (and increasingly reluctant) efforts to make connections. I especially like the way Holland embeds Anna’s pre-change life in the actual nineteenth-century American “vampire” panics associated with tuberculosis epidemics. After her parents and brother die in a tuberculosis outbreak suspected of being caused by vampire attacks, and she’s also on the verge of death, her Hungarian grandfather appears out of nowhere, whisks her away, and ironically transforms her into what her neighbors feared. Far from a doting grandparent, he believes in strength through self-reliance and eventually ships her off to Europe in the care of his trusted minion. Frightened and repulsed by the man, Anna soon finds a loving home with a mysterious but benign witch-like woman and a pair of brothers, one vampire, one mortal. Sadly, that interlude ends in the first of Anna’s multiple bereavements. Chapters recalling her two and a half centuries of existence alternate with chapters set in the novel’s present, the 1980s, when she runs an exclusive preschool in her grandfather’s former home in upstate New York. Although I normally dislike present-tense narration, its use for the current story in contrast to the flashbacks works for me in this book. Immortally young and apparently indestructible, Anna doesn’t share many other conventional traits of fictional vampires. She sleeps at night, isn’t bothered by the sun, and has no special powers such as transformation or mesmerism. Feeding only on animals except in exceptional circumstances, she ordinarily needs only modest amounts of blood. Recently, however, her craving for it has increased beyond her control. Furthermore, she starts to suffer blackouts and fugue states resulting in evidence of violent rampages she can’t remember. Having little contact with her grandfather and none with others of her kind, she has nowhere to turn for an explanation. Meanwhile, although she has resolved to stay aloof from mortals rather than risk fresh heartbreak, she reluctantly gets entangled in the problems of a little boy with precocious artistic talent, trapped in what may be an abusive family situation. The bittersweet ending promises hope in the midst of sorrow.

For my recommendations of “must read” classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the Vampires:
Realm of the Vampires


Excerpt from “Sweeter Than Wine.”

When the bedroom door closed, Marie let her shoulders slump with fatigue, glad for a couple of hours to rest before her dinner reservation at the restaurant attached to the winery. She hadn’t taken a weekend off since Frank’s death. She’d poured all her energy into the bed-and-breakfast because running it had been a dream they’d shared. She suspected he’d succumbed to a premature heart attack mainly from juggling innkeeper’s chores with his day job. Frank’s insurance had paid off the mortgage, but if she wanted the inn to thrive, she’d have to do more than pass out brochures. She needed an angle to set it apart from all the other B&Bs in the historic district of the colonial capital.

Today would have marked their thirtieth anniversary, as good a time as any to wake up and get on with her life. To include a new man? Not likely. She smiled wryly at the idea. Having enjoyed a long marriage of solid happiness, she didn’t expect to hit that jackpot twice. As for a passionate fling, her fantasies ran along the lines of somebody like Gordon MacBain, probably an extinct breed.

What she needed right now was a snack, not a fantasy lover. She chose a peach from the fruit basket and started to peel it with a paring knife. “You can be my inspiration, Mr. MacBain,” she said to the portrait. If the son of Scottish immigrants could transform himself into a rich landowner, surely she could transform herself into the hostess of a flourishing historic inn. Too bad she couldn’t find the hidden stash of the smuggler’s lost treasure, which tradition claimed was hidden somewhere in the Williamsburg house.

A masculine chuckle sounded in her ear. At the same instant, a gust of wind ruffled her shoulder-length hair and blew her denim skirt up to her waist.

The knife in her hand slipped and nicked her left index finger. Blood dripped on the brick hearth at her feet. With a muttered curse, she sucked the wound. She’d either picked up a stray sound from outside or started hearing imaginary voices. And where had the wind come from? The half-open window let in the mild air of a late afternoon in September, but no breeze stirred the lightweight, ruffled curtains.

Shaking her head, she set aside the knife and fruit, then took the wineglass from the mantel in both hands. The cut on her finger smeared a drop of blood on the rim. Before she could raise the glass to her lips, something pinched her bottom.

With a yelp, she spun around. Nobody there. At the same instant, the goblet slipped from her hand.

Instead of hitting the floor, it hung suspended in midair.

“Okay, no reason to freak out. This is a dream. I must have lain down and dozed off.” She glanced at the canopied bed, half expecting to see herself asleep on top of the quilt.

She scented a vagrant aroma of pipe tobacco. “Nay, Mistress, you are awake.” The rich bass voice, tinged with humor, vibrated under her breastbone. The glass tilted, and the ruby wine began to drain into nothingness.

-end of excerpt-


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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My Publishers:

Writers Exchange E-Publishing: Writers Exchange
Harlequin: Harlequin
Wild Rose Press: Wild Rose Press

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“Beast” wishes until next time—