Welcome to the October 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

You can subscribe to this monthly newsletter here:


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

Happy Halloween!

In the spirit of the season, below is an excerpt from “The Unvanished Hitchhiker,” which first appeared in a 2007 Halloween anthology that’s out of print. In this scene, Leah spends Halloween night with an older woman, Alice, at her request. The story is now available in my collection LOVE AMONG THE MONSTERS, which you can find here:


Other retailers:

<a href=”“>Love Among the Monsters at Draft2Digital</a>

To view all my e-books offered on Draft2Digital, please go here:

<a href=”“>My Books at Draft2Digital</a>

I’ve finally finished updating the “Complete Works” page on my website! Unless I missed something, aside from one paranormal romance novella—“Wizard’s Trap”—waiting for re-release, all the links on this page should point to the current versions of the listed books and stories:

Complete Works

Writers Exchange E-Publishing has adorned the four novels in the Wild Sorceress series with all-new covers:

Continuing the horror theme, this month’s interview features Barbara Custer, publisher of “Night to Dawn” magazine and books.


Interview with Barbara Custer:

How did you come to edit NIGHT TO DAWN magazine?

In the late 90s and early 2000s, I sent work to different magazines, including Night to Dawn, to be published. I also belonged to several writing groups, hoping to market my first book, Twilight Healer. Night to Dawn’s owner ran into financial difficulties and informed all the writers that the magazine would fold unless someone would step up and take over. I was tempted to offer, but I thought I needed more experience. However, my writing buddies convinced me to give it a go. So, the next issue went out on time, but I did the printing. Thankfully, Ginger Johnson, who owned several magazines, walked me through the process.

Why did you switch the magazine’s topic from vampires to general horror? For would-be contributors, please summarize the submission guidelines.

People in my writer’s groups have advised me to go with general horror, including vampires, to appeal to readers with varied interests. Vampires and zombies have been somewhat overdone, so I look for a unique perspective on these stories. Some writers have also expressed an interest in different types of horror. Jonathan Maberry has often said that zombies were hot, especially if you can devise a new twist on the subject. Lee Clark Zumpe sent me a beauty of a tale featuring ghouls. Yes, ghouls. I plan to publish it in the next issue.

That said, I’m still publishing vampire tales that have a unique spin. I open for limited periods because I hate to see people wait years to see their work in print. The best thing an author can do is query me first before sending. You can find the submission guidelines here: Submissions | NIGHT TO DAWN MAGAZINE & BOOKS (

What inspired you to start the “Night to Dawn” small press for book publishing? Is it open to general submissions? What should aspiring authors know about submitting books to you?

Around 2003, I found small press publishers for Twilight Healer and another book, which I have since pulled from print. Both publishers folded. In the meantime, I got to know some peer authors. They liked my work with Night to Dawn and asked if I could publish their books. NTD is closed to general book submissions as I’m currently formatting a book for someone, and I have two others on the list to read. I’d like aspiring authors to know that much work goes into editing, formatting, and printing the books. About one or two books go to print a year. Regarding marketing, the onus falls on the author, although I have done some promoting with ads and blog tours. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with great artists.

What would you like to tell readers about the latest issue of the magazine?

Night to Dawn 44 has a lot of great work from authors/poets like Lee Clark Zumpe, Marge Simon, and Sandy DeLuca. In particular, Zumpe’s “The Quarantine Station” will remind you of The Island of Dr. Moreau, in which a scientist experiments with raising the dead. Along with other regulars like Hal Kempka, Rod Marsden, Matthew Wilson, Todd Hanks, and Linda Barrett, not to mention the artists listed on the front cover, you’ll find that Night to Dawn 44 has a Halloween theme, complete with a pumpkin on the front cover.

What books has your publishing company recently published and/or will release soon?

I’m currently formatting Michael De Stefano’s The Bohemian, an erotica, humorous tale that challenges the post-Reagan bourgeoisie. It should go live this fall. You can review his work at  Michael De Stefano | NIGHT TO DAWN MAGAZINE & BOOKS (

The most recent release, besides the magazine, is Kevin R. Doyle’s The Anchor, published in November 2022. A suspense tale, it features a newscaster with grand ambitions to make it to the top and a mysterious admirer who kills off her competition. Kevin R. Doyle | NIGHT TO DAWN MAGAZINE & BOOKS (

What’s the latest with your own writing?

In 2018, I released a SF collection, The Forgotten People. When Blood Reigns, the sequel to Steel Rose, was published in December 2016. I then worked on the sequel to those two stories, with Alexis going for another round with the renegade aliens and zombies, but a secondary character ended up taking over the plot. Meantime, life got in the way, so I’m still working on this book. I did make several changes at a developmental editor’s recommendation, and I’m back in the saddle working on this book. I can’t give out the title, though, lest I jinx the process. 😊

Can you offer any tips for writing horror fiction?

Different editors have different specs when it comes to submissions, but here are some general thoughts. If it’s a short story, the action must start on page one. I’d like to see the body by the end of the page. I’d like to see action straight away with a book, too.

The market is glutted with zombie and vampire tales. However, so long as you can give me a unique twist on tropes, I’m up for the game. For example, in Night to Dawn 44, one of the tales features a house as the vampire. One of the tales in my upcoming issue features zombies living in water (I think they might be part ghoul). 😊

This one applies to all fiction: Try to ditch unnecessary words and adverbs. Tightening your work will add to the tension in your fright tale.

Where can we find you on the internet?

You can find me on Facebook: Barbara Custer Facebook; also Night to Dawn Facebook 

My website: Blood Red Shadow; you can also see the books available by my authors on the website.

Amazon page: Amazon

Email me for questions on Night to Dawn:


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

AFTER DEATH, by Dean Koontz. This near-future science-fiction thriller features a fascinating premise, although one of his wildest yet. As a result of an accident at a top-secret government research lab (what else? — it’s a Dean Koontz novel) experimenting on nanobots and an archaic strain of microbes, a bunch of people die. One man, however, security head Michael Mace, rises from the dead with unprecedented powers. With his mind alone, he can access and manipulate or override any branch of the internet and anything connected to it. In contemporary society, that means almost everything. He has become a human incarnation of the long-awaited Singularity. Fortunately, Michael possesses a deep ethical foundation and wishes only to use this unwanted power for good. First, though, he has to escape from the official forces bent on eliminating him. In the process, he becomes the protector of a single mother, Nina (with whom his one trusted friend at the facility, now dead, was in love), and her son. Most of the novel consists of desperate flight and hair-raising, near-death encounters. Michael avoids omnipotence only by virtue of having to interact with the bad guys in the material world, where he’s no more a superman than any other physically fit, combat-trained human being. Negatives of this novel: First, the assassin devoted to Michael’s destruction is yet another of Koontz’s typical sociopathic villains, all with basically the same personality, all flat caricatures of pure nihilistic evil. In addition, this one is a solipsist, firmly convinced “reality” is a game designed for him to prove his worthiness to ascend to a higher sphere. Second, again Koontz’s recent obsession with the claim that the world is going straight to perdition dominates the book, along with his increasingly author-intrusive, right-wing reasons why (in his opinion) this is so. Positives: Michael’s core goodness, which makes his superhuman gifts engaging even if not quite credible. A courageous heroine with a bright, likable son. The deep bond that develops between Michael and Nina. A golden retriever (are you surprised?) in the epilogue, which charmingly includes a bundle of names borrowed from the Narnia series (the dog is Lucy). Also in the epilogue, how Michael uses his power anonymously but irresistibly to change the world for the better. I wouldn’t recommend AFTER DEATH as an introduction to Koontz’s work, but his long-time fans will probably enjoy it.

HOLLY, by Stephen King. Like King himself, I embrace Holly Gibney as one of my favorite characters. Readers who share that attitude will probably enjoy this latest novel as much as I did. Those who dislike Holly (oddly, judging from online comments I’ve seen, some do) may give up on the book before the story shifts into high gear. In keeping with the title, the latest changes in her personal life occupy as much narrative space as the mystery she’s investigating, possibly more. As King explains in the afterword, in this novel he tackles COVID and the associated social and political developments surrounding it head-on. The previous Holly-centered work, “If It Bleeds” (in the collection of that name) was completed before the pandemic began but published during it. In HOLLY, her mother has just died, and Holly’s partner in the detective agency is hospitalized with COVID. Although in no position to take on a new case, she yields to a desperate mother’s plea to investigate the disappearance of her young adult daughter. Because the victim isn’t a minor, the police tend to think she left on her own. Holly’s investigation turns up other disappearances at intervals of several years between each. Could they be connected? The choice of possible victims (if they aren’t voluntary runaways) shows no pattern, and there’s no apparent link among them except location. Of course, as Holly begins to suspect, they are in fact all victims of the same pair of serial killers. I was mildly disappointed by the absence of any supernatural content, but nevertheless there’s an element of horror. Numerous scenes are narrated from the viewpoints of the kidnappers, a married couple of highly respected, retired, cannibalistic college professors. That’s not a spoiler, since it’s revealed early in the book. Chillingly, they believe so firmly in the alleged benefits of their dietary regimen that they almost convince the reader. This novel falls more into the suspense than the mystery genre, since we know almost from the beginning the identity of the villains and what they’re doing to their captives. The plot focuses on how soon Holly can solve the puzzle and whether the girl whose disappearance triggered the case will survive to be rescued. Aspiring young, Black writer Jerome, Holly’s occasional assistant, and his sister, working on a creative project of her own, play prominent roles in the investigation. It’s always a pleasure to see more of those two characters. King makes the killers almost sympathetic at some points, highlighting the deep mutual devotion within their lifelong marriage. As we get to know them more intimately, though, that trace of sympathy fades. They cherish carefully cloaked racist attitudes, for one thing. As well as the COVID pandemic with its restrictions and the controversies around them, King deals frankly with the overall political turmoil of that period. His own political position is obvious, though he allows space for opposing views in some characters’ dialogue. Since I hold similar opinions to his, from my viewpoint he’s simply writing realistically about current events instead of evading them. Readers with different views may think he’s getting too intrusively “political.” In the afterword, he acknowledges his own bias, which Holly shares, but says he hopes he would be able to present a protagonist with opposite beliefs fairly, should he choose to write about one. It’s heartwarming to watch Holly navigate the upheaval in her life, including the shock of uncovering the lies her mother and uncle—now confined to an institution because of advanced Alzheimer’s—told her about a vitally important family secret. She has evolved through every book since her first appearance in MR. MERCEDES, and I hope for more stories about her, although the final scene of HOLLY would make a fitting conclusion to the series.

MY BROTHER’S KEEPER, by Tim Powers. This book reminds me of THE STRESS OF HER REGARD, though on a smaller scale. This new historical horror novel also features real-life literary figures—in this case, the Bronte siblings before their works were published and won fame—threatened and tempted by supernatural beings from myth and legend. Early in the story, elderly, half-blind clergyman Patrick Bronte reveals to his daughters how in his youth he unwisely brought a strange, dark boy with him from Ireland to England. The curse of that child, actually a demonic, shapeshifting entity, hangs over their family. Around the same point in the book, we learn of a cult that worships a “biune” (two-personed) monstrous werewolf deity and pursues the mission of reuniting its separated head and body. In my opinion, it’s good that the author places these revelations soon after Emily rescues a wounded stranger on the moor, for otherwise we might find their subsequent adventures hopelessly confusing. Alcuin Curzon, member of a secret organization devoted to eradicating lycanthropy, yet a werewolf himself, insists he doesn’t need Emily’s help, and she has no reason to trust him anyway. Nevertheless, circumstances force them to work together against the cult of the werewolf god. Its headless body, as they later discover, lies under Partrick’s church. Meanwhile, his son, Branwell, comes across the dark boy. An alcoholic who repeatedly sabotages his own chances at any kind of success, Branwell, like his sisters, is working on a novel. Ironically, although he dismisses his sisters’ work as probable “scribbles” based on their childhood shared fantasy world, he’s the sibling whose efforts come to nothing. Moreover, he compensates for his outward failures by secretly identifying with the role he played in those childhood stories. Naturally, he’s ripe for possession by the demonic boy, who’s clearly destined to become an inspiration for Heathcliff in WUTHERING HEIGHTS. In addition to that “boy” and werewolves, Branwell and Emily encounter ghosts who suck the breath from living victims. In the climactic confrontation with the werewolf-god cult, Branwell gets a chance to redeem himself. Although this novel doesn’t weave together a grand synthesis of “all myths are true” like THE STRESS OF HER REGARD, the premise of MY BROTHER’S KEEPER still conveys an atmosphere of numinous horror deeply rooted in the folkloric past. On the literary-biographical level, it intriguingly suggests supernatural reasons why the Bronte sisters didn’t publish more fiction than they did and why Branwell and Emily died relatively young. Recommended for fans of Powers’s work in general and THE STRESS OF HER REGARD in particular.  

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

<Realm of the Vampires“>Realm of the Vampires</a>


Excerpt from “The Unvanished Hitchhiker”:

       Watching the other woman out of the corner of her eye, Leah got the impression she was listening for something. Now and then she tilted her head as if straining to pick up sounds over the movie’s dialogue. When a car roared past outside, Alice jumped. Several times Leah considered asking what preyed on her mind but decided against it.

The doorbell rang at about quarter to eleven. Alice drew in a hissing breath. Her left hand crumpled a page of the magazine. She darted another glance at the door but didn’t move.

            When the bell rang again, Leah said, “Would you like me to get that?” Alice responded with a rapid, jerky nod.

            With the chain still attached, Leah opened the door just far enough to peek out.

            The wind had picked up, lending a slight chill to the night, although the half-moon still shone in a clear sky. Dry leaves skittered along the sidewalk. A man stood on the porch holding a length of crimson fabric. “Sorry to bother you,” he said, “but when I dropped off your daughter just now, she left this in the car.”

            “Daughter?” Leah shook her head. “You must have the wrong address.”

            “Then maybe that girl was visiting here?” He thrust the garment he carried through the crack between door and frame. His hand trembled. “Anyway, this was the house where she told me to stop, no doubt about that. I have to get going.”

            Automatically closing her fingers on the piece of cloth, which she noticed was wet, Leah murmured a confused thanks. The man scurried down the driveway to the car he’d left running at the curb.

            For a second the air felt icy cold. With a fleeting shiver, Leah closed the door. When she turned toward Alice, the other woman was clutching the edge of the couch cushion like a slippery ledge from which she was afraid of falling.

            “It’s nothing,” Leah said, “just somebody who had the wrong address. He left this before I could make him take it back.” She held up the cloth. A silky cashmere shawl.

            “He?” Alice whispered. “A man?”

            “Yes, just some guy who was lost, I guess.” She sat down, watching Alice with concern.

            “No, he wasn’t lost.” She took the shawl and pressed it to her cheek. “I thought with another person here it might turn out different. I thought she might come herself this time.”

            “She? What’s going on? Do you know this man? Were you expecting him?”

            “Not him, specifically. But I knew somebody would show up. And I knew he’d bring this.” She rubbed the loosely knitted material between her fingers. “If only I could at least keep it. But it always vanishes overnight, even if I fall asleep holding it.”

            “Alice, what are you talking about?” Leah was starting to wonder if her friend was mentally unhinged.

            With a weary sigh, Alice said, “I’ll tell you about it. You’ll think I’m crazy, though.”

            Wincing at this inadvertent echo of her own thoughts, Leah shook her head. “Of course I won’t.”

            “I haven’t talked to anybody about it since my husband left.” She wrung the shawl between her hands. A few drops of water trickled from it. “You probably heard I had a teenage daughter who died.”

            “Yes. I’m sorry.”

            “Joanne was seventeen. We had a fight, actually a marathon series of fights, about the boy she was going with. I knew all along he was bad news.” Her lips tightened. “Her dad and I ordered her to stop seeing him. I even took away the bracelet he gave her. She disobeyed us and sneaked out to meet him at a Halloween party. He drove her home drunk. It was raining hard. The car crashed on a curve about a mile from here. You know the one?”

            Leah nodded. Every town had at least one “dead man’s curve,” and the main drag into this neighborhood had earned that nickname.

            “The boy was killed instantly. Joanne fell into a coma she never woke up from. She died on the third night after.”

            “I’m sorry,” Leah whispered again. She couldn’t think of anything else to say.

            “She took my shawl for her gypsy costume, without permission. This one.” She held up the twisted length of fabric. “Out of spite, I think, because I confiscated that bracelet.”

            Before Leah managed to stifle her reaction, she knew her friend must have noticed the look of horror and pity on her face. 

            “Don’t worry, you won’t offend me if you decide I’ve lost my mind. My husband had the same idea. That’s why he left. After the second year, he couldn’t handle what he called my obsession.” Alice’s eyes glazed over for a few seconds. “It started on the anniversary of Joanne’s death. A strange woman came to the door with this shawl and claimed a girl she’d picked up had left it in her car.”

-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):


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 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