Welcome to the January 2024 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.

Happy New Year!

My steamy paranormal romance novella “Wizard’s Trap” was published by the Wild Rose Press in December. The heroine rents a house owned by a sorcerer who’s been cursed into the astral plane. He communicates with her through his journal, hoping she can set him free.

Wizard’s Trap

In the excerpt below, she tries to contact his spirit, not yet realizing he isn’t dead.

For e-mail subscribers: As of the end of February, TinyLetter will cease to exist, so this newsletter will have to migrate to its parent company, MailChimp. I’m mildly distressed by this development, since TinyLetter is easy to use and includes all the features I need with none I don’t want. But I’ll try to implement a smooth transition. The subscriber list will be transferred without your having to do anything.

For the first interview of the new year, meet contemporary romance and romantic suspense author Carol Henry.


Interview with Carol Henry:

What inspired you to begin writing?

Writing wasn’t my first thought, but reading was a life-long activity that started when I was old enough to hold a book. It wasn’t until after graduating high school that I started reading romance novels and found myself writing character snippets. My writing branched out to being a photojournalist in my spare time, then travel writing for a major international magazine, and finally I joined a writer’s group and got serious about writing a romance novel.

What genres do you work in?

Mostly I write contemporary romance, with a series of light romantic suspense adventure. I liken it to Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone. I’ve always felt that life has a way of ‘connecting’ me to the outside world, be it people, places, or things. Thus, calling it my ‘Connection’ Series was an obvious decision. I do have an American historic saga I couldn’t keep from writing, seeing as I’m also the historian for my hometown. The history of the railroad in this area called to me (see the section on Ribbons of Steel below).

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

I am a plotter, first and foremost, however I usually start out with a few chapters with characters that won’t let me sleep at night. Then, I have to delve into their background, and find out more about them. I’ve been known to teach a few online classes on Character Development—Beyond the Basics, so I tend to practice what I preach. For me, it pays off. That doesn’t mean my characters don’t go off-course and I have to doctor up my plotting notebook on occasion and either get in line with my characters’ way of thinking, or theirs to mine. Sometimes it’s a losing battle, but either way, my characters win out in the end.

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

Critique partners, writer’s groups, attending conferences and workshops have all been a great inspiration. As for authors, there are several, but the most inspirational one is Debbie Macomber. I enjoy her family, small town, and inspirational writing.

How has your experience as a travel writer affected your fiction career (if it has)?

As a world traveler and travel writer, having visited the locations/countries/cities I write about has been the inspiration for my Connection Series. I’ve been frustrated reading novels where we are ‘told’ what town/city/country a novel takes place. Must be the traveler in me. So, I tend to incorporate my characters’ surroundings as part of their daily encounter by ‘showing’ what they are dealing with throughout my novels. And, getting to know the people of the countries my husband and I have visited makes it easier for me to write about the people and cultures on a more first-hand knowledgeable level. My titles—Amazon Connection, Shanghai Connection, Rio Connection, Cairo Connection, and my newest novel Arctic Connection, all take place in countries we’ve visited and have had fascinating adventures. They make awesome backdrops for my characters to experience their own adventures along the way. And having lived in Europe for three years has broadened our outlook, as well. Still, I do a bit more research for each location in which I turn my characters loose, in order to bring my time period up to date. You just might find my characters have visited locations outside their hometown in a few of my more contemporary novels. I admit, I love to share travel experiences with my readers.

What inspired your novellas in the “Christmas Cookies” line?

To begin with I love Christmas, as my family will attest. That includes hosting several Christmas teas, luncheons, and impromptu gatherings. And, I am a big cookie baker and have held a cookie baking day since the 1990s where I invite anywhere from 4 – 8 family grandgirls, nieces, and their friends, ages 4 – 16, to come to my house to learn how to bake cookies. We do 8 different types of cookies in a day—each working individually on their own special cookie, which can be quite the challenge. In the late afternoon, when the cookies are out of the oven and lined up on a special table, we have a formal high tea in the dining room—very fancy—where we all get to enjoy the fruits of our labor, and we discuss the day’s events. So, it was natural for me to decide to write a novella for the Christmas Cookie line.
As a side note, my granddaughter who was one of my early bakers, now with a daughter of her own, who is part of our baking group, read the novella Linzer Tarts and Broken Hearts, and had this to say:
“OMG Linzer Tarts & Broken Hearts was beautiful, not going to lie, I legit cried at the last page…I’m such a sucker for the ooey-gooey, lovey-dovey stuff. It is honestly a book that I will cherish, the references to our family traditions for the holiday was so special! I am truly so thankful for all that you do for me and our family! Those memories are the absolute best and I am so blessed that my daughter also gets to know the special feelings of Cookie Baking Day and Tea Time. You have no idea how truly special that is to me! I am so excited to have a book that will also keep these traditions and memories alive.”

What kinds of research did you do for your historical novel, RIBBONS OF STEEL?

Ribbons of Steel was an inspiration I had while taking a creative writing class at Cornell University. In my early writing endeavors. As a local historian, I was fascinated by the history of the railroad that ran through our town. I had a distant family member who worked the rails and traveled to Pennsylvania during the week, and returned to our home town in New York to be with family. Keep in mind this was only a short writing assignment for the class, so I really didn’t delve too deep into the topic. When others in the class asked when the book was coming out—I wasn’t sure how to answer, but was pleased that they thought it was worthy. However, I was working on other more contemporary novels, so I set this aside. However, my characters kept calling to me and I finally caved, only to realize there was so much more I wanted and needed to know. Research began. I visited ILR Library at Cornell and came back to my office with a handful of books that laid out the work I was in for. I immediately started researching and discovered that there was a major railroad strike in 1877, and ended up writing the entire novel as a family saga that had to deal with the ordeal. It took months, and even a few years, before I finished, and found a publisher that was interested in Ribbons of Steel. It became a hit, locally.

What’s it like to write in the two shared-world “Lobster Cove” and “Deerbourne Inn” series?

Writing for the Lobster Cove series was a breeze for me. I wrote the first novel in the series, and had a hand in researching the area and location of Lobster Cove. Having visited the area numerous times, and visiting with friends in the area, helped. Although a bit more research is always helpful. As for writing my own trilogy in the Lobster Cove series, for some reason I have a hard time leaving the adversary out on a limb, where she more than likely deserves, but with reasonable doubt, I had to write about their story, as well. Thus, Juelle’s Legacy, Breakfast with Santa, and Nora’s Redemption became part of the Wild Rose Press’s Lobster Cove Series.

As for the Deerbourne Inn series, I had only intended to write one novel—Ciara’s Homecoming Christmas—because I love Christmas (as I’ve mentioned above), and the theme seemed to call to me. Writing the second Deerbourne Inn novella—Love a la Carte—was more of a challenge, as it was the last episode in the overall series. I had to do a lot of reading of the stories that pertained to the characters who needed to show up in the finale, even though I threw in a few new characters (the heroine) to make the story come alive and give the two main characters something to think about and overcome.

How does the procedure differ from creating a stand-alone novel?

The procedure is a bit easier, as The Wild Rose Press provides a ‘bible’ of sorts that lays out a lot of the town’s streets, businesses, history, location, and a few main characters that are involved in the initial episode. So, a lot of the background information is at your fingertips. There is also a map of the town laid out with street names, etc. As authors write for the series, their new characters, locations and events are highlighted, making it easier to share information. And coordinating with other authors, lending characters and knowledge thereof, helps to make the series a bit more cohesive. And much more fun to get creative.

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

My latest novel is Arctic Connection, coming out in February 2024. It’s the 5th in my Connection Series and takes place up along the Norwegian Coastline up to the North Cape. It’s a light romantic suspense and has my characters dealing with a touch of climate change, which is believed to be causing the decline in the catch of fish, but is actually a black-market scheme my hero and heroine have to deal with as they research and travel up along the coast. Not to mention the involvement in family matters, when it is believed that the heroine’s family is involved in wrong doing. As my daughter-in-law’s family is from Norway, I had some first-hand connections, which lent a personal touch with my Norwegian characters. That and the fact that, yes, we did travel up along the coast of Norway and even sailed up to the North Cape.

What are you working on now?

Currently working on another Connection novel. This one will take place in France, around Paris and the Champaigne region. But I’m also thinking Christmas—as always. That would be more of a contemporary, family story. And, yes, the sequel to Ribbons of Steel has been on my mind.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

My advice for aspiring authors is not to give up. Join a writer’s group, take a few classes, workshops, and read the books that interest you and what you feel you would be more comfortable writing. Don’t be turned off by negative nay-sayers. Think positive and get started. I have a notebook of ‘great beginnings’ of stories that I’ll probably never finish, but I have pulled a few out and turned them into something different, and worth revisioning and using. Bottom line—if it’s what you love to do—do it. Sending much success your way.

And a special thanks to Margaret for inviting me and giving me such wonderful questions that made me actually spend time looking back at how and why I’m doing what I’m doing today.

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

WEBSITE: Carol Henry
Barnes and Noble


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

SILVER LADY, by Mary Jo Putney. The first novel in a new series, “Dangerous Gifts,” by one of my favorite historical authors. If it resembles her other groups of linked novels, such as “Lost Lords,” each book should be readable on its own. SILVER LADY, as the series title hints, involves characters with psychic talents. Set in Cornwall, it features Bran Treymayne, an agent for the Home Office investigating possible smugglers and French spies, along with a heroine, Merryn, whose past is a mystery even to herself. In this version of the Regency period, the general public seems to accept the existence of paranormal gifts, but they’re regarded with suspicion. Bran is estranged from his noble family because his father rejected him in childhood, banishing him to an abusive “baby farm” when his powers became obvious. Bran and his best friend, after running away to London, were adopted by a gifted couple who have made it their mission in life to shelter mistreated children with such talents. As for Merryn, at the beginning of the novel she’s held prisoner by people who want to use her powers and, to control her until their plans come to fruition, keep her mind perpetually clouded. Her path crosses Bran’s when she escapes and he rescues her. Naturally, while delving into the complexities of their ultimately interrelated problems, the two of them fall in love. The novel climaxes with a threatened attack on the shipyard in Plymouth. In her afterword, Putney explains the historical background of the novel’s events. I especially enjoyed the scenes of Merryn’s courage in silently resisting her captors and her awakening to her true self. The recovery of her memory reveals her as a spirited, intelligent, passionate young woman. The minor characters are also lifelike, and the details of Cornish local color enhance the appeal of the setting. This gripping story includes romance, mystery, suspense, intriguing psychic powers, and deep friendships and “found family” ties among likable characters.

WHEN THE ANGELS LEFT THE OLD COUNTRY, by Sacha Lamb. This absorbing historical fantasy reminds me of THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, by Helene Wecker. Both novels explore the immigrant experience in New York of the early twentieth century through the viewpoints of odd-couple pairs of supernatural beings. Each couple embodies tension and attraction between opposites, earth and fire in Wecker’s story, an angel and a demon in Lamb’s. Moreover, the protagonists of WHEN THE ANGELS LEFT THE OLD COUNTRY bring to mind the fraught relationship of the respectively celestial and infernal angels in GOOD OMENS. Ashmedai (aka Ashel or Little Ash) is a very minor demon, one of the “mischievous spirits of the earth who enjoy leading people astray.” Banished to Poland, he found he liked it better than his father’s palace in Hell, where the other demons picked on him. He delights in encouraging the “evil inclinations” of humans and causing chaos for the fun of it, not out of true evil. The angel, with no gender or fixed name, goes by the pronoun “it.” It and Ash have spent two centuries studying Talmud together in the shul (synagogue) of a village so tiny it doesn’t even have a proper name. The human residents take no notice of the pair, but Ash observes the people with keen curiosity. When he learns that a young woman of the village, Essie, has left for America and not been heard from since, Ash takes an interest in the mystery. Oddly, it’s the demon, not the angel, who insists they must travel to the “Golden Land” and discover her fate. Ash, who knows more about human society and customs than the angel (a rather low bar to clear), arranges for the journey. On the transatlantic crossing, they become sort-of friends with Rose, who has left her village after her best friend—with whom she’s in love, although not consciously aware of that feeling—abandoned their plan to emigrate together and got married instead. The angel, now called Uriel, befriends a dying rabbi, takes custody of his holy book, and promises to ensure his family in America will carry out the proper mourning rites. Otherwise, the rabbi’s spirit will become a dybbuk. On Ellis Island, Ash discovers America has its own diabolical inhabitants, far more powerful than he, who don’t take kindly to foreign demons. Nevertheless, Ash and Uriel make it ashore and outwardly assimilate into the Jewish immigrant community. While searching for Essie, they deal with an industrial workers’ strike, the rich, avaricious factory owner, and a con man who extorts new immigrants to trap them in virtual debt slavery. Meanwhile, when the late rabbi’s deadline runs out, he degenerates into a possessing evil spirit that preys on his own family. Both Ash and Uriel face the choice of possibly sacrificing themselves to save their mortal friends. The New York immigrant community setting, the mundane, historically believable threats to the good guys’ security and happiness, and the supernatural evil intertwine to from a complex, compelling plot. Uriel and Ash not only transform as they draw closer to humanity, they also develop a relationship that inspires them to recognize their long-time bond for the love it is. Recommended!

THE NUBIAN’S CURSE, by Barbara Hambly. Established fans of Hambly’s Benjamin January historical mysteries will rejoice to welcome the annual first-of-the-year installment. (And I only wish they appeared more often.) This book arrived a little earlier than usual, just before Christmas, befitting the story’s holiday-season setting. For readers not familiar with the series, this isn’t the place to start. Full immersion in the characters and their arcs requires beginning with the first novel, A FREE MAN OF COLOR. To recap: In that book, Benjamin January, born into slavery but manumitted in childhood by his mother’s white “protector,” who bought and freed her along with her two children, has recently returned to New Orleans after sixteen years in Paris. Trained as a surgeon, he soon discovered that even in France, few white people would trust their medical care to a Black man, so he earned his living as a musician. Although not a paradise of equality, France was much better than Louisiana, especially with that region ruled by Americans clueless about the nuances of Creole culture and the status of “free people of color.” January was prepared to spend his life in Paris, until his wife died and grief drove him home. By 1840, the time of THE NUBIAN’S CURSE, he has been happily remarried for several years to Rose, who runs a school for mixed-race girls eager to learn subjects not usually considered suitable for females, such as astronomy and chemistry. She and January have two little sons. As the novel begins, their life seems secure for the moment, and the extended family is happily and hectically preparing for the wedding of January’s niece, Zizi. Then a woman January knew in Paris shows up, pleading for his help to find a mutual friend of theirs from that time, who fled to America after being suspected of murder and may be in trouble again. A coveted antique statuette and the “cursed” scroll associated with it add a touch of quasi-supernatural intrigue to the problem. Previous books in the series have introduced January to historical personages such as Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Clay, et al, involved him in the Underground Railroad, featured a transman as a recurring minor character, and explored topics such as food allergies (not widely recognized in that era), medical techniques of the period, rare poisons, the peculiar religious cults of the nineteenth century, the anthropological pseudo-science of race with its minute distinctions among all possible permutations of mixed ancestry, and a spiritualist medium hoax. THE NUBIAN’S CURSE includes an autistic man, Arithmus, at risk of being falsely condemned for murder. Of course, the concept of autism didn’t exist then. Hambly does her usual superb job of presenting phenomena and ideas known to us by their modern terms through the filter of the American antebellum worldview. In Paris, although the educated son of a prosperous family, Arithmus posed as a savage from darkest Africa and worked with a white partner who exhibited his talents in lectures and at meetings of learned societies. The Paris flashbacks narrate how his partner died in agony of an unknown cause during the exploration of an allegedly haunted mansion. Arithmus speaks in a monotone but is far from devoid of emotion; he has trouble relating to people, avoids making eye contact, and engages in repetitive hand movements and other compulsive tics; he’s prone to monologuing at length about subjects that interest him; he has an eidetic memory and a lightning-calculator gift. The terminology of the period labels him an idiot-savant, but, as January declares, he’s not an “idiot”; he just thinks differently from other people. Confronted by two murders that resemble the enigmatic death in the “haunted” house many years earlier, January strives to solve the mystery while his niece’s wedding looms near. As usual, he struggles through trackless woods and bayous in search of clues and gets attacked at least once. In this novel, though, unlike most of the others, he doesn’t have a narrow escape from slave catchers. A subplot that focuses on Zizi’s qualms about her impending marriage adds to his conflicting obligations. I have to admit that in this installment I had a little trouble keeping the names of the numerous dramatis personae straight, but not enough to impede enjoyment of the book. As always, the rich sensory descriptions of the physical and cultural milieu of antebellum Louisiana, along with a cast of vividly realized characters including familiar ones it’s a pleasure to meet again, make the story enthralling.

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


Excerpt from “Wizard’s Trap”:

After switching off the phone with a sense of relief, Laurel lit the incense. She settled in a chair with her fingers resting lightly on the planchette. The candle flames flickered in the afternoon breeze from the open window. The draft didn’t completely relieve the summer humidity, but it would have to do since only the living room and master bedroom had window air conditioners. She peeled damp hair off the nape of her neck. Wiring that wouldn’t support central air was a downside of living in an old house only a mile from the Annapolis historic district.

If anyone saw her playing with a Ouija board months away from Halloween, she had to admit she would look obsessed. Naturally she’d been curious as well as shocked when she’d read the original news reports of Gil Vincenzo’s disappearance. She’d met the man several times when he’d dropped in at her store to buy candles, incense, or rare herbs the supermarket didn’t sell. They’d had several lively conversations about whether any of those products had objective benefits and which books—not many, according to Gil—held useful information and which, in his words, consisted of superstitious ramblings by clueless wannabes. He’d even asked her to lunch once, and she’d had to refuse on the grounds that she was involved with somebody. If she hadn’t been living with Kevin then, she would have jumped at the invitation. Attached or not, she could appreciate a hot guy. After all this time, she still had no trouble conjuring up an image of Gil’s chocolate-brown eyes, dark, curly hair, and lean, taut body, as well as reliving her shock when she’d read about his disappearance and presumed death.

Her orange tabby Maine Coon, Tigger, padded into the dining room with his plumed tail held high. “If a ghost shows up, you’ll warn me with your feline psychic powers, okay?” Tigger sat in the middle of the floor and gave her a cool stare. “Ghosts, right, maybe I am losing it after all. Do I think I’m going to solve the case when the police couldn’t, like the daring girl detective in a mystery?”

Breathing deeply, she tried to clear her head. She had a hard time banishing fretful thoughts about Kevin, her family, and the admitted strangeness of renting a house because of curiosity about its dead owner. Her fingers started to cramp, and her mind drifted from those niggling worries to the boxes stacked in the kitchen. She’d almost decided to abandon the spirit communication experiment when the planchette jerked.

She yelped. The cat blinked at her and licked a paw. “Is anybody here?”

The planchette traced a wide circle around the board.

“Who’s there? Are you Gil Vincenzo?”

The pointer slid directly to YES.

Laurel knew, of course, her own subconscious mind could have guided the movement with minute muscle contractions. But the motion had certainly felt independent of her will. She frowned at Tigger. “Big help you are. You’re supposed see spirits. So much for feline psychic powers.” He reacted with only a twitch of his tail.

The planchette moved again. N. She watched, holding her breath. O. T.

“Not? Not what?” That didn’t sound like a message her own brain would come up with. “Not Gil Vincenzo?”


“And you are here? In the house?”

The pointer indicated YES again then shifted over to NO.

“Well, which is it?”

A sensation like static electricity zapped from the planchette through her fingers. It sizzled up her arms and down the front of her body. A sudden shiver convulsed her. Her nipples instantly peaked. The electric current raced over her skin and sent a shock through her core. Heat welled between her legs.

She snatched her hands from the planchette and pressed her palms to her breasts. Her heart raced. She swallowed hard and exhaled a shuddering breath. “That was…weird.”

She barely suppressed a scream when the plastic triangle moved again. By itself.


“What book?” she whispered. As far as she knew, her packing boxes contained the only books in the house.


“What about the desk? Come on, tell me more.”

The planchette refused to move again, although she rested her fingers on it and muttered questions for several more minutes.

“Fine. If I’m not losing my mind and imagining this whole thing, I guess I should check out the desk.”

-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:

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:

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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—
Margaret L. Carter