Welcome to the July 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.

Below is an excerpt from “The Thing on the Driveway,” a humorous Lovecraftian romance in a new anthology titled NECRONOMI-ROMCOM (Where Mythos Meets Cute). Onyx is heroine Eve’s cat. The sparkling, disappearing spiders invaded her garage earlier in the story. The translucent, serpent-like thing of the title belongs to her reclusive, scholarly neighbor. You can buy the book in either Kindle or paperback format. Here’s the link to the “Light” volume, which includes my story; there is also a “Dark” volume.


This month, I’m hosting a return visit from multi-genre author Marla A. White.


Interview with Marla A. White:

Please tell us about your latest forthcoming book.

“Framed for Murder” is the story of ex-cop turned B&B owner Mel O’Rourke being pulled into a murder investigation to save her old nemesis from being convicted of one of the few crimes she didn’t commit.

Mel’s story started in “The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder” where, after a fall during a rooftop chase ends her police career, she must start a new chapter of her life. With the help of her family, she re-opens The Babbling Brook bed-and-breakfast and has to learn on the fly how to run an inn and solve a murder.

“Framed” picks up shortly after that with the arrival of cat burglar Poppy Phillips, the woman Mel was chasing when she fell. She should be pissed, but there’s something about the charming Brit that makes it hard to hold a grudge. Until she finds out the real reason for her visit is that she’s wanted for a murder she didn’t commit. Poppy may be a lot of things, but a killer isn’t one of them, and Mel can’t stand the thought of an innocent person going to jail so she agrees to help.

Their partnership isn’t without conflict, especially when the allegedly former thief meddles in Mel’s potential romance with café owner Jackson Thibodeaux, as well as whatever her relationship is with Deputy Sheriff Gregg Marks. Still, Mel is sure Poppy’s heart is in the right place, a theory put to the test when dark secrets about the Brit come to light.

What I love about this book though, is that it’s not just about finding the killer. It’s about second chances as nearly every character is looking for some sort of renewal or redemption.

Is your town of Pine Cove based on any real location? Do you have a map and “bible” for the town? Do you plan to write future stories in this setting?

It’s loosely based on Idyllwild, CA, but with a few modifications. The bridge that causes poor acrophobic Mel such issues, for instance, doesn’t exist. Neither does Jackson’s café, though it modeled off a delicious existing bakery/breakfast place.
I don’t have a map per se as I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the real place one or two times a year. I do keep a file with a document describing each business that I bring up in a book to be sure to keep them all straight as the series goes on.
My hope is that this is the first of an ongoing series so stay tuned!

How do you research police procedures for your mysteries?

When writing “Cause for Elimination” where some of the characters were actual cops, I was more mindful of getting it right. Part of the joy of writing a cozy mystery is that your detective is an amateur. They won’t necessarily know the rules either, which frees me from having to do a lot of research. Being an ex-patrol officer, Mel is aware of correct procedures, but knows she’s breaking all of them just by investigating anyway.
Still, I hope the police never have a reason to look at my search history. Things like “what does a bear attack look like” and “where do you stab someone to puncture a lung” could start to look pretty suspicious!

What kinds of material can readers find on your blog?

My blog is sadly sparse at the moment, but I vow to do better, readers! I really admire writers like you, Margaret, who find the time to do it all – write, blog, marketing. I got so caught up in writing one day a few weeks ago I forgot all about a lunch with a friend until they texted me, “I’m here”.
Mostly at the moment it’s character interviews with the folks from “Cause for Elimination”, personal anecdotes and my first guest blogger’s book spotlight. I’m getting there!

What are you working on now?

I’ve written the first draft of the next Pine Cove Mystery- title TBD. I’m going to let it breathe for a minute while I work with a dear friend and romance author CJ Bahr on our hockey romance series. It’s my first step outside of my usual lane and it’s been a lot of fun. We’ll be publishing under the name Alisa Jean and already have two completed.
This fall I’m looking forward to releasing the third book in my contemporary fantasy series, The Keeper Chronicles. “The Angel in the Window” brings Gabriel and Lucifer together in a battle to save Michael and Raphael from a social media obsessed, soccer mom, crazy demon. If they fail, the balance of good and evil is shot, leaving the fate of the world up for grabs.

Website: Marla A. White


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

YOU LIKE IT DARKER, by Stephen King. A new story collection to catch readers up on pieces published in miscellaneous venues since the last compilation came out. In my view, King’s short stories don’t hit the mark as consistently as his longer work. It’s very rare for him to produce a novel or novella that doesn’t enthrall me. Fortunately, in addition to short stories YOU LIKE IT DARKER includes five long tales, all first-rate or nearly so. “Danny Coughlin’s Bad Dream” almost qualifies as a brief novel. Danny dreams of a murder victim’s corpse, a vision so vivid he feels impelled to seek out the location from his dream, where he discovers the truth of it. After he reports the body to the police with an anonymous phone call, they soon track him down. The detective on the case, convinced Danny committed the crime, ruthlessly harries him. Danny’s plight fully engages the reader’s sympathy—“No good deed goes unpunished”—as the already neurotic detective spirals down a rabbit hole of obsession even after the real murderer confesses. “Rattlesnakes,” set in Florida, stars the aging, widowed father from CUJO. That novel, although grippingly suspenseful (after mostly getting over with the dreary set-up about the parents’ dysfunctional marriage), disappointed me because it contains no overt supernatural content and only one sympathetic character, the little boy who dies. This story almost makes up for that disappointment. The protagonist meets a woman in her sixties constantly pushing an empty twin stroller in which, according to her, her two small boys are riding. After her sudden death, the stroller and its not-so-imaginary riders start haunting the protagonist. Like Danny, he falls under unjustified suspicion from a police investigator. The narrator of “Two Talented Bastids,” in King’s iconic Maine setting, learns the paranormal secret behind the phenomenal success of his father, a famous author, and his father’s best friend. The narrator of “The Dreamers,” a Vietnam veteran, gets drawn into a mad scientist’s dangerous experiments involving, of course, dreams. The protagonist of “The Answer Man” meets the enigmatic title character three times in his life. At a roadside stand that appears at unpredictable moments, the Answer Man offers replies to questions, for a price after the first free sample. While he won’t give advice—no “Should I. . . ?” questions allowed—he promises truthful responses to others. The protagonist finds that although the answers are technically accurate, they don’t always mean what he assumes. Among the short tales, my favorite is “Laurie,” a sweet story set in the same fictional Florida locale as “Rattlesnakes,” about another widower, whose sister forces a puppy on him. I’d read it online twice already and am delighted to possess it in tangible form. “Weird Willie,” despite its craftsmanship and undeniable creepiness, left me dissatisfied (an attitude doubtless colored by my first reading of it in a magazine issue I bought for what struck me as too high a price). It’s essentially a reworking of “Gramma,” one of my old favorites, but without the Lovecraftian allusions and with uniformly unlikable characters, including the title protagonist, a boy who bonds over his distasteful hobbies with his equally eccentric grandfather. “The Turbulence Expert,” first published in anthology of airplane-related stories, rests on the provocative premise that the title character and his colleagues prevent plane crashes simply through their status as passengers on the otherwise doomed flight, a stressful job indeed. The rest of the volume is worth reading even though I didn’t find all the tales equally absorbing. King’s afterword supplies insight into the backgrounds of some of the stories.

MIND GAMES, by Nora Roberts. Thea, the protagonist of this romantic suspense novel, inherits clairvoyance and telepathy through her female forebears. She learns early to keep this gift to herself for the most part, since new acquaintances to whom she reveals it tend to scorn her as either a liar or a “freak.” When she’s twelve, on the first night of the annual two-week summer visit she and her ten-year-old brother spend with their grandmother in the mountains of Kentucky, she suffers a terrifying vision of her home in northern Virginia. She and her grandmother share the trauma of watching a serial-killer thief break in and murder Thea’s parents. Thanks to the author’s intimate portrayal of Thea’s thoughts and emotions, this intense section of the story brought me to tears. Because the local sheriff, like most long-time residents of the community, knows about and trusts the family’s psychic power, he passes along the information to the appropriate authorities, and the killer gets captured within days. The murderer, Riggs, sentenced to life without parole in a supermax prison, serves most of his time in solitary confinement. Unfortunately, Thea’s vision of him on the night of her parents’ death forges a psychic link between them. After she unwisely invades his mind to gloat over his imprisonment, he repeatedly forces himself into her dreams. With her grandmother’s help, she raises barriers against him that work most of the time—but not always—and the effort causes painful repercussions, including headaches. The only consolation is that he’s in worse condition. Meanwhile, Thea goes on to have a fulfilling life with her brother and grandmother. While the malevolent presence of Riggs lingers in the background, he doesn’t dominate her consciousness. Most of the story follows her from age twelve into the prime of adulthood, with only scattered references to the villain. Spanning so many years in fewer than 200 pages requires a large proportion of “telling” rather than “showing.” Nevertheless, the author manages to keep the reader’s interest engaged at every stage of Thea’s growth from a bereaved preteen to a self-confident woman with a successful career in video game design. As usual, Roberts excels in portraying a small-town atmosphere, with a close-knit community and delicious homemade food, lots of food. Also dogs. The romantic element doesn’t enter until almost halfway through the book, when a single father with a four-year-old son moves into a house he’s inherited within easy walking distance of Thea’s and her grandmother’s homes. I won’t elaborate on the man, his identity being one of the novel’s major surprises. The charming little boy instantly bonds with Thea and her dog. Although Riggs begins to attack her in her dreams more frequently and aggressively around this time, she enhances her own psychic power and trains herself to combat him with computer-game-like strategies. The novel’s “black moment” has no direct connection to Riggs but occurs when Thea accidentally reveals her paranormal ability to her lover. Such harsh words are exchanged that reconciliation is realistically difficult. After that, Thea’s final confrontation with Riggs comes across as almost a foregone conclusion. I had qualms that he might escape in some farfetched way and attack her in the flesh. Fortunately, the combat remains mental, in keeping with the rest of the story.

WILDWOOD DANCING, by Juliet Marillier. This 2007 fantasy combines the fairy tales of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and the Frog Prince in a medieval Transylvanian setting. There are only five girls, ranging in age from five to sixteen, not literal princesses but daughters of a prosperous merchant in a small town. The narrator, Jena, the second oldest, keeps a unique, sapient frog, Gogu, who communicates with her telepathically, as more of a best friend than a pet. Uninterested in romance and marriage, she helps her father with bookkeeping and looks forward to managing the business when he can’t do it any longer. Nine years before the opening of the novel, the girls discovered a portal to the faerie realm in their private suite. Once a month on the night of the Full Moon, they cross over into the Other Kingdom and ride enchanted boats across a lake to socialize and dance with the fair folk. On their first visit in the present time of the story, they encounter guests from a vampiric species known as the Night People. While they know the elven Queen won’t allow the newcomers to harm anyone under her protection—as long as they stay within the designated safe zone—Jena and her eldest sister exercise justifiable caution. One of the other sisters, however, meets and becomes attracted to an enigmatic young man in the Night People’s retinue who may be either one of them or a human fosterling. Back home, the mundane dimension of the girls’ life changes irrevocably when their father falls ill and has to make an extended stay in the nearest large city for treatment. Soon afterward, their uncle dies. His son, Cezar, aggressively claims the head-of-family role in the absence of Jena’s father. Cezar has changed drastically from the companion of her childhood. She remembers little of a terrifying incident when she and Cezar nearly drowned, accepting Cezar’s account of the accident. His older brother’s body was never recovered, and Cezar’s alteration seemed to start then. He developed an intense fear and detestation of the elven folk, which has grown into outright hatred. He wants them exterminated. He’s also determined to take over Jena’s father’s business and marry one of the sisters. Their down-to-earth problems, becoming steadily more desperate as Cezar’s grasp tightens, intertwine with the supernatural plot as Jena tries to protect her impulsive younger sister from the Night People. How can they hide their monthly excursions from Cezar, who becomes increasingly suspicious? What if their father’s illness worsens and he never returns home? Eventually the secret Cezar has concealed ever since his brother disappeared comes out. Fraught relationships among the girls and various inhabitants of the faerie realm build to a crisis. Gogu’s true nature is revealed. Both the characterization and the setting are enthralling. The reader may even pity Cezar when the reason for his detestable behavior becomes clear. We ultimately get the happy ending we expect, but untangling the snarled threads of many years is far from simple. The book includes a glossary with pronunciation guides, and the author’s afterword discusses the history and folklore of Transylvania.

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


Excerpt from “The Thing on the Driveway”:

Caterwauling from Onyx broke the chain of her ruminations.

She rushed into the living room to find him arching his back like a Halloween cat. His normally sleek fur, solid ebony without a sprinkle of white anywhere, bristled, and his emerald-green eyes made the pose still more impressive.

Three of the glittering spiders scuttled over the carpet. Or maybe two or possibly four. They didn’t hold still long enough for her to focus on them. Onyx pounced on one, which vanished just before his paws would have crushed it. It materialized across the room, unless another identical arachnid had appeared there instead.

Spiders don’t disappear and reappear. Got to be an optical illusion.

On the other hand, could she have been studying intensely enough to cause eyestrain that severe?

Setting aside the question as irrelevant for the moment, she hurried into the kitchen for bug killer spray. When she returned to the living room, Onyx was still leaping at the pests, yowling in obvious frustration when he missed. She squirted the spider nearest her, which vanished. If that really happened, it’s a great evolutionary adaptation.

Just as she directed a random spray at another of the creepy-crawlies, the cat flap in the front door bulged open. The sinuous shape of the translucent, rainbow-hued snake oozed through the gap. A toothless mouth stretched to engulf one of the spiders.

“Get out of here! Shoo!” Having a swarm of spiders vacuumed up might be a plus, but letting a giant whatever-it-was into the house definitely fell on the negative side. Eve shot a blast from the can in the pseudo-serpent’s general direction, with no discernible effect since she couldn’t bring herself to get any closer to it.

-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, visit the Dropbox page below. Find information about the contents of each issue on this page of my website:

Vampire’s Crypt

All issues are now posted on Dropbox, where you should be able to download them at this link:
All Vampire’s Crypt Issues on Dropbox

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