Welcome to the May 2010 issue of my newsletter, "News from the Crypt," and please visit Carter's Crypt (www.margaretlcarter.com), devoted to my horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance work, especially focusing on vampires and shapeshifting beasties. If you have a particular fondness for vampires, check out the chronology of my series in the link labeled "Vanishing Breed Vampire Universe." For my recommendations of "must read" classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the Vampires:
Fictionwise.com sells quite a few of my e-books as well as my short stories from various anthologies, such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Sword and Sorceress" series.
Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romance Blog: http://www.aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/
I've recently learned that the Circlet Press erotic vampire anthology A TASTE OF MIDNIGHT, which includes a story by me, has been released in Amazon's Kindle format.
ROGUE MAGESS has received its first review, 4 Cups from Coffee Time Romance! "This is a book full of vivid descriptions and detailed characters. . . . strong females and mystical creatures." Read the rest at:
Instead of an excerpt this time, I'm including a never-published short-short, "Bunnies Bearing Gifts," that I wrote for a "challenge" assignment in an online critique group: Use the words bunny, egg, and grass without mentioning Easter. I had fun with it.
This month's guest is romance author Diane Craver.
Interview with Diane Craver:
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
Ever since I was small, I've enjoyed writing. When I was in junior high, I wrote a few stories for fun and also wrote poetry. Then in college my roommate and I started writing about our adventures, but we never finished the book. While teaching at the Ohio Sailors and Orphans Home, I met another teacher. We were married three years later and started a family. I quit teaching to be a stay-at-home mom. I began writing nonfiction when our oldest daughter was a toddler. She was born with Down syndrome. It was a creative and therapeutic release for me to write about her, and how I handled the situation I was faced with as a mother of a child with special needs. I had several magazine articles published by the time I attended a romance writing conference in Cincinnati, and it was sponsored by the Ohio Valley Romance Writers. I met many published authors and their enthusiasm was contagious. I decided to start writing fiction. It kept me sane after having six children. LOL
2. What genres do you write in?
I write inspirational romance, contemporary romance, chick-lit mystery and women's fiction.
3. Would you say there is any difference in writing inspirational romance compared to other kinds? Do you feel there are constraints in writing inspirational that aren't found in other kinds of fiction?
When I write inspirational romance, I focus on how the Christian characters react spiritually to difficult problems and tragedies. Faith plays a large part in the characters' lives while they solve their problems. There are tons of restrictions and here are some of them: no swear words, no alcohol consumption by Christian characters, no card playing, and the hero and heroine can't spend an overnight. I know that my inspirational romance, No Greater Loss, wouldn't be acceptable by a traditional Christian publisher's guidelines because the main characters, Luke and Jennifer, spend a night together due to a blizzard. They don't have sex but the scene between them is sensual.
4. Do you outline, "wing it," or something in between?
I think of the characters first with an interesting conflict. For a few days dialogue, scenes, setting and characters parade across my mind before I write anything down. When I start writing, I put the big scenes down before even starting the first few pages. My characters tend to take over so I don't make a detailed outline.
5. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?
My latest release is an inspirational romance, Marrying Mallory. Mallory isn't happy with herself because she's divorced. She feels strong guilt that she couldn't forgive her cheating ex-husband. As a Christian, she doesn't feel that she has the right to get married again. Also she is unhappy about her outward appearance. She loses fifteen pounds but that isn't enough. She decides to do something for herself and goes to see a plastic surgeon, Dr. Seth Whitman, to have rhinoplasty. Immediately, her life becomes complicated because she's attracted to the doctor. Seth feels the same way about her, and he has trouble maintaining a doctor-patient relationship.
By the way, I have a trailer for Marrying Mallory. Here's the link:
6. What are you working on now?
I started writing a fun contemporary romance. The main characters are Lexi Harper and her dad, Andrew Harper. The setting is Virginia with Lexi and her dad considering buying a log cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a weekend retreat. Both teach at a small college and are single. Andy Harper is anxious for his only child to get married and give him a grandchild. Lexi would like to see her dad get married again. Her mother died in an automobile accident.
7. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Follow your heart and believe in yourself! You have to be persistent and develop a thick skin when it comes to rejections. Remember this is a subjective business so don't get discouraged. Don't worry about getting an agent in the beginning. Some authors might disagree with me but if you write romance, you can still get published without one. I kept thinking I should get an agent. I queried agents instead of spending more time on actual writing. Finally, I took the advice of published friends and stopped worrying about getting an agent. Once I focused just on my writing, I received my contracts.
8. What's your website URL? Please tell us about some of the nonfiction resources on your site. Do you have a blog?
My website link is http://www.dianecraver.com,
and my blog is http://www.dianecraver.com/blog
Thank you, Margaret, for asking about my nonfiction titles. I have a "creative nonfiction" book, The Christmas of 1957. I'm looking for another publisher for it. If I should get a contract, I want to change the title. It's based on a true childhood incident, but I did take some creative license with it.
After successfully having my own preschool for our children and others, I wrote the book, How to Run a Profitable Preschool Without the Hassle, to help other parents. It gives lots of information on starting your own home preschool.
I wrote Celebrating and Caring for Your Baby with Special Needs from the perspective of my experience as the mother of two daughters with Down syndrome. With deep depression the second time, I learned how to overcome my sadness in having another child with special needs. I give insight into what worked for me so that other parents can cope with challenges during this emotional time and in the end, will feel blessed.
Thank you, Margaret, for interviewing me.
Some Books I've Been Reading:
EXCEPT THE QUEEN, by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder. Jane Yolen is one of the great living fantasy authors, and Midori Snyder's THE FLIGHT OF MICHAEL MCBRIDE is one of my favorite fantasy novels, so I couldn't pass up this story of two fey sisters exiled into our world. Serana and Meteora accidentally stumble upon a sexual encounter between the Queen of the fey and a mortal man. The sisters know they will suffer severe punishment if the Queen learns they know of her liaison. Although they manage to hide their transgression for many seasons, finally the secret slips out. The Queen casts them out of Faerie, separated under a curse that will fall on them if they get back together. One lands in Milwaukee, the other in New York. Not only are they trapped in human form with almost none of their powers, they have become homely and middle-aged, with the aches and limitations of age. Meteora gets taken under the wing of Baba Yaga, who gives her a place to live and a sort of job. Serana, mistaken for a mentally disturbed street person, also gets settled in a mundane home but has a slightly rougher time. Meteora becomes involved with a girl named Sparrow, who bears the mark of evil in the form of a tatoo received from a sinister man called Hawk. Serana shelters a boy who, unknown to her, has run away from the cruel father who uses him as a "dog" to track prey. Other creatures from the faerie realm also stalk the sisters and Sparrow in the human world, such as the bloodthirsty Red Cap. The sisters find allies, including a man named Jack who helps Meteora, despite her hesitancy on the grounds that Jacks are always tricksters. I enjoyed every detail of the sisters' gradual, confused adjustment to the delights and dangers of human cities. They retain some gifts of their true natures, such as speaking to birds, understanding the virtues of herbs, reading fortunes, and sensing the presence of creatures from their own world. They also retain their vulnerability to cold iron. The Queen's motivation turns out to be not entirely what it seems, and the climactic confrontation with the evil forces leads to a satisfying conclusion, but not without causing permanent changes in Meteora and Serana. I especially liked the motif of fairies forced to live as old women in urban poverty and thereby learning lessons about mortality and friendship.
ENCHANTED GLASS, by Diana Wynne Jones. This is a great month for new fantasies by living legends. This novel contains Jones's usual quirky characters and unexpected twists. After the death of his grandmother, Aidan starts being stalked by supernatural creatures. He runs away from a foster home in search of a sorcerer whom his grandmother told him to turn to in case of trouble. When he arrives at Melstone House, the sorcerer's home in a small, rural community, Aidan learns that the magician is dead and the house has been inherited by his grandson, Andrew. Andrew, a historian, wants only peace and quiet to work on his scholarly book. He remembers almost nothing about the magic his grandfather tried to teach him. Now he has to take responsibility for the sorcerer's "field-of-care" with very little idea of the scope of the task or the dangers involved. He welcomes Aidan into the house, and Aidan's strange Stalkers appear in the neighborhood. Both Andrew and Aidan have sorcerous talent, partly demonstrated by their being able to see through magical illusions when they take off their glasses. Meanwhile, Melstone House's housekeeper, Mrs. Stock, and gardener, Mr. Stock (no relation), carry on a feud, perpetuated on his part by gifts of grotesquely overgrown vegetables and on hers by inedible meals. (Actually, I love one of her favorites, cauliflower with cheese, so I don't quite see the problem.) Mrs. Stock expresses her feelings about the recent upheaval by constantly rearranging the furniture, which Andrew stubbornly restores to its place every day. Mr. Stock introduces his niece, Stashe, into the household as a secretary and computer expert for Andrew, while Mrs. Stock brings in a relative of her own, Shaun, a simple-minded but hardworking young man. Shaun and Aidan make friends with a young giant named Groil, a double of Shaun, one of many "counterparts" who show up after Aidan's arrival. A nearby rich landowner, Mr. Brown, disputes the boundaries of Andrew's field-of-care and claims the old sorcerer signed a compact with him, of which the counterparts are a violation. Mr. Brown and his cohorts are clearly more than they seem, and for some reason he's after Aidan, who soon picks up another nonhuman friend, a were-dog named Rolf. The conflict reaches a climax at the village Fete. Secrets of Andrew's family and Aidan's origin come to light, Mr. Brown's true identity is revealed, and romance blossoms. Another winner from the author of the Crestomanci series and HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE.
UNHALLOWED GROUND, by Heather Graham. This combination suspense, murder mystery, and romance novel with a touch of the supernatural conveys a strong sense of place in the descriptions of its setting, St. Augustine, Florida. Historian Sarah McKinley has recently bought a nineteenth-century house she has loved from childhood and plans to make into a bed-and-breakfast. Her plans are disrupted by the discovery of multiple sets of old bones inside a wall of the house. At first everyone tentatively accepts the most likely explanation, that the owner of the mortuary that occupied the building during and after the Civil War hid bodies inside the wall as part of a scheme to defraud his clients by reselling coffins. Sarah becomes acquainted with Caleb Anderson, a private investigator who has come to Florida to look for a missing young woman whose disappearance, he thinks, might be linked to the case of a local recently missing woman. While working on his own case, he has helped the St.Augustine police by accidentally finding a dead man in a submerged car. Therefore, he's allowed to hang around on the edges, so to speak, of the mystery of the bones in the wall. Both Sarah and Caleb see what appears to be the ghost of an ancestor of Caleb's. Could he have a local family connection he didn't know about? Sarah refuses to leave her home, despite the concerns of her well-characterized circle of friends, who worry about her living alone with a possible serial killer on the loose (the two missing girls were blonde and she's brunette, but they don't want her to take any chances). Sarah's behavior comes across to me as strong and balanced, neither foolhardy nor irrationally fearful. She uses her historical training and local resources to delve into the past of her house and the families who've owned it. Could the two missing women, the drowned man, and the walled-up bones all be connected somehow? In my opinion, Sarah's initial suspicions of Caleb, based on very tenuous grounds, seem exaggerated and continue for too long. Otherwise, I found the story engaging and satisfying, and I'd recommend it to fans of Gothic fiction and romantic suspense.
Bunnies Bearing Gifts:
"Guess what, Mommy? There's a live bunny in my room."
Without glancing away from the computer, Katie's mother said, "That's nice."
"And guess what? He can talk."
"That's nice, honey, but I'm busy."
"Can I give him a carrot?"
"Sure, but just one."
Five minutes later:
"Guess what? The bunny gave me a magic gold egg. Wanna see it?"
"Look, Katie, I don't have time to play today. I have to finish this chapter before dinner."
"But he says I have to make a nest for it in a dark place. Where's a good dark place?"
Long sigh. "In a closet, I guess."
Five minutes later:
"I got some grass and made a nest for the egg in a shoebox and put it in my closet where it's real dark."
"When it hatches, will I get a baby bunny?"
"Now, you know rabbits don't come from eggs. Baby chicks and other birds and things like fish, snakes, and frogs hatch from eggs."
"And dinosaurs and dragons?"
Katie's mother said with a brief smile, "I guess so."
"If it's a magic frog, I'll kiss him so he can be a prince."
"You've got a great imagination, honey. Maybe you'll be a writer, too, someday. But I'm on a deadline, so you have to quit bugging me. Go talk to the bunny."
"Oh, the bunny went away."
"Then watch your Disney princess video again."
A few hours later, all over the world, the magic eggs hatched.
The next day, the 100-foot-tall, carnivorous chickens began to devastate the cities.
That night, the egg hatched.
The next day, the 100-foot-tall, carnivorous chicken devastated the city.
[Which has more drama? A global invasion, or a unique disaster that could have been prevented if one mother had paid attention?]
Two fiction-related newsletters you might enjoy:
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Moonlight Fantasy, devoted to erotic romance:
Amber Quill Press: www.amberquill.com
Cerridwen Press: www.cerridwenpress.com
Ellora's Cave: www.ellorascave.com
Hard Shell Word Factory: www.hardshell.com
Mundania Press: www.mundania.com
You can contact me at: MLCVamp@...
"Beast" wishes until next time
Margaret L. Carter