Welcome to the February 2011 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:
Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romance Blog: http://www.aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/
And please visit the website of the Infinite World of Fantasy Authors: http://www.iwofa.net/
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. And search the Kindle store on Amazon.com for Kindle editions of numerous novels and stories by me.
The March issue of RT BOOK CLUB gives ROGUE MAGESS 4 Stars! They say:
"The fantastical elements of the story are refreshing, and the magical worlds are much more exciting than just another run-of-the-mill fantasy tale."
In January Janet Lane Walters interviewed me on her blog, the Eclectic Writer:
The excerpt below comes from the beginning of "After Birth," a free horror story in the "Goodies" section of my website (originally published in the long-defunct zine MOONLETTERS). It features a Navy wife, whose husband is deployed, left alone with a newborn baby in the era before cell phones and e-mail.
This month I'm interviewing Danielle Ackley-McPhail, editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthologies, of which Volume 3 is a finalist in EPIC's e-book competition this year.
Interview with Danielle Ackley-McPhail:
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
It was never a conscious thing in the beginning. I was always a voracious reader, which led to creative thinking, particularly as I used to continue my favorite novels in my head once I'd finished them. Thanks to reading in such quantity at an early age my English skills were always highly developed, which meant I was shunted to the gifted classes where creativity was more deeply explored and encouraged. Whether it was fiction or nonfiction, I always did well on my English assignments and that transitioned into writing poetry first, with the occasional short story. It wasn't until I grew older and more focused that fiction took the forefront, and it wasn't until I graduated and got my first job that I actually started writing seriously. I've mentioned this in interviews before, but I was distressed that I had stopped writing with any frequency once I entered the "real" world and became an "adult" (You can all stop laughing now.) At that point I actively pursued writing fiction and thanks to my volunteer work with The Amazing Instant Novelist boards on AOL, I ended up writing my first novel
and it only took me three years! Also thanks to AOL (this time the free website they offered their members) I even found a publisher for that novel
or rather he found me. I've been obsessing ever since. I do other things besides write
but it's usually related in some way to the books even when I do.
2. What genres do you write in?
I don't limit myself to particular genres as I like to explore different possibilities. Mostly I let the idea guide me, which means I have written epic fantasy, urban fantasy, science horror, science fantasy, lovecraftian horror, romance, and even western steampunk. About the only thing I don't write is erotica and mystery. The first it bores me to write, and the second I just can't manage because I always give away too many details ;). I am primarily focus on myth-based fantasy and military science fiction. Though I bounce around I am best known for my urban fantasy, but ironically I have a better sales record with my science fiction. In fact, I have sold every single science fiction story I've ever written
I so wish I could say the same for my fantasy, of which I have considerably more laying around ;)
3. Do you outline, "wing it," or something in between?
most definitely wing it. In fact, author Stella Price once called me a "pantser" on a panel once, which I gather means I write by the seat of my pants. I have tried outlines but something in me just resists that kind of set structure. I can kind of write the outline, but I can never manage to follow it. Either I lose interest in the project, or I diverge so radically that the outline is useless. Part of the reason for this is that I am continually sparking ideas off of things I've written or off research I've done in relation to a particular project and so what I write morphs constantly by the time I reach the end.
4. Please tell us about the Bad-Ass Faeries series; for instance, how did it originate, and in what way are the characters different from typical faeries?
At the time we came up with the idea for this anthology you didn't hear a lot about tough faeries, though the mythology is absolutely filled with them
mischievous at best, malevolent at worst. The legends are filled with warriors and battles and generally nasty pieces of business. However, most of us forget about this in light of pop culture and little-girl faerie wings attached to princess dresses. Bad-Ass faeries have been around a long time, they've never gone away and we by no means "created" them
we just bluntly called them what they were ;) The idea was inspired by the artwork of Ruth Lampi, who at the time was an art student. I had met her at a convention in upstate New York, Albacon. She came up to me at the event and showed me her pencil sketches of warrior faeries. It took over a year before we actually came up from the idea for the anthology, but that initial meeting is where it all started. We like to think that our faeries are actually more like the typical faeries
or most of them; we've just conceptualized them in the modern day. To go with the anthology theme we had our contributors place their faeries in roles most of us would already consider bad-ass to predispose the reader toward that realization. See, the thing about faeries throughout mythology is they often adapt to their environment, so we wanted to explore how they would change with the times. We like to think we've done a good job; the awards we've won seem to support that fact. In either case, it is a blast so as long as people keep looking for the next volume, we'll keep giving it to them!
5. Do the fae in YESTERDAY'S DREAMS differ from those in the Bad-Ass Faeries universe? I
n appearance and lifestyle they are very different, but in attitude
well, let's just say that I could quite easily write a story for the BAF anthologies set in my Eternal Cycle universe and it would fit right in. I would say that the major difference between the fae from Yesterday's Dreams and the anthologies is that YD is based on Irish mythology so it is very specific and I deal mostly with the Sidhe, with only the occasional mention of the other types of fae. In the Bad-Ass Faeries series my stories are about biker faeries that are human-sized and mostly grew out of my own imagination completely. They have wings of a sort, though not the type that would allow them to fly, and their hierarchy is very different. In both series my good fae are mostly warriors and protectors, though there are malevolent sorts as well. Just like us, though, they run the gambit of personality types
so not every bad-ass is a faerie, and not every faerie is a bad-ass, but it's safer not to piss any of them off ;)
6. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?
This is likely a nonfiction book about writing. It is called The Literary Handyman and it is a collection of my past writing columns, with some new content specific to the book. It will be published by Dark Quest Books likely sometime next year and it has an introduction by Ty Drago. This is meant to be the first book in an ongoing series and rather than being a template on how to be a great writer it is more a series of articles based on my sixteen years in the industry. Things I have learned or advice I have been given. The thing I really like about this book is that it is both conversational and funny, but at the same time it is packed with information I learned by working in publishing as well as in my time as a published author.
7. What are you working on now?
Oh my. Everyone always asks this and I just don't know where to start. As I mentioned, I have one non-fiction writing guideThe Literary Handymanwaiting for a cover and a print schedule, I have one non-fiction writing guideThe Elements of Fantasy: Magicthat I have to finish. I have four novels in various stages of incomplete: Kantasi (an unconventional vampire novel), Today's Promise (the last book in the Eternal Cycle series), The Redcaps' Queen (sequel to the Halfling's Court) and a military science fiction novel called Daire's Devils. I in all honesty can't tell you when any of those will see print
or even see the words "The End". I'm working on it, but anthology projects keep interrupting. Right now I am working on Bad-Ass Faeries 4: It's Elemental, In An Iron Cage: The Magic of Steampunk, Eternal Flame (Legends of a New Age Book Two), By Other Means (Defending The Future Book Three) and No Man's Land (Defending The Future Book Four). Occasionally I eat, but only if my husband brings it to the computer.
8. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don't give up, because if you do you have already failed. And don't expect to get rich. It would be nice, it is even to some extent possible, but if you set that as your ultimate goal you are more likely to be disappointed and frustrated before you ever get there. Read, write, and join a critique group, that is the best way to polish your craft that will make the getting rich part slightly more likely. And when all is said and done
do it because you love it.
9. What's your website URL? I have two. They are www.sidhenadaire.com
Do you have a blog? As for blogs
I have three! http://damcphail.livejournal.comhttp://damcphail.livejournal.comhttp://damcphail.livejournal.com http://badassfaeries.livejournal.comhttp://badassfaeries.livejournal.comhttp://badassfaeries.livejournal.com
, and http://lit_handyman.livejournal.com
Some Books I've Been Reading:
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE GARDEN: A DARK HISTORY OF FAIRIES, HOBGOBLINS, AND OTHER TROUBLESOME THINGS, by Diane Purkiss. I found this exhaustive, obviously deeply researched history of fairies in folklore and popular culture fascinating. Purkiss has a captivating style and convincingly presents ample evidence for the "darkness" of fairies. After an introduction refuting some of the common misconceptions about fairies, she explores beliefs in similar creatures in the ancient world, offering arguments that such beings as lamiae and nymphs should be considered the precursors and classical equivalents of fairies. Here and in the section on medieval folklore, she discusses the blurred boundaries between the realm of Faery and the world of the dead, and throughout the book she harks back to the concept that fairies "are" the dead, seen from a particular angle. After the long, in-depth exploration of fairies in medieval legend and literature, Purkiss follows them and their kin through one era after another, including witch trials, the Enlightenment, the Romantic movement, the Victorian period, and of course the twentieth century. Even though they may be alluring, fairies are almost always dangerous until some of them become domesticated and commercialized in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I found the lore of changelings and fairy abductions especially intriguing. The last chapter, however, strikes me as weaker than the rest of the book, since Purkiss draws far-fetched analogies between fairies and the Dark Lords of STAR WARS, Internet "trolls," Elvis sightings, Princess Diana, andless far-fetchedvampires. (As the author cites earlier, many fairies do prey on human victims, and the lamiae, which she associates with the fae, are customarily identified as a species of vampire.) She disparages Marion Zimmer Bradley's MISTS OF AVALON (one of my favorite novels of all time) and contemptuously dismisses the entire realm of sword and sorcery, a sure sign of a critic who condemns a genre without knowing much about it. In every other chapter, though, this book is packed with information and connections the reader may never have considered before.
INSIDE OF A DOG: WHAT DOGS SEE, SMELL, AND KNOW, by Alexandra Horowitz. Extensively researched and documented and thoroughly indexed, this book explores the "umwelt" of dogs, their sensory and mental world. The author discusses how dogs are like and unlike wolves, how they came to be domesticated, how canine senses work (especially smell, of course), dog communication (verbal and nonverbal), and our pets' relations to us. What does it feel like to be a dog? Are they conscious in the same sense we are? Do they have a sense of time? Do their vocalizations and actions mean what we assume they mean? Horowitz has a lively, readable style and deploys relevant anecdotes about her own dog throughout the text. The dog-loving reader will find a wealth of information, entertainment, and thought-provoking speculation.
YOUR FLYING CAR AWAITS, by Paul Milo. This 2009 book surveys predictions about life in the late twentieth century to the present that have proved wildly wrong. Biological, medical, technological, social, political, and global-trend prophecies are compared to what actually developed and where we are now. We don't have self-cleaning houses, colonies on the moon or cities in space stations, immortality, pills that provide total nutrition (thank goodnesspeople who thought up that one obviously had no idea of the importance of fiber), intelligent robots, unlimited free energy, the demise of the internal combustion engine, or any of the various utopian societies imagined by visionaries such as B. F. Skinner. (Thank goodness for not living in a Skinnerian Walden Two, also.) On the other hand, we don't live on a planet devastated by any of the predicted doomsday scenarios, either. As for the flying car, workable models do exist, but at prices no ordinary person could afford. And would you really want highway traffic congestion transferred into three dimensions? The author does drop the ball on a couple of points: In the realm of dentistry, a tooth sealant that prevents cavities already exists; thanks to that technology, our youngest son has never had a filling. In discussing failed predictions of video telephones, Milo doesn't even mention Skype. On the positive side, he concludes with a chapter giving credit to futurists whose predictions did come true. A fun and informative book.
Excerpt from "After Birth":
First she ran over the forsythia bush.
The lightweight Japanese compact hit a frozen patch at the foot of the driveway and spun into a skid. Jane clutched the wheel and jammed on the brake, forgetting whatever she knew about driving on ice. The car slid at right angles to the driveway. In the passenger seat, the baby wailed. Jane heard herself scream. The car plowed into the bush and lurched to a halt.
Dizzy with the pounding of blood in her temples, she shifted into "park," fumbled at the key, and pumped the accelerator. Nothing but the futile grind of the ignition. Stalled. *Doesn't matter, I'm not about to back up and try again. Thank God we made it home, anyway.* The shriek of the wind and Danny's cries assaulted her ears. Her hands still shook as she leaned over to unbuckle him from the car seat.
She hugged him to her breast until he subsided into gasping whimpers, while she drew shuddering gulps of breath. One-handed, she groped in her purse for the house key. When she opened the driver's door, snow lashed her in the face. *And I thought they never had blizzards in Norfolk. Just tame flurries.*
She leaned on the car, contemplating the length of sidewalk that loomed between her and the porch. Her eyes shifted to the forsythia, a winter-bare tangle of branches. The impact had bent or broken at least half of them. *The landlord won't like this.* She felt a hysterical giggle bubbling up and choked it down.
With booted feet splayed, she clomped to the porch and up the two steps, clinging to the rail with one hand and the baby with the other. Her eyes stung, and Danny was crying again. "Take it easy, kid, we're almost there."
A ripple of movement inside the storm door caught her eye. An undulating smear of red.
"Who's there?" Her heart seized up in momentary panic.
The next instant, the flash of color vanished. A blurred outline of her own face stared back at her from the glass. *Just a reflection, calm down!*
She turned her key in the lock and edged inside, slamming the door against the wind. The stuffy warmth made her cheeks tingle painfully.
She skirted a cardboard box marked "videotapes and CDs" to deposit Danny in the infant swing in a corner of the living room. When she wound up the swing, the motion quieted him. Much as she yearned to collapse on the couch, she knew she'd better get the car unloaded before the lull ended.
Lugging groceries and mail into the house took three trips. Twice she slipped on the wet snow and barely kept from falling. The baby, slumped sideways, scarcely able to hold his head up, resumed crying long before she was done.
"Just a minute, sweetie, I'll be right there," she called from the kitchen. *Yeah, like he can understand me.* Her breasts ached, the nipples prickling as milk leaked out. She shoved perishables into the refrigerator, leaving the other items in their bags on the counter. She was lucky to have made the commissary run in time; the weather forecast she'd heard on the way home predicted several days of below-freezing temperatures. *What you see is what you get. Nobody here but us hardy pioneers.* In a way, having only herself to feed simplified matters. *But if Tim were here, he could shop for me.*
She wiped away sudden tears of self-pity and trudged into the living room. Picking up the baby, she glimpsed her own wet footprints on the carpet. *Should've taken the boots off. One more cleaning job that won't get done.* The house smelled like diapers and sour milk.
She lowered herself into the nest of cushions at the corner of the couch, peeled off the soaked boots, pulled up her sweatshirt, and unhooked a bra flap. When Danny's gums clamped around the nipple, Jane stifled a gasp. *How long is this going to last, anyway?*
-end of excerpt-
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"Beast" wishes until next time
Margaret L. Carter