Welcome to 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" vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the Vampires:
Also for vampire fans, the long-awaited fourth issue of the zine GOOD
GUYS WEAR FANGS, featuring media-related and original universe fiction
about sympathetic vampires, has at last been published. It is sold at
www.neonrainbowpress.com and includes two long-unavailable stories by
me, reprinted from the distant past when dinosaurs roamed the Earth
and fanzines were mimeographed.
This newsletter will appear roughly once a month and contain excerpts
from my fiction, news of my upcoming publications, comments on books
I've read recently, and other miscellaneous tidbits. This month
(October) Ellora's Cave (www.ellorascave.com) is releasing a
shapeshifter anthology, TRANSFORMATIONS, which includes a kitsune tale
by me, "Fox Fire." They are also publishing a trade paperback, MAIDEN
FLIGHTS, combining two of my previously e-published stories, "Dragon's
Tribute" and "Virgin Blood."
Some books I've read lately:
EVERYTHING BAD IS GOOD FOR YOU, by Steven Johnson. A provocative
argument in favor of disdained popular culture phenomena such as video
games and television. Johnson makes a convincing case that the
complexity of modern games and TV shows is actually making the younger
generation smarter. One interesting point is that new media tend to be
judged unfairly as if they were just inferior versions of old media.
His witty parody of how books might be viewed with alarm if they were
a new invention, and video games had been around for centuries, is not
to be missed. He has an interesting blog at www.stevenberlinjohnson.com.
HER SMOKE ROSE UP FOREVER, by James Tiptree, Jr., a story collection
from the Science Fiction Book Club. Reading "The Girl Who Was Plugged
In," "The Women Men Don't See," and "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?",
I have trouble imagining that anyone could have failed to guess that
"James Tiptree" was female. Of course, that's easy to say with
hindsight. I noticed a theme running through her much of her work that
resonates strongly with the "misfit" feelings of many people who have
grown up with a love of fantasy and science fictionthe yearning for a
true home that, whatever or wherever it might be, is by definition
"not here." We can see this recurring motif in such stories as "The
Women Men Don't See," "We Who Stole the Dream," "Your Faces, O My
Sisters! Your Faces Filled of Light!", and "Beam Us Home" (not in this
collection). I find the last two absolutely heartbreaking.
THE PROTECTOR'S WAR, by S. M. Stirling, sequel to DIES THE FIRE, a
compelling exploration of the struggle to survive and rebuild after a
mysterious (and almost certainly intelligent and intentional) force
causes all electronics and explosives to stop functioning permanently.
Stirling's alternate histories are always fascinating and ingeniously
conceived; so is this alternate present. Coincidentally, the story
uncannily echoes, on a global scale, the temporary and local breakdown
of modern urban infrastructure we recently saw in the path of
Now, here's a teaser from my novelette "Demon's Fall," an erotic
paranormal romance about a repentant demon in the recently published
anthology ELLORA'S CAVEMEN: LEGENDARY TAILS II, from Ellora's Cave
(www.ellorascave.com),which received a four and a half star review in
the November ROMANTIC TIMES BOOK CLUB magazine:
"Demon's Fall": Copyright 2005 by Margaret L. Carter
Another smell intruded, beer and stale sweat. The thin, unshaven man
who'd been lingering in the parking lot sidled up to Karl and Erin as
they started toward Erin's car. Karl congratulated himself on timing
their exit well. It wouldn't have done for the attack to occur inside
the homeless shelter, where someone on the midnight-to-eight shift
might have interfered with his heroics.
Erin paused at the sight of the scrawny man, who tried to claim a bed
at least four nights a week and had to be turned away an average of
half the time. His weathered skin and bird's nest of gray-streaked
hair made him look older than his probable fifty years. "Mr. Weiss,
you know the rules." Karl read a suppressed sigh of exasperation in
her mind. She folded her arms and continued in a sympathetic but firm
tone. "You know the shelter closes for the night at nine, and you know
you're not allowed if you've been drinking, anyway."
"Aw, come on, Ms. Collier, can't you give me a break for once?"
"You have to give yourself one first. Come back tomorrow afternoon,
and we can talk about getting you into rehab again." She kept walking.
Not for the first time, Karl wondered how she could maintain such a
good-humored tone. It wasn't faked, either. Underneath the layer of
impatience and fatigue, she felt sincere compassion for this worthless
specimen. Given permission, Karl would have stopped the man's
heartbeat without a second thought. But killing human beings outright
was one thing his side wasn't allowed to do, a restriction that
baffled him. Didn't millions of them die every year through disease
and natural disasters? Who'd miss a few more?
Weiss shuffled in front of them to block the way to the car. "Then
gimme money for a motel, like you did that pregnant kid." His tone
shifted from whiney to surly.
"Sorry, I can't do that. It's warm out tonight. You won't freeze.
We'll talk tomorrow afternoon."
Karl marveled at the lack of fear in her voice. No wonder he hadn't
yet been able to fulfill his mission of persuading her to quit her job
on the shelter's staff. She was insane, more so than the rest of these
hairless bipeds. At least she had sense enough to realize Weiss,
unlike the girl, would squander any cash she gave him on a bottle
rather than a room.
When Erin stepped sideways to walk around him, the drunk made a grab
for her arm. "Don't blow me off, lady."
Karl's hand lashed out and slammed down on Weiss's forearm in a sharp
chopping motion. With a wordless snarl, Weiss stumbled backward. Karl
smelled the miasma of demon-spawned anger clouding whatever rational
thought processes the man had left. Not true possession, but unnatural
influence, as Karl had expected. Weiss pulled out a pocket knife and
unfolded it with tremulous fingers.
Erin emitted a spike of fear, quickly suppressed. When Weiss jabbed
the blade in the air and snatched at her purse, though, she didn't
retreat. Recognizing his chance, Karl leaped between Erin and the
attacker. Instead of letting Karl shelter her behind him, to his
astonishment, she shoved him out of the way.
"No, he won't hurt me. Mr. Weiss, give me that knife." She held out
The ploy might have worked if the man's brain hadn't been clogged with
more than alcohol. After a shocked pause, he lunged at her again.
This time Karl didn't give her a chance to interfere. He slapped the
knife out of Weiss's hand to clatter onto the pavement, knocked him
face down, and knelt in the middle of his back. "Erin, call the police."
"No, Karl." Now her voice trembled, and he scented fear on her skin.
"Another arrest record won't do him any good. Take the knife and let
"Have you lost your mind? He'll just come after you again." Karl
leaned his weight harder on Weiss, who thrashed under him and
alternately groaned and cursed.
"He won't do that when he sobers up. Please, I've got more experience
with this kind of thing than you have."
"That's why you jumped in front of a weapon? Your psychology degree
makes you invulnerable?" Although the encounter had ended just the way
Karl had planned, he couldn't help feeling outraged at the way Erin
had thrown herself into danger and still exhibited sympathy for this
halfwit who might have sliced up both of them. With a baffled shake of
his head, he stood up to let Weiss scramble to his feet. "You heard
Ms. Collier. Get moving."
The demonic influence seeped away from Weiss's brain, leaving him
muddled and frightened. He flung a confused glance at each of them in
turn, then shambled into the darkness. Karl picked up the weapon and
folded the blade. He could still hardly believe Erin had tried to
shield him as if he were the one in danger.
When she took a step toward him, though, he noticed her legs quivering
with the aftershock of the encounter. He dropped the knife into a side
pocket, closed the distance between them in a couple of strides, and
drew her into his arms. Her head rested on his chest, her cheek
pressed to the front of his shirt. The strategic moment had arrived.
Surely this time she'd listen to his rationale for resigning from the
shelter job, even if he had to seduce her over to his viewpoint, a
prospect he anticipated with pleasure as well as curiosity.
-end of excerpt-
Two fiction-related newsletters you might enjoy:
Jewels of the Quill, a writers' group I belong to:
Moonlight Fantasy, devoted to erotic romance:
Amber Quill Press: www.amberquill.com
Ellora's Cave: www.ellorascave.com
Hard Shell Word Factory: www.hardshell.com
"Beast" wishes until next time
Margaret L. Carter