Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 80 (May 2012)
- Welcome to the May 2012 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. Search "Margaret Carter":
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):
My erotic paranormal romance novella "Wizard's Trap" has received an excellent review from Sensual Reads:
They say, "The sex between Laurel and Gil is scorching hot, but the cost may be too much for Laurel. Ms. Carter keeps the suspense high as Laurel fights for Gil's existence."
An excerpt from "Wizard's Trap," whose heroine finds the journal of a wizard presumed dead but actually banished to the astral plane, is below.
From May 13 through 19 I'll be featured on the "Fifty Authors from Fifty States" blog here:
This month I'm interviewing paranormal romance author Taryn Blackthorne.
Interview with Taryn Blackthorne:
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
I've always been a story teller. I can remember putting on plays as a little kid for my babysitter after school. For me, it was a natural transition from telling the stories orally, to writing them down. The only thing that stopped me writing early on was the fact I didn't know how!
2. What genres do you write in?
I write in paranormal or urban fantasy genres, mostly. But there's a sci-fi fic on my radar after I finish up my current project and I've got a romantic suspense on my hard drive that's been nagging at me to take another look at it.
3. Do you outline, "wing it," or something in between?
You've heard of pantsers, you've heard of plotters, I'm a Plontser. I have to know some of my fencepost scenes before I start my first draft, but I can punt with six index cards. Of course, there's massive edits and rewrites the less pre-planning I do. But I've also had stories that changed very little between one draft and the next no matter what I did before I started writing it. Mostly, I like to have my characters' world as we open, the event that changes it, the things-get-worse moment, the romantic interest, one secret, one heroic moment and the climax sorta planned before I get started.
4. What's your favorite supernatural creature and why?
Currently, werewolves. They burn calories like crazy, don't sparkle and have an extended life span with anger management classes.
5. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?
I'm finishing up edits on a paranormal romance called Raven's Blood. On the verge of losing her office drone job, Rhiannon's world is turned upside down as she is dragged into a supernatural conflict that's been bubbling under the surface of our world for centuries. And she just might be the catalyst for the coming war.
6. What are you working on now?
After Raven's Blood, there's a sci fi that's been clawing it's way to get out. I've got a rough outline, done some research and I'll be punting soon
7. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
For every book on craft you read, write a novel, short story or novella of your own. Crafting books can help, but nothing teaches like experience. You'll never be `ready' to write a book until you sit down and write the book. Every new work teaches you something about your process. Nobody can tell you what works for you. Just try to write every day and keep reading.
8. What's your website URL? Do you have a blog? Where else can we find you on the web?
You can come visit me at www.tarynblackthorne.comwww.tarynblackthorne.comwww.tarynblackthorne.comwww.tarynblackthorne.comwww.tarynblackthorne.comwww.tarynblackthorne.comwww.tarynblackthorne.comwww.tarynblackthorne.com , or my blog at www.tarynblackthorne.blogspot.com
Check my website for Twitter and Facebook too!
Some Books I've Read Lately:
DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY, by P. D. James. Though I've never read any of P. D. James's contemporary mysteries, of course I know of her reputation. I knew such a distinguished writer would have to do an excellent job with a sequel to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. This novel combines nearly pitch-perfect Jane Austen pastiche with a murder mystery highlighting the country society and legal system of Regency England. Elizabeth and Darcy, happily married for several years, have two small children. Elizabeth's sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby. On the eve of the great annual ball at Pemberley, Darcy's estate, Elizabeth's sister Lydia, married to the wastrel Wickham (now having resigned from the Army), shows up on Darcy and Elizabeth's doorstep in hysterics. Wickham and a friend of his quarreled and rushed into the woods, after which gunshots were heard. A search party led by Darcy finds Wickham bent over his friend's dead body, babbling what sounds like a confession of murder. As the investigation unfolds, other suspects emerge, of course, and Darcy's cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam (who is courting Darcy's sister), appears to be acting suspiciously. The main characters behave in harmony with their personalities as established in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, the plot develops intriguing complications with well-drawn secondary characters, and the solution turns out both surprising and plausible. In retrospect, hints were sprinkled throughout the story. This book would work best for readers who are already admirers of Jane Austen, however, for James imitates the leisurely, formal style of the original period, with long expository passages of backstory seldom found in contemporary fiction. I noticed only one false note, the jarring use of the term "lifestyle," first recorded (according to the dictionary) in the 1930s; it wasn't even common in my own youth. Tsk, such a highly literate author should know better.
AS ONE DEVIL TO ANOTHER, by Richard Platt. Among homages to THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, this is definitely one of the best I've read. Platt uses the title C. S. Lewis originally intended for SCREWTAPE, and Platt's epistolary narrative is a sort of sequel to Lewis's, with allusions to Screwtape (unnamed but obviously identifiable) and his unfortunate nephew. AS ONE DEVIL TO ANOTHER even includes an account of the disastrous evening (from the satanic viewpoint) when Lewis and Tolkien discussed the Incarnation at Addison's Walk in Oxford, spoken of in Hell, with a shudder of revulsion, only as That Place. Unlike some of the other Screwtapian novels on the market, this one steers clear of sectarian preoccupations. Senior demon Slashreap's missives to his nephew Scardagger deal with broad issues related to twenty-first century Western culture and use these instructional points to explore timeless Christian problems such as spiritual pride and the purpose of suffering (from the diabolical perspective, of course). Platt's story differs from Lewis's and all the other pastiches I've seen in focusing on a female "client" (object of the apprentice tempter's efforts). She's a young graduate student in English literature with academic aspirations. I disagree with some of Platt's pronouncements on academia, political correctness, modern art, television, and the Internet (surely the latter two can often promote positive values, but of course Slashreap and his colleagues would hesitate to acknowledge that facet of modern culture, and as Platt echoes Lewis as saying, the Devil is a liar, and there is wishful thinking in Hell as well as on Earth). Nevertheless, his writing is consistently witty and incisive. The young woman's spiritual journey brings her into contact with secondary characters, such as an elderly aunt who mentors her and an open-minded scientist of her own age, who help to weave a story around Scardagger's attempts to corrupt her. Unlike Lewis's book, Platt's gives us firsthand glimpses of Angels of Light defending people against diabolical attacks. SCREWTAPE fans won't want to miss this polished, thoughtful work.
THE HOUND OF THE D'URBERVILLES, by Kim Newman. I consider Newman's ANNO-DRACULA one of the best vampire novels of the twentieth century. He knows his Victorians, real and fictional. Between them, ANNO-DRACULA and its sequel BLOODY RED BARON feature or at least allude to almost every historical or literary Victorian or early twentieth-century character you could think of. The connected group of novellas in THE HOUND OF THE D'URBERVILLES, combining into a loosely structured novel, bestows similar intertextual treatment on Professor Moriarty and Colonel Moran, the arch-villains of the Sherlock Holmes series. I recognized some of the allusions easily; for others, I was grateful for the endnotes. As a fan of THE PRISONER OF ZENDA, I was delighted to encounter Rupert of Henzau. An introduction by a female history professor privileged to read Moran's manuscript after the collapse of a venerable but crooked banking firm frames the novel, with notes purportedly also written by her. Each story bears a title reminiscent of a Holmes adventure: "A Volume in Vermilion, " "A Shambles in Belgravia," "The Red Planet League," "The Hound of the D'Urbervilles," "The Adventure of the Six Maledictions," "The Greek Invertebrate," and "The Problem of the Final Adventure." Deliciously amusing, especially "The Red Planet League," in which Moriarty constructs a hoax anticipatory of H. G. Wells's WAR OF THE WORLDS and "The Crystal Egg" to disgrace his academic rival, the Astronomer Royal. Sherlock Holmes appears onstage only in the final story, though there are other brief mentions of him (not by name). Irene Adler, on the other hand, features as a prominent secondary character. Not surprisingly, Moran's account of the final showdown between Holmes and Moriarty differs in critical points from the canonical version. Moran himself is an obscene, bloodthirsty, racist but intelligent brute with just enough self-insight to make him interesting, and Newman gives us glimpses of the backstory that molded Moran's character. The high body count of violent death isn't explicitly gory, and no characters are sympathetic enough to make the reader feel troubled by their fates. The book reads as a thrilling series of puzzles for fans of Sherlock Holmes and other literature of the period.
DISCORD'S APPLE, by Carrie Vaughn. This 2010 novel by the creator of Kitty Norville, werewolf radio host, has a different tone from that series but an equally strong heroine. Evie Walker returns home to a small Colorado town to visit her widowed, dying father. In the background of her story looms a near-future, terrorism-obsessed America more dystopic than ours, with rationing, ubiquitous checkpoints, and a requirement for everyone to carry identity documents. On the international scene, alliances and threats of war shift so rapidly the average citizen can't keep up. Evie writes scripts for a comic book, and she and her artist collaborator have trouble ensuring that their stories don't contradict current events. In her family's house Evie explores a basement room she has never been allowed to enter. The Storeroom contains many strange items whose significance she gradually comes to understand as her father grows weaker. For thousands of years, her ancestors have guarded treasures such as the Golden Fleece, Excalibur, glass slippersand the apple that started the Trojan War. The guardian has the job of handing over artifacts to their rightful owners on request and protecting the Storeroom from illicit intruders. The goddess Hera, who wants the apple, recruits demigods and magical adepts to help her steal it. Evie makes an alliance with an enigmatic stranger named Alex, who, unknown to her, is an immortal survivor of the Trojan War. Robin Goodfellow, Merlin, Arthur, Prometheus, and other legendary characters appear on the scene to support or oppose Hera's scheme to plunge the world into chaos. Evie draws strength from the stories she creates even as she contrasts her own limitations with her heroine's larger-than-life abilities. An easy character to empathize with, she struggles to come to terms with her father's illness and the mythic burden she must reluctantly take up. The novel comes to a cataclysmic but satisfying conclusion. Although the story is just the right length and shape, I enjoyed reading about Evie and Alex so much I was sorry to see it end.
Excerpt from `Wizard's Trap":
Gil Vincenzo's journal. He'd inscribed his name on the inside front cover. Maybe she could solve the mystery after all.
"I really should hand it over to the police." Or give it to the relative who'd rented her the house.
The pages flapped as if a high wind had swept over them.
"So you don't want me to do that?"
The pages fluttered again.
"I guess reading a little bit couldn't hurt." She settled into the office chair and turned to the first page, dated over a year earlier, about three months before Gil's disappearance.
The first entry began, *Today the Liber Viae Noctis arrived. Fortunately the dealer I ordered it from had no idea of its true value. I'd have gladly paid ten times the price to keep it away from idiots like Elwood Braun. I've decided to record this just in case I'm not around and somebody else gets hold of the Liber.*
Reading on, Laurel soon discovered that the *Liber Vitae Noctis* was an antique tome, a diabolical grimoire from the fifteenth century. Gil wrote as if he seriously believed in its powers. After experimenting with a few of the formulas, he wrote, *No more of this. Too dangerous. I was right the first time. Nobody can be allowed to use the incantations in that book.*
Laurel shook her head. Either Gil had concocted a hoaxagainst whom, with the journal hidden in the desk?he'd been writing a novel or he'd been a nutcase who believed in black magic. She hated to consider the last possibility since he'd always projected the image of a clear-headed scholar with a balance of open-mindedness and skepticism.
She skimmed over several pages of occult speculation and read on. *Braun contacted me again about buying the grimoire. He's the last person I'd let near it. I'll have to find a secure hiding place for it. I'm not crazy enough to use the thing myself. Have to make sure nobody else does.*
The next entry recorded an attack by this Elwood Braun, whoever he was. A rival magician as far as Laurel could tell. *I managed to drive him off but I know he'll be back. I've hidden the book under heavy wards, where he can't find it. There's no guarantee I'll be able to fight him off next time. I'm going to take other precautions.*
Did that hypothetical fight account for the bloodstains mentioned in the news articles? Her stomach turned queasy at the thought. She almost closed the journal. The covers emphatically thumped open.
"Okay, okay, I'm reading."
Last of all, five days before his disappearance, Gil had written, *In case something happens to me, I've given Cousin Rob my power of attorney. No chance he'll embezzle from my accounts if I'm gone for a while. He's as honest as a brick and just about as imaginative. The idea that I've been defeated in battle with an evil sorcerer would never cross his mind, so whatever happens, I won't have to worry that he'll do anything to attract the kind of paranormal attention I don't want. I left instructions to put my library and other personal stuff in storage and the Liber will be safe where I stashed it. Let it stay there forever and good riddance.*
Laurel flipped the remaining blank pages, hoping for more notes. Nothing else. "Great, now I can tell the cops Gil was murdered by an evil sorcerer. And then what? The killer made the body vanish? Like they'll believe that any more than I do." She sighed. If it hadn't been for Kevin, she felt sparks could have ignited between her and Gil. Too bad this proof of the man's flaky view of the universe had popped up to ruin her fantasy image of him.
She reread the final entry. Assuming Elwood Braun shared that viewpoint, he might have actually attacked Gil for the spell book. That theory didn't explain where the body had gone, unless the killer had dragged it out for disposal without attracting any attention. That scenario seemed unlikely considering how close together houses stood in this part of town, without much more than the width of a driveway between adjoining neighbors. She was about to close the diary when another electric current tingled through her hands and up her arms. She glanced at the next page, the one that had been blank seconds earlier and gasped.
Now it held writing in the same black ink. *Hello, Laurel.*
Springing to her feet, she dropped the book. "No way!"
Its covers clapped in a staccato rhythm that broadcast impatience. She sat on the rug and cautiously picked up the journal. It fell open in her lap to the page with the new sentence. Before her eyes, another appeared, letter by letter. *Don't panic, Laurel. I need your help.*
She opened and shut her mouth a couple of times before she could force words out. "Why shouldn't I panic? I'm obviously losing my mind. And how do you know who I am?"
*Because I've been watching you since you moved in. Surely you don't think I could have forgotten all those times we met at the Rising Moon.*
"Either I'm crazy or I'm reading messages from a ghost. I can't decide which sounds worse." Maybe I should invite the priest from Mom's church to perform an exorcism.
The invisible presence scrawled in capital letters, I AM NOT A GHOST.
-end of excerpt-
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"Beast" wishes until next time
Margaret L. Carter