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Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 87 (December 2012)

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  • MargaretC
    Welcome to the December 2012 issue of my newsletter, “News from the Crypt,” and please visit Carter s Crypt (www.margaretlcarter.com), devoted to my
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 2012
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      Welcome to the December 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:
      www.simegen.com/reviews/vampires/vamprelm.htm

      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/

      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, e-mail me to request the desired issue, and I’ll send you a free PDF of it. Find information about the contents of each issue on this page of my website:

      http://www.margaretlcarter.com/old_website/vampcrypt.php

      This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Margaret-L-Carter/212888768731562

      As I mentioned in my recent e-mail, Fictionwise is closing down this month. Here’s my page in Barnes and Noble’s Nook store. These items include some of the short stories from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s anthologies that used to be sold on Fictionwise:
      http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/margaret-l-carter?store=ebook&keyword=margaret+l+carter

      And the MZB estate, working really fast, has already made the stories available for Kindle. My links are at the top of the page:
      http://www.mzbworks.com/kindle.htm

      Here’s the full list of my Kindle books on Amazon. (The final page, however, includes some Ellora’s Cave anthologies in which I don’t have stories):
      http://tinyurl.com/7ypz23e

      And now there’s a shortcut URL to my author page on Amazon:
      http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretlcarter

      I have a short, humorous fantasy tale, “Dusting Pixie,” in the quarterly issue of SORCEROUS SIGNALS that was posted in November. The magazine is free to readers but does accept donations. If you enjoy the story, please “Like” it:
      http://www.sorceroussignals.com/Pixie.html

      The opening scene appears below.

      “Calling Back Love” has its first review up. Sizzling Hot Books calls it “a fast paced short story that will touch your heart”:

      http://www.sizzlinghotbooks.net/2012/11/calling-back-love-by-margaret-l-carter.html?zx=eb4f44d87c760d6d

      Have I mentioned that my Lovecraftian erotic romance novella “Song from the Abyss” is now available in trade paperback for those who prefer paper to electronic? It’s in the anthology LOVE NOTES, which has a beautiful cover:

      http://www.jasminejade.com/p-10352-love-notes.aspx

      This time I have an interview with multi-genre author Berengaria Brown, as well as a short teaser from one of her novels.

      Wishing you all a joyful Yule, Solstice, Christmas, Winterfest, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa!

      *****

      Interview with Berengaria Brown:

      1. What inspired you to begin writing?
      I was a reader long before I was a writer. One day I had nothing to read and decided to write a story. When it was finished I still had nothing to read so I wrote another one, and another one. The rest, as they say, is history. It was less than two years from the time I began writing until my first book was published. Books and reading were in my blood. I think writing was merely the next step.


      2. What genres do you write in?
      Just about everything: contemporary, paranormal, futuristic, medieval and Regency historical, menage, gay, lesbian, and MF.

      3. Do you outline, "wing it," or something in between?
      I’m a mixture. I don’t start writing until the characters are clear in my head, and I have a defined start and ending, with some points I wish to hit on the way. The rest is pantsing.

      4. What is your favorite paranormal creature and why?
      Dragons, because they’re big, exciting, different, fun.

      5. What kind of research do you do for your Regency novels?
      There’s an enormous amount of research: the clothing, the traditions, their day to day activities, even their names have to be accurate, as well as the language they use. Every time I write one I swear I’ll never do another one, but somehow... Fortunately these days a lot of information is available online which makes checking easier than having to go down to the library in the middle of writing a scene.

      6. Please tell us about your experience with having your work released in audio format.

      One of my publishers has a policy of producing books of a certain length into audio. Several of books fit their criteria. Everything has been very professional. The narration company sends a copy of the book when it’s narrated and the author checks it just as if they were checking a print book. Both my books have been narrated very accurately.

      7. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?
      “Resort Romance” released 9 November. “Resort Romance” Blurb:
      Imogen agrees to accompany Gage and Liam to a resort for a week’s vacation and some extra hot ménage sex. The gardens are beautiful, the meals are delicious and the facilities are excellent, especially the three swimming pools. The men are delicious too, but Gage is bossy and Imogen is not going to be anyone’s sex toy.
      But the men are awfully yummy and Imogen is having a wonderful time. Until Gage makes a few autocratic decisions which remind Imogen of her manipulative father. Then Imogen has to decide whether the best orgasms of her life are worth risking potential heartbreak.


      8. What are you working on now?
      Lately the day job has been sucking all my free time, but by the time this interview is published I hope to have heard back about a submission I have in with one of my publishers.

      9. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
      Keep reading, keep writing, keep perfecting your craft.

      10. What's your website URL? Do you have a blog? Where else can we find you on the web?
      Blog: http://berengariasblog.blogspot.com/
      Website: http://berengariabrown.com/
      Friend me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.


      STORY EXCERPT from “Resort Romance”.
      “Wow, this place is huge. There are three swimming pools. Three! And one has a waterfall and a beach. And there are gardens and walks, a bridge over the water, and a cinema and a gym. Tennis courts. A golf course. We’re only here for a week. We won’t have time to try even half these things.”
      Imogen’s hazel eyes were almost popping out of her head as she looked from the map of the resort to the various areas they were walking past.
      Liam scowled. “It’s all very well for you two. I’m the fair-skinned one here. I’ll be burned to a crisp in five minutes in this sun.” He pulled his dark glasses down over his blue eyes and hunched his shoulders deeper inside his long-sleeved T-shirt.
      “I brought sunblockâ€"”
      “So did we. Lots of sunblock. Waterproof sunblock. And hats.” Gage spoke firmly. “We’ll be sensible and only stay out for half an hour at a time.”
      Imogen’s joy evaporated in an instant. God, he sounds just like my father. “No going near the water for an hour after eating. Keep your hat on at all times. No more than fifteen minutes in the sun. No talking to other children.” All I ever wanted to do was run and play on the water’s edge like the other kids!
      “Imogen!”
      With a start she came out of her reverie and looked at Gage and Liam. They had stopped in front of a cabin, the end one in a block of four, with huge bushes covered in vivid pink flowers out front of it.
      “Aren’t they wonderful!” She waved at the flowers, but the men had already opened the door and were pulling their luggage inside.
      Well, hell. It’s a good thing I decided to come away with them to test our compatibility. It looks like this relationship is not going to work, at least from my point of view. She sighed, then rolled her suitcase through the doorway behind them.

      Buy link: http://www.evernightpublishing.com/resort-romance-by-berengaria-brown/

      Berengaria Brown
      http://berengariasblog.blogspot.com/
      http://berengariabrown.com/
      Friend me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.


      *****

      Some Books I've Read Lately:

      YOU ARE NOT SO SMART, by David McRaney. Subtitled “Why you have too many friends on Facebook, why your memory is mostly fiction, and 46 other ways you’re deluding yourself,” this book debunks common beliefs about how the human mind works. We view ourselves as making well-considered decisions on the basis of rational analysis. In fact, more often than not our actions are shaped by phenomena, among others, such as events and sensations surrounding and immediately preceding the act (priming), the nearly irresistible drive to maintain habits that have gratified us in the past, especially after lengthy suppression of the habit (the extinction burst), and the pressure of group behavior and authority figures (conformity is a survival instinct). We think our beliefs are arrived at by conscious thought. Instead, they are heavily influenced by confirmation bias (seeking out facts that support beliefs we already hold), the spotlight effect (we focus on one factor in a situation and overlook the rest of the picture), the argument from ignorance (that object in the sky doesn’t look like anything recognizable, so it must be an alien spaceship), confabulation (the process of filling gaps in memory by adding plausible details that feel realâ€"why our memories are “mostly fiction”), and many other mental tricks. One could finish this book with the unsettling impression that we can’t trust our own minds on anything. The overall thesis is that the unconscious mind has much more control over our beliefs and actions than do the thought processes we’re aware of. It’s reminiscent of the remark in one of Heinlein’s novels that the conscious mind is mainly a display window for results arrived at elsewhere. McRaney writes his 48 short chapters in an incisive yet breezy style that makes them a delight to read and softens the sting of their message. We’re not nearly so smart as we think, but we shouldn’t worry, because our mental tricks keep us sane, and everybody else is equally deluded.

      DUST GIRL, by Sarah Zettel. Set in the Dust Bowl region during the Depression era, this YA novel integrates the fairy folk into America of the 1930s. Calliope (Callie) LeRoux, around thirteen or fourteen years old, lives in the decrepit, formerly luxurious hotel her mother manages. Her mother refuses to leave because she clings to the belief that Callie’s father, a black musician who disappeared before Callie’s birth, will someday return. Meanwhile, she tries to keep her daughter’s biracial background secret. Callie has a chronic cough from the constant dust. During one dust storm her mother vanishes, and she meets a mysterious man who turns out to be the Indian spirit Coyote. He gives her three wishes, one of them a cure for her illness, and tells her to seek her parents in the “golden west.” Soon afterward, she meets a teenage hobo named Jack, who dreams of traveling to California and working on a newspaper. Jack has his own grief and secrets, connected to his little sister Hannah. Intrigued by the magical events that cluster around Callie, he decides to travel with her. They run into people who aren’t what they seem, including a family of giant bugs, and get caught in the middle of a feud between the American branches of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. The Seelie folk prove to be no more “good” than their enemies. Mundane hazards such as a brutal railroad “bull” (private cop) make matters worse. Callie learns some of the truth about her parents, although she doesn’t come much closer to finding them for most of the book. This phase of her journey reaches its climax in a pocket of Faerie at a dance marathon in the Fairyland amusement park in Kansas City (a historically real place). The gritty realism of Zettel’s portrayal of the Midwest in 1935 grounds the story in authenticity. Chapter titles come from songs of the period, such as the works of Woody Guthrie. Frustratingly, this novel is the first installment of a trilogy. I definitely want to read what happens on the next stage of Callie’s quest.

      INHERITANCE, by Joe McKinney. This novel combines horror with police procedural. The protagonist, Paul, had a mother who wasted away from depression, eventually killing herself, and an abusive father who spent a lot of time building bizarre stick constructions. He tried to initiate Paul into a dark legacy that would prepare Paul to change the world. Although the message sounded idealistic on the surface, it involved blood sacrifice. As an adult, Paul marries and becomes a police officer, doing his best to forget his father’s obsessions. The main (present-day) portion of the novel begins when Paul starts his job on the police force in San Antonio. When he and his partner answer a call to an abandoned iron works factory frequented by drug users, they discover a mass murder site. The scene awakens Paul’s memories of his father’s cult-like behavior, right down to the slaughter of the same kind of Angora goats his family raised. He later pursues a fleeing suspect and finds his dead father standing over the young man’s mutilated corpse. Over the course of the book, Paul’s marriage and his sanity begin to disintegrate while an apparent psychic connection with his father gives him access to the old man’s memories. He comes to realize that his mother did her best to protect him by deflecting the father’s wrath onto her, and he learns how his father received the secrets of his power from a Mexican curandera. His father, however, warped and misused the magic that should have served healing purposes. It eventually becomes clear that Paul’s father wants to regenerate the world by first destroying all human life. His experimental subjects turn into walking dead with none of the vulnerability of typical movie zombies. Meanwhile, he exerts mental pressure on Paul to accept the legacy, and Paul comes dangerously close to being possessed by his father. Paul and his wife are sympathetic figures, and secondary characters such as his partner and an older homicide detective who has a lot of onstage time are also strong. The story includes many scenes of effective horror and leaves the reader in suspense almost to the end as to whether Paul will survive, much less prevail. Two rather large elements of the plot strike me as weak, howeverâ€"a scene where Paul’s wife, Rachel, has a vision of his parents like the ones he’s been having (no justification for Rachel’s suddenly developing a psychic link with them is offered), and the “dea ex machina” climax, which I won’t describe because it would be a major spoiler. There’s a smaller point that bugs me, too, when the minister at a policeman’s funeral (which should have been called a memorial service, because no body is present, and the idea of having an empty coffin buried is absurd) quotes from the famous passage on love in I Corinthians 13 and attributes it to the Gospel of Matthew!

      THE MIDWIFE, by Jennifer Worth. Recently PBS aired a miniseries, CALL THE MIDWIFE, based on this nonfiction memoir of the author’s experiences in her early twenties working as a midwife in London’s East End during the 1950s, when England still suffered from the aftereffects of the war. The National Health system was new then, and Worth illustrates what a boon it was to people who could not have afforded proper medical care previously; for instance, a woman with a pelvis deformed from rickets, who had lost several babies as a result, at last succeeded in bearing a live infant thanks to being able to have a Caesarian delivery at no cost. Worth worked out of a small convent of Anglican nuns along with the Sisters (all qualified nurses and midwives) and a few other lay midwives like herself. They had to cope with poverty, dirt, and overcrowding while forming strong bonds with many of their patients. They traveled throughout the neighborhood to their assignments on bicycles. Most of the women gave birth at home. The descriptions of obstetric problems and crisis deliveries are often graphic but fascinating if you’re interested in that kind of thing (as I am). The various characters come to life with all their quirks, including the nuns. While we learn something about Worth’s past and her private life, the main emphasis remains on her work and patients. The book includes (among other episodes) the sad story of a teenage runaway, rescued from prostitution, who bears a baby in a home for unwed mothers, and the more optimistic as well as amusing account of a Spanish woman with 25 children. (The author attributes this mother’s happy marriage to her English husband to the fact that neither one spoke the other’s languageâ€"their children had to interpret between them for any complex conversations.) I found the appendix about the pronunciation and syntax of the Cockney dialect very interesting. Most of the events in the book got into the TV series, although a few incidents were combined into single episodes or had their time spans contracted for dramatic effect. Two plotlines in the program aren’t in the book at all but still in harmony with the spirit of it. In general, the TV show is almost as faithful to its source as ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL and resembles that book and film series in vivid portrayal of a bygone era that, though not terribly distant from the present, feels very different from our own day. One element left out of the TV series ASK THE MIDWIFE is Jennifer Worth’s spiritual growth from amused tolerance of the nuns’ religion to deep, quiet faith in God, a significant though not obtrusive thread in the book.

      *****

      Excerpt from “Dusting Pixie”:

      Who would have expected magic to shed so much dust? Ardyth certainly hadn’t visualized it as a major part of her apprenticeship in witchcraft with her Aunt Zenobia. Tearing open yet another crate, Ardyth sneezed at the puff of dust that billowed from the mildewed tomes inside. She still had to unpack three of the seven boxes Zenobia had brought from the estate of an old friend of hers, the recently deceased wizard Zaddok.

      Ardyth set a stack of books on the floor and paused to brush her brown curls, frizzed from humidity and stray magical energy, off her forehead. Most of the miscellaneous books and paraphernalia in these boxes would probably prove to be worthless and wind up in the cramped chamber at the far end of the attic where unwanted junk was stowed, never to be seen again. Since Zenobia’s cottage, like most witches’ and wizards’ homes, was bigger inside than out, with more rooms than the inhabitants could keep track of, there was no incentive to throw anything away. Still, Ardyth had to inspect every item one by one, no magical shortcuts, in case anything valuable turned up. Zenobia expected to find the job finished when she returned home the next day. She’d often said Ardyth had a strong mage gift but needed to learn focus, a goal these routine tasks were supposed to promote.

      With a longing thought for her own experiments that languished in the workroom downstairs, Ardyth flipped through a tattered bestiary and set it aside. A gleam at the bottom of the crate caught her eye. Something under the books radiated multicolored light.

      She pulled out the next layer of volumes and exposed a glowing crystal sphere. Her pulse quickening, she picked up the orb, which rested on an ivory base etched with runes and just big enough to cup in her two hands. A diminutive creature stared at her from inside the sphere. Mouse-sized and vaguely feminine, although draperies of prismatic mist swirled around its twig-thin body and concealed all details, the being had a halo of silver-blue hair that floated as if in an invisible wind.

      It, or she, pounded tiny fists against the inside of the crystal and cried, “Help! Get me out!” Her birdlike voice sounded as sweet as wind chimes.

      “Calm down. Who are you, and how did you get stuck in there?”

      The sprite folded her arms, her silver eyes glowering. “My name is Iridia. An evil wizard imprisoned me in this arcane trap.”

      “Why?” Ardyth had already learned enough about sorcery to refrain from assuming all magical beings, no matter how beautiful, were benign.

      “I don’t know! Because he was evil,” the sprite retorted in an exasperated tone. “I never did anything but toil faithfully for him. Please work the spell to liberate me, and I shall reward you.”

      The prospect sounded a lot more exciting than her present job. Turning the sphere in her hands, Ardyth noticed that its base displayed two sets of runes, one spell for confinement and the other for release.

      She wrapped the orb in a soft cloth and carried it down to the workroom. “Onyx? Look what I found.”

      The crow who lived on a platform against the room’s outer wall, with a flap in the adjacent window for ease of flying away and returning, emerged from his ornately carved wooden house and flapped his wings. “What’s that, youngster?”

      She held up the sphere, which still emitted its prismatic glow. “A sprite trapped by enchantment. She claims an evil wizard imprisoned her.”

      Onyx said with a skeptical caw, “I never heard old Zaddok was evil, just eccentric and crabby. All part of the basic job description.”

      “He was a wicked tyrant,” the sprite insisted. Miniature lightning bolts flashed around her and bounced off the inner curves of the orb.

      “You’re not thinking of letting it out, are you?” Onyx said.

      “Not it, she,” Ardyth said. “I’m thinking about that, yes. If she’s innocent, it would be cruel to leave her in there.”

      “And if it’s some kind of imp or gremlin in disguise?”

      -end of excerpt-


      *****

      Two fiction-related newsletters you might enjoy:

      Jewels of the Quill, a writers' group I belong to, has a newsletter for fans:
      For more information, visit:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FansofJewelsoftheQuill/
      To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to:
      FansofJewelsoftheQuill-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

      Moonlight Fantasy, devoted to erotic romance:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Moonlight_Fantasy

      My Publishers:

      Amber Quill Press: www.amberquill.com
      Cerridwen Press: www.cerridwenpress.com
      Ellora's Cave: www.ellorascave.com
      Harlequin/Silhouette: www.eharlequin.com
      Hard Shell Word Factory: www.hardshell.com
      Mundania Press: www.mundania.com

      You can contact me at: MLCVamp@...

      "Beast" wishes until next timeâ€"
      Margaret L. Carter
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