Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 89 (February 2013)
- Welcome to the February 2013 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/
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:
This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!
Here's my page in Barnes and Noble's Nook store. These items include some of the short stories that used to be on Fictionwise:
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):
And now there's a shortcut URL to my author page on Amazon:
My erotic werewolf novella "Allure of the Beast" is available on All Romance eBooks:
In March I'll have a story collection, DAME ONYX TREASURES: LOVE AMONG THE MONSTERS, published by Whiskey Creek Press. It comprises all my stories that have appeared in the Jewels of the Quill anthologies, plus reprints of some short fantasy pieces from other sources and a brand new fantasy romance novella, "Fantasia Quest."
Amber Quill Press (www.amberquill.com) has accepted a new vampire romance novel in my "Vanish Breed" universe, PASSION IN THE BLOOD, for May release.
This month we have an inspiring interview with romance author Annabeth Albert, whose story illustrates the "marathon, not a sprint" nature of most writing careers.
This month's excerpt comes from my late 2012 release, erotic paranormal romance novella "Wizard's Trap," from Ellora's Cave (www.ellorascave.com). In this scene the heroine has used a spell in a journal belonging to contemporary wizard Gil Vincenzo, missing and presumed dead, to conjure him up.
Interview with Annabeth Albert:
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
I always wanted to write. I wrote short stories in middle school and high school, but it wasn't until graduate school that I decided to try a romance novel. I read Lori Foster's Mr. November as a reward for finishing finals, and I knew instantly that that was the kind of book I wanted to write--funny, sexy, touching, and wildly romantic. I went online and found some basic Harlequin guidelines and started my first book. Seven years and six books later, I finally sold!
2. What genres do you write in?
I write contemporary romance. I've dabbled in YA, but currently I divide my time between contemporary erotic m/f romance and contemporary erotic m/m romance.
3. Do you outline, "wing it," or something in between?
Before I sold I was a pantser. I tried various outlining strategies, but that resulted in several unfinished projects. I made it through five novels without selling and without really having a process. Then I discovered the "W" plot method through an online class. I tried that for story number six, and that one sold. Since then I've used the W method for two more projects, and sold both. I'm using that method for my current project as well. Partway through this project, I realized that a key detail was going to change, so I simply adjusted my plot points. I find that the W method lets me have guideposts and then gradually my outline gets more and more detailed as I go forward--plotting into the mist so to speak.
4. What do you find especially appealing about athlete heroes?
I decided to do a swimmer for my short "Swimming the Distance" in the Going for Gold anthology because I'm a long-time Olympic junkie. I haven't missed watching an Olympics since I was six in 1984. I chose long-distance swimming because I'm always fascinated by the low-press sports--the athletes who show up with a minimum of fanfare and little guarantee of celebrity. I chose long-distance swimming because I was fascinated by the idea of an athlete on the fringes of a big-ticket sport. I love athlete heroes because of their determination and focus--who doesn't love that in a hero?
5. How do you balance writing with a day job and small children? Has your day job helped with your fiction in any way?
I don't. Or at least not well! When my daughter was born in 2007, I spent the next three years collecting many false starts and my hard-drive is littered with first three chapters from a lot of projects. Finally, when my son arrived in 2010, I decided that I would give it up--let my RWA membership lapse, stop querying and revising my completed novels, and forget about writing. But after just a few months of this, I started to feel really restless. I saw a Harlequin contest advertised and just had to enter it. So I made a bargain with myself. I would try again, but without excuses this time and without unrealistic goals. I would open my WIP every day regardless of how many words I actually got. Two years later, and I've finished two full-length novels, three novellas, and am almost done with a third full-length book. That's far more than I got in the previous five years combined. And it all boils down to that simple goal--do something everyday. I have a lot of tiny word count days, but it all adds up. My kids probably watch more TV than is good for them and I probably don't get as much sleep as I could, but I'm happier because I'm writing. With my job, I have both really busy periods and periods where not as much is happening, and I try to take advantage of the downtime.
6. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?
My first Ellora's Cave title, Return to Sender, released in October. It's a frenemies-to-lovers tale about what happens when my heroine's naughty mail gets delivered to my hero by mistake. You can read more about it here: http://annabethalbert.com/books/return-to-sender/ My next Ellora's Cave book will be out this spring. Move Me is about a married couple facing an international move--they settle their disagreement with a sexy bet. I'm excited about this book because I wanted to write a marriage-at-a-crossroads book that doesn't deal with cheating or even the threat of cheating, but instead captures the reality of how hard it is to make happily ever work.
7. What are you working on now?
Right now, I'm working on a m/m contemporary novel about a music competition. I've got a slightly kinky, virgin hero and a jaded, wanna-be rock star co-hero. It's a lot of fun to work on.
8. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Never give up. It took me seven years and six books to finally sell. Open your manuscript every day. And don't look at what anyone else is doing--stick to your own path. Surround yourself with supportive friends and ignore negative influences.
9. What's your website URL? Do you have a blog? Where else can we find you on the web?
http://www.annabethalbert.com (I blog about books I'm reading, and my website also contains some extras and freebie reads).
@AnnabethAlbert on twitter. http://www.twitter.com/AnnabethAlbert
Some Books I've Read Lately:
SOME KIND OF FAIRY TALE, by Graham Joyce. Set in contemporary England, this is a haunting story of what happens when a person taken by the fairies comes home. On Christmas, Tara Martin, who disappeared twenty years ago at the age of sixteen, appears at her parents' door. However, to her only six months have passed, and she still looks like a teenager. The story is narrated partly in the third person from several viewpoints and partly in the first person by Tara and a couple of other characters. Principal viewpoint characters include her brother Peter, now married with children, and her boyfriend Richie, a rather diamond-in-the-rough rock musician given to drugs and drink, who was suspected of murdering her when she vanished. Tara tells a story of going away with a mysterious, Gypsy-like stranger and spending six months at a fairy colony on a lake accessible only by magic (although they don't like the term "fairy"). The place sounds like a sort of supernatural hippie commune, with constant, promiscuous sex but also enchantment. The psychiatrist to whom Tara's parents send her believes she suffered a traumatic event, possibly rape, spent time in a commune and created screen memories for those six months, then developed amnesia for the next nineteen and a half years. Richie has never truly recovered from losing Tara and invites her to move in with him and start over. Peter feels understandably angry, unsure whether she is lying or deluded. Nobody has a plausible explanation for her youthful appearance. Richie starts suffering severe migraines, which the reader can guess are related to the man Tara claims is stalking herher fairy lover, who has followed her back to our world. Her memories of the fairy realm and the wrenching emotions suffered by her family and Richie are vividly depicted. The author skillfully suspends the reader between two possible explanations, that Tara was actually spirited away or that she confabulated the whole experience to shield her mind from something worse. He makes the latter seem a genuine possibility despite how farfetched some of the psychiatrist's rationalizations sound. Only near the end of the novel is the question resolved.
DON'T BREATHE A WORD, by Jennifer McMahon. Another novel on the same premise, this one is very dark and strange. Fifteen years before the book's main action, Lisa (in her early teens) declared she was going away with the Fairy King and vanished. She disappeared in or near the abandoned, ruined village of Reliance, Vermont, where she, her brother and cousin, and a few other local kids hung out even though they'd been forbidden to do so. Lisa had been claiming to receive gifts and messages from the fairies, including a handwritten Fairy Book that revealed the secret of how to cross over into their realm. Her family assumed she was kidnapped and probably murdered. In the present, her brother, Sam, gets messages that hint she might be alive. He and his lover, Phoebe, take a trip to a wilderness cabin to meet his cousin, Evie, but that reunion ends in disaster. The rest of the story gradually reveals what happened to Lisa in the past and unravels a web of secrets and lies in the present. Phoebe, illegitimate daughter of an alcoholic mother who committed suicide, thinks of Sam's outwardly secure family life as perfect (a source of self-doubt and inferiority feelings for her). But is it? Even gentle, steady Sam turns out to be hiding secrets. When a clearly malnourished, abused woman who appears to be Lisa finally shows up, the mystery remains almost as deep, because she hardly speaks. Is Teilo, King of the Fairies, with whom she claims to have spent the past fifteen years, a genuine supernatural being or a human criminal? The story is narrated in alternate chapters of past (from Lisa's viewpoint) and present (from Phoebe's). This novel translates dark tales of changelings and fairy abductions into modern terms without ever quite settling the question of whether Teilo exists.
CURSE OF THE THIRTEENTH FEY, by Jane Yolen. Subtitled "The true tale of Sleeping Beauty," this quirky fairy tale retelling actually gets around to the story of Sleeping Beauty only rather late in the novel. The narrator, Gorse, introduces us to her large, eccentric family of Shouting Fey. She is the thirteenth and youngest child of a Fey mother and an elf father. We learn that these fairies aren't the awe-inspiringly powerful beings of the familiar tales; true, their Shouts can produce astonishing results, but there are limits on how often they can be used. More important, the Shouting Fey are effectively enslaved to the royal family of the land. Because of a vow made generations earlier, they must fulfill any Bidding pronounced by the king or queen. When a princess is born and the Fey are Bidden to attend and present gifts, they have to go. Gorse, being ill, misses leaving with the rest and has to catch up on her own with only an erratic invisibility cloak for protection. As a gift she brings a spindle with a ragged bit of the Thread of Life. Unfortunately, she gets into trouble on the way and ends up in the Unseelie Court, from which she spends a large chunk of the middle of the book trying to escape. She makes odd and dangerous new acquaintances, including trolls and a banished fairy prince, and learns unsuspected secrets about her family. When she finally reaches the king's palace, needless to say the presentation of gifts to the baby doesn't go the way it does in the traditional tale. Nor is the "curse" of the hundred-year sleep what you'd expect. With Jane Yolen as the author, the reader can always count on an inspired re-imagining of familiar fantasy tropes.
SHIFTER'S WOLF, by Patricia Briggs. This volume comprises Briggs' first novel, MASQUES (long out of print), and its sequel, WOLFSBANE. Shapeshifter Aralorn, half human and half shapeshifter and therefore something of a misfit in her noble family, has left home to become an agent for the Spymaster of her adopted homeland. In the prologue to MASQUES she rescues a wolf from a trap. They're companions for a while before she learns what the reader knows from the start, that Wolf is a man with the power of transformation. In the main body of MASQUES Aralorn has known this fact for some time but doesn't know Wolf's true identity until well into the story. He proves to be the runaway son of the deviously evil Archmage, whose function is to keep all magic-users under control in the face of the common people's suspicion of wizards. This particular Archmage has the charismatic power to make everyone admire and like him, to the extent of placing the best possible interpretation upon his most villainous deeds, including the use of zombies called Uriah. (Briggs's habit of sometimes inappropriate name coinage is one of the few obvious symptoms of the novice-writer flaws of this book she apologizes for in the introduction. Come on, Uriah is the husband of Bathsheba in the biblical saga of King David!) As a shapeshifter, Aralorn is fortunately immune to the Archmage's aura, as is Wolf. In MASQUES Aralorn and Wolf aid the cause of exiled Prince Myr and take on the mission of destroying the Archmage. In WOLFSBANE Aralorn returns home upon her father's death, only to discover that he is not dead but in suspended animation. Aralorn and Wolf together investigate the crime, save her father, and expose the villain. Aralorn has the ability to change into several different kinds of animals, mainly small ones such as mice. She can also assume the appearance of other people. Wolf has only the one lupine alternate form. Like Briggs's urban fantasy universe of the Mercy Thompson and "Alpha and Omega" novels, MASQUES and WOLFSBANE feature very appealing characters with tortured pasts, or tortured in the case of Wolf and at least difficult in the case of Aralorn. Along the way their relationship develops from that of allies, friends, and lovers to a hard-won deeper intimacy.
Excerpt from "Wizard's Trap":
"You're not dead?"
"No. I'm here and yet not here. I can see and hear everything that goes on in the house, but I can't manifest on the material plane, except for minor actions like turning pages, pushing the planchette and unlocking the drawer. You're the first person I've been able to get through to."
She sat up more comfortably with her back braced against the front of the desk. "Oh, maybe that explains why the house didn't stay rented for long. People probably sensed you trying to communicate and thought the place was haunted."
"Probably. It's been damn frustrating limited to the role of a particularly weak poltergeist. Thank all the powers you finally showed up. I must be able to communicate with you because we have a prior connection."
"My waiting on you at the shop was a connection?"
Something brushed her neck like a caressing finger. A shiver raced down her spine. "Surely there was more to our meetings than that."
"It couldn't have been. I told you I was already committed to another man."
"But now you aren't. I heard your telephone conversation earlier."
"What?" She straightened up and glanced from side to side as if she could catch a glimpse of the lurking phantom. "You've been spying on me?"
"As I said, I can see and hear everything happening within these walls."
"I don't think I like that. Everything, everywhere?"
"Don't worry. I resisted the temptation to watch you in the bath."
The description certainly made him sound like a disembodied spirit. "If you're not a ghost, what are you?"
"Not what, where. I'm trapped on another dimensional plane."
She recalled what she'd read in some of the books sold in her shop. "You mean you're in the astral realm?"
"Not exactly." She could almost feel him wrestling with the explanation. "I was banished to a sort of other-dimensional cage at right angles to normal space. So in a sense I'm still in the house, yet not entirely."
"How did that happen?" She mentally reviewed what he'd written in the journal. "That other wizard you mentioned did it to you?"
"Yes. We fought. I killed him and threw the body into a similar dimensional pocket but a moment before death he cast this spell on me. So here I am. Or not here, however you want to look at it."
Laurel's head pounded in confusion. "So I'm supposed to believe magic is real."
"Real enough that I thought I might be stuck this way forever. Not only do I have hope now, I have it from a beautiful woman. Nice bonus."
"Beautiful?" She practically snorted. "Getting slammed into another dimension must have scrambled your brain. I have frizzy red hair, freckles and a big butt."
"I like freckles. They hint at playfulness, which is usually a good thing."
Playfulness? The word made her sound like a cute tomboy, not the image of herself she wanted in a hot guy's head. Even a disembodied guy.
-end of excerpt-
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"Beast" wishes until next time
Margaret L. Carter