Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 92 (May 2013)
- Welcome to the May 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/
Here's my Jewels of the Quill book page, where you can find information and buy links for all my available works in a user-friendly layout classified by genre:
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:
Go here and scroll down to "Available Short Fiction" for a list of those stories with their Amazon links:
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:
Here's my humorous erotic romance Lovecraftian short story "Weird Wedding Guest" for sale on the All Romance site:
This story got its first review4 stars from the Jeep Diva:
They say: "This was cleverly plotted and described, with the giggle factor about a giant gelatinous bubble pile wearing off as Wilbur shares his story, I would most certainly recommend this for an out-of-this-world short read for a quick pick me up."
In case you would like to get my new story collection, DAME ONYX TREASURES: LOVE AMONG THE MONSTERS, in trade paperback, that format is now available on Amazon:
On May 5, Amber Quill Press will release PASSION IN THE BLOOD, a new vampire romance novel in my "Vanishing Breed" universe.
Cordelia's twin sister is kidnapped, and she turns for help to Karl, an old family friend. She discovers he's a vampire who has been watching over her family for generations. Not only that, he knows a secret about her own parentage that she never suspected. There's an excerpt below.
I'm interviewing Sabrina York, another Ellora's Cave author.
Interview with Sabrina York:
What inspired you to begin writing?
I am a stubborn girl. So when they told my mother "that girl is far too stupid to learn to read or write," I pretty much made up my mind, then and there, that was what I was going to do. My mother (who is easily as stubborn as I) was getting her Master's degree in child development at the time, and took me in for testing. They discovered I wasn't stupid (well, maybe a little, but only because I don't pay attention). They discovered I was dyslexic. My mom devoted the next ten years of her life to convincing me dyslexics are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who can do anything they decide they really want to do. And you know kids they tend to live up to expectations.
Also, she told me it was nice I wanted to be a writer. But I should still "get a real job."
What genres do you write in?
I have written everything from mainstream romance (historical, contemporary, and paranormal) to women's fiction to fantasy to erotic horror. But right now I am focusing on erotic romance. What is erotic romance? Romances. My stories are about the relationship. Love stories to the core―with sexy subplots and sizzling interludes. And why? Well, it's fun to write. And it sells.
Do you outline, "wing it," or something in between?
I am definitely a "plotter." I write really fast, but the only way I can do that is if I know the characters and know where the story is going. I use a plot structure based on The Hero's Two Journeys by Michael Hauge and Chris Vogler. It addresses character development and the inner as well as the outer journey. I just spent a weekend retreat with Michael delving further into story structure and can highly recommend any of his workshops or books to aspiring writers. You can find him at http://www.storymastery.com
Some people would maintain that "erotic horror" is an oxymoron. How do you make those two elements work together in one book?
Stories are about people and people are about emotion. Following that maxim, I suppose you can write any mix of genres and make it work, if you do it well. Regardless, whatever you do do it on purpose. Have a reason for it.
I have one erotic horror available from Ellora's Cave. It was a story that came to me and wouldn't let me go―based, I suppose on my morbid fear of gardening. It's the story of a damaged woman who cannot get close to men, who has an interaction with an alien plant form that changes everything. The reason the eroticism works with the horror is because the story is about her journey. Her arc. Her emotion. NOT the sex. The sex is merely an allegory for the insidious changes taking place inside her body. As she walks the pages of the book, she isn't aware of what is happening to her. Oh, she notices the changes, but cannot make sense of everything. The real horror occurs in the mind of the reader who is watching all this unfold, suspecting the awful truth, and helpless to save her from her fate.
I noticed you have a "street team." How did you organize the group and choose members? How does it work?
Oh, I love my Royal Street Team!! These are my diehard fans, readers who want to tell everyone about my books. (How could I NOT love them??) They share information about my releases with their friends and networks and in exchange I give them freebie reads, have random bling drawings and pick their brains on plot ideas, character names and titles.
They all came from my newsletter subscriber list. I just asked who wanted to be on the street team and they responded. I will be adding members now and then, so if someone is interested, all they need to do is drop me a note at Sabrina at sabrinayork dot com with Street Team in the message box.
What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?
I just celebrated my one year anniversary as a published author. I wanted to do something special to celebrate―and I wanted to thank my loyal readers. I decided a self published series was a great way to do that. I wrote REBOUND ( http://tinyurl.com/d3htlq2 ) the first book in my new Tryst Island Series, and gave it away for free on April 4th. The response was so awesome I'll probably do it again with future books. To my delight, it hit #3 on the Amazon free erotica list on my anniversary right next to 50 Shades on the paid list.
Here's the blurb:
Kristi Cross has had the hots for her friend, Cameron Jackson as long as she can remember, but she knows she's not his type. She's nothing like the women he dates. So when he suggests they play for a kiss over a game of Hearts, Kristi can't resist. Even if she loses, she wins. Because she's finally going to taste him.
Of course, one kiss can quickly become something altogether steamier, especially when both parties are on the rebound
Fall in Love on Tryst Island
When a group of friends share a vacation house, wild hijinks, unexpected hook-ups and steamy sex ensue. And true love. Did I mention they all find true love?
What are you working on now?
The cool thing about the Tryst Island Series is that it's about a group of friends. So you meet the same characters over and over again. I worked very hard to make these characters people you would want to hang out with. They're funny and smart and sexy―and undyingly loyal to each other.
It must have worked. People are already clamoring for Book 2. I've been scolded for not writing faster.
Tell us about your next release.
Dragonfly Kisses is the next book in the series. It's about Dylan Deveney, a shock jock who has no interest in a wild fling. He simply wants a quiet place where he can try to forget a painful past and, barring that, drink himself to death. But when he catches a glimpse of his exquisite neighbor―in the buff―his passion for life reignites.
When Cassie French meets Dylan, she just can't resist his allure. From his scruffy beard to his earring to his intriguing dragonfly tattoo, she is crazy about him. And sex between them is scorching. Everything seems perfect until a tragedy from Dylan's past threatens to ruin everything.
Dragonfly Kisses will be released soon and yes. I will be offering it for free!
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I recommend three things.
1) Write write write. Even in the course of one year, my writing has become so much better! Reading the bestselling books is a great way to figure out what works and taking classes to polish your skills is a must―even for published authors.
2) Attend conferences. I attended EPICON last March and received three requests for submissions from editors I met over drinks. You can also meet other authors, which are integral to your success and your sanity. I've met reviewers and media folks who have helped expand my brand at conference as well.
3) Enter contests. I mention this because I was published through the Celtic Hearts Novellas Need Love Too contest. But even if your entry doesn't result in a contract or even a win, you receive great feedback to help get your manuscript where it needs to be.
What's your website URL? Do you have a blog? Where else can we find you on the web?
You can read all about my books and contests and clock on my latest blog posts at www.sabrinayork.com. I'm on twitter @sabrina_york and you can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SabrinaYorkBooks.
Some Books I've Read Lately:
DEVON DAY AND THE SWEETWATER KID: DOWN THE OWLHOOT TRAIL, by J. E. S. Hays. Even if (like me) you don't normally read Westerns, make an exception for this book. The "owlhoot trail" is the life of the outlaw, and Dev and Sweet are two of the most likeable and intelligent outlaws you'll ever meet, not to mention the youngest. The book consists of a linked series of stories that could stand alone but combine to form an episodic novel. In the late 1800s, John Gray runs away to go west after a clash with his straitlaced father over an incident that involved safecracking and a skunk. He meets Kye Devon, an orphaned farm boy headed for a relative's home in Colorado. After a rocky beginning, they recognize each other as kindred spirits. Since Kye's uncle doesn't even know he's on the way, they decide to change their plans and team up. John renames himself "Chance Knight," under which name he plans for himself and Kye to become rich gentlemen. To achieve that goal, they embark on a career of robbery under the aliases of Devon Day and the Sweetwater Kid. They're not exactly Robin Hoods, since they keep all their ill-gotten gains, but their vow to steal from only the "fat cats," not ordinary people, keeps them sympathetic. Their raids on stagecoaches and the occasional bank, plus a Spanish treasure found in a cave, make them rich within a couple of years, especially since Chance insists they deposit 85% of their loot in savings rather than blowing it on debauchery and luxuries. The contrasting characters of the partners make their saga especially fun to read. Kye is a country boy with an impulsive personality and a talent for gunslinging. Chance likes books and big-city life. He guards his true self behind what he calls "Faces," and he enjoys categorizing other people with detached irony. In these episodes, among other adventures, they ride through a haunted canyon; fight a band of Indians whose leader turns out to speak fluent English and French ("this isn't the eighteenth century anymore"great scene); get staggering drunk for the first time and decide never to repeat the experience, since it makes men do unwise things such as let their real feelings show and draw to inside straights; and foil a band of burglars at a San Francisco high-society Christmas party. The partners' genuine affection for each other shows through their banter. And although they smoke, drink, and enjoy the favors of saloon girls, the author frequently includes details that remind us they're still teenagers. I've had a sneak peek at some of the stories in the next volume, which I eagerly look forward to.
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I haven't seen the movie but decided to read this book because the premise sounded intriguing. The star-crossed lovers plot has been compared to TWILIGHT; however, the world of the story reminds me more of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, featuring a Town with a Dark Secret that the protagonist gradually discovers is known to many of the adults whom he had always considered quite ordinary. Ethan Wate lives in Gatlin, South Carolina, where nothing new ever happens, all the old families know each other, and the Civil War has to be called the War Between the States or the War of Northern Aggression (the annual reenactment of a local battle is the high point of the year and plays an important role in the climax of the novel). I've always had a hard time identifying with fictional teenagers who whine about how they can't wait to escape from the peace and quiet of their small-town homes; I grew up in a large city (not on the scale of New York or Chicago, but still pretty big) and read Ray Bradbury's "Green Town, Illinois" stories with envy. However, Garcia and Stohl succeed in making the reader sympathize with Ethan. When Lena Duchannes (the Mysterious Transfer Student) appears in his high school, the popular kids immediately treat her with suspicion, not only for her odd (though beautiful) appearance and behavior, but because she is the niece of the wealthy town recluse, Macon Ravenwood. Ethan himself has a not-quite-normal family. Since his mother died, his father, a writer, has spent most of the time locked in his study allegedly working on a novel. He never comes out by day, leaving Ethan's care to their beloved housekeeper (who later turns out to know more about the Ravenwoods and the town's secrets than Ethan ever suspected). The other students' hostility to Lena becomes open enmity when she telekinetically breaks a window in a classroom. Only Ethan's best friend, Link, a typical slacker dude with musical ambitions, remains friendly to Lena and Ethan. Ethan eventually learns that people in the Ravenwood family are Casters, spell-workers. At the age of sixteen, each is Claimed by either the Dark or the Light. Lena is counting down the days until her birthday, having no way to know whether she will become permanently Dark or Light. Ethan is determined to find a way to keep her from being Claimed by darkness. This is a very long book, but my attention seldom lagged. The dialogue sounds natural and often witty, and quirky secondary characters add layers to the story. Macon Ravenwood has a dog named Boo Radley that acts as his "eyes," following Lena and Ethan around on his behalf. I especially like the Ravenwood house, whose interior changes in layout and décor depending on the moods of its inhabitants. A scene at a dance pays homage to the prom night in CARRIE, but with fake snow instead of blood, flashes of humor, and no fatalities. The story ends with a set-up for the sequel yet without leaving the reader hanging from a cliff, so this novel can be read as self-contained.
UNWIND, by Neal Shusterman. This 2007 YA novel portrays an extreme "if this goes on" future America that I didn't believe for a second could ever happen, but the author's bold premise, intense plot, and sympathetic characters suspended my disbelief for the duration of the story. A couple of decades before the book's present (sometime in the twenty-first century), the Heartland War erupted between the pro-life and pro-choice factions, with the Army vainly trying to suppress both. A compromise, which we later discover was originally proposed as a reductio ad absurdum suggestion to bring the opponents to their senses, was enacted into law: Human life is sacrosanct from conception to age thirteen. Between ages thirteen and eighteen, however, teenagers can be retroactively "aborted" by order of their parents or guardians, provided they are never technically killed. They become Unwinds. Unwinding consists of dismantling the subject for transplant parts. Close to 100% of the body must be used, so that the Unwind technically "lives" in the recipients of his or her organs and tissues and never gets deliberately killed, only unwound. The subject remains conscious, although without pain, until the brain has been dismantled, since the law states that he or she has the right to be aware of what is happening. Toward the end of the book one deeply disturbing chapter portrays this process from the viewpoint of the Unwind. Shusterman works out the social consequences of this system. For instance, medical science other than transplant surgery stagnates, since it's so easy to replace defective parts. (An advanced neurografting technique has been perfected, apparently eliminating rejection.) Since abortion as we know it is illegal, the law allows for no-fault abandonment of babies in a practice known as "storking." If a mother can leave her baby on a doorstep without getting caught, she's free of obligation. The baby now legally belongs to the "storked" family, whether they want it or not. The story is told from numerous viewpoints, each in a separate chapter helpfully labeled with the viewpoint character's name. The author uses present-tense narrative, a device that usually annoys me, but in this case I think it works well. Three protagonists carry the story: Connor, whose parents order his unwinding because of his history as a chronic troublemaker; Risa, a ward of the state looking forward to a bright future as a concert pianist until budget cuts require culling and she doesn't quite measure up to the standards for survival; Lev, whose religion practices tithing of children as well as other kinds of wealth, so that he has known all his life he has the sacred destiny of being unwound at the age of thirteen. These three teens get together by chance and find their way to the underground (as a character in Heinlein's FARNHAM'S FREEHOLD says, there's always an underground wherever there are oppressors and oppressed). They fall under the benevolent dictatorship of the Admiral, an enigmatic figure who turns out to have intimate firsthand knowledge of how the system got into its present state. Although UNWIND has sequels, I'm glad to report that this novel reaches a satisfying conclusion with no obvious loose ends and can be read as a stand-alone.
THE CHILDREN OF KINGS, by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah Ross (well, really by Deborah Ross, though she might have worked from a plot laid out by Bradley before her death). Although this novel takes place post-HERITAGE OF HASTUR, not my favorite period in the Darkover universe, and indeed after the withdrawal of the Terran Federation from Darkover, I enjoyed it quite a lot. The protagonist captured my sympathy more than those in other recent Darkover installments have. Gareth Elhalyn, grandson of the legendary Regis Hastur, is dissatisfied with his position as a prince with no power, the Regent being the true ruler. Gareth chafes under his life confined within the tedious luxury of the court with its petty political intrigue. Though overprotected and naive, he is not spoiled but comes across as an appealing character. Hopelessly wishing for a useful role in the world, he indulges his impractical yearning for adventure by fantasizing about himself as "Race Cargill, Terran Secret Agent." On a rare foray alone into the streets of Thendara, he overhears a conversation that suggests Federation weapons, long-range devices of destruction forbidden under Darkover's ancient Compact, have infiltrated the desert society of the Dry Towns. Gareth gets the reluctant blessing of his grandmother, the Keeper Linnea, to accompany a trader into the Dry Towns. Masquerading as a dealer in lenses, Gareth assumes the role of a prince in disguise and the daring spy he has dreamed of being. Naturally, he makes mistakes and has narrow escapes on the way to discovering that the rumor he heard is true, with potentially disastrous consequences for his world. He learns something about Dry Town culture, so different from the realm of the telepathic Comyn, and inconveniently begins to fall in love with an unsuitable partner. Ross explores the role of women in the Dry Towns in a more complex way than Bradley's SHATTERED CHAIN and other writings about that society allowed. We meet various characters who are good, bad without being melodramatic villains, or morally ambiguous. There's also a poignant subplot about Linnea's reunion with her estranged daughter. I definitely recommend this addition to the Darkover saga to any fan of the series. (It's not the place for a new reader to start, though.)
RAISING STONY MAYHALL, by Daryl Gregory. I put off reading this 2011 novel because I'm not much of a zombie fan. This book, however, sounded unique, and it is. It begins with a prologue set in the present, when characters we'll get to know later visit a burned-out farmhouse where the saga began in 1968. The body of the novel reverts to 1968, when the "first outbreak" of the zombie plague ended, and progresses through the subsequent decades. The story constitutes an alternate history of that period, apparently similar to ours (the 9-11 attacks still occur) but with an infestation of undead. Right after the first outbreak, single mother Wanda Mayhall and her three daughters come upon the corpse of a young woman by the side of the road. In her arms they find a gray, dead newborn baby. When they take him into their car, though, he moves and opens his eyes. Realizing the authorities would kill the baby, Wanda decides to hide his existence. She names the boy John, but he's always called "Stony" for his gray skin. Although he grows, he doesn't breathe, digest, sleep, respond sexually, or have a heartbeat. Things that should injure or kill him, such as arrows, don't cause any pain or disability, but they do leave unhealing damage that has to be sewn up. He grows up happily enough under the loving protection of his adoptive mother and foster sisters. Otherwise, only one neighbor family, whose son Kwang becomes Stony's best friend, knows about him. He constructs a "fortress of solitude" for himself in the basement and becomes an ardent fan of a series of undead detective stories. (In one of the book's funny moments, as an adult he meets the author of the series and shyly confesses towriting fanfic.) In his late teens, a disastrous foray to the outside world casts Stony adrift. He meets members of the underground organization of surviving LDs (for "living dead"; the other proposed term, "differently living," never seems to gain traction). Here the novel's wider story begins. The politics of the LD community, with its conflicts among those who want to remain in hiding, those who think they can safely reveal themselves to the world eventually, and the proponents of the Big Bitedeliberately spreading the infection to overrun the worlddidn't interest me so much as the biology of undeath and the character interaction. This section still contains some riveting scenes, such as Stony's meeting with the Lump, who consists of a head, an arm, and half a torso. From this encounter, the example of another character whose body comprises more prosthetics than flesh, and Stony's own experiences, we learn that the undead can retain "life" and consciousness despite what would be fatal dismemberment for breathers. Especially provocative is Stony's discovery of the power of telekinesis in an extension of the "ghost in the machine" theme: If his mind can manipulate the dead matter of his own limbs, why can't it move matter that isn't part of his body? His expansion of this skill plays a crucial role in the novel's climax. The sympathetic characters among Stony's family and friends and the combination of horror, science fiction, and flashes of humor are absorbing. I also enjoyed the metafictional aspects of the novel, such as the framing of the first paragraph as a "final girl" scene from a horror film and the cool "fact" that in this universe Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is a documentary.
Excerpt from PASSION IN THE BLOOD:
A dark and stormy night would have been an asset right now. Too bad the predicted thundershowers hadn't arrived yet. In the moonlight anybody passing by would get a clear view of Cordelia walking up to the house.
She leaned against a tree and drew deep breaths to calm her nerves. Guilty conscience, that was her problem. After all, she'd never burgled a house before. She wouldn't have started with Karl Robak's if her sister's life hadn't depended on this escapade.
She resisted the impulse to tiptoe across the vast front lawn or sidle from the shadow of one tree to the next until she ran out of trees. In spite of her nervousness, she had to laugh at her own qualms. Because all the lots in this semi-rural area covered several acres, the odds were low that the neighbors would notice her. If anyone did happen to catch sight of her, she would look less suspicious strolling to the door than creeping up on the house like an enemy fortress. As for Karl himself, he taught his evening Tudor history class on this night. The empty carport confirmed that he was gone, as scheduled. She didn't have to worry that he'd catch her.
She still had to take Thor into account, though. The moment she thought of him, the Great Dane trotted toward her from the front porch. Thanks to her late father's friendship with Karl, Cordelia knew the dog well enough to be confident he wouldn't attack her. Whether or not he'd bark, she wasn't sure.
"Thor," she whispered. "Here, boy." She held out a hand with a doggie treat in the open palm. Not for the first time, she wondered how Karl had trained the animal to stay on the property, even though the only boundary between him and the road was a decorative split rail fence. She knew the Great Dane didn't wear an electronic collar.
"Shh. Be quiet, boy. That's a good dog." Thor walked up to her, wagged his tail, and nosed the treat from her hand. Stroking his head, she continued her soothing murmur. He rubbed against her and paced alongside her toward the house. "Go lie down," she ordered, pointing at the porch. "Go take a nap. Good dog."
Ears drooping, he ambled onto the covered porch and lay in his dog bed next to the door. She had no idea why she had the gift of lulling animals into obeying her. She sensed their emotions, just as she did those of people. Animals had clearer, simpler feelings than human beings, so she could shape their reactions. Confident Thor wouldn't give her any trouble, she focused on the urgency of the moment. She had to find what she'd come for before Karl got home.
-end of excerpt-
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Whiskey Creek: www.whiskeycreekpress.com
You can contact me at: MLCVamp@...
"Beast" wishes until next time
Margaret L. Carter