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Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 12 (September 2006)

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  • margvamp
    Welcome to my newsletter, News from the Crypt, and please visit Carter s Crypt (www.margaretlcarter.com), devoted to my horror, fantasy, and paranormal
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 4, 2006
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      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" 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/

      Ellora's Cave released my erotic vampire romance novella, TALL, DARK,
      AND DEADLY, in August. It's part of my "Vanishing Breed" vampire
      universe, all of whose stories and novels are listed in internal
      chronological order on my website. Claude, the hero of TALL, DARK, AND
      DEADLY, appears briefly in SEALED IN BLOOD (a vampire romance from
      Amber Quill), and Claude and his human lover Eloise have a major
      subplot in CHILD OF TWILIGHT (from Hard Shell Word Factory). The
      opening scene of the novella appears below.

      I finally got around to renting the latest version of KING KONG, which
      I enjoyed more than I expected. I still think (as I'd gathered from
      the reviews) the movie is too long. There was no real need to spend
      all of one hour out of three getting the characters to Kong's island.
      What I did thoroughly like were the scenes featuring Kong and the
      heroine. I found her gradual shift from terror to sympathy believable.
      I comment on the movie at slightly greater length in the Alien
      Romances blog mentioned above. Check out the archives.

      Some books I've been reading:

      BUM BAGS AND FANNY PACKS, by Jeremy Smith. For those who share my
      attraction to reference books, here's a fun and useful volume. It's
      primarily a glossary of British words and phrases translated into
      American English and the reverse from American usage to British. It
      also contains essays on pronunciation, dialects, the history of the
      language, and the differences between the English spoken in the two
      regions. Best of all for research purposes, it includes lists and
      charts of money, measurements, rulers of England and Scotland, the
      counties of the British Isles, U.S. states with their populations,
      capitals, slogans, etc., U.S. phone area codes, U.S. Presidents, and
      many other types of valuable information.

      SAMURAI FROM OUTER SPACE, by Antonia Levi. A classic introduction to
      Japanese anime for North American readers. Although now ten years old,
      it remains a useful guide for viewers new to the form. I learned a lot
      of incidental facts I hadn't known before, although I've been watching
      anime for at least a year. I found Levi's overview of Shinto and its
      influences on animated films particularly interesting. Her comments on
      the hierarchical relationship between upperclassmen and younger
      students in Japanese high schools made sense of some facets of series
      such as REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA that had puzzled me. I do wish she
      would create a new edition of the book, because in 1996 (the year of
      original publication) anime still had rather limited availability in
      this country. The situation has changed so much, with anime and manga
      now almost mainstream; manga has its own section in Borders. There are
      many recently released series on which I'd be interested to read her
      comments. Out of print, but secondhand copies are readily available on
      line.

      CAPTIVE MOON, by C. T. Adams and Cathy Clamp. Latest novel in their
      shapeshifter series, one of the most innovative and elaborate
      fictional treatments of lycanthropy I've read. The stories focus on
      the Sazi, but there are other shapeshifter communities, all tending to
      be suspicious or downright hostile toward each other. We meet several
      different kinds of shifters, including wolves, cats, snakes, and the
      near-legendary and monstrous were-spiders. This novel involves a cat,
      Antoine, part lion and part cougar, who rescues a female were-tiger
      from the German police after the slaughter of a group of tigers,
      apparently by poachers. Antoine owns a troupe of performing cats, his
      shapechanging ability giving him a unique advantage in training them.
      Tahira, the tigress, is suspicious of Antoine because of the enmity
      between the Sazi council and her clan, the "ghost tribe." They soon
      recognize their mutual attraction, however, and she begins to trust
      him. She needs his help to find her brother, who has been captured by
      unknown kidnappers. Antoine realizes that Tahira has a special magical
      quality; she is a "power well." As for him, he suffers traumatically
      from his uncontrollable visions. To rescue Tahira's brother, both she
      and Antoine have to embrace instead of fearing their powers and learn
      to use them in new ways. This novel contains an abundance of erotic
      sensuality, suspense, horror, and intriguing character interaction.
      The animal traits of the various lycanthropes are vividly portrayed. I
      found the were-snakes particularly creepy.

      LOST CALLING, by Evelyn Vaughn. A Silhouette Bombshell novel in the
      "Madonna Key" series. In an interesting contrast to most category
      romances, this story is completely Eurocentric. It takes place in
      France, and neither the hero nor heroine is American. The
      heroine/narrator, Catrina, a French museum curator, discovers a
      women's secret circle in eighteenth-century France that has ties to
      ancient artifacts connected with the Black Madonna motif. She and the
      Welsh hero, Rhys, become targets of a conspiracy determined to
      suppress the knowledge associated with the Black Madonnas and prevent
      the priceless artifacts and their history from being revealed to the
      world. Complications ensue in the form of real magic (including
      visions Catrina must learn to deal with) as well as mundane
      criminality. The push/pull of attraction and suspicion between Catrina
      and Rhys is engaging, and her lively, often acerbic voice riveted my
      attention throughout. Secondary characters, especially Catrina's two
      close friends, are well integrated into the story. And the opening
      line of her narrative is irresistibly intriguing: "That first
      earthquake was not my fault." Since I'm not a big fan of
      action/adventure, I haven't read many Bombshells, but I've enjoyed the
      ones I did buy. I was sorry to hear the line is being discontinued
      after a relatively short run. It's always sad to see readers' options
      reduced.

      Excerpt from TALL, DARK, AND DEADLY:

      The air hummed with rapt attention from dozens of human minds, most of
      them female. "Oh, lady bright! Can it be right—This window open to the
      night?" Claude paused in his recitation to savor the shallow breaths
      and rapid heartbeats of his audience, inaudible to human ears but
      plain to his. He had performed this reading of Poe's "The Sleeper" so
      often that it required only a fraction of his attention. He knew just
      what phrases to linger over to coax the most intense emotions from the
      listeners.

      Their fascination perfumed the air like a cloud of incense. He could
      almost taste it, a delicious appetizer for the more substantial feast
      he anticipated enjoying later that night. For the black-clad young
      women he half-affectionately thought of as "vampire groupies," he knew
      his hypnotic delivery transformed the drab hotel function room into a
      boudoir "beneath the mystic moon" with an "opiate vapour, dewy, dim".
      While he didn't believe Poe had written "The Sleeper" with a vampire's
      nocturnal visit in mind, doubtless the "window open to the night"
      conjured up just that image for most of the audience, a reaction that
      suited Claude very well.

      His eyes swept over the group while he intoned, "Oh, lady, dear, hast
      thou no fear? Why and what art thou dreaming here?" Locking glances
      briefly with each female in the first couple of rows, he savored the
      way a blush blossomed on each one's face at the fantasy that he
      addressed the lines to her alone. About midway to the back of the room
      though, he captured the eyes of one person who watched him with
      peculiar intensity, a woman of about thirty, with mahogany hair pulled
      back in a braid. From her he sensed a hunger that answered his own
      with a more complicated need than the yearning for a fantasy vampire's
      bite.

      Pleasantly rounded, from what he could see of her, though not enough
      to violate the current standards for female beauty, she had what
      people used to call a "peaches and cream" complexion. Claude approved
      of her apparent refusal to either diet herself into emaciation or bake
      her skin under cancer-inducing rays. She would make an excellent
      dessert. The image made his jaws ache.

      He mentally shook himself. He already had plans for tonight. Still, it
      wouldn't hurt to make contact with her and keep her in reserve, so to
      speak. Winding up the poem, he smiled at the memory of a lapel pin
      he'd seen on one of the fans earlier that day: "Cthulhu Saves—He Might
      Get Hungry Later."

      He stood up with a flourish of his cape to signal the end of the
      session. Instantly, the audience mobbed the front of the room,
      convention programs and pens in hand. Teeth clenched in the closest
      thing to a smile he could manage, he scribbled his name as requested,
      watching the back of the delectable woman's head vanish into the
      corridor. With all the people blocking his view, he hadn't even
      managed a glimpse of her name tag.

      Finally, dry-mouthed with thirst from exposure to his fans' body heat,
      pulse sounds, and keyed-up emotions, he broke away and headed for his
      room. Though he lived only a few blocks away, his need for a refuge in
      the middle of the convention made renting a hotel room worthwhile. He
      craved a few hours of sleep before that evening's awards banquet.

      When he unlocked the door, he noticed an unfamiliar scent. His
      nostrils flared. Not human, but acrid and quasi-metallic, like one of
      his own kind. Something rustled under his feet as the door closed
      behind him. A large manila envelope.

      Tossing the cape onto the bed, he took the envelope to the desk and
      opened it. Two newspaper clippings fell out. Both, he saw, came from a
      San Francisco paper. The first headline read, "Human Remains
      Discovered Under Church Parking Lot."

      About a month earlier, archaeologists had begun excavating that
      parking lot in downtown San Francisco in preparation for expansion of
      St. Anthony's parish hall. Inside the buried ruins of the original
      church building, destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, searchers had found
      two bodies. Oddly, one, a woman's, had been reduced to a skeleton, yet
      the other was remarkably preserved, as lifelike as the famous Inca
      maiden sacrifices. That mummified corpse was a man's.

      Claude's heart raced. He had to concentrate to force it under control.
      He was annoyed to discover his hand shaking as he picked up the second
      clipping. "Earthquake Mummy Vanishes." The bodies had been turned over
      to the anthropology department at the University of California,
      Berkeley. Two days after being transported there—more like two nights,
      Claude suspected—the man's corpse had vanished. Claude knew the
      "corpse" had never been truly lifeless though, and he wasn't surprised
      to read of the security guard found dead in the hallway outside the
      storage vault.

      So Philip was alive. Not only alive, but here in Los Angeles at this
      very hotel. He had obviously shoved the envelope under the door of
      Claude's room within the past couple of hours. *He's after me. Wonder
      what the devil he wants? Revenge, no doubt, but what kind?*

      He flashed on a memory of the ground shaking and the church roof
      caving in, while Philip howled in anguish over the maimed body of his
      woman.

      Picking up the phone, Claude dialed the Prime Elder's number. If the
      Council didn't already know about Philip's resurrection, they needed
      to. Claude heaved an exasperated sigh at the vanished prospect for a
      decent afternoon's sleep.



      * * * * *

      Panting from her run to the elevator, Eloise Kern dashed into her
      hotel room and flung herself onto the bed. She'd meant to introduce
      herself to Claude Darvell after the poetry reading, but her reaction
      to his resonant voice and penetrating gaze had embarrassed her so much
      she couldn't face him. Especially after that moment when she'd
      imagined his eyes had lingered on her a bit longer than on anyone else.

      *Oh, stop thinking like a ditzy fan!* she scolded herself. Every
      female in that room had doubtless imagined the same thing. She hadn't
      come here to indulge in fantasies about her favorite horror movie
      star. She'd wheedled her friend on the con committee into seating
      Claude next to her at the awards banquet so she could conduct
      business, not drool over his ebony hair and violet-gray eyes. Keeping
      her mind on screenplay contracts would have been a lot easier if he'd
      looked less ravishing in person than on film, instead of more so.

      For weeks since receiving his latest letter, she'd had to read it over
      and over to confirm she hadn't imagined it. She'd even packed it in
      her overnight bag for reassurance. By now she knew the relevant
      passages by heart, from "Dear Ms. Kern" to "I look forward to
      discussing your proposed adaptation of Varney the Vampyre in person at
      ConCatastrophe." She peeled off her clothes and stepped under a hot
      shower, lost in visions of Claude—"tall, dark, and deadly," as a
      tabloid reporter had labeled him—emoting the lines from her own script.

      She visualized him in the opening scene taken directly from the novel,
      climbing through a window on a moonlit night, like the one in the
      poem, to plunge his fangs into the heroine's delicate throat. Eloise's
      nipples puckered at the image. Throwing her head back, with her eyes
      closed, she let the warm water flow over her own neck, imagining his
      lips fastened there. There you go again, like a teenybopper with a
      crush, she mocked herself.

      Better to wallow in that daydream than to brood over the other letter,
      the one she'd stuffed in her purse right before leaving home. The home
      she might not have much longer. The management of her townhouse
      complex had spent the past few months planning a conversion from
      rentals to a condominium regime. Eloise had started saving toward the
      down payment and closing costs, a slow process between her mother's
      nursing home fees and the uncertainty of a writer's income, but she
      hadn't expected the shift from rental to condo for another couple of
      years. Suddenly the schedule had accelerated. She had six months to
      dredge up the money or get out. Guild minimum for a screenplay would
      make the difference between home ownership and homelessness.

      Wrenching the shower to the "off" position, she toweled dry with
      impatient roughness, threw on a robe, and sat at the dresser to brush
      her hair and redo the French braid. Why was she imagining herself as a
      bag lady? Multi-published authors with doctorates in English Lit
      didn't end up on the street. She gave her hair a last, firm twist and
      looped a scrunchy around the end. Enough negative vibes! She had to
      project confidence when she met Claude at the banquet. What actor
      would want to produce or star in a movie scripted by a writer with the
      stalwart firmness of a bowl of Jell-O?

      -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 time—
      Margaret L. Carter
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