Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 17 (February 2007)
- 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
Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romance Blog:
In December I saw the new live-action film of CHARLOTTE'S WEB. I won't
say it's either better than or not so good as the beautiful
feature-length cartoon adaptation. Both are good in their own ways.
The new movie places strong emphasis on the value of friendship, not
only between Wilbur and Charlotte, but among all the animals.
Templeton, the rat, is especially well done. His underground burrow is
fantastic. The only small flaw I find is that the voice-over narrative
doesn't use nearly so much of the text from the book as it should.
These people think they're better writers than E. B. White?! Anyway,
I'll definitely buy the DVD when it's released. This one is a keeper.
Great news! HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS has a release date,
July 21. But you all probably know that. :)
Since January 16 was "Appreciate a Dragon Day" (don't ask me who makes
up these things), I'm including an excerpt from Chapter Two of my
story "Dragon's Tribute." Rowena is waking up after her first night as
a captive in the dragon's lair.
Here's an interview with Susan Kearney, author of THE DARE, THE
ULTIMATUM, and other works of SF romance:
> 1. What inspired you to begin writing?I was always a reader. My first love was SF, the second romance. When
I read Joanna Lindsay's Warrior's Woman, I decided that I would love
to write. I hadn't a clue how hard it would be but I wrote five books
in 18 months and finally sold.
> 2. What genres do you write in?I have written historical, contemporary and futuristic romance. I've
written paranormal, romantic suspense and a science fiction book for
> 3. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?My next book is Island Heat. Here's the blurb and the cover. I'm very
proud of this because my daughter photographed the couple on the
cover. And the same couple is in my book trailer which you can watch
He dominated with an otherworldly seductive power . . .
What was happening to her? Former screen siren Shara Weston lived on
an exotic and private South Pacific island as a recluse . . . until
disturbingly masculine and utterly captivating Cade Archer fell out of
the sky and into her life. Now, Cade gives her no choice but to follow
him down a sensual path that fulfills her every desire.
Cade's on a mission to open a portal between Shara's island volcano
and his world. But not everyone wants him to succeed. A powerful enemy
has followed Cade to prevent him from sending the resources through
the portal that will free his people.
While Cade's mission is as compelling as his dominating sensuality,
Shara must find a way to fight him . . . to stop his mission because
the fate of every man, woman and child on Earth is at stake.
Read an excerpt <http://www.susankearney.com/island_heat.html>
> 4. What are you working on now?Right now I'm working on promoting ISLAND HEAT and sending out
advanced reading copies for KISS ME DEADLY, a lead romantic suspense
from Tor that will be out in July. I'm also revising Solar heat which
will be out in February of 08.
> 5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?You need to be persistent. And don't give up your day job until after
you've sold five books. It takes a long time for those royalties to
> 6. What's your website URL? www.susankearney.com*****
Some books I've been reading:
MY NERDY VALENTINE, by Vicki Lewis Thompson. Amanda, a psychology
student interning in a sex therapist's office, has an embarrassing
first meeting with William, a stockbroker in her office building. (The
bag of sex aids she bought for her boss breaks and spills in front of
him.) She fights her attraction to William for reasonably plausible
personal reasons, while her uninhibited boss, Gloria, aggressively
tries to seduce him. Meanwhile, one of Gloria's male clients send
anonymous valentines to Amanda and progresses to full-bore stalking.
He's presented as more of a comic threat than a lethal one, so
suspense is maintained without getting too scary. Amanda's nosy but
kindhearted elderly neighbors add more humor. A fun story,
recommended. I'd love to visit the Geekland Bar, where Amanda works
her second job. While I wish William were more of a nerd than he is, I
see only one actual flaw in the book: Sex therapist Gloria's behavior
is so unprofessional that I had trouble believing in her as a
character. She redeems herself somewhat at the end, but too late to
erase (for me) the negative impression. Still, I feel motivated to
seek out some of Thompson's earlier books in this "Nerd" series. I
love a serious, intellectual, verbally adept hero! (Lord Peter Wimsey,
BAIT AND SWITCH: THE (FUTILE) PURSUIT OF THE AMERICAN DREAM, by
Barbara Ehrenreich. I found Ehrenreich's earlier book on the American
workplace, NICKEL AND DIMED, an experiment in trying to live on
minimum wage jobs, very absorbing. This one excites me less, but it's
still interesting (and appalling). The author again goes "undercover,"
this time searching for a corporate white-collar position with salary
and benefits. As a college graduate with decades of journalism
experience, she expected to find this endeavor easier than the
minimum-wage experiment, but that preconception turned out to be
false. During the period (more than a year) in which she job-searched,
trying out numerous coaches, seminars, websites, etc., along the way,
she wasn't offered a single real job. I was shocked not only by that
result but by the revelation of how fuzzy the whole process is. Also
thankful that I've never had to work in that environment. For one
thing, instead of rationally matching applicants to skills, employers
and recruiters rely heavily on "personality tests" of dubious value.
In contrast to our parents' generation, when an individual could
expect to hold two or three jobs in his/her lifetime and retire on a
standard pension after twenty or more years with one company, the
current volatile white-collar job market has created a new kind of
unemployed (or underemployed) class. Scary.
THE NARROWS, by Alexander C. Irvine. An alternate history set in World
War II Detroit (which means "The Narrows"). Magic and some
supernatural beings exist, although not known to the general public,
and of course government agencies have been formed to deal with this
fact. Jared, a young husband and father, works in a golem factory
owned by the Ford Motor Company. He breaks up and sifts clay (European
clay, because golems made of local earth won't leave North America) to
be molded into figures later animated by the factory's kabbalistic
rabbi. Jared sometimes thinks he glimpses golems on the battlefield in
movie newsreels, but most of the time he feels discouraged by the
mindless nature of his work and his inability to enlist in the
military because of a childhood injury to his hand. He's also having
trouble with his wife, who works in another of the Ford plants and
makes more money than he does. As a child, Jared saw the Red Dwarf, a
creature whose appearance has always foretold disaster to Detroit.
This encounter draws attention to him, and agents of various covert
organizations, as well as his own boss, try to use him to dig up
information, especially about the Willow Run plant near his wife's
workplace. The final revelation of what's really going on at Willow
Run surprised me but felt completely appropriate. The gritty details
of life in a big industrial city during the war are vividly rendered.
Highly recommended for anyone who likes alternate history.
Excerpt from DRAGON'S TRIBUTE:
When Rowena woke up, she lay alone on the pile of cushions. She
stretched, her muscles aching with an almost pleasant soreness.
Daylight splashed through the cave entrance. She pulled herself to her
feet and visited the pool chamber for a quick wash. Then she wrapped
one of the silk sheets around her and walked to the portal.
The ravine yawned beneath her. Kneeling, she crept to the edge and
looked down. A sheer drop met her eyes. She tossed a pebble into the
air and watched it plummet to the distant ground. Lightheaded and
queasy, she stood up and retreated to the entrance. Even if she wanted
to escape, of which she wasn't sure anymore, climbing down that wall
of rock would be impossible.
She saw Virid, in dragon form, flying toward the cave. He carried
something in his front claws. Stepping back, she watched him land on
the ledge. He clutched the body of a doe.
Rowena backed up farther while he deposited the deer in the middle of
the great hall. For the first time she noticed a shallow depression in
that part of the stone floor. The dragon scooped a bundle of sticks
and logs from a stack at one side of the room. He blew a burst of
flame from his mouth to ignite the firewood. Rowena jumped and let out
a shriek. His glittering eyes turned toward her in what looked like
The flames leaped high, with the smoke curling up to the crevice in
the ceiling. The fragrance of the burning wood tickled her nose. The
dragon used a claw like a curved knife to slice off a haunch of deer
and held it in the fire to roast it. Rowena sat cross-legged on a
cushion, waiting until he decided the meat was cooked enough to give
it to her. She wrapped it in a scrap of cloth and blew on it, her
stomach grumbling with impatience. Charred on the outside and pink on
the inside, the venison tasted better than anything she'd ever eaten.
In her "other life," deer belonged to the Baron. Nobody of her class
could hunt them without the risk of hanging as a poacher.
While eating, she worked up the courage to speak to him. "Do you stay
in this cave all the time when you aren't hunting for game or
snatching our herdsmen's sheep and cattle?" He showed no sign of
anger, so she continued, "How do you spend your days?"
"I rest on my bed, after a night of flying over the mountain heights
where human watchers will not disturb me with their shrieks of panic."
He gestured toward the treasure trove. "I dream of past eons when my
own kind thronged the earth. Sometimes I read."
She almost choked on a bite of meat. "You read?"
His jaws gaped in what might have been amusement. "Why does that
surprise you? Have you never heard about the wisdom of dragons?
Several of those chests are filled with books and scrolls in many
human languages. You may read some if you wish."
"I can't read. Books are for priests and clerks." In fact, the only
books she had ever seen were the leather-bound Bible chained to the
lectern in the parish church and the volume used by the Baron's
steward to record tax payments.
"I shall teach you, then."
She gazed into the fire, mulling over the strange notion of not only
living with a winged reptile but having one for a tutor. "I do know
some of my letters, enough to write my name. I learned from my
grandmother." Grandmother would have taught her more, but Rowena's
father had lashed out in anger and forbidden any such "useless dabbling."
His brows arched. "Indeed? How did she learn?"
"After her dragon let her go, or threw her outshe never explained
whichshe took up with a wandering minstrel. He also earned money as a
scribe for people who needed letters written. He taught her to read
"What brought her to settle in your village?"
"When they were passing through here, her man fell ill with a fever
and died." Rowena tore off another strip of meat and chewed it,
thinking over what little her grandmother had told her of that time.
"She was almost ready to give birth to my mother. She bound herself as
a farm laborer to earn her keep. When Mamma grew up and married, the
Baron granted Grandmother a strip of land and a cottage next to my
parents' holding." She gazed into the dragon's unblinking eyes. "You
can't possibly be interested in an old woman's life story."
"But I am. I recognize the runes on the amulet."
Clutching the disk, she ran her fingers over the etchings. "What do
"The name of the original owner. Chrysargentophylax."
Her eyes widened. "You know him? Grandmother's dragon?"
His mouth stretched in what looked even more like a sardonic smile.
"Of course. There are so few of us left now, it would be a wonder if I
After the dragon devoured his share of the carcass, he flew outside to
drop the remains into the ravine. He returned to Rowena and encircled
her with his forefeet. Her heart raced at the touch of his claws, but
she didn't fear them now.
"Why did you say your grandmother's amulet failed?"
"I told you." She leaned against his smooth, warm chest. "She claimed
it would protect me from the dragon, but here I am. Your prisoner."
"My guest. My beloved." The words rumbled in her ears. "The amulet did
protect you. It made me love you. And it revealed you as my true mate."
"What?" She wiggled around to look into his gem-like eyes.
"That is what I have sought in every maiden I took as tribute. A mate,
one who can fulfill my passion and bear my young. Our kind become
fewer every century. We are dying out." He pierced his own
breast-scales with a claw tip. A trickle of blood, midnight blue
instead of red, welled up.
"What are you doing?"
"Proving to you that you are my destined mate. Did you never ask your
grandmother who sired her child?"
"She wouldn't say."
"I knew by the flavor of your essence," he said, "that you carry the
bloodline of my own race. Your grandsire was a dragon. "
"But my mother's an ordinary woman."
"She never met one of us, did she? Her nature remained hidden.
Heretaste." He guided her mouth to the puncture wound. "Awaken to
your true self."
She licked the drops of blood. The fluid seared her tongue. It burned
through it, racking her body with convulsions like a raging fever. She
melted, dissolved, re-formed, expanded. Fangs sprouted in her jaws.
Wings burst from her shoulders. A green mist swirled before her eyes.
When it cleared, she looked down to find the floor far below and her
chest and legs gleaming with blue-green scales. The thong around her
neck had snapped. She picked up the amulet and placed it on the
treasure heap. She no longer needed protection.
-end of excerpt-
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"Beast" wishes until next time
Margaret L. Carter