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Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 21 (June 2007)

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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 , Jun 1, 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:

      Ellora's Cave (www.ellorascave.com) has just published my "Tentacles
      of Love" as part of their "Naughty Nuptials" Quickie series. It was
      inspired by H. P. Lovecraft's classic tale "The Dunwich Horror." I
      render a lighthearted answer to the question, "Suppose one of
      Lovecraft's extradimensional deities sired a pair of brothers similar
      to Wilbur Whateley and his invisible monster twin in 'The Dunwich
      Horror,' but in this case they're really a couple of nice guys just
      looking for love?" An excerpt appears below.

      In May I made a "guest editor" appearance in the online SHALLA
      MAGAZINE, which also reprinted my ghost story "Residual Fumes." Visit
      the magazine here:

      Also in May, Amber Quill Press (www.amberquill.com) published my
      novelette "Aquatic Ardor," the tale of an undine who seduces a mortal
      man to save her lake from ruin but unwillingly falls in love and gains
      the last thing she wants, a human soul. Click on their Amber Heat
      (erotic romance) link.

      Have you looked into my discontinued fanzine THE VAMPIRE'S CRYPT? Just
      follow the link on my website for tables of contents, summaries of the
      book review columns, and the distributor's ordering page. All 25
      issues are still available. Some of the authors interviewed include
      Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, P. N. Elrod, Elaine Bergstrom, and Suzy McKee
      Charnas. Early stories by such well-known names in the horror field as
      Bergstrom, Nancy Kilpatrick, and Edo van Belkom also appear within
      these issues, including a short tale by Gemma Files that later became
      an episode of a horror anthology series on the Showtime network.

      Here's an interview with Susan Grant, author of SF romances such as

      1. What inspired you to begin writing?

      I always loved making up stories and creative writing, but never
      dreamed of
      writing a novel. It was so far from anything I ever imagined doing
      that it
      simply didn't register. Then one day back in 1997, I was at the
      pediatrician's office, my kids in a double stroller, and I got to talking
      with a school teacher there with her kids in a double stroller, and
      she told
      me she'd written a book. It hadn't sold and was sitting on the shelf
      in her
      closet, but I was so impressed. I'd never met anyone who'd written a
      So, I got to thinking (and this kind of thinking has gotten me into
      before) if she could write a book, I could write a book. And that's how it
      all started.

      2. What genres do you write in?

      I've written in time travel romance, action romance, paranormal
      romance, SF
      romance, futuristic, and straight contemporary suspense.

      3. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

      My next one is How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days. It's the 3rd
      book in the Otherworldly Men series. It comes out July 24th!

      4. What are you working on now?

      I'm writing Moonstruck. It's the first in a darker spin-off series--Tales
      of the Borderlands--of my lighter, more comedic Otherworldly Men series.
      Release date is currently June 2008.

      5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

      Never take the first (or second or third) no for an answer. Keep sticking
      your head up, even if it means getting kicked in the teeth repeatedly.

      6. What's your website URL?



      Some books I've been reading:

      THE SNAKEBITE LETTERS, by Peter Kreeft. Kreeft writes informative,
      highly readable books of popular theology in the tradition of C. S.
      Lewis, whose influence shows up very clearly in Kreeft's work. This
      book follows the pattern of Lewis' SCREWTAPE LETTERS, epistles from a
      senior demon to a trainee facing his first temptation assignment on
      Earth. It contains many incisive reflections about contemporary
      American culture from a Christian perspective, such as the observation
      that young adults in our society often think of themselves as
      individualistic nonconformists while actually terrified of not fitting
      into the subculture of their peers. Kreeft differs from Lewis in that
      he openly writes within a denominational (specifically, Catholic)
      framework rather than the "mere Christianity" that pervades all of
      Lewis' theological writings. Kreeft also (perhaps as a result of the
      previous point) devotes a lot of space to topical issues, whereas THE
      SCREWTAPE LETTERS deals almost entirely with problems of wider scope
      that could apply to any struggling Christian in England or North
      America in the twentieth or twenty-first century. Hence, THE SNAKEBITE
      LETTERS comes across as strongly agenda-driven in spots, so I don't
      find it quite so satisfying as its predecessor. Still, Snakebite's
      diabolical advice is presented in a wittily satirical style almost
      worthy of comparison to Screwtape's correspondence with his ill-fated
      nephew Wormwood. If you're a fan of THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, you'll
      probably find Kreeft's book entertaining and edifying, too.

      CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE SEXY KIND, by Karen Kelley. Mala of the planet
      Nerak is bored, despite the perfection of her life and the devotion of
      her android servant/companion, Barton. Intrigued by her late
      grandmother's memoirs of a clandestine visit to a distant planet
      called Earth, Mala steals a space shuttle with the intent of
      experiencing the sensory pleasures of a more natural world, including
      sex with an Earth man. On Nerak, men no longer exist; children are
      conceived parthenogenetically from ova fertilized and gestated in
      vitro. All animals are extinct. People don't eat food as we know it;
      nutrition comes in capsules. In the uncontrolled environment of Earth,
      Mala quickly discovers pain as well as pleasure. After the crash of
      her spacecraft, she's picked up by Sheriff Mason McKinley, who gives
      her refuge in his home, assuming she is an accident victim with
      amnesia. She wastes no time seducing him, in accordance with her
      original plan. When she stops trying to tell him she comes from
      another world, he decides she must be a defector from a tyrannical
      government in some exotic country. Meanwhile, the local UFO crank and
      a gaggle of tabloid reporters catch on to Mala's alien nature and
      start harassing her. Barton shows up to take her back to Nerak, as
      commanded by the Elders of their people, and becomes involved
      romantically with a friend of Mason's. An entertaining and sensual
      story. Mala's "fish out of water" behavior is funny, such as the
      incident when she discovers Internet sex sites and orders over $3000
      worth of erotic toys on Mason's credit card. Mason's stubborn
      resistance to belief in her extraterrestrial origin seems carried a
      little too far toward the end of the book. Isn't the weird
      malfunctioning of nearby electrical devices whenever she becomes
      emotionally or sexually excited a pretty obvious clue that she isn't
      quite an ordinary woman? Also, the background of her home planet seems
      a bit thin. (To be fair, the story spends very little time there, so
      maybe there wouldn't have been room to include much more
      worldbuilding.) If Nerak has two suns and therefore never gets dark,
      why isn't it too hot to sustain Earthlike (let alone humanoid) life?
      With no agriculture, where do the raw materials for the food pills and
      medicinal smoothies come from? How does the economy work? We're told
      Mala is a sort of therapist, but does she get paid somehow by the
      Elders (who apparently rule the world as a benevolent but absolute
      oligarchy), or are resources simply distributed to all according to
      need? But the book is a fun read anyway and Mala an engaging character.

      BENIGHTED, by Kit Whitfield. This novel takes place on an alternate
      Earth dominated by werewolves. Ninety-nine percent of the human
      species changes into wolves on the night of the full moon every month.
      The one percent minority who can't change, derogatorily called
      "barebacks," are instantly recognized at birth because they are born
      headfirst instead of the "normal" feet first. This birth defect
      bestows one vital function on them. They have the job of keeping order
      during the full moon night. The narrator, Lola, like all barebacks in
      the United States, works for DORLA, the American agency responsible
      for policing change-related crime. Although viewed with disdain by the
      regular legal system, DORLA employees are practically a law unto
      themselves. A trainee under Lola's supervision gets severely wounded
      in a lyco (werewolf) attack. Soon thereafter, another colleague of
      hers who had previously lost a hand to a lyco is shot to death. A
      vicious lyco arrested on suspicion of the crime escapes. Lola,
      meanwhile, begins falling in love with a "normal" (i.e., lyco) man, a
      social worker who seems to understand the problems she faces. As an
      added complication, her sister, with whom she has had a strained
      relationship, has given birth to a baby that may or may not be her
      husband's. (The conception may have resulted from a full-moon
      incident.) Lola helps her sister with her burden as a deserted wife
      and new mother, but when the escaped murder suspect threatens Lola,
      she's cut off from this family connection for fear of endangering her
      sister and infant nephew. The world-building of this novel, including
      glimpses of the history of bareback-lyco relations, such as the era of
      the Inquisition and the witch-hunt hysteria, is fascinating. Although
      Lola isn't a very likable person much of the time, the reader can't
      help feeling sympathy for her. Given her life situation, she has every
      right to be depressed and emotionally prickly. From the plot premise
      and the review I read, I expected something along the line of
      Charlaine Harris' alternate universe in the Sookie Stackhouse books.
      Be warned, BENIGHTED is much darker than that. I recommend it anyway,
      but don't expect lighthearted suspense. Although it has a guardedly
      optimistic ending, prepare for a lot of pain and angst along the way.

      sequel to YOUR PLANET OR MINE? and MY FAVORITE EARTHLING, as mentioned
      in Susan's interview above, will be released at the end of July. After
      a sneak peek ahead, I can confidently urge you not to miss it. Who'd
      have thought the cyborg assassin from the first book in this series
      could become a romantic hero? Susan manages it beautifully, in part
      through a prologue showing us the future Reef, as an adventurous boy,
      kidnapped from his happy home and shanghaied into the REEF program.
      His emotions and all his memories of childhood are suppressed. In the
      present, the wounded assassin has had most of his cybernetic
      components removed or disabled. Imagine the Terminator newly bereft of
      most of his superhuman powers. Reef has to learn all over again to
      deal with human emotions, and having also had his sexuality
      neutralized before adolescence, he now experiences erotic passion for
      the first time. For his own protection, he is hidden in the suburban
      home of Evie, sister of the heroine and hero (respectively) of the
      first two novels, where he plays the role of her bodyguard. The only
      member of her politically powerful family who isn't interested in
      public life, Evie lacks self-confidence, especially since her
      ex-husband cuts her down at every opportunity. Warm-hearted Evie
      quickly realizes that Reef is no longer the inhuman, machine-like
      assassin who threatened her a short time in the past. Her compassion
      for him grows into love, as you would expect. His "fish out of water"
      adjustment to the alien environment of a suburban family engenders
      plenty of funny moments to balance the suspense, pathos, and
      sensuality. Both characters are delightful, making this a book I
      didn't want to end. As a serious subtext, the real-life issue of child
      slavery on our own planet is addressed in connection with Reef's being
      robbed of his childhood and family.


      Opening scene of "Tentacles of Love":

      Excerpt from "Tentacles of Love," copyright 2007 by Margaret L. Carter:

      The house, weathered to gray-brown by more than a century of salt air,
      loomed over them. It had a wraparound porch and two stories plus a
      gabled attic. Lauren noticed one of the gable windows was boarded up.

      She stepped out of the car and grasped Blake's hand. The setting sun
      cast their elongated shadows onto the front yard—a stretch of sand
      punctuated by patches of coarse grass. "You're sure you want to spend
      our honeymoon here?" His family's vacation home looked ready to
      crumble at any second like the House of Usher.

      "Not a matter of what I want. I have to be here on the solstice.
      Family tradition." He reeled her into his arms and ran his hands over
      her back. "I wanted to give you an advance look at the place, at least."

      *Thank goodness for small blessings, I guess.* This solstice thing
      must have some connection to the obscure pagan religion his folks
      practiced. He'd been vague on the subject but since he'd agreed to get
      married in her parents' church so her mother wouldn't succumb to a
      massive heart attack from sheer outrage, she was okay with it. *Just
      one more week and he'll be mine forever, so I'm not sweating details.*
      On the whole, Blake's family seemed nice enough, regardless of their
      odd customs. Even Uncle Dexter from Innsmouth, who bore an unsettling
      facial resemblance to a fish and Aunt Lavinia from Dunwich, a pale,
      white-haired woman who'd wanted the wedding performed at a prehistoric
      stone circle in rural Massachusetts. Well, all except Cousin Stella
      from Boston, who looked physically normal but had kept sidling up to
      Lauren during the engagement party, muttering about "strange ions" and
      asking whether she really planned to go through with the marriage.

      Lauren hooked her arms around Blake's waist. "Going to carry me over
      the threshold?"

      "Maybe we should save that for the wedding night." His gray-blue eyes
      clouded over. "I've got something to show you. After that, if you want
      to call everything off, I won't blame you."

      She tilted her head back to scan his face. "Yeah, right. With the
      wedding a week away, a nonreturnable deposit on the caterer and my
      dress fitted and paid for? Sure, I'll give serious thought to dropping
      the whole idea."

      He smiled but in a sickly, halfhearted way. He wasn't kidding!

      "What are you raving about?" She switched her hands from his waist to
      his shoulders, half tempted to shake him. "If you want to back out,
      just say so. Don't put it on me."

      "No!" He hugged her so tightly she had to gasp for breath. "Losing you
      is the last thing I want. But after you see—well, it'll be your choice."

      Releasing her, he led her up the gravel driveway to the porch. Its
      floorboards creaked underfoot. Waves crashed on the rocky shore
      directly behind the house. "Let me guess," she said. "You brought me
      here to warn me we're spending our wedding night in the house of

      "Hang on, it's not that bad inside." He unlocked the door and flung it
      open with a flourish.

      She sniffed the air. A little stale but not musty or mildewed as she'd
      feared. The foyer light, a lamp in an old-fashioned sconce on the
      paneled wall, showed a worn but clean and waxed dark hardwood floor.
      No visible dust. Okay, maybe a honeymoon in a Victorian beach house on
      a New England coast miles from anywhere except a couple of farms
      wouldn't be a disaster after all. At least the sea air made the place
      almost cool for June and they'd have plenty of privacy.

      Speaking of which, she snuggled up to him, wiggling her hips and
      silently gloating over the hard ridge she felt through his baggy cargo
      shorts. He'd been caressing her thighs at stoplights for the past
      twenty miles. "Going to show me the bedroom?" She ran her fingers
      through his luxuriant black hair, only a little shorter than her own
      closely trimmed, honey-blonde curls.

      "Sure. With all that wedding hassle, it seems like forever since we
      had any time alone. I can't wait to get you horizontal." He kissed her
      forehead then her cheek and finally her mouth.

      Her lips parted to welcome his tongue with eager thrusts of her own.
      Sparks zapped from that spot to her breasts and below. By the time he
      paused for breath, a pleasant flutter had started in the pit of her

      "Especially when this might be my last chance. You might run screaming
      into the night and never come back." This time he tried to make the
      comment sound like a joke but the attempt fell flat. He actually
      thought something in this house would freak her out.

      "Why? You're about to tell me insanity runs in your family? The way
      you're talking right now, I could believe it." Aside from Cousin
      Stella, they didn't act particularly weird, despite their looks. Even
      Great-Aunt Asenath from Arkham, who reminded Lauren of an anorexic
      frog, intimidated her with starchy New England manners, not eccentric

      "Not exactly that," Blake said.

      "Well, there's certainly nothing wrong with you." No trace of fish or
      frog in his appearance. Just tall enough to give her a pleasant shiver
      when he swept her into his arms and with a touch of the exotic in his
      olive skin inherited from some distant Portuguese ancestor, he
      provided a visual feast that only whetted her appetite for the main
      course. So far she'd only tasted the hors d'oeuvres and salad, so to
      speak. She'd savored the luscious expanse of his chest but she'd never
      seen him naked from waist to mid-thigh. Not for the first time, she
      wondered whether his insistence on reserving the entrée for the
      wedding night had some ulterior motive beyond his expressed desire to
      make that night "special". Her hands wandered to his belt and sneaked
      under the hem of his shirt. "Wait a minute! You're not dying of some
      horrible disease, are you? If that's what you've been holding out on
      me, I'm going to kill you!"

      He laughed. "No, I'm perfectly healthy." He shifted one arm to her
      shoulders, swept the other behind her legs and scooped her off the
      floor. She let out a squeak of surprise. "On second thought, I think
      we need to rehearse the carrying part." He strode along the front hall
      to the stairs.

      Trotting up the steps, he said, "See? I'm in excellent shape."

      With her arms around his neck, she thumped him on the shoulder. "I
      knew that already."

      She scanned the shadowy upstairs hallway, lined with closed doors.
      "The house is haunted, right? I don't mind sharing space with a few
      ghosts if they're quiet."

      "Nope, no ghosts."

      "You'd better not have a mad wife locked in the attic."

      "Come on, you know you're my first and only lover."

      She had no reason to doubt that claim, considering his awkward shyness
      the first time he'd touched her intimately. At the far end of the
      corridor, one door opened into a bathroom and just opposite, another
      stood ajar. Blake shouldered that one open, carried her inside and
      placed her on a king-size bed. "This is where I sleep whenever I'm
      here. Okay with you for our wedding night?"

      "Well, let's see." She frowned, pretending to mull over the question.
      "Does it have a bed? Check. It's fine." Obviously remodeled from its
      nineteenth-century origins into a modern master suite, the room had an
      attached bath big enough, from what she glimpsed through the door, to
      have started life as a smaller bedroom. Except for the huge bed, the
      furniture looked antique, including a free-standing wardrobe in lieu
      of a closet. "How about that thing? Are you hiding any skeletons in
      there? Or does it open into another world?"

      With a wry smile, he said, "Not that door."

      "Then I'm out of guesses. Let's test-drive the bed."

      -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:
      To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to:

      Moonlight Fantasy, devoted to erotic romance:

      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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