Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 23 (August 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:
I'm the August spotlight author, focusing on my erotic fantasy
romance, "Aquatic Ardor" (from Amber Quill's Amber Heat line) at
Jewels of the Quill. Drop by www.JewelsoftheQuill.com and register to
win a prize. There's an excerpt snippet from "Aquatic Ardor" below.
Just Erotic Romance Reviews gave "Tentacles of Love" (from Ellora's
Cave) a 4/5-Star review, with the statement, "I think that anyone who
is a big paranormal fan is going to love this fun, campy story."
I received an extra promotional copy of THE SOCIETY OF S, a vampire
novel discussed below. In a few days I'll be giving it away to a lucky
winner randomly chosen from among the subscribers to this newsletter.
I've come across a few online comments questioning what makes the
Harry Potter series so successful. I enjoy it so much it's hard for me
to imagine anyone NOT liking it; therefore I have trouble articulating
reasons for its overwhelming popular appeal. However, my best guess is
that it's due to a fortunate convergence of several elements: The
Hero's Journey and the Chosen One theme. The Ugly Duckling archetype
(the character whose supposed liabilities turn out to be gifts in
disguise -- the private Ur-Myth of most ardent SF and fantasy
readers). The larger-than-life fantasy (in the literary sense, not any
derogatory sense) world in which the right and wrong sides are clearer
than they usually are in "real life." A world in which truly heroic
deeds that make a profound difference can be performed. The themes of
self-sacrifice and the power of love. Rowling's device, unusual in a
children's series, of creating a character who's thoroughly unpleasant
and yet on the right side (Snape). And even though there's a genuine
Evil in the person of Voldemort, the author reminds Harry and the
reader that not all ethical problems fall into this grand
black-and-white scheme; she has one adult tell Harry that the world
isn't divided between "good people" and "Death Eaters." Rowling's
extravagantly inventive and entertaining magical subculture, combining
creatures and motifs from all sorts of myth and legend. On the level
of craft, the way Rowling manages to have the series grow with the
characters, so that the first few books are suitable for elementary
school readers and the later ones are true YA novels. I can't think of
any other juvenile series that has attempted this development. Many YA
fantasy authors have done one or more of these things, of course, some
of them better than Rowling, but I don't think anyone else has blended
all these features into one fictional universe in quite this way.
This month we have an interview with Karen Wiesner, author of the
writing guide FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS and many novels and stories in
several different genres.
Interview with Karen Wiesner:
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
I've always been a dreamer--had my head in the clouds. So wanting to
be a writer was natural for me. I wrote my first book when I was 10
years old. A few years later, I started brainstorming thrillers and
mysteries in my head. By the time I was 16, I'd written almost a dozen
books, short stories, and countless poems. Unofficially, I had my own
fan club in high school and had a dozen publishing credits to my name
(all poems). Eventually, I moved into contemporary romance novelsmy
first eight published novels were romances, with LEATHER & LACE, Book
1 of the Gypsy Road Series published in June 1998. I never dreamed
I'd be writing in so many different genres, but I love the fact that I
can be writing inspirational, horror, suspense, paranormal, police
procedural, romance, writing reference...all in one year! I'm always
working on something different, and it keeps me completely fresh. I
suppose that stems from my love of reading in all genres. Bottom
line, there are worlds to discover everywhere, both in reading and
2. What genres do you write in?
Women's fiction, romance, mystery/police procedural/cozy, suspense,
paranormal, futuristic, gothic, inspirational, thriller, horror and
action/adventure. I also write children's books (fiction and
nonfiction), poetry, and writing reference titles such as my
bestseller, FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS, available from Writer's Digest Books.
3. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?
I have two new releases: DEAD DROP, Book 4 of my romantic
action/adventure/suspense Incognito Series; DAME AMETHYST TREASURES,
my first Dame collection, including "The Amethyst Angel" (originally
published in TALES FROM THE TREASURE TROVE, Volume I, A Jewels of the
Quill Anthology), "A Home for Christmas" (originally published in
SMALL GIFTS, A Jewels of the Quill Christmas Anthology), "The Amethyst
Star" (originally published in TALES FROM THE TREASURE TROVE, Volume
II), and a bonus, never-before-published romantic paranormal novella
called "Creatures of the Night". Both are available now from Whiskey
Creek Press http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com Also, my contemporary
gothic romantic suspense with an inspirational twist (say that three
times fast!), THE BLOODMOON CURSE, is newly available in trade
paperback (published by Samhain Publishing
My 2007 upcoming releases include: THE POWER OF PROMOTIONAL GROUPS
(writing reference, coming August 15th from Twilight Times Books
www.twilighttimesbooks.com/); "Papa" (Woodcutter's Grim SeriesClassic
Tales of Horror Retold, Book 1) in SHADOWS IN THE HEART, A Jewels of
the Quill Halloween Anthology (romantic horror novella, coming
September 1st from WCP); ADVENTURES IN AMETHYST SERIES Novella
Collection (coming September 1st from WCP); and UNDER THE SPELL, Book
5 of the Incognito Series (coming October 1st from WCP).
4. What are you working on now?
I'm currently working on the follow projects: another writing
reference for Writer's Digest Books, which I'm calling COHESIVE STORY
BUILDING (submitted); RENEGADE'S ROSE, Book 6 of my Incognito Series
[coming March 2008, WCP]; "Dancing to the Grave" (Book 3 of the
Woodcutter's Grim Series) and "The Amethyst Tower" (The Final Chapter
of the Woodcutter's Grim Series) [coming September 2008 in
WOODCUTTER'S GRIM SERIES, WCP]; final revisions on UNTIL IT'S GONE,
Book 5 of the Wounded Warriors Series (release date TBA from Hard
Shell Word Factory www.hardshell.com); SHADOW BOXING, the second book
in my as-yet-unsold inspirational romance series, Family Heirlooms;
and ROMANTIC NOTIONS, Book 4 of the Falcon's Bend Series with Chris
Spindler (release date TBA from HSWF). Find out more about what I'm
working on at http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/WIP.html.
5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
That you don't have to write what's popular or what's selling. I
wasted a lot of time trying to follow trends and never got anywhere.
So my advice to aspiring writers is to free yourself from conformity
and boundaries, and write your book the way it needs to be written.
Worry about who will buy it or read it later. Doing this is the only
way you can love your book and feel good about the labor you put into
itand isn't that more important than just giving a publisher what
they want without having a heart for it yourself? This is not to say
that you shouldn't work with your editor on specific revisions. A
good editor can make a book stronger, but, if an editor is trying to
re-write your book the way she would have written it, you'll know it
and then you have a hard decision to make. But the most important
part of being a writer is being true to yourself and your fans with
each book you produce.
6. What's your website URL?
Some books I've been reading:
THE SOCIETY OF S, by Susan Hubbard. This book has the potential of
being the best vampire novel of the year. Ariella, the motherless
daughter of a reclusive scientist, leads a peculiar life sequestered
with her father, a housekeeper, and her father's research
assistantshome-schooled and having almost no contact with the outside
world until she is allowed to become friends with the housekeeper's
children. As she grows, Ari becomes more and more aware of oddities
about her father and herself. The reader, of course, realizes she has
inherited vampire traits before she does. Exploring the development of
her unique physiology and psychology is fascinating. The mystery of
her family background is gradually revealed. Toward the end of the
book, she runs away from home and eventually finds her mother. To me,
the last part, after she reunites with her mother and begins to
receive answers to her questions, isn't quite as enthralling as the
first three-fourths or so of the story, but it still holds up well.
The inner life of a young vampire is a theme that strongly appeals to
me; if you like that sort of thing too, don't miss this novel.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, by J. K. Rowling. Wow. What can
I say without giving away too much? I agree with the Baltimore SUN
reviewer who said the ending is perfect. The theme of the power of
love that has pervaded the whole series reaches its culmination in the
acts of self-sacrifice and reconciliation in this novel. Our major
questions, above all whether Snape is on the side of dark or light,
are answered. It also becomes clear why Rowling insisted Kreacher
couldn't be omitted from the ORDER OF THE PHOENIX movie; he does play
a critical role in DEATHLY HALLOWS. As for the deaths predicted for
the final installment, brace yourself for several. Evil can't be
confronted without the risk of loss and tragedy. I could ramble on at
length, but some of you might not have read the book yet. I sympathize
with Hillary in the comic strip "Sally Forth": This can't be the end!
There have to be more pages! Happily, there's a whole world of Harry
Potter fanfic out there (you can find the good stuff at
www.sugarquill.net, a rigorously beta-read site run by a college
professor), and I was glad to read that Rowling will very likely
produce a guidebook to the series. A lot of details about her universe
remain in need of explication.
DEMON'S DELIGHT. A paranormal romance anthology with the tagline,
"Four all-new stories of devilish passion," each one quite different
from the others. MaryJanice Davidson's "Witch Way" pairs a witch and a
witch-hunter whose families have been deadly enemies for centuries.
Naturally, their love has the potential to break the curse that has
shadowed the heroine's lineage. This story has a lighthearted touch
but not the flippant tone of Davidson's vampire series. "Street
Corners and Halos" by Catherine Spangler confronts vampire prostitute
Rachel with Gabe, an angel who has taken human form in his mission to
redeem her. An interesting feature is Rachel's background as the
survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. The tale has a moving and
appropriate conclusion. "The Demon's Angel" by Emma Holly takes place
on her alternate nineteenth-century Earth, where a highly advanced
humanoid species, the Yama, lives near the North Pole. Yama, labeled
"demons" by ordinary people, remain aloof from the human majority
because of the seductive nature of human energy, which undermines the
emotional control upon which the Yama pride themselves. Khira, a Yama
scientist, captures Harry to use as a subject in an experiment that
will make or break her career and social standing. Her unexpected
sexual attraction to him leads, of course, to a deeper relationship,
and they must escape from Khira's lab together. Lots of hot sex in
this one. In Vickie Taylor's "Angel and the Hellraiser" (in which
neither hero nor heroine is a demon, although the antagonist fits that
term) daredevil stunt man Zane clashes with angel of death Rosemary,
who finds living in human form more enjoyable and distracting than she
expected. She becomes emotionally involved with Zane in a way she
never should with a man whose soul she's assigned to collect. Both
touching and amusing.
Excerpt from "Aquatic Ardor":
*Get a grip. If she were real, she'd be in her forties by now.* And of
course she hadn't been real, especially considering the blue skin.
Even though he'd fantasized about her for months, and the memory had
made his first real-life sexual experience almost disappointing by
contrast. That day at the lake, he'd somehow freed his own foot,
fallen asleep on the bank, and had a typical horny eighteen-year-old
boy's wet dream. Literally wet. He grinned to himself.
"Adam," the woman said. "You don't exactly know me, but I know you.
I've watched you for a long time. You've been gone. Why?"
"I lived in D.C. But it's not like I haven't dropped in to check on
the place at least once a year." For a while he had, anyway. Now that
he thought about it, he hadn't visited at all since two summers past.
His job had kept him too busy. "Now I'm going to live here full time."
*And why am I explaining myself to this strange woman? Very strange.*
With a shy smile, she said, "I'm glad." Then she stepped closer, stood
on tiptoe, and twined her arms around his neck. Her wide eyes were the
green of spring leaf-buds.
"Hey, wait a minute. We sure as heck don't know each other that well."
He reached up to grasp her forearms.
To his astonishment, she stood on tiptoe and pressed her lips to his.
She smelled like honeysuckles, water lilies, and freshly mown grass on
a humid summer day, and her skin felt refreshingly cool. Her small,
slender body molded itself to his. When her tongue teased the corner
of his mouth, he involuntarily parted his lips. The heat of the kiss
zinged through his nerves and made him instantly hard.
*This is crazy. If I didn't know better, I'd think I was dreaming now*
He broke the contact, prying her hands off the back of his neck.
"Whoa. What's all this about? What do you want?"
"I want you, Adam."
"I'm flattered, but no, thanks. I don't fool around with women I've
just met." Never mind how much his body insisted the opposite.
A tiny frown creased her forehead. "But I told you, I've known you a
long time. All your life." She wiggled against him and raised her lips
to his again.
He grabbed her by the elbows and held her at arm's length. "Cut the
crap. You look about half my age." Frustration made his tone harsh.
"What exactly are you up to?" Maybe she had an accomplice with a video
camera lurking behind a tree. This encounter could be part of a
deranged blackmail scheme.
Her shoulders sagged. "Why are you angry? I was so glad to see you. I
thought you'd feel the same way." Her eyes glistened with moisture.
"Stop that, dammit." Could she be faking that reaction?
"Please don't be angry. Don't make me go away." Her voice sounded
husky as if choked with unshed tears.
"I won't make you do anything. But I'm not used to naked women
throwing themselves at me. Why aren't you wearing any clothes?"
She frowned again, this time in apparent puzzlement. "Do I need any?"
"Well, most people wear them, as a general rule. Were you skinny
dipping in the lake?"
"What does that mean?"
Her obviously genuine bewilderment caused him to revise his earlier
guess. She didn't display the deviousness of a blackmailer, although
he didn't rule out the possibility that somebody was using her for
that purpose. Why, he couldn't imagine, since he was neither rich nor
famous. The developer who wanted the land couldn't be that desperate,
not to mention crooked.
"Swimming in the nude," he said.
"Oh, I always swim like this."
-end of excerpt-
Two fiction-related newsletters you might enjoy:
Jewels of the Quill, a writers' group I belong to, has a newsletter
For more information, visit:
To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to:
Moonlight Fantasy, devoted to erotic romance:
Amber Quill Press: www.amberquill.com
Cerridwen Press: www.cerridwenpress.com
Ellora's Cave: www.ellorascave.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