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Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 25 (October 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 , Oct 2, 2007
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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/

      Be sure to visit the Links page of my redesigned website at regular
      intervals. When adding new links, I'd like to think people are
      benefiting from them. For instance, under the Vampire category I've
      recently added vampiresandslayers.net, a blog page with interviews and
      lots of news about vampires in the media, such as current TV series in
      development.

      Check out my recent interview about my writing, vampire fiction, and
      the perennial appeal of the vampire theme on vampiresandslayers.net.

      SHADOWS OF THE HEART, a Halloween anthology from the Jewels of the
      Quill, is being published this month by Whiskey Creek Press. I have a
      story in it called "The Unvanished Hitchhiker," a version of the
      Vanishing Hitchhiker urban legend told from an angle unlike the usual
      viewpoint. The book can be ordered from the publisher at
      www.whiskeycreekpress.com. An excerpt from my story appears below.

      *****

      An interview with Christine DeSmet, author of award-winning romantic
      suspense novel SPIRIT LAKE and many other novels and short stories:

      1. What inspired you to begin writing?
      Books in my house on the farm. When I was little we had chores, chores,
      and more chores. A "vacation" was reading a book and visiting other
      places around the world. I started writing, I think, to transport myself
      into magical vacations that turned out to be poems, stories, and now
      later in life, novels and screenplays.


      2. What genres do you write in?
      I write romantic suspense, romantic comedy, mystery, paranormal,
      fantasy, drama, teen adventure, and historical period pieces. That
      includes novels, short stories, and screenplays.

      3. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?
      It's a short story for Halloween. "When the Dead People Brought a
      Dish-To-Pass" is my first paranormal story. It's published in the
      current Shadows in the Heart, A Halloween Anthology, by Jewels of the
      Quill authors and published by Whiskey Creek Press. I'm proud of the
      story and it's getting good reviews. It's about a troubled young woman
      who finds solace and romantic guidance when her dead relatives of
      hundreds of years ago decide to give her a party on Halloween.

      4. What are you working on now?
      Two new stories for my Moonstone characters that will come out in
      Whiskey Creek Press anthologies, a new romantic screenplay, a stage
      play, and I'm finishing a revision on a fantasy romantic suspense novel.
      My new Moonstone stories will feature a wedding and a death of one of
      Moonstone's characters, new babies being born, more about silkie
      chickens, and of course the usual funny mayhem my characters create.

      5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
      Just write and rewrite and write some more. Write anything you like and
      keep at it. Writing takes regular "butt to chair" work. Join a group or
      go to conferences to keep yourself motivated. Talking to other writers
      in person is valuable for the psyche. Finally, enjoy nature. Studies
      have shown that mentally and emotionally our creativity is fed by taking
      walks, growing plants, golfing, skiing, photography, or whatever it
      takes to get you close to nature.

      6. What's your website URL?
      The best place to find out about my writing and to read samples is at
      the Jewels of the Quill website, www.JewelsoftheQuill.com. If you want
      to find out about the writing workshops I teach for University of
      Wisconsin-Madison, then go to www.dcs.wisc.edu/lsa/writing.

      *****

      Some books I've been reading:

      LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, by Diana Gabaldon. Next to
      another installment in Diana Gabaldon's time-traveling "Outlander"
      series, one of the most welcome events in fiction publishing, for me,
      is a new adventure in her spin-off series about Lord John Grey, who
      managed the prison in which Jamie Fraser (the Highlander hero of
      OUTLANDER and its sequels) was confined after the collapse of the
      Jacobite rebellion in 1745. Later this fall, we can look forward to
      LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS, a collection of novellas. The
      present novel takes place a decade or more after the disastrous Battle
      of Culloden. In the midst of preparing for a military campaign on the
      Continent, allied with Prussia against France and Austria, Lord John
      stumbles upon new information about the death of his father. As a boy,
      he witnessed proof that his father was murdered, contrary to the
      public belief that the death resulted from suicide. Now Lord John
      delves into the old scandal in an attempt to solve the mystery of his
      father's death. Meanwhile, he becomes involved in a love affair with
      the stepson of his mother's new husband. An interesting facet of this
      series is Lord John's status as a homosexual long before the concept
      of "sexual orientation" was invented, when "sodomy" was a crime
      (sometimes punishable by death), and men who indulged in it were
      simply considered willfully depraved. Jamie Fraser, now paroled to
      employment as a groom on the estate of one of Lord John's noble
      friends, makes a few brief appearances. Lord John suffers from an
      unrequited passion for Jamie, hopeless for several reasons: Jamie is
      passionately devoted to his lost wife Claire (currently absent in the
      twentieth century), he dislikes Sir John because of their prior
      relationship as warden and prisoner, and he was a victim of homosexual
      rape some years earlier. Over the course of several books, his
      attitude toward his former captor gradually changes from detestation
      to respect and eventually friendship; at this point, he unbends enough
      to help Lord John with information about potential Jacobite
      conspirators in England. Gabaldon's historical research, as always, is
      richly detailed. Like all her books, this one provides a deeply
      engaging read even when nothing terribly exciting is happening
      onstage, simply through the absorbing realism of her characters,
      settings, and period details. Another thing I enjoyed was Gabaldon's
      afterword with notes and comments about some aspects of the history
      behind the fiction.

      THE OLD POWER RETURNS, by Morven Westfield. My first thought upon
      encountering this title was that it referred to the Lovecraft mythos
      of ancient "gods" from other dimensions. Rather, the "old power" in
      this novel is the power of the Goddess called upon by Wiccans. The
      book is, in fact, a vampire story, although the vampires remain in the
      background for quite a bit of the narrative. It's a sequel to
      Westfield's DARKSOME THIRST, but the author fills in the necessary
      background smoothly enough that I had no trouble understanding the
      characters and their past history. Meg and Alicia, who previously
      worked together in the same company, encountered a vampire, Wesley,
      who may or may not have been destroyed in an explosion at the end of
      the last book. Now the two women, not having seen each other since,
      both become employees of another high-tech company. Haunted by a sense
      that the vampire survived and may be stalking her, Alicia seeks help
      from the coven to which Meg belongs. This novel differs interestingly
      from most vampire fiction in using Wiccan magic rather than Christian
      symbols to combat evil. The witches teach Alicia the basics of magical
      protection, while Frederick, a vampire created by Wesley, gradually
      closes in upon their circle of friends by coincidentally seducing a
      co-worker of Meg and Alicia. The narrative conveys a small-town
      feeling about the area in which these women live (Alicia has a phobia
      about driving into the "City"), so it doesn't seem unreasonably
      convenient for the plot that Frederick eventually runs into Alicia
      while dating her friend. Wesley appears to be a typical predatory
      vampire master with advanced psychic powers. Frederick, a new vampire,
      gives the impression that in life he wasn't much different from what
      he is now—self-centered, pragmatic, and not too bright. Although
      Westfield portrays vampirism as intrinsically evil, Frederick doesn't
      seem so much evil as sleazy, an interesting character in contrast to
      the dashing Byronic hero or villain found in a lot of contemporary
      vampire fiction. Alicia, despite her timidity, comes across as a
      well-developed protagonist, more than just a bundle of phobias.
      Although the various subgroups of characters finally draw together to
      banish the immediate threat, the novel leaves room for a sequel. The
      author provides some notes about her writing process, mainly her
      handling of the New England setting, at the end of the book. Along
      with DARKSOME THIRST, it can be found at www.harvestshadows.com.

      RAVENS OF AVALON, by Diana Paxson. I enjoyed this prequel to Marion
      Zimmer Bradley's MISTS OF AVALON more than the others published so
      far. The plight of the Celts facing foreign invasion, the heroine's
      anguish and fury at the abuses she suffers from the invaders, her
      relationship with the older Druid priestess Lhiannon (who disapproves
      of the heroine's initially conciliatory response to the Romans), and
      the background details of life in Roman Britain come across vividly
      for me. The series' overarching themes of reincarnation and the lost
      magic of Atlantis, which leave me cold, are thankfully (from my
      viewpoint) unobtrusive in this book. It's a historical fantasy about
      Boudica, the Britons' warrior queen, who leads her people into battle
      after she and her two daughters are raped by Romans following the
      death of her husband, a king who has made an alliance with the
      conquerors in an attempt to preserve peace and protect his subjects.
      The pages-long glossary of characters and places at the beginning of
      the book seems intimidating, but I didn't have any trouble keeping
      names straight in the actual reading of the story. The fantasy
      elements, Druid magic and the real presence of the gods, including the
      warrior goddess who possesses Boudica in battle, are regarded with awe
      by the characters but accepted without skepticism. I'd like to have
      seen more of the faerie folk, who make only a cameo appearance. Still,
      nothing quite matches Bradley's original, with its magnificent, epic
      re-imagining of the Arthurian mythos through the eyes of pagan
      priestess Morgaine, half-sister of Arthur. Information about the whole
      series can be found at www.avalonbooks.net.

      THE UN-DEAD, by Joel H. Emerson. This book is framed as a posthumous
      collaboration with Bram Stoker, subtitled, "The Dracula Novel,
      Rewritten to Include Stoker's Deleted Characters and Events." An
      introduction describes Stoker's working notes for DRACULA, housed at
      the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia, and explains how the author
      incorporated all of the characters and incidents Stoker had considered
      including in DRACULA and decided to omit. Emerson inserts adapted
      excerpts from several of Stoker's other published works and also pays
      homage to the classic Dracula movies, for example, in making Renfield
      a solicitor who was somehow involved in the Count's purchase of
      property in England. New characters include Kate Reed (whose name Kim
      Newman also adopted for a character in his alternate-history
      Anno-Dracula series), a "New Woman" friend of Mina; Francis Aytown, an
      artist who falls under the vampire's spell; Alfred Singleton, a
      journalist who writes on occult themes; and Detective Inspector
      Cotford, who suspects Arthur Holmwood of murder and investigates the
      vampire-hunters' dubious activities. The latter is an especially good
      touch, I thought; literary critic Carol A. Senf pointed out many years
      ago that the "heroes," not the Count, do most of the law-breaking in
      the story. All these characters are taken directly from Stoker's
      notes, as are almost all the incidents inserted into the original
      narrative. Moreover, Emerson interweaves threads alluding to the Jack
      the Ripper murders, which Stoker mentions in his introduction to the
      Icelandic edition of DRACULA (also incorporated herein). Stoker's
      epistolary style with its multiple viewpoints makes it easy for
      Emerson to add new material without jarring against the flow of the
      existing work. In the scenes where he actually inserts new characters
      and dialogue into the classic text, he does it smoothly enough that I
      believe a reader not intimately familiar with DRACULA wouldn't notice
      any discontinuity. While I'm not sure most critics would argue that
      enlarging the cast of characters and lengthening an already long,
      complex novel exactly improves it, this is a fascinating project and a
      delightful read. It's indispensable for the library of any Dracula
      scholar or devoted Dracula fan. My only reservations about the
      smoothness of the altered plotline concern the suggestion that the
      wolf/dog escaping from the wrecked ship at Whitby is a natural animal,
      not the Count himself (which strikes me as an unnecessary frill), and
      the fact that the numerous hints about something strange in Arthur
      Holmwood's family history are left as an unexplained enigma. The
      book's most interesting feature is the list of endnotes, 199 in all,
      meticulously detailing the source of every change Emerson made to the
      original text. The only true defect is a pitfall of self-publishing,
      the appearance of more typos than I consider acceptable. However,
      there probably aren't enough to distract a reader who doesn't have (as
      I do, from my day job) the eye of an obsessive proofreader. (Shame on
      the author, though, for allowing the persistent misspelling of
      "excerpt" to remain in the endnotes; spellcheck would have caught
      that.) If you have a special fondness for the Transylvanian Count,
      swoop over to Xlibris.com and order this very reasonably priced trade
      paperback.

      HIGH NOON, by Nora Roberts. This is the first full-length novel by
      Roberts I've read outside her J. D. Robb "In Death" series about
      near-future homicide detective Eve Dallas. I picked up HIGH NOON
      because of its police procedural thriller plot, which I thought would
      certainly appeal to me as a fan of the Eve Dallas novels. It's a tale
      of breathtaking suspense with warm, three-dimensional characters.
      Police Lieutenant Phoebe MacNamara, a hostage negotiator in Savannah,
      meets charming, easygoing millionaire Duncan Swift while talking one
      of his employees out of jumping off a roof. Soon afterward, Phoebe
      suffers hostility from a police officer who defied her authority
      during the negotiation. Around the time he ambushes her inside police
      headquarters and beats her up, she begins to receive mysterious
      threats. At first the reader will think the suspended policeman is
      responsible, but it soon becomes clear that isn't the case, so I don't
      think this revelation is too much of a spoiler. In the earlier part of
      the book I had misgivings about her being coincidentally targeted by
      two attackers at the same time, but both situations arise from her
      work as a hostage negotiator, and the threads are pulled together in a
      way that makes elegant plot and thematic sense. Phoebe, a divorced
      single mother, has responsibility not only for her seven-year-old
      daughter but also her agoraphobic mother, whose condition traps her in
      the house left to Phoebe (with ironclad conditions) by the
      disagreeable, controlling aunt who took in Phoebe and her widowed
      mother when they had nowhere else to turn. Phoebe's past has
      fascinating depths, and all the secondary characters are thoroughly
      engaging. The growth of love between Phoebe and Duncan rings true, as
      do her reservations about letting someone new into her heart.
      Recommended. (But I will not succumb to the temptation to read every
      other romance Roberts has written. Really I won't. I don't have time
      to add the complete oeuvre of a new author to my stack of unread
      books. Honest.)


      Excerpt from "The Unvanished Hitchhiker":

      For a second the air felt icy cold. With a fleeting shiver, Leah
      closed the door. When she turned toward Alice, the other woman was
      clutching the edge of the couch cushion like a slippery ledge from
      which she was afraid of falling.
      "It's nothing," Leah said, "just somebody who had the wrong address.
      He left this before I could make him take it back." She held up the
      cloth. A silky cashmere shawl.
      "He?" Alice whispered. "A man?"
      "Yes, just some guy who was lost, I guess." She sat down, watching
      Alice with concern.
      "No, he wasn't lost." She took the shawl and pressed it to her cheek.
      "I thought with another person here it might turn out different. I
      thought she might come herself this time."
      "She? What's going on? Do you know this man? Were you expecting him?"
      "Not him, specifically. But I knew somebody would show up. And I knew
      he'd bring this." She rubbed the loosely knitted material between her
      fingers. "If only I could at least keep it. But it always vanishes
      overnight, even if I fall asleep holding it."
      "Alice, what are you talking about?" Leah was starting to wonder if
      her friend was mentally unhinged.
      With a weary sigh, Alice said, "I'll tell you about it. You'll think
      I'm crazy, though."
      Wincing at this inadvertent display of telepathy, Leah shook her
      head. "Of course I won't."
      "I haven't talked to anybody about it since my husband left." She
      wrung the shawl between her hands. A few drops of water trickled from
      it. "You probably heard I had a teenage daughter who died."
      "Yes. I'm sorry."
      "Joanne was seventeen. We had a fight, actually a marathon series of
      fights, about the boy she was going with. I knew all along he was bad
      news." Her lips tightened. "Her dad and I ordered her to stop seeing
      him. I even took away the bracelet he gave her. She disobeyed us and
      sneaked out to meet him at a Halloween party. He drove her home drunk.
      It was raining hard. The car crashed on a curve about a mile from
      here. You know the one?"
      Leah nodded. Every town had at least one "dead man's curve," and the
      main drag into this neighborhood had earned that nickname.
      "The boy was killed instantly. Joanne fell into a coma she never woke
      up from. She died on the third night after."
      "I'm sorry," Leah whispered again. She couldn't think of anything
      else to say.
      "She took my shawl for her gypsy costume, without permission. This
      one." She held up the twisted length of fabric. "Out of spite, I
      think, because I confiscated that bracelet."
      Before Leah managed to stifle her reaction, she knew her friend must
      have noticed the look of horror and pity on her face.
      "Don't worry, you won't offend me if you decide I've lost my mind. My
      husband had the same idea. That's why he left. After the second year,
      he couldn't handle what he called my obsession." Alice's eyes glazed
      over for a few seconds. "It started on the anniversary of Joanne's
      death. A strange woman came to the door with this shawl and claimed a
      girl she'd picked up had left it in her car."
      -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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