Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 38 (November 2008)
- 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:
Bitten by Books gave "Aquatic Ardor" a 4-tombstone review! "Melia had
a lovely naive quality, and her dilemma was very real, her choice in
the end determined by love."
The same website gave my vampire novel DARK CHANGELING 4 and a half
tombstones! "DARK CHANGELING. . . is a character study which delves
into a human soul tormented by a nature at odds with its own
definition of reality."
Dracula fans: You'll want a copy of the outstanding documentary film
DRACULA: THE VAMPIRE AND THE VOIVODE. It costs only $9.95 plus
shipping. Here's the website to purchase the North American edition:
The excerpt below comes from "Late Blooming," one of my stories in the
Marion Zimmer Bradley SWORD AND SORCERESS anthologies. These stories
are now available individually at Fictionwise.com.
This month I'm interviewing Liz Hunter, author of romance novels such
as her Troubled Waters series and Love on the High Seas series.
Interview with Liz Hunter:
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
For as long as I can recall, I had my head in the clouds, making up
Only when I discovered romance novels did I realize I could do this. Oh,
sure. Easy to say. How many years later did it take? As many as it
finally realized I needed to write the same thing, but different.
2. What genres do you write in?
I write romance and romantic suspense.
3. Do you have a real-life nautical background that inspired you to
that theme in your fiction?
My husband of thirty-five years is obsessed with sailing. I don't
my writer's imagination, every move on the water is fodder for disaster.
4. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?
Troubled Waters: A Collection of Novellas is now available.
5. What are you working on now?
I recently started a land-based project called Harrington's Arms, and I'm
having fun with it.
6. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write the same kind of story you enjoy reading, only in your words.
7. What's your website URL?
Some Books I've Been Reading:
THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, by Neil Gaiman. Openly a homage to Kipling's
JUNGLE BOOK, this novel begins with a toddler's accidental escape from
the man who has just murdered his family. The little boy wanders into
a nearby historic cemetery, where the ghost of his mother begs the
resident spirits to protect her son. Given the name Nobody Owens, Bod
for short, he is brought up by ghosts instead of wolves and mentored
by, instead of a bear, a vampire. Bod later also gets tutored by a
female werewolf. He learns spectral skills such as Fading and has
adventurous encounters with ghouls, night-gaunts, the spirit of a
young witch, and a numinously terrible entity that guards an ancient
burial mound, among other creatures. Venturing into the outside world,
he clashes with a greedy antique shop owner and a pair of school
bullies. All the while, the assassin who slaughtered his family hunts
for Bod to finish the murderous mission in order to block the
fulfillment of a prophecy (which, in keeping with authentic folklore
tradition, would never have come to pass if the assassin hadn't killed
Bod's parents and thereby driven him to take refuge in the graveyard
to begin with). The book's conclusion, when Bod stands at the
threshold between adolescence and adulthood, is satisfying yet deeply
melancholy. If you've read any of Gaiman's other work, you don't need
me to tell you not to miss this wonderful story.
FOUNDATION, by Mercedes Lackey. I was delighted to see Lackey
revisiting Valdemar after a lapse of years. I was also glad to learn
that this novel, the first installment in the "Collegium Chronicles,"
returns to an earlier era than the more recent books in the series.
It's set about three generations after the time of Vanyel (the "Last
Herald-Mage" trilogy). The Collegium as we know it in the later
history of Valdemar is just being built. The protagonist, Mags, one of
Lackey's typical abused children with hidden gifts, works at slave
labor in a mine. He has never even heard of Heralds until his
Companion arrives to rescue him from his grim existence. Mags' initial
suspicion of the seemingly perfect new life he finds at the Collegium
rings true. His good heart, of course, guides him through his
adjustment, especially when he befriends a lonely female Bardic
Trainee. He soon learns that perfect harmony doesn't reign among the
Heralds, for some of them distrust the new system of training and deal
harshly with unconventional Trainees such as Mags. Moreover, an
unknown, sinister force begins to plague the Collegium, possibly a
ghostly or demonic visitation. The vrondi make an appearance, one
element about which the reader (having presumably read the Last
Herald-Mage trilogy) knows considerably more than the characters. I
found this novel absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable; I have only one
objection to it. Yes, it's clearly marked as the beginning of a
series, but does that fact justify the book's ending in the middle of
the story? Not on a cliffhanger, which would be worse but in a sense
more elegant. Instead, the story doesn't come to any particular
conclusion but simply stops, as if the author ran out of her allotment
of pages for this volume. Considering the year's gap we'll probably
have to endure before the next episode comes out, I'm rather
frustrated with Lackey on this point. Still, if you're a fan of the
Valdemar universe, FOUNDATION is worth reading.
FROM FIRST DRAFT TO FINISHED NOVEL, by Karen S. Wiesner. Although this
writing manual is a companion book to FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS, one can
work with it independently of the earlier book. FROM FIRST DRAFT...
begins with a lucid summary of the method in FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS so
that a writer can adopt that method and go on to integrate it with the
techniques recommended in the new book. Using the metaphor of building
a house from a blueprint and a solid foundation, Wiesner lays out a
step-by-step plan for developing a polished novel from the "formatted
outline" produced by the FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS method. She gives an
abundance of examples from published novels so that the reader has no
trouble grasping exactly what she means by each of her
recommendations. This book introduces two very helpful concepts new to
me, "story sparks" and the "punch list." It also includes a large
quantity of useful checklists and worksheets. For writers like me, to
whom outlining and pre-planning come naturally, FROM FIRST DRAFT TO
FINISHED NOVEL will definitely be of great value. Many of its
suggestions are bound to benefit "pantsers," too, however. If you
already have FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS, be sure to add this "sequel" to
your collection. If not, consider buying it anyway; the new book, as I
mentioned, can stand on its own.
WOLFSBANE AND MISTLETOE, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P.
Kelner. The editors follow up their earlier anthology, MANY BLOODY
RETURNScombining vampires with birthdayswith this volume of tales
about werewolves and Christmas. I found all the stories enjoyable in
one way or another. It was especially fun to encounter Harris' Sookie
Stackhouse ("Gift Wrap") and Carrie Vaughn's Kitty ("Il Est Ne"). The
tone ranges from lighthearted (only a few entries, including a
downright silly one, "SA," by J. A. Kornrath) to serious life-or-death
situations all the way to one completely bleak, despairing short
piece, "Lucy, at Christmastime," by Simon R. Green. The story that
left me with the warmest feeling was the final one, "Keeping Watch
Over His Flock," by Kelner. Jake, a parentless adolescent boy
werewolf, spending his first Christmas with a lycanthrope foster
family, longs to be accepted by the pack but also craves freedom and
disdains adult guidance in the typical teenage way. When he rebels
against his foster father's prohibition on running as a wolf by
himself, Jake stumbles into a crisis that shows him the value of
looking beyond his own selfish desires. I love the fable of the first
werewolf as a participant in the Nativity.
Excerpt from "Late Blooming":
The air in the forest clearing shimmered like water, with a noise
like a distant thunderclap. The shock of unleashed magic rippled
through Miri. She straightened up, a mushroom clutched in her hand.
*It came from back there. From home.*
She knew at once that the wave of energy meant danger. The only mage
presently at the manor, her Aunt Katwin, wouldn't have cast a spell of
such shattering force for practice.
Aunt Katwin had ordered Miri out of the workroom in exasperation,
after Miri had reduced another beaker to fragments the size of gravel
while trying to enchant a potion. *To keep me out of trouble,* Miri
thought. *I'm not good for anything else.* She communed with plants
and sensed their qualities, but that talent gave small consolation to
a family who had hoped for another powerful mage like the rest of her
mother's kin. At the age of sixteen, Miri still showed ineptitude in
every other branch of spellcraft she'd tried. So once again she'd
been banished to the woods to gather mushrooms for dinner, leaving
Aunt Katwin in peace to pore over the latest rare codex she'd bought
Dropping a red-spotted fungus into her basket, Miri rubbed the center
of her back and listened. No more unnatural sounds. No rotten-fruit
scent of evil sorcery -- but, then, she wasn't close enough to pick up
such a taint. Her mother or brother might possess the required
sensitivity. They were away from home, though, attending the Duke's
court with her father.
Miri brushed off the knees of her trousers and started back to the
manor. She walked lightly, listening with ears and mage-sense for any
hint of a threatening presence. Underbrush drew away from her
footsteps to clear a path, a phenomenon so natural to her that she
hardly noticed it anymore. Closer to the house, she tiptoed from tree
to tree, clinging to their trunks as if they could protect her. Her
skin began to tingle. Her forehead became clammy with nervous sweat.
When the trees thinned, she paused to reconnoiter. Now she caught a
whiff of the overripe-fruit aroma she associated with malignant magic.
A hand pressed to the bark of a spindly pine brought her an image of
what it had "seen" within the past hour: A column of men armed with
bows and shortswords snaked through the forest toward the manor.
Their blue livery looked familiar to Miri, but for the moment she
couldn't place it.
The crack of a twig banished the vision and snapped her back to the
present. Not twenty paces away, a brown-bearded man dressed in that
same blue tunic stood and gaped at her.
-end of excerpt-
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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