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Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 39 (December 2008)

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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 , Dec 2, 2008
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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/

      Please visit the Romance Examiner, a new site for information on
      authors and books in all romance genres:
      http://romanceexaminer.com

      My fanzine THE VAMPIRE'S CRYPT is now being offered in collected form!
      Identical in content to the zines as originally published, each
      package contains two or three issues, depending on their length. Each
      volume costs $22.00, shipping included, a distinct bargain compared to
      the old mode of sale by individual issues. You can read detailed
      tables of contents, including information on which issues contain
      interviews with distinguished vampire authors, at the "Vampire's
      Crypt" link on my website. This page also links to a summary of all
      the book review columns, in case you'd like to read comments on an
      older novel you're thinking of buying. Here's the ordering page on the
      distributor's website:
      http://www.lionheartdistribution.com/vampire.htm

      Also, if you haven't read my Silhouette vampire romance, EMBRACING
      DARKNESS, and would like to, it can be found on Fictionwise.com either
      alone or in a "Bloodlust Bundle" with another vampire novel from
      Silhouette. EMBRACING DARKNESS belongs to the same "Vanishing Breed"
      universe as my other vampire novels and novellas.

      BittenbyBooks.com gave WILD SORCERESS and BESIEGED ADEPT each a rating
      of 5 tombstones! "The pages seem to turn on their own as you walk
      through the lives of Aetria and Coleni. . . . a joy to read and a
      series I would highly recommend to any who truly love magic."

      Don't forget the Jewels of the Quill authors have produced two
      Christmas anthologies, SMALL GIFTS and CHRISTMAS WISHES. Below you'll
      find an excerpt from my story in CHRISTMAS WISHES, "Little Cat Feet,"
      based on the legend that animals gain the power of speech on Christmas
      Eve.

      This month I'm interviewing Sarah A. Hoyt, author of the Shakespearean
      fantasy series beginning with ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT and the Victorian
      alternate history trilogy concluding with HEART AND SOUL, among other
      works.

      *****
      Interview with Sarah A. Hoyt:

      1. What inspired you to begin writing?

      It's not so much what inspired me as the fact that at the age of six I
      realized it was the only career left open to me. You see, by that time
      I'd been forced to give up on my two earlier aspirations. First I'd
      badly wanted to be a cat. I was the youngest kid in the family, the
      next youngest was 9 years older, but there were lots of cats around.
      It probably makes perfect sense that I settled on the cats as the
      closest thing to me. Anyway, eventually the adults caught on about my
      training to be a cat. I think it's when I was rubbing my paw -- I mean
      hand -- and rubbing my face. So they talked to me about it. They said
      I'd never be a cat.

      I was heartbroken, but then I came up with what I thought was far more
      conventional an attainable -- I was going to be an angel. Only mom
      said that first I'd need to die -- though frankly, once or twice when
      she said that she didn't sound wholly opposed to the idea -- and
      pointed out given my general character, I'd be more likely to be the
      other variety, you know, with the tail and the horns and adapted to
      warm climates.

      So, by age six, I had to settle and I decided to go for something
      easy. I'd be a world-famous novelist. The easy part... didn't work
      QUITE as I expected so far.

      2. What genres do you write in?

      (Tallying on fingers) Fantasy, Science Fiction, Mystery. Historical
      quasi biography which could sort of be romance (Plain Jane, under
      Laurien Gardener, also upcoming No Other Wish But His, the story of
      Kathryn Howard, under my own name.) If you count short stories,
      horror. I'm sure given enough time on my hands, Romance and YA will
      also stop being safe from me. Probably when the kids leave the house
      in three years. I hear one suddenly finds oneself with loads of time
      on one's hands.

      3. Your Shakespearean fantasies could be called "secret history"
      (fantastic events occurring in the background of factual history as we
      know it), whereas HEART OF LIGHT and its sequels fall under "alternate
      history." Did you find different research and writing challenges for
      these two different subgenres of fantasy?

      Well, the Shakespeare one was far more difficult, because you have to
      fit in with what's known. Fortunately I've had a Shakespeare "thing"
      since I was about twelve, so I already owned twenty or so books of the
      -- mumble -- many I now own. However, considering there's a website
      listing what the man was doing on any given day of his life (or likely
      to be doing. Or at least his location) and given how many people think
      they know everything about Shakespeare... well, it's a challenge. Fun,
      but a lot like a puzzle. While with the Magical British Empire it was
      just fun. You take your general knowledge of the time, and then you
      try to make the same conditions occur via magic. ... well, okay, it's
      fun if you're a total history geek. But I am, so that's okay. If I
      can, I'll try to persuade the editor to let me go on with that story
      line, and do the next generation in WWI in THEIR world. Kaiser Wilhelm
      as a were wolf and the Red Baron as a dragon and Peter's son in the
      RAF... Mmmm.

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

      The latest is Gentleman Takes A Chance the second of my Shifter
      series. It's sort of like a contemporary "secret history." The story
      centers around a diner, but through it and behind it all there's
      different groups of ancient shape shifters fighting for supremacy,
      control or other, unfathomable objectives which will affect the lives
      of two characters, Kyrie and Tom, who are young, shifters and very
      much in love with each other. (Sometimes it seems like against the
      whole world.)

      The next one under my own name will be a Space Opera from Baen books,
      DarkShip Thieves. It has the MOST forceful heroine in the universe. Or
      perhaps she's anti-social. But she uses her ballet skills to fight bad
      guys across several worlds... It is, of course, also a serious
      exploration on the meaning of freedom and humanity. But most of my
      beta readers like the fight scenes. And the romantic bits.

      5. What are you working on now?

      Well, right now I'm finishing DarkShip Thieves, but I do have a novel
      called Sword And Blood almost finished. As you know -- or possibly not
      -- I've done a musketeer mystery series. Since that's now done with,
      I'm taking ... a different approach to the musketeers. You see,
      there's a vampire invasion and the Cardinal rules the night, while the
      king and his musketeers try to keep the non vampires safe. There's
      uh... nobility, love, sex, sword fights and vampires. Not always in
      that order.

      6. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

      First, read a lot. I keep running into people who want to make sure
      their style is "fresh" by not reading. Actually they're more likely to
      make their style incoherent by not reading. There is a format not just
      to the novel but to a modern novel. Reading exclusively nineteenth
      century authors (I know someone who does this) will make you maybe a
      good writer, but not necessarily a good writer for the twenty-first
      century. The story telling was far more leisurely because they weren't
      competing with TV and video games. So, read what you'd like to write.
      No, I'm not suggesting you imitate ANYONE but it will give you enough
      of a feel for what's out there that you won't be reinventing the wheel.

      Second, be aware this is a craft as well as an art. When you're
      reading those books, if you see a neat trick, a way to turn the
      emotions in the scene or to back fill info without stopping the
      action, take it apart. Study how it's done. Most writing books are
      useless, but you might want to read a few now and then. You might find
      something that helps you. If you must read only one how to write book
      -- and I SWEAR I don't get a kickback from this -- buy and read
      Techniques Of The Selling Writer by Dwight Swain. READ it even if you
      think you know everything in it. He's really good at hitting all the
      bases and he's likely to hit just the one minor thing you've been
      missing. He did it for me after nine years of trying to get published.

      Third, please realize that for every genuine overnight success there
      are a hundred "overnight" successes that took twenty years. Do not
      expect sudden fame and fortune (It's not as easy as it looked to me at
      six, though arguably easier than my becoming an angel) and realize
      there's an element of luck as well as of hard work. Work hard, stay in
      the game, and you have a good chance of getting lucky. Well, at least
      of selling well, I can't answer for your private life. On the way
      there, be gracious to those beneath you on the ladder, as well as to
      those above you. In this field the most bewildering and sudden career
      events happen, and those positions could swap anytime. Besides, it's
      just good morals to treat everyone as you wish to be treated.

      Fourth, show your work to professionals you respect and who are on the
      path you hope to be. When they tell you what needs fixing, believe
      them. If you don't know any professionals, find people at your level
      who are serious about learning. Fifteen years ago, ten friends and I
      got together and -- the blind leading the blind -- started a writers'
      group. We worked very hard, were very serious, read a lot and studied
      techniques. I'm happy to report we are all now professionally published.

      Fifth, Write, Submit, Repeat. If something is rejected do not revise
      it unless the editor has asked for revisions and agreed to look at it
      again. However, do send the story out again. Don't let it overnight in
      the house. You're the pimp they are... the ladies of uneasy virtue.
      Kick them out again to earn their keep. It takes time to get over the
      rejections, but remember they are not really personal. (And the ones
      that are are often misguided. I've had rejections telling me I'd never
      be published -- ah!) Just... put your butt on the chair, your hands on
      the keyboard. Write. Submit. Repeat. If you're working hard and
      learning, eventually something will sell. And then a lot more will.
      Trust me. Would I lie to you? (Well of course I would. I get PAID for
      lying. That's what fiction is. But I have some self respect. I don't
      lie for free.)

      7. What's your website URL?

      http://www.sarahahoyt.com/

      *****

      Some Books I've Been Reading:

      SALVATION IN DEATH, by J. D. Robb. Compared to some of the other
      novels in the Eve Dallas series, this new mystery devotes less time to
      the personal relationship between Eve and her multi-millionaire
      husband, Roarke, and we don't learn anything new about their
      backgrounds. We do, however, witness Eve's emotional reaction to a
      crime involving child abuse as part of the backstory. The mystery
      begins with the death of a priest in the middle of a funeral, just
      after he drinks the communion wine. While investigating the murder of
      a clergyman who seems to be universally beloved, Eve uncovers the
      shocking fact that he wasn't the person he claimed to be. Who stole
      the priest's identity and why? Who discovered the murder victim's true
      identity and killed him, and what connection does the crime have with
      his past? Does the motive spring from events that happened in the
      neighborhood surrounding the church many years earlier? Amid the
      gripping suspense typical of this series, I enjoyed Eve's usual banter
      with her partner, Detective Peabody, including Peabody's vain request
      for a chance to play the "bad cop" for a change. The solution to the
      mystery involves bad guys Eve can legitimately crack down on as well
      as one unexpectedly sympathetic perp.

      JUST AFTER SUNSET, by Stephen King. I'm always happy to see a new
      story collection by King, because in most cases I haven't had the
      opportunity to read many of the stories in their original venues. As
      usual, I tend to find the longer works more satisfying than the
      shorter ones. In my opinion, King's forte lies in the novella and
      novel lengths. While this collection doesn't contain anything that
      enthralls me like (for example), "The Mist," my favorite tale is the
      newest and one of the longest, "N." In his afterword King acknowledges
      the story's debt to Arthur Machen's classic "The Great God Pan," and,
      not surprisingly, "N" therefore has a Lovecraftian feel. A nested
      collection of documents reveals a psychiatrist's interaction with a
      patient who claims to have stumbled upon a circle of stones that mark
      a place where the barrier between worlds has grown thin. The patient's
      obsessive-compulsive behavior develops as a desperate attempt to
      prevent an other-dimensional entity from invading our universe.
      Vintage King! Other favorites for me: "The Gingerbread Girl" centers
      on a woman who takes up running as an escape from the pain of her
      baby's death. When she retreats to an isolated beach cottage on a
      Florida key, she stumbles into the clutches of a serial killer.
      Without her gift for running, her plight would be hopeless. In
      "Stationary Bike" the exercising protagonist daydreams his way onto an
      imaginary road that somehow becomes real, where he clashes with the
      construction crew working on the road. "Ayana" deals with an
      inexplicable chain of miracle cures. In "The Things They Left Behind,"
      King's 9-11 story, the narrator impossibly comes into possession of
      items belonging to his co-workers who died in the Twin Towers, objects
      that must have been destroyed in the attack. He eventually realizes
      why some power has delivered these objects to him and what he is
      intended to do with them.

      BLOOD LITE, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Compiled by HWA (the Horror
      Writers Association), this handsome trade paperback anthology of
      humorous horror tales features a star-studded cast of authors,
      including Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Sharyn
      McCrumb, Jeff Strand, and many others. So a fan of the genre can't go
      wrong with this book. For me, "The Eldritch Pastiche from Beyond the
      Shadow of Horror," by Christopher Welch, almost justifies buying the
      anthology in itself: An unsuccessful writer seeks twelve-step help to
      overcome his compulsion to create abysmally bad Lovecraftian fiction
      and meets an ominous figure who reveals that his hopelessly derivative
      stories actually serve a vital cosmic purpose.

      HEART AND SOUL, by Sarah A. Hoyt. This final episode in Hoyt's
      alternate Victorian era trilogy shifts focus back to Nigel Oldhall,
      who now has possession of both the Soul of Fire and the Heart of
      Light, gems that must be returned to their shrine in the heart of
      Africa in order to prevent reality as his world knows it from
      disintegrating. Posing as a wandering carpetship magician, he is on
      the way to his destination when Chinese pirates in flying boats board
      the ship. Red Jade, sister of the Dragon Emperor, whose family should
      be ruling China's empire but instead leads a life of piracy, their
      true status known only to other clans of shapeshifters, has heard
      rumors of these gems that may enable her dynasty to regain the throne.
      Zhang, a ruthless courtier who wants to overthrow Jade's brother, Wen,
      attacks Nigel and escapes with one of the gems. Nigel and Jade
      together pursue him after agreeing on a compromise between their
      conflicting goals. Meanwhile, Wen's favorite wife, Third Lady, works
      magic to transport both of them to the underworld, where Wen's soul is
      being held captive. Only by regaining his soul can he overcome his
      opium addiction and become a worthy ruler. The story alternates
      between the two quests, fascinating adventures combined with
      developing romantic relationships. Third Lady is a fox woman, a
      species of shapeshifter regarded as deceitful and untrustworthy, but
      since she is already married to Wen, their love can be freely
      consummated once their shared ordeals draw them together. Nigel and
      Jade face more serious obstacles to their union, since she comes from
      the imperial bloodline of a people who view "foreign devils" as
      inferior, and a shapeshifting dragon isn't the kind of wife an
      aristocratic family such as Nigel's would approve of. Meanwhile, a
      more mundane relationship arises between Hettie, a naive English miss
      whose father befriends Nigel, and Adrian Corridon, an ambitious young
      officer obsessed with the conviction that her father and Nigel are
      part of a complex conspiracy. Peter, Nigel's were-dragon friend,
      reappears to help with the mission of restoring the gems. I found the
      novel enthralling and its conclusion completely satisfying.

      *****

      Excerpt from "Little Cat Feet," whose protagonist is a teenage runaway
      on Christmas Eve:

      Just as Lauren was working up the nerve to try a door on one of the
      deserted rowhouses, she heard a noise from the alley next to it. Her
      first impulse was to run the other way. She definitely had no desire
      to meet anybody else prowling the night, somebody who might be a
      mugger or a crazed drug addict. When she heard the sound repeated,
      though, she paused. A screech, no, more like a yowl. It reminded her
      of an enraged cat. Another noise mingled with it¬ólaughter.
      She tiptoed to the alley and peeked around the corner of the
      building. The wan glow from a nearby street lamp cast just enough
      light into the shadows to reveal two dark-haired boys who looked her
      age or a little older. They stood over a super-size garbage can. The
      cries came from there. Definitely a cat. One of the boys held a broom,
      which he kept poking into the can.
      "Hey, what do you think you're doing?" She mentally cursed the way
      her voice wobbled.
      One of the guys, lean and wiry with a buzz-cut, flashed a grin at
      her. "Who's asking?"
      "What's in that can?" Glad she sounded a little more confident this
      time, she marched up to them.
      The second boy, taller and broader with his black hair in a ponytail,
      said, "None of your business. Get lost. Unless you want to have some
      fun with us." He made a grab for the front of her jacket.
      Dodging, Lauren peered into the can. It was almost full of water.
      Inside, a cat paddled frantically. An orange tabby, as far as she
      could make out the color of its sodden fur in the dim light. Its cries
      drilled into her skull like an ice pick stabbing her eardrums.
      A flush of anger flooded her cheeks. A pulse hammered in her temples.
      "Let it go!" she screamed.
      The cat scrambled to the edge of the can and hooked its claws over
      the rim. The ponytailed boy jabbed the animal with the broom to force
      it back into the water. With an inarticulate shriek of rage, Lauren
      seized the broomstick and threw her whole weight against it.
      "Yo, bitch, what do you think you're doing?" The boy fought to
      wrestle the broom out of her grip.
      From the corner of her eye, she saw the cat scrabbling at the edge of
      the can again. Meanwhile, the other boy grabbed her arm. Whirling
      around, she smacked him with the bristled end. He yelled a curse and
      gave her a hard shove. She staggered, and the hefty guy wrenched the
      broom out of her hands and tossed it on the ground.
      The cat leaped free of the can and dashed out of the alley. The thin
      boy slapped Lauren across the face. With tears of pain and fury
      blurring her vision, she faced the two punks, her fingers curled as if
      she had claws herself.
      "That wasn't nice. We had a bet," the guy with the ponytail said.
      Breathing hard, she glowered at him. "What bet?"
      "How long a cat can tread water before it drowns." His hand shot out
      to grab the collar of her jacket. "You should pay for screwing up the
      game. Let's see what you got for us." He tugged the zipper down to
      reveal the sweatshirt she wore underneath.
      When she tried to pull free, his friend caught both of her arms and
      twisted them behind her. The pain forced a scream from her. Why didn't
      somebody hear it and come to her rescue? *Here? Who am I kidding?*
      The bigger boy clutched her pendant. "Yo, what's this? Real silver?"
      Her heart pounding furiously, she said, "Don't touch that."
      "Don't tell me what to do." He broke the chain with a quick jerk.
      Lauren writhed in the smaller boy's grasp. "Give that back!" she
      cried. "It's my grandmother's!"
      "Yeah? What'll you give us for it?" the boy with the buzz-cut asked.
      Relaxing his hold, he snaked one hand down her front to squeeze a
      breast, hard, through her shirt. Her head reeled with fear and anger.
      She kicked the larger boy in the shin, then wiggled around to face the
      smaller one. She drove a knee into his groin. He doubled over, groaning.
      *Hey, that really works!*
      The hefty guy was reaching for her. She shoved the palm of her hand
      into his nose. The crunching noise made her stomach lurch, but he
      stumbled backward. Thank God her mom had made her practice those moves.
      Mentally giving thanks for her time on the girls' cross-country team,
      too, Lauren bolted for the street. She sprinted around the corner and
      ducked into the next alley she came to. There, she dropped to her
      knees behind a Dumpster and huddled in the deepest pool of shadow.
      Unless she got super lucky, they would find her sooner or later.
      Probably sooner. The snow wasn't falling heavily enough to cover her
      tracks right away. Meanwhile, those jerks had her pendant. Grandmama's
      pendant. Fresh tears welled from her eyes. She choked down a sob to
      keep from making a noise that would give her away.
      Now that she'd stopped running, the cold hit her anew. She hugged
      herself and shivered while the wind spattered her with damp
      snowflakes. She heard the two punks yelling to each other as they
      searched along the street. Another sound cut into her misery, a low hiss.
      Glancing up and rubbing her eyes with a gloved hand, she found the
      orange tabby staring at her. Its pawprints lined up beside her own
      footprints. With a flick of its tail, the cat paced toward the far end
      of the alley.
      A female voice said, "This way. Quickly, before those two catch up
      with you."
      Lauren looked frantically from side to side, searching for the woman
      who'd spoken.
      The cat trotted back to her and rubbed insistently against her leg.
      "Get up! What are you waiting for? Follow me." She headed for the
      alley's outlet again.
      -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¬ó
      Margaret L. Carter
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