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Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 40 (January 2009)

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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 , Jan 3, 2009
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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/

      Happy New Year! May it bring blessings and prosperity to all of you.

      I have several web appearances lined up this month. On January 5, I'll
      have a guest post about "Sex and the Sympathetic Vampire" on the
      Paranormality blog:
      http://paranormalityuniverse.blogspot.com/

      On January 15, I'll be a guest blogger on Renee Bagby's site:
      http://dreneebagby.blogspot.com

      On January 16, an interview with my character Britt Loren, from DARK
      CHANGELING, CHILD OF TWILIGHT, and SHADOW OF THE BEAST, will appear on
      "It's My Turn to Talk":
      http://www.mycharacters.blogspot.com/

      Below is an excerpt from my Darkover story "Carmen's Flight," one of
      several stories of mine originally published in Marion Zimmer
      Bradley's anthologies and available at Fictionwise.com. In this tale,
      Carmen, a Terran pilot stationed on Darkover, feels an inexplicable
      compulsion to fly into a forbidden wilderness region alone. This piece
      is a collaboration with my husband, Leslie Roy Carter (primary author
      of fantasy novels WILD SORCERESS and BESIEGED ADEPT).

      This month I'm interviewing Julie Kenner, author of the "Aphrodite"
      superhero series and the Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom, as
      well as one of my favorite stand-alone shapeshifter romances, CAT'S FANCY.

      *****
      Interview with Julie Kenner:

      > 1. What inspired you to begin writing?

      I can't point to one particular thing, because I can't remember ever *not*
      writing. My earliest memories are of me putting together stories, even if
      it involved sitting at my dad's typewriter and pounding out my tales
      so fast
      the keys stuck together. They were nonsensical if you tried to read them
      (seeing as at that age I couldn't read or type), but to me they made
      perfect
      sense. After that, I wrote poems and short stories and worked on the
      school
      paper through junior high and high school.

      I always wanted to write novels, but being a very by-the-book sort of
      school
      girl (i.e., I lacked any sort of entrepreneurial spirit in my youth, a
      trait
      I'm happy to say has faded somewhat), I was stymied by the fact that my
      college didn't offer "How to Write and Publish a Novel 101," and there was
      no defined career path in a book I could check out from the Undergraduate
      Library. But I wanted to write, and so I went initially for a journalism
      degree. One summer, though, I worked on a locally shot film (I have
      always
      loved movies) and I switched my major over to film, thinking vaguely
      that I
      could try screenwriting (naively ignoring the fact that that the Hollywood
      career path is just as vague as the New York publishing path).

      Ultimately, I found myself with a college degree, but at 19 I lacked the
      guts to go to Los Angeles. So after working vaguely in the media field in
      Austin for a while, I took the LSAT and went to law school (now
      *there* is a
      defined career path). In truth, I loved it. I was one of those annoying
      students ("gunners" we called them) that loved the theory of the law,
      and I
      did well in school and ended up moving to LA to practice. But all the
      while, I itched for a creative outlet. After a while, it became
      impossible
      to ignore the itch, and I started filling evenings and weekends with
      writing!

      > 2. What genres do you write in?

      Lately I've been writing primarily paranormal romance or urban
      fantasy. But
      I've written pretty much across the board in women's fiction --
      contemporary
      romance, paranormal, chick lit, romantic suspense. And I guess I combine
      genres, too. The Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series is what I call
      paranormal
      mommy lit.

      > 3. Your "Aphrodite" series and "Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom" series share
      > a common motif of people with extraordinary abilities leading double
      > lives. Is there a special reason why that theme appeals to you?

      I'd probably need to be a shrink to answer that, but my lay answer is a
      resounding "ummm." Seriously, I guess in a way I've led a double life,
      doing the lawyer-by-day/writer-by-night thing. Probably more
      realistically,
      it's a reflection of the pop culture I was raised on. I was weaned on I
      Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched, Charlie's Angels and Wonder Woman. I
      loved
      all those shows. And they're all extraordinary women leading double
      lives.
      Hmmm. So the question is, did those shows influence me? Or is there
      something in my personality that made me love those shows more than,
      say, My
      Three Sons?

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

      I have a lot coming out in 2009 - In April and August a mass market
      re-release of my teenage vampire series, THE GOOD GHOUL'S GUIDE TO GETTING
      EVEN and GOOD GHOULS DO! And in July, a Blaze novella in the ENDLESS
      SUMMER anthology. In September I have the fifth in the Demon Hunting
      Soccer
      Mom series, DEMON EX MACHINA. In November and December I have
      as-yet-untitled Blazes for Christmas and New Year's. And in November,
      December and January of 2010, I've got a cool new series about an assassin
      for the underworld, TAINTED, TORN, and TURNED. (And I have another new
      series starting in 2010, but I talk about that in the next question!)

      > 5. What are you working on now?

      I'm working on the first in a new series that I'm super excited about.
      It's
      a new romance series set in and around a legal system that prosecutes and
      punishes paranormal creatures for crimes against the Covenant. This
      secret
      legal system is hidden within our own world, and the heroine of the first
      book is a Los Angeles district attorney who is hand-picked to prosecute
      cases for the organization. Her first case pits her against an
      accused who
      happens to be a former lover. And, to her shock, a notorious vampire.

      > 6. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

      Read as much as possible, and in multiple genres, both fiction and
      non-fiction. Also, keep writing new and different things. Don't keep
      polishing the first chapter of your first manuscript over and over. Move
      on, because it's in the moving on that you both find and refine your
      voice.

      > 7. What's your website URL?

      http://www.juliekenner.com

      *****
      Some Books I've Been Reading:

      THE YEAR OF DISAPPEARANCES, by Susan Hubbard. This sequel to THE
      SOCIETY OF S didn't grab me so strongly as the first book, which
      enthralled me while young Ariella was searching for the truth about
      her background, but became less gripping after she found her mother
      and a colony of vampires. Ari learned she was born to vampire parents
      (who were transformed into vampires in the traditional way), making
      her a rare specimen. In THE YEAR OF DISAPPEARANCES, at the age of
      fourteen she lives with her mother in Florida, her father having
      temporarily left them. As the first omen of strange events, bees from
      her mother's hives inexplicably begin to die. Later, teenage
      acquaintances of Ari's disappear, causing suspicious scrutiny of her
      and of her mother's entire household. Even though the law doesn't
      consider Ari seriously as a suspect, many of her classmates fear and
      shun her. In the second half of the book she becomes a freshman at a
      small college (with fake ID to avoid drawing attention to her
      precocity), where the effects of the disappearances follow her.
      Throughout the book, she struggles with relating to her human peers
      (oblivious to her true nature), learning to handle her vampire traits,
      and delving into the mystery of the disappearances. She eventually
      uncovers complex secrets about the worldwide vampire community.
      Although Hubbard's vampires have many of the customary powers, such as
      invisibility and hypnotism, they are far from invulnerable; in fact,
      they are intriguingly fragile in some ways. This book didn't excite me
      in the opening scenes, but it gradually drew me in and held my
      attention. Ari, who tells her story in the first person, is a vivid
      and sympathetic character, who particularly appeals to me because of
      her solitary, book-centered childhood. In my opinion, this novel is
      well worth a vampire fan's time, even if not so innovative as THE
      SOCIETY OF S.

      CRY WOLF, by Patricia Briggs. This isn't a Mercy Thompson novel but
      takes place in the same universe as that series, featuring several
      werewolves who've appeared in the Mercy novels. CRY WOLF is a sequel
      to the novella "Alpha and Omega" from the anthology ON THE PROWL.
      Anna, an Omega, not a submissive wolf but one who stands outside the
      hierarchy and has a calming influence on other werewolves, has been
      claimed as mate by Charles, one of the sons of the Marrok, the Alpha
      of all North American packs. Anna and Charles, however, still have
      many issues to work out to complete their mating bond, a process
      fraught with emotional tension. I found Anna an appealing character
      and the difficulties of her relationship with Charles absorbing.
      Scarred by abuse as a new werewolf, she struggles to discover her own
      strength. Meanwhile, a rogue wolf is apparently killing people in the
      Marrok's Montana wilderness territory. In the opening scene of the
      novel, we witness this creature attacking and transforming a reclusive
      Vietnam veteran burdened with guilt. Charles and Anna take on the
      mission of tracking down the killer wolf. They find the transformed
      veteran as well as a monster that turns out to be something stranger
      than a mere feral werewolf. Briggs' lycanthropes are created by
      biting, like movie werewolves rather than folklore ones; after
      transformation, however, they behave so much like members of a wolf
      pack that they might as well have become a different species. This
      novel is another un-put-downable accomplishment by Briggs (whom I saw
      in several panels at the 2008 Darkover Grand Council convention,
      including a presentation on the difficulties of casting silver
      bullets, with props; you can find a link to the print version of that
      presentation on her website, www.patriciabriggs.com, under "News
      Archive").

      SUCKS TO BE ME, by Kimberly Pauley. An entertaining YA novel subtitled
      "The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (Maybe)." As
      the subtitle suggests, the story is told in first-person narrative.
      It's also in present tense, a technique I usually find off-putting at
      novel length, but in this case it's justified because we're supposedly
      watching Mina (yes, she's named after the DRACULA heroine) working
      through her decision in real time. Her parents became vampires around
      the time of her birth (being the traditional transformed-from-human
      type, they can't breed, so she's an only child), and she has known of
      their vampire status all her life. It's illegal for ordinary mortals
      to know about vampires, however, so when the Vampire Council learns of
      Mina's existence, they decree that she must decide in the near future
      whether to accept the change or not. If not, she'll have to lose all
      contact with her parents when they move on to a new identity; if she
      does change, she will have to break off with her human friends. To
      prepare for the decision, she has to attend vampire classes, which of
      course she has to keep secret from her lifelong best friend and the
      boy she has a crush on. She makes new friends in the class, though,
      including a couple of boys who take an interest in her. Throughout the
      book appear Mina's lists of the pros and cons of becoming a vampire,
      and each chapter has a heading that confirms or refutes one of the
      standard vampire myths. Their existence isn't nearly so glamorous as
      popularly believed (her father is an accountant, for Heaven's sake). A
      fun combination of teenage angst and a fresh approach to the YA
      vampire novel.

      YOUR HEART BELONGS TO ME, by Dean Koontz. I'm sorry to say Koontz's
      latest disappointed me. In my opinion, it's his weakest novel in a
      long time. The premise sounds thrilling: Ryan Perry, whose Internet
      business has made him fabulously rich, learns at the age of
      thirty-four that he has a potentially lethal heart disorder. A
      transplant offers his only chance of living past a year. Soon after he
      switches doctors out of a combination of impatience and free-floating
      paranoia, a heart becomes available. Later, a woman who looks
      identical to the heart donor stalks him, with the declaration, "Your
      heart belongs to me." The cover blurb makes it sound as if the
      stalking is the focus of the entire book, but in fact the novel is
      half over before he even gets the transplant. After a while I caught
      myself skimming during the first half, whereas Koontz's work usually
      holds my full attention. Although Ryan and his lover Samantha, an
      aspiring writer, are appealing, I didn't find them so emotionally
      engaging as most of the protagonists in Koontz's recent novels.
      Moreover, their deep love for and happiness with each other (at least,
      until Ryan's illness causes him to doubt his entire world) make
      Samantha's refusal to marry Ryan look like a pointless whim, since the
      reason for her determination isn't revealed until the last chapter. A
      Kevorkian-type euthanasia doctor who collects cadavers (quite legally)
      seems dragged into the plot for the sake of the author's obsession
      with that theme (handled better in other works of his). Still, the
      fact that the story is told almost entirely from Ryan's viewpoint
      maintains suspense as to whether his paranoid fears have any basis in
      fact. Unfortunately, the solution to the mystery turns out to be what
      amounts to an extended urban legend. And yet—the final confrontation
      is riveting, and the conclusion is thoroughly satisfying in a
      bittersweet way. Not what I consider top-notch Koontz fiction, but
      worth borrowing from the library or eventually reading in paperback.

      *****
      Excerpt from "Carmen's Flight":

      The next morning. Carmen woke up with Gary Slade's suggestion that she
      tour Thendara and the nearby countryside buzzing in her head. Today it
      didn't seem like a bad idea. Except that she felt an urge to explore
      farther than a few kilometers around the capital. Why not? She had
      liberty today; she wasn't on the duty roster until 0700 the following
      morning. That schedule left plenty of time for a private expedition.
      Flyers were available for rent, and she had enough credits saved up.
      In space she had little opportunity to spend her pay.

      She rushed through a shower and started packing. The surge of activity
      eased some of the pressure at the back of her mind. Halfway through,
      she realized what she was doing. She paused to stare at the gear laid
      out on the deck. What did she want all this stuff for? Five changes of
      clothes, a first-aid kit, toiletries--*You'd think I was going on a
      week-long camping trip, not an easy day flight.* And she'd also made a
      mental note to requisition a week's worth of rations.

      Well, what was so odd about taking precautions? She had to be prepared
      in case of an emergency landing. This was a rugged world; in some
      locales, settled communities were small and scattered.

      After dressing in a thermal cold-weather outfit, she picked up her
      blaster. *Shouldn't take this. Outside Thendara, it's contraband.* But
      she couldn't stand leaving it behind. She tucked the weapon into her pack.

      After breakfast, she signed out for the day. She'd told Gary where she
      was going but evaded questions from him and her other messmates. And
      she'd made it clear that she wanted no company. An hour after arising,
      she was down in the spaceport, checking out a flyer.

      The agent, a wiry, brown-skinned man, was dubious of Carmen's plan to
      travel without a pilot. "Restricted zones, tricky air currents--dozens
      of things could trip you up. According to regs, you're supposed to
      have a qualified guide."

      Carmen suppressed the urge to scream at the man. "I'm qualified to fly
      these things. I had the same basic training everybody gets. And I can
      read a map."

      "Letting you go alone is barely legal."

      "I can take care of myself. You just relax and forget about it." She
      peeled off an extra handful of credits to help him forget.

      Grumbling, the agent ran her through the checklist on the light,
      two-passenger plane. He briefed her on the few sectors where
      outworlders were allowed and had her sign and thumbprint a waiver
      absolving his firm of responsibility for her fate.

      Carmen felt a lightening of spirit as she rose from the ground and
      pointed the flyer northward. At last she felt that she was moving in
      the direction she was supposed to go. *Supposed? What does that mean?*
      Shaking her head, she turned her attention to the onboard computer and
      punched up the chart for the landscape below. The areas legally
      available for sightseeing were indeed limited. She laid in a course
      toward the Lake of Hali.

      -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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