Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No, 49 (Oct. 2009)
- Welcome to the October 2009 issue of 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:
Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romance Blog: http://www.aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/
Night Owl Romance gave my ghost story "Sweeter Than Wine" 4 Hearts:
They say, "'Sweeter Than Wine' was a creative, paranormal erotic quickie. It was also a lusty, interesting read."
If you have time, please listen to my podcast interview and reading on Morven Westfield's page, www.vampireswitchesandgeeks.com.
Ellora's Cave is releasing my shapeshifter novel LOVE UNLEASHED in trade paperback with a few days. So I've included an excerpt from this story of a womanizing wizard changed into a Saint Bernard, with only a few hours each night to take human form and try to seduce the heroine into helping him break the spell. This is the scene right after the heroine has picked up a "stray dog" grazed by her brother's car (and wearing a silver chain around his neck) and has had him checked by her employer, a veterinarian. Fred is the vet tech, Nick is Vicki's brother, and Phil is her ex-fiance.
This month I'm interviewing vampire romance author Rosemary Laurey, aka Georgia Evans and Madeleine Oh. Last issue (No. 48) I reviewed her wonderful World War II vampire novel BLOODY GOOD.
Interview with Rosemary Laurey:
> 1. What inspired you to begin writing?I had three children in college and was desperate for tuition money. I thought writing a book would be a nice, quick easy way to make some extra money. Ha! Ha! Shows what I knew doesn't it? By the time I realized it didn't work in quite that way, I was hooked.
My youngest finished his undergrad before I sold my first book.
> 2. What genres do you write in?Which one of me?? Rosemary Laurey writes Romance - mostly paranormal with some contemporary. Georgia Evans writes Fantasy and Madeleine Oh, erotica.
> 3. What originally inspired you to write vampire romance?To be honest, the vamps found me. Didn't set our out write a vamp but then my hero let me know. Must say it gave me a bit of a shock. .
> 4. What sparked the concept of your World War II trilogy written as Georgia Evans?My Editor asked me to write a WW2 set book.
> Why did you decide to use a different pen name for that series?It was the publisher's request, since they marketed them as Fantasy not Romance
> 5. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?The latest is Bloody Right. The next two fiction titles are anthologies: Loves Me Loves Me Not from MIRA out in the UK in September- includes, Nightwalker a Rosemary Laurey vampire story, and The Sweetest Kiss, out in October from Cleis Press, includes Night Life, a Madeleine Oh vampire. All three of us are contributing a chapter to The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal to be released this fall by Dragon Moon Press in Canada.
> 6. What are you working on now?I'm about a quarter the way into another WW2 book- this one set in Paris and Vichy France (with vamps in the Resistance) in the early spring of 1941. Also I've just sold a series of four Madeleine novellas (vamps and werewolves) out in 2010 so I'm starting them too.
>Keep writing, finish the book, send it out... then start at the beginning again. And grow a thick skin,
> 7. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
>www.rosemarylaurey.com www.brytewood.co.uk www.madeleineoh.com
> 8. What's your website URL?
Be sure to visit the Brytewood site for a contest and some goodies.
Some Books I've Been Reading:
DREAD: HOW FEAR AND FANTASY HAVE FUELED EPIDEMICS FROM THE BLACK DEATH TO AVIAN FLU, by Philip Alcabes. The fascinating MAN AND MICROBES, by Arno Karlen, discussed diseases and plagues throughout history in terms of how dangerous microbes have co-evolved with humanity and how new diseases spring up as a result of changes in human technology and lifestyles. DREAD isn't that kind of book. It surveys the history of epidemics in their political and social contexts. As its dominant theme, it demonstrates how those in power throughout history have used the concept of epidemics to rationalize fears (for instance of the poor or foreigners), justify declaring a state of crisis, and implement various social agendas. Alcabes also points out how the term "epidemic" has become such a powerful and elastic metaphor that it can be used for conditions that aren't infectious, e.g. the nonsensical "obesity epidemic," or that aren't even diseases, such as an "epidemic" of smoking or crime. As far as diseases are concerned, why are occurrences of some afflictions called epidemics while others much more prevalent and lethal (e.g., malaria) are not? Most trenchant and potentially chilling is the author's discussion of the new trend of scaring the public into a constant state of alert over the need to prepare for a hypothetical future scourge that is unlikely to begin with. And when the warned-of outbreak doesn't occur, of course, the agency in power takes credit for having prevented it. Sort of like Snoopy lying on his doghouse with his fingers crossed to keep vampires away. "But there aren't any vampires around here," says Charlie Brown. "See, it works." I have reservations about some of the author's claims, such as his apparent denial that autism is a disease. Or maybe he's simply saying that the various conditions subsumed under "autism spectrum disorders" don't logically belong together; I had trouble assimilating that section of the text. (On the other hand, his evidence that the current supposed "epidemic" of increase in autism cases is an artifact of diagnostic changes and increased reporting seems completely plausible.) Still, DREAD is legitimately unsettling and well worth reading.
MUST LOVE HELLHOUNDS, by Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, and Meljean Brook. All four of these novellas are fun reads, although in the first two stories hellhounds play only secondary roles and don't occupy much of the text. Harris, "The Britlingens Go to Hell": Not related to the Sookie Stackhouse series and set in a universe where magic and technology work together. Hell is a completely physical location under the surface of a planet. Two female bodyguards are hired to escort a thief into Lucifer's realm to retrieve an item the thief stole and couldn't manage to bring out with him on his previous incursion. The hellhounds show up as obstacles to their escape from Hell's dungeon. Singh, "Angels' Judgment": Vampires are created by angels, and each vampire serves an angel. These angels and archangels are not benign celestial messengers but ruthless beings feared by all who know of them. Sara, a hunter who tracks renegade vampires, becomes involved on a mission with Deacon, the Slayer, whose role it is to deal with renegade hunters. Amid an atmosphere of suspicion and betrayal, they don't know whom they can trust until the very end. A hunter who's on their list of suspects owns a hellhound watchdog. Andrews, "Magic Mourns": A female were-hyena with a shameful secret has to find out why Cerberus, the gigantic, three-headed dog who guards Hades, is rampaging in the upper world. Brook, "Blind Spot": Maggie Wren is commissioned by her vampire boss to help his human nephew, Geoff Blake, who is blind but can see through the eyes of other people, rescue Blake's sister. Maggie has a hellhound called Sir Pup as a sidekick. When he shifts into his larger-than-life, demonic form, he's terrifying, but he is loyal to her. So only two of these tales include demon hounds that could conceivably be "loved." Clever title, anyway, and all the stories contain ingenious world-building.
HOPE'S FOLLY, by Linnea Sinclair. This science fiction-romance crossover is in the same universe as GABRIEL'S GHOST, with allusions to characters in that novel, but the new book can be read independently. It kept me completely engrossed, even considering the battle scenes, where my attention would drift in most novels (sometimes never to return). After a distinguished career, Admiral Philip Guthrie defects from the Imperial forces to become fleet admiral for the insecure rebel Alliance. He receives command of a ship he once served on with his late mentor, a craft refitted for commercial use and renamed Hope's Folly. It comes complete with a large, supercilious cat named Folly as well as multiple operational problems. One of Guthrie's crew members turns out to be Rya Bennton, daughter of Philip's old CO, for whose death he feels responsible. She's had a crush on him ever since she was ten years old and her father brought Philip, then a junior officer, home for dinner. How will they deal with their very inappropriate attraction, amid an atmosphere of suspicion where one or more Imperial spies are almost certainly lurking on the ship, bent on facilitating the enemy's capture of Philip? Are the constant breakdowns due to active sabotage rather than inept retrofitting by the previous owners? Both the external problems and interstellar conflicts and the characters' emotional turmoil feel wrenchingly real. Viewpoint scenes are about evenly divided among the two protagonists, so that each one comes fully alive. The cat turns out to play a critical role in exposing the traitor aboard. There's an engineering officer who will remind you of STAR TREK with his predilection for pulling miracles out of the ether at the last moment. Rya's fascination with weapons creates an instant bond between her and Philip, even though they haven't seen each other since she was a preteen girl. Rya's fretting over her height and supposed unattractive layer of fat doesn't annoy me the way it would with some heroines, because she's so strong otherwise, and her feelings are justified by the insensitive digs her former lover was apt to take on that subject. Until she runs into Philip, she has happily restricted herself to JFFS (Just for Fun Sex), but now that isn't enough. Genuine sparks fly between them every time they meet, and the need to work together to overcome the challenges of the ship and the enemy bring them closer together with every crisis. This novel is a keeper.
THEY BITE, by Jonathan Maberry and David F. Kramer. This guide to "Endless Cravings of Supernatural Predators" includes discussion of folklore, fiction, and film, along with a glossary in each chapter listing monsters from all over the world that fall into the respective category. The topics comprise "They Thirst" (vampires), "They Hunt" (hellhounds and monster dogs), "They Howl" (werewolves), "They Hide" (cryptozoology), "They Haunt" (ghosts, etc.), "They Defile" (demons), "They Deceive" (tricksters and seducers), and "They Kill" (monsters that don't fall neatly into one of the other classes). The essays are lively and informative, and the dozens of sidebar quotes from authors, artists, and film celebrities in the horror field make this book stand out from other guides to the realm of monsters. The authors have clearly done more than superficial research. I noticed a few errors (e.g., calling Suzy McKee Charnas simply "Suzy McKee") but not enough to deserve a negative review. And it's profusely illustrated with photos of people, book covers, art works, and movie posters. If you collect reference works on creatures of horror, you'll probably want this one.
Excerpt from LOVE UNLEASHED:
In the waiting room she paid for the painkillers, silently grateful to Dr. Brodie for waiving the exam fee, and chose a leash and choke collar from the display next to the bags and cans of premium food.
Ringing up her purchases, Fred said, "Shouldn't you get a Gentle Leader? If he pulls on a regular collar, you'll never be able to hold him."
"Yeah, I guess so. I'll get one of those instead." She returned the choke chain to the rack. "And food." She mentally cringed at the price of the dry kibble she picked out. Even with her mortgage only half the market value of the house, she didn't have much wiggle room in her budget for expensive pet food. *So it's a good thing I'm not keeping him for long, isn't it?*
The dog licked her hand again as she looped the Gentle Leader over his muzzle and fastened the collar portion. "He likes you," Nick said, taking her bag of supplies.
"I'll try not to be too flattered," she said, "since I've never met a Saint Bernard that didn't like everybody." She waved goodbye to Fred and coaxed the dog toward the exit.
"So if you don't find the owner, are you going to keep him?" her brother asked.
"You've got to be kidding. When I said I might get another pet, I meant a cute little puppy, not a horse with fur." She hoped neither Nick nor the dog could tell how tempting the idea sounded. "I'm not keeping you, dog. Definitely not. Not a chance. Stop looking at me that way."
He climbed docilely into the car and lay on his side. Vicki kept a loose grasp of the leash in case his mood changed when the engine started. He still breathed heavily but not as rapidly or noisily as before, so she didn't worry too much about his condition. With the August heat, some panting was to be expected. He stayed calm while Nick drove her to the nearby bank to deposit her paycheck, then home. Her house sat on a side street in an older residential area halfway between downtown Annapolis and Forest Drive, the four-lane road that marked the city-county line.
In her front yard, she paused to pat the giant inflatable crab next to the porch steps. "Can you believe itPhil kept bugging me to get rid of this?"
Nick shook his head in mock horror. "Dump the crab? Outrageous."
"I told him it gave the place character." Each fall she replaced it with a giant inflatable pumpkin and in winter she set up a snowman of similar material. The dog shied away from the fire-engine-red mammoth crustacean with a tentative flick of his tail. "Don't worry, big guy, it's harmless. Phil just has no sense of fun."
She guided the dog into the fenced backyard. His gait didn't look unsteady anymore. Bumping into the car must not have done him any permanent harm. Not wanting to release him until she felt more confident that he wouldn't try to escape at the first opportunity, she held on to the lead and waited. He paced to the end of the six-foot leash, looked back at her and whined.
"Well, go ahead, what are you waiting for?"
He tugged on the leash. Giving him some slack, she let him wander under the trees and into the shrubbery along the chain-link fence at the back. He crept between a pair of bushes, until she could see no more than the end of his tail. "A dog with modesty. Now I've seen everything."
She found Trixie's old water bowl on a shelf in the garage and filled it. "You have to stay in here while we're unloading the car," she said before removing the leash and collar. "I wouldn't want anything to happen to you. Or to my tomato plants, for that matter." He sat in front of her, ears perked forward, and swished his tail back and forth.
"So now you're carrying on a conversation with the dog?" Nick said while lugging the first of several boxes through the front door.
"He's the smartest animal I've ever met, if you can go by the way he looks at me when I talk." Together they hauled the rest of the boxes from the SUV into the split foyer, up the left-hand stairs and into the spare bedroom.
"Now remember," Nick said on his way out, "let me know if you have any trouble with Phil. I'm a high-powered lawyer. I've got connections."
She laughed in response to his grin and shooed him out the door. In her bedroom she stripped off her shorts and T-shirt to take a shower. Only while dressing did she remember the silver necklace in her purse. She certainly didn't want to carry that around. She locked it in her jewelry box with the few valuable pieces she'd inherited from her mother and returned the key to its usual place in her top drawer under a pile of hair scrunchies.
Not wanting to leave the dog alone too long, she descended the right-hand steps to the den and walked through the laundry room to the door that connected with the garage. The dog sat where she'd left him, gazing at the door as if waiting for her to appear. "Want to go out again?" she asked. She opened the outside door and watched the animal trot around the vegetable garden in the center of the yard. Again he disappeared into the bushes, where she could only take on faith that he was performing as expected.
"Okay, I guess you can come in now. If you're smart enough not to trample the tomatoes, you can probably be trusted on the carpet." She knew he would enjoy the air-conditioning, with his alpine-evolved fur coat.
He padded after her into the dining room and lay at her feet in the computer nook while she logged on to the Internet. Accessing the website of the local paper, she placed an ad in the "Pets Found" classifieds. She didn't mention the silver necklace, which would provide a means of confirming the owner's identity. The notice would appear on the website tomorrowFridayand in the newspaper starting Saturday morning. "Think your master will call? He must be awfully careless, letting you run around with no tags." The dog lifted his head and emitted what sounded like a contemptuous snort.
"Hungry?" She went into the kitchen, with the dog following at her heels and poured a bowl of dry food for him. After one sniff, he turned in a circle and lay down under the table. "Don't you dare turn up your nose at that stuff. Do you have any idea how much one bag of premium large-breed kibble costs?" The dog just lay with his head resting on his forepaws and gazed at her with his eyes rolled upwhat she thought of as "whale eyes". "Okay, be that way. Starve see if I care." Just as Vicki took a couple of boneless chicken breasts from the freezer and stuck them in the microwave to thaw, the phone rang. The second she answered it, she realized she should have waited for the machine to pick up.
Her throat tightened and her pulse accelerated at the sound of Phil's voice. She should have known getting away without confrontation would be too much to hope for. She greeted him in as casual a tone as she could manage.
"What's with this ridiculous note you left? If it's some female ploy for attention, forget it." She visualized him in his open-necked shirt and tailored slacks, with his fair-haired, square-jawed good looks that Nick always said reminded him of a cross between a golf pro and a politician.
Phil's tone grated on her nerves. Though she'd half expected to feel wistful regret for the loss of a two-year relationship, instead she felt only mild irritation, along with a desire to cut the conversation short and return to more interesting pursuits. "The last thing I want is more of your attention. Like I said in the note, we're through. I'm sorry it has to be this way but my decision is final."
He shifted from impatient to wheedling. "Come on, Vicki, whatever you're upset about, we can work it out. We both have too much invested to let it fall apart over nothing."
"Invested?" She caught herself gritting her teeth and forced her jaws to relax. "I am not a mutual fund. And I don't consider my concerns nothing. Goodbye, Phil."
Only after she hung up, with an unexpected grin on her face, did she notice the Saint Bernard growling. "It's okay, that's over." She scratched between his ears and he leaned against her, his tongue lolling out one side of his mouth. "I can't believe I was crazy about that guy once. It just dawned on me how long I've actually been tired of him. Guess I was afraid to admit to myself how much time I've wasted already." She ruffled the dog's ears. "But you wouldn't know about that, would you? With you it's love `em and leave `em. No complications."
The dog plopped down on the floor, his ears drooping. After taking the chicken out of the microwave, she switched on the portable radio on the counter, tuned to a country station in Washington. "I can't tell you how many times Phil ragged on me about listening to country music. He thought it was low-class or something. Well, the heck with him." Swaying to the rhythm, she chopped the meat into bite-sized pieces and heated a pan for stir-fry. "He didn't like the way I dressed, either." She wielded the knife with emphatic strokes on onions and bell peppers, the latter from her own plants. Though she didn't have a flare for gardening in general, she did enjoy growing and eating fresh vegetables. "Kept hinting I should shop at better stores and do something about my hair. Like I need to dress up for my job. I can just see myself wearing designer jeans for cats to throw up on."
The dog's eyes stayed fixed on her, his head swiveling to follow her every move. A thread of saliva drooled from his jowls. "You want my dinner, don't you? Fat chance. Maybe your owner spoiled you but don't expect me to do the same." He stared at her from those droopy brown eyes and whimpered. "Oh, all right." She tossed a chunk of chicken onto the floor, and he gulped it down.
-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:
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