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Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 57 (June 2010)

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  • margvamp
    Welcome to the June 2010 issue of my newsletter, News from the Crypt, and please visit Carter s Crypt (www.margaretlcarter.com), devoted to my horror,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1 8:56 AM
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      Welcome to the June 2010 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:
      www.simegen.com/reviews/vampires/vamprelm.htm

      Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romance Blog: http://www.aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/

      Fictionwise.com sells quite a few of my e-books as well as my short stories from various anthologies, such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Sword and Sorceress" series.

      ROGUE MAGESS, the new fantasy novel by my husband, Leslie Roy Carter, and me, is now available for the Kindle:

      http://www.amazon.com/Rogue-Magess-ebook/dp/B003HO5V0K/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1273167369&sr=1-10

      So is "Foxfire," my kitsune shapshifter novella from the anthology TRANSFORMATIONS, released in December as a stand-alone story:

      http://www.amazon.com/Foxfire-ebook/dp/B0035N1UPS/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1273167369&sr=1-7

      And my Silhouette vampire romance EMBRACING DARKNESS:

      http://www.amazon.com/Embracing-Darkness-ebook/dp/B0014BRN8G/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1273167645&sr=1-19

      Search the Kindle Store for many other titles by me in this format.

      In early May the Savvy Authors blog posted a guest piece by me about collaborating with my husband on ROGUE MAGESS:

      http://www.savvyauthors.com/vb/content.php?156-Collaboration-with-a-Writing-Spouse-by

      Good news: Ellora's Cave has accepted my Lovecraft-inspired erotic paranormal romance novella "Song from the Abyss" for their music-themed release month, November 2010.

      Below is an excerpt from "Incunabula," one of the vampire stories in my collection HEART'S DESIRES AND DARK EMBRACES (Amber Quill Press). The hero, Nigel, is also the hero of my Amber Quill novel SEALED IN BLOOD.

      I'm interviewing veteran vampire romance author and editor Nancy Kilpatrick, a couple of whose early stories appeared in my fanzine THE VAMPIRE'S CRYPT. (I have links on my website listing the contents of each issue of the zine and a link leading to the distributor who sells all 25 issues.)

      *****

      Interview with Nancy Kilpatrick:

      1. What inspired you to begin writing?

      My grandfather gave me a typewriter when I was eight years old. I began hunting and pecking and wrote child stories. By my teens I was writing teen-angst stories and Why-Does-God-Let-This-Happen essays. I didn't have an agenda to `be a writer', but had always written, and one day I realized that this is what I did all the time, so I must be a writer. Writer by default! <G>


      2. What genres do you write in?

      Most of what I've written has been in the horror and dark fantasy genres and a good chunk of it is vampire fiction. I've also published stories that are mystery, fantasy, erotica, oh and that one science fiction story! I've also published one non-fiction book, The Goth Bible. Like most writers, I will tackle anything that interests me but the interest has to be in the project itself, and I find my interests tend towards the darker types of fiction.


      3. Do you outline, "wing it," or something in between?

      It depends on what I'm writing. My first novel (written in 1975), I winged it. I've published a total of eighteen novels and learned early on that because this fictional form requires such a huge investment of time and energy, it's good to know where I'm going in the story, although I might not go the route I'd envisioned, or even reach the conclusion I'd anticipated.

      For short fiction, I don't outline per se, but I do more or less think out the plot. Sometimes I jot notes. It often goes something like this: in "The Vechi Barbat" a short story published in the World Horror Convention book 2007 when I was a Writer Guest of Honor at the convention--which has recently been reprinted in By Blood We Live--, I knew I wanted to write about an eastern European vampire and I knew I'd be working with mythology. I did some research and found enough information that I became fascinated with the idea of someone caught between the modern world and the world of the past as still lived in parts of Europe today. That gave me the parameters for that story and I just needed to think about how to portray that type of vampire and how the mythology around that vampire would impact on a girl leaving her village for the modern world.


      4. What authors or works influenced the background and traits of your vampires?

      I'm not sure how to answer that. Back in 1975 when I wrote Bloodlover, my first vampire novel, there hadn't yet been anything modern published that significantly altered the vampire from what had come before. Anne Rice, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Fred Saberhagen and Stephen King were just about to publish pivotal vampire novels that would define the different directions the undead would take, the first three changing the face of the vampire. Bloodlover did not get published until 2000 (and has just been reprinted by Mosaic Press in 2010) and it became the 4th book in my Power of the Blood world. But when I wrote it in the `70s, it was set in 2006 and had a lot of sci fi elements like moving sidewalks, computers, cryonic suspension. As time moved on, I had to rewrite that book quite a number of times because science fiction became science fact. Finally, I turned it into a flashback novel, set in the 1960s. But the idea of the vampire and a human having an intimate and erotic relationship hadn't been done very much and certainly not in the way that I did it. Now, of course, you see it all the time, but that was then.

      Then there's my erotic horror novel series The Darker Passions. The first book, Dracula, allowed me to blend the original novel utilizing Stoker's characters and plot and some original dialogue and expand on it with my ideas which involved adding the scenes between the scenes so it became highly erotic and also tongue-in-cheek humorous. That book was published in 1993. Anne Rice's Beauty series was published in the mid-1980s. I'd read the three books and couldn't for the life of me figure out why Rice didn't combine vampires and erotica in a series similar to the Beauty books, since that combo seemed a natural connection for her. It was for me. I suppose in a way you could say that the Beauty series was at the back of my mind when I pitched The Darker Passions of Dracula to Masquerade Books in 1990. The publisher liked the idea, wanted a series, so it became The Darker Passions series, the titles Dracula; Frankenstein; Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde; The Fall of the House of Usher; The Picture of Dorian Gray; Carmilla; The Pit and the Pendulum. Oddly, Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula was released in 1992, when my novel was at the printer's. I guess we both wanted to see an eroticizing Dracula! <laughing>

      I can't identify any specific authors who have influenced me because in a way, everyone I've ever read has shaped me. I'm a firm believer that the more you read, the more unique your writing will become, which flies in the face of a common notion that doesn't seem right to me at all, which is: if you read other writers doing something similar to what you're doing, you will be imitative. To me, every piece of writing slides into the foundation of who I am as a writer and as a person and how I see myself and the world around me. The ways I synthesize and then utilize all that I experience is what makes me an individual, distinct. I think unique writing comes from that place.



      5. Please tell us about the premise and contents of your new vampire anthology, EVOLVE.

      Evolve is an anthology I've wanted to edit for a very long time. The year before, I'd co-edited Tesseracts Thirteen with David Morrell--the ninth anthology I'd edited--but because of how that horror/dark fantasy anthology went, there were no vampire stories in it. Yet I'd found seven vampire stories in the roughly 200 submissions that I thought offered an innovative approach to the undead, showing a new vampire progressing into the immediate future. Because I've read so much and seen so many movies, I know where the vampire came from and how he/she got to here. I tried to impart a bit of that knowledge to the writers and suggested they check out the past and present vampire further and then speculate: where can this go? They did that, and more than met my challenge. I'm thoroughly delighted with the results. The writing in Evolve is excellent. The scope of the writing styles and the variety of settings and plots means there's something for everyone and yet the whole is a gestalt. But, this is not a young adult book, it's meant for everyone. The vampire moves into the near future and I think vampirophiles will be really happy with Evolve.


      6. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?

      I'm editing another anthology but I don't want to talk about it yet, since I haven't formulated the premise in a way that I can communicate it well. The idea just sold a couple of weeks ago. It's not the right time to say more.

      My next book out is a graphic novel. This will be composed of the three comics I wrote the scripts for in the 1990s for the Vamperotica series, which are based on three of my inner-connected short stories, which will also be included. We're hoping to have a music tie-in as well. That's out in August. We're still tossing around the title for the graphic novel.


      7. What are you working on now?

      I've written about 24 short stories in the last 24 months and I've got a bunch more short stories promised. I'll be dealing with the anthology, which will be my third in the last 24 months, so I guess that's one a year for three years. I also teach online writing courses for a college and mentor for a university on an ongoing basis. And I travel a lot, 24 trips out of town in the last 24 months, with 4 trips already planned for the rest of 2010. I never have any of the big blocks of time needed for novel writing that I used to have. I've got three novels-in-progress and am gouging out time for myself to focus exclusively on one of those for a month, so that I can move it along.



      8. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

      You must develop that rhino-hide you hear about. This is a tough business, sometimes nasty, and rejection is more prevalent than acceptance. If 20 rejections in a row will crush your spirit for more than a day or two, get out of this business and save yourself. The writing world requires talent, inspiration and perspiration mixed with a healthy dose of luck, luck I believe which is created through the perspiration part. If you keep at the writing and keep submitting, you will have success. But you'll likely face a lot of rejection en route and it's your job to stay hopeful, flexible and work-oriented without hardening your soul, meanwhile developing a tolerance for people not appreciating what you do. Tastes vary from editor to editor and that is out of your control. Eventually, if you persevere, you'll find an editor who does appreciate what you write.

      A friend of mine has a story he tells which I think reflects this well. He wrote a story, sent it out, got a nice rejection but the editor wouldn't publish the story because he felt it was too similar to Stephen King's It. Next submission, similar comments--too much like It. The author suffered six rejections in all, each saying it was a good story but resembled It. The seventh editor bought the story with a letter that said, "I love this! It reminds me of Stephen King's It."


      9. What's your website URL? Do you have a blog?

      My website is: www.nancykilpatrick.com
      I tend to blog on Facebook!

      Some recently published and upcoming short fiction.

      Vampire:

      "Bitches of the Night" in Blood Lite
      "The Vechi Barbat" in By Blood We Live
      "Traditions in Future Perfect" in The Bitten Word
      "Vampire Anonymous" in Vampires: Dracula and the Undead Legions

      Other:

      "The Promise" in Hellbound Hearts
      "The Age of Sorrow" in The Living Dead
      "Sara" in Campus Chills
      "In Winter" in Darkness on the Edge
      "The Windows to the Soul" in Don Juan and Men
      "The Ghoul Next Door" in Blood Lite 2
      "Hungry All the Time" in Kolchak 3
      "Hope and the Maiden" in The Bleeding Edge
      "Sympathy for the Devil" in Chilling Tales
      "In Memory of…" in Brighton Shock
      "Mozakia" in The Moonstone Book of Zombies
      "Zombified" in Bits of the Dead

      *****

      Some Books I've Been Reading:

      UNSEEN ACADEMICALS, by Terry Pratchett. The latest Discworld novel is mainly about football, although, like all the recent books in this series, it pulls together several different themes. It took me a couple of chapters to realize they weren't playing football in the sense of the NFL or the Army-Navy game, but what we call soccer on this side of the pond. (Duh.) In Ankh-Morpork, football is an amateur pursuit more like a street riot than a game, with fierce tribal loyalties and feuds. The faculty of Unseen University, the wizards' college, discovers that keeping a certain vital monetary grant depends on their playing a football game at least once during a certain interval of years, and the time is almost up. For his own typically devious reasons, Lord Vetinari wants the game to go forward. So rules are composed, a team (the Unseen Academicals) is formed, and a match with the foremost street team is arranged at the city's stadium, the Hippo. A new kind of ball, which just barely skirts the right side of the rule against using magic, is constructed. Trevor Likely, a worker at the university, the son of a legendary deceased player, has promised his old mum that he'll never play football. Naturally, we know he'll somehow be forced to save the day during the climactic game. Meanwhile, another university employee, Nutt, a goblin - or is he something more? -- with secrets, volunteers to coach the team. He's motivated in everything by the drive to prove his "worth," as inspired by his patroness, "Ladyship." Glenda, head cook in the University's Night Kitchen, befriends him, while Trevor falls in love with her beautiful but dim friend, Juliet, whose family supports the team of Trevor's family's deadly rivals. Some readers might wince, by the way, at Juliet's embodiment of the "dumb blonde" stereotype, but like most of Pratchett's characters, no matter how close to caricature she approaches, she still has individuality. Juliet becomes a super-model for a new fashion of ultra-fine dwarven chainmail and has to deal with her sudden celebrity status under Glenda's no-nonsense guidance. Young love, racial prejudice (expressed in reactions to Nutt, the alleged last of his kind), and sports fanaticism clash in the big game, with a bit of supernatural intervention at the moment of highest drama. My favorite features of the novel are Nutt's background and the liaison of his vampire patroness, Lady Margolotta, with Lord Vetinari. And I especially like the relationship between Nutt and Glenda. Glenda is a strong, memorable character I'd like to meet again. One of the comments on Amazon.com mentions the temptation to read the text through the "filter" of the author's Alzheimer diagnosis. I admit I wasn't immune to that temptation. My impression is that UNSEEN ACADEMICALS doesn't show any signs of mental deterioration. The only structural weakness I might remark on concerns the "Romeo and Juliet" dimension of Trevor and Juliet's love, which is set up but not fully developed. While it won't become one of my favorite Discworld novels (those are MONSTROUS REGIMENT, CARPE JUGULUM, and the Tiffany Aching trilogy), it's far from my least favorite -- definitely rereadable.

      NEVER LESS THAN A LADY, by Mary Jo Putney. This novel is the second in Putney's new cycle of historical romances, "Lost Lords," featuring young men educated at the Westerfield Academy, a school for boys of "good birth and bad behavior." Despite the recurring characters from book to book, each novel can stand on its own. Although this one didn't grab me as powerfully as some of her older works did, it's still a good story. Major Alexander Randall sells his commission and returns home from the Napoleonic Wars to claim his position as heir presumptive to his uncle, the Earl of Daventry. The Earl despises his nephew, and his deceased son, Branford, always bullied Randall with elaborate cruelty. Nevertheless, Randall is the only remaining male heir, so he is ordered to accept his responsibilities and marry as soon as possible. The one woman who has haunted his memory, Julia, is, he believes, socially beneath him—a village midwife. She's actually the widow of Branford, whom she accidentally killed while defending herself against his abuse. Daventry considers her a murderess, and she faked her own death and changed her name to escape him. But now he has discovered she's alive. While visiting a friend in the neighborhood, Randall happens to be on the spot when Julia's apprentice comes seeking help because Julia has been abducted by a pair of her father-in-law's thugs. Summarized this way, the set-up may sound complicated, but once you accept as a "given" the coincidence of Randall's unknowingly dashing to the rescue of his cousin's widow, everything else falls into place. Randall offers Julia his protection by marrying her, thus fulfilling his uncle's command that he marry to produce the next heir. Julia believes herself barren because of the miscarriage she suffered from her husband's brutal beating, but nobody else needs to know that flaw in the plan. Julia, naturally, is reluctant to risk another marriage yet feels drawn to Randall. He persuades her to allow him to touch her once a day, promising never to go further than she can endure. They marry in Scotland, under laws that, unlike those of England, allow a wife to sue for divorce. As added insurance, Randall signs a paper releasing her from the marriage, which she can use if she ever feels the need of escape. He wants the union to be real and permanent, loving her almost from the beginning. She displays realistic wariness and doubts. Until the end of the novel, neither one feels completely certain of the other's emotions and degree of commitment, reasonable in view of the circumstances that brought them together. While testing the waters of married life and keeping a lookout for Daventry's henchmen—unsure whether Julia is safe even after Randall presents her to the Earl—they encounter several of Randall's old friends from Westerfield Academy, some of whom the reader would have met in the previous book, LOVING A LOST LORD. Randall's gradual thawing of Julia's fear of physical intimacy comes across as both sensitive and sensual. As usual, Putney excels in the portrayal of emotionally wounded characters finding strength and courage in each other. Throughout the book, I was wishing for more attention to Julia's vocation as a midwife. That wish is partially granted in a climactic scene when Julia's delivery of a baby precipitates a resolution to one of the novel's main conflicts. External and internal conflict intertwine in Putney's typically skillful way, leading to a believable happy ending.

      FULL MOON CITY, edited by Darrell Schweitzer and Martin H. Greenberg. An all-original anthology of contemporary urban werewolf fiction. How can you go wrong with new stories by such authors as Lisa Tuttle, Tanith Lee, Holly Black, Peter S. Beagle, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Esther Friesner? There are a few funny tales, the best, in my opinion, being Esther Friesner's "No Children, No Pets," narrated by a little girl werewolf living in Manhattan; orphaned by her father's suicide, she maintains his devotion to the principles of "Marks" and the coming workers' revolution, alongside the typical ruthlessness of childhood. Mike Resnick's "A Most Unusual Greyhound" is a Damon Runyon pastiche written in that subgenre's typical argot of the gambling underworld. Editor Schweitzer's "Kvetchula's Daughter," in the voice of a young Jewish woman whose parents return from a Romanian vacation inconveniently transformed, is more of a vampire story but contains enough lycanthropic content to fit into the book. Carrie Vaughn provides "Kitty Learns the Ropes," a new story in her ongoing series about a werewolf radio talk program hostess. Tanith Lee's "Sea Warg," as the title implies, introduces a marine rather than land-based shapeshifter. My favorite of the serious stories, Peter Beagle's "La Lune T'Attend," features two elderly Cajun loups-garoux who discover an evil shapeshifter they killed decades earlier may have returned to life through dark magic, an emotionally moving tale with a vivid sense of setting and culture. No werewolf fan should pass up this volume.


      ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER, by Seth Grahame-Smith. Less silly than it sounds; in fact, in my opinion it's pretty good. The tone differs sharply from that of the same author's Jane Austen adaptation, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES. In ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER, he treats his premise with complete seriousness and displays thorough research into his subject. The result amounts to a fictionalized biography of Lincoln blended with a secret history of the Civil War era, with vampires inserted between the crevices of the facts as we know them. The early death of Lincoln's mother inspires the future President to vow he will destroy "every vampire in America." Ascribing her death to vampirism isn't too much of a stretch, since an unexplained wasting disease fits well into that template. (As late as the 1890s, an outbreak of tuberculosis in a Rhode Island family was famously blamed on vampires.) The personal tragedies that followed Lincoln throughout his life, as well as a hidden conspiracy behind the resurgence of slavery in nineteenth-century America, are convincingly woven into the vampire plotline. I was glad to see not all vampires portrayed as amoral predators; I find supernatural monsters more believable if they have free will and individual personalities. The vampire ally who trains Lincoln and guides his vendetta behind the scenes makes his success as a vampire slayer more credible. Fortunately for the novel's plausibility, upon his election to the presidency Lincoln gives up hands-on involvement in the crusade against the undead. The only incident that completely suspended my disbelief by the neck until dead was Lincoln's attempt (well prior to the presidential election), at the instigation of his vampire mentor, to assassinate Jefferson Davis. Because almost all the characters are actual figures from primary-reality history, we know roughly how the story will end and who will survive or die, so we know the strike at Davis won't succeed, and the whole scene strikes me as too over the top. Otherwise, I found the story respectful and emotionally involving. The novel's epilogue came as a mild surprise but clearly prepared for by repeated hints dropped throughout the book.


      *****

      Excerpt from"Incunabula":

      A knock at the door woke Denise from her doze on the lumpy couch. She glanced at the black and white flicker of the TV screen, then at the digits on her watch. After eleven.

      Grumbling. she dropped the book from her lap, tugged her forest-green William and Mary sweat shirt over the waistband of her jeans, and plodded to the door. Her hand on the knob, she blinked further awake and hesitated. Jack the Ripper? On the wooded verge of a restored Colonial town inhabited half by college students and half by tourists?

      She raked her fingers through her unfashionably long, straight, chocolate-brown hair and opened the door.

      Her rented house stood at the end of a narrow lane with no street light except at the corner where it met the county road. To see who waited on the sagging wooden porch, Denise had to switch on the overhead lamp. She confronted a face that made her wonder if she were still dreaming. *Wuthering Heights* had teleported her into the *Twilight Zone* rerun she'd been watching, for here was Heathcliff in the flesh.

      Actually, there was nothing brooding or menacing about her old friend Nigel Jamison. His curling black hair and smoky gray eyes, however, befitted a hero of Victorian romance. Leaning against the doorjamb, arms folded, he looked down at her with a casual smile of greeting more suited to high noon than the middle of the night. His charcoal-gray slacks and alligator-adorned navy shirt made her feel like hiding her tousled self in a closet.

      "Glad I caught you at home, Denise."

      His voice, after almost two years, still resonated through all the cavities of her body. Damn. What right had he to show up at this unearthly hour, after his infrequent one-page letters, and still have such a devastating effect on her?

      "Nigel, is it you or a ghostly visitation? And if not the latter, why couldn't you pick a more civilized time?"

      "It's not exactly a short drive from Charlottesville to here," he said. "And you know I don't like to drive before dark, which comes fairly late in the middle of June." Nigel, in addition to numerous other allergies, suffered from photosensitivity.

      "Then you could've at least phoned first."

      "I was afraid you might refuse to let me visit," he said with the slow smile that had always torn her better judgment to shreds. "I figured you'd be less likely to slam the door on me in person." Inhaling deeply of the humid air, he added, "It really is a beautiful night, but I'd hoped you would let me in."

      "Oh, all right," she sighed. "I hate to admit it, but I'm glad to see you."

      This meeting was their first since his graduation from William and Mary, in the class ahead of Denise's. While he'd entered the University of Virginia's Ph.D. program in psychology, she had stayed in Williamsburg to pursue an M.A. in English, a degree that she sometimes thought was fleeing from her at supersonic speed.

      She felt no embarrassment about admitting Nigel to her four-room furnished house. He knew what a graduate student's stipend would bear, though money had never posed a problem for him. He stretched out on the faded floral-print couch, arms flung wide along the back cushions, claiming, in typical masculine style, more than his share of space.

      Switching off the TV, Denise said, "Now that you're here, can I get you a drink?"

      "Milk."

      She might have guessed; he seldom drank anything else. After bringing him a glass, she poised expectantly on the edge of the rocking chair. Let Nigel make the next move, blast him.

      After a leisurely survey of her Arthur Rackham fairy tale prints on the wall, he said, "Actually, I drove down here to ask you a favor."

      A-ha! she mentally pounced.

      "A pretty big one," he said, uncharacteristically diffident. "Denise--am I wrong to think you care about me?"

      *You're not wrong, damn you,* she silently grumbled. *You shameless manipulator!* If he'd asked, two years before, she would probably have married him. Her face tingled with heat. Her only consolation through those years when they'd maintained an anomalous "best friends" relationship had been his total lack of interest in other women. Or men, for that matter.

      When his silence stretched beyond a normal conversational pause, she said, "Well, what if I do? What's the favor?"

      "You still work in the reference department at the college library, don't you?"

      "Sure."

      He finished the milk and set the glass on the coffee table next to a stack of nineteenth century fiction journals. "To put it bluntly, I want you to help me steal a book from Special Collections."

      She gaped at him. "I always thought you were a little strange. Now I know you're crazy. Nigel, that's in a different category from lending you my English notes when you fell asleep in class."

      "This isn't how I'd have chosen to spend the weekend, either." He chuckled. "My guardian wants me to get possession of the book."

      Nigel had no close family, as far as Denise knew, and she'd never met this shadowy guardian--whether uncle, great-uncle, or distant cousin--who was so lavish with material wealth and eccentric commands.

      "Then he's nuts, too," she said. But curiosity wouldn't let her drop the subject. "What book are you supposed to steal and why?"

      "You know about the Ashleigh collection?"

      "Of course." The college's acquisition of Winston Ashleigh's British incunabula and Colonial American publications, worth unspecified thousands of dollars, was a major triumph for William and Mary's library. Several university presses vied for the privilege of publishing a limited facsimile edition of selected books in the collection.

      Nigel said, "The book my guardian's interested in happens to be one of those scheduled for the facsimile reprint series. My family has a reason for not wanting that particular book made public. Three other copies of the work are known to exist, and we have them all. The copy owned by the Ashleigh clan was no problem as long as it stayed locked in their private library. Now it's a different matter."

      Nigel delivered this speech in such a serious tone that Denise really did wonder if he'd run off the rails. "Wonderful. You not only want me to help steal an old book, you want me to steal a rare and valuable old book."

      "Come on, think of it as a harmless student prank."

      "You preppies may call it a prank," she said. "We members of the bourgeoisie adhere to higher standards." Denise's private moral code counted violating the sanctity of a library as a sin slightly less heinous than murder.

      *What has the man done to me? I'm actually arguing this lame-brained notion as if there's some chance I'll cooperate.*

      He leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees, capturing her eyes with his own. Those incredible gray eyes-- "Won't you trust me on the importance of this, Denise?"

      She felt dizzy for a second. She must not be completely awake yet. "Good grief, you're serious. I don't see you trusting me very far. You haven't told me what's so vital about this book."

      "Fair point," he conceded. "After--if--we manage to get hold of it, I'll show you what's in it. If not, the whole question will be moot."

      "What do you need me for, anyway? Do your own criminal work."

      "You know the layout of the library. You can save me time and confusion. Also, you possess a car that's a lot less conspicuous than mine and has a William and Mary parking sticker."

      "You're crazy," she persisted, though somehow her heart wasn't in the argument anymore. "There's not a snowball's chance of getting anything out of the Rare Books Room, much less out of the building."

      "We can but try."

      "And if we--you--don't succeed, I'm the one who gets thrown out of school and into jail."

      "Oh, you won't get into trouble. I guarantee that."

      That ridiculously casual assurance topped everything he'd said so far. *Why not humor him?* Denise thought. As soon as the attempt proved how hopeless his scheme was, he'd give up and leave.

      "All right, anything to shut you up. We'd better hurry. The library closes at twelve on Fridays this time of year." She ducked into the bedroom for her purse and keys.

      -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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