Welcome to the January 2011 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/
And please visit the website of the Infinite World of Fantasy Authors: http://www.iwofa.net/
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. And search the Kindle store on Amazon.com for Kindle editions of numerous novels and stories by me.
Happy New Year!
"Song from the Abyss" is now on sale from All Romance Ebooks:
In December Susan Palmquist interviewed me on her blog. You might have to go backwards a while to find it:
On Monday January 3, Michele Hauf will have a guest essay from me on her Vamp Chix blog:
Check out this page frequently. It has a new post on vampire literature or other media every day. As a visiting blogger, I post about a different vintage vampire novel on the fifteenth of each month.
The excerpt below comes from the beginning of "Birthday Gift," a free werewolf story recently posted on my website.
This month I'm interviewing multi-published erotic romance author Kate Hill.
Interview with Kate Hill:
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
I can't remember a time when I wasn't making up stories. As a child I was obsessed with reading and writing stories. When I was sixteen I started submitting short stories to zines and didn't give up until I finally got an acceptance about ten years later.
2. What genres do you write in?
I write mostly erotic romance in a variety of subgenres, including paranormal, historical, science fiction, and fantasy. I write both M/F and GLBT romance fiction.
3. Do you outline, "wing it," or something in between?
I like to work from a loose outline so I know where I'm going but have room for adjustments.
4. You write about a variety of different topics. Is there any common thread that attracts you to vampires, Vikings, and Valkyries, for example?
I love just about anything paranormal and my favorite periods in history are the Viking era, ancient Rome and the American revolution. Much of my writing is based on my interest in those things.
5. You have an extensive list of published works. How do you juggle writing for several different publishers? How many books do you write in a typical year, and what process do you follow to enable you to meet that schedule?
I usually write at least twelve novellas a year, one to four novels and several short stories. I keep a calendar with due dates and I write daily to keep up.
5. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?
My latest release is Silky's Master, book two in the Alpha Delicious series from Changeling Press. It's an erotic science fiction novella set on a planet ruled by women. The hero, Shawn-Dan Dawn, is a gladiator who won his freedom but has been forced to live in a secret harem. Silky is an undercover reporter investigating possible abuse in the royal harems on Amazurn. She risks her life to free Shawn and the other men.
My next story is a time travel ménage scheduled to release toward the end of January. It's the first book in the Rough, Tough and Tumble series in which alien shapeshifters from the future travel back in time on Earth. In this story, called Hung at Dawn, the characters travel to the old west.
6. What are you working on now?
Right now I'm working on the next book in the Rough, Tough and Tumble series and also another story in my Horsemen series. The Horsemen series is with Ellora's Cave and features shapeshifting winged centaurs.
7. What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Any particular advice for writers of erotic fiction? For writers who want to produce a series or (like you) multiple series?
I would say it's important to work out a schedule and stick to it. Also write stories you enjoy. I find that if I'm genuinely interested in the story and have a connection with the characters, it's much easier to write it. I wouldn't write the kind of story I wouldn't want to read.
8. What's your website URL? Do you have a blog?
My website is http://www.kate-hill.com
and my blog is http://www.kate-hill.com/blog.
Thank you very much!
Some Books I've Been Reading:
THE OTHER SIDE, an anthology of novellas on supernatural themes by five authors, including J. D. Robb. All except one feature ghosts. The exception, "The Other Side of the Coin," by Mary Blayney, gives an entertaining Regency twist to the familiar body-switching trope. Thanks to a magic coin, a husband and wife whose marriage has become strained since the birth of their baby trade bodies to understand each other's viewpoints and revitalize their love. Not surprisingly, my favorite story is Robb's "Possession in Death." In a departure from the strictly scientifically-oriented futuristic homicide detection of most of the Eve Dallas fiction, here Eve becomes the unwilling vehicle for the spirit of a murder victim determined to make sure a serial killer doesn't escape justice. In "The Dancing Ghost," by Patricia Gaffney, set in 1895, the heroine hires a ghost hunter to investigate her grandparents' house. Though he turns out to be a charming con man, the reader won't be surprised to find out more is going on in Willow House. Quirky characters make the story fun throughout. The heroine of "Never Too Late to Love," by Mary Kay McComas, has also inherited a haunted house. She wants to sell it, but the resident ghosts of her mother and aunts won't let that happen until they find what they've lost. Unfortunately, they don't know what that is. A wealthy, middle-aged husband and wife in Ruth Ryan Langan's "Almost Heaven" die in a car crash shortly before their daughter is to be married. Lingering as ghosts to help her through her grief, they discover her fiance to be a callous, murdering fortune-hunter. How can they expose him and prevent the disastrous union when they aren't allowed direct interference in mortal affairs? If you're a fan of either of these authors, you'll want to buy the book and will probably enjoy at least one or two of the other stories, too.
THE GREYFRIAR (Book One of "The Vampire Empire"), by Clay and Susan Griffith. In the year 1870 of this alternate history steampunk world, vampires emerged from the shadows of legend to obliterate human civilization in the northern parts of the world. All of the human population that could do so (it's not stated exactly what percentage) fled to the tropics, because vampires as conceived by these authors have an intolerance for heat (not sunlight as such). In the book's present day, Princess Adele of Equatoria, the remnant of the British Empire, has been pledged to marry Senator Clark, an American war hero and famed vampire slayer, whom she has never met. Under the tutelage of her mentor, a Japanese samurai, she has developed fighting skills almost worthy of Buffy, although to this point she has never seen a vampire up close. We later discover she also has some sort of innate spiritual or magical power unknown even to herself. When vampires attack her airship, she is rescued by the Greyfriar, an enigmatic Zorro-like figure who fights the vampires from within their own territory. It soon becomes clear that he is a better match for the Princess than the glory-mad Senator, who has no compunctions about risking many human lives while invading the vampire realm in search of her. In this universe, vampires are a natural species, although some people believe the superstition that they are reanimated dead. To balance their preternatural speed and superhumanly acute night vision, hearing, taste, and smell, they have rather insensitive skin with a blunted sense of touch. Therefore, they have trouble with fine motor skills such as manipulating small objects. The human viewpoint regards vampires as bloodthirsty animals with unusual cunning, incapable of emotional nuance or true intelligence. Vampires, in turn, scorn human culture, living in the ruins of the conquered cities and wearing clothes taken from dead victims, but not producing anything. Most of them can't read or write and have no interest in learning. Typical of his kind, Cesare, the ruthless vampire ruler of Britain, considers his more humane brother, Prince Gareth of Scotland, weak and possibly deranged. Most of the human survivors in Cesare's realm and throughout the northern climes live in terror and abject destitution, aside from the "bloodmen" who directly serve vampires. It's not made clear where the vampires, who essentially have no material culture, get the airships we sometimes see them traveling in; maybe the bloodmen run factories. The experienced reader of vampire fiction won't be overly surprised by the truth about Greyfriar, but it's a delight to watch his background and Princess Adele's reaction to it gradually unfold. The early part of the book contains way too much "action" for me, one fight scene after another with hardly a pause to breathe. The pace slows down to allow plenty of character interplay later, though. The authors create a fascinating world and, in Adele and Greyfriar, characters to cheer for.
FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER, by Susan Heyboer O'Keefe. This sequel to Mary Shelley's classic novel postulates that the monster did not keep his resolution to kill himself in the Arctic after Frankenstein's death. Explorer Robert Walton, discovering that the creature still lives, takes up the quest to destroy him. Aside from the opening pages, taken from Walton's logbook, and a few excerpts from his letters to his sister, Margaret, most of the novel consists of the creature's first-person journal entries as he flees from Walton across Europe and occasionally tries to establish some connection with the human beings he meets. Eventually he decides to strike at Walton just as he did at Frankenstein, by killing his persecutor's loved ones. In England the creature, who names himself Victor after his creator, meets Margaret, her husband, and her daughter. His plot to strike at Walton through this family runs into complications, of course. Most of this novel is so unrelievedly tragic that many readers may find it hard to get through. Every time Victor seems close to finding a person who can accept him, something goes terribly wrong. If you persevere to the end, however, you'll find a surprising but not unbelievable resolution for the unhappy creature, whose outbreaks of violence never quite destroy the reader's sympathy for him. The polished writing style is credible as belonging to the early nineteenth-century setting, and quotations from Victor's extensive reading resonate with Mary Shelley's account of a self-taught creature, abandoned by his "father," whose innocence and idealism were destroyed by human hate. A scene where Victor tries in vain to save a few books from a fire he sets himself is one of the most poignant in the story. An epilogue in the form of a letter from a minor character gives a final perspective on Victor's growth from monster to man.
Excerpt from "Birthday Gift":
An elephant trumpeted in the distance, as if announcing Sharon's presence. She grimaced at the irrational thought but skulked farther back into the shadows of her lurking place behind the restroom. *They all know I'm here. They scent me.* The hot desert breeze ruffled her hair and fluttered her wraparound skirt against her legs. Electricity sizzled under her skin. *Come on, Kindra, where are you?* She'd asked her daughter to meet her at dusk, just before the park closed. It seemed the likeliest time for Kindra to slip away from her father.
At the thought of her ex-husband Ron, a growl welled up like vomit in Sharon's throat. *Get a grip! I want to talk to her, not scare her into a heart attack!*
Animal musk stung her nose. The power simmered in her blood, threatening to boil over at any moment. She breathed through her mouth, trying to ignore the near-suffocating cloud of odors.
*Maybe this wasn't the best place to meet.* Kindra had chosen the day and location, though, and Sharon hadn't wanted to complicate matters by quibbling.
*Hell of a deal, when I have to sneak to see my only child on her sixteenth birthday.* Since the last time she'd violated Ron's court-sanctioned visitation schedule, supervised visits were all she'd been allowed. *So what did I expect, with a lawyer for an ex?*
Her ears caught the brisk tap of feet on the hard-packed path, circling the restrooms instead of walking into the ladies' entrance.
"Mom? You there?" Kindra's voice called softly.
"Here," Sharon whispered back.
Kindra rounded the corner, stopped a few feet away, and folded her arms.
As always, Sharon swallowed a surge of resentment that her daughter shared Ron's wavy, reddish-blonde hair and slim height, with no outward mark of her mother's genes aside from bushy eyebrows that no amount of tweezing could tame. The girl already stood taller than Sharon, whose black, straight, "hippie" hair had always irritated Ron. *She's like me inside, though, and she needs me--needs what only I can give her.* Sharon stepped closer, reaching for a hug, but Kindra sidestepped.
"So what do you want, anyway? Dad and the others will start wondering where I am."
Sharon glanced around, the hairs on her arms prickling. "Where is he?"
"I said I'd meet them at the front exit when the park closed, which is any minute now. You told me we had to talk, so what about?"
"Let's walk." She edged toward the high fence that marked the route of the monorail. Shadows thickened as twilight drew near. "If we stay away from the crowds, park security shouldn't interrupt us."
Kindra trailed along, ostentatiously dragging her feet.
"Honey, you're sixteen now."
Sharon squelched the impulse to slap the girl. Loosing the reins of her anger would release the other thing, too, the thing she couldn't let Kindra witness without preparation.
"You've reached a special stage in your life, and there's something you need--that I can help you with."
-end of excerpt-
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"Beast" wishes until next time
Margaret L. Carter