Thursday, September 30, 2021

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

The October 2021 issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC features a pair of lead articles about "green" power for aircraft and cars, mainly electric. The cover optimistically proclaims, "The Revolution Is Here." The issue abounds with information about the past as well as the future of electric-powered transportation. I was surprised to learn that in 1900 electric cars held over one-third of the market. Gasoline-powered internal combustion automobiles came in third, after steam (!) and electric. Then as now, the main obstacles to widespread acceptance of electric cars were battery weight and range. On the other hand, electric vehicles are quiet and emissions-free, and they have fewer moving parts to maintain. In the early twentieth century, "cheap oil and paved roads" enabled the internal combustion engine to dominate the market by the 1930s. Now auto manufacturers are embracing EVs with fresh enthusiasm, not only the big names such as Tesla, but even Volkswagen. Driving range and charging times are improving as prices decrease to become comparable to the cost of gasoline-fueled cars. Driverless, electric-powered delivery vehicles may eventually become commonplace. Meanwhile, Amazon and FedEx are switching their fleets to EVs.

This NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC's second article on the energy revolution deals with flight. Commercial airliners produce vast quantities of fossil-fuel pollution. France is considering a ban on all domestic flights to destinations that can be reached by train in less than two and a half hours. Implementing that policy, of course, would imply a passenger rail system adequate to efficiently serve the needs of the traveling public. In most of the U.S., a situation like that is an incredible fantasy. Peter Kalmus, a NASA climate scientist, insists on "the hard fact" that "we don't need to fly." What world does he live in? Most vacation travelers crossing the Atlantic or Pacific can't afford the cost of a cruise ship or the extra time off work for the round trip by sea. If you have to get to the opposite coast of the U.S. for an emergency such as a family funeral, you certainly do need to fly; you can't drive that distance in a day or two.

For large aircraft, electric power runs into the problem that a battery of adequate size would weigh as much as the plane itself. One type of clean airplane fuel being contemplated is liquid hydrogen. For small aircraft, however, electric engines can succeed. A California company named Wisk is one of several working on designs for "air taxis," self-flying, vertical-takeoff-and-landing small electric aircraft. In fact, our long-awaited flying car may soon become a reality, although not owned and operated by individual consumers (thank goodness, considering the typical level of driving skill on the roads).

Each proposed solution, naturally, carries problems of its own. But, as Isaac Asimov maintained, the solution to such difficulties isn't to give up on technology but to develop better technology. If you don't subscribe to NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, do try to pick up a copy of the October issue at the library or newsstand, especially if you're a fan and/or writer of near-future SF.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, September 26, 2021


This week's theme is either "ripped off" or "ripped from..."

The has a ripped-from-the-headlines (in other words "topical") question and answer page that currently discusses copyright related to tattoos, fair use by political campaigns or music, copyright protection for tweets, emojis, and much more.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation has an interesting article by Cooper Quintin and Beryl Lipton about a very frightening patent designed to rip off anyone with whom an incarcerated person communicates.

Is it right that the government could trick a person who might be related to an inmate into revealing their own Amazon purchasing habits and history? 

EFF's Chao Liu writes about a company called Clearview that wants to rip off your face, not literally.

The greatest concern, perhaps, is that bad Artificial Intelligence can increase the likelihood of false arrest and mistaken identity (not necessarily in that order).  
Matthew Guariglia of EFF discusses the "afterlife" problem with biometric surveillance, collection, and data retention, especially by the military.
Over-reach in data gathering is everywhere. The law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth discusses how New York City wants food delivery services to share their customer data with restaurants.

Customers do have the right to deny food delivery services and restaurants this information, but customers must affirmatively opt out.
The law firm of Squire Patton Boggs has a Consumer Privacy World blog, which is well worth following. This last week, their legal bloggers Kristin Bryan and Alexis Chandler  gave an update on the massive T-Mobile data breach and resulting litigation.
For Brodies LLP, Niall McLean has cautionary advice for writers about recycling old news. It is important to know that distressing information that might once have been newsworthy and in the public domain may, after the passage of time, be private and not in the public interest any more. The case is in the UK, but it's good to know.

All the best,

Friday, September 24, 2021

Karen Wiesner: The Stories Behind Classic Fairy Tales (Woodcutter's Grim Series), Part 5


Classic Tales of Horror Retold

 This is the fifth of eight posts focusing on my Woodcutter's Grim Series and the stories behind classic fairy tales.

For the ten generations since the evil first came to Woodcutter's Grim, the Guardians have sworn an oath to protect the town from the childhood horrors that lurk in the black woods. Without them, the town would be defenseless…and the terrors would escape to the world at large. 

HUNTER'S BLUES, Book 9 (A Mirror Darkly World Novel)

 by Karen Wiesner

Supernatural Fantasy Romance/Mild Horror Novel

** Loosely based on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. When the evil in Woodcutter’s Grim unleashed, humans turned into ghouls with the instinct to contaminate others. The Protectorate—the guardians sworn to protect the town—are all that hold the threat at bay. Guardian hunter Reece Pallaton discovers the source of the evil, the mirror that’s only the opposite half of the “glass darkly” world he lives in, and his own terrifying connection to both. **

I started outlining this book while I was writing my second Writer’s Digest Books craft reference, FROM FIRST DRAFT TO FINISHED NOVEL (which was changed back to its original title COHESIVE STORY BUILDING after I got the rights back to the book and had it reissued). I was planning to use HUNTER'S BLUES as an example for that writing reference, but never did. Basically, I got a lot of the outline written during that time, but it kind of fell into the background because I was working on the new craft book. Much later, I started thinking that maybe there was a way I could turn this into a Woodcutter’s Grim Series novel. In this "mirror darkly world"* of Woodcutter’s Grim, the Protectorate has become hunters, keeping the zombies (they call them "ghouls") that have proliferated on the Earth at bay, and it’s not a fun job even as it is a never-ending one.

*Star Trek has this whole "mirror universe" plotline that most of their series have versions of, in which the normal characters in the show have evil counterparts in a mirror universe. That's kind of what my Mirror Darkly World is grounded in. It's like a very dark version of the real world that all the previous books in the series were set in.

When I first decided to make HUNTER'S BLUES part of the Woodcutter's Grim Series, I choose a deeply disturbed obscure fairy tale about a woman who tricks her husband into eating his own son for the fairy tale my story would parallel, however loosely. Talk about dark! I couldn't come with any ideas in that vein though. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" made so much sense, especially in light of who (and what) Tess (from "Beauty is the Beast" , Book 7, WOODCUTTER'S GRIM SERIES, Volume II).

The graphic on the cover of HUNTER'S BLUES really caught my eye when I stumbled upon it. Within the story notes I’d come up with, I had ideas about Reece disappearing for stretches of times, waking up and wondering where he is. This graphic gave me the concept of where he was when he disappeared and how seeing Shell “through a glass darkly” brought him back each time. While that's not the way the story ultimately worked out (it was his father who was trapped in an in-between world, mainly, and who used the mirror to look back on Woodcutter's Grim), I think the cover nevertheless works.

The development of this book was so strange. It never actually fit into Woodcutter's Grim per se, even after I finished writing it and it was published. In ways, the town of Woodcutter's Grim was like a futuristic version of the town in all previous stories in the series, so that's why, for first couple years after it was published, it had the subtitle of being a "futuristic" novel in the series. That was my attempt to make sense of how it fit into the series. But it didn't quite work. I didn't become aware until much later, when I began work on BRIDGE OF FIRE, Book 10 that it was wholly inaccurate. I realized then that the complication in describing the timeline is that HUNTER'S BLUES is set in a mirror world of Woodcutter's Grim.

When I was first outlining HUNTER'S BLUES, trying to figure out how all this was supposed to work, gave me endless headaches. More than once, I thought about giving up because I felt like there was no way to sort it all out. But I did eventually, and the explanation is in this graphic I created to make sense of it all:

HUNTER'S BLUES is set in the Mirror Darkly World of Woodcutter's Grim (while the rest of the previous books were set in the Real World of Woodcutter's Grim). In the Mirror Darkly World, the Protectorate's unofficial guardian is Reece Pallaton (Gabe Reece is guardian in the Real World). Until I wrote BRIDGE OF FIRE, I didn't realize just how important the Pallatons would end up in the entire series.

An obscure and impossible-to-confirm origin story of Snow White says that the classic fairy tale was based on the life of a German countess. At the age of 16, she was forced out of her home by her stepmother. She ended up falling for a prince and, given the politically inconvenient nature of the relationship, the girl's disappearance was more than a little mysterious. Was she poisoned? The girl's father also reputedly owned a few copper mines that employed slave children who, through maltreatment, were severely stunted and deformed.

Reviews and Honors for HUNTER'S BLUES:

5 star review from Linda's Reviews

4 star review from Huntress Reviews

HUNTER'S BLUES is a dark tale and it even has zombies (or ghouls), which is very "un-fairy tale-like"! Do you like stories with zombies? Leave a comment to tell me about it!

Happy reading!

Find out more about this book and Woodcutter's Grim Series here:

Karen is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 140 titles and 16 series. Visit her here: 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Writers' Rituals

Here's an article by Stephen Graham Jones that cautions writers against falling into the habit of depending on "rituals" to start a writing session:

The Case Against Writing Rituals

By "rituals," he refers to elements along the lines of a favorite mug, a particular type of pen, or, as he admits having succumbed to at one point, a "lucky" hat. He also includes in that category needing a quiet environment or a certain block of time to generate wordage, things that I wouldn't have thought of as rituals. He has trained himself to write anywhere, for as long a time as the situation allows, with whatever tools may be at hand. He also discusses a more insidious habit, a routine of reading e-mail and checking social media pages before easing into a creative session. I wouldn't have called that behavior a "ritual," either, but on reflection it does qualify for the label. I admit to a similar tendency to feel I must clear away the daily computer chores that don't require much thought before diving into the work of writing. Too often, getting through the minutiae leaves less time for actual work than I'd expected.

Somewhere Isaac Asimov recounts an interview when he was asked whether he performed any pre-writing rituals. After a puzzled inquiry about what the interviewer meant by "ritual," he answered something like, "I put paper in the typewriter" (or, later, turn on the word processor). As anyone who's read his memoirs or autobiographical essays will recall, Asimov really could write anywhere. When forced to travel, even for nominal vacations, he took his "work" with him. That's one factor he credited for his prolific output.

Maybe Stephen Jones's disapproval of rituals isn't completely justified, though. Can't they have a sort of placebo effect? Mightn't it be helpful to have an established process that primes the creative part of the brain to get into gear?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, September 19, 2021

No Trivial Matter

"No Trivial Matter" might be an example of litotes. When one aggrieved party takes the time, trouble, and expense to go before a judge, it cannot be trivial to them, can it?

A slur could be Tweet-length, and yet be profound in its impact. A photographer's copyright could be infringed unseen, and not be legally "De Minimus".

We'll start with the short form slurs (my own characterization, chosen for the sibilance... and to digress, one online dictionary defines "sibilance" as "having a sibilant quality" !) 


From an influencer with a self-alleged botched bottom, to a rural parking dispute (and much more) legal bloggers Emily Cox and Paloma Kotecha  representing the UK law firm of Stewarts LLP tell a series of defamation-related stories:

The Rise And Rise Of Defamation On Social Media.

Lexology Link
Original Link


Defamation on Facebook seems to be a hot topic Down Under, with indications that media companies with pages on Facebook might be held as liable as any publisher, as far as Australian law goes, for defamatory content posted by Facebook users on the media's pages.

Christine Wong and Greta Ulbrick of Herbert Smith Freehills LLP explain the latest thinking on defamation law for the digital age:

Lexology Link:
Original Link:

The media allegedly tried to claim a defense of innocent dissemination.

All bloggers and writers and publishers should take note and beware of "innocent dissemination". Moderating comments would be a good start.

Apropos of nothing...except perhaps running your own small business website, possibly as an author, the Eastern District of New York has recently held that stand-alone websites (not linked to your own bricks-and-mortar bookshop, for instance) are not subject to the Americans With Disabilities Act.

If that was a concern for any of our dear readers, find out more from an Advertising Law blog article by Caren Decter for Frankfurt Kurnit Klein and Selz PC.

Original Link:


Finally. for the law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (which I am delighted to get my tongue around), legal bloggers Benjamin E. Marks and Michael Goodyear ask "Is There a De Minimus Defense For Trivial Use of Concededly Infringing Material...?"

Can't you just picture Dirty Harry asking that question?  Seriously, the well reasoned answer might surprise at first reading.

Lexology link:
Original link:

There's a lot to unpack in the case (pardon the pun), but when it comes to copyright, if you copy the entire work, you cannot claim a De Minimus defense. The.pdf version is especially well done and easy reading.  And, if you happen to have lost track of the photos on your long-abandoned Facebook pages, you might not be in the clear if any belong to another copyright holder.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 


Friday, September 17, 2021

Karen Wiesner: The Stories Behind Classic Fairy Tales (Woodcutter's Grim Series), Part 4



Classic Tales of Horror Retold

This is the fourth of eight posts focusing on my Woodcutter's Grim Series and the stories behind classic fairy tales.

For the ten generations since the evil first came to Woodcutter's Grim, the Guardians have sworn an oath to protect the town from the childhood horrors that lurk in the black woods. Without them, the town would be defenseless…and the terrors would escape to the world at large. 

THE DEEP, Book 8

 by Karen Wiesner

Supernatural Fantasy Romance/Mild Horror Novel

 ** Very loosely based on “Metamorphoses: The Story of Pygmalion and the Statue” by Ovid. Cheyenne Welsh can't forget her past and the disappearance of her younger sister. When she returns to Woodcutter's Grim to sell the family property she grew up on, she's confronted with all the nightmare-realities of her childhood, still alive and well, still right where she left them--down in the darkness the Deep dwells inside. Her home... **

All of the novellas in the Woodcutter’s Grim Series thus far had been loosely based on popular, traditional fairy or folk tales, myths, fables, parables, nursery rhymes, poems, or some other literature. When I told my son I wouldn’t be following that theme for THE DEEP or any other Woodcutter’s Grim Series novels, he promptly insisted I was cheating and changing the rules midgame. I thought long and hard about that and ultimately worked like mad, pouring over all of the above to find something appropriate. I finally chose a loose interpretation of Metamorphoses: The Story of Pygmalion and the Statue by Ovid. Now I can’t imagine the story would have worked—or at least wouldn’t have been as effective—if I hadn’t followed my son’s advice.

The heroine’s father in THE DEEP had been introduced at the beginning of the Shaussegeny miniseries (WOODCUTTER'S GRIM SERIES, Volume II), so I was able to expand on his character as a professor of demon lore and introduce his penchant for fetish statues. If you’ve ever seen one and you know its purpose, you realize this is creepy stuff.

The title came about for the fetish statue that I created in the story, which has a name, Die diep (African for "The Deep"), and that statue has had a long, bloody, chilling history.

Writing this story gave me no end of trouble, requiring multiple revisions and overhauls, setting the book aside to brainstorm on ways to fix it, getting a critique partner involved so I could see what I was doing wrong… Well, eventually I did get the story to work.

The story behind Ovid's "Pygmalion and the Statue" was apparently inspired by the famous sculptor Praxiteles who created a statue modeled after his lover, a famous courtesan he'd seen rising naked from the sea like the goddess. He duly fell in love…or lust…or worship or whatever, lol.

 Reviews and Honors for THE DEEP:

Editor's Top Pick from BellaOnline

5 star review from Huntress Reviews

5 star review from BTSemag

5 star review and Reviewer's Top Pick from Readers' Favorite

5 star review from MBR Bookwatch

5 star review from Linda's Reviews

I've always found African death masks and some of other tribal pieces, like fetishes statues, frightening. How about you? Leave a comment to tell me about it!

Happy reading!

Find out more about this book and Woodcutter's Grim Series here:

Karen is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 140 titles and 16 series. Visit her here: 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Advice on "Breaking In" to Publishing

Cory Doctorow's newest LOCUS column discusses the beginning writer's obsessive quest for tips from pros on how to get started in publishing. In particular, we love to read about how successful authors landed their first sales:

Breaking In

The major premise of this article: The publishing field changes so fast that a veteran author's story of how he or she first got accepted for professional publication isn't likely to be of any practical help today. As Doctorow puts it with reference to his own early experiences, "While I still have an encylopedic knowledge of the editorial peccadilloes of dozens of publications, most of them no longer exist, and the ones that do have been radically transformed in the intervening decades." What Doctorow supplies instead is "meta-advice," advice on where to find the best advice. According to him, novice writers can get optimal assistance by pooling their knowledge of current publishing practices and trends with other novice writers, sharing what they've discovered through researching markets and submitting to editors. "Just as a writers’ critiquing circle should consist of writers of similar ability, so too should a writers’ professional support circle consist of writers at similar places in their careers."

He does offer some general guidelines applicable to everyone, a more specific, pragmatic version of Heinlein's well-known "rules." Doctorow also narrates his own "breaking in" story with mention of several publishing veterans who assisted him, including Judith Merril. He declares that an established author's most "powerful tool for helping out new writers" is encouragement.

My first adventure in professional publication (my only previous published work being limited to short pieces in our high-school newspaper), in the late 1960s when I was just over twenty years old, certainly has little if any practical application for writers today. I didn't have the benefit of mentors or networking of any kind. I knew nothing about submitting manuscripts except that they had to be double-spaced on only one side of the paper and had to include a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope, for those who've never submitted a paper manuscript). My sole source of information about the industry came from the annual WRITERS' MARKET reference volume in the public library. Today's novice writers are so fortunate to have the resources of the internet. I assembled a collection of stories for a vampire anthology, wrote an introduction, and sent the package to Fawcett in New York. After a year of silence, I mailed them a humorous "haven't heard from you" greeting card. Now that I know better, I'd never think of doing such a thing. Yet they responded promptly, apologized for the long wait, and offered me a contract. In view of my total ignorance, the editor had to explain to me how anthology payments worked and how to arrange for reprint permissions. That proposal became my first book, CURSE OF THE UNDEAD, a mass market paperback.

My first professional fiction sale came about in a more conventional manner that still applies to today's markets, other than the shift from snail mail to e-mail submissions and communications. I received a call for submissions to Marion Zimmer Bradley's second Darkover anthology, FREE AMAZONS OF DARKOVER, probably because the rudimentary fan activities I'd started doing had somehow gotten me on Bradley's mailing list. The zip code on the envelope, however, was wrong, and the letter had reached me barely in time to meet the deadline, if I worked very quickly (for me—I wasn't quite as slow then as now, but I haven't been a truly fast writer since my teens). So this sale had an element of luck, too; the submission invitation could have been lost completely. Without much hope of success, I wrote a story and mailed it just in time. To my surprise, it was accepted. After that, I had stories included in numerous later Darkover anthologies. They stayed in print for many years and, for a long time, supplied my most reliable (although modest in amount) source of royalty income.

Doctorow's "advice" for beginners may be broadly summarized in the eloquent statement, "Writers blaze their own trails, finding mentors or not, getting lucky or not, agonizing and working and reworking, finding peers and lifting each other up."

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Bad Calls

Today's topic is "Bad Calls" around the World: by an Australian Troll, by Apple in going after an allegedly notorious international trademark troll, by a Tobagoan mimic in the early morning hours, a breathtakingly daft reTweet, and more.

"Hello?" I said at 6:00 am when a call interrupted my early morning quiet writing time.
"Hello?" my almost inimitable voice replied.

I would have been creeped out, but my daughter has Mynah bird mimicry skills and it amuses her to take the mickey over the phone, although, not usually before noon.

"Deborah?" I did not say, because that is not my daughter's name.
"Deborah?" My exact intonation echoed the name I actually used.

I fell silent. If my Mynah-like daughter had been messing with me, she would have said something original in exasperation that I had stopped playing. The caller from Trinidad and Tobago waited for several minutes to see (I assume) whether I would say something a sight more useful to an identity thief, but I did not and the caller eventually gave up.

At that point, I looked at Caller ID, which showed "PORT SPAIN TR", and I did some research.

Area Codes you never want to call back, if you receive a curiosity-arousing call:

A lot of banks and brokerage houses are pushing clients to agree to use Voice Recognition to validate telephone access to account information. Don't do it. 

Legal bloggers too numerous to link to (but whose names should show up) for Troutman Pepper have published a very thorough and extensive article --"More Privacy Please"-- on what the USA is doing about Robocallers, hackers, ransomeware, Zoombombing, the Solar Winds hack, for profit dossiers on private citizens,  Macy allegedly scraping faces, Ancestry's use of yearbook photos, and other outrages, scams and  scammers.

Kim Kommando blogs about privacy hacks (in the tip sense of the word) to do with irrevocable bad calls in chosing your free and convenient email provider.

Cari Sheehan, of counsel at Barnes and Thornton is holding a webinar (one has to register to attend, but anyone can read the blurb) about the special need for lawyers to refrain from wildly liking comments or pages on social media.

When a lawyer likes something, the legal ramifications can be damaging.

The same, apparently, might apply to politicians and their staffers. Liberal law professor Turley recently described a retweet as "breathtakingly daft".  One could probably search for the phrase.

Representing the law firm of Walder Wyss Ltd., Markus Frick and Manuel Bigler discuss  Swiss law and the case of the Patent troll

With trademarks, one has to use the mark or risk losing it. In Switzerland, anyone can apply to the authorities to cancel someone else's trademark if the trademark owner does not actively use their TM.
That's why I always put my TM below my name when blogging, and dear reader, if you have a TM, you should do so, too.

Trying to cancel someone else's trademark can be considered abusive. Do it often, and one may be called a troll, or even a notorious troll as is reported in this case, which Apple appears to have lost.  The Walder Wyss commentary is very interesting.

Meanwhile, down in Australia, Mhairi Stewart and Nikki Randall report with great nasal-mutilaton-wit for Bennet + Co on the case of an apparently scorned, would-be plastic surgery recipient who was not very good at concealing her identity, and her bad call in trolling the reputation of the unwilling surgeon cost her a very large judgement and her anonymity (not necessarily in that order).

It is a very good story. It's also quite teachable. One is never as anonymous as one supposes one is, especially give the points that Kim Kommando and others make about privacy.  Better not to hide behind an illusion, perhaps.

All the best,

Friday, September 10, 2021

Karen Wiesner: The Stories Behind Classic Fairy Tales (Woodcutter's Grim Series), Part 3


Classic Tales of Horror Retold, Volume II Collection

 by Karen Wiesner

Four Supernatural Fantasy Romance Novellas

 This is the third of eight posts focusing on my Woodcutter's Grim Series and the stories behind classic fairy tales.

For the ten generations since the evil first came to Woodcutter's Grim, the Guardians have sworn an oath to protect the town from the childhood horrors that lurk in the black woods. Without them, the town would be defenseless…and the terrors would escape to the world at large.                                                

The second volume of the Woodcutter’s Grim Series focuses on a miniseries within the overall series dealing with a curse on the Shaussegeny family (who were mentioned in the previous three books as well as "The Amethyst Tower").


"Moonlight Becomes You", Book 4 

** Very loosely based on “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”. When her child becomes deathly ill and none of the doctors and specialists can help him, Heather Rowe rushes to Woodcutter's Grim, hoping the boy's father can help their child. But Lance Shaussegeny's explanations terrify Heather, even though she's intensely attracted to him all over again. She soon learns that nothing in Woodcutter's Grim—including Lance—is what it seems. **

When I was putting together the first collection of Woodcutter’s Grim Series stories, I wrote a story based on the children’s poem "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse"—something I adored as a kid and also when my son was very young. The story didn’t work out at all like I planned, so I set aside, figuring I could brainstorm and try to come up with another angle for the story that I liked still and didn’t want to forget. Well, later, when I was deciding on my contributions for the 2011 Jewels of the Quill anthologies, I remembered this story. I’d always been intrigued by the Shaussegenys, who were mentioned in all of the previous Woodcutter’s Grim Series stories. There were hints that the family was cursed by the evil in the town and made into werewolves, and I really wanted to explore that angle.

Even after I had the concept for this book worked out, I couldn’t think of a good title beyond “A Friend in Need” (which is what it was called when I first wrote a version it this and then found out it wasn't working and so shelved it). One day while playing a computer game, I was trying to brainstorm on the opposite side of my brain while I was playing. I toyed with the idea of moonlight, since it’s what brings werewolves out. Under the Moon, Moonlit Reflections, Reflections in Moonlight… Then I realized that the heroine Heather spends most of this story trying to deny what she subconsciously knows. “Moonlight Becomes You” struck me like a lightning bolt.

The classic nursery story "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse" is probably a moral story warning against envying those who are richer than you and instead being content with your lot, but my point with "Moonlight Becomes You" was the parallel in learning to live with monsters in our midst. 

"Bewitched", Book 5

 ** Very loosely based on “The Little Mermaid”. Glynnis Shaussegeny becomes bewitched by the mystery man who appears out of nowhere on the abandoned property across the lake from her family’s estate. But does Aric Sayer have even more dark secrets than she does? **

“Bewitched” continued the miniseries with Glynnis, the daughter of Marnie and Gav, and the mysterious new man who appeared across the lake. “The Little Mermaid” is one of my favorite fairy tales and so I knew I wanted to do a spinoff of it for my little horror town Woodcutter’s Grim. How to do it perplexed me for a long time because many of these stories are so loosely based on a classic fairy tale. It’s very difficult to fit a modern story into an older mold. I'd already set a precedence with everything that came before of not forcing something that doesn't want to go. In essence, I consider those "loosely based". For some reason, “Bewitched” perfectly fit into one aspect of the old fairy tale of "The Little Mermaid" and, after I realized that, the story pretty much wrote itself. It’s a fun, paranormal twist on a beloved story.

Glynnis had been in previous Woodcutter’s Grim Series books as a villain (since she’s the woman Kurt cheated on Diane with). I like to redeem characters, and I gave Glynnis motivation for her actions in that affair: Under the Shaussegeny curse, she believed Kurt was her chosen mate. In this book, she realizes he isn’t and never was when Aric Sayer appears. Since this miniseries become more paranormal romance than romantic horror, I wanted to start using some of the “lighter and softer” fairy tales as a basis for my modern retellings.

"The Little Mermaid" classic fairy tale that we all know and love has several contradictory interpretations by scholars. On one end, it might speak of a female only gaining a soul through marriage (say what?) or a self-sacrificing action that proves true love exists and therefore magic happens to reward the selfless act. On the other end, female empowerment--breaking free of the male conventions that can bind all females in some ways--are the order of the day in "The Little Mermaid". Or this story could simply have been prompted by the myths of malevolent mermaids preying on lonely sailors. 

"One Night of Eternity", Book 6

 ** Loosely based on “The House That Jack Built”. Gavin has broken the covenant with his wife. Although he regrets his faithlessness, the house he's built for himself is beginning to tumble down around him. Only his mate's undeserved forgiveness will free him from his punishment to re-live his betrayal over and over for all time. **

I’ve always been intrigued by the children’s poem, "The House That Jack Built", and when I started brainstorming on fairy tales that would make a good transition into my Woodcutter’s Grim Series, this poem was one of the first that I wanted to use. I came up with a simple, line-by-line outline of the story based on the poem, and the book really wrote itself after that. I just found it such a cool, circular idea. I especially enjoyed writing the story of a couple who has endured marital infidelity and how sin becomes so twisted in a paranormal situation like theirs. Their obsessive love for each other was obvious to me from their first moments thinking of each other in the opening chapters.

The origin of the nursery rhyme, sometimes titled "This is the House that Jack Built", seems to merely be one of repetitive, progressive verse.

In my modern retelling, the hero has to enduring his night of infidelity for all eternity, over and over again, progressively as punishment. How can he ever break free? The title came to me even before I worked out all the details in the outline.

 "Beauty is the Beast*, Book 7

 ** Very loosely based on “Beauty and the Beast”. When Ransom Shaussegeny attempts to cure the family curse, he becomes a werewolf trapped in beast form and isolates himself inside the family fortress. Upon meeting a beautiful enchantress, he falls under her spell. Will the evil in Woodcutter’s Grim have the last laugh by dooming him, the woman he loves, and his family for all time? **

Another huge fairy tale favorite of mine has always been "Beauty and the Beast", and it was the obvious choice for the final story to wrap up this miniseries. Ransom’s family had accepted the curse they live under, but he’d never been willing to. He wanted to break the curse and he certainly didn't want to pass it on to a woman he’d fallen in love with. The idea that the hero is trapped in his werewolf form was beyond compelling to me, mingled with the mystery of a heroine who isn’t all she seems. In that situation, who is the beauty and who is the beast?

This title was one I chose for a modern story I wrote a long time ago and one that I can't imagine will ever see the light of day. In that coming-of-age tale concerning a young girl too beautiful for her own good, beauty *is* the beast. But it was the perfect title for this story, so I had to steal it off that book.

Ironically, the twist in this story of Tess's origins worked so perfectly in HUNTER'S BLUES, Book 9 (A Mirror Darkly World Novel) that I wrote much later for the series.

The origin of the classic fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" seems to have stemmed from the Cupid and Psyche chronicle from an ancient Latin novel in which a woman is banished by a jealous god and forced to marry a beast. What followed is more than a little convoluted but makes for interesting reading nevertheless.

 Reviews and Honors for WOODCUTTER'S GRIM SERIES, Volume II:

5 star review and Top Pick from The Romance Reviews

5 star review and Reviewer's Top Pick from Readers Favorite

5 star review from Huntress Reviews

5 star review from Linda's Reviews

4 1/2 star review from Love Romance Passion

Have you ever written a series that came to you in a non-linear order? Have you read any that were published out of order? Leave a comment to tell me about it!

Happy reading!

Find out more about this collection and Woodcutter's Grim Series here:

Karen is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 140 titles and 16 series. Visit her here: