The Dim, Dark-Toned Room

The Shell of Sense  by Olivia Howard Dunbar (1940s)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 26, 2016



If you’ve ever mused about what it’s like to be newly dead, here is a story about two sisters, one who has recently passed but remains earthbound. Theresa and Frances. And, Frances’ husband Allan.

It is Frances who has passed but lingers in her home with her sister Theresa and Allan.


“No spirit still unreleased can understand the pang that I felt with Allan sitting almost within my touch. Almost irresistibly the wish beset me to let him for an instant feel my nearness.”


Frances manifests herself as transiently, as a thought. “I could produce the merest necessary flicker, like the shadow of a just-opened leaf, on his trembling, tortured consciousness.”

Oliva Howard Dunbar writes more than a ghost story here. And even more than a love story. Beautifully written, this short story is about jealously and love and will soothe as much as it will haunt.




Olivia Howard Dunbar was Massachusetts-born in 1873, active in the Suffrage Movement, and became editor of New York World. Her stories were published in Harpers and The Dial. She is most famous for her essay  The Decay of the Ghost in Fiction. She also wrote The Long Chamber, The Sycamore, and The Dream Baby.



Read the short story The Shell of Sense at


Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, horror, and ghost stories. Join me in reading one short story every other week! Comments are welcome.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine     Horror Novel Reviews     

Monster Librarian 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Leave a comment

Filed under fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, horror blogs, quiet horror, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural

Flesh and Blood and Bones of Writing, Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down the Bones, Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

Book Review and Commentary  April 13, 2016


This is an intimate approach to the journey of writing. Goldberg is a writing teacher and a practitioner of Japanese Zen. Goldberg believes that learning to write–that’s the course ahead–hinges greatly on “first thoughts.” These first thoughts have tremendous energy and are unencumbered by the ego. So, this is like blood flowing, maybe gushing forth with your story. Speed here is the key. Keep the hand moving.

I actually like this path because it probably does free up the writer to let go of all the controls that might deter or stagnate a good story. Of course Goldberg says to trust the mind and body and create your own practice. These are the bones where you create the structure for yourself. Want to light a candle while writing or listen to music? Do it.

“We write in the moment.”  There’s a great emphasis on listening. Listen, not only to people but listen to the air, listen to the past, and listen to the future. This is the meat, the flesh, of a story or a character.

Goldberg identifies three things that all writers must do: read a lot; listen well and deeply; write a lot. Many writers have heard these points before. She adds … “Forget yourself. Disappear. ” So, really the effort is to let go of your own consciousness and allow the subconscious to lead.

Zen works from the theory of becoming whole,  and this is Goldberg’s theory too. There is a Zen interconnectedness  in your writing–feel it. It will certainly bring you beyond just storytelling and into the textures and details that all writing, especially in fiction, demand.

The importance of place, of memory, of emotions all are addressed in this book. “Shed doubt.” She writes that knowing your needs and tools on this path is essential for authenticity. Gosh, not a single word on adverbs. Who wouldn’t love this book?



My Recommended List of the Best Writing Books I’ve Read



Method Writing, Jack Grapes (book review here)
Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury (book review here)
On Writing, A Memoir, Stephen King (book review here)

Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway. All the basics of how to write: the writing process, show vs. tell, characterization, fictional atmosphere and place, story structure and plot, point of view, theme, and revision.
Story, Robert McKee
Story Trumps StructureSteven James
The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass
The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (I reread this book once a year, it’s that good)
Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern
The Art of Character, David Corbett
Getting into Character, Brandilyn Collins
The Secret Miracle, the Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon
Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande
The Faith of a Writer, Life, Craft, Art, Joyce Carole Oates
If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland
Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose
Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Best Editing Books for Writers:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King
A Dash of Style, Noah Lukeman
The Grammar Bible, Michael Strumpf & Auriel Douglas
Line by Line, Claire Kehrwald Cook
The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein
Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Second Edition, Ernest Gowers
Chicago Manual of Style
Words Into Type, Third Edition, Skillin & Gay


Next writing book on my list to review, Writing Wild by Tina Welling

Comments welcome!



Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, short story blogs

The Girl With The Hungry Eyes

The Girl With the Hungry Eyes  by Fritz Leiber  (1949)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  April 12, 2016



Remember Rod Serling’s Night Gallery? He did a film adaptation of Fritz Leiber’s The Girl With the Hungry Eyes and although dated and little hokey, it’s still a fun 25-minutes. With James Farentino, Joanna Pettet, John Astin.

Leiber is well known for his stories that mesmerize. In this story, the author asks … what is the hidden hunger of millions of men? Lust? Justice? Revenge? Dave is a photographer looking for just the right model for an advertisement. Who walks into his studio?  “The girl.” He photographs her. And then things get spooky. Is she real? Is she supernatural? Is there a murder? And what is her hidden hunger?

Come on, you got to read this one.



Read the short story in PDF at Click here to download the PDF:

Watch the short film by Serling’s Night Gallery at The Quill & the Keyboard.blogspot.

Also on













Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, horror, and ghost stories. Join me in reading one short story every other week! 

Comments are welcome.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine  

Horror Novel Reviews

Monster Librarian

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


Filed under crime stories, crime thrillers, dark fantasy, fiction, horror blogs, murder mystery, pulp fiction, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror

Supernatural Powers in Dreams

Supernatural Powers in Dreams    April 8, 2016

Come into a night sea journey …

Carl_Gustav_JungHave you ever had a ghostly cold dream? A nightmare with the chill of death in it? Carl Jung (20th century Swiss psychiatrist) says nightmares tell us something important. Jung believed there is a psychic reality to dreams. He even went so far as to say they carry a supra-luminous level of frequency that exceeds the speed of light.

As dreamers pass into this passage of sleep, they might see a heavy dark spot spreading out. This is akin to the fear of losing consciousness. And this fear is so great that—rather than become totally unconscious—we dream. We create images and action, little stories to maintain our identity. These are the thoughts of Dr. Laz Merlyn, psychiatrist, in Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural. A supernatural mystery about nightmares, dreaming, and a supra-luminous frequency.

CappaNightSeaJourneyERICHFinalSept (1)

Laz Merlyn is a Jungian therapist. He sees a dream as a dance of alternate energy, an event that is actually a psychic energy taking action in our lives.

Let’s say you dream of a bird. A phoenix, lush with grand feathers and with wings pushing out. Dr. Merlyn will tell you that a phoenix, according to Jungian theory, symbolizes the human spleen that protects against infection and cleanses the blood. Maybe in normal life, some bacteria or person or event is poised to attack you in some way. Merlyn will tell you that when you wake up, this phoenix will linger over your life. This psychic energy of the phoenix is present, day upon day, redirecting you, watching over. Are you becoming more guarded as the days pass? Suspicious? Cautious? For some people, this frequency goes unnoticed. For others who are alert to it, they are deeply affected.

Kip Livingston is a woman who is alert to this psychic dream energy. She is a semi-famous artist living alone in Abasteron House on Horn Island in the Atlantic. And she dreams not of a phoenix, but of a raging firehawk.


A shadowy winged creature with a flaming chest, shedding ash, who captures her in her sleep and drags her into the bottom of an icy sea. This nightmare comes again and again and each night, Kip goes deeper beneath the choking waves as the firehawk grows more fierce. What does Dr. Laz Merlyn say about that?


Dr. Merlyn might say to Kip, “The flow of psychic dream energy has the power to move inward and outward. In this dream of the firehawk, there is a negative psychic frequency. Likely caused by intense night terrors. What are you afraid of, Kip?”

Fear; Dr. Merlyn thinks he’s right for the most part. Until he discovers that Kip’s firehawk is not confined to her dreams. Until he discovers that this firehawk breaks through into Kip’s reality and into our physical world. What power is this? One that can take her on a journey into the night sea.



Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural is an Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner. The Hoffer Awards honor excellence in writing and prose in chiefly academic, small, and micro presses, and self-published authors.  The winners are nominated by a panel of independent judges. Eric Hoffer Review:  “This romantic fantasy is propelled by gorgeous language and imagery…angels and demons…The grime of inner city Chicago, the tranquility of the Rhode Island coastline, and the depths of a phantasmagoric ocean are the stages for this conflict.”

U.S. Review of Books says of Night Sea Journey: “Stunning and absorbing plot on par with–if not better than–a Dan Brown novel.”

Come to Abasteron House by the Sea.

sunset-sky-seaside-sea-beach-nature-Public Domainlovely-night-1

Click on to LOOK INSIDE and

experience Kip’s dreaming firehawk.


Published by Crispin Books in Trade Softcover.

Available in ebook:

Amazon UK 

Barnes &





1 Comment

Filed under fiction, horror blogs, Night Sea Journey, paranormal, quiet horror, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural mysteries, supernatural thrillers

Trees Bathed in Blood

A View of the Woods  by Flannery O’Connor  (1957)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    March 29, 2016



We don’t normally think of Flannery O’Connor when we want to read a mystery. A View of the Woods is an ‘uncomfortable mystery’ and one that goes deep. Would we expect anything less from the queen of southern literature, Flannery O’Connor? This short tale is Christian-haunted, a human brutality with a demonic force. Characterization here is compelling and won’t let you close the book.


Mary Fortune is nine years old. A cute spunky little girl and her grandfather’s favorite—because Mary is just like the grandfather. But this old guy, Mr. Fortune, is driven by so much pride and obsessed with progress, the result becomes bloody and tragic. There’s no supernatural elements going on unless you recognize a visionary moment by the grandfather. But there is a whole lot of symbolism going on. The woods are often places of fear and vulnerability. In this story, we see how a person can closed his eyes to the ‘hellish red trunks that rise up in a blackwood.’ Viewing the woods is not all the grandfather finally sees.



The third time he [Mr. Fortune] got up to look at the woods, it was almost six o’clock and the gaunt trunks appeared to be raised in a pool of red light that gushed from the almost hidden sun setting behind them. The old man stared for some time, as if for a prolonged instant he were caught up out of the rattle of everything that led to the future and were held there in the midst of an uncomfortable mystery that he had not apprehended before. He saw it, in his hallucination, as if someone were wounded behind the woods and the trees were bathed in blood.

Watch for the color yellow symbolism here. O’Connor does this brilliantly.

Read the short story from Flannery O’Connor, The Complete Stories via PDF (scroll down to page 343).




Flannery O’Connor, born in Savannah, Georgia in 1925, won a National Book Award for Fiction in 1972. She wrote over 30 short stories and 2 novels.









Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, horror, and ghost stories. Join me in reading one short story every week! Comments are welcome.


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine  

Horror Novel Reviews

Monster Librarian

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


Filed under fiction, literary horror, literature, mysteries, psychological horror, quiet horror, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror

Cuban Crime Fiction

Cuban Crime Fiction

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  March 22, 2016



With this week’s news focusing on President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba, I thought it might be timely to take a look at who the crime and mystery writers are from Cuba. Reading what is fashionably termed ‘immigrant fiction’ (authors like Junot Diaz or Jhumpa Lahiri) has its values, especially if you want to expand your literary adventures beyond classic or contemporary American and European authors. The earliest crime stories in Cuba were written by Lino Novas Calvo in the 1940s, but you won’t find any in English these days.



A contemporary author that is gaining popularity is Leonardo Padua. He writes dark noir detective stories with moody atmospherics: The Havana Quartet: Havana Gold, Havana Black, Havana Red, Havana Blue. Some reviewers compare his work to Raymond Chandler. In these stories, Lt. Mario Conde is the cop who prefers to be a writer. Here’s a sample of Havana Red:



The heat is a malign plague invading everything. The heat descends like a tight, stretchy cloak of red silk, wrapping itself round bodies, trees and things, to inject there the dark poison of despair and a slower, certain death. It is a punishment without appeal or relief that seems ready to ravage the visible universe, though its lethal vortex must fall on a heretic city, on a district condemned to hell. It tortures mangy, forlorn street dogs searching for a lake in the desert; old men dragging sticks that are more exhausted than their own legs, as they advance against the summer solstice in their daily struggle for survival; once majestic trees, now bent double by the fury of spiralling temperatures; dead dust piled against the sidewalks, longing for a rain that never comes or an indulgent wind, presences able to upset their becalmed fate and transform them into mud, abrasive clouds, storms or cataclysms. The heat crushes everything, tyrannizes the world, corrodes what could be saved and arouses only the most infernal wrath, rancours, envies, hatreds, as if it intended to provoke the end of time, history, humanity and memory . . . But how the fuck can it be so hot? he whispered as he removed his dark glasses to dry the sweat dirtying his face and spat into the street a minuscule gob of phlegm that rolled over the parched dust.

The sweat burned his eyes, and Lieutenant Mario Conde looked up at the sky to clamour for a cloud that would augur relief. And then the shouts of glee hit his brain.



Cristina Garcia is a well-known and prolific writer, Cuban-born American journalist and novelist. Her novel, a finalist for National Book Award Dreaming in Cuban, is described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “Remarkable … an intricate weaving of dramatic events with the supernatural and the cosmic … A rich and haunting narrative, an excellent new voice in contemporary fiction.” This is a family story reflecting elements of magical realism and the struggles of post-revolutionary Cuba. Here’s the opening of Dreaming in Cuban:


Celia del Pino, equipped with binoculars and wearing her best housedress and drop pearl earrings, sits in her wicker swing guarding the north coast of Cuba. Square by square, she searches the night skies for adversaries then scrutinizes the ocean, which is roiling with nine straight days of unseasonable April rains. No sign of gusano traitors. Celia is honored. The neighborhood committee has voted her little brick-and-cement house by the sea as the primary lookout for Santa Teresa del Mar. From her porch, Celia could spot another Bay of Pigs invasion before it happened. She would be feted at the palace, serenaded by a brass orchestra, seduced by El Líder himself on a red velvet divan.

Celia brings the binoculars to rest in her lap and rubs her eyes with stiffened fingers. Her wattled chin trembles. Her eyes smart from the sweetness of the gardenia tree and the salt of the sea. In an hour or two, the fishermen will return, nets empty. The yanquis, rumors go, have ringed the island with nuclear poison, hoping to starve the people and incite a counterrevolution. They will drop germ bombs to wither the sugarcane fields, blacken the rivers, blind horses and pigs. Celia studies the coconut palms lining the beach. Could they be blinking signals to an invisible enemy?

A radio announcer barks fresh conjectures about a possible attack and plays a special recorded message from El Líder: “Eleven years ago tonight, compañeros, you defended our country against American aggressors. Now each and every one of you must guard our future again. Without your support, compañeros, without your sacrifices, there can be no revolution.”

Celia reaches into her straw handbag for more red lipstick, then darkens the mole on her left cheek with a black eyebrow pencil. Her sticky graying hair is tied in a chignon at her neck. Celia played the piano once and still exercises her hands, unconsciously stretching them two notes beyond an octave. She wears leather pumps with her bright housedress.

Her grandson appears in the doorway, his pajama top twisted off his shoulders, his eyes vacant with sleep.


If you are looking for more in Cuban Literature, try this reading list from The New York Times, recommending authors like José Lezama Lima and Alejo Carpentier.


Obama’s Remarks on Cuba, March 22, 2016



Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, horror, and ghost stories. Join me in reading one short story every week!

Comments are welcome.

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine  

Horror Novel Reviews     

Monster Librarian 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Leave a comment

Filed under crime stories, crime thrillers, fiction, murder mystery, Reading Fiction, short story blogs, supernatural, suspense, tales of terror

Greylock Wins Chanticleer International Book Award

I’m happy to announce that my mystery Greylock has won a Paranormal Chanticleer International Book Award, 2015.  The category is Supernatural. This is a Blue Ribbon writing competition that has become a champion for emerging and talented authors around the globe. They are partners with the Independent Book Publishers Association, The Alliance of Independent Authors, and The Writer.



Greylock on Amazon

Greylock on Barnes&Noble

Greylock on iBooks

GREYLOCK REVIEW: “If you’re looking for an imaginative, sophisticated read, you’ve found it. Five stars.” —Michael Schmicker, best-selling author of The Witch of Napoli.


The Witch of Napoli is also a Chanticleer Winner this year in the Historical Paranormal Category. I share congratulations with Mike Schmicker! Readers here who love the paranormal will find his novel to be one of the best.

Mike Schmicker is an award-winning author, an investigative journalist, nationally-known writer on scientific anomalies and the paranormal, and Amazon Top 100 author. He is the co-author of “The Gift, ESP: The Extraordinary Experiences of Ordinary People” (St. Martin’s Press (USA)/Penguin Random House (UK). His first book, “Best Evidence,” has emerged as a classic in the field of scientific anomalies reporting since its first publication in 2000. Michael began his writing career as a crime reporter for a suburban Dow-Jones newspaper in Connecticut, and worked as a freelance reporter in Southeast Asia for three years. He has also worked as a stringer for Forbes magazine, and Op-Ed contributor to The Wall Street Journal Asia.

urlThe Witch of Napoli is like an Italian opera full of charming melodrama. The plot, which takes place in 1899, moves forward at a fast pace with suspense that I found impossible to resist. This is a really good writer with a powerful voice. These characters are skillfully drawn, witty, and fun. I especially like how this story becomes visual with vivid descriptions of the history and the cultural adventures.







Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, Greylock, horror blogs, literary horror, Mt. Greylock, paranormal, Reading Fiction, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural mysteries, supernatural thrillers