Beauty of the Dead: The White Maid

The White Maid   by Nathaniel Hawthorne  (1835) Twice Told Tales

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    November 29, 2016

Two women are standing over a corpse. The young dead man is the lover of both the women who are unmarried  and aging. This is a story of an abandoned mansion and the mystical.  And a secret.

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THE MOONBEAMS came through two deep and narrow windows, and showed a spacious chamber, richly furnished in an antique fashion. From one lattice, the shadow of the diamond panes was thrown upon the floor; the ghostly light, through the other, slept upon a bed, falling between the heavy silken curtains, and illuminating the face of a young man. But, how quietly the slumberer lay! how pale his features! and how like a shroud the sheet was wound about his frame! Yes; it was a corpse, in its burial-clothes.

Suddenly, the fixed features seemed to move, with dark emotion.

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Herman Melville once wrote of  Nathaniel Hawthorne: “Even his bright gildings play upon the edges of thunder-clouds.”  Many readers love Hawthorne’s air of mystery that pervades his short stories. This is certainly one of them.

 

Read the short story here at EldritchPress.org

 

Listen to the audio here at Barrow Bookstore Audios 

 

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 180 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

 

The Kill Zone

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

 HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian     HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/

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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, Hauntings, Hawthorne, horror blogs, literary horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs

Author in Progress, a No-holds-Barred Guide to Getting Published

Author in Progress, a No-Holds-Barred Guide to What It Really Takes to Get Published

by Therese Walsh, Editor & the Writer Unboxed Community

Book Review and Commentary     November 20, 2016

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Unbox your thinking. Unbox  your writing. If you are a reader of  the award-winning blog Writer Unboxed, then you know about this book on the skills of writing and the skills of getting published. Author in Progress has over 50 essays by some of the best writers, novelists, editors, and agents from the Writer Unboxed  community.

I’ve spent the last two weeks reading the essays. Lots to digest here, and I think it’s likely that this is one of those books that you will reach for during your writing journey and during your publishing journey.

In Part 1, literary agent Donald Maass tells us that “writing well doesn’t guarantee success,” so you can expect realistic perspectives. What should you do about literary trends? Maass makes a handy point about chasing trends. He also has some valuable thinking  about (Part 4)  “How much Craft Do you Need?”  I have about 30 writing craft books listed on this blog site (Reviews of Writing Craft Books) and more than that on my shelf. Enough? Have I read and explored enough of the craft?Maass says the “most important piece of craft is the one  you don’t know.” So, I keep reading and reviewing craft books, and I’m often finding tips and techniques I didn’t know. “The best writers never stop learning.”

Do you plot out your novels first in a sturdy organized fashion? Or, do you use your intuition and write organically and freely like Elmore Leonard, Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, JRR Tolkien? Ray  Rhamey sorts it out in “Plot It, Or Pants It?”

The legendary “Muse” is a constant struggle for a lot of writers. Dave King will help you to recognize and search beyond ordinary inspirations. I loved this chapter because he names the ‘false muses.’

There are lots more in Author in Progress: diving into that first draft, harnessing revisions, creating authentic characters, how to handle critiques, beta readers, writing by ear, psychological struggles of a writing career, writing tribes, and the very helpful essay by Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware–“How Vulnerability Can Increase Over Time, and What You Can do About it.”

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You can purchase it here on Amazon for Kindle or soft cover.

 Visit WriterUnboxed.com for daily posts on writing and publishing.

 

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


How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career 
by James Scott Bell (book review here)

Creating Characters, The Complete Guide to Populating Your Fiction, by the Editors of Writer’s Digest
(book review here) 
Dialogue, The Art of Verbal Action for the Page, Stage, & Screen, by Robert McKee  (book review here)
The Annotated Dracula (Bram Stoker), Annotated by Mort Castle (book review here) (Also The Annotated Jane        Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) Annotated by K.M. Weiland)
How to Write Like Chekhov, Advice and Inspiration,
Editor Piero Brunello and Lena Lencek  (book review here)
Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, Ursula K. Le Guin (book review here)
Writing Wild, Tina Welling (book review here)
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg (book review here)
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

Comments are welcome, please!

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, Fiction Writing, horror blogs, literature, short stories, short story blogs

How to Write Short Stories & Use Them to Further Your Writing Career by James Scott Bell

How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career

by James Scott Bell

Book Review and Commentary   November 15, 2016

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“A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.”

Edgar Allan Poe

I love short stories and have been reading at least one a week for the past 4 years for this blog and for years before that. A short story is a great lunch companion, especially if you are reading some of the great flash fiction that’s out there these days. Did you ever wonder who wrote the first short story? Scheherazade and The Canterbury Tales come to mind, right? I suppose some might say the Bible were the first stories. Others claim Sir Walter Scott’s  The Two Drovers published in Chronicles of the Canongate in 1827 was the official  first short story published.

But what are the elements of a good short story?  I’ve been writing short stories and novels for some 20 years, and creatively speaking they demand the same skills and practice for storytelling and characterization.  A short story traditionally focuses on one incident,  a single plot, a single setting, often limited to a few characters, and proceeds over a short period of time. At its core, it produces a single narrative effect and that’s why it works so well with an afternoon pot of  tea and a tuna sandwich.

For readers,  we want drama, suspense, a unified impression, vivid sensations, action, climax, thrilling characters, and a satisfactory resolution. And we want it in one sitting and in less than 6000 words. This is not a small achievement! How does a writer do it? Lots of hard work and rewriting, rewriting, rewriting.

Author Kurt Vonnegut offers eight essential tips on how to write a short story:

  • Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  • Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  • Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  • Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.
  • Start as close to the end as possible.
  • Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  • Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  • Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

But this really doesn’t give you enough if you are a  new to writing short fiction or struggling to be a successful short story writer out there in the highly competitive publishing market.  And I can tell you from experience, becoming a short story writer has just as many challenges and obstacles as becoming a novelist. These days, writing the story is one side of the work; then there’s the “getting it published” or marketing it yourself.

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Fortunately, James Scott Bell has written a book that addresses both writing and marketing. This book will grow your writing skills on voice and POV, give you the keys to make your reader feel the characters in your story, and the discover the best structure for short fiction.  How do you find your story? Need a road map? Bell has got it for you. And once you get your story written, Bell gives you tips on getting it edited, into a professional electronic format, with book cover. And he identifies publications submission options as well as advice on getting it up on Amazon.com if you choose to self-publish. The beauty of this book is that it gives you the full distance, from start-up to writing down the bones and to getting it to readers.

Bell uses examples from the best writers (Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, Ray Bradbury, John Cheever, Stephen King, and many others) and gives you 5 excellent short stories to read to set the bar for you. One big disappointment, though, in this book is that Bell didn’t spot a single female author in all his examples and writing samples.  Our literary world is loaded with talented and smart women writers. Why was there no mention of Shirley Jackson, Elizabeth Bowen, Ruth Rendell, Daphne du Maurier,  Joyce Carol Oates, Kate Chopin, Kelly Link, Mary Shelley, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf (some of whose short stories can be found here on this blog site via the index).

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James Scott Bell is an award-winning (Christy Award) best-selling author of seven thrillers, and several writing craft books: Voice, the Power of Great Writing; Super Structure; Just Write; The Mental Game of Writing; and more.

 

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

Creating Characters, The Complete Guide to Populating Your Fiction, by the Editors of Writer’s Digest
(book review here) 
Dialogue, The Art of Verbal Action for the Page, Stage, & Screen, by Robert McKee  (book review here)
The Annotated Dracula (Bram Stoker), Annotated by Mort Castle (book review here) (Also The Annotated Jane        Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) Annotated by K.M. Weiland)
How to Write Like Chekhov, Advice and Inspiration,
Editor Piero Brunello and Lena Lencek  (book review here)

Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, Ursula K. Le Guin (book review here)
Writing Wild, Tina Welling (book review here)
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg (book review here)
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

Comments are welcome, please!

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Filed under Book Reviews, crime stories, fiction, Fiction Writing, horror blogs, mysteries, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, suspense, tales of terror, writing craft books

Absolute Evil, Hawthorne Style

Absolute Evil by Julian Hawthorne  (1846–1934)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  November 8, 2016

 

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Julian Hawthorne, an American Writer, was the son of Nathaniel Hawthorne. He was well known for writing mystery fiction, essays, and travel books. Absolute Evil is one of his most famous short stories.

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We have a spinster on summer vacation. A remote island. Rumors linger that the island is haunted. Haunted by what exactly? Follow the footprints and listen to the strange howlings.

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“Every once in a while something peeped forth from the shadows of those eyes of his that made me jump—interiorly, of absolute evil;  I was woman of the world enough to betray nothing. It was as if somebody I knew very well had suddenly peeped out at me from a window in a strange place, where that face was the last I should have expected to see.”

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Do you believe people can be changed into beasts?

 

Read it here at Story of the Week. Scroll down passed the introduction and click on the PDF link at the bottom: http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2016/10/absolute-evil.html

 

Come Read More Stories! ENTER …

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View the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 180 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery, ghost stories, and supernatural. Join me in reading one short story every other week! Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

The Kill Zone

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    

   Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      The Story Reading Ape Blog

Kirkus Mysteries & Thrillers

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/

 

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Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, Hauntings, horror blogs, literature, mysteries, paranormal, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural thrillers, tales of terror, weird tales, werewolves

Greylock is Featured November Read at Goodreads

Greylock is the featured November read at Goodreads, Writers and Readers Group. Join in!

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/37092-writers-and-readers

Greylock is a Chanticleer Book Award Winner, 2015.

U.S. Review of Books: “Cappa’s latest is nothing less than a mind-boggling mystery … always keeping an elusive edge to her characters’ personas—a plot replete with all the wonderful trappings of a romance-laced mystery with unexpected twists and turns.”

Murder, lies, romance, betrayal. When pianist Alexei Georg plays an old Russian sonata, a dark musical power invades his life, haunting him from Boston’s music society to Russia to the summit of Mt. Greylock, where he must find a way to halt the dark force within his music or become prisoner to its phantasmagoric power. From Boston’s music society to the White Sea in Russia to Mt. Greylock. Murder. Music. Mystery.

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On Amazon: US http://amzn.to/1OxPF9B UK: http://amzn.to/1Wp3Flr

Semi-finalist in Kindle Book Review Awards

 “A dark masterpiece. Rare and beautiful piece of writing by an author with an unpredictable and exceptional command of language and mood.” John J. Staughton, Amazon TOP Reviewer, FIVE stars.

“Echoing notes of Phantom of the Opera, mixed with Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe, and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, Greylock is a thrilling musical tragedy steeped in lore, mythology, and the madness of composition, leading to a crescendo of epic proportions. Paula Cappa is a gifted author, and this book will have you swooning in the aisles.” —Richard Thomas, author of Disintegration.

 

Have you met Alexei and Lia?

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, crime thrillers, fiction, horror blogs, Mt. Greylock, murder mystery, short story blogs, supernatural music, supernatural mysteries, supernatural thrillers

Haunts of Halloween

Haunts of Halloween

October 31, 2016

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Let’s go poetry. There are stories in poems, images and insights, song and emotion … and other worlds. Let your mind play with the patterns and sink into the symbolism. Be illuminated this Halloween!

 

The Ghost House by Robert Frost (1906)

Gloomy, dark, mysterious, and beautifully vague.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WK92957YzI

Read it below or here online: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/ghost-house

 

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I dwell in a lonely house I know

That vanished many a summer ago,

And left no trace but the cellar walls,

And a cellar in which the daylight falls

And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow.

 

O’er ruined fences the grape-vines shield

The woods come back to the mowing field;

The orchard tree has grown one copse

Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops;

The footpath down to the well is healed.

 

I dwell with a strangely aching heart

In that vanished abode there far apart

On that disused and forgotten road

That has no dust-bath now for the toad.

Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart;

 

The whippoorwill is coming to shout

And hush and cluck and flutter about:

I hear him begin far enough away

Full many a time to say his say

Before he arrives to say it out.

 

It is under the small, dim, summer star.

I know not who these mute folk are

Who share the unlit place with me—

Those stones out under the low-limbed tree

Doubtless bear names that the mosses mar.

 

They are tireless folk, but slow and sad—

Though two, close-keeping, are lass and lad,—

With none among them that ever sings,

And yet, in view of how many things,

As sweet companions as might be had.

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Haunted Houses by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1858)

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All houses wherein men have lived and died

Are haunted houses. Through the open doors

The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,

With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

 

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,

Along the passages they come and go,

Impalpable impressions on the air,

A sense of something moving to and fro.

 

There are more guests at table than the hosts

Invited; the illuminated hall

Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,

As silent as the pictures on the wall.

 

The stranger at my fireside cannot see

The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;

He but perceives what is; while unto me

All that has been is visible and clear.

 

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;

Owners and occupants of earlier dates

From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,

And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

 

The spirit-world around this world of sense

Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere

Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense

A vital breath of more ethereal air.

 

Our little lives are kept in equipoise

By opposite attractions and desires;

The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,

And the more noble instinct that aspires.

 

These perturbations, this perpetual jar

Of earthly wants and aspirations high,

Come from the influence of an unseen star

An undiscovered planet in our sky.

 

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud

Throws o’er the sea a floating bridge of light,

Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd

Into the realm of mystery and night,—

 

So from the world of spirits there descends

A bridge of light, connecting it with this,

O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,

Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

 

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“And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
                Shall be lifted- nevermore!”

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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   Parlor of Horror

 HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian     HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

 

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Filed under Edgar Allan Poe, fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, Halloween, Halloween stories, horror, horror blogs, mysteries, paranormal, Penny Dreadful, Reading Fiction, short story blogs, supernatural, tales of terror

Poe’s “Some Words With a Mummy”

Some Words With a Mummy  by Edgar Allan Poe  (1850)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    October 25, 2016

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Mummies are not all that scary are they? These days we tend to poke fun at them  with corny jokes (What did Pharaoh say when he saw the pyramid? “Mummy’s home.”).  Poe may have been one of the first to create amusement at such dead things  in this wackiest of his short stories.

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The story begins with our narrator describing his dull evening at home, when a “furious ringing at the street-door bell, and then an impatient thumping at the knocker, which awakened me at once.

This is the invitation he receives from Dr. Ponnonner:

“Come to me, by all means, my dear good friend, as soon as you receive this. Come and help us to rejoice. At last, by long persevering diplomacy, I have gained the assent of the Directors of the City Museum, to my examination of the Mummy — you know the one I mean. I have permission to unswathe it and open it, if desirable. A few friends only will be present — you, of course. The Mummy is now at my house, and we shall begin to unroll it at eleven to-night.”

Come to this “unwrapping party” and meet the mummy Count Allamistakeo. Even his name is cute! This mummy is not only revived but he can articulate. And the rest is history … Egyptian history that is. American vanity vs. Egyptology vs. science in full Poe style. This is one Poe story you might have missed.

No doubt Poe became inspired to write this adventure from when he observed a mummy on display in the Virginia State Capitol—at the age of 14, he was certainly impressed creatively.

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If you really want a vintage literary experience, listen to the storytelling on audio:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDH4RJNWXMg

Read the short story at Virginia.Edu:

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/poe/mummy.html

 

 

 

 

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Want more Poe literature? Visit these sites:

Edgar Allan Poe Museum website.

Edgar Allan Poe Stories website.

The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe (Smithsonian).

The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore.

Halloween’s coming soon … and more ghostly literature for next week!

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 180 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   Parlor of Horror

 HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian     HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

 

Leave a comment

Filed under classic horror stories, Edgar Allan Poe, fiction, Halloween stories, horror blogs, literature, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, science fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, tales of terror