Immortals on the Yendian Plane

The Island of Immortals by Ursula Le Guin

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  May 24, 2016

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‘Somebody asked me if I’d heard that there were immortal people on the Yendian Plane, and somebody else told me that there were, so when I got there, I asked about them. The travel agent rather reluctantly showed me a place called the Island of the Immortals on her map. “You don’t want to go there,” she said.’

Hop on the ship sailing to the island of immortals. This story is different from my usual posts. We’re in sci-fi territory and in the  hands of award-winning writer Ursula Le Guin. Our narrator is dying to see what kind of people are immortals and she sails out to explore the island. There is danger. There are flies.

 

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Ursula Le Guin is an American writer, best known for her stories in science fiction and high fantasy. She is a winner of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards.

A famous quote: “We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.”

 

 

Read the short story The Immortals at LightspeedMagazine.com

 

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Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula K. Le Guin

 Click here to Read My Book Review and Commentary,  May 17, 2016.

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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    

 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

Leave a comment

Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, Fiction Writing, horror blogs, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, tales of terror

Book Review of Greylock from Goodread’s Top Reviewer

Book Review of Greylock by BookLover CatLady, Maxine, Goodread’s top reviewer.

May 16, 2016

Five stars …

Greylock is a sublime work of art, the words in this book swept me off my feet and balanced me on waves of beautiful and intense prose.I will never be the same again. Sometimes an author comes around that is like no other, where their writing stands out as something special, magical and unique. Paula Cappa is such an author. I read her fantastic book This Dazzling Darkness and was equally blown away with the entire journey. If you have not read a book by Paula and you love books, then you need to. This one is a good place to start.

Even the synopsis gives you a glimpse of the power of this novel and the words within it, this is one of those hard reviews to write as it had such an emotional and mental impact, have a taste of the blurb to start:

Murder, lies, romance, betrayal—and the flickering phantasmagoria.
Inside the supernatural realm beats sinister music. Don’t believe it? Just ask violinists Paganini or Tartini about their deals with the devil for their virtuosity. Pianist Alexei Georg harbors a dark secret—he finds an anonymous old sonata in a 19th-century Russian sea chest.

When Alexei performs this handsome music in concert, a creature of darkness appears in the audience, in the aisle, and on the stage with him. This is no ghost. This faceless menacing presence haunts Alexei relentlessly. From Boston’s music society to the White Sea in Russia where the whales sing. Alexei is on a quest for the songs of the beluga whales, so he can compose a whale symphony in hopes of saving his career.

Alexei is married to ballerina Carole Anne but he can’t resist the steamy and delicious Lia Marrs. When Carole Anne is found murdered, Alexei flees Boston and the suspicion of the crime to the summit of Mt. Greylock. He is determined to write his whale symphony from the mountaintop. But Alexei cannot flee the unstoppable sonata that he has delivered into this world. Alone on Greylock, he must find a way to halt the dark force within his music or become prisoner to its phantasmagoric power in an ever-expanding abyss.

A dark entity from beyond enters the world of Pianist Alexai and life will never be the same again, the battle between the mortal self and something that is not of this world has commenced, but who will be the victor and at what price? The plot in this book is spectacular, the chapters where Alexai travel on an ancient Russian ship in search of pods of beautiful Beluga Whales in order to record their amazing singing to compose a symphony is just out of this world. You will be taken away with it, you will be on the ship, you will also be swimming with these magnificent creatures, you will hear the music they make and…you will see the dark, menacing shadowed, feathered figure from the darkness. Stalking, watching, threatening.

Meanwhile back in his hometown of Boston there are murdered bodies and eyes are thrust upon him. The hunt for a serial killer is at work and fingers are pointing in all directions, including at Alexai. From the freezing cold White Sea in Russia to the lonely and isolated mountain location Greylock the book abounds with a sense of underlying tension that keeps you turning the pages, wanting more, hungry for more. I loved everything about this book from the musical descriptions to the ancient Russian legends, but I especially loved the supernatural aspect of the being that enters Alexai’s world. You will be fascinated and repulsed all at the same time.

As the battle continues on so many levels the book just gets better and better, one thing is sure when reading a book written by Paula Cappa is that the words themselves wrap themselves around you and don’t let go. In my mind she is an undiscovered genius that needs more and more people reading her books, they really are very special. I don’t feel I can even do this book justice, it was beautiful, dark, chilling, disturbing, emotional, powerful and unforgettable. This one is a contender to be in my Top Ten Reads of 2015.

No doubt about it – 5 stars for this incredible book. Bravo! Paula Cappa has excelled herself with her new novel Greylock and I know it will appeal to readers who enjoy many genres. I hope you will be inspired to read. A stunning book that deserves all the praise it gets. Brilliant.

For more reviews by Maxine, books to win and author spotlights:https://www.facebook.com/BookloverCat…

Visit Maxine on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/22943325-maxine-booklover-catlady

You can follow Maxine on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/promotethatbook

Many thanks to Paula Cappa for sharing a copy of her book with me in exchange for a fair and honest review. (less)

GREYLOCK

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

Steering the Craft of Fiction

Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story  by Ursula K. Le Guin

Book Review and Commentary  May 17, 2016

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Are you a storyteller? Have you been writing for a while now? Steering the Craft is a comprehensive but short guide for writers who are not beginners, but those who need direction about their narrative prose. Ready to target some of your writing weaknesses?

Filled with lots of exercises (I’m not big on writing exercises but these are better than most), this book can function as you own private writing workshop. There’s a wealth of examples of writing achievements by authors like Alice Walker, Jane Austen, Dickens, Grace Paley, Virginia Woolf.

In Chapter One, Le Guin asks you to listen to the sounds of your writing. Listen to the forward movements, pace, rhythms, the silences. How does the changing sentence rhythms express the emotions of the characters? The examples here are breathtaking.

Of course, she touches on punctuation and grammar, but more importantly she touches on the ‘fake rules.’ Yes, she recommends breaking the rules. Every grammar bully should read this book.

“Craft enables art.” Learn how to bring deeper understanding to your craft. Le Guin goes beyond the mechanics and execution and shows you how to elevate your writing. On page 46, Le Guin discusses the famous F-word. When will that word strengthen or weaken the prose? When will it trivialize or invalidate? Good advice here. If first person vs. third person, passive voice vs. active voice has you in a jumble, these chapters will set you straight. What is “pathetic fallacy”? What is the skeleton of a sentence?

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Do you know the difference between story and plot? When I think of all the writing I’ve done over the past 20 years in fiction, the difference between story and plot is always a fascination and so important to understand.  Is story plot? Is story action? Aristotle addressed it and so did E.M. Forster in Aspects of the Novel (1927): This is the famous example of the King and the Queen. In Chapter 9, Le  Guin gives us a counterweight opinion.

Le Guin says “The story is not in the plot, but in the telling. It is the telling that moves.”

Le Guin’s Steering the Craft is a “story boat, magical, and knows its course. You, as writer, will help it find its own way to wherever it’s going.” Come aboard!

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Ursula Kroeber Le Guin is an American author: novels, children’s books, and short stories. She writes science fiction and fantasy. She has won the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards.

 

If you are interested in learning more about Le Guin’s thinking about breaking the rules of writing, see About Writing, On Rules of Writing from her website: http://www.ursulakleguin.com/AboutWriting13-OnRulesofWriting.html [Photo credit: Copyright © by Marian Wood Kolisch].

Paris Review, The Art of Fiction, interview with Ursula Le Guin.

Famous quote: “Listening is not a reaction, it is a connection. Listening to a conversation or a story, we don’t so much respond as join in — become part of the action.”

 

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

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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

 

Next writing book on my list to review is

How to Write Like Chekhovedited by Piero Brunello and Lena Leneek.

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, Fiction Writing, Reading Fiction, short story blogs

Our Vampires, Ourselves

The True Story of A Vampire by Count Eric Stanislaus Stenbock

(Studies in Death, 1894)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  May 10, 2016

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Our vampires, ourselves. All vampires are alike, yes or no? Do we draw vampires to ourselves through our personal styles and desires? Through our imagination maybe. Or, maybe through nature. What if your vampire wants more than your blood? What if your vampire desires something deeper and more rewarding? Are you willing?

Count Eric Stanislaus Stenbock wrote The True Story of a Vampire in 1894. And while this short story won’t win any prizes for writing, it’s a story that you won’t let go until you reach the last words.

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We are in Styria where vampires generally “arrive at night, in carriages drawn by two black horses. Our vampire arrived by the commonplace means of the railway train, and in the afternoon.” Don’t laugh. This is serious business. Come meet the Wronski family, who live in a castle. Their guest arrives, Count Vardalek, a Hungarian.

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 [Sukanto Debnath “Smile at Night” WikiMedia.]

 

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Read Stenbock’s The True Story of a Vampire at Gutenberg.net.au.

Listen to the audio from Librivox.org by James K. White.

Find more of Stenbock’s writings at Guide to Supernatural Fiction.com.

 

 

 

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Stenbock was born in Estonia. He wrote poetry, prose, and short stories. He loved Buddha and Shelley. After his death in 1895, Stenbock was buried at the Brighton Catholic Cemetery. Before burial the heart was extracted and sent to Estonia, preserved in a glass urn to be stored in the wall of the church. At the time of his death, the story goes that his uncle, back in Esbia, saw an apparition of Stenbock’s tear-stained face at his study window. [This is probably not a true account but I thought it kind of fun anyway.]

 

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    

 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

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Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, horror blogs, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, vampires, weird tales

Writing Wild!

Writing Wild by Tina Welling

Book Review and Commentary   May 2, 2016

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If you’re a nature lover, you will love this book. It goes beyond the act of writing and into the depths of conscious awareness. Using your intuitive nature creates a deep partnership with the natural world, so says Tina Welling. She is a novelist (three novels published by NAL), nonfiction author, an active hiker and cross country skier. And a skilled communicator with nature.

The goal of ‘writing wild’ is in the recognition of knowing ourselves through our natural world. Welling believes that while we receive nourishment from the earth, the earth receives nourishment from us. It is within this bond, within this exchange, that we can create our highest art.

The act of writing wild weaves inner and outer environments, the writer becoming conscious of this interconnectedness. How to do this? Welling suggests ‘spirit walks.’ Walking is figurative because the writer is to “set your butt on nature itself.” Sit on that log or flop down into the snow: breathe deeply, use all your senses, recall feelings or emotions.

This approach goes further than just observing nature or recording impressions. We are looking to create a new experience in this process of spirit walk. And there is a path to follow: naming, describing, interacting. I like how Welling asks us to follow Nature’s rules of creativity. Imitate the stillness of a mountain, follow the weave of a spider web, experience how a snowflake travels and lands on the earth.

Until reading this book, I did not really notice the degree of day becoming night in light transitions. Because Nature is pure energy, it can be your writing partner, says Welling. She has a section on mistakes that worked, releasing locked energy, and chance and synchronicity.

Welling knows from her own experiences with nature, that “what we create then creates us.” I found this whole book and its theories circular and very agreeable. How does all this directly help your writing? This approach and her exercises create a conscious clarity, insights, focused developments, which direct an ordered thinking of language, clean prose, and sensory data. And this is the authentic realm of the writer.

This is a book that teaches how to pay attention, open your heart, touch the hidden secrets, and speak. Skills that all serious writers need.

Visit Tina Wellling Website.

 

Tina Welling, author. CREDIT: David J Swift

Tina Welling, author. CREDIT: David J Swift

 

 

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

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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

 

 Next writing book on my list to review is

Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story

by Ursula K. LeGuin.

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, Reading Fiction, short story blogs, tales of terror

The Dim, Dark-Toned Room

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

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 26, 2016

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

 

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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 EastOfTheWeb.com.

 

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    

 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

2 Comments

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

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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?

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

OwlBooksimages

 

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!

header_NEW-CROP-Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_La_Pia_de_Tolomei

5 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, short story blogs