Monthly Archives: October 2013

On a Personal Note About My Writing

May I take a moment to give you a bit of news?

A writer’s art is mostly about balance. Balance of the elements of plot, dialogue, description, dynamics between protagonists and antagonists, even long sentences and short ones.  I wrote my first novel at age 21 about vampire bats and my second novel about a haunted windmill. Both were dreadful novels and crushing failures.  I wrote a pack of short stories and they also failed to see the publisher’s light of day. I rejected fiction writing for a while, wrote freelance feature articles  for newspapers with surprising success; then I went back to fiction writing, determined to excel in my craft: read, examine, study, write; read, examine, study, write.

Here I am (I won’t say exactly how many years later) with seven short stories published in literary journals and anthologies,  and two “quiet horror” novels selling conservatively  on the internet (The Dazzling Darkness did make the Amazon ebook best-seller list for about 24 hours–a thrilling day), and book reviews  by industry professionals and customer readers that I can be proud of.

Today, I’m happy to announce that Crickhollow Books (Crispin Imprint)  in Milwaukee, Wisconsin will be publishing the print editions of The Dazzling Darkness and Night Sea Journey.  Release dates might be as early as December.

Another piece of good news, Whistling Shade Literary Journal in St. Paul, Minnesota has just published my latest ghost story, Between the Darkness and the Dawn in their print edition (Internet edition will go live next week).

My Reading Fiction, Tales of Terror blog is nearing the 10,000 hits mark in less than a year of posts. And if you are a regular reader here, you can probably sense my dedication to (and my  joy because I love doing Tales of Terror) writing highly inviting story introductions and hunting for the most thrilling and provocative classic short stories  to post every week.

I value every single follower and visitor and especially your comments.  Thank you to all the readers who are following me, commenting here, and reading my novels and short stories. Most of all, thank you for sharing my writer’s  journey.  Which continues, as I’ve got two more short stories on the fire and a third novel drafted.

Balance … kind of like riding a bike, right? Keep on peddling.

PaulaCappaphoto3New Image












Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural

The Dazzling Darkness

$2.99 for Kindle and Nook


Filed under fiction, Night Sea Journey, quiet horror, soft horror, tales of terror, The Dazzling Darkness, Women In Horror

Women of Horror for Halloween

The Specialist’s Hat   by Kelly Link (1999)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   October 29, 2013     Women In Horror

halloween-1351523573K4k On Halloween, take a clean whiff of the air. I mean really breathe in the landscape. Daylight is full of the toasted scent of rusty leaves. Maybe there’s a cider sunshine that sweetens the sky. But once that moon rises, the night’s scrim evokes thin spirits among the haunted oak trees, a bit smoky with tart of crab-apple, spice of pumpkin. And while the dead leaves crack at you like popped corn, taste the descending wind as it turns to cold ash when midnight strikes.

I love Halloween! So, for this week’s Women In Horror, let’s go contemporary. I know we love classic tales of terror, but I thought I’d divert in honor of Halloween and offer you a modern-day Woman of Horror: Kelly Link. Her short story The Specialist’s Hat won the 1999 World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction.

In The Specialist’s Hat, we are in a two-hundred year old house called Eight Chimneys. Claire and Samantha are twins spending the summer there with their father who is writing a history of the house.  The mother is dead.

The girls like to play the Dead game. The caretaker Mr. Coeslak says the woods aren’t safe.  And here’s the thing. Neither is the attic safe. Don’t go into the attic. This night, the little girls are with a babysitter, playing their Dead game.

“This house is haunted,” Claire says.

“I know it is,” the babysitter says. “I used to live here.”
Something is creeping up the stairs,
Something is standing outside the door,
Something is sobbing, sobbing in the dark;
Something is sighing across the floor.

Would you like to go into the attic and play the Dead game with Claire and Samantha?

Read The Specialist’s Hat at 

KellyLinksthweb2 Kelly Link is the author of three collections of short stories, Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, and Pretty Monsters. Her short stories have won three Nebulas, a Hugo, and a World Fantasy Award.   Stranger Things Happen, was a Firecracker nominee, a Village Voice Favorite Book, and a Salon Book of the Year.

And for my diehard classic fans, I bring you two stories from another Woman of Horror:  Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Braddon was a prolific writer with over eighty novels, her most popular novel Lady Audley’s Secret (1862) and the highly acclaimed ghost story At Chrighton Abbey.



The Cold Embrace (1860) is a chilly tale of love and romance. Gertrude is hopelessly in love with a handsome and charming artist, who swears his passion for her as well. But the golden dawns and rosy sunsets don’t last for long. How easily some men are bewitched.

Read The Cold Embrace at  Gaslight.

In Braddon’s The Shadow in the Corner (1879), Michael Bascom does not believe that Wildheath Grange is haunted. Until the young maid Maria comes to the old house. Read Shadow in the Corner at  Gaslight.   Listen to the narration at  Librivox Recording


I hope you’ve enjoyed October’s Women in Horror at Tales of Terror. If you have a title or author you’d like to share, please drop a line in a comment box. And if you’d like more about Women in Horror, I have a guest blog at Monster Librarian, “Literary Ladies of Horror’s Haunted Mountain” where you’ll find a number of titles and authors, classic and contemporary.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

GoodReads     WattPad    Interesting Literature

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify     Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog      For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

The Gothic Wanderer

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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, Halloween stories, horror, quiet horror, short stories, tales of terror, Women In Horror

Salem: Glossy Black Beast, White Horns

The Little Maid at the Door  by  Mary Wilkins Freeman  (1892)    Women In Horror

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    October 22, 2013

Witches’ winds are blowing in Salem. Listen to their haughty chants; watch for their spells and conjures. We love bewitching stories at this time of year, don’t we? Reading is such a seduction with atmospherics, mysterious characters we can’t resist, or a plot that thickens  at every moment so we have to keep turning the pages.  In the story I give you today, The Little Maid at the Door,  the prose hits tenderly. The little maid at the door elicits a  deep power in the heart.  Mary Wilkins Freeman writes a historical fiction of family life, of witches in Salem, and the “disease of the mind” when partridges or squirrels might be demons in disguise.  Not to mention the witches’  “yellow birds.”  Freeman was known to write stories of rural domestic life in New England with penetrating supernaturalism. Her prose grabs you with anxious stirring. Read it softly and savor each image because this story is probably one of her best for describing life in Salem when “the leaves came out and the flowers bloomed in vain for the people in and about Salem village.”

“JOSEPH BAYLEY and his wife Ann came riding down from Salem village.”


The two are within a half a mile of the old Proctor house, known to be “full of devils.” As if that weren’t enough, the entire Proctor family was just arrested and jailed for witchcraft. Ann and Joseph, fearful of what evil hides within the woods there,  intend to drive their horse fast and furiously down the road passed the Proctor house when they see a cursed glossy black beast. Terrified, Joseph speeds up, but Ann catches another sight  … a little maid at the front door of the Proctor house. And here we meet little Abigail Proctor, abandoned child with a corn cob poppet (doll). Is she a witch too, like her mother, father,  brother, and sister? With the excuse of dropping her shoe, Ann convinces Joseph to stop their horse so that she may engage the sad child at the door.

littlemaidLitGothicHowardPyleILL[Image from Literary Gothic, Howard Pyle Illustration]

Author Mary Wilkins Freeman had volumes of her short stories and novels published, many stories in the prestigious Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. She was the first recipient of the William Dean Howells Medal for Distinction in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her writing had a direct influence on readers because of her themes of rebellions of spinsters and the oppressive confines of 19th-century married life.


Read the full text at The Literary Gothic

Here’s a little bonus for you.  Mary Wilkins wrote a play about the Salem witch trials, Giles Cory, Yeoman.  What a read this is! Poor Giles is condemned to die crushed between two stones.  At


You might also enjoy Freeman’s very spooky tale The Shadows on the Wall: three sisters and a mysterious death,  here at EastOfTheWeb.  Librivox has a narration (26 minutes)

Are you into listening to radio plays? At   Freeman’s short story Louisa was adapted into a very entertaining radio play about a young woman who resists the pressures of contemporary marriage. Listen to Louisa here:   Scroll down on that screen and you’ll find more fiction adapted into radio plays by a number of women writers: Willa Cather, Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edith Wharton, and more (and not just horror stories).


Good gosh, I couldn’t stop! This author has so much to offer us. Do drop me a comment if you’ve enjoyed discovering Mary Wilkins Freeman’s fiction.


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

GoodReads     WattPad    The Story Reading Ape Blog

Interesting Literature

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify    Rob Around Books  

Lovecraft Ezine      HorrorPalace

Spooky Reads    For Authors/Writers:   The Writer Unboxed


Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, Halloween, horror, literature, quiet horror, short stories, tales of terror, witches, Women In Horror

Ghostly Images of the Beloved Dead

The Invisible Girl  by Mary Shelley (1832)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   October 15, 2013       Women In Horror Month


October’s Women in Horror wouldn’t be complete without spotlighting Mary Shelley. Today I bring Mary to you as a ghost writer … and something more: a reflection. She wrote over twenty short stories, most of which are forgotten now beneath her Frankenstein fame.



In The Invisible Girl, she writes a story of forbidden love (is there no greater love?). Here you will discover a ruined tower on the bleak seaside between Wales and Ireland. From this tower flows a light. Local stories claim she is the ghost of a maiden who lost her sweetheart and lives within the tower, shining her light over the sea. She is known as the Invisible Girl.


In 1824 Mary Shelley wrote an essay On Ghosts, which are her reflections on the reality versus the unreality of ghosts and is a perfect coordinate reading for this short story. She writes “There is something beyond us of which we are ignorant. The sun drawing up the vaporous air makes a void, and the wind rushes in to fill it—thus beyond our soul’s ken there is an empty space; and our hopes and fears, in gentle gales or terrific whirlwinds, occupy the vacuum; and if it does no more, it bestows on the feeling heart a belief that influences do exist to watch and guard us, though they be impalpable to the coarser faculties.”

What thrilling prose! She asks in this essay, “What is the meaning of this feeling?” I think Mary exhibits the answer in her powerful but subtle ghost story. The Invisible Girl is by no means an ordinary story. The plot presents some questions but the theme is delightfully emblematic. I do so love when the supernatural is mixed with the driving human emotion of love and the psychological depths of grief.

Our protagonist is Henry Vernon, son of the baronet Sir Peter. Henry falls hopelessly I love with the young and sweet Rosina. Sir Peter forbids this marriage and poor Rosina is cursed, cruelly banished to wander the woods with no resources, and surely dies. With this image of his beloved dead, and driven by a frantic horror, Henry goes in search for her body, sailing the coastline to Wales. A threatening storm suddenly hits their small boat in the pitch black night. In the distance, Henry sees a mystic beacon of light shining from the shore assuring their safety. But is it a “fairy” light or is it real? Who burns this light in the deserted ruin by the sea? Is it the ghost of a maiden who lost her sweetheart?

What Henry experiences there in the shades of night, in the sequestered ruin, is the invisible girl.

And … on the feeling heart, a belief that influences do exist.


Invisib leGirlShelley90

On Ghosts is available at The Literary Gothic


Read The Invisible Girl at (5000 words, 30-minute read)



Listen to The Invisible Girl at Librivox


I sure would love to hear your thoughts about Mary’s The Invisible Girl.


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

GoodReads     WattPad    The Story Reading Ape Blog   Interesting Literature    Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify    Rob Around Books  

 Books on the Nightstand

 For Authors/Writers:   The Writer Unboxed






Filed under ghost stories, Ghosts, horror, literature, quiet horror, short stories, tales of terror, Women In Horror

Horror Palace Reviews Night Sea Journey

May I offer you an update on my novel, Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural?

I am honored and happy to have Horror Palace review my debut novel, Night Sea Journey. This is typical of  “quiet horror” and timely for the Halloween season this month.  Please take a look at this 4-star review by movie and book critic Damnetha Jules at

Only $2.99

In US  In UK



Leave a comment

Filed under demons, Dreams, horror, Night Sea Journey, quiet horror, soft horror

Dancing the Witches’ Goat Dance

The Ensouled Violin (1892)  by Mme. Blavatsky (Helena Petrovna Blavatsky)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   October 8, 2013        Women in Horror Month

Words create images. Does this headline conjure up images of craggy women flying on goats or witches dancing back to back around fiery circles? Press refresh in your mind. What if musical notes could create thick shapes and figures right before your eyes? Imagine the dance of violin music. If you’ve ever listened deeply to Paganini’s Witches’ Dance  (La Streghe) you might know how his music can enter us in a very muscular way. But could music transform into a spell of images before our eyes? If music could perform such a supernatural event, is it the violin or the violinist that has that power?


Mme. Blavatsky brings us a story full of musical mesmerism, and Paganini is a major character drawn in full color. Paganini’s reputation for becoming bewitched by the devil in exchange for his brilliant career holds the central theme. The Italian was revered for playing his Witches Dance “pizzicato” with the left hand directly on the gut strings—without the aid of the bow. Was his superior talent singularly human?

In The Ensouled Violin, Franz Stenio, our semi-talented, young and aspiring musician dreams with his eyes open. He daydreams of nymphs and sirens, Calliope, Orpheus, and Olympus. These muses contribute to his Bohemian and penniless life. Until an old German, Samuel Klaus, a generous and hearty music teacher, decides to take Franz into his home as his own son. Klaus instills in Franz an ambition for exceptional talent and worldly fame, fame that might compete with the great and powerful Paganini. Off they go to Paris.



Yep, there are lots of discordant notes going on here, cacophonous cries of frenzy, a phantasmagoria, and Eastern Black Magic. Violins are mysterious instruments, singing out to us with the smallest swipe of the bow from their enchanting gut strings. One wonders, exactly whose gut strings are they that can create such beautiful sounds? Goats? Cats? Sheep? This is where the story gets especially ghastly. What kind of gut strings does Paganini use in his violin?

The old German teacher tells Franz the story of Paganini’s supernatural art and the Italian’s reputed deal with the devil. Franz is shocked but deeply curious. He asks Klaus, “Do you really believe that had I only the means of obtaining human intestines for strings, I could rival Paganini?”

Klaus unveiled his face, and, with a strange look of determination upon it, softly answered:  “Human intestines alone are not sufficient for our purpose; they must have belonged to someone who had loved us well, with an unselfish holy love.”

Unselfish holy love? Blavatsky doesn’t leave us hanging for long with this sinister turn in the story. By the witches of Thessaly and the dark arts of Circe, our young and tender Franz chooses his fate … and the fate of another.

BlatvaskyPortraitimagesBlavatsky was a seductive storyteller. She became famous for being a philosopher, spiritualist, pioneer in the occult, one of the first people to coin the phrase the sixth sense, and  was co-founder of The Theosophical Society in 1875. Her fiction is a small batch of stories in Nightmare Tales, published in 1907.

Read The Ensouled Violin at Gaslight:


May I suggest, for an added appreciation of this very extraordinary short story, you listen to Paganini’s Witches Dance at Classical Music Online. What could be better than a classic horror story and a magnificent piece of classical music to complement the experience? Well, perhaps a glass of wine, preferably in a cut-glass goblet. Magnifico!

You can access more of Mme. Blavatsky’s short stories in the links below,  at the Theosophical University Press Online Edition.

CAN THE DOUBLE MURDER? — (c. 1876-77)
AN UNSOLVED MYSTERY — (c. 1876-77)
KARMIC VISIONS — (June 1888)
A BEWITCHED LIFE — (c. 1890-91)
THE LUMINOUS SHIELD — (c. 1890-91)
THE CAVE OF THE ECHOES — (c. 1890-91)
FROM THE POLAR LANDS — (c. 1890-91)

THE ENSOULED VIOLIN — (c. 1890-91)

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

GoodReads     WattPad    The Story Reading Ape Blog   Interesting Literature    Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify    Rob Around Books  

 Books on the Nightstand

 For Authors/Writers:   The Writer Unboxed


Filed under horror, literature, occult, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales, Women In Horror

Literary Ladies of Haunted Mountain. Who are they?

You are invited to my first Guest Blog at Monster Librarian!

“Literary Ladies of Haunted Mountain” complements my Women In Horror month for October’s Tales of Terror. Please  click below on Monster Librarian.  Monster Librarian has  information on current mainstream horror and various lists  of older books, reviews, and resources.  This site has no other agenda than encouraging people to read and supporting readers of the horror genre.

Come back and leave me a comment!

Monster Librarian, Literary Ladies of Haunted Mountain by Paula Cappa


Image from

Artist Arthur Rackham

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Filed under classic horror stories, Halloween, horror, horror blogs, tales of terror, Women In Horror

What Lurks in Gowrie Castle’s Secret Chamber?

 The Secret Chamber  by Margaret Oliphant  (1876)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   October 1, 2013

What is it like to be truly haunted? Haunted by another’s thoughts, haunted by mesmeric eyes watching your every step, haunted by sinister laughter that only you can hear.

It’s October 1st, the Horror Month. Begin here as Tales of Terror takes you through a month of Women in Horror. Have you read the works of Scottish born Margaret Oliphant? She produced over 90 novels and 200 stories. To her contemporaries, she was a literary giant and a pioneer in supernatural fiction. Today, she is unaccountably neglected.


A haunted Scottish castle, what could be better than to curl up with The Secret Chamber. Spend an hour here, maybe with a cup of hot Scottish tea or a glass of peaty Scotch over ice. Whatever your pleasure, come and listen to the tower bells chime as the moonlight strikes full at Gowrie Castle.

Scottishcastle-veve-celles-q75-356x500 The Gowrie Castle stands with grey clustered turrets, labyrinths of hidden staircases, vaulted chambers, rich lawns and foliage, and a Scots family history fraught with rebellions and revenges.  John Randolph (Lord Gowrie), his wife Lady Gowrie, and their son Lindores are endearing characters that you won’t easily forget. Young Lindores is man of Oxford education, ambitious,  generous, and quiet charming. On the night of Lindores’ birthday celebration, when the festivities have finished and all guests have retired, Lindores’ father wakes him. Lindores opens his eyes to his bedroom gleaming with candles, bottle of wine, and an ominous silence.

“Get up, my boy,” said Lord Gowrie, “and dress as quickly as you can; it is full time. I have lighted your candles, and your things are all ready.” Lord Gowrie went to the table and poured out a glass of wine from a bottle which stood there, — a rich, golden-coloured, perfumy wine, which sent its scent through the room. “You will want all your strength,” he said; “take this before you go.”

Lindores is shocked and puzzled. Before he goes? Where?

ScottishSteps-at-Powis-Castle-q75-375x500 “You are going to encounter the greatest trial of your life,” he said, his countenance full of dreary pain, shaking with emotion, great beads of moisture upon his forehead.

Lord Gowrie brings his son into the secret chamber. A rite of passage? Lindores bade his nerves be steel to all vulgar horrors.

What would you expect to reside in a secret chamber in a castle? Skeletons of murdered guests? Ghosts of family traitors? A phantom?  Here’s a peek for you.

How there looked him in the face,
An angel beautiful and bright,
And how he knew it was a fiend

 Are fiends the fancy of mortal men or …?


Read The Secret Chamber online at

Need more Oliphant stories? Try The Library Window at Gaslight

or the novella The Beleaguered City at

 Images are from FromOldBooks.Org

This being the Halloween month, and this being my own “Woman in Horror month,” for Tales of Terror, please drop a line or two in the comment box. What did you think of Margaret Oliphant’s The Secret Chamber? Do you have an author or title you’d like to suggest for our reading this month? Thanks!

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

GoodReads     WattPad   The Story Reading Ape Blog   Interesting Literature    Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror   Monster Librarian

Tales to Terrify    Rob Around Books     Books on the Nightstand 

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, Hauntings, horror, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror