Monthly Archives: November 2014

Beyond Castle Frankenstein: Ghost Story About Mary Shelley

“The ascent was precipitous, my journey a melancholy one to the ruins of Castle Frankenstein. The rough-hewn rock mansion of the turrets and towers perched on a craggy hilltop over the Rhine in Darmstadt, Germany …”



This is the opening to my newest short story Beyond Castle Frankenstein, published in Journals of Horror: Found Fiction, a premier anthology, published by Terry M. West and Pleasant Storm Entertainment. These short stories are inspired by the mechanics of the found footage films, and the first anthology of “found fiction” in literature, breaking new ground in the short story supernatural genre.  It is a collection of some new voices in dark fiction as well as  authors who you might know haunting the horror genre:  Todd Keisling’s Human Resources, who won Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book Award of 2013 for  THE LIMINAL MAN; Glenn Rolfe’s Killing Jessica, his ABRAM’S BRIDGE and BOOM TOWN, soon to be published by Samhain Publishing; Wesley Thomas’ There’s Something In My House; Lori R. Lopez’ The Devil’s Irony; and of course Terry M. West’s Bagged, Tagged & Buried, esteemed author of numerous short stories and novels, filmmaker, artist, and finalist for the 1997 International Horror Guild Award for THE NIGHT OUT, and 1999 Bram Stoker Award ballot nominee. Lots more authors and stories in this anthology that thrill and kill.

Beyond Castle Frankenstein is a historical ghost story about Mary Shelley. The chapel pictured below is the site where an old painting (named Casa Magni) hung for years and is found by art collector Robert Beauclerk. Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley lived in a house named Casa Magni in 1822 in Italy. What Beauclerk discovers in this painting is more than phantom art and more than the ghosts of the past.

I based the story from Shelley’s biographical notes and letters: Mary and her husband had visited the Castle Frankenstein while boating down the Rhine. Some biographers believe the Castle Frankenstein was the inspiration for her novel Frankenstein.



Journals of Horror: Found Fiction is available on Amazon (ebook), on sale at 99 cents now through December 1st (29 stories for 99 cents!).  At this writing, you can find Journals of Horror: Found Fiction on the best seller list at No. 7 in Kindle horror anthologies.

 Buy it here on


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

Bad Sex in Fiction Writing

05789387_SexyReading_xlargeReading is sexy, yes? Reading sexy scenes is even sexier. What are your favorite sex scenes in books? No trash, no erotica, now, I’m talking just sexy scenes between two characters (or three?) that relates to the story and flow of plot, that entertains and deepens the characterization.  While there probably is no such thing as good literary sex (hmmm, what would that be exactly?), there is bad sex in lots of books out there. And you pretty much know it when you read it.

This blog is a supernatural mystery/horror fiction site with lots of classic shorts, but many of these stories have little or no sex in them. As a writer, I am always on the lookout for good examples of sex scenes in literature, modern and classic. I’m not finding many these days.  So when I found “Bad Sex in Fiction Award,” I had to explore. Today, I’m sharing with you what Literary Review Magazine has to say about bad sex in fiction.

Because my own novel Night Sea Journey on Amazon has a couple of very mild sex scenes, and because in my current work-in-progress (Greylock) there’s several sex scenes leaning into the hot zones, I really need to see how other authors are writing their sex scenes—who is doing it well? who is doing it badly?

Here is a list of critically acclaimed authors cited for writing bad sex scenes.

From The Literary Review Magazine:

“The 22nd Bad Sex in Fiction Award for the most egregious passage of sexual description in a work of fiction will take place on Wednesday 3 December 2014. [Can’t wait!]

The purpose of the prize is to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction, and to discourage them. The prize is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature.

The 2014 shortlist includes:

  • The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham,  Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan , Man Booker Prize winner
  • The Hormone Factory by Saskia Goldschmidt
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami , Nobel Prize Winner
  • The Age of Magic by Ben Okri
  • The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd
  • Desert God by Wilbur Smith
  • Things to Make and Break by May-Lan Tan
  • The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh
  • The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark

Last year the prize was won by Manil Suri for The City of Devi, published by Bloomsbury.

Last year’s list:

For a confessional account on Bad Sex judging by Literary Review‘s senior editor Jonathan Beckman, read his piece in the Financial Times. You will also be able to read a more detailed report on this year’s shortlist in Literary Review‘s December / January double issue – subscribe now. For snippets from the shortlist, follow Literary Review‘s twitter account, @lit_review. The tweets are tagged as #BadSex.”

Read more (with a video) at Literary Review.

From Wikipedia: Winners of the Bad Sex in Fiction award include:

Here is the Guardian’s choices for Best Literary Sex Scenes:

How to Write a Sex Scene:

If you’ve read a sex scene that you think is quality in nature, please post the story or novel title and author. Have a Happy (and sexy) Thanksgiving!


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Fearful Cold

To Build a Fire   by Jack London (1908)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    November 18, 2014


Winter. A red-bearded, tobacco-chewing man is hiking the Klondike not far from the Bering Sea.

Day had broken cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray, when the man turned aside from the main Yukon trail and climbed the high earth-bank, where a dim and little-travelled trail led eastward through the fat spruce timberland.”

Ice jams and unbroken snow as far as the eye can see. Fifty degrees below zero. Harsh winds. One man, two bacon biscuits, and his dog. They travel alone through a hostile environment, headed to the camp where the man knows he’ll find warmth, food, and safety. But he makes a simple mistake, one that reconnects him to his animal instincts.


We tend to think of horror as supernatural powers against human powers, but in this tale, it’s the brutal power of nature who is the antagonist. Nobody does wilderness stories better than Jack London. This is one of those old stories that has fallen off the radar over the years. In To Build a Fire, London’s vivid imagery, mood, atmosphere, and sounds take the reader into a tale where there is “no sun or hint of sun.” Maybe the world truly is heartless and indifferent? Maybe we are truly alone when facing our hardships?


A certain fear of death, dull and oppressive, came to him. This fear quickly became poignant as he realized that it was no longer a mere matter of freezing his fingers and toes, or of losing his hands and feet, but that it was a matter of life and death with the chances against him.”

When was the last time you were paralyzed by a fearful cold in your life?






Read the short story at


Listen to the audio on YouTube 



Watch the film, directed by David Cobham and narrated by Orson Wells. I really enjoyed this film. Beautifully done!


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace       Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.


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

Looking for a Horror Blog?

We love to browse  for just the right horror blog to suit our tastes. I look for ones with substance and quality in this genre and have been reading lately and loving it. Check out my guest blog post on  “Where do stories come from?”


Lots of other great posts and recommendations on this highly rated horror blog!


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Are you a Stephen King Fan? “Revival” is his new novel.

Stephen King has a new novel out, Revival. There’s talk that this story is Lovecraftian. I’m dying to read it now.

Here’s an interview with King where he speaks about how fear of failure is still a struggle when he’s writing.



Art by Oscar Oliva OA / DeviantArt

The Guardian’s Review of Revival :



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Filed under horror, horror blogs, Lovecraft, supernatural

Flash Fiction Horror Shorts: Ten 100-word stories

Are you a FLASH FICTION FAN? I love flash stories because you can read a whole story on a coffee break or as a lunch time read. And I can tell you, flash fiction is technically and structurally very challenging to write.

Try these little fictions at Horror Novel Reviews to spook your day: ten short stories at 100 words each. Settle back with a cup o’ joe.

Read my 100-word shortie Varlok by Paula Cappa. Leave a comment, please.






Filed under horror, horror blogs, short stories, tales of terror

Supernatural Powers in Music: Venetian Ghost Story

A Wicked Voice   by Vernon Lee (Violet Paget)   (1890)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    November 4, 2014


Imagine yourself in old Venice, the slurping waterways and black gondolas. Magnus, our narrator, is fan of Wagner’s music and comes to Venice to write his opera. This story hinges on a famous singer, Zaffirino, who received a sapphire, (engraved with cabalistic signs) from a masked stranger, reportedly to be the devil. Inspired by this power, Zaffirino charms the Italians with his songs.

LuisaFumiImages-2Can music have evil powers? We know music affects the human spirit but can it penetrate so deeply that it might cause death? When Zaffirino sings to the lady Pisana Vendramin, his music has a shocking result …

“ …she [Pisana Vendramin] began to change frightfully; she gave a dreadful cry, and fell into the convulsions of death. In a quarter of an hour she was dead! Zaffirino did not wait to see her die.”

Zaffirino’s ghost-voice haunts Magnus to no end, and he cannot write his opera. He finds Zaffirino’s voice possesses both beautiful and wicked tones. Even to the point of the music seducing with erotic flavors. Magnus describes the voice “ … They were long-drawn-out notes, of intense but peculiar sweetness, a man’s voice which had much of a woman’s, but more even of a chorister’s, but a chorister’s voice without its limpidity and innocence; its youthfulness was veiled, muffled, as it were, in a sort of downy vagueness, as if a passion of tears withheld.”

Highly descriptive, rhapsodic, and with a mesmerizing effect, A Wicked Voice is a tale that reaches beyond the expected ghost story. You will find undertones of homoeroticism here. Vernon Lee was  considered to be a cosmopolitan intellectual at the time (1856-1935) and eccentric. She is said to have failed to achieve mass fame in her day, but today readers are rediscovering this forgotten writer.


I was especially drawn to this story since my current novel-in-progress is about the supernatural powers of music; I am looking forward to reading more of Vernon Lee’s stories. Vernon Lee wrote three collections of supernatural tales.


















Read A Wicked Voice at (scroll down to about 80% to locate story title)

[Art: masked figure by Luisa Fumi]

Today is November 4th!  Did You Vote?

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.


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