Monthly Archives: April 2016

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


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.

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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 &





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