Category Archives: crime stories

Review of Greylock – Five Stars from Don Sloan

Five Stars from Veteran Book Reviewer Don Sloan:

“I’ve not seen anything like it since Hitchcock and duMaurier gave us The Birds. Greylock is a stunning masterpiece of innovative horror. Award-winning author Paula Cappa delivers a virtuoso performance in fiction, with characters you’ll care deeply about and sinister evil that will trouble your sleep for a long time to come.

Composer and classical concert pianist Alexei Georg has a dream: to put the music of the beluga whales off Russia’s coast into a musical composition for piano and symphony orchestra. Only two things are stopping him: a shrewish wife and a black apparition that haunts his recent performances. His lover, radio meteorologist Lia Marrs, wants very much to believe that Alexei will be successful in his bid to divorce the diabolical Carole Anne, but his soon-to-be ex-wife has a secret she’s holding over his head — the revelation that his signature composition “October” was, in fact, written over a hundred years earlier by someone else.

He travels to the icy waters where the whales are known to sing their eerie songs, and encounters a female Russian shaman who alternately intrigues him and terrifies him with her enigmatic interpretations.Then, Carole Anne’s murder throws things into turmoil as Alexei, suspected of the crime, flees to remote Mount Greylock, still pursued by the dark phantom.

This inspired story of the creative process, and the lengths to which a composer might go to realize his dream, is at once cautionary and revealing. Who can say what dark muses we all might entreat to achieve our artistic aims and aspirations?

Five well-earned stars to Greylock.”

ChanticleerBadge-2015-Paranormal-CategoryGreylock_thumbnail3PaulaCappa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Print Edition published by Crispin Books.  

Kindle and print editions available on Amazon.com.

5starsimgres

 

1 Comment

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

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

dante_gabriel_rossetti_-_la_pia_de_tolomei

“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.

how-to-write-short-stories-cover

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).

imgres

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.

 

Underwood-vintage-typewriter-prop1

 

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!

9 Comments

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

The Magic of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventure of The Copper Beeches  by Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   September 20, 2016

zejeremybrettcopperbeeches

 

There is a magic in Sherlock Holmes stories, the atmospheric London fog, hansom cabs clacking over cobbled streets, the famous parlor at 221-B Baker Street with Holmes and Watson sitting before a cozy fire and a steaming teapot—or refreshing themselves with glasses of claret as in the The Adventure of the Dying Detective.

Today’s short story is The Adventure of the Copper Beeches. Violet Hunter is our heroine, curious and independent, but in need of Mr. Holmes’ advice when she takes a governess position at the country estate called Copper Beeches, near Winchester. Mr. Rucastle is an odd sort with a wife who carries a secret sorrow, and their savage boy who adores capturing little birds and bugs.

granada-copp-3-violet-hunter

tumblr_mh4ugkgb2t1s3fxn4o1_250

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.”

The story unfolds like the tick-tock of a clock, so I won’t say another word. Although Holmes doesn’t exactly solve the crime, the adventure is suspenseful, with a touch of romance. Enjoy this 20-minute read.

Read the short story at EastoftheWeb.com 

Listen to the audio, read by Mark Smith on YouTube.com 

images

 

The Science of Deduction by Sherlock Holmes: Forum, Hidden Messages, Case Files:

 http://www.thescienceofdeduction.co.uk/

The Sherlock Holmes Official Website.

The Blog of Dr. John Watson Official Website.

Need a cup of tea with this story? Settle back and enjoy this story along with a pot of “Sherlock Holmes” blend of tea (lapsang souchong, assam melody, oriental spice), which is ‘exotic and mysterious and perhaps a little bit insane, with a lingering hint of smoke’ at Adagio Tea Company. See Comment #1 below for link.

 

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

 

1 Comment

Filed under crime stories, crime thrillers, fiction, horror blogs, literature, murder mystery, mysteries, pulp fiction, Reading Fiction, suspense, tales of terror

Locked-Room Mysteries, Good and Grisly

The Murders of Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe (1841)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   September 6, 2016

 imgres

 

Who isn’t a fan of locked door mysteries? The clues or lack of clues in these stories make us think deeply and feel entertained at the same time in a mind-bending sort of way. I’ve been reading locked door mysteries this month and having a great time. Gaston Leroux’s Mystery of the Yellow Room, John Dickson Carr’s The Three Coffins, and The Adventure Of The Sealed Room by Adrian Conan Doyle & John Dickson Carr to name a few. The Golden Age of crime fiction gave us a long list of these murder mysteries with authors who know how to baffle was well as trick your perceptions.

be52-square-1536

The #1 in our literary history is Poe’s The Murders of the Rue Morgue. A young woman’s corpse jammed up a chimney. An elderly woman brutally murdered by decapitation. Locked doors. Nailed down windows. Not a single footprint. And the famous C. Auguste Dupin to bring you along on this adventure. If you’ve never read this one during the ol’ school days, read it now. The audio is quite entertaining and a great escape for an hour. Don’t let the dry opening deter you (checkers vs. chess) that focuses on the process of exact thinking (analysis vs. intelligence vs. intuition). Poe is clearly leading our mental prowess to follow his path: truth is what remains, once we determine what is impossible. Are you up for a bit of creative insight?

220px-poe_rue_morgue_byam_shaw

I listened to the audio of this story while following the text in an old Poe edition. Sitting by an open window on a gray sunless day, I could see the wind shaking the green leaves of trees. A glass of brandy, feet up, snuggled in … perfect.

treesimg_0165

7180284

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the short story The Murders of the Rue Morgue at Ebooks.Adelaide.edu

Listen to Librivox Murders of Rue Morgue on YouTube.com

For more about locked door mysteries stop by Mysteryfile.com 

Also, try Otto Penzler’s famous anthology of the best locked-room mysteries available on Amazon.

518npffj4wl

 

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

2 Comments

Filed under crime stories, crime thrillers, fiction, horror blogs, Locked Room Mysteries, murder mystery, mysteries, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror

U.S. Review of Books: GREYLOCK

Latest Review of Greylock by U.S. Review of Books …

“Cappa’s plot is replete with all the wonderful trappings of a romance-laced mystery—unexpected twists and turns and plenty of red herrings. Greylock has the potential of being earmarked as another award winner.”

USReviewof BooksImage

Full Review

“But when you bury guilt it becomes a scorpion. The manifestation will sting and keep stinging you until you are a mess of shreds. And the scorpion wins.”

Alexei Georg finds an anonymous piano sonata hidden in his deceased father’s sea chest. Claiming it as his original work, Alexei names it October Sonata, and it wins him a prestigious musical award. Unfortunately a dark force is connected to the mysterious composition. Alexei leaves for Russia to record beluga whale songs for a new symphony that he’ll complete during his stay at Greylock Music Hall on Mount Greylock. Prior to his trip, Alexei leaves Carole Ann, his jealous and overbearing wife, for the beautiful Lia Marrs. While sailing the White Sea in search of whale pods, Alexei learns that Carole Ann has been murdered and he has been pegged as a prime suspect. Even though evidence is sketchy at best, Alexei has a bigger problem on his hands battling with the menacing force that constantly looks for ways to inhabit Alexei’s body.

Cappa’s latest is nothing less than a mind-boggling mystery. “The result of several years of research, writing, rewriting, and perseverance,” The award-winning author’s narrative is an interesting combination of classical works and whale facts that are tightly woven into a flurry of literature. While dropping mentions to Louisa Alcott’s Little Women and Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus, Cappa highlights quotes and titles (both books and movies) that reflect the works of the late great detective writer Raymond Chandler. Cappa includes a well-defined cast that is placed within the descriptive background of Massachusetts and the Russian White Sea. Cappa strongest writing component is in the way she utilizes dialogue, always keeping an elusive edge to her characters’ personas. Cappa’s plot is replete with all the wonderful trappings of a romance-laced mystery—unexpected twists and turns and plenty of red herrings. Greylock has the potential of being earmarked as another award winner.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review, August 2016

US-Review-RECOMMENDED-bookSeal

GreylockCoverBadgeChanticleer

Buy at Amazon.com

Buy at Barnes&Noble.com

Buy at Smashwords.com

Buy at iBooks/iTunes.com

Buy at Kobo.com

2 Comments

Filed under crime stories, crime thrillers, fiction, horror blogs, Mt. Greylock, murder mystery, mysteries, Reading Fiction, short story blogs, supernatural music, supernatural mysteries, supernatural thrillers

Guessing in the Dark: Lord Peter Wimsey Murder Mystery

The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man With No Face   by Dorothy Sayers (1928)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  July 19, 2016

 

LordWimseyimages

When was the last time you read an English murder mystery, a jazzy little puzzle, in the suspense style of Agatha Christie? Have you read any of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries? He is known as a bon vivant sleuth.

405x405

The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man With No Face is not a cozy mystery where a body is found shot in the library. We have a man at the beach, in a swim suit, strangled to death and only one set of footprints, which is determined to be the bare prints of the victim. And his face has been ripped to shreds. Hmmmm….

This case is perfect for the aristocratic detective Lord Wimsey.

 

dumas-beach

 

 

dorothy

 

Dorothy Sayers, well known as one of the writers of the Golden Age of detective fiction, was a British playwright and scholar, and a good friend of Agatha Christie. She characterized mystery writing as  ”literature of escape.”

 

Read the short story here at Gutenberg.ca .

 

 

 

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Watch a video of Lord Wimsey murder mystery clip. Lord Peter Wimsey was played by Edward Petherbridge, Have His Carcase: A man is found on the beach with his throat cut. And a very pretty lady finds him, Miss Harriet Vane, romantic interest of Lord Peter Wimsey.  Watch it here on YouTube.com (15 minutes) :

 

Do you have a favorite detective novel?

Favorite murder mystery puzzle that you would like to recommend?

Please feel free to comment!

 

 

Page-Break

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

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, crime stories, crime thrillers, fiction, horror blogs, murder mystery, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, suspense

The Girl With The Hungry Eyes

The Girl With the Hungry Eyes  by Fritz Leiber  (1949)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  April 12, 2016

1a7c1d6941d4b59ac7d989a4db9ef3d3

 

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.

TheGirlWithTheHungryEyes565

 

Read the short story in PDF at BerkleySchools.org/NorthStarMedia. Click here to download the PDF:

Watch the short film by Serling’s Night Gallery at The Quill & the Keyboard.blogspot.

Also on Hulu.com: http://www.hulu.com/watch/58767

600full-fritz-leiber

 

102267

 

leiber-swords-and-ice-magic

 

 

 

 

 

////////////////////////////////

///////////////////////////

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

4 Comments

Filed under crime stories, crime thrillers, dark fantasy, fiction, horror blogs, murder mystery, pulp fiction, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror