Category Archives: fiction

Philomel Cottage, an Agatha Christie Obscure Murder Mystery

Philomel Cottage  by Agatha Christie (1934 Published in Listerdale Mystery)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   June 20, 2017

 

This short story by Agatha Christie, the murder mystery master, is one that hasn’t seen much popular light. Raymond Chandler was said to criticize Christie’s literary skills but that didn’t tarnish her fame or book sales.  She remains the queen of crime.  Philomel Cottage is probably one you’ve not read.

The name of this cottage carries a very specific subtext. The title Philomel—also known as Philomela—refers to a Greek goddess who was turned into a bird. In Christie’s story, Philomel represents the nightingale, symbolic of the feminine rejecting the dark silence and her finding voice in that darkness to sing.

This is a romantic twisty tale, set in a cheerful English village of gardens and gossip. The drama is about a newly married couple, Alix and her demanding husband Gerald—how lovely their new home is and how happy the setting. Well, maybe not for long. Murder and the dark psychological powers of dreaming prevail.

The ending is unpredictable and not at all in the neatly tied-up style we are used to in Christie crime mysteries. It’s unusual for Christie to flavor her stories with anything supernatural, but one might interpret this story to be haunting in a Hitchcockian way.  Christie’s compelling narrative suspense, as always, does not disappoint.

Read the short story  here at Celine.Klinghammer.free.fr.

 

This story was adapted for film in 1937 with Ann Harding and Basil Rathbone Love With A Stranger. If you are an old film buff like me, this one is thoroughly enjoyable. Vintage black and white and so fashionable. Women wearing curvy slinky dresses, budding rounded busts with sexy shoulders and pearls. Men with mustaches and tailored in tweed suits with wide lapels and cuffed wide trousers. Absolutely nostalgic!

Watch it here on YouTube.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

Audio: Old Time Radio Suspense of  Philomel Cottage with Orson Wells. This is a real treat!

 

If you are an Agatha Christie fan, you’ll love the Agatha Christie Blog.  

Click here for “How to Make A Miss Marple’s Afternoon Tea.”

//

Christie’s first novel , The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was written in 1916, published in 1920. Murder on the Orient Express (1934); Death on the Nile (1937) and Appointment with Death (1938).   And many more: 78 mystery novels, 19 plays, and over 100 short stories. Her final novel, Sleeping Murder: Miss Marples Last Case, was published posthumously in October 1976. She is considered the best-selling novelist of all time  (2 billion copies sold and by some estimates nearly 4 billion, her works ranking 3rd behind Shakespeare and the Bible). What a gal!

 

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

Check out The Guardian‘s “No One Should Condescend to Agatha Christie—She’s a Genius.” 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 2 00 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and horror. Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, crime stories, crime thrillers, fiction, ghost story blogs, Greylock, horror blogs, murder mystery, Night Sea Journey, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, tales of terror, The Dazzling Darkness

Music To Die For

The Cremona Violin  by E.T.A. Hoffmann (1818)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  June 6, 2017

 

Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann popularly known as E.T.A. Hoffmann, was a Romantic author of Gothic, weird and fantasy fiction. He believed that music could ‘bring us into unknown kingdoms.’ He would, of course, think this since he was a composer of music. But more to the point this writer loved the supernatural, sinister characters, and the grotesque elements in human nature. His fiction is astonishing with wild leaps of imagination paralleled with psychology and spectres of the macabre.

 

I began reading Hoffmann’s fiction while researching my novel Greylock. Because Greylock deals with the power of supernatural music in the life of my character Alexei Georg, a composer, I wanted to know more about Hoffmann’s creative fiction, and how he built his characters and stories around musical themes. And his stories did not disappoint.

 

 

Hoffmann’s short story The Cremona Violin features a violinist named Councillor Krespel, who decides to build a rather unconventional house with misplaced windows and doors. By trade, Krespel obsessively rebuilds antique violins and searches the world for the violins of the old master violinists. Living with Krespel is a young woman, Antonia, a singer who has the beauty and voice of an angel. Our story’s narrator, a lawyer, describes Antonia as “impossible to tear myself away from her blue eyes, her sweet rosy lips, her uncommonly graceful, lovely form…”  Krespel is obsessed with Antonia and compulsively forbids her to sing.  Here the mystery gets thick with the bizarre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read The Cremona Violin at Ebooks.Adelaide.edu.

Listen to the audio by Librivox.org/weird-tales

Hoffmann’s novels are The Devil’s Elixirs, the King’s Bride, The Nutcracker. Short stories The Sandman, The Entail, The Deserted House, and others.

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of 200 short stories by over 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and horror. Join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome.

 

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/

2 Comments

Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fiction, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, haunted mind, horror, horror blogs, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural music, supernatural mysteries, tales of terror, weird tales

Ghost by Moonlight, Anniversary of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Death

“A ghost seen by moonlight; when the moon was out, it would shine and melt through the airy substance of the ghost, as through a cloud.”  

Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

 

Friday, May 19 is the anniversary of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s death in 1864. Hawthorne was 59 years old. On the evening of May 18 inside the Pemigewasset House hotel in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Hawthorne retired early after a dinner of toast and tea. During the night,  former U.S. President Franklin Pierce (who had traveled with Hawthorne to the White Mountains) awoke to check on his friend in the adjoining room. The former president placed his hand upon Hawthorne’s forehead. He found that Hawthorne was dead.

Some think Hawthorne is the least remembered author from Concord, Massachusetts compared to Thoreau, Alcott, and Emerson. The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables of course are his most famous  novels. But if you ever read his Blithedale Romance, you’ll likely never forget the drowning scene. Or his short story The Haunted Mind, which will certainly haunt your mind even after you’ve finished. The Ghost of Dr. Harris is another fascinating read and not exactly fiction—the story is one of his “sketches.”

Because Hawthorne is an author I admire, I’m taking this week to remember this American novelist and  read one of his forgotten “sketches” that he wrote while living  in Concord: The Old Manse. Please join me in remembering a diamond in our literature.

The Old Manse (1846) From Mosses from an Old Manse  by Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

Between two tall gate-posts of rough-hewn stone (the gate itself
having fallen from its hinges at some unknown epoch) we beheld the
gray front of the old parsonage, terminating the vista of an avenue of
black-ash trees.

 

 

Read the full sketch at Literature.com/Hawthorne.

 

 

 

 

Visit the Old Manse website (now a national historic site open for tours) in Concord, Massachusetts, where Hawthorne lived for seven years with his wife Sophia. Sophia (a transcendentalist) often referred to the home as their “beloved old house.”  Click here at TheTrustees.org.  And yes, there are ghosts at the Old Manse. Tourists, tour guides, and others will tell you so. I’ve visited there several times for research for my own novels and stories.

More about Nathaniel Hawthorne at HawthorneinSalem.org. 

 

 

[The Old Manse, modern view from Concord River, MA]

[Sleepy Hollow, Concord, MA]

If you are looking for a ghost story with historical flavors about the Old Manse, try Between the Darkness and the Dawn, originally published by Whistling Shade Literary Journal.

This short story is now a Kindle Single, FREE for you this week on Amazon.com.

 

1 Comment

Filed under fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic Horror, haunted houses, haunted mind, Hauntings, Hawthorne, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, tales of terror

Van Helsing, Not Just Another Vampire Story

Abraham’s Boys  by Joe Hill  (2004, first published as The Many Faces of Van Helsing)

 

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    May 9, 2017

 

 

A place that smelled of bats. 

Are you a vampire story fan? Strong enough to handle serious horror? Is one of your favorite fictional characters Professor Abraham Van Helsing? Then you’re are going to love Joe Hill’s Abraham’s Boys.

This 35-minute read gives you a taste of Dracula, a father’s forbidden study, and the loss of boyhood innocence. While I’m not a hard core horror fan (I don’t read high horror much, and my own novels are written in more supernatural elements of ghostly powers, aka ‘quiet horror’), I could appreciate this vampire story as high quality, well written, with the sweetness of terror.

 

 

Read Abraham’s Boys  at FiftyTwoStories.com .

 

Listen to the audio (40 minutes) read by Miss Murder on YouTube.com

 

 

 

 

More of Joe Hill’s short stories in his collection of 20th Century Ghosts.

 

 

 

Joe Hill is a novelist and the son of novelists Stephen and Tabitha King. Hill won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection and the British Fantasy Award.

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of 200 short stories by over 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and horror. Join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds  Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/

1 Comment

Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fiction, ghost story blogs, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, occult, paranormal, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural thrillers, tales of terror, vampires, weird tales

Black Figure, White-Faced

In the Court of the Dragon  by Robert Chambers  (1895, The King In Yellow Short Stories)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    April 25, 2017

Imagine you are sitting in a 100-year old church. Organ music is resounding throughout the pews. Then suddenly the harmonies and melodies turn sinister. You begin to feel that in the labyrinth of sounds now issuing from that organ, there is something being hunted. Up and down the pedals chase …something, or someone. Poor devil, you think. Whoever the victim is will not get away. But who is the victim?

 

 

We are in the Rue St. Honoré. In this story, our young narrator lives in Court of the Dragon, a narrow passage that leads from the Rue de Rennes to the Rue du Dragon. This day our young man is at St. Barnabé Church and as he listens to the organ music, as the tones grow angry and bleak, he is overwhelmed by sudden fear. The organist— black figure, white-faced—focuses his intense hatred on our young man. And so, our young man flees in his terror. But escape is not so easy.

Do you believe in mysterious entities of power?

 

 

 

 

Read In the Court of the Dragon at  Ebooks.Adelaide.edu (30-minute read) 

Listen to the audio on  YouTube.com (24-minutes)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Chambers, an American fiction writer, known for his horror and fantasy short stories in the collection The King in Yellow, published in 1895 during the rise of spiritualism. In H.P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural in Literature,  he wrote of Robert Chamber’s work: “Very genuine … brings fright, madness and spectral tragedy.”

Here is a taste of Chambers descriptive powers in his story The White ShadowThere it lay, a hasin of silver and blue. Sweetheart had started to her feet, speechless, one hand holding to my shoulder, the other clasped to her breast. And now, as the road wound through the hills and down to the coast, long stretches of white sand skirted the distant cliffs, and over the cliffs waved miles and miles of yellow gorse. A cluster of white and gray houses lay in the hollow to the left almost at the mouth of the river, and beyond, the waves were beating in the bar—beating the same rhythm which we were to hear so long there together, day and night. There was not a boat to be seen, not a creature, nor was there any sign of life save for the smoke curling from a cottage chimney below. The ocean lay sparkling beneath, and beyond its deeper blue melted into the haze on the horizon.

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of 200 short stories by over 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and horror.

Join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/

 

Leave a comment

Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, paranormal, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural mysteries, supernatural thrillers

Creativity for Artists: Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (published in 1929)

Book Review and Commentary   April 11, 2017

 

“Rodin lived inside his art.”

First, this book  is not about poetry. If you are an artist,  novelist, sculptor, painter or poet, or creative nonfiction writer then you probably have had moments, perhaps even weeks or months, when you entered a period of despondency and thought “What is this all for? Why bother? Maybe I should give up.” Art and struggle go hand and hand for most of us. You’ve probably read all the pep blogs about following your passion and keeping the faith, recognizing the common Van Gogh blues, blah, blah, blah.

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke tell us that the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin “lived inside his art.” Who cannot look at  The Thinker and not ruminate with him. Rodin and Rilke were the deepest of friends and comrades in creativity.

 

Whatever kind of artist you are, Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet is a voice worth listening to.  The letters were written in the early 1900s when Rilke was about 30 years old. He wrote ten letters to a young poet named  Franz Kappus, offering not only advice and  inspiration, but a philosophy on how to cultivate the creative spirit and be true to yourself and your art.

Rilke’s book is such a refreshing look at why a person writes  or creates art at all. He addresses doubt, loneliness vs solitude, nature, love, patience, demons and dreams,  absolute conviction, and passion. This is probably one of the most impressive of books I’ve read on this subject. The thoughts in this little 100-page book is a true source and one to keep on the night stand. I love to open a page at random and see what Rilke has to say to me for the day. Page 61 told me that “We must embrace struggle. Every living thing conforms to it. Everything in nature grows and struggles in its own way, establishing its own identity, insisting on it at all cost, against all resistance.”

This book is for any artist who wants validation to soldier on and  inspiration on how to live as an artist.

[This edition was translated by Joan M. Burnham, published by New World Library, 2000, ISBN 1-57731-155-8]

In you are fascinated by Rilke and want more of his insights about his life as an artist, you would probably enjoy You Must Change Your Life by Rachel Corbett. This is the biographical story of Rilke and the artist Auguste Rodin, their friendship, their heartbreaking rift, and the reconciliation.  Unforgettable portraits of both creative masters.

REVIEW: “Much more than the story of Rilke as a young man serving as the personal secretary and confidante to Rodin. Laced with first-and second-hand accounts of the artists and their milieu, You Must Change Your Life is an examination of the gritty how and why of artistic creation, as well as an acknowledgement of the costs of such a life.” (Sarah Roffino – Brooklyn Rail)

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

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

Mystery and Manners, The Nature and Aim of Fiction  by Flannery O’Connor (book review here).

How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career by James Scott Bell (book review here)

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 Brunello and 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)

More Craft Books I’ve Read and Recommend:

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, Fiction Writing, literature, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, writing craft books

Do You Believe in the Mysterious?

‘It’s night.

It has been night for a long time. Hours pass— yet it’s the same hour. I can’t sleep.

My mind is fractured like broken glass. Or a broken mirror, shards reflecting shards. I am incapable of thinking but only of receiving, like a fine-meshed net strung tight, mere glimmerings of thought. Teasing fragments of “memory”—or is it “invented memory”?—rise and turn and fall and sift and scatter and rearrange themselves into arabesques of patterns on the verge of becoming coherent, yet do not become coherent.’

Want to read more? This is from Joyce Carol Oates’ blog Celestial Timepiece.

https://celestialtimepiece.com/2017/04/09/the-collector-of-hearts-new-tales-of-the-grotesque/

 

This is her latest collection of short stories. Twenty-five Gothic horror tales.

 

s-l225

 

 

“We work in the dark—we do what we can—we give what we have.

Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”  

Henry James.  This quote hangs above Oates’ writing desk.

MONDAY BLOGS

Leave a comment

Filed under dark fantasy, Dreams, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, occult, psychological horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror