Category Archives: free short stories

Don’t Go Into the Forest: The Third Bear

The Third Bear  by Jeff Vandermeer

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    April 16, 2019

2007 SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARD NOMINEE, 2007 WSFA SMALL PRESS AWARD NOMINEE

I dare you to stop reading this story. The Third Bear is a horror story, not the ‘quiet horror’  I prefer but it’s done well so I was good with it.  A ravenous bear on a killing spree, a banished witch-woman in the woods, a mysterious door hidden among the dark woods, and a town’s desperate passion to survive. But more than all this, we have a story of good old-fashioned fear with an ending sure to strike.

 

The door. In the middle of the forest. It was made of old oak and overgrown with moss and mushrooms, and yet it seemed to flicker like glass. A kind of light or brightness hurtled through the ground, through the dead leaves and worms and beetles, around the door  …

 

Read the short story here at ClarkesworldMagazine:

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/vandermeer_04_07/

 

 

I want to add for all the fiction writers who follow my blog, this story is a supreme example of well-written suspense, characterization, plot, and theme.  And the descriptions! Here is the author Jeff Vandermeer’s Eight Writing Tips. I found these tips to go beyond the same ol’ advice you’ve likely read before. Vandermeer has new thoughts, absolutely refreshing and inspiring. He believes  “in letting the things about writing that should be organic remain organic, but also working in targeted ways on those things that can be improved mechanically. (It may be six months to a year before I begin to write a novel).”

I also like the fact that Vandermeer honors an author’s “time spent thinking about what you are going to write.”  He speaks to the ecstatic vision about a scene or character. Lots more here:

https://chireviewofbooks.com/2018/03/05/8-writing-tips-from-jeff-vandermeer/

Jeff VanderMeer is an American author. He is an editor and literary critic. He established his fame in the New Weird literary genre and became known as ‘the weird Thoreau’ by the New Yorker Magazine. His bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy brought him into mainstream fiction and the book hit some 30 Best Lists in 2014. He is winner of numerous World Fantasy Awards, Hugo Award, and Nebula Award. He won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel for Annihilation. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

 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

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Filed under dark fantasy, fantasy, fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, suspense, tales of terror, weird tales

Hues of Death: The Crystal Cup

The Crystal Cup by Bram Stoker (1872)

Tuesday’s Tale   March 26, 2019

 

The Crystal Cup was Bram Stoker’s first published short story. This is a tale of love, death, power, moonlight, and of course a woman. Her name is Aurora. We are in a great palace with the king who commands an artist create a crystal goblet. But to do this, our artist must abandon his beloved wife and be imprisoned within the dungeon walls inside the palace. Freedom, artistic creativity, and the power of beauty are all themes here. And dark elements too in living hues of death. Quite an adventure in stunning prose that is vintage Stoker. These three short viewpoints will capture you until the very end. An extraordinary piece of fiction and not to be missed if you are a classic fiction aficionado.

The Crystal Cup Chapter I. The Dream-Birth

 

“I rise from my work and spring up the wall till I reach the embrasure. I grasp the corner of the stonework and draw myself up till I crouch in the wide window. Sea, sea, out away as far as my vision extends. There I gaze till my eyes grow dim; and in the dimness of my eyes my spirit finds its sight.

The Crystal Cup Chapter II. The Feast of Beauty

“Strange story has that cup. Born to life in the cell of a captive torn from his artist home beyond the sea, to enhance the splendour of a feast by his labour—seen at work by spies, and traced and followed till a chance—cruel chance for him—gave him into the hands of the emissaries of my master. He too, poor moth, fluttered about the flame: the name of freedom spurred him on to exertion till he wore away his life.”

The Crystal Cup Chapter III. The Story of the Moonbeam

 

“Slowly I creep along the bosom of the waters … The time has come when I can behold the palace without waiting to mount upon the waves. It is built of white marble, and rises steep from the brine. Its sea-front is glorious with columns and statues; and from the portals the marble steps sweep down, broad and wide to the waters, and below them, down as deep as I can see.

No sound is heard, no light is seen. A solemn silence abounds, a perfect calm.

Slowly I climb the palace walls …”

 

Read it slowly to savor every word.  At Classic Literature Co. UK:

https://classic-literature.co.uk/bram-stoker-the-crystal-cup/

Listen to the Librivox audio at US Archive.org:

 

 

 

Bram Stoker is recognized as one of the most prominent Gothic authors of the Victorian era. Like his immortal creation Count Dracula, Stoker’s life is shrouded in mystery, from his rumored participation in occult circles, to his purported death from syphilis.  His interests included Egyptology, Babylonian lore, astral projections, and alchemy. He was rumored to be a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, an esoteric circle of magicians attended by W.B. Yeats and Aleister Crowley.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

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

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Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural, supernatural tales

Click-Clack the Rattlebag, Neil Gaiman

Perfect Darkness

Click-Clack the Rattlebag  by Neil Gaiman (2014)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    March 12, 2019

Are you afraid of the dark? Are you afraid of where creaking attic steps might lead you? Or what you’ll find up there? Do you like bedtime stories? An old house, a little boy, and the sister’s boyfriend. Do you believe in monsters?

 

Come along with Neil Gaiman and discover Click-Clack the Rattlebag.  Deep, dark, and delicious! A quick read at 15 minutes, flash fiction, you won’t forget.

Turn out the lights and read it here:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay-festival/11603446/Neil-Gaiman-Click-clack-the-Rattlebag.html

Listen to the audio (12 minutes) by Neil Gaiman at NPR: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imLja6Emezo  

 

NEIL GAIMAN is the bestselling author of books for adults and children, winner of Newbery and Carnegie medals and Book of the Year by British National Book Awards. You may know his novels Coraline, American Gods, or The Graveyard Book.  Born in the UK, he now lives in the US and is Professor in the Arts at Bard College. Visit his website: http://www.neilgaiman.com/

 

If you are interested in Neil Gaiman’s creative process as a writer, here is an interview that is well worth the time: http://www.theliteraryreview.org/interview/neil-gaiman-the-creative-press/

Here’s a snippet:

“Do you start with a theme that you then want to find characters for? Or do you start with the character?”

NG: “Both of those things, and sometimes more. What I start with is enough, enough to get going. With American Gods, I had an idea about characters. Somewhere in my head, I had the idea about a couple of people meeting on a plane. One of them seemed to be an old drifter, and the other one had just gotten out of prison, and that was all I knew about them.”

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

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

 

 

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How Writers Craft Emotion

The Emotion Thesaurus, A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression (Second Edition) 

by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Book Review and Commentary  February 26, 2019

Emotion vs. feeling. We tend to use these words interchangeably but they really are different. In writing fiction and creating character expression, it’s important to understand that they are closely related but distinct. The Psychology Dictionary defines emotion (fear, joy, surprise) as a ‘complex reaction to situations around us.’ Feeling is defined as any sensation, a ‘self contained experience of phenomena. Feelings (jumpy, alarmed, brave) are subjective and are independent of the sensory modality.’ To simplify, we might say emotions happen to us physically, and feelings are more of a mental portrait because it requires personal introspection.

In Ackerman and Puglisi’s second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus, they address the power of emotion in fiction. The whole point of the book is that ‘readers don’t want to be told how a character feels; they want to experience the emotion for themselves.’ This book is a great addition to any writers resource library. It’s a how-to and in-depth book on how writers can craft emotion on the page. The advice here is professional and precise, easy to follow, and explores some 130 emotions. For example, for the emotion of dread, they list all the physical signals and behaviors, internal sensations, mental responses, acute or long-term responses, signs of suppression, escalation, de-escalation, and associated power verbs.

The authors cover dialogue, vocal cues, body language, thoughts, visceral reactions, backstory, emotional wounds, and subtext. I have other thesauruses by Ackerman and Puglisi, but this one is really their finest. I prefer the print version to the Kindle because it’s great to have the book open on my desk for a wide view of the lists to jump-start me in exploring character motivation/reaction to discover the precise behavior that fits.

Highly Recommended!

On Amazon

Authors websites: http://writershelpingwriters.net    http://onestopforwriters.com

My Recommended List—

Best Writing Books I’ve Read.

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

Author in Progress, a No-Holds-Barred Guide to What It Really Takes to Get Published by Therese Walsh, Editor & the Writer Unboxed Community (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 WritingRay 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

Do leave me a comment!

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, fiction bloggers, Fiction Writing, free short stories, free short stories online, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short story blogs

When I Was a Witch

When I Was A Witch  by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1910)

Tuesday’s Tale of Witches    February 19, 2019

Women and their identities have long been a theme in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s fiction. This short-short is a cunning little story about when wishes come true. If you are an animal lover of cats, dogs, horses, and fascinated by the power of witches, you’ve got to read this one!

 

“The thing began all of a sudden, one October midnight–the 30th, to be exact. It had been hot, really hot, all day, and was sultry and thunderous in the evening; no air stirring, and the whole house stewing with that ill-advised activity which always seems to move the steam radiator when it isn’t wanted. I was in a state of simmering rage–hot enough, even without the weather and the furnace–and I went up on the roof to cool off.”

 

 

Read the short story (30-minute read) here at Fantasy-Magazine:

http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/fiction/when-i-was-a-witch/

Listen to the audio (21 minutes) on YouTube:

Librivox  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3XDqr7H3rc

 

Many of you here at this blog know Gilman for her ground-breaking, bestselling The Yellow Wallpaper (read it here). She was a member of the prominent Beecher family of Connecticut, author of novels and nonfiction, 200 short stories, plays and thousands of essays, a poet, philosopher, and Utopian feminist for social reform.  Suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt called Gilman “the most original and challenging mind which the (women’s) movement produced.”  Gilman was inducted into the National Woman’s Hall of Fame in 1994.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman took her own life in 1935 after learning she had inoperable breast cancer.

 

“It is not that women are really smaller-minded, weaker-minded, more timid and vacillating, but that whosoever, man or woman, lives always in a small, dark place, is always guarded, protected, directed and restrained, will become inevitably narrowed and weakened by it.”  – CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

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

Leave a comment

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Catherine Wells’ Ghost Story

The Ghost by Catherine Wells (wife of H.G. Wells), 1928

Tuesday’s Ghost Tale, February 5, 2019

 

 

A big old house. A lonely young woman bedridden in the sick room with grapes and lemonade. Uncle Timothy and cousins are at a party downstairs. The mysterious and romantic Mr. Percival East enters. And then a leaping lamp flame, creaking paneling, and a fallen fire.

 

The joy and romance of ghost stories are everlasting fiction. Catherine Wells, wife of H.G. Wells (his second wife, Amy Catherine Robbins, also known as Jane), wrote this fiction sometime in the early 1900s. This is an obscure little story that has been long buried and forgotten over the past decades, nearly 100 years. No print version is to be found online—only an audio version available. I love discovering forgotten stories by an author I didn’t know existed. If you are an H.G. Wells fan, you might enjoy Catherine’s story. I have to say this audio is lovely fun—a 15-minute ghostly adventure sure to please.  I like to imagine Catherine writing this story at her desk in her home at Spade House.  Today we resurrect her fiction. Perhaps her ghost will stir as we listen.

 

Listen to the Audio of The Ghost here at YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_XsiSZk8D0

 

 

The Book of Catherine Wells is a collection of short stories and poems. Contents: The Last Fairy; The Beautiful House; The Dragon-Fly; May Afternoon; The Ghost; Winter Sunset; The Oculist; The Emerald; Fear; Cyanide; The War: Spring 1915; June 1916; and Red Cross Workroom; The Draught of Oblivion; In a Walled Garden; The Kneeling Image; Robe De Boudoir; Everymother; April in the Wood; The Fugitives; Two Love Songs; Music Set to Words; and Night in the Garden.

 

 

 

 

H.G. Wells at Spade House in 1907

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

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

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Filed under fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic Horror, haunted houses, horror blogs, literature, paranormal, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, supernatural fiction, supernatural tales

The Sussex Vampire, A.C. Doyle

The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire  by Arthur Conan Doyle (1921)

Tuesday’s Tale   January 15, 2019

 

Arthur Conan Doyle—a contemporary of Bram Stoker—was a spiritualist, known to attend séances. Doyle believed in tiny females with transparent wings—fairies. Doyle fans might recall that he wrote a nonfiction book The Coming of the Fairies.  In 1893 he  joined the British Society for Psychical Research. He also investigated a haunting and was convinced the psychic phenomena was caused by the spirit of the dead child. So when he wrote this story The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, a reader might wonder what he really did believe about the supernatural.

In this story, a husband suspects his wife to be a vampire. Vampires? In Sussex? Holmes laughs at such an idea. We begin our tale on Baker Street, of course, with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

But then, Holmes and Watson depart for Sussex …

“It was evening of a dull, foggy November day when, having left our bags at the Chequers, Lamberley, we drove through the Sussex clay of a long winding lane and finally reached the isolated and ancient farmhouse …”

 

 

 

 

You can read the short story at Ebooks.adelaide.edu:

https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/doyle/arthur_conan/d75ca/chapter5.html

 

Listen to the audio (43 minutes)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08A9da6TYOc

If you enjoyed this short story you might like to read Vampire Stories, available on Amazon.com.

 

 

Days before his death Conan Doyle wrote,

“The reader will judge that I have had many adventures. The greatest and most glorious of all awaits me now.”

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

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 classic horror stories, detective fiction, fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, horror, horror blogs, literature, pulp fiction, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa