Category Archives: haunted mind

“A Terrible Beauty” Published at Unfading Daydream

Unfading Daydream Literary Magazine

A Terrible Beauty by Paula Cappa,  Thursday, November 14, 2019

Dear Readers:

I am happy to announce that my newest short story, A Terrible Beauty is now published at Unfading Daydream, a literary magazine  founded by LL Lemke and Adelei Wade. They have been successfully publishing speculative fiction since 2017.

 

The October 2019 issue’s theme is possession.  Twelve short stories in this edition bring you into worlds of ghosts, ouija board, psychic phenomenon, enchanting princess, and more.

In A Terrible Beauty, you will discover the power of quartz crystals, a young man Charlie Crowe, an entity known as Datan, and the endearing Li’l Clare.

Here is a peek.

The trap opened at sundown. Inside of a great, clear crystal swirled the presence of a bat. No; I call it a bat, but this was no flying rodent in any earthly sense. It only appeared bat-like. What I immediately learned was that this odd presence claimed she could eat men like air.

Being an ordinary man, I shuddered.

I say she, although I was not at all certain of the gender, because something about the curves and cleaves, the quivering grooves of the grim shape, reminded me of a woman. My experiences with women were quite limited in my rather over-protected twenty-one years of life, but I remained an admirer of the starlet Marilyn Monroe, and who could better exemplify a model for feminine cleaves and curves?

When I asked this presence how she could do this—eat men, that is—she released these thoughts into my head:

“I tap the temples, neatly plucking a section of brain matter, seizing the shafts of lightning therein, and absorbing the essence of the man like a sponge into my crystal. Then I plant the human head into an ice gulch and let it vegetate like a cabbage.”

I recalled pulling my cap lower around my ears as her thought—actually a thought-noose—nearly made me cry out.

 

Speculative fiction is a genre speculating about worlds that are unlike the real world but in very important ways. These stories explore the human condition. The term was coined by science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein in 1948.  This genre includes unproven theories, ‘what if …?’ scenarios, fantastic elements, action hinged to the realm of science fiction and to horror. It’s for readers who want to believe in the impossible and the unknown. In these stories, the sky is not the limit.

Isaac Asimov’s Nightfall is probably one of the most popular speculative fiction short stories. And of course the novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.

What I love about speculative fiction is that you are in the real world but you are not in the real world.   A Terrible Beauty brings you into that space between reality and unreality. As a writer, this can be really challenging because the story, characters, action must be totally convincing and carry a deep sense of suspense.  This is a story about what could be, not what is. My readers here of Greylock, A Dazzling Darkness, and Night Sea Journey, as well as my other short stories, are familiar with such imaginary realms of the supernatural.

 

You can purchase the magazine here on Amazon.com Unfading Daydream Issue Possession October:

 

Are you a speculative fiction fan? What are your favorite authors or stories? Please post a comment! And if you do read A Terrible Beauty, I’d love to hear your feedback.

 

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.”

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A Dark Power on Thanksgiving

John Inglefield’s Thanksgiving   by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1840)

Tuesday’s Tale      November 20, 2018

 

 

What is your most memorable Thanksgiving  Day? A happy time with family and delicious treats? Or a fight over the meal with an opponent? Or was it darker? Were you visited by a guilty soul at your Thanksgiving meal? In this 15-minute short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, on Thanksgiving evening, the blacksmith John Inglefield hosts a Thanksgiving dinner. His daughter Mary “a rose-bud almost blossomed” is present, an apprentice Robert Moore, and a vacant chair is reserved at the table for John’s wife who had passed away since the previous Thanksgiving.

To say this is a ghostly tale is up to interpretation, that is how deep you desire to understand metaphors of the mysterious. The author Nathaniel Hawthorne takes the family Thanksgiving tradition to another level. That level is clearly in the supernatural and as dark as it gets. I doubt that most readers can fix this story into a single interpretation. No black-and-white thinking here: prepare to awaken your imagination.

 

 

They are all seated round the dinner table with the warmth of the firelight “throwing it strongest light,” when John’s long lost daughter Prudence returns home for the festivities. She has a “bewitching pathos.” The theme here is beyond the grave. Fire is mentioned 14 times in this very short story—which is our dominant clue to this strange and thought-provoking tale about not only the soul but going home. The happy moments fly away as a creeping evil comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Our humanness is strange, indeed. I love how Hawthorne leaves all the doors open on this one to absolutely haunt the reader.

 

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If you are a Hawthorne fan, or even if you are not keen on his gloomy style and psychological twists, this story requires a slow read to really enjoy the complexities of the images and symbols Hawthorne uses to touch his reader. As with all his fiction, human nature is portrayed with unforgettable drama.

 

Read it here at Online Literature

http://www.online-literature.com/hawthorne/2830/ 

If you have a comment on this story, please speak up. What great mystery went on here?

 

THE OLD MANSE

This is the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s dining room and hearth at the Old Manse, where he lived in Concord, Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

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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Death on a Bridge

 An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce  (1890)

Tuesday’s Tale of Mystery  August 7, 2018

 

 

‘A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck.’

 

 

What greater opening of a story is more compelling than an execution? Not much, and this mystery will hold you all the way through to the last lines. The time is Civil War era. Our character, a young man named Peyton Farquhar is about to be hanged. What goes through a condemned man’s mind in the moments before he knows his life will end? Is it possible Peyton could escape and return to his wife and child?

Author Ambrose Bierce is at his finest writing as this story is rich with symbolism and foreshadowing and not without its twists. The imagery is high quality in a tale well told.

 

What is your take on the ending? Were you shocked? Please feel free to comment!

Read the short story at AmericanLiterature.com:

https://americanliterature.com/author/ambrose-bierce/short-story/an-occurrence-at-owl-creek-bridge

Listen to the audio by Librivox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lgCO_l-pgQ

Watch the YOUTUBE film (23 minutes):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHqnSX4SJ_A

 

 

Ambrose Bierce was an American journalist, satirist, and short story writer, many stories about death. He is famous for his The Devil’s Dictionary.  He disappeared in Mexico in 1914 and his final fate is recorded as “unknown.”

 

You can find more of his short stories here at Reading Ficiton Blog  in the INDEX under Ambrose Bierce.

 

 

 

 

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

2 Comments

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Passionate Throbs in The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Ghosts   June 12, 2018

The quintessential ghost story of all time is … Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. As far as literature goes, academic or otherwise, this blog would be faulty if it didn’t feature James’ most famous ghost story. The story is a dark and rich suspense, full of passionate throbs both horrific and psychological. James has had his criticism about his overburdened sentences and his fussy and prudish style. Too Freudian was another swipe at him because his ghosts had their foundation in ourselves. But this story, after more than a century,  hasn’t lost its power.

The Turn of the Screw first appeared in serial format in Collier’s Weekly magazine (1898). James is famous for writing about the nature of evil in a quiet way. This short story fulfills the three –S’s in ghostly fiction: suspenseful, sinister, and strange. Gothic, of course, since the story takes place at the House of Bly. The story is both supernatural and psychological. James adapted this story from a tale told him by the archbishop of Canterbury. James was said to claim that his intention was to entertain. You will certainly find this story entertaining, disturbing, but also an exploration of good and evil.

The story opens with a prologue of backstory and then Chapter One is told by the governess (unnamed) who goes to Bly House in the English countryside to care for two children: Miles and Flora. Ghosts of unspeakable evil appear to the governess: Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. But are these apparitions only seen by the governess?

Do Miles and Flora observe as well? And what about the knowledgeable and reliable housekeeper Mrs. Grose? Truths, tricks, and the state of mind of our governess all play roles and so does supernatural powers.

A clever story, this is, and beautifully written. Writers of ghost stories can learn a lot by reading it carefully. The puzzle of the storytelling is cut expertly! The structure perfection. The tone mystifying. Still, literary critics debate if true evil ghosts haunt Bly House or is it the haunting from the madness of the governess.

For me, to take away the ghosts’ reality weakens the story and dilutes the fear. James insists we see the ghosts  just as the governess sees them, thereby maintaining the horror. And yet he sprinkles doubt at every turn, which enhances the suspense.

Read The Turn of the Screw at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/209/209-h/209-h.htm

Listen to the audio at Librivox.org.

https://librivox.org/the-turn-of-the-screw-by-henry-james/

 

I’d love to read your comments and reactions to this story. What kind of psychological realism or supernatural realism did you find in the story? 

Watch the film with Deborah Kerr, directed by Jack Clayton (vintage black and white)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=gwmp2I0A0Eg

 

 

There are other adaptations for film:
—1991 film with Lynn Redgrave, directed by Dan Curtis
—1999 film with Colin Firth, directed by Ben Bolt
—2009 film with Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery of Downtown Abbey, directed by Tim Fywell (available Amazon Prime Streaming)

 

Henry James was an American author, born in New York in 1853. He is considered to be one of the greatest novelists in our literature. The Portrait of a Lady and Daisy Miller are his most widely read and best known works.  He accomplished 22 novels, more than a hundred short stories, autobiographical works, several plays and critical essays. The Wings of Dove (1902) is a beautifully written love story and a film.  In Edith Wharton’s autobiography, she recalls how she and James sat by a ditch at Bodiam Castle, in East Sussex. ‘For a long time no one spoke,’ writes Wharton, ‘then James turned to me and said solemnly: ‘Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.’

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

4 Comments

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Lunaphobia or Dead Lotus-Faces?

What the Moon Brings by H.P. Lovecraft  (1923)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  April 10, 2018

 

Do you enjoy stories about dreaming, hints of dreaming, or imagination vs. reality? Sometimes, stories that blur these lines can be entertaining but also highly stimulating.  Misleading sensations, false beliefs, uncertain perceptions are all part of dreaming. When I wrote Night Sea Journey, I researched the dreaming mind and the imagination because the character Kip Livingston struggled with supernatural night terrors. Dreams and the imagination both require mental imagery from the conscious and subconscious mind. The processes are certainly different. Carl Jung has lots to say on this subject; I find his ‘active imagination’ practice of searching the unconscious realm for truth to be astonishing. Jung’s belief was that dreaming is sourced not from the physical brain or Feud’s wish-fulfillment theory but from and within the powers of the psychic world—the larger Self speaking the truth to the ego. Fascinating!

Here is a story, What the Moon Brings, told by a mysterious narrator with a deep fear of the unknown. At night, while walking in a garden that has no boundaries, he sees dead faces among the trees and flowers, “dead lotus-faces.” The moon has power here and we are drawn into a bizarre eclipse of horror.

“I hate the moon—I am afraid of it—for when it shines on certain scenes familiar and loved, it sometimes makes them unfamiliar and hideous.”

 

” … As I ran along the shore, crushing sleeping flowers with heedless feet and maddened ever by the fear of unknown things and the lure of the dead faces …”

Our narrator follows a stream to an unknown sea  with “unvocal waves” and there he finds his destiny.  In full Lovecraft style, this story is full of imaginative descriptions and vivid scenes. This is a enhanced dreamscape that possesses our narrator who may or may not have lunaphobia. A quick intriguing 8-minute read that is surreal and yet real.

 

 

 

 

 

Read the short story (8-minute read) here  at HPLovecraft.com:

http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/wmb.aspx

Listen to the audio on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6nNuIRqxF4

 

 

 

 

 

“In my dreams I found a little of the beauty I had vainly sought in life,

and wandered through old gardens and enchanted woods.”   H. P. Lovecraft

 

H.P. Lovecraft is one of America’s finest horror novelists. The statuette for the World Fantasy Award is a bust of Lovecraft, in honor of his writing. The award is informally referred to as a Howard. Lovecraft suffered from parasomnia or  ‘night terrors’ from the time he was six years old. He dreamed of what he called “nightgaunts.” Some readers speculate that these nightgaunts appeared in his books as black and faceless, thin humanoids.

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above (lots more Lovecraft stories) for more free reading. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories,  suspense, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’ Follow this blog 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

2 Comments

Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, Dreams, fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free short stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, haunted mind, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, Night Sea Journey, occult, quiet horror, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural fiction, tales of terror

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/

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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.

 

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