Category Archives: literary horror

Twisty Tale on Island of Nethescurial

Nethescurial  by Thomas Ligotti  (1991)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    March 21, 2017

 

Are you in need of reading a wild yarn? The real and the unreal, swirling freely and madly about. Take a ride into darkness. Be brave. If any author can satisfy these desires, it’s Thomas Ligotti. Some critics say that Ligotti’s work requires re-reading. I can attest that my second read of this tale dug deeper and I enjoyed it all the more. Some might prefer to read this as non-literal. One thing I can promise is that Nethescurial will hold you to the spot. Maybe it all psychosis (no explicit violence) but it’s undoubtedly a jolt to the consciousness with lots of philosophy. The emotional effect is shock. The psychological impact, mesmerizing. You will be unnerved in full Ligotti style.

The story is framed from four narratives: the ancient cult of the Nethescurial; Dr. N.; Bartholomew Gray; and the narrator.

Here is the lonely island of Nethescurial in the northern hemisphere.

contorted rock formations; pointed pines and spruces of gigantic stature and uncanny movements; the masklike countenance of sea-faring cliffs; and a sickly, stagnant fog clinging to the landscape like a fungus.

Our narrator is recounting a story (epistolary writing) of a manuscript he found that was written by a Mr. Bartholomew Gray during his visit to Dr. N, an archeologist who was living on the island. Dr. N lived in a primitive house built of leprous stones and no windows. Dr. N has excavated a buried treasure on the island—a piece of a dismembered hand-carved religious idol from the Nethescurials.

Gray’s goal is to reassemble the idol to wholeness and revive its powers. Only one more piece is needed. And Dr. N possesses the last piece. Ancient cults (Lovecraftian style), dark truths, murder, visionary intrusions, a secret door, apocalyptic, a dash of madness, this story is twisty horror. Do you believe in transcendent evil?

Remember this chant:

In the rooms of houses . . . across moonlit skies . . . inside each star and the voids between them … within blood and bone, through all souls and spirits. . . behind the faces of the living and the dead …

 

 

I  normally don’t rate my featured short stories here, but this cosmic adventure is a 5-star literary achievement.

Click to read the short story at Ligotti.net.

Click to listen to the audio at YouTube.

 

 

Thomas Ligotti is a contemporary American author. He writes “philosophical horror” with nihilistic themes. His works have received high praise from NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, and The New Yorker.

Visit The Thomas Ligotti website. 

Interview with Ligotti at TeemingBrain.com “I Was Born to Fear.”

The Horror of the Unreal. The New Yorker.

  

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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, crime, ghost stories, sci-fi, and horror.

Follow me in reading  two short stories every month!

Comments are welcome.

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

 The Kill Zone

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/

Greylock

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

Chanticleer Books Reviews Greylock – 5 STARS

 

 

5 STAR review at Chanticleer Book Reviews

Greylock by Paula Cappa – Mystery/Thriller/Paranormal

Rating:
Title: Greylock
Author(s): Paula Cappa
Genre(s): Fiction, Ghosts, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Mystery, Occult, Paranormal Romanticism, Supernatural, Thriller/Suspense, Thriller/Suspense
Publisher: Crispin Books (2016)
Please help promote the author by liking the review at:

What’s in the music we create? When we say it lives – when we say it breathes – when, for one fleeting moment it seems to bridge the gap between one soul and another – what kind of existence does it assume? What does it feel? What does it think? What does it want? Such questions may reside in theory for most, but not for piano virtuoso Alexei Georg in Paula Cappa’s Greylock.

Hot off the release of what will surely be his magnum opus, October, Alexei has achieved the level of success found only in his wildest dreams. Hailing from a Russian family steeped in musical artistry, he has transcended all those before him and become something they never could: a legend. And that’s all thanks to October.

There’s only one problem: he didn’t compose it.

And that would have been fine for him, taking credit for pages found in an antique chest belonging to one of his ancestors, if it weren’t for the demons it conjured every time he plays those chords. If it weren’t for the shadowy figure haunting him, punishing him, coming for him. October may have surfaced through the Georg bloodline, but there is something far more sinister and mysterious hidden in each note that is threatening to break free from Alexei’s control.

Alexei wants nothing more than to move on, but the past will not let him. Add to his troubles the threat of fraud exposure from those he’s closest to and a string of grisly murders within the Boston music community that brings the police knocking on his door, he can only come to realize just how much October is at the center of it all. He’ll have to confront three generations worth of Georg family demons to overcome this evil before it claims everything he has and hopes to achieve.

Using music as a central motif and life force to drive the narrative, Paula Cappa defies the limitations of the written word and adds a new dimension in storytelling through the personification of music. The descriptions being so richly layered and animated, one might just imagine these nightmares dwelling in the punctuation, awaiting their chance to come alive themselves.

With just enough integral characters in place to create conflict, Cappa creates a compelling mystery that allows the reader to virtually hear the machinations of the plot grind away before they inevitably crank up to a satisfying crescendo.

By Tim MacAusland
March 2017

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, crime stories, fiction, ghost story blogs, horror blogs, literary horror, murder mystery, mysteries, paranormal, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short story blogs, supernatural music, supernatural mysteries, supernatural thrillers

Backwoods Murder

A Good Man is Hard to Find    by Flannery O’Connor  (1955)

 

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    February 14, 2017

 

Dark fiction is known to be a broad category, but most agree it is the literary expressions of disturbing human nature. The stories are sometimes graphically violent. This story is not–it does have a dark truth and a riveting suspense.

 

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Genius.com

We are in the 1950s. Grandma and her family are on a road trip from Georgia to Florida.  Grandma’s son, Bailey, his ‘cabbage-faced wife,’ and their children—a bratty girl and boy—and a cat named Pitty Sing are headed through the deep South.  Family dynamics here are intense as you might expect on a long car trip.

Bailey, the dad: “All right!” he shouted and drew the car to a stop at the side of the road. “Will you all shut up? Will you all just shut up for one second? If you don’t shut up, we won’t go anywhere.”

And then an accident happens.  That silly snarly cat. They tumbled into a ditch. And as it happens, an escaped convict, a killer named “The Misfit” is on the loose  in the deep South.

“Behind the ditch they were sitting in there were more woods, tall and dark and deep. In a few minutes they saw a car some distance away on top of a hill, coming slowly as if the occupants were watching them. The grandmother stood up and waved both arms dramatically to attract their attention. The car continued to come on slowly, disappeared around a bend and appeared again, moving even slower, on top of the hill they had gone over. It was a big black battered hearse-like automobile. There were three men in it.”

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The story isn’t horror but it will horrify the reader. Tightly crafted, it’s a superb tale of literal and figurative turning points. What struck me was the presence of the bird ghost, “bright blue parrots”  threaded in. Chilling effect.

 

 

This is bizarre Southern literature by an awe-inspiring writer, a master of form, Flannery O’Connor. She was an American fiction author and essayist, wrote novels and thirty-two short stories, and won a National Book Award and three O. Henry Awards. The famous  Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction  just celebrated its 30th anniversary at The University of Georgia Press. The award was established to encourage gifted young writers by bringing their work to the attention of readers and reviewers.

“The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place

and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location.”  Flannery O’Connor

O’Connor loved birds. As a child, she sewed clothes for her pet chickens. Peacocks were her favorite. She kept near 40 peacocks on her property. Visit her website: http://www.flanneryoconnor.org/

 

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Read A Good Man is Hard to Find (Finalist for the 1956 National Book Award in Fictionat Xroads.Virginia.Edu.

 

Listen and read along to the story (read by Flannery O’Connor) at Genius.com.

 

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of nearly 200 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, and horror. Join me in reading one short story every other week! Comments are welcome.

 

  Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

 

The Kill Zone

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/

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Filed under crime thrillers, fiction, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, suspense, tales of terror

Never Poison a Witch

Catskin  by Kelly Link   (2012)

 

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   January 31, 2017

 

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When we think of witches, we don’t think of soft round women, scented and powdered, wearing pink tufted slippers, and living in cute houses. They are more like women with twisted hearts that beat fierce blood into powerful spells over their victims. Kelly Link writes in odd directions and this story, Catskin,  is a world where you can totally lose yourself. Are you up for a horrific fairy tale? Here’s a warning: Never poison a witch.

The witch, up in her bedroom, was dying.

Now, since witches cannot have children in the usual way—their wombs are full of straw or bricks or stones, and when they give birth, they give birth to rabbits, kittens, tadpoles, houses, silk dresses, and yet even witches must have heirs, even witches wish to be mothers—the witch had acquired her children by other means: She had stolen or bought them.

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Do you like creepy cats? When I think of old cats, I conjure up lazy ones on a quilted bedspread, eyes slit closed and their soft minds dreaming in the shadows—a little bit like Poe said in The Raven: “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.” Truly, I do.

 

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Cats trotted and slunk and leapt and crouched. They were busy. Their movements were catlike, or perhaps clockwork. Their tails twitched like hairy pendulums. They paid no attention to the witch’s children.

 

Witches and cats … a winning combination for a short story.

 

 

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Ancient Proverb: You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats.”

 

Read Catskin at LightspeedMagazine.com  

 

kelly-linkKelly Link’s  debut collection, Stranger Things Happen, was a Firecracker nominee, a Village Voice Favorite Book and a Salon Book of the Year — Salon called the collection “…an alchemical mixture of Borges, Raymond Chandler, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Stories from the collection have won the Nebula, the James Tiptree Jr., and the World Fantasy Awards. Her second collection, Magic for Beginners, was chosen as one of the best books of the decade by Salon and The Onion.  Kelly has taught at Smith College, Columbia University, UMass Amherst, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Clarion, Clarion West, and Clarion South in Brisbane, Australia, and the Imagination Workshop at Cleveland State University.

 

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Read more of Kelly Link’s work like Catskin in her Magic for Beginners.

 

 

Check out BuzzFeed’s Cat Stories.

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of nearly 200 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, ghost stories, and horror. Join me in reading one short story every other week!

Comments are welcome.

  

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

 

The Kill Zone

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 dark fantasy, Edgar Allan Poe, fiction, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, witches, Women In Horror

Beauty of the Dead: The White Maid

The White Maid   by Nathaniel Hawthorne  (1835) Twice Told Tales

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    November 29, 2016

Two women are standing over a corpse. The young dead man is the lover of both the women who are unmarried  and aging. This is a story of an abandoned mansion and the mystical.  And a secret.

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THE MOONBEAMS came through two deep and narrow windows, and showed a spacious chamber, richly furnished in an antique fashion. From one lattice, the shadow of the diamond panes was thrown upon the floor; the ghostly light, through the other, slept upon a bed, falling between the heavy silken curtains, and illuminating the face of a young man. But, how quietly the slumberer lay! how pale his features! and how like a shroud the sheet was wound about his frame! Yes; it was a corpse, in its burial-clothes.

Suddenly, the fixed features seemed to move, with dark emotion.

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Herman Melville once wrote of  Nathaniel Hawthorne: “Even his bright gildings play upon the edges of thunder-clouds.”  Many readers love Hawthorne’s air of mystery that pervades his short stories. This is certainly one of them.

 

Read the short story here at EldritchPress.org

 

Listen to the audio here at Barrow Bookstore Audios 

 

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 180 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

 

The Kill Zone

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

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

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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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, Hauntings, Hawthorne, horror blogs, literary horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs

Time Traps in Time Travel

The Clock That Went Backward   by Edward Page Mitchell (1881)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    October 18, 2016

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If I were to ask you what is the earliest time travel story you know, most would say H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1895). Or if you were a time travel fiction buff you might say Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889). Are you a fan of Charles Yu’s Science Fiction Universe or authors like Robert Heinlein of the 1940s? Of course, you’ve heard of Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity and Stephen King’s 11/22/63.

I’m betting that this time travel short story will be a new one for you: The Clock That Went Backward.

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We are in Sheepscot, Maine, with Aunt Gertrude when time turns. In Aunt Gertrude’s house is an old Dutch clock with a death-head transfixed by a two-edged sword at the top. No pendulum. The time is stuck at 3:15—always. Harry and his cousin are visiting Aunt Gertrude and this night sleeping upstairs—until noises are heard downstairs. They creep down the steps to find Aunt Gertrude with her withered cheek against the old clock, and kissing it. The hands of the clock begin to move backwards. And Auntie falls dead.

 

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This had to have been a ground-breaking story at its time in 1881. Author Edward Page Mitchell’s name doesn’t come swiftly to mind when we think of time travel; he is one of the forgotten American science fiction authors. His stories were popular in the 1870s to 1890. Nearly all his stories were published anonymously in The Sun, a New York newspaper. And nearly all were occult, bizarre, ghostly, devilish, and about inanimate objects coming to life. The Crystal Man in 1881 hit readers long before Well’s The Invisible Man in 1897. Tachypomp was about a thinking computer.  Mitchell was influenced by Poe and wrote over 25 short stories in his lifetime. He was known to have no desire for public recognition. Today Mitchell is considered one of our ‘lost giants’ in the science fiction genre of literature. Discovering Edward Page Mitchell is a treat and a privilege!

 

 

Read it online: The Clock That Went Backwards cute_vintage_dutch_windmill_sailboat_delft_blue_large_clock-r582230ac3a42442c861af41947475ae0_fup13_8byvr_324

at  Forgottenfutures.com

 

Listen to the Audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb-ei6-DeMw

 

 

 

 

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

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Filed under fiction, Halloween stories, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, occult, paranormal, pulp fiction, Reading Fiction, science fiction, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror

The Annotated Dracula, A Close Reading Strategy

Dracula by Bram Stoker, Annotations by Mort Castle (Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics)  [And The Annotated Jane Eyre]

Book Review and Commentary  July 5, 2016

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If you’ve never read an annotated novel, that is a close and intimate read of the story, you’re missing out on a highly instructive look inside the mind of the writer. In this case, Bram Stoker.

Annotated novels are like a mini course in storytelling and create a deep understanding of fiction from all aspects. Mystery, suspense, and horror writers, this annotated version of Dracula explores the clever structure, techniques, themes, characterization, plot, setting, and dialogue of the most famous and esteemed novelist of our time.

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Mort Castle, a two-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award and recipient of the Black Quill Award has been in this writing business for some fifty years and has published novels, short stories, articles in the horror genre. So his expert analysis of Dracula is not only a formidable task but a comprehensive one.

I began reading this annotated version because I wanted to get into the head of a mystery writer of the occult. Who better than Bram Stoker.? Some readers today find Dracula (written in 1897) to be melodramatic, overwritten, and dry at times. When I first read it many years ago, I did find some of that to be true.  So, what will you as a writer gain from reading this annotated version? Or as a reader?

Begin here:

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In epistolary fashion, Stoker opens the story almost in medias res.  Mort Castle points out where and how Stoker seeds the suspense elements into the opening narrative. It is a skilled use of understatement and linking of the supernatural into the real world. And I didn’t see it until Castle discusses it in his marginal red notes.

Castle goes on to isolate the layers of the suspense within the text, identifying the pace as it picks up, and how Stoker slows it down to heighten the suspense. The chapters, as they wrap up, are enlightening in how Stoker chooses to end certain chapters on an up or down note, or on a neutral tone but still gives the reader enough pulse to make you turn the page. The patterns in Stoker’s writing were a surprise to me and in a novel this long, it really illustrates the intricacies of how he weaves them into the plot, and, Castle points out how best to use these patterns.

Characterizations of Harker, Mina, Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, and Renfield are iconic.  They all have a unique role to play and yet Dracula himself becomes the center of the narrative. Part of the trick is balancing all these characters’ points of view and their evolutions, including Dr. Seward’s hero’s journey that is paced into the subtext. Very smooth.

If you know the story, you could read only the red annotations in themselves and still get a rich insight to the writing. Some of Castle’s remarks are witty and precise; others are a little corny and too cute. I can tell you this, the book is a literary tour for vampire fans and devoted horror writers.

Bram Stoker wrote 11 novels in his lifetime.

To be totally honest, though, I preferred the Annotated Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Annotations by K.M. Weiland for a superb analysis into storytelling.

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Weiland gets quickly into the “dramatic question” and how Bronte weaves and bobs this question throughout the story and flows it into the soul of the character Jane. A series of seamless moves by a master writer. Foreshadowing? Bronte uses everything from the five senses to weather as a mirror to the settings, and Weiland’s remarks are highly instructive on how Bronte crafts it. I especially like how Weiland handles “the lie” that all characters believe at the beginning of a story. Narrative arc, doubt, false peace, curiosity all play into the suspense to address this lie.

Bronte’s “Three Plot Points” are really clear from the annotations: First plot point is the catalyst that rocks Jane to react. Second plot point is the centerpiece where Jane gets knocked down. Third plot point is the highest point of crisis for Jane and she must go forward.

Want to learn how Bronte creates suspense in five steps? Weiland gives you this: 1. Something happens or will happen. 2. Withhold explanations. 3. Tease the readers with hints. 4. Promise you will tell the readers, then stall with logical delays. 5. Raise the stakes that will put the character at risk.

Literary analysis is an adventure in itself. If you are a writer like me, a writer who is always looking to improve your skills and write the best novel you can with memorable characters, annotated novels is one way to go. An annotated novel pulls a story apart at the seams to expose the separate pieces and puts it back together so you can view the whole masterpiece. And all for under $25.00.

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Do leave a comment!

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

How to Write Like Chekhov, Advice and Inspiration, Straight From His Own Letter and Work. Edited by 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

 

NEXT WRITING CRAFT BOOK ON MY LIST TO REVIEW IS

Dialogue, The Art of Verbal Action for the Page, Stage, and Screen

by Robert McKee  

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Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, Fiction Writing, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, psychological horror, Reading Fiction, short story blogs, supernatural, vampires, werewolves

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