Category Archives: short stories

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/

 

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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)

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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.

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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.

 

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“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

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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

Virginia Woolf’s Suicide Letter. Anniversary of Her Death, March 28.

March 28 (1941) is the anniversary of Virginia Woolf’s death, the day she drowned herself in the River Ouse.

“Dearest,

I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that — everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.

I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.”

 

You can read more about this suicide letter at Brainpickings.org.

Do you think there’s a relationship between loneliness and creativity? Read about it at Brainspickings.org.

 

If you’d like to read one of her short stories, a ghost story, “The Haunted House,” enjoy this lovely but spooky very short read in her memory today. Listen to the audio (6 minutes) at Librivox.com.

 

Columbine surrounds the bust of Virginia Woolf, sculpted by Stephen Tomlin. Beneath are buried the ashes of Virginia Woolf.

 

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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

Power of Darkness: A Ghost Story

The Red Room  by H.G. Wells  (1896)

Tuesday Tale of Terror   March 7, 2017

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Are you a skeptic of the paranormal? Don’t believe in ghosts, right? Everything is grounded in physical reality; no such thing as the supernatural. Here is a story of a haunted room, narrated by a man who has no belief in ghosts and agrees to stay overnight in this haunted Red Room. Would you want to sleep in a red room? Our fearless narrator takes on the challenge. But then mysterious things begin to happen: vanishing candle flames, moving shadows inside the alcoves … and a pervading overwhelming darkness.

“…darkness closed upon me like the shutting of an eye, wrapped about me in a stifling embrace, sealed my vision, and crushed the last vestiges of reason from my brain.

 

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“It lurks there always. You can feel it even in the daytime, even of a bright summer’s day… In the dusk it creeps in the corridor and follows you, so that you dare not turn.”

 

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Truly, what could be worse than a ghost? Come into The Red Room in the Lorraine Castle and find out.

 

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Read The Red Room (25-minute read) at Online-Literature.com.

 

Listen to the audio (22 minutes) on YouTube (skip the ads):

 

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When we hear the name H.G. Wells (The Time Machine, 1895), we don’t normally think  Gothic, but The Red Room has all the flavors, suspense, and mystery of Gothic horror. And as expected from this prolific writer, Wells gives life to the darkness in a way you will long remember. Want to learn more about this 4-time Nobel Prize nominee (nicknamed “the man who invented tomorrow”—he prophesied the atomic bomb as far back as 1914) and who had conversations with Lenin and Stalin? Click below:

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https://players.brightcove.net/4495439099001/rkC8QsjOx_default/index.html?playlistId=5335096208001&autoplay=true

For fans who can’t get enough of H.G. Wells, visit his official website: http://hgwellssociety.com/

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 master storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, and horror.

Join me in reading one short story every other week!

Comments are welcome.

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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 classic horror stories, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic Horror, horror blogs, Reading Fiction, science fiction, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror

The Houseboat, Anaïs Nin’s Phantoms of Truth

“Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together.”

 —Anaïs Nin

Today, February 21, is the anniversary birth date of the legendary and visionary writer Anaïs Nin.

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I became acquainted with Anaïs Nin’s work many years ago when I read her  fiction, essays, and her inspiring diaries. While I researched and wrote my novel Greylock, Anaïs Nin made sudden appearances in one of my characters Lia Marrs. The above quote refers to what happens in Greylock, not only to Lia Marrs, but to the main character Alexei Georg—in a metaphysical sense. Anaïs Nin became a thread in the novel as I developed my metaphysical mystery.

Because I’ve always been fascinated by the mind, writings, and creativity of Anaïs Nin, I am proud and happy to celebrate Anaïs’s 114th birthday anniversary , February 21st, and bring you this great writer and her fiction. She’s been accused by the elite of society of narcissism and sexual perversion; she’s been highly praised by her readership for her skills, bravery, and ruthlessly honest writings. What began as a failed writing career, nearly homeless and broke, she soared to success as a feminist icon in the 1960s with  Spy In The House of Love and her 7 volumes of diaries published by Harcourt Brace. She died at the height of her fame in 1977. Her short story The Houseboat  is considered a  short story about her “voyage within.”

The Houseboat by Anaïs Nin (1930s)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    February 21, 2017

This story is more like a memoir, a reminiscence, about people existing outside of normal life: the dispossessed. Those who have “walked and slept in counter-rhythm to the world.”

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Our narrator is living in this beat up houseboat on the Seine in France. She is alone with her books, her diaries,  her family photos, and her soul.

“Once inside the houseboat, all the voyages began. Even at night with its shutters closed, no smoke coming out of its chimney, asleep and secret, it had an air of mysteriously sailing somewhere … On the table lay a revolver. No harm could come to me on the water but someone had laid a revolver there believing I might need it. “

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“But I was so averse to killing that even shooting into the water I felt uneasy, as if I might kill the Unknown Woman of the Seine again—the woman who had drowned herself here years ago and who was so beautiful that at the Morgue they had taken a plaster cast of her face.”

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This prose is quintessential Nin—eloquent, deep, and a labyrinth into the mind. The haunting images will leave you wanting more of this author.

Read The Houseboat by Anaïs Nin at  OhioSwallow.com (scroll down to story title)

Listen to the audio of The Houseboat (24 minutes)

Interview by Studs Terkel in 1972 (10-minute excerpt only)

 

 

imgresVisit the Anaïs Nin blog site at SkyBluePress.com.

Listen to the podcast for her 114th anniversary at A Cafe in Space. Subject is Nin’s published diaries: http://skybluepress.com/podcasts/podcast24

View the  Anais Nin Amazon Page.

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) was born in Paris.  She wrote The House of Incest, a prose-poem (1936), The Winter of Artifice (1939),  and short stories collected in Under a Glass Bell (1944). Most of her diaries were published and are still popular today.  Her most commercially successful books were her erotica published as Delta of Venus (1977) and Little Birds (1979).

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“Before Lena Dunham, there was Anaïs Nin – now patron saint of social media,” Read more at

 The Guardian. 

And at Brain Pickings “Anaïs Nin on How Reading Awakens Us.”

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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 master storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, and horror. Join me in reading one short story every other week!

Comments are welcome.

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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 fiction, literature, mysteries, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, suspense