Tag Archives: henry james

Write a spooky tale!

Last week, I learned that my narrative poem, “Orchard #9,” was accepted for publication by Coffin Bell for January 2019. This cherriespoem features a romp through a haunted cherry orchard and an encounter with a waif-sprite with a fondness for sweet cherries.

With 100 lines, “Orchard #9” is much longer than most poems, so I’m very fortunate (and so grateful!) that a journal would make a home for it. It helped that Coffin Bell seeks writing that explores dark themes, as they say, outside traditional horror. For their next issue, they’re seeking tales of magic. Might you have a story to share?

This is a time of revision as well as creation for me. I’ve been writing a couple of spooky stories that have been haunting my brain for some time. It feels good to liberate these “ghosts!”

There are plenty of stories dwelling in the rational already.  Why not push the boundaries and write about the unexplained? Your story doesn’t have to be about ghosts; it can be about the day your GPS led you to take a wrong turn that resulted in an unexpected adventure. The day that a fortune cookie turned out to be oddly prescient. Or how you meet a stranger who seems to be someone you knew before.

Turn to the masters for inspiration. “Cara” by Georgia Panghorn and “The Ghostly Rental” by Henry James  are older works that I recently discovered and enjoyed. More recent writers include Shirley Jackson (“The Daemon Lover” and “The Beautiful Stranger”) and William Trevor, who also wrote his share of spooky stories (“The Raising of Elvira Tremlett” and “The Love of a Good Woman” for example). And, of course, anything by Edgar Allan Poe. I’ve always loved “The Black Cat.”

There’s also a host of contemporary writers you can find in journals like Coffin Bell who focus on the supernatural and the mysterious. Check out Volume 1, Issue 3  for great stories by Michael Grantham, Tihana Romanić, Katrina Hays, and much more.

And then write your own! So, when  you see all those enticing calls for “spooky stories” around Halloween (or beyond), you’ll be ready. It will be as if you dreamed it. 😉

 

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Rainy Days and Bookstores

readerscornerKnowing we had limited time yesterday for a visit to Reader’s Corner in Raleigh, our favorite used bookstore, we struck a deal. “I’ll stay out of the airplane section,” said Johnpaul. “And I’ll stay out of the cookbooks,” I promised, right before we parted ways by Poetry.

What is it about a used bookstore on a rainy day? The scent alone–a combination of mildew, Grandma’s old linen, a dash of dog, I’m convinced–is an elixir, exacerbated by rain. There is also the promise of a literary adventure on an otherwise dreary February day. Simply put, there is nowhere I’d rather be.

noteWhere else but Reader’s Corner can you find an entire section on castles? Where else has such a marvelous display of literary knickknacks, such as those little notes left behind by previous owners? And where else can you find an overflow of Charles Dickens in the rest room?

The best part about a used bookstore is not what you go to get–you may not leave with this–but the serendipitous discovery of what you didn’t know you needed. And in my case, this was a compendium of wisdom on dreams, a definitive biography of Frederick Law Olmstead (the brains behind many famous American landscapes), and short stories by Henry James and Donald Barthelme. And for Johnpaul, for whom 4 copies of Moby Dick are not enough, he ended up with a portable Melville (letters and stories) and of all things, a witty guide to palindromes and anagrams.

In celebration of the approach of Valentine’s Day, here’s a sentence palindrome just for the Romeos and Juliets among us…”Won’t lovers revolt now?” If you think about it, this expression is perfect for book lovers too. We know that a tiny little revolution always happens in the bookstore. Because we’re never the same people we were when we walk out that door.