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Horror authors across Northern California have come together to release Tales for the Camp Fire, a new anthology of short stories, to support wildfire relief efforts. All profits from the sale of the anthology will be donated to wildfire relief funds administered by the North Valley Community Foundation.
On the morning of November 8th, 2018, the worst wildfire in the state’s history erupted in the foothills of Northern California. While emergency efforts were immediate, the Camp Fire burned for seventeen days before it was finally contained. It destroyed the town of Paradise and burned over 150,000 acres. At least 85 people died in the blaze. The impact of the fire was felt across the entire region as air quality became the worst in the world.
When a group of local horror authors got together, they asked what they could do. “We’re writers,” said San Leandro resident and author Ben Monroe. “How can we can help with our stories?” Soon they formed a plan to produce a charity anthology, contacting horror authors across the region to ask them to donate stories. Some wrote new pieces for the book, while others submitted favorite reprints for inclusion. In the end, the anthology topped out with 24 great stories totaling over 300 pages.
“Tales for the Camp Fire is a brilliant collection of truly creepy tales by horror’s hottest voices! Dark, funny, heartbreaking, and bizarre. Highly recommended!”
—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of V-Wars and Glimpse
Tales for the Camp Fire is edited by Loren Rhoads and is being published by E.M. Markoff’s Tomes & Coffee Press. It is now available in both paperback and ebook formats through Amazon. Members of the publishing team are attending the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley on May 4 & 5, and will have copies of the book available for sale there. All profits from the book will be donated to the North Valley Community Foundation efforts to support the ongoing wildfire relief efforts.
“A brilliant editor and author, Rhoads skillfully weaves together a collection of new and old yarns to create an exemplary tapestry of horror literature that will spook fans of the genre for years to come.”
—Moaner T. Lawrence, author of “The Great American Nightmare”
The book includes stories by Clark Ashton Smith, the grandfather of horror in Northern California, as well as by Bram Stoker Award winners Nancy Etchemendy and Gene O’Neill. Tales for the Camp Fire ranges from fairytale to science fiction, from psychological terror to magical realism, from splatterpunk to black humor, all rounded out by a messed up post-apocalyptic cookbook. Through these pages roam werewolves, serial killers, a handful of ghosts, plenty of zombies, Cthulhu cultists, mad scientists, and a pair of conjoined twins.
You may purchase Tales From the Campfire here: https://amzn.to/2V1ZTo0
About the Editor: Loren Rhoads served as editor for Bram Stoker Award-nominated Morbid Curiosity magazine as well as the books The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, Death’s Garden: Relationship with Cemeteries, and Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual.
About the Publisher: Tomes & Coffee Press is an independent publisher of diverse and dark literature. Operated by Latinx author E.M. Markoff, it previously published The Deadbringer and To Nurture & Kill.
About the NCVF: The North Valley Community Foundation provides visionary community leadership by identifying emerging challenges in our region. NVCF brings together diverse groups of problem-solvers, mobilizes resources, and equips community leaders. We build and energize a community of engaged citizens and philanthropists who strengthen the common good.
“Lee Allen Howard’s The Bedwetter is an inventive psychological horror novel with a voice that’s as stylish as it is dark.” —Dustin LaValley, author of The Deceived
Armed with electric hair trimmers and a military fighting knife,
Russell accepts his dark commission.
His urination led to ruination.
Russell Pisarek is twenty-six years old and still wets the bed. He grew up different from other young men because his vicious mother punished him for wetting by shaving his head. When he confided this to his girlfriend Tina, she betrayed him by advertising his problem to all their high school classmates. He took out his frustration by skinning neighborhood cats.
Now Russell fantasizes about finding just the right woman—so he can shave her bald. He struggles to overcome his dark tendencies, but when his sister discovers he’s wetting again, she kicks him out of her house.
During this time of stress, the mythical Piss Fairy appears in his dreams, and Russell is driven to satisfy his twisted desires with his innocent coworker Uma, who also needs a new roommate.
When his plans go awry, the Piss Fairy commissions him for a much darker task that graduates him from shaving to scalping—and worse.
“Highly disturbing and electric.” —US Review of Books
“A brutal, dark, compulsive read… stark, powerful, and satisfying.” —Online Book Club
Read trigger warning below.
THE BEDWETTER is available now in trade paperback and ebook formats.
“Grotesque, bizarre, and uniquely written, The Bedwetter will shake you and scare the piss out of you.” —Stephanie M. Wytovich, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Hysteria: A Collection of Madness
This novel depicts intense violence, hardcore horror, and disturbing psychological terror in the vein of such works as Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door, Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God, Joyce Carol Oates’ Zombie, J. N. Williamson’s The Book of Webster’s, and Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me.
Although THE BEDWETTER is a fascinating in-depth character study into the mind and actions of a misogynistic and homophobic psychopath, the story events are vicious and brutal, the language coarse, and the approach to their reporting is cold and unflinching.
This book is not for the faint of heart or those easily offended by language, sex, or violence. Read at your own risk.
My mother’s lying on the basement floor of our house, where we lived when Becky and me were in school, fugly and naked on the red linoleum, with the electric hair clippers jammed up her cooz. They’re plugged in and running, eating her alive on the inside. She’s diddling herself with her big manly hands, yowling like a cat, and I can’t tell if it’s from pleasure or pain. Till I step up and piss on her. Then it’s all pain.
My arc of hot whizz hits her right in the face and splashes over her buzzed head & the pile of gray hair like dirty laundry on the tile. She gasps and spits and curses me like she always does.
I say, “Shame on you, now. Shame on you! SHAME ON YOU, YOU FUCKIN EVIL BITCH!”
I spray a golden fountain down her body, over her flat tits, the bunched hysterectomy scar, and onto the mound of matted gray fur between her ricotta thighs.
When my piss hits the trimmers, she’s electrocuted and bucks like a rhino getting shock therapy. Sparks fly. She spews blue lightning out her hole, and then she bursts into flames, screaming like a demon. The flame dances up my piss stream like it’s lighter fluid, an unquenchable fire climbing the stairway to heaven.
But in the dream I never get electrocuted, I never get burned. At least I ain’t yet.
I always wake up. And I always wet the bed.
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Cover art by Jeffrey Kosh.
Trade paperback, 246 pages.
The Morgan family and Tredegar House have always fascinated me, in particular Evan Morgan, Papal Knight, sexual predator and Satanist, along with his more tragic sister, Gwyneth Morgan, who died in mysterious circumstances.
In ill health, weakened by enteric typhoid and drug abuse, Gwyneth was a severe embarrassment to her family and was all but incarcerated in the “Niche,” a large house in Wimbledon.
In the early hours of Thursday, December 11, 1924, she slipped out of the house and vanished. Six months later, her body was fished out of the Thames near Wapping.
The mystery is manifold. By all accounts, Gwyneth was severely ill, unable to walk far without feeling tired, and spent much of her time in bed. On the night she disappeared, London was shrouded in one of those legendary fogs, an impenetrable “pea-souper,” and the nearest entry point to the Thames was Putney Bridge, four miles from where she lived.
It’s hard to believe that a semi-invalid could walk four miles in thick fog through unfamiliar streets and fall into the river at Putney Bridge. The fact that her decomposed body was found in Wapping, even farther away, compounds the mystery. It would have to have floated along one of the world’s busiest waterways beyond Hammersmith and Rotherhithe without being seen.
Nature abhors a vacuum and so does the press. In the absence of hard facts, newspapers had a field day with theories involving white slavers, Chinese opium lords, and lesbian lovers.
In this context, The Gift was born.
Whilst the ostensible heroine in The Gift is an orphan, Lizzie McBride’s interaction with the Morgan family drives the story.
Born in a Liverpool slum, Lizzie McBride is the daughter of an Irish seer who dies when Lizzie is twelve, leaving her in charge of two younger sisters and a grieving father. When her father commits suicide, Lizzie is caught between two worlds. An aunt and uncle decide the three orphans would be better off with them in America. Just as they are about to board ship, Lizzie, on impulse, runs away, and her life changes forever.
Pursued by a vengeful aunt, Lizzie cannonades into the young and charismatic magician, Aleister Crowley, who for his own reasons introduces her to Lady Gwyneth Morgan, daughter of the richest family in Wales and sister to the flamboyant occultist, Evan Morgan.
Unknown to her, Lizzie possesses one devastating gift. When the occult world discovers this, governments and powerful individuals seek her out. Only one man can protect her: the magician John Grey.
Though there are elements of the fantastic, the novel is grounded in historical fact. It involves real people and historical events as it explores the occult underbelly of the English aristocracy and its links with the emergent Nazi movement.
The Gift is the first book of a trilogy, beginning in 1912 and ending in 1941. The three books trace the occult rivalry between two sisters, Elizabeth and Elsie McBride, and interweaves historical events and the cracks between—the ultimate prize, the unlocking of Hell.
The second book, Bloodline, traces the corruption of Elsie and the love/hate relationship between the two sisters.
The final book will describe Elsie’s attempt to engineer a bloodbath—World War II—through the occult manipulation of diplomacy; it ends in a struggle to the death between the two sisters as Operation Barbarossa begins.
The three books are inspired by the rich but wasted lives of Evan and Gwyneth Morgan, and the dynamics of three fictitious characters, Elizabeth and Elsie McBride, and the magician John Grey.
I recently had a chance to interview writer Reed Alexander. He lives in upstate New York, where he’s become intimately familiar with the capital region. “Even since I was a scrappy teenager,” he says, “I spent a large portion of my childhood either in big cities or deep forest.” He holds a deep and separate love for both where, he admits he was “a bit of a wild animal” that may or may not have something to do with his love of horror.
Reed is a horror writer and critic, and a bit of a fanatic about the genre in general. “Nothing really entertains me quite as much as horror does. It is possible that the legends of both the deep forest and urban decay drove my curiosity for the terrifying. Both are equally and naturally scary places in their own right.”
When did you first start writing? Did you ever think it would lead you to where you are today?
I was twelve. I use to write RIFTS fan fic and didn’t think much of it at the time. As a matter of fact, I was so deeply ADHD and poorly disciplined in the English language, I seldom finished any writing until I was in my early twenties.
I’m still learning new things about the English language today at 38. It’s been a long, strange journey. I should mention I was illiterate until the fifth grade. I wasn’t a strong writer till about the age of 25, and I never considered it possible to have a career in writing. And yet, I felt compelled to. I couldn’t stop. I had stories and I needed to tell them. Even if no one would listen.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a release date, and where will it be available for purchase?
What I’m working on right now is a joint effort between me and a gentleman named James Leif. He doesn’t do interviews, otherwise I’d send him your way. Admittedly, he’s a bit of an enigma to me. Right now he’s studying a structure recently discovered among the Hobbit People (Flores Man) of Flores, Indonesia.
I do have two books coming out, though. The first is The Flagellant, which drops around the end of April. The other, In the Shadow of the Mountain, will be released next month. I’ve also recently accepted a contract to be in an anthology of short stories called Sorrow. My short is titled “Cold.”
What else have you published so far?
So far, I have a few shorts published in Art Post Magazine. The first story, “Inside,” was the featured story of their June edition. (https://artpostmag.com/product/june-2018-artpost-magazine-physical/)
The second is titled “Not In My Country,” which was accepted for their October Horror anthology. (https://artpostmag.com/product/october-2018-artpost-magazine/)
Oddly, the first thing I wrote, while really violent, wasn’t horror. It was about an anti-hero with serious reality-bending super powers called “Bend or Break.” (https://www.pagepublishing.com/books/?book=bend-or-break)
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Focus. I have serious ADHD. I’m always working on five thing at a time.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Depends on the book. The first thing I wrote took months to finish and years to perfect. The most recent novella I wrote took only about two weeks to write and about a month to perfect.
A common misconception about authors is that they are socially inept. Does that hold true for you?
I am about as socially awkward as they come. I hate being around people. I don’t like social situations. I can’t stand the mall, I can’t stand bars, I can’t stand clubs… this is basically going to turn into a list of places filled with people that I don’t like.
Now, I can socialize and, as a matter of fact, I find I do it well. I just hate to.
What makes the horror genre so special to you?
I don’t know. Life is pretty boring really. I guess I wish it was actually filled with ghosts and monsters and shit. Writing is about escapism. Why I choose to escape into the terrifying? Not sure. I just find it more interesting than fantasy or action. I think it’s the nature of the conflict. Something feels more human about the struggle inherent to horror.
What’s your process for getting from idea or situation to an actual plot that you can outline (if you outline)?
I don’t outline. I usually get an idea and then I target an outcome. It feels like the journey between point A and B is just a natural progression.
So how do I get an idea? Several different ways. I either have a dream—no shit—I have a nightmare that has a full-blown plot, start to finish, and I write that, or something pisses me off. When something pisses me off, I feel the need to address it in some way. The Flagellant, for instance. That story is about how much I hate the way victims are commonly written in horror movies. Far too often, they’re written as either generally obnoxious debauchees at best, or absolute insufferable assholes at worst. There’s no relating to them and half the damn time you’re rooting for them to get killed. I wanted to write a story about trying to humanize said insufferable assholes.
If you had the choice to rewrite any of your books, which one would it be, and why?
The Flagellant. I wrote it almost twelve years ago, and I’ve improved so much since then. It took three editors almost two months to clean it up. It was embarrassing. I’d want to rewrite it as the writer I am now to see what I could do with it.
Do you prefer writing short stories, novellas, or novels?
The pen COMMANDS ME! I joke, of course, but I really don’t know what I’m writing until I’m in the thick of it. There’s no real preference. I feel like some stories just need to run longer than others.
Do you have a writer’s website or Facebook page where readers can follow you? Twitter?
Of course. My reviews are on Horror.Media, and Madnessheart.press.
Samples of my writing are on my Facebook page and occasionally on Twitter but also my reviews, so check out the Notes on my Facebook page: