The novel is now available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Slated for release on July 14, pre-order a copy now, and it will be delivered to your e-reader on the official publication date.
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At last! The cover art for my forthcoming horror/gay romance, The Covenant Sacrifice, is complete. Here’s the cover reveal (keep scrolling).
Designed by artist Francois Vaillancourt, the cover uncannily reflects the dark atmosphere and mood of my novel, due out in ebook and trade paperback this summer.
Here’s the back cover copy…
When the dead return to abduct the living, the living turn into monsters…
Jarod Huntingdon wants more than anything to start a family, yet he’s unable to commit to his girlfriend and isn’t sure why. When the father of his childhood best friend, Scotty, passes away, Jarod takes the opportunity to return home to the remote rural community of Annastasis Creek for a season of soul-searching.
But overnight, a violent rainstorm traps everyone in the valley, blocking roads and severing communication with the outside world. And one by one, the residents of Annastasis Creek go missing.
While helping with the search efforts, Jarod learns of a curse as old as he is, one tied to the reappearance of the cicadas, first placed on the community after five young people perished in a house fire decades before. To appease the curse, defrocked Pentecostal pastor Uriah Zalmon must find a sinner to sacrifice.
The dead are returning to Annastasis Creek…
Can Jarod break the curse, save Scotty from the homophobic Covenant Trustees, and vanquish what the screaming cicadas have awoken?
If you subscribe to my private email newsletter, I’ve kept you posted on my novel-writing progress. (If you’re not subscribed, you can subscribe here.) But here’s the past, present, and future of my writing projects. I’ve also got some short stories in the works not listed here.
After thirty years of querying agents, I finally landed one! Here’s the story…
I’ve been working on novel #6, LGBTQ horror/romance, for almost ten years. I submitted it to several dozen agents, none of whom asked for the full manuscript. Last year I submitted it to a dream publisher that took five months to get back to me with a rejection. Sigh. I queried another publisher who quickly declined. (Rejection sucks, but if my work’s going to be rejected, I’d rather know sooner than later.)
A couple of months ago, I sent the book to one final LGBTQ publisher and forgot about it, expecting an eventual rejection.
Earlier this month, I sent the manuscript to my editor, who made comments and sent it back to me. After making revisions, I submitted it to an agent. I decided that if he turned me down, I would self-publish.
A week later, the publisher replied and said they wanted to send me a contract. I was so excited! I told them so, and they sent the contract.
Of course, what agent wouldn’t want to represent a new client who already has a contract offer in hand? I emailed the agent I had queried and, believe it or not, he declined to represent me. Sigh, sigh. So I would have to negotiate the contract myself.
When I read the contract, two clauses made me very uneasy. The publisher wanted me to give away worldwide rights in all translations in every form of media as well as forfeit my intellectual property rights. I asked around, and scads of HWA members told me to not walk but run away from this “offer.”
Needless to say, I was disappointed. I replied to the publisher and declined to enter into an agreement with them. I’d lost an agent and a publisher in one day. Sigh, sigh, sigh.
I resigned to self-publish the book, but a final Facebook comment came in from an agent who offered to look at the contract. I emailed her and chanced asking if she’d consider representing me. Good news is, she said yes!
Yesterday, I signed on as a client with Tabatha Pope of SBR Media. A dream I’ve had for thirty years has finally come true!
Tabatha’s putting together a pitch package to potential publishers for novel #6, The Covenant Sacrifice. I also uploaded my backlist (Death Perception, The Bedwetter, etc.) so that she can try selling foreign publication and other media rights.
Stay tuned for more about #6, #7 (horror/mystery), and #8 (LGBTQ supernatural horror). And if you’re hoping for agency representation, keep submitting and don’t give up. It may take a lot longer than you thought it would, but there’s always hope.
Natalie Edwards (aka TC Parker) hails from a UK town in the East Midlands called Leicester, where she now lives, though she works mostly in London and the US.
“I haven’t actually been writing fiction very long at all by the standards of many people in the horror community,” Edwards says. “I only really started a few years ago in my mid-30s, and only started publishing this year. ” She admits she was evidently trying on some level to compensate for the earlier lack. She has published four books in 2020 and a fifth is ready to come out in January 2021.
“That said, I’ve done a few jobs that are fiction writing-adjacent: I’ve worked as a copy-writer and copy-editor, taught media and communications at university and college level during and after grad school, and now run a semiotics and cultural insight agency, which involves producing a fair number of written reports for clients.”
In terms of fiction… “I write predominantly crime and horror.” The horror tends to feature a lot of grisly death and mythical creatures (though she’s currently working on what’s rapidly evolving into a sort of cosmic splatter Western), and the crime tends to be more heist-focused. “I’ve just wrapped up a trilogy about a gang of London-based con artists, though even they ended up populated with more than their fair share of serial killers and sociopaths, which suggests I can’t get away from horror, whatever genre I’m writing in!”
Edwards promised a friend that she would try her hand at a romantic comedy sometime in 2021—”though I think we both secretly know there’ll be at least one murder in there somewhere, if I do.”
“Possibly the other thing that characterizes what I write is its queerness,” she says. “I have a lot of very strong opinions about increasing the visibility of LGBT+ characters in fiction, especially lesbian characters—so queers tend to pop up in central roles in almost everything I write, and I suspect always will. They’re not always pleasant, but they’re always there, and not just on the peripheries.”
Are there any new authors that have captured your interest? Why?
God, so many! From the horror community, I absolutely love Hailey Piper, Laurel Hightower, Steph Ellis, Kev Harrison, Ross Jeffery, Wayne Fenlon, Alyson Faye, Zachary Ashford, Sonora Taylor, and a hundred others—all fantastic writers and incredible people. E(dward) Lorn is a gifted writer, terrifyingly prolific and a wonderful human being to boot. Quite honestly, though, every one of the horror guys I’ve come to know over the last year has been prodigiously talented. Getting to know them has really been one of the highlights of an otherwise quite dismal 2020.
Beyond horror/dark fiction, I’ve been loving Lucy Bexley and Bryce Oakley, who write lesfic, and am excited to see where they go next—especially since they’ve already released one horror/lesfic crossover.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into? Have they impacted the way you write now?
I wish I could say there were some! My undergrad degree was in English Lit, and I suspect I was slightly inoculated against taking any real pleasure in some of the “classics” I had to study. (Looking at you, anglophone novels of the mid to late eighteenth century.) That said: A lot of the MR James and Robert Aickman I’ve read has left me cold—but I’m conscious of how much of an impact they’ve had on a lot of the writers I love and admire, from King onwards. So when the opportunity arises, I’ll probably give them both another go.
What do you see as the biggest differences between horror and crime fiction? Where do the genres intersect in your work?
In practical terms, the sort of crime fiction I write (labyrinthine mysteries with a lot of twists and turns) tends to need slightly more rigorous plotting than the horror fic. (Though I’m an assiduous plotter anyway, so I kind of like it.)
In terms of the content itself, there’s often a huge overlap. The horror novels and stories I’ve written tend to have elements of mystery/thriller, and the crime stuff often gets quite dark. So I don’t necessarily consider them radically different beasts. (To the extent that I now slightly regret using a pseudonym to separate one from the other!)
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Finding time to do it! I run a business, have two young kids (one pre-school) and not a lot of spare time to play with—to actually being able to sit down somewhere quiet to just write can sometimes be a challenge. Thankfully, I think it actually helps here that I’m a plotter: I rarely write anything without a full outline in front of me, so I don’t often lose time worrying about what comes next and how I’ll get there.
What are common traps for aspiring writers? Are these things you’ve overcome in your own writing?
I wouldn’t want to comment—I’m probably still stuck in them myself!
Has COVID affected your writing routine this year? If so, how?
As for a lot of people, the primary impact has been on the amount of time I’ve had free to write at all. The kids have been in the house a lot more, since a lot of nurseries and schools here have been closed and classes quarantined, so I’ve been spending more time on childcare and trying to juggle that with my day job. And previously, I traveled quite a lot for work, so was able to do bits and pieces of writing on longer train and plane journeys—which obviously hasn’t been possible this year.
On the other hand, I’ve spent a lot less time commuting back and forth between cities so probably have more time at home in front of the laptop than before.
What does literary success look like to you, Nat? What goals do you have to reach that aim in 2021?
2020 has been in some ways oddly wonderful in terms of writing. It’s been incredible publishing books and seeing people I love and respect read and enjoy them. So my primary goal is to keep writing and to keep producing publishable fiction that people will want to read.
Beyond that… I love my day job, so I wouldn’t necessarily want to give it up, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find the idea of writing full-time (or even part-time) quite attractive.
Are there any recurring messages in your work that you want readers to grasp?
There are definitely recurring themes and ideas. Queerness, obviously—and perhaps difference more generally—and what that means in terms of the social construction of identity. I’m very interested in social/cultural environments and technologies as determinants of individual and group behavior, so both of those probably crop up often too.
And, probably more specifically, I’m fascinated by what Marc Augé calls non-places and what Foucault calls heterotopias: spaces in which the conventional rules of conduct and behavior, and even conventional understandings of things like time, are temporarily suspended, and where—therefore—unexpected things might happen. So places like airports and transit zones, hotels, hospitals, prisons, abandoned buildings, shopping malls, even casinos (and probably Vegas as a whole, come to think of it). These sorts of heterotopic spaces lend themselves well to horror especially, I think. It’s probably not a coincidence that so much horror fiction plays out in them.
Tell us about your current project.
I’ve just started writing the horror Western, with the first two chapters down and twenty or so more to write. I suspect it’ll net out at something like novella length, though I tend to write long, so who knows?
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Mostly… if you’ve read anything I’ve written: thank you. I’m exceptionally grateful, and honestly still a little stunned that people actually sit down and read things I write. It’s the best feeling in the world, knowing that the weird ideas that live inside your head have taken on a life of their own in other people’s.
Eric Raglin is a writer and horror educator from Nebraska. He’s been writing since he was in elementary school, but “only seriously started paying attention to writing craft in the past few years,” he says. Most of Eric’s stories are horror, weird fiction, or some variation of speculative.
Eric, when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in fifth grade, but I’ve only taken serious steps to make that happen in the past couple years. Having a few publications out there has fueled that desire further.
Do you recall the first ever novel you read?
The first novel I remember reading was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. As a kid, I went to many Barnes & Noble midnight releases for the Harry Potter books. It was always an event, and I wish there were more book events like that today.
Whose work do you enjoy reading the most?
I’m not sure I could narrow that down to just one writer, but Livia Llewellyn’s prose never ceases to amaze me. It crackles with energy, weirdness, and emotion.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
I try to write for at least thirty minutes a day, but other than that, I don’t have a set schedule. I tend to write a lot more on the weekends when I have more time and energy.
Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
I don’t keep track of the number of words I write each day, but I shoot to complete a short story roughly once every two weeks. If I’m managing that, I consider it a success.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Most of the time writing energizes me. However, there are some stories that don’t come as easily as others, and those ones tend to give me headaches. Thankfully, that’s rare.
Do you hide any secrets in your stories that only a few people will find?
Sometimes I’ll model characters off of real-life people. When those characterizations are less than flattering, I disguise the character so their real-life inspiration won’t find out.
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I would have joined Twitter sooner. I know that sounds silly, but I’ve found some great writing friends, beta readers, and inspirations through the website even if it is a hellish place at times.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
I’m generally good at accepting feedback and making changes accordingly. More often than not, the people who give me feedback have solid judgment. Taking their words seriously has helped me hone aspects of my writing craft that otherwise would have been neglected.
Tell us about your current project, Eric.
I’m currently co-editing ProleSCARYet: Tales of Horror and Class Warfare. It’s an anti-capitalist horror anthology that should be out in May 2021. I’m also revising Nightmare Yearnings, my collection of weird, queer horror stories. That should come out in September 2021.
I’m seeking beta readers for a 75,000-word gay romance/horror novel.
Contact me if you’re interested in being a beta reader or writing a book review. Thanks.
Image from ZbrushCentral.com, #392423
Dead Cemetery by Lee Allen Howard
Jarod Huntingdon wants more than anything to have a family with children of his own, yet he’s unable to commit to his girlfriend and doesn’t know why.
He returns home to the remote rural community of Annastasis Creek for a season of soul-searching where he encounters his childhood friend, Scotty McPherson, and—despite their high school fallout—Jarod finds he’s still attracted to him.
When Scotty’s six-year-old niece, Madison, goes missing, a frantic search ensues. A violent rainstorm traps them in the valley, blocks roads, cuts off all communication, and hampers the hunt.
In the meantime, Jarod learns of a curse as old as he is, first placed on the community after five young people perished in a house fire during the sacrifice of a deformed child.
As the curse takes hold, the dead return to abduct the living, and the abducted turn into monsters.
To appease the curse, defrocked Pentecostal pastor Uriah Zalmon must find another sinner to sacrifice. The Covenant Trustees unanimously select Scotty. Who better to play the scapegoat than an “unrepentant homosexual”?
Faced with losing the love and support of his family and community, Jarod must choose between the life he’s always envisioned and saving Scotty from being sacrificed to a great winged beast hibernating in the bowels of an abandoned church.
Can he rescue his true love and break the curse once and for all?
Gay Erotic Horror by Lee Allen Howard Available for FREE!
Kindle Story Available at Amazon.com: Jan. 19 – 22, 2012
Tad has a problem: He ran away from home only to find he has no place to stay in the big city. After selling his abusive father’s comics collection, the sixteen-year-old twink hasn’t near enough money for a bus ticket home.
Two days without food and two nights in an alley force him to do what he swore he wouldn’t: trick for cash. But trick he must—just this once—to get back home, lest he end up living on the streets of Pittsburgh.
At Lucky’s Lounge, the thirty-something with the reptilian tattoos seems to be his ticket home. Bruce is a kind man, a generous man, a spiritual man who takes in strays of all kinds. But Bruce has needs—dark needs—of his own, and only Tad can satisfy them.
What will Tad forfeit for a bus ticket home? To find out, download STRAY, bone-chilling gay erotic horror from Lee Allen Howard.