Book Release: Tales of Blood and Squalor

Tales of Blood and Squalor coverToday marks the release of Tales of Blood and Squalor, an anthology of that I edited for Dark Cloud Press.

We all know what blood is. It’s spilled accidentally. Or worse, on purpose—often ending in death. But squalor… a quality or state marked by filthiness and degradation from neglect or poverty. Sordid, wretched, seamy, seedy.

A short fiction anthology of horror and psychological thrillers, Tales of Blood and Squalor depicts wretched, low-class characters living in filth and poverty. With misery and blood.

A novelist a tad too committed to realism in her craft, a tourist thirsting for blood, the king of a trailer park dungeon…

These fourteen stories from Dark Cloud Press will scare you, shock you, and make you reel!

Check out the sales page at Dark Cloud Press and hop on over to Amazon to pick up your copy in Kindle or paperback!

Cover art by L.A. Spooner / Carrion House Illustration.

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My Path to Publication

This post first appeared on the site of horror writer Joseph A. Pinto.


 
As a creative exercise in second grade, Teacher had her pupils write a story. “Be as creative as you can be, children.” I penned—penciled, rather—my debut horror fiction on a ruled school tablet. Teacher, ostensibly pleased with her prodigy’s genius (more likely concerned with a tow-headed eight-year-old’s mental health), passed my work to the elementary school principal. (“Children, ‘principal’ ends with P-A-L—the principal is your PAL.” Keep reading, and then decide…)

Unknown to me, Principal Sprunger, also the president of the local Lions Club chapter in Berne, Indiana, read my story to the men of our little Swiss community and then in good humor fined my father a dime because the preacher’s son had written such an “awful tale full of skeletons, witches, and blood.”

That is the story of money first changing hands in relation to my fiction. (That dime never found its way into my pocket. If it had, I would have biked down to the White Cottage and bought myself a small soft serve cone, for sure.)

Two PathsI continued to write through elementary and high school. The Brookville, Pennsylvania, Jeffersonian Democrat newspaper printed our school newsletter, for which I’d written a grisly Halloween story. They decided to reprint my story in the town newspaper. This should have overjoyed me, but they printed it anonymously and didn’t pay me for it, either. Bastards.

I placed a short story and some poetry in Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s New Growth Arts Revue. I stopped writing for a few years, but started again when I envisioned a scene about a young man who had been shot in the stomach and stumbled into an alley to die. I developed this into my first suspense novel for the Christian market, WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS, long out of print.

After completing my master of arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, I entered the publishing arena and compiled a trade paperback anthology of shorts based on the Ten Commandments. THOU SHALT NOT came out in 2006. It’s a great collection of horror and dark crime. Check it out.

I’ve placed a few short stories for pay in the past decade, but after hundreds of rejections, two years ago I decided to take a different route.

One of the reasons I’ve had trouble in placing my work, especially novels, is because they don’t cleanly fit into a genre slot. Why is this important? Because brick-and-mortar bookstores need to know where to shelve a book. So part of the writing-for-print-publication process is writing for a shelf spot. (And length requirements in genre fiction in part are based on how many books will conveniently fit in a cardboard carton for shipping.) I think that’s just ridiculous.

I had been working on a novel proposal for Dorchester Publishing/Leisure Books. But after the debacle with their selling ebooks without remunerating authors, I stuffed that idea down the disposal.

In a nutshell, since second grade, I’ve learned that publishing by the traditional route is inorganically restricted and highly improbable. The royalties paid (if they pay)… well, suck.

So I recently published my second novel, THE SIXTH SEED for e-readers and trade paperback. It cost me nothing to post it, and I’ve been selling downloads at a 70% royalty. And I can add meta tags with no concern for a shelf spot or how I will otherwise categorize “a dark paranormal fantasy fraught with suburban Pittsburgh horror—family drama with aliens.”

I followed the same path for DEATH PERCEPTION, my latest supernatural thriller tinged with horror and peppered with dark humor:

DEATH PERCEPTION by Lee Allen HowardNineteen-year-old Kennet Singleton lives with his invalid mother in a personal care facility, but he wants out. He operates the crematory at the local funeral home, where he discovers he can discern the cause of death of those he cremates—by toasting marshmallows over their ashes.

He thinks his ability is no big deal since his customers are already dead. But when his perception differs from what’s on the death certificate, he finds himself in the midst of murderers. To save the residents and avenge the dead, he must bring the killers to justice.

DEATH PERCEPTION is available in trade paperback, Kindle (.mobi) and Nook (.epub) at https://leeallenhoward.com/death-perception/.


The Ghost of Backstory in DEATH PERCEPTION

This post appeared originally on the blog of Jason Jack Miller, author of The Devil and Preston Black, Hellbender, and The Revelations of Preston Black. Check out his site.


 

The Ghost of Backstory in DEATH PERCEPTION

Backstory is everything that happened to the protagonist before the story begins. In The Anatomy of Story, John Truby calls this the “ghost.” The ghost is usually some negative event from the past that still haunts the protagonist in the present. This past trauma is the source of the hero’s current psychological and moral weakness. It’s his internal opponent, what Truby describes as the “great fear that is holding him back from action.”

Fire SkullIn DEATH PERCEPTION, my just-released supernatural thriller, young protagonist Kennet Singleton’s backstory ghost is his father’s drunken violence, resulting in his father’s death and the loss of his mother’s eye. Lack of a good role model has crippled Kennet from striking out on his own; at 19, he still lives with his invalid mother in a personal care home and holds only a part-time job at a local funeral home.

However, Kennet’s natural hypersensitivity toward his father’s moods and abusive behavior birthed a psychic gift that blooms when an old prophetess lays her hands on him. Later he discovers that he can discern the cause of death of those he cremates—by toasting marshmallows over their ashes.

When he begins believing in himself and using his gift to avenge the spirits of those who have been murdered (ghosts of a different sort), Kennet finds the courage to stand up for himself and forge his way toward independence.

Good stories dramatize the process of a flawed character overcoming past wounds on the path to wholeness. Even in a tale of horror and supernatural crime, Kennet’s “ghosts” find justice—and peace.

DEATH PERCEPTION is available in trade paperback, Kindle (.mobi) and Nook (.epub) at https://leeallenhoward.com/death-perception/.


Malina Roos Reviews DEATH PERCEPTION

Malina Roos, book reviewer for Hellnotes, reviews DEATH PERCEPTION. (I copied this from her Facebook post.)

Lee Allen Howard is quickly becoming a huge favourite of mine. He crafts his characters so well and gives them depth, flaws and realism that you expect from a much more seasoned writer.

DEATH PERCEPTION by Lee Allen HowardDEATH PERCEPTION is a well-thought-out story about Kennet, a troubled yet gentle young man who lives in a nursing home with his elderly mother. He has a job in a crematorium working for a profit-driven, moral-less boss, but Kennet does his job with dignity and provides a graceful ending for all the people he deals with, regardless of cost.

Then people start dying in the home where Kennet lives… and the death certificate doesn’t quite match up with what Kennet sees as the cause of death. Kennet’s gift is to see how people die, and therein lies the problem.

I loved this. What a great read. Kennet is a character that I really want to read more about [because] he was brilliant. I loved his outlook, the way he related to everyone, his spirit, everything about him.

DEATH PERCEPTION is smart, funny, engaging, and endearing. A true work of art. I love this book and I hope there will be many more Kennet stories.


Writing Characters with Psychic Abilities

This appeared originally on the blog of Hunter Shea, author of the dark and paranormal. Check out his site.

Hunter Shea

Don’t you love paranormal protagonists, like Koontz’s Odd Thomas? I do. Any fictional character with paranormal powers—abilities that most readers consider supernatural—moves your story into one of the speculative genres. This could be sci-fi, fantasy, horror, paranormal, or magic realism. Actually, you can blend the paranormal with any genre, as I do in DEATH PERCEPTION, which is a supernatural crime cake iced with horror and sprinkled with dark humor.

In fantasy, a character’s abilities may be a given, established in your story’s genre ruleset from the very start. For instance, Tolkien’s Gandalf is a wizard, and there’s no explanation for him. In The Wizard of Oz, monkeys fly, and that’s that.

Other stories with a mooring in everyday reality require that a character’s supernatural abilities be explained. There must be a reason why the character can do the things she does, and this explanation encourages readers to suspend their…

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Guest Blog Post — Adding the Supernatural to Crime by Lee Allen Howard

This post first appeared on Mary SanGiovanni’s official website, May 17, 2013.

A Writer's Life

Hi, folks! Today I have a special treat for you — a guest blog post by friend and fellow SHU alum Lee Allen Howard. Lee’s on a book tour to let folks know about his latest supernatural crime novel, DEATH PERCEPTION, and I’m pleased to have him make a stop here.

DeathPerception_BlogTour

Death Perception: Adding the Supernatural to Crime

I love horror; I write horror. But I also like crime. Along the spectrum of speculative fiction, most of my writing lies outside of science fiction and fantasy, but begins at dark fantasy, expands with horror, and then branches at crime:

* Dark crime: non-supernatural horror that covers aberrant sexual crime, sadistic   homicide, serial killing and the like. My stories “Mama Said,” “Poor Old Soul,” and “Mixed Breed, Loves Kids” are dark crime.

* Supernatural crime: a crime story with elements of horror dealing with fantastical or supernatural situations and entities…

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The Spiritualism of DEATH PERCEPTION

This was originally posted at http://buildingthebridge.wordpress.com, the site for my metaphysical and spiritualistic musings. From the acknowledgments page in the book: “We affirm that communication with the so-called dead is a fact, scientifically proven by the phenomena of Spiritualism.” –Principle #5 of Spiritualism

BUILDING THE BRIDGE

Supernatural Thriller Incorporates the Principles of Spiritualism

When I first got the idea for DEATH PERCEPTION, my latest supernatural thriller, I knew nothing about Spiritualism. I came from a Protestant Christian background and held a general belief in life after death, but all of the after-death spirit communication and paranormal abilities, I invented from an imagination fueled by a lifetime of movies and short stories and novels. At least I thought it was made up…

DEATH PERCEPTION by Lee Allen HowardDEATH PERCEPTION was my master’s thesis, which I wrote while enrolled in the Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University from 2004–2006. The spring that I graduated, I quit the ministry, finalized a divorce ending eighteen years of marriage, came out, sold the house I alone was paying on for the previous six months, moved, and finalized my thesis. Whew!

I gave up on organized religion and orthodox faith. And I gave…

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