“Howard’s Bookshelf” at Midwest Book Review

Hey, I got my own “bookshelf” at Midwest Book Review’s website this month.

Check out my reviews of Barbie Wilde’s THE VENUS COMPLEX and Carlton Mellick III’s QUICKSAND HOUSE. Here’s the link:

http://www.midwestbookreview.com/rbw/oct_13.htm#howard

Also, search the site from the home page for “Michael A. Arnzen” to read my review of PLAY DEAD.

I hope to write more reviews for MBR. Let me know what you think.


Using Beta Readers to Evaluate Your Fiction

This post first appeared on Mike Mehalek’s blog, Writing Is Tricky.


So, you’ve written a novel and done your revisions and polished it as best you can. Is it ready to send to an agent or publisher—or to publish yourself? Hard to tell.

Instead of crossing your fingers and exposing your manuscript to the risk of immediate rejection, why not first let someone read your book and provide feedback? If they spot any problems with story, plot, characters, or writing, you’ll have a chance to improve your work before you send it to someone who’ll buy.

Writers have been doing this forever, passing on their finished manuscripts to a close circle of trusted readers. But for the new novelist, it’s one more step along the path of learning to become a published and professional writer.

Whom should you choose? It’s best not to choose someone who isn’t an avid reader, who doesn’t like the genre you write in, or who won’t give you honest feedback (meaning both praise and constructive criticism).

A good beta reader is someone who reads widely, reads in your genre, and can discuss with intelligence the elements of fiction (characters, plot, description, setting, dialog, narration, etc.). Your best bet may be another writer whose back you can scratch at a later date.

If you’re working to deadline, it’s wise to set a date for the review to be completed. Just make sure you give your reader plenty of time to read, and agree on the deadline beforehand.

If there are specific issues you’re concerned about—for example, “Does Mrs. Gulliver seem like a fully formed character to you, and are her motivations understandable and sufficient to fuel the brutal murder she commits?”—you may want to communicate these up front so that your beta reader can be on the lookout as she reads. And make it clear that you’re looking for constructive feedback to make your story better, not just ego strokes.

If you send an electronic file (.mobi, .epub, .pdf, or other), make sure the copy is marked “BETA” on the cover page. Ditto for a printed version. And if your printed version is looseleaf, put it in a binder to keep the pages from getting lost. Invite your reader to make comments in the margins as she reads.
This is your precious intellectual property. You may want to include a copyright statement and warning on the title page and in the footer of every page, along with the specific reader’s name.

For example:
On the title page: “BETA COPY 1, date
In the footer of every page: “Copyright 2013 Your Full Name. Duplication prohibited. Beta Reader’s Name – Beta Copy 1 – date

This way, if you create more than one version, even if a page is removed from the binder, you’ll know where it came from. Print a fresh version for your next reader with the footer changed appropriately.

Once you hand your reader the manuscript, leave him alone. Don’t call or text every day, asking about his progress and whether or not he likes it. The exception here is inquiring about progress as you near your agreed-upon deadline.

When the reading is done, it’s time for a talk with your beta reader. You may want to prepare and print a list of questions about characters, plot, description, setting, dialog, narration, and so on. If they fill it out, you have their answers in writing.

If you sit down to interview, make sure you put her at ease and encourage her to speak his mind candidly about his opinion. Then, let him talk, and keep your mouth shut. Resist the urge to jump in and explain everything (although you should answer questions when asked, or if you’re unclear about what they’re saying). Above all, turn off your emotions, turn on your smile, and THANK him for the hours he’s spent helping you.

If you get published, a nice touch is to mention him in the acknowledgments section, gift him a signed copy of the book, or take him to dinner. Or all three. If his feedback was valuable, you may want to call on him again.

Then, you evaluate the feedback. It may be a good idea to get another reader’s opinion before you overhaul your manuscript based on your first reader’s input. Fix obvious errors, naturally, before printing a fresh copy for your second reader. But remember that opinions are just that—opinions. No two readers will agree on everything about your book. However, if two or three readers point out the same problem, it’s a good sign that you need to do more work.

I followed this process with DEATH PERCEPTION, my latest supernatural thriller tinged with horror and peppered with dark humor. My beta readers were Kerri Knutson and Gary Reichart, whose feedback I appreciate very much. You’ll see them mentioned on the acknowledgments page with a few treasured others.

DEATH PERCEPTION is available in trade paperback, Kindle (.mobi) and Nook (.epub).


Who Won the Kindle Paperwhite?

And the winner of the DEATH PERCEPTION giveaway is…

What a release party it was! On Facebook from May 15–31, 2013, I posted special offers and trivia questions for prizes, including DEATH PERCEPTION magnets, signed limited edition postcards, coffee mugs, books, and… a Kindle Paperwhite!

Winner of the Kindle is Meg M. of Michigan. Congratulations, Meg!

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

I will be sending out prizes this week. A BIG THANK YOU to all who participated and purchased a copy of DEATH PERCEPTION! All trivia contents on the Facebook events page are closed as of May 31, 11:59 pm.

Thank you also for subscribing to my email newsletter.

I’ll be reblogging the guest posts hosted at various sites over the past two weeks. Thanks to everyone who hosted me.

I’ve gained about 50 new Twitter followers, and over 100 new followers on my Facebook author page. THANK YOU, everyone, for your growing interest!

You made the release of DEATH PERCEPTION a special and exciting time for me. I hope you enjoy the book. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear from you personally, or in a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or my book page.

Thanks again. Now I’m off to write some more!


Book Release: DEATH PERCEPTION by Lee Allen Howard

Supernatural Thriller DEATH PERCEPTION Now On Sale!

At long last! DEATH PERCEPTION—my latest novel full of supernatural crime, horror, and grim humor—is now available for Kindle, Nook, and in trade paperback from a variety of sources. (See “Purchase Options” below.)

In celebration, I’m throwing an online release party. Want to win nifty prizes?

DEATH PERCEPTION Coffee MugJoin the ongoing release party on Facebook. From May 15-31, I’ll be posting trivia questions from the book for chances to WIN COOL PREMIUMS—refrigerator magnets, postcards, coffee mugs, and tee-shirts—so be sure to order your copy NOW and start reading!

You could win a Kindle Paperwhite

There’s a Kindle Paperwhite in store for one lucky winner—join up and read to win!

Note on June 3, 2013: The winner of the Kindle Paperwhite is announced here. All trivia contents on the Facebook events page were closed as of May 31, 11:59 pm.

How You Can Participate

Purchase Options

Choose from the following ordering options.

Format Price Delivery Buy Now
Nook (.epub) $2.79 Email* PayPal
Nook (.epub) $2.99 B&N B&N
Kindle (.mobi) $2.79 Email* PayPal
Kindle (.mobi) $2.99 Amazon Amazon
Trade Paperback $14.99 CreateSpace CreateSpace
Trade Paperback $13.49 Amazon Amazon
Trade Paperback $13.56 Barnes & Noble B&N
Trade Paperback $11.99 Direct* PayPal

*Once your PayPal order is received and payment clears, your file will be sent by email (or paperback posted) to the address that was used to purchase within 48 hours. 7% sales tax is collected for residents of Pennsylvania (6% +1% Allegheny County tax).

About DEATH PERCEPTION

DEATH PERCEPTION is a supernatural crime story corrupt with horror yet preserved by a sprinkling of dark humor like those mini marshmallows in your Lucky Charms.

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, Kennet must bring the killers to justice.

Take a peek at chapter 1 of DEATH PERCEPTION in PDF. Enjoy, and thanks for helping me spread the word!

Praise for DEATH PERCEPTION

“Dastardly devious, cleverly conceived, and just a whole lot of fun to read, Death Perception is Lee Allen Howard on fire and at his finest. Rife with winsome weirdness, it’s like the mutant stepchild of Carl Hiaasen and Stephen King, mixing a truly unique paranormal coming-of-age story with a quirky cast of offbeat noir characters into a novel that’s simply unforgettable… and hilariously original. A supernatural crime story, blazing with creative intrigue… don’t miss it.”

—Michael Arnzen, author of Play Dead

“Lee Allen Howard’s Death Perception is a red hot union of Gothic crime thriller and grim humor that burns with supernatural tension. Beneath the sickly sweet scent of caramelized sugar lies the wildly entertaining tale of a man who delivers justice to the dead while fanning the fires of the living. Ever hear the expression, ‘laughing in a morgue’? Death Perception feels just like that. Howard has a gift for crafting eccentric characters and clever plots. This is dark fun at its best.”

—Jason Jack Miller, author of The Devil and Preston Black and Hellbender

Death Perception has officially made me envious of Lee Allen Howard. It sings like a choir of angels, yet weeps like a ghost in winter. Everyone should have this in their collection.”

—Trent Zelazny, author of To Sleep Gently and Butterfly Potion

“Part ghost story and part murder mystery, Howard’s clean prose and spot-on timing make for a compelling read. If you enjoy ghosts, revenge tales and mysteries this book is for you.”

—Jennifer Barnes, Managing Editor of Raw Dog Screaming Press

“Part crime novel, part supernatural thriller, part… funeral pyre ‘n smores (I kid you not), this is Howard at his very best—putting you in the front car of the roller coaster, careening you past memorable characters, jostling you through hairpin plot twists, and trying his darndest to scare the bejesus out of you while managing to satiate the most macabre of sweet tooths. …A really fun read!”

—Mike Mehalek, Writing is Tricky

“Lee Allen Howard has seamlessly joined the characters in this book, and you find yourself hoping that good prevails and that Kennet doesn’t meet the same fate as some of the customers he cremates. I highly recommend this book to anybody who is looking for something a little bit different and offbeat. Lee Allen Howard is definitely going on my favourite author list!”

—Pinky Pollock

“Lee Allen Howard’s Death Perception is a novel in the likes of a mellow Stephen King.”

—Bruce J. Blanchard

“This is enjoyable and dark—a real good read.”

—Sandra Scholes, SF Site

“Outstanding! … Death Perception is a brilliant twist of the paranormal. It has everything a reader would desire, suspense, twists and turns galore. I urge you to read this one.”

—Sherry Bagley

 

Get a free Authorgraph from Lee Allen Howard
Get a free Authorgraph of DEATH PERCEPTION
from Lee Allen Howard
  
Death Perception
DEATH PERCEPTION
on Goodreads

Blog Tour Posts

Here are my posts in the DEATH PERCEPTION blog tour. Check them out, and peruse the hosters’ sites.

When the Dead Speak, You Should Listen – Lyndi Alexander – 5/16/2013

However Crazy, Honor the Idea – Armand Rosamilia – 5/15/2013

The Spiritualism of Death Perception – Building the Bridge – 5/16/2013

Adding the Supernatural to Crime
– Mary SanGiovanni – 5/17/2013

Release announcement – Heidi Ruby Miller – 5/18/2013

Writing Characters with Psychic Abilities – Hunter Shea – 5/20/2013

The Ghost of Backstory
– Jason Jack Miller – 5/21/2013

Using Beta Readers to Evaluate Your Fiction – Mike “Tricky” Mehalek – 5/22/2013

My Path to Publication – Joseph A. Pinto – 5/23/2013

Fleshing Out Your Villains – Mary DeSantis – 5/24/2013

Using Your Day Job in Your Writing – Sally Bosco – 5/25/2013

The Importance of Research in Your Fiction Writing – Anne Fotheringham – 5/28/2013

Death Perception’s Kennet Singleton: A Psychic Medium – Patrick Keller of Big Seance – 5/29/2013


Gearing Up for the Release of DEATH PERCEPTION

I’m so excited about the release of my latest supernatural thriller, DEATH PERCEPTION, that I just had to post!

I received advance review trade paperbacks yesterday, and they look GREAT! DEATH PERCEPTION Coffee Mug My Kindle and Nook electronic review copies are ready to go, and today I ordered some COOL PREMIUMS—refrigerator magnets, postcards, coffee mugs, and tee-shirts—for fun trivia giveaways.

RELEASE DATE: May 15, 2013
Release Party: May 15-31, 2013

I’d love for you to join the ongoing release party on Facebook. From May 15-31, I’ll be posting trivia questions from the book for chances to win prizes, so be sure to order your copy on the 15th and start reading! (Or, better yet, be an advance reviewer.)

Kindle Paperwhite

There’s a Kindle Paperwhite in store for one lucky winner—join up and play to win!

(I’ve typed multiplied millions of words in my lifetime, but never these words.
There’s a first for everything, especially when you’re a writer!)

Subscribe to my email newsletter.

How You Can Help

  • Opt in for my email newsletter.
  • If you’re a book reviewer and want to review DEATH PERCEPTION for the May launch, I’d love to hear from you ASAP! Contact me after you read the details on DEATH PERCEPTION Available for Advance Review.
  • Order your copy online on May 15 from Amazon or Barnes & Noble (electronic or paperback). (I’ll post all buying options with links on May 15.)
  • Like this page, and subscribe to my blog. (The “Subscribe” field is at the top of the left panel on this page.)
  • Follow me on Twitter @LeeAllenHoward and retweet my DEATH PERCEPTION tweets.
  • Like my Facebook page, Lee Allen Howard, Author.
  • Post the link to the release page (check back on May 15) on your Facebook account, email, Twitter, blog, website, restroom wall—anywhere and everywhere.
  • Host me on your blog for my May–June blog tour. Contact me here.

About DEATH PERCEPTION

DEATH PERCEPTION is a supernatural crime story corrupt with horror yet preserved by a sprinkling of black 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.

Take a peek at chapter 1 of DEATH PERCEPTION in PDF. Enjoy, and thanks for helping me spread the word!

Praise for DEATH PERCEPTION

“Dastardly devious, cleverly conceived, and just a whole lot of fun to read, Death Perception is Lee Allen Howard on fire and at his finest. Rife with winsome weirdness, it’s like the mutant stepchild of Carl Hiaasen and Stephen King, mixing a truly unique paranormal coming-of-age story with a quirky cast of offbeat noir characters into a novel that’s simply unforgettable… and hilariously original. A supernatural crime story, blazing with creative intrigue… don’t miss it.”

—Michael Arnzen, author of Play Dead

“Lee Allen Howard’s Death Perception is a red hot union of Gothic crime thriller and grim humor that burns with supernatural tension. Beneath the sickly sweet scent of caramelized sugar lies the wildly entertaining tale of a man who delivers justice to the dead while fanning the fires of the living. Ever hear the expression, ‘laughing in a morgue’? Death Perception feels just like that. Howard has a gift for crafting eccentric characters and clever plots. This is dark fun at its best.”

—Jason Jack Miller, author of The Devil and Preston Black and Hellbender

“Death Perception has officially made me envious of Lee Allen Howard. It sings like a choir of angels, while weeping like a ghost in winter. Everyone should have this in their collection.”

—Trent Zelazny, author of To Sleep Gently and Butterfly Potion

Subscribe to my email newsletter.


DEATH PERCEPTION Available for Advance Review

Hey there, if you’re a book reviewer and want to review my latest release for a May 15, 2013 launch, I’d love to hear from you!

DEATH PERCEPTION is a supernatural crime story corrupt with horror yet preserved by a sprinkling of black humor. The skinny:

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.

Take a peek at chapter 1 of DEATH PERCEPTION in PDF. I’d love to hear your comments on this post, or by email. Enjoy, and feel free to share this page!

If you are willing to write a review for the May 15 release, please contact me at lee [at] leeallenhoward [dot] com. I have .mobi (Kindle) and PDF files, as well as trade paperbacks available. DEATH PERCEPTION is 72,000 words.

Thanks, and please help me spread the word!

Check out release plans here.

What They’re Saying About DEATH PERCEPTION

“Dastardly devious, cleverly conceived, and just a whole lot of fun to read, Death Perception is Lee Allen Howard on fire and at his finest. Rife with winsome weirdness, it’s like the mutant stepchild of Carl Hiaasen and Stephen King, mixing a truly unique paranormal coming-of-age story with a quirky cast of offbeat noir characters into a novel that’s simply unforgettable… and hilariously original. A supernatural crime story, blazing with creative intrigue… don’t miss it.”

—Michael Arnzen, author of Play Dead

“Lee Allen Howard’s Death Perception is a red hot union of Gothic crime thriller and grim humor that burns with supernatural tension. Beneath the sickly sweet scent of caramelized sugar lies the wildly entertaining tale of a man who delivers justice to the dead while fanning the fires of the living. Ever hear the expression, ‘laughing in a morgue’? Death Perception feels just like that. Howard has a gift for crafting eccentric characters and clever plots. This is dark fun at its best.”

—Jason Jack Miller, author of The Devil and Preston Black and Hellbender

“Death Perception has officially made me envious of Lee Allen Howard. It sings like a choir of angels, while weeping like a ghost in winter. Everyone should have this in their collection.”

—Trent Zelazny, author of To Sleep Gently and Butterfly Potion


Book Review: HELLBENDER by Jason Jack Miller

HELLBENDER by Jason Jack Miller

4.8/5.0 stars

“It’s Johnny Cash with a fistful of copperheads singing the devil right back to hell.”

HELLBENDER by Jason Jack MillerHELLBENDER, sophomore novel by Jason Jack Miller, is as much a sensory experience as his first in the Murder Ballads and Whiskey Series, THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK. Instead of Morgantown, HELLBENDER is set in the mountains of West Virginia, and with Miller’s descriptive skill, I got to experience the flora and fauna of the Appalachians: the sights, sounds, and smells of a place I’ve never been but now felt like I was there.

The Collinses have been feuding with the Lewises for years. And their animosity comes to a head when Henry Collins buries his little sister in the cold, hard ground. Janie is a victim of the Lewises’ malicious spellcraft. Teaming up with love interest Alex, Henry learns she’s adept at the old hills magic that women in both families practice—for good and for evil.

Besides the magic and intriguing family characterization, Miller loads on the action like a railroad car full of coal, stoking the engine toward a violent destination.

I dig Miller’s turns of phrase, his depiction of local color and customs, his description of the rural milieu, and his demonstration of forces supernatural. If you believe in magic—or want to—you owe it to yourself to read HELLBENDER. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

You can connect with Jason on Twitter @JasonJackMiller. HELLBENDER is available in trade paperback from Raw Dog Screaming Press or for Kindle at Amazon.com.