Novel #7 Finished!

Yesterday, I wrote “The End” on novel #7, a horror mystery set here in my hometown in western New York State.

I began from a #StoryStarter that I originally tweeted on January 21.

I started outlining February 15, did a little research, began writing March 21 and ended April 18 (29 days actual writing).

In a little less than two months, I spent 7% of my time researching, 53% outlining, and 39% writing.

The first draft came out at 40,553 words, my shortest book yet—101% of my preliminary 40K-word goal.

I averaged 1398.4 words per day, although that number is skewed by the higher amounts I wrote on Saturdays and Sundays. I averaged 526.66 words per scene. (I like short scenes and chapters. Do you?)

Today I took a much-needed day off from writing to (of course) write this and catch up on some reading.

Tomorrow I’ll think about what’s next!

The End

Scene Structure: Understanding Turning Points

Turning PointEvery scene needs conflict. And every scene must “turn.” Here’s some insight about the turning point, a crucial ingredient of every scene.

What’s a Scene?

A scene is a discrete story segment in which your characters engage in conflict and take significant actions that you portray memorably as if the events were happening in real time. Robert McKee in his seminal STORY recommends that every scene be a story event. And every scene must “turn.”

What’s at Stake for Your Character?

SubscribeA scene is like a story in miniature: it has a beginning, middle, and end. “No matter locations or length,” says McKee, “a scene is unified around desire, action, conflict, and change.”

A scene begins with a problem or goal that’s based on some value at stake in your character’s life at the moment. What’s at stake? Love? Truth? Safety? Honor? Justice? Meaningfulness? Action genres turn on values such as freedom/slavery or justice/injustice. Educational stories turn on interior values such as self-awareness/self-deception or life as meaningful/meaningless.

In chapter 1 of THE SIXTH SEED, my protagonist Tom Furst’s freedom is at stake, both personal and financial.

Examine each of your scenes and identify what’s at stake for your character.

What’s Your Character’s Objective?

Tom’s goal is based on a desire to change the current state of his freedom.

In each scene your character pursues an immediate, short-term desire. This scene goal must be sub-goal of his or her greater story objective. In a scene, your character goes after this scene goal by enduring conflict or opposition to make a decision or take a specific action.

The scene portrays this push and pull. The process is built on beats, individual units of action and reaction. Your character says, “Stop doing that.” The opposition says, “I won’t.” Beat by beat, this dance of behaviors escalates progressively. The last beat must end with a turning point.

Deliver the Unexpected

In this process of mounting action/reaction between your characters, their conflict produces a big reaction that your character failed to anticipate. McKee explains that:

The effect is to crack open the gap between expectation and result, turning his outer fortunes, inner life, or both from the positive to the negative or the negative to the positive in terms of values the audience understands are at risk.

Your character asks, “Why won’t you stop doing that? It’s hurting me.” The scene antagonist replies, “Because your best friend likes what I’m doing. And I’m in love with him.” BAM!

In this way, a scene creates change in a minor yet significant way. So how do you set this up?

Polarity Must Change

Polarity must change.Once you’ve highlighted the core issue, state the charge of that value at the start of the scene: positive or negative.

For example, with Tom Furst in THE SIXTH SEED, the value of freedom at the start of chapter 1 is negative. He’s between a rock and a hard place and needs to increase his freedom to gain some financial breathing room. His goal is to undergo a vasectomy (a procedure so intense you have to read it for yourself!), a small step in gaining that freedom back—or so he thinks.

Your characters begin the scene with two things: the current charge (+/-) of their core value at stake, and their immediate goal. Then, they:

  • Encounter the opposition (who also has a goal and value of their own)
  • Engage in conflict (exchange escalating behavior beats)
  • Finally experience an outcome

This outcome is the turning point of the scene—the moment where your character’s value changes polarity.

The effects of turning points, according to McKee, include: surprise, increased curiosity, insight, and new direction. The turning point provides new information and a goal for the next scene.

At the end of the scene, what is the state of your POV character’s value? Is it positive, negative, or both? Compare the charge at the beginning and the end. If the value doesn’t change polarity, then why is the scene is in your narrative? McKee points out:

If the value-charged condition of the character’s life stays unchanged from one end of a scene to the other, nothing meaningful has happened; it is a nonevent. If a scene is not a true event, cut it. If the scene is only there for exposition, it needs more justification. Every scene must turn.

Story Structure

How to Make Your Scenes Turn

Craft your scenes using the following process:

  1. Begin with a value at stake in your character’s life. Base a scene goal on that value. (You could also start with the goal and discover the value at stake.)
  2. Determine the motivation and goal of your scene’s opposition. (Your antagonistic force cannot exist merely to give your character an ass-pain.)
  3. Over the course of the scene, challenge and threaten the state of that value through conflict between your character and the opposition. Beats should escalate logically and progressively (not leap a chasm from rationality to absurdity or from laxity to high tension).
  4. Determine the final beat that is the turning point, the reaction that bears the fruit of surprise, increased curiosity, insight, or new direction.
  5. Evaluate whether the beat process and turning point have changed the polarity of your character’s value. If not, keep working.
  6. What is the outcome of the turning point—the surprise, curiosity, insight, or new direction? This is the starting point for your next scene in this plot line.

Note: If you’re a pre-plotter or outliner, you might find it useful to map the value/goal/turning point/outcome for each scene to ensure that your scenes are linked logically in a greater chain of cause-and-effect over the course of the narrative. Just as beats escalate to a turning point in each scene, so do scenes escalate to major turning points or reversals in the broader narrative.

SubscribeTest this process by analyzing scenes from well-written books. Apply the process to your own scenes. If you find it helpful, I’d love to hear from you. Please like this post and subscribe. And spread the word!


How I Write Novels

Readers, have you ever wondered how a novel is developed and written? If you’re a writer, you might be curious about how other writers make their books. Here’s some insight into the process I follow.

Why My Early Attempts at Novel-writing Led Nowhere

When I was a fledgling writer, I would get a wild idea for a story or novel and rush to the keyboard. Excited and inspired, I would sit down and bang it out. Maybe I went on to the next scene, but soon enough, my inspiration fizzled or I didn’t know what was coming next and, unable to see my way, I got confused and quit writing. Then I wondered what was wrong with me.

There was nothing wrong with me as a writer. It was my process—or, rather, lack of one—that was running my efforts aground.

It’s only with my last two novels that I’ve used a new process to ensure that my initial idea becomes a workable story that doesn’t collapse when I go to draft it.

Pre-writing Reveals Characters and Story

CALL OF THE PISS FAIRY by Lee Allen HowardI talk about the idea development process, plotting, and drafting of my forthcoming bizarro psychological thriller in Progress Report on THE BEDWETTER. I did a lot of pre-writing for that book, meaning, beyond preliminary 12-point plot questionnaires and character sketches, I jotted down inspired snippets as they came to me—descriptions, events, scraps of dialogue—mostly written in the voice of my first-person protagonist Russell Pisarek. About 45 pages. I was just writing about the writing.

When I reviewed that information, a story started to emerge. I rearranged those lines and paragraphs of information into a beginning, a middle, and an end. Then I filled in events and information I felt were missing.

I used a similar process with novel #6 (working title: DEAD CEMETERY), doing the first 29 days of exercises in Alan Watt’s The 90-Day Novel.

For each daily writing session, Watt poses six questions of the protagonist and antagonist. Questions such as, “My first love was…,” “The person I hate the most is…,” and “The greatest loss of my life was….” I answered each question in a five-minute segment of free-writing. A month of this grew tedious, but by the time I finished the exercises, I knew my characters, and a story was emerging. I had character backstory; I had motivation.

All in all, I came out with 250 pages of pre-writing for DEAD CEMETERY. (It’s gonna be a big book…) Not 100% of it will end up in the book, but it contains many priceless nuggets that form the core of the story.

During this stage, I also do any necessary research and include my findings in my pre-writing (or Scrivener project file) so that it doesn’t interrupt me unduly during drafting. (Of course, I will still need to check facts when I’m writing.)

Plotting Prevents Stalling During Drafting

Once I had my narrative outlined into three acts, I then used John Truby’s Blockbuster 6 (BB6) to create taglines for each scene in the book. For example in PISS FAIRY, “Russell asks Uma to lunch, but a rabbit ruins his plans.” Just the basic event or revelation.

For DEAD CEMETERY, I used an Excel worksheet to track information and events for five characters through the beginning, middle, and end. Here’s a labeled printout of the 24-page spreadsheet, blurred to prevent spoilers. (Yeah, it’s gonna be a big book.)
Printout of plotting spreadsheet

Plotting Includes Detailed Scene Planning

For THE BEDWETTER, I planned a scene for each one of the tagline events, answering such questions as:

  • My challenge in writing this scene
  • My strategy for writing this scene
  • The scene goal (POV character’s immediate desire)
  • The character’s plan to achieve the goal
  • The opponent in the scene
  • The scene’s conflict
  • Any twist revealed
  • The scene’s moral argument (value A vs. value B)

I copied the pertinent snippets of information from my pre-writing document into each scene’s plan (a document in BB6). What resulted for BEDWETTER was 60 one- to three-page scene plans. It took me from Christmas last year to Feb. 15 to do all my pre-writing and scene planning for BEDWETTER—seven weeks.

For DEAD CEMETERY, I’ll review and rearrange the spreadsheet cells into proper story order. (Each cell contains a reference ID to a numbered paragraph in my pre-writing document.) When I get all the storylines as told through the POV characters in proper order, I’ll turn each cell into a tagline for Blockbuster 6, which will yield a list of scenes from the beginning of the novel to the end. (Note: You don’t need BB6 to do this. You could do it in spreadsheet, word processor, or Scrivener.)

Truly, I don’t understand how pantsers do it—sit down and write by the seat of their pants. That approach has almost always led me to stalling during the course of writing. Planning narratives in detail beforehand reveals most story and logic problems before I invest time and effort writing myself into a corner. If the elements work during the scene plan, I’m confident I can write the draft.

Once I have my scene plans written, I don’t have to worry about whether my scene is revealing the right information or whether it has enough conflict. I’ve already determined those things during the planning process.

Drafting Like Gangbusters

Now, with my stack of scene plans, I sit down to write the first draft of the book. During a writing session, I’m not concerned with what happens next—I know what comes next because this work is already done. All I need to do is focus on the material in the plan and write one scene. Just one scene. Two, if I’m on a roll. Three if I’m on a baguette.

I write a scene by copying the tagline from Blockbuster to a file card in Scrivener. Then I open the file and write the scene, making sure I include everything from my scene plan, which contains the pertinent pre-writing snippets. Some of this info I’ll cut and paste.

After all my scenes are written, I print it. As I review, I note any rearrangements that need to be made and indicate where chapter breaks could occur. I do the actual restructuring in Scrivener, and then I’m on my way to a second draft.

My Novel-writing Results and Goals

Following this method, I wrote a 51,000-word draft of THE BEDWETTER between February 15 and April 4. It has only one POV character and is not a big book. (But it packs a severe wallop, I’m told by beta readers.)

Because DEAD CEMETERY is a much bigger book, it’s taking me quite a while longer to do the pre-writing and plotting. I hope to start scene planning September 1 and finish by the end of the year so that I can begin drafting in January. With my stack of scene plans, I’ll write like gangbusters from beginning to end. I’ll probably go on a motel writing binge or three.

My Novel-writing Process Sets Me Free

Some writers may say that all this pre-writing, plotting, and scene planning kill the spontaneity and fun of writing. I’ve found that it sets me free.

I expect to be inspired during pre-writing, and I am. I expect to be inspired when I’m arranging those snippets into a storyline, and I am. I expect to be inspired when I’m doing the hard work of scene planning, ensuring that my character has a goal and there’s conflict over something worthwhile at stake, and I am.

And when I finally sit down to write, all my channels are open, and I’m free to receive my best inspiration to tell the story from my heart to the reader’s. And that’s what I do.

Following this process, I’m able to develop and test my ideas, get to know my characters, discover what’s happening, arrange everything in the right order, plan powerful scenes, and then write without stalling. My first draft of PISS FAIRY was surprisingly clean. I’m hoping the same for DEAD CEMETERY.

Will you still find holes in your story? Probably. But they won’t be big enough to drive a Buick through. And you won’t get snagged by “I don’t know what comes next.” This approach, I’ve found, makes the revision process much easier.

If this article was helpful to you, please let me know in a comment. And feel free to share what process works for you!

For More Information:


The Motel Writing Binge

For the last seven years, I’ve worked full-time from home, and by the time my work day is done, I’m ready to get the hell out of the house. Most evenings, Saturday afternoons, and Sunday mornings, I camp out in one of the many coffee shops on the east side of Pittsburgh. But even this routine is wearing on me.

So I decided to do something new and adventurous: the Motel Writing Binge.

This is where I go somewhere—sometimes for research, sometimes just to get away—find a cheap motel, and binge-write for an evening and a morning.

Research in Clarion and Oil City, Pennsylvania

For instance, last weekend, I needed to do some research at Clarion State University for novel #6. A friend who lives in this quaint little town took me for a tour of the campus while I snapped pics with my iPhone and we caught up with what’s going on in our lives. Here are a few photos from the campus.

Clarion University Clarion University

Clarion University Clarion University

After dinner, I fired up my laptop in the junky little room and wrote til 11:00 p.m. (This particular Super 8 Motel room was more like a Crappy 2…)

Writing at the Super 8 Motel

I woke at 5:30 a.m. the next morning, snagged some unspectacular yet complimentary foodies and COFFEE in the motel office, then went back to writing til 10:00 a.m. Then I traveled to Venango College (now a branch of Clarion University) and checked out the tiny campus. (My protagonist in novel #6 gets his nursing degree there.)

Venango College Grounds Venango College

I drove in to Oil City, which I’d never been to before. I discovered the Venango County Museum of Art, Science, and Industry, so I made a donation and learned about the historic oil boom in the area—and about Rattlesnake Pete.

Angel of the House Pennzoil Signs

They happened to be holding a street fair, so I listened to the live music, visited the vendors’ booths, and bought some jewelry. Then I devoured half a barbecued chicken and came home pleased with my weekend adventure and the work I got done.

At the Terrace in Brockway, Pennsylvania

I had no research to conduct in this little town in northern PA, but I always pass through there on the way to my parents’, so I parked my carcass at the Terrace Motel on Main Street last night. Better digs than last weekend’s Super 8. I brought leftovers with me, which I ate cold. (I’m a tuff sumbitch.) Then I wrote for three hours on novel #6.

Terrace Motel Main Street (PA 219), Brockway, PA

I woke at 6:30 a.m. this morning, hiked across the empty highway in the drizzle and got myself some breakfast and a huge COFFEE at the Sheetz. I wrote til 9:30, when I threw my stuff in the car and then drove further north to my family reunion, where I laughed too loud and ate too much. Breakfast of Champions

My take on the motel writing binge experience

I would say that anything that jolts me out of the familiar routine helps to fuel my creativity.

Motel binge-writing doesn’t cost a whole lot ($46 for the Terrace), but it’s not free either, so I want to get my money’s worth. I have all my basic needs met (bed, bathroom, reading lamp and electrical outlet), but there are none of the distractions that seem to lure me away as they do at home. It’s hard to believe I get distracted by things like laundry and watering the plants, but I do. Usually it’s Facebook…

If your cheap motel is in the middle of nowhere, there’ll be nothing out there to distract you, either. Except maybe for the yahoos in the room next door. Just make sure you bring shampoo, any writing resources you may need, and that you have access to COFFEE if you need it.

I had a couple of great weekends, and I can’t want to do it again. If you’re considering this option, all I can say is, give it a try!


Fleshing Out Your Villains

This article was first posted at Mary DeSantis’ Out of the Lockbox.


 
As readers, we’ve come to expect the fully developed protagonist. After all, if the main character is a pasteboard creature, who wants to read the story? So writers spend a lot of time developing their protagonists, and, perhaps, their “helper” characters.

Snidely Whiplash, Celluloid VillainBut one thing I’ve learned to do is to give my antagonist equal treatment. Early in my writing career, I created antagonists—what I called “villains”—for the sole purpose of frustrating my hero and his goals. This led to “cardboard villain syndrome.”

Your protagonist and plot are only as strong as your antagonist. He or she (or it or they) must also have a backstory that has led to the development of certain weaknesses, strengths, fears, desires, and goals. He might be an evil bastard, hell-bent on destroying your protagonist, but he also might be a decent guy who just wants the same thing your hero/ine wants, and has the gumption to compete for it. Or he wants the exact opposite of what your hero/ine is striving for, and is willing to fight for it.

Your villain cannot be a skeleton (unless we’re talking about that story I wrote in second grade). He/she/it/they must be fully fleshed using the same development tools you used for your protagonist.

The best information I’ve encountered in 20 years of reading and writing fiction—and reading about writing fiction—I discovered recently in Robert J. Ray’s The Weekend Novelist, in the sections “Weekend 1” and “Weekend 2.” (If you buy this book, be sure to get the original 1994 version, not the revised version.)

Ray leads you through the process of writing a brief character sketch (the broad strokes), plotting a timeline for life and story events, developing a backstory by asking “what if?” to probe motivation, and building a wants list—for your protagonist, your helper, and your antagonist, exploring where desires mesh and clash.

I followed such a process in DEATH PERCEPTION, my latest supernatural thriller tinged with horror and peppered with dark humor. My tag team of antagonists turned out to be well-developed and interesting characters equal to (well, not quite) the hero, Kennet Singleton.

By devoting as much effort to your antagonist as you do to your protagonist, you will have a stronger story, one that readers will love. Flesh out your villains, and you’ll flesh out your fiction.

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


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

 

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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.
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  • 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.