“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.


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.

Experience Tom’s Vasectomy

Excerpt from Lee Allen Howard’s Dark Sci-fi Thriller, Available for Kindle

THE SIXTH SEED by Lee Allen Howard

THE SIXTH SEED, my dark paranormal novel that’s a mash-up of sci-fi, family drama, alien abduction, and suburban horror, is available for immediate purchase. Brace yourself for protagonist Tom Furst’s fateful vasectomy and then download for more.

Get the book now.

Chapter 1

Tom Furst lay on his back on an examination table in Sterling Health Center, dreading the procedure he was about to undergo.

His mother-in-law had been delighted when he and Melanie were expecting their first child, happy with their second, concerned at their third, disappointed about their fourth, and disgusted when she deduced they were having a fifth. She cornered him alone in the kitchen of her suburban Pittsburgh home last Christmas before the family dinner.

“My Melanie is not a baby factory. Get fixed,” she said, snipping the poultry scissors at his crotch, “or I’ll fix you myself.”

Tom had always used condoms, unaware they weren’t entirely effective. The latest surprise compounded their financial pressures—they simply couldn’t afford any more children. So here he was, lying on an exam table, barely covered by a paper gown.

The door to the exam room clicked open, and a thin red-haired nurse stepped in.

“Mr. Furst? I’m sorry, there’s been a change in plans.”

Tom propped himself on his elbows and adjusted the blue paper over his groin.

“Dr. Lindquist was called away for an emergency. Another doctor is taking his place for the procedure. He’ll be with you in a moment.”

Before Tom could object, the nurse slipped out and shut the door. He swung his legs off the table and sat up.

It was bad enough that his healthcare plan forced him to use their medical facility, but when they switched doctors on him, they were going too far.

He considered dressing and rescheduling the procedure. But he had already arranged for time off work, announced the vasectomy to his mother-in-law, and shaved his crotch as Dr. Lindquist requested. No need to face all that again. Besides, if he left now he might never come back—the instruments on the rollaway cart were making him nervous.

He supposed one urologist was as good as another. Reluctantly, he lay back down.

The door opened, and a tall dark-complected man in a paper smock entered. He approached the table where Tom’s bare legs hung over. Tom leaned up on his elbows again.

“I apologize for the last-minute change.” The doctor’s swift speech flowed smoothly from behind the surgical mask. Over top of it, his eyes were two black marbles embedded in fading bruises.

“I am Dr. Prindar Krakhil. I will perform the procedure this morning.” Krakhil lifted the paper gown.

The doctor’s gaze darted about, and Tom grew uneasy. Had this guy never seen male organs before?

“Good,” Krakhil said and let the paper drop.

The nurse returned as Krakhil stepped to the sink. After washing and drying his hands, he plucked floppy examination gloves from a dispenser on a cabinet. He wriggled into them, snapping the milky material over his long, slender hands, which he finally flexed at arms’ length.

Krakhil rested his wrists on Tom’s knees. “We will start with a local anesthetic on the right side, make an incision, cauterize the right vas deferens, and then repeat the procedure on the left side. After that, I will suture the incisions.”

Krakhil folded back the gown. Tom flushed with embarrassment. Perhaps this was just another procedure for the doctor, but it was the utmost humiliation for Tom, especially with the nurse looking on. Yet, she was also a professional and had probably attended hundreds of vasectomies. If you’ve seen one guy’s bald junk, he supposed, you’ve seen them all.

Krakhil tore open an alcohol swatch. Tom spread his legs, resting his knees against the cold chrome stirrups. Krakhil scrubbed the cool patch in the crease of Tom’s thigh. The fierce antiseptic stung his shaved skin.

Krakhil reached for a hypodermic, poked the needle into a small glass bottle, and withdrew a measure of liquid. Holding the syringe before his dark eyes, he thumbed the plunger.

A few tiny drops arced from the needle, splattering Tom’s abdomen. A chill rushed through him.

“Just relax.” Krakhil’s voice was silken, but something about his manner disturbed Tom.

Krakhil sunk the needle into his groin.

Tom jerked, banging his knees against the stirrups. He gritted his teeth and gripped the table sides, silently praying for the searing pain to stop. His heart thrashed. Cold sweat formed on his forehead.

After a moment the doctor pulled the needle out and pressed gauze on the spot. “Sorry about that.”

Tom looked at the nurse. She was staring wide-eyed at Krakhil, her mouth ajar.

While Tom waited for the mercy of the anesthetic to manifest, the nurse pressed a rectangular gray patch onto his left side. An insulated wire connected it to the table.

“This grounds you for the cauterization,” she said. Her eyes were a creamy blue, the color of the star sapphire on her neck chain.

Krakhil busily swabbed Tom’s privates with Betadine. The feeling faded away. When the doctor finished, he reached a gloved hand between Tom’s legs. “Can you feel this?”

“No,” Tom said, wondering what the doctor was doing. Wringing his scrotum like a dishrag? On second thought, he didn’t want to know.

“I will make the first incision.”

Tom concentrated on breathing slower.

“Do not move.”

Tom laid his head on the padded rest and willed his legs to stop trembling.

Leaning forward, the doctor stared intently below the rumple of paper gown over Tom’s stomach.

He poised the scalpel for the first cut.

Get the book now.


What writers are saying:

“Lee Howard stitches together a story where the suspense never lets up.” –Ron Edison

“THE SIXTH SEED abducted my imagination and unsettled me with its pitch-perfect blend of science fiction, body horror and domestic terror. What a weird read!” –Michael A. Arnzen, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Proverbs for Monsters

“Lee Allen Howard is an imaginative writer with slick, vivid prose and high octane pacing. He writes like no one else, and I mean this in a very good way.” –Trent Zelazny, author of Fractal Despondency

“Howard brings alien invasion up close and personal… buckle up for a thrill ride.” –Scott Nicholson, author of Liquid Fear

Download THE SIXTH SEED for Kindle now from Amazon.


Let THE SIXTH SEED Abduct You

Dark Sci-fi Thriller Available for Kindle

THE SIXTH SEED by Lee Allen Howard

THE SIXTH SEED, my dark paranormal novel that’s a mash-up of sci-fi, family drama, alien abduction, and suburban horror, is available for immediate purchase. Enjoy the prologue and then download for more.

Prologue

3:00 AM.

Even the New Year’s Eve celebrations had dwindled to a drunken slumber in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania.

A shaft as bright as lightning blasted the roof of the suburban split-level below. As the ship settled over the house, the light twisted the shadows of the juniper trees across the empty driveway like the hands of a clock, racing through the first hours of 1975.

Big-headed, gray-skinned beings with eyes like saucers of glistening caviar floated through the open bedroom windows on drafts of frigid air.

Ten-year-old Melanie Holstrom levitated from the yellow canopy bed, her straight sandy-blond hair grazing the rumpled sheets beneath her. A curled paper noisemaker tumbled from her hand to the shag carpet.

They took hold of her with long, flabby fingers and guided her toward the window. She did not resist. Could not. Her face was locked in a rictus of fear.

In the adjoining bedroom, the small gray beings held down the mother.

Margaret Holstrom too was frozen with terror distorting her features, now wet with tears. White hands clutching the bedsheets, her polished fingernails glinted in the light from the hovering ship outside the window.

Minutes later, inside the vessel the girl lay prone on one of a hundred white tables, her flowered nightie hoisted to her chest for the examination. Now a surreal memory were the Chex Mix, the games of Yahtzee and Trouble, toasting Mom with sparkling grape juice in the fancy crystal glasses as the ball dropped at Times Square on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

Without sound, she mouthed the words, “Please . . . don’t . . .”

The creatures paid no heed as they slowly drove the needle deep into her abdomen.

“Not again!”

do not be afraid we must

Tears coursed down Melanie’s freckled temples into her ears. Her mouth yawed open in a silent scream.

Gray Alien

do not move we must extract—

do not move we must extract

In the house, her mother knew but could not see. Could not help her. Could not stop them. The creatures held her down and gazed at her with eyes like black frost melting.

In the ship, they withdrew the needle from Melanie’s abdomen. It dripped with blood but contained what they were after: a single ovum. The probe-bearer stepped away from its fellow beings around the examination table and moved deeper into the ship, carrying their prize.

she is the one

she is chosen

Yet no one saw. No one knew—except for one man—and these words were no comfort to her.

The big-headed beings escorted Melanie from the ship through the glacial night air and replaced the girl in her bed.

Then they exited the house, drawn into the vessel on a beam of bluish light. The light blinked off and the ship rose into the night, its occupants acknowledging not a passing year, but the dawn of a new era in the evolution of both their races.

The plan of the ages was underway.


What writers are saying:

“Lee Howard stitches together a story where the suspense never lets up.” –Ron Edison

“THE SIXTH SEED abducted my imagination and unsettled me with its pitch-perfect blend of science fiction, body horror and domestic terror. What a weird read!” –Michael A. Arnzen, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Proverbs for Monsters

“Lee Allen Howard is an imaginative writer with slick, vivid prose and high octane pacing. He writes like no one else, and I mean this in a very good way.” –Trent Zelazny, author of Fractal Despondency

“Howard brings alien invasion up close and personal… buckle up for a thrill ride.” –Scott Nicholson, author of Liquid Fear

Download THE SIXTH SEED for Kindle now from Amazon.


Lee Allen Howard Interviewed on BOOK TALK WITH STEVEN JANISZESKI

Animated literary aficianodo Steven Janiszeski interviews me all about books and writing. Check it out for a lighthearted laugh.

Click here to watch the video interview: http://stevenjaniszeski.blogspot.com/2011/08/steven-interviews-lee-allen-howard.html

Book Talk with Steven Janiszeski is produced by Trent Zelazny, author of FRACTAL DESPONDENCY.

Writers, be sure to friend Book Talk with Steven Janiszeski on Facebook. And friend Trent Zelazny—The Writer in Ward Eleven, too!


What Writers Are Saying about THE SIXTH SEED

Gray Alien

do not move we must extract—


THE SIXTH SEED, my dark paranormal novel that’s a mash-up of sci-fi, family drama, alien abduction, and suburban horror, is now on sale for only 99 cents. Download now for a summer scare!

Here’s what writers are saying:

“Lee Howard stitches together a story where the suspense never lets up.” –Ron Edison

“THE SIXTH SEED abducted my imagination and unsettled me with its pitch-perfect blend of science fiction, body horror and domestic terror. What a weird read!” –Michael A. Arnzen, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Proverbs for Monsters

“Lee Allen Howard is an imaginative writer with slick, vivid prose and high octane pacing. He writes like no one else, and I mean this in a very good way.” –Trent Zelazny, author of Fractal Despondency

“Howard brings alien invasion up close and personal… buckle up for a thrill ride.” –Scott Nicholson, author of Liquid Fear