A Summer Update, and Writing Monoliths

I am working on an espionage novel, trying to get it into shape for submission. That’s my big summer project, along with promoting the new novel Haxan. When I am finished with that I will turn my attention to writing a new Haxan novel in the series. I think I have a weighty enough idea for that.

When I first began to write I was worried I wouldn’t have enough ideas. But the nasty secret (and it’s not so secret) is you come up with too many ideas. So you have to pick and choose which ones are worth your time, and which ones are not.

I am reminded of the enigmatic Monolith in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The idea behind the aliens was they cultivated intelligence where they thought it might take root, and when necessary dispassionately weeded the growth.

Writing ideas, and how they take root in your mind, are a lot like that. Not all ideas are created equal. You must pick and choose which ones are worth your time. I will come across an idea and think, “No, I will let someone else write that one.”

Not because I think a particular idea is beneath me. I determine someone can do a better job with that idea than I can. I have to maximize my time with ideas that excite me. If I think I can do something interesting then I am on board. If I think it will be another average retelling…I cull it out.

So, yes, ideas are very important. Not that short stories can’t be weighty. Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” comes to mind. But you need an idea that holds up over the length of a novel. “The Lottery” works as a short story. I am not certain it could work as a novel. Similarly, Moby-Dick is an excellent novel and would be difficult to present as a short story. (Although I have tried.)

So those are my summer plans. I’m in the thick of them as we speak. I’ll let you know how things develop.

 

daveinbed

Changing the Western (for the better)

While I was attending SoonerCon a week or so ago a writer friend relayed a conversation she had with a family member.Hoover-8

She said the uncle stated he liked to watch westerns because “they were real.”

She proceeded to tell him, No, they were not real, but only Hollywood’s version of the Old West.  What he saw on television and movies was not in any sense “history” or “reality” of what the Old West was truly like.  He was being sold a bill of goods. Period.

I work in the western genre. Not exclusively, but I toil there quite a bit as readers of this blog know. I’ve seen this before. I know mythology and cliche has been elevated to historical status in some areas. Frankly, I find this depressing, because if this is all we have, if things don’t change, then this genre will never change.

And it needs to change.

The idea of the iconic western is an extremely powerful story telling tool. I use it all the time. It’s also the whole frontier mentality that makes much of science fiction accessible to readers and fans alike. But westerns are earth-bound. We can readily identify with that. Hell, even Star Wars was a western, and Star Trek often used western elements.

They are used because they are powerful.

Here’s what I would like to see. I’d like to see a western novel where there were no guns. Historically, most people never owned, carried, or used one. That’s historical fact. I’d like to see stories about that.

I’d also like to see more stories from, and about, women and POC. Because, you know, they actually existed back then.

It’s easy to slipstream behind Hollywood tropes. Cliches are the easy way out. Example: the iconic gun fight a la High Noon.

I agree this all makes for great television. But that’s not how they fought. Gunfighters did not meet each other on the street. They shot each other in the back and through windows. It was gang warfare. No one in their right mind would stand with a gun 15-feet away from another man with a gun in an open street. These weren’t dueling Knights of Old, which is where this myth was appropriated.

I remember visiting the Flats near Fort Griffin while doing research for Quaternity. I came across a first person account of a town sheriff or marshal who jailed a man and then shot him through the bars and killed him because “he was too mean.”

Now I want you to stop and think about that a bit and then get back to me.

To be sure, not every man and woman behaved like this, and it would be ridiculous to assume otherwise. But they weren’t Knights from the Round Table, either. They just were not.

There are three gunfights in my novel Haxan. None of them go according to Hoyle because it NEVER happened the way Hollywood sold it.

I’m also getting a little worn out with the romantic notions that permeate too much of what I see. Men and women of all races, all religions, all creeds, struggled every day to survive in the Old West. Just like they do today.

There’s nothing romantic about that.

Mythology is not history. Cliches are not a foundation to build on. Well, I mean, you can, if you want. If we write the same stories over and over, and don’t push the envelope, this genre will not evolve. It won’t die. As I said up at the top the idea of the western is too atavistic for that to happen.

The western will never die. That’s a good thing, in my opinion because it’s an interesting setting in which to tell stories about people.

But maybe it’s time to step away from the romantic ideals of an age that never existed, either, and write something different. There are many western writers right now doing exactly that. Their voices are few.

I’d like to see more.

“Talitha Koum” now appearing in Frontier Tales

Well, the new novel is out. But that’s not all going on in the world of Haxan.

My new Haxan short story entitled “Talitha Koum” has already engendered controversy among fans. It’s published by Frontier Tales and is on their website now. If you like the story please remember to vote for it on their website. That helps me a lot.

If you don’t like what happens in the story, please remember to vote for it on their website anyway. It helps me a lot!

So click the link and see what all the fuss is about! I mean, it’s Haxan. What could possibly go wrong for the people who live there, right….?

Right….?

 

“TALITHA KOUM” by KENNETH MARK HOOVER

CZP Bought My New Haxan Novel QUATERNITY for July 2015!

A lot of good news on the writing front, recently. Haxan has just been published by CZP last week, and I also learned they want to buy PulpFiction_112013_DSCF0017Quaternity for a July 2015 publication date.

As followers of this blog know Quaternity has a very special place in my mind. I wrote that novel, all 85,000 words, in 19 days. I mean, that was after about a year and a half of starts, stops, thinking about it, etc. Border trips, which I blogged about, and other research and fact finding trips.

Then, suddenly, the flood gates opened and it poured forth. It was an amazing experience in many ways. and as a result the novel became personally important to me. Yes, I think it’s my best. I tried to do something very different in that novel, both substantively and personally. I set out to write an anti-western, even an anti-mythological western. A complete break with the cliches and mythology that has held much of the western genre back for over a century.

That’s what I wanted to do. I will flat out say I think I have succeeded.

Those who know me know I don’t say that lightly.

I knew it was a big goal when I started the project. I was never certain I would find the key to unlock what was holding me back. After all that time spent and no real pages to show for it, I never quit. I never for one moment thought the story idea and what I was trying to accomplish wasn’t worthwhile or didn’t hold up.

That’s not always true with every story. Sometimes a writer learns when to walk away from a story. I never felt that with Quaternity. I always believed there was something special there, if only I could tease it out.

If only I could find the key.

I did. I finished the novel in 19 days and was floored at that process. Submitted it. It went through a couple of rewrites, and now CZP wants it for next year.

I couldn’t be happier!

It’s a validation. A big one. Yes. It’s that important to me.

Writer in Progress: Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover

In case you missed it, Darke Conteur ran a special post regarding my new novel Haxan which has just been published by CZP. If you want to read more, please click the link below, and please let her know in the comments section you liked what she did.

She even included an excerpt from the novel. Yay!

Thanks, Darke!

–KMH

 

WRITER IN PROGRESS: HAXAN, WRITTEN BY KENNETH MARK HOOVER

 

Darke Conteur

Darke Conteur

Kenneth Mark Hoover Writer Biography

Kenneth Mark Hoover

Kenneth Mark Hoover

 

Kenneth Mark Hoover has sold over sixty short stories and articles. His fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, and many other magazines and anthologies. His first novel, a dystopian SF called Fevreblau, was published by Five Star Press in 2005. He is a member of SFWA and HWA. His interests include Shotokan karate and Nordic Wicca. He also likes beagles and pecan coffee.

His latest novel, Haxan, is a violent dark western published by CZP/HarperCollins in 2014. You can find out more about Mr. Hoover and his work from his blog kennethmarkhoover.me (you’re reading it now!) or his website kennethmarkhoover.com.

Thermopylae. Masada. Agincourt. And now, HAXAN.

THERMOPYLAE. MASADA. AGINCOURT.

AND NOW, HAXAN, NEW MEXICO TERRITORY, CIRCA 1874 . . .
Through a sea of time and dust, in places that might never be, or can’t become until something is set right, there are people destined to travel.

Forever.

Marshal John T. Marwood is one of these men.

Taken from a place he called home, he is sent to fight an eternal war. It never ends, because the storm itself, this unending conflict, makes the world we know a reality.

Along with all the other words waiting to be born. Or were born, but died like a guttering candle in eternal night.

 

What is Haxan? Haxan is Lonesome Dove meets The Punisher . . .  real, gritty, violent, and blatantly uncompromising.

 

“In the Haxan series, Kenneth Mark Hoover is recreating the Old West. Or rather he would be, if the Old West was equal parts Gunsmoke and John Brunner’s Traveler in Black. . . . Fans of the western and dark fantasy genres alike should give this series a serious look.”
—Richard Parks, author of Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter and To Break the Demon Gate

 

Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover

 

Blood, Dust, Wind. An Excerpt from the Novel Haxan.

Here is an excerpt from my new novel Haxan published by CZP. Hope you like it!

–KMH

 

CHAPTER 1

 

Haxan, New Mexico Territory

Spring, 1874

 

I found the old man nailed to a hackberry tree five miles out of Haxan.

They had hammered railroad spikes through his wrists and ankles. There was dried blood on the wood and iron. Blood stippled his arms and chest. He was stripped naked so the westering sun could peel the flesh from his bones.

He was alive when I found him.

I got down off my horse, a blue roan I picked up in Mesilla, and went up to the man. His twitching features were covered with swarming bluebottles.

I swiped them away and pressed the mouth of a canteen to his parched lips. He was in such a bad way, I knew if he drank too much, too fast, he would founder and the shock would kill him.

He took a capful of water and coughed. Another half-swallow.

“I can work those nails out,” I said. “You might have a chance if a doctor sees you.”

He raised his grizzled head. His face was the colour of burned leather kicked out of a prairie fire. His eyelids were cut away, his eyes seared blind by the sun.

“Won’t do any good, mister.” He talked slow and with effort, measuring his remaining strength. He had a Scandinavian accent that could float a ship, pale eyebrows, and faded blue irises. “I been here two days.”

I tried to work one of the nails free. It was hammered deep and wouldn’t budge.

“No use,” he rasped. “Anyway, the croaker in Haxan is jugged on laudanum half the time. And the tooth-puller, he ain’t much better in the way of a man.”

I let him have more water. “Who did this?”

“People of Haxan.”

I tried to give him more water but he shook it off. He was dying and he knew it. He didn’t want to prolong the process.

“Why?”

“They’re scared. Like children are scared of the dark.”

He was delirious and not making sense. “Scared of what?”

“Me. What I know about this place.” His words and his mind grew distant together. “The ghost voices frozen in the rocks and the grass, the water and the sky. The memory of the world carried high on the wind.”

His head dropped onto his naked chest. He was losing strength fast. I tried to give him water again but he wouldn’t take it.

“What’s your name, mister?” he asked in a hoarse whisper.

“John Marwood.” I had other names, but he wouldn’t be able to pronounce them. Sometimes I couldn’t remember them all.

“I waited for you, son,” he said. “I called . . . but you didn’t get here fast enough. This moment . . . in time.”

I felt showered with ice.

“So you help her instead, Marwood. My daughter, I mean.”

“Let me help you first, old man. My horse can carry us both.”

“Thank you for the water. At least you tried.” His head rolled back. His breath sawed in his throat. “Did I tell you it snowed the day she was born?”

He gave a long, trembling sigh. With a sudden jerk his body slumped forward.

He was dead.

I cut him down and buried him in the shade of the hackberry tree. The sky was purpling in the east when I placed the last stone on top of his grave.

An hour of daylight remained. Across the empty landscape a single mourning dove flew to water. I walked over the hard ground looking for tracks. Two single-rider horses, well shod, and a wagon, had come from the north and gone back that way.

Headed for town.

The stirrup leather creaked when I mounted up. It was the only sound in the desert and it carried like a scream.

I shook the reins in my hand and pulled toward Haxan.

…………………

If you are interested in purchasing the novel then please check out these sites. The book should also start appearing in brick and mortar bookstores soon. If you don’t see it, ask for it!

 

Kindle Edition (Amazon):  http://www.amazon.com/Haxan-Kenneth-Mark-Hoover-ebook/dp/B00HCHCLUQ/?tag=westeros-20

Paperback edition:  http://www.amazon.com/Haxan-Kenneth-Mark-Hoover/dp/1771481757/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Apple iBook (iTunes): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/haxan/id784425699?mt=11

Google (Play): http://books.google.ca/books?id=60iYAgAAQBAJ

Barnes & Noble (Nook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/haxan-kenneth-mark-hoover/1117715955?ean=9781771481755

ChiZine Publication: http://chizinepub.com/books/haxan

 

 

My Brand New Novel HAXAN is Launched!

My brand new dark western Haxan is being released by CZP today. Here are places you can order the novel, either e-book or print. Or if you are venturesome, do both!

I really hope you like the story, and I hope you tell people about it.

Thanks!

–KMH

 

Kindle Edition (Amazon):  http://www.amazon.com/Haxan-Kenneth-Mark-Hoover-ebook/dp/B00HCHCLUQ/?tag=westeros-20

Paperback edition:  http://www.amazon.com/Haxan-Kenneth-Mark-Hoover/dp/1771481757/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Apple iBook (iTunes): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/haxan/id784425699?mt=11

Google (Play): http://books.google.ca/books?id=60iYAgAAQBAJ

Barnes & Noble (Nook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/haxan-kenneth-mark-hoover/1117715955?ean=9781771481755

ChiZine Publication: http://chizinepub.com/books/haxan

 

And for fun, here is a cool Haxan* bookmark created by Reece Notley you can slap on your website. That way, when the Eternals of Haxan night-walk you (and they will), you will be protected.

Unless you want to be taken from a place you call home, and forced to stand against that which must be faced….

 

haxan_banner

 

*Tomorrow, an excerpt from Haxan because why not?

Pre-order Information for My New Novel HAXAN

Thermopylae. Masada. Agincourt.

And now, Haxan, New Mexico.

We go where we’re sent. We have names and we stand against that which must be faced.

Through a sea of time and dust, in places that might never be, or can’t become until something is set right, there are people destined to travel. Forever.

I am one.

—Marshal John T. Marwood

 

Here are the sites where you can pre-order my new novel Haxan published by CZP. Haxan will be launched on June 17, 2014. Hope you like it!

 

Kindle Edition (Amazon):  http://www.amazon.com/Haxan-Kenneth-Mark-Hoover-ebook/dp/B00HCHCLUQ/?tag=westeros-20

Paperback edition:  http://www.amazon.com/Haxan-Kenneth-Mark-Hoover/dp/1771481757/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Apple iBook (iTunes): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/haxan/id784425699?mt=11

Google (Play): http://books.google.ca/books?id=60iYAgAAQBAJ

Barnes & Noble (Nook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/haxan-kenneth-mark-hoover/1117715955?ean=9781771481755

ChiZine Publication: http://chizinepub.com/books/haxan

 

My new novel Haxan slated for publication by CZP on June 17, 2014

Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover, published by CZP

Valkyrie Artwork as Reflection for “Remember Me in the Halls of Valhalla”

When I was working on a story entitled “Remember Me in the Halls of Valhalla” I wanted to portray the Valkyries as true death-maidens rather than generic (and cliched) fantasy figures.

In my search I landed upon some artwork on the Internet. Just wanted to share some of them with you here. I never used them as inspiration. I already had that. But I looked at them closely after I had written the story to see if I could find inklings of that fierce death-maiden aspect I was going for.

Ride of the Valkyries by Miss Velance

Ride of the Valkyries by Miss Velance

 

Valkyrie by Avery Annarose

Valkyrie by Avery Annarose

 

The Dises by Hardy

The Dises by Hardy

 

Re9x1rue7czo1_1280

 

 

 

I have no credit for this last image, but it brought to mind the tone and darker atmosphere I was searching for in the story.

My Schedule for ArmadilloCon 36, Austin, TX, July 25-27

Here’s the latest attending schedule for my upcoming appearance at ArmadilloCon 36. Come see me in action!

 

Twin Paradox Fri 5:00 PM-6:00 PM Conference Center Gibbons.

A discussion of the twin paradox and how it affects the world today.

 

Space Westerns Sat 1:00 PM-2:00 PM Room F Crider.

Why are Westerns so good in space?

 

Reading Sat 9:00 PM-10:00 PM Southpark A

(I will do a reading from my new novel, Haxan)

 

13 Assassinations Sat 11:00 PM-Midnight Room E de Orive.

Does martial arts have a place in fiction?

 

Looks like this schedule is going to be a lot of fun.  Come see me. If you can’t find me, try the bar! –KMH

The Eyes of the Valkyrie

Several days ago I finished my new Haxan short story “Remember Me in the Halls of Valhalla” and I think it came out okay.

Eyes of a Valkyrie

Eyes of a Valkyrie

I had a scene where I wanted to show these Valkyries were unlike the common blonde-haired, blue-eyed fantasy figures you often see. These were more like true death-maidens (though still beautiful) which is how they are portrayed in the Elder Edda, and other ancient sources.

In one paragraph I had the chieftain. Kara Wind-Travel, looking over the iron rim of her shield at Marwood as she recognized who (and what) he really was.

So I needed a pair of eyes.

Writers always steal body parts from other people. It’s a not-so secret thing we do. Truth is, most people never see themselves in fiction anyway, because as you write you tend to change other parts as well. Hence, the organic process that is writing…and most art in general.

But I really needed a startling pair of eyes to get me to bring out a very important part of the chieftain’s fierce character, and her emotion.

So I contacted a friend and asked if I could borrow her eyes for the story. She said yes, and the rest is history.

You know, sometimes being a writer is really pretty damn cool. You can make people kind of happy by doing what you do, and get a good story in the process.

But more importantly, you just kind of make your friends happy.  :)

My New Haxan Story, “Talitha Koum” Published by Frontier Tales

Big breaking news day on the writing front!

I also have a brand new Haxan story “Talitha Koum” which has just been published in Frontier Tales Magazine. Click the link to read it, and please vote for my story!

This is a different kind of story in the Haxan mythos. In this one Magra Snowberry discovers a terrifying truth about her past…or is it a lie? And Marwood finally asks her to marry him!

But can anyone find what they are looking for in the town of Haxan when a dark mystery from the past comes in on the night train, carrying not a gun, but the truth in his pocket?

Read and find out!

“TALITHA KOUM”

 

Writer in Progress, HAXAN, by Kenneth Mark Hoover, hosted by Darke Conteur

Darke_Conteur

Darke Conteur

Darke Conteur has a big blog post on her website about my upcoming book Haxan, including links, blurbs, and places you can purchase the novel being published by CZP.

She did a really great job, and this series Writer in Progress is something she does regularly for lots of other really good authors.

 

Please check it out!

 

WRITER IN PROGRESS, HAXAN, by KENNETH MARK HOOVER

Mad Dogs, Lunatics, and Writers

For a long time I’ve been wondering how crazy stupid a person has to be to ever become a writer.the-writer2

Think about it. It’s a very solitary existence. You do most everything by yourself. Writing is very internal. You sit and watch people so you can learn about them. . You do a lot of people watching because at the end of the day you always write about people.

Even if your book is about robots and dragons you are still writing about people and their emotions and how they act.

But the real craziness comes when you realize there is no guarantee an editor or publisher will ever accept your work. You write send your stuff out and you do this over and over again.

That’s crazy.

That’s insane.

And the really inexplicable part is how we keep doing it despite the setbacks and obstacles, and no guarantee we will be published, or make money, or be recognized.

Because if fame is your goal….then you might as well give up because the likelihood is you are going to be disappointed.

But if all you want to do is write….well, that’s sustainable. That’s something to shoot for and be proud of. That’s accepting writing for what it is, and not what you want it to be.

Writing is crazy. It drives us crazy. It’s a damn crazy business.

Sometimes it takes everything I have to focus on this and try and understand what has me gripped in its power.

Reflection on Story Present

I’ve been struggling with my new story “Remember Me in the Halls of Valhalla” for several weeks now.

To put things in perspective I haven’t been writing a lot lately. Personal stuff has roared in and stolen much of my time. It happens. But I have kept this story on the front burner in my mind.

Several nights ago I had a breakthrough on the plot. I usually have a vague idea where I want to go and what direction a story should take. I knew where I wanted to go with this one, but the direction was shaky.

I always believed writing is an organic process. I knew a solution would come. I slept on it and the idea continues to hold up. I need to be careful, though, because the “reveal” which is part of the story could overwhelm everything else.

So I’m going ahead with this idea and see where the remainder of the story lands.

For future projects I’d like to get one or two more short stories written and then move ahead with a summer project I’ve been planning for months now. More on that later. Maybe. Not trying to be a tease, I’m not 100% certain I will tackle it, or that I will have the opportunity.

But I think I will, and the idea excites me enough to see where that story might go. For me, that’s the fun part.

 

Water Reflection

Wake Up Call to Failure

Had my confidence badly shaken this weekend as regards my writing. It worked out in the end, at least I hope so. But it was a wake up call.When a witer doubts his own ability it is the death-watch beetle in the soul.

Dealing with loss of confidence has always been a problem with writing. I tend to skate high above these sorts of things, but when faced with my artistic and technical limitation in such a blatant and shocking way, it takes me aback and I start to doubt my own ability.

I think writers often wrestle with this kind of personal failure. It’s one thing to deal with rejections, missed opportunities, and what not. That’s baked into this profession and if you don’t learn to deal with those setbacks early on you never will find success.

But when the limiting factor is yourself, and when you had no one but yourself to depend on in the first place….it’s shocking.

No one holds myself to a higher standard than myself, especially when it comes to my writing. No one.

My feet still feel as if they are on shifting sand. It was one hell of a wake up call. I think it will be okay at least to the point the problem will be corrected.

But I cannot help but feel I failed myself in some fundamental way.

“I’m your huckleberry.”

In an old writing group we had an ongoing joke you never “arrived” until you wrote an Elvis story. Many members did, I did not. Doc_Holliday

The same sort of thing might be said of westerns, but with Doc Holliday. This consumptive blue-eyed killer continues to generate stories, ideas, and unverifiable legends. I got to thinking. What if Doc Holliday visited Haxan, the one town in New Mexico Territory known as a vicious killing-bottle. Mightn’t he feel at home?

My “Doc Holliday story” was named “Tombstone” and it appeared in 2010 in The Western Online. Later, people got in touch with me and expressed how much they enjoyed it.

Finally, Holliday’s trademark quip has historical backing*, so that’s why I included it in my story.

Just follow the link if you want to take a peek at it! I hope you enjoy it.

 

TOMBSTONE

 

*Much of what we know about Holliday is shaky at best. I think that is what draws him to readers and writers. Aside from the basic facts regarding his life, almost everything else is a tabula rasa.

Doc Holliday in 1879

 

Woo! My New Story “Talitha Koum” to be Published by Frontier Tales in June

My new Haxan story “Talitha Koum” is scheduled to be published by Frontier Tales in June of this year. I am looking forward to this. It’s a “Magra” story more than anything else, and though written from Marwood’s perspective, it’s mostly about her.

We learn more about her early life and especially her mother, Black Sky. I’ve always felt we needed to know more about Magraand this story was that attempt. Also, this is the story in which Marwood pops the question.

So you will have to read it to see how it all ends!

Elsewhere, I went ahead and joined the DFW Writers’ Workshop. I think it will be beneficial.

I’m getting my other ducks in a row and plan to attend several SF/F cons this year. I’ll post schedules and such when I have them.

Thanks for your interest in my writing!

 

Banner designed by Reeve Notley

Banner designed by Reece Notley

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