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.  🙂

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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

“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

Finally Wrote Something New!

This weekend I wrote a book review and sent it off to an online magazine for approval. It was the first new thing I have written since last Ian FlemingNovember.

I’ve worked on edits and rewrites for Haxan and Quaternity at the request of CZP and that went pretty well. So it’s not like I have been completely fallow. But getting something else done, writing something new even if it was a book review….well, dipping my toe back into that water felt pretty good.

Got back from the Texas Library Association meeting in San Antonio this weekend as well. I made good contacts and have followups to pursue. I’m optimistic many of them will turn out well for me. Doing stuff like that keeps my mind off other things going on in my life right now.

At the moment, given how things are, I will take what I can get.

A Personal Writing Note on Future Projects

Now that life have settled down (somewhat) I am starting to turn my attention to a new writing project.making decisions for writing is sometimes difficult, but necessary

I’m debating which direction to explore. I think another novel is the right way to go. Novels work harder than short stories in the long run. But with Haxan coming out in May from CZP/HarperCollins I have to keep in mind some basic marketing stuff.

It would benefit me to get a short story or two out there before the novel launches to help generate interest.

I haven’t written anything new since November of last year. A lot of personal things have happened, and in the face of that I haven’t felt writing was a top priority when I had so much else to deal with.

Sometimes a writer has to force himself to write whether he wants or not. I think that’s the situation I am in now. I know it will help me both professionally and therapeutically.

Of course, knowing you have to do something is different from actually doing it. But I need to try and focus on what’s coming up despite any personal turbulence that goes on around me.

 

 

I’m attending the Texas Library Association for CZP Haxan promos!

Wow, this was unexpected but great news. I will be attending the Texas Library Association conference in San Antonio on April 8 and doing Haxan promos for CZP. I will be at the Diamond Book Distributors booth, probably handing out Haxan postcards or something and talking to people.

CZP is also thinking if they download Haxan from NetGalley to read and review it, we can also send them the 1st three chapters of a future novel. Something like that to give them an incentive, maybe. Details are still being worked out but count me on board for this project.

The TLA is a pretty big deal. It influences what other state libraries buy. We are also hoping since I am a local author the librarians will order lots of copies of this violent, dark fantasy western.

I’m looking forward to this trip. I’m excited about the prospect of representing CZP at this conference and I want to do a good job for them.

Just as a quick aside, there is an existing link for the Haxan Kindle edition. The Haxan paperback can be ordered here.

The novel is coming out in May, 2014.

Here are some longhorns to get you in the mood:

Longhorn cattle drive, Stockyards, Fort Worth, TX

Longhorn cattle drive, Stockyards, Fort Worth, TX

Wow, my novel HAXAN is up for preorder by CZP/HarperCollins (plus a shout out)

All right, this is pretty cool. CZP/HarperCollins already has my upcoming dark fantasy novel Haxan up for preorder on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. Thanks!

Haxan Preorder Page

And another cool thing that happened. My novel was listed (with many other upcoming novels to be sure) on the Westeros.org site. Now that right there made my week because they didn’t have to do it:

Westeros.org List of Upcoming 2014 Novels

Finally, a writer friend of mine, John Zeleznik name dropped me in the Westeros thread. Thanks, John! So, all things considered, it appears we are inching closer to the May launch date for Haxan. Looking forward to it.

Cover Reveal! My New Haxan Novel Coming Soon!

Yay! My new weird western novel Haxan will be published by CZP in May, 2014. Here’s a peek of the cover designed by Erik Mohr.

 

My new novel Haxan slated for publication by CZP in May, 2014!

I am currently getting events lined up to attend and talk about the novel. I have been invited to ArmadilloCon in Austin for July 25-27. When I get a schedule of my panels and events I’ll share it here and on Facebook. Thanks!

Quaternity and Haxan Update

Still have some personal things on my plate which take precedence over everything else, but I wanted to catch you up on my

Busy writer is busy.

Busy writer is busy.

writing so far.

I finished the second draft of Quaternity and sent it to the publisher for review. I thought they had a lot of really good advice for me and I believe the novel is that much stronger for it. I feel I am lucky they took the time to critique it at this depth and commit so much time to it. They didn’t have to do that.

I added about 3,000 words to the original manuscript and now it runs about 78,000 total. Fleshed out some characters and brought Marwood more to the forefront in key scenes where he was something of a background character. I’m happy with how things have progressed regarding this novel. If you’ve been following this blog you know how much trouble I had with this book until the flood gates opened and I wrote the entire novel in 19 days. Pretty crazy, but I still view this novel as the best thing I have ever done. I raised the bar on myself a lot with this book and I was glad I met my goals.

I’ve also got news in the upcoming days regarding the novel Haxan which will be published by CZP in May of this year. Please, keep checking back.

Thanks!

The Writing Log Jam is Finally Breaking Apart

I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough on the short story I’m working on. It’s called “Remember Me in the Halls of Valhalla”. I started this story at writer-smoking-pipe.jpgthe last WorldCon in San Antonio.

I knew if I thought about it long enough, and talked to a couple of writers and bounced some ideas, something would come to me. I think I see a way out. I like the direction that is starting to take shape in my mind for this story. I’m kind of eager to see how it will all turn out, assuming I sit myself down and actually write it.. I’ve also had a helpful idea or two regarding the hobo novel which I put aside. I am hoping these log jams are starting to break up and I can start producing work again.

In other writing news I heard from CZP and sent them some marketing stuff for the upcoming Haxan novel which will be published next year. I had a good time working on that because it got me to thinking about the novel again, which I haven’t done much lately. I have  a tendency to put a story behind me completely when I’m finished with it because my whole process is “Start writing the next one.”

Everything else being equal (which it never is) I’m okay with where my writing is at the moment. I’d really like to finish this particular short story, though, because I want to find something else to work on.

Short stories are fine in the interim. But I want a bigger project to occupy my time.

A Study in Character Motivation Revealed through Style and Voice: “The Bruja and the Ferryman”

Not too long ago I learned I had an upcoming Haxan story in which I used voice and style to reveal character motivation which would be published. I even blogged about it.

Well, that dark fantasy story is now live at Frontier Tales and you can read it for free. The story is about Magra Snowberry who is trying to get home. She runs into a strange ferryman and three apocalyptic horsemen who are looking for a fourth rider.

I ask you, what better way to get your morning started than some Old West necromancy?

I tried to do other things in this story, including the use of vernacular and dialect. Like anything else in fiction a little of this goes a long way, so I used it sparingly.  I believe this gives it impact without making it too difficult to read, but that’s for the reader to decide.

I really do hope you take a look at the story and I hope you like it. Thanks!

“The Bruja and the Ferryman” by Kenneth Mark Hoover

New Haxan Story “The Weight of Memory”

While I was attending Lone Star Con last week someone asked me if I wrote the Haxan stories in chronological order.

I had to admit I did not. I write the stories as they come to me. Sometimes they might be in order, often not. I usually have some idea, however, where they fit along the timeline. Though not always.

This brand new story which has been published by The Western Online is a story which appears at the beginning of the that timeline. It presages the appearance of Marwood, and gives some idea of the ancient lineage of the Eternals and those who are chosen to stand.

A nice dark fantasy to get your morning started. What better way to start the day? Just click the link below and read for free. Hope you like it.

“The Weight of Memory” by Kenneth Mark Hoover

 

My New Story Coming from Frontier Tales, and a Discussion of Character Motivation Revealed by Voice and Style

Frontier Tales has accepted a new Haxan story from me. It will appear in September. Magra Snowberry must get home to find the man she loves. Standing in her way are four horsemen.The title is as yet undecided.

I’m really excited about this story for many reasons. It features Magra Snowberry and tells the story how she tries to get home to the man she loves. Standing in her way are four peculiar horsemen, and a ferryman who tries to help her.

I wrote this some months after I finished the Haxan prequel Quaternity. Some of the stylistic language is similar, along with a decidedly literary bent. I did this for a purpose. I no longer write stories only to transcribe action. I now try to write for the ear as well. I write for the voice.

How a story sounds is just as important to me as how it reads. I wasn’t always that way. But I am fully wedded to that philosophical idea today. I think the Rubicon I crossed was with the short story “Fishing the Styx” because in that tale I went far the other direction from a simple retelling of action.

I do this because I have never viewed my role as a fiction writer coupled with that as a stenographer. Right or wrong, I view my role as a writer more important than that. I view fiction as more important than that. Of course, I always try to be careful to avoid pretension. Stories that rely on that dynamic alone always collapse under their own weight. So it’s a balancing process…and one I admit I have yet to master.

But I think I’m getting there.

While I like the story as is, it remains for the reader to decide for himself whether my stylistic choices, and my philosophical choices, work.

I tend to like stories that take chances and I took a few here. I hope you like them.

Magra Snowberry has always been a character who intrigues me in a very different way than, say, Marwood. John Marwood brings his own identity to each and every story. But I have always thought Magra was more malleable. Not in a sense of weakness. Her malleability comes with her innate ability to adapt.

Magra is more philosophically fluid, if that makes sense, than Marwood. Or, perhaps, anyone else around her.

Also, when push comes to shove, she’s as willing to take the long red road of violence to achieve her ends as Marwood. I think the difference between her and Marwood is he sometimes tries to couch his actions within the framework of the law. He’s not always successful.

Magra, on the other hand, isn’t so wedded to thoughts of justice or the arc of law. She’s not more nihilistic than Marwood. She’s more practical.

She’d rather be left alone. But if you keep getting in her way there’s going to be pain involved.

A lot of pain.

It’s very easy to write about Marwood. You always know how he’s going to jump. I don’t necessarily view this as a point of strength. I’ve had characters say in several stories that Marwood never changes. “The west is changing, but you stay the same.”

It’s not a compliment. It’s an indictment of his lifestyle. It’s a warning to him (and people like him)  a rigid worldview is not going to hold up to the pressing arc of history.  Other people see this. He can’t. He never can. At the moment it’s his strength. But he’s not stupid. He realizes the inability to change or adapt will, one day, prove disastrous.

Simply put, Marwood is unable to learn from the history he has lived. He doesn’t look back and he doesn’t look forward. He is trapped in the now.  He is trapped by Fate.

Magra, on the other hand, views life and death in longer terms. This comes from her ability to night-walk along with her powers as a bruja.

She is not trapped or limited by Fate. She weaves Fate.

When I first started writing these stories Magra didn’t have the elevated position she now holds. I think in some of the very early stories she comes across as the damsel in distress. I changed that forever with the story “Vengeance is Mine” published in the anthology Beauty Has Her Way.

I originally wrote that story from Marwood’s perspective, but the editor, Jennifer Brozek, made me see the story would be more powerful and possess more emotional resonance if viewed from Magra’s perspective. This made me take a long and serious look at Magra and forced me to elevate her place in the pantheon of Haxan characters. Who, for the most part, tend to be broken and flawed people trying to survive in  a violent world.

Magra was always important, of course, and especially strong-willed. But now she had to take those characteristics and apply them in a way that would make the fiction interesting and memorable.

Magra came into her own in the short story “Vengeance is Mine” and she’s never turned back. I’m pretty happy about that because it makes her a viable character with her own stories to tell.

This new story is a continuation of that. When the story comes out I’ll link it here on the blog for you.

Hope you like it. 🙂

In an upcoming story Magra Snowberry meets four horsemen. This can't end well.

“One Life Between Earth and Sky” published by The Western Online!

Hooray! My new Haxan story “One Life Between Earth and Sky” has just been published by The Western Online.Writing is always a bit hazy. It took me over a year to find the crux of this story and bring it to light.

This story is only 1500-words long and it took me over a year to write. This dovetails perfectly with Stephe Thornton, another of my writing friends, who tweeted yesterday whether quality or quantity is more important. I said quality without a doubt, and she thanked me.

It’s not for me to speak to the quality of this particular story. It’s not “better” because it took over a year to write. It took me a year because the story wasn’t ready to be written when I started it. Writing is like that sometimes, at least for me.

Anyway, this is a nice way to start the long weekend. Here’s the link to the story, and I hope you like it.

 

ONE LIFE BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY

 

 

 

 

Life in the Rear View Mirror

I guess there comes a point in your life when you are farther along past the middle, and closer to the end, than you are to the beginning.

I’ve been reflective of late. Not necessarily a bad thing, nor is it depression related. It’s just a point in my life when I am hearing about friends who are dying or going through bad things and of course that gets you to thinking.

But when I relate this to my writing I see there is a lot I want to do and accomplish. I have finished two new Haxan short stories and now I can start turning attention to a brand new novel.

This is happening, however, in the context of looking at my writing in a rear view mirror. I look at what I have done so far and, yes, I am happy with that. But I am not satisfied.

I think that is a positive thing. Because I am not satisfied there is still more I want to do and prove to myself as a writer.

I feel I am in a good position right now, as far as my writing goes. Of course, I have been doing this long enough to know the other shoe can drop at anytime and there’s nothing anyone can do. There are no guarantees in life, and ever fewer (as in zero) when it comes to writing.

But I’m going to keep doing it and see what happens.

Looking for Stories in all the Right Places

I started a brand new Haxan short story yesterday called “Talitha Koum” and so far I am making decent progress. It’s taking time, but the story is shaping up and I am beginning to see what it is really about.

It’s funny. I was looking through some old files and saw the notes and stuff for this story. I had forgotten I had this lying around! I think this is a good example of something I do which I urge other writers to do.

When you are finished with a story, or when it is not working for you, put it aside, forget about it, and move on to the next story.

This is something I am really good at. Maybe to my own detriment. If you pressed me to name all the stories I have published I probably couldn’t do it.* I know I couldn’t name all the stories I have written, both published and non-published. I was in a superb writing group in Mississippi and the members knew I had this policy to forget a story and put it away and always move on to the next one. One of the members asked me about one of my old stories he had read and I couldn’t remember the name of the story!

I wrote it, and I couldn’t remember it at all! He laughed and said, “It really is true, you don’t bother to remember what you did. You are always looking ahead.”

That has always been my philosophy when it comes to writing. When you finish a story you are finished. Why should you dwell on that when there are new stories waiting to be written?

This has gotten me into trouble a time or two. Sometimes at conventions an editor or writer will ask a general question about my work and I’ll stand there with a dumb and vacant look on my face. Oh, well, I’m not going to change. This old dog isn’t willing to learn that trick. I really do believe a writer always needs to be looking ahead and not obsessing over the past.

On the other hand there are stories that have been with me for decades. Usually these are stories I have had trouble writing but haven’t entirely given up on. We all have stories like that, I think. I don’t know. Maybe it depends on the person. I know I am very lucky as a writer and have had more stories published than I ever expected. I am not done yet, however. I am very grateful for the stories I have published…but it’s the stories I have not been able to work, or the stories that didn’t work, or the stories that didn’t come together that stick with me more.

I know, it’s crazy. I’m a crazy writer. But this time my philosophy of forgetting stories worked out rather well when I found the notes for it. It was like a brand new idea, and because so much time has passed I am able to look at it with entirely fresh eyes.

So that’s what I am working on right now, a couple of short stories. I still plan to delve into the Great American Hobo novel this summer. I am looking forward to that!

 

*But then again that’s why we writers maintain bibliographies, haha.

 

Finished the Novel and Synopsis. Yay!

I finished the synopsis for Quaternity and have sent the manuscript and everything else off.

I did it, guys, I finished it! What a long journey this has been. I feel I wrote the novel I wanted to write and told the story I wanted to tell.

It wasn’t like anything else I have tried before, but I honestly feel I was successful in reaching my goals to tell the story I wanted.

Welp. Now what?

Time to think about the next project I will be working on, of course…. 🙂

 

 

 

Coasting Downhill

I finished reading my new novel Quaternity aloud.

This exercise was very helpful. Not only because I found some little mistakes, but I found places where it didn’t “sound” right. So I made the appropriate changes.

Truman Capote once said he wrote for the ear. There’s some truth in that, I think. Hearing the words read aloud brings the story into a new perspective for me. I’ve done this with parts of short stories, paragraphs, scenes. Never the entire novel. But this was something I decided to do a long time ago when and if I ever finished writing the novel.

I felt it was something necessary because I knew from the outset this would be a difficult novel to write. Since that was the case I figured I would have to go an extra mile to make sure it “sounded” right to the ear.

And, from what I can tell, it does.

All I have left is to write the synopsis and send it in to the publishers. Then I will read through the novel one last time, but that shouldn’t take long at all. It’s all downhill from here.

Whew!

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