Jennifer Brozek | July 2014

Tell Me - Kenneth Mark Hoover

by Jennifer Brozek 28. July 2014 13:33

I have to admit, I have a soft spot for the Haxan world by Kenneth Mark Hoover. I love a good weird west tale and Haxan is it. Someday, the worlds of Mowry, AZ and Haxan, AZ will collide and it will be epic.

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HOW I CREATED HAXAN

I fell into writing westerns, and dark fantasy westerns, entirely by accident.

About five years ago I started listening to the Old Time Radio Gunsmoke series. These were created and written by John Meston, a writer who wanted to bring adult sensibilities to the western. He hated what Hollywood had done to the Old West, relying on crude mythology and cliches. He wanted to write adult stories about the men and women of that time in a responsible way, leaving behind more cartoonish aspects which had taken root in the collective mind.

The OTR portrayal of Matt Dillon is very different from the television version. John Meston created Matt Dillon as a man as violent as the men he has goes up against. In fact, in the radio series, Matt Dillon is almost a psychopath who beats men within an inch of their life. Kitty, in the radio series, is a worn-out prostitute, and Doc Adams is a gibbering ghoul intent on collecting autopsy fees.

While listening to these episodes it wasn’t long before I knew I wanted to do something along the same lines. I had no intention before then of writing westerns or using a western setting as a backdrop in my fiction. John Meston, and his work, set the hook in my mind. I feel I owe him a lot.

Around the same time I finished reading the entire comic book run of Jonah Hex. I liked the hard-bitten edge of the character as written by John Albano, and the art of Tony DeZuniga has never been matched, in my opinion.

One afternoon I went outside to sit in the sun and I started making notes. I first had the town as Hex, New Mexico, probably a result of the comic influence. But I quickly changed that to Haxan, which is a Swedish word for “witches” and is the name of an excellent silent horror film from 1922. Just like that I had the entire plot of “Haxan” in my mind.

I started doing research, and to make things a little different leavened dark fantasy in the story. Not a lot. I didn’t want the fantasy to overwhelm the historical aspect at all. I had seen this in other “weird westerns” and frankly, never thought much of it. I didn’t want the West to be another generic (and replaceable) backdrop to my story. I wanted “Haxan” to be about the West, and any dark fantasy present would be included to illuminate that singular aspect.

I must say I have never thought I wrote “weird westerns” although the Haxan stories, and the novel published by CZP, are categorized that way. Being pigeonholed is a crux every writer must bear, and I don’t let it bother me too much. But, to me, your typical weird western is just another cliched story with vampires, werewolves, and the occasional Cthulhu-type monster in a walk-on role. I am a big reader of history and philosophy. I know the most frightening monsters have always been human. So that’s what I set out to write.

I’ve said many times Haxan is my own little dark corner of the universe where I get to play with matches. The setting and the characters lend themselves to many different story styles and genres. But I am always careful to make the West, and its culture, and the men and women of all races who struggled everyday to survive, my central focus. This came home to me in a big way when Jennifer Brozek remarked I should start writing stories about the other people in Haxan rather than concentrate on Marwood. I immediately saw what she was getting at. The whole mythos of Haxan needed to be told, rather than one slice from an individual viewpoint.

I haven’t looked back since. I’ve published about 20 Haxan short stories and more are coming. The novel Haxan was published by CZP earlier this year, and they’ve scheduled the next one, Quaternity, for May 2015. I will begin work on the third Haxan novel, Seven Devils, this fall.

So far I’ve enjoyed writing in the world of Haxan very much. People tell me they like the stories and the characters a lot. But I haven’t done it entirely by myself. I have some very good writers and friends I bounce ideas off to gauge their reaction whether a story idea is worth pursuing.

No writer writes a story entirely by himself. But as of today I am a citizen of Haxan, New Mexico, circa 1874, and I think I am going to stay there for a while.

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Kenneth Mark Hoover has sold over fifty short stories and articles. His first novel, Fevreblau, was published by Five Star Press in 2005. His work has appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons and the anthology Destination: Future. He is a member of SFWA and HWA and currently lives near Dallas, TX. Mr. Hoover can be reached through his website kennethmarkhoover.com where extra content, including character biographies and photographs, can be found regarding the world of Haxan.



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The Writing Life

by Jennifer Brozek 22. July 2014 14:36

My life is boring from the outside. All I can talk about is what I've edited or written. I'm in a groove of work and not much more right now. A number of projects are falling in my lap all at once.

I just finished the final edits of my Shadowrun novella, Doc Wagon 19. It's been officially accepted and all that. I also just turned in Never Let Me Sleep (Permuted Press), the first book of the Melissa Allen series, my YA SF-thriller where I kill a whole state in the first chapter. Today, I'm working on the page proofs of Shattered Shields and I know page proofs for Chicks Dig Gaming are on their way.

Now, I'm shifting to writing-writing-writing. I'm working on Chimera incarnate (Apocalypse Ink Productions), the final book in the Karen Wilson Chronicles. Then I will be all about Never Let Me Leave, which is Melissa Allen #2. I also have 3 short stories due by the end of the year. So, my days will be marked by word counts, revisions, and page proofs. It's boring from the outside but awesome for me. I'm busy but I'm happy.


Still to be released in 2014

  • August, Doc Wagon 19 (Catalyst Game Labs)
  • October, "Dreams of a Thousand Young," Jazz Age Cthulhu (Innsmouth Free Press)
  • November, Shattered Shields  (Baen Books)
  • November, Chicks Dig Gaming  (Mad Norwegian Press)
  • December, "Written in the Wind," No True Way and Other Tales of Valdemar (DAW)
  • December, Apocalypse Girl Dreaming (Evil Girlfriend Media) - Though, this may move to early 2015

 

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I Love New Book Covers

by Jennifer Brozek 15. July 2014 15:51

I have a novelette in this first one, Jazz Age Cthulhu, called "Dreams of a Thousand Young." Pre-orders will start in September and it will be released in October.

I have a new short story in this one, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, called "Written in the Wind." This is my second Valdemar story. Pre-orders are available now and it will be released in December.

 

 

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Vacation

by Jennifer Brozek 7. July 2014 12:20

The Husband decided a couple months back that he wanted to go on a real (not to a convention, not to Sherpa me around, not to try and sell books) vacation. I agreed. Fortunately, with the timing, all the stars aligned and this vacation happened right after I signed a three book deal. (Whoo-hoo!) That meant I could actually relax, too.

We went to Sooke, Canada on Vancouver Island and stayed at Points West (who was quite pleased to host “a real author.” It was wonderful. Exactly what we both needed. We slept in. We had two planned events (Afternoon tea at the Empress and a visit to Royal Roads University) for the entire trip. Everything else was spur of the moment.

We spent one day just driving up the west coast of Vancouver Island from Sooke to Port Renfrew. We came across three amazing, amazing places. You see, beyond being B&B country, it is Artisan country and there are roads signs that say “Artisan” and the name of the artist country. We stopped at a bunch but here were the stand outs.

Aivars Logins, Wood Artist – The sign wasn’t much but I like woodcraft. Man, oh man. If I was rich, Aivars would never be out of work. You have got to see his carvings. Small or large, all of it was amazing. Also, he and his wife live in a 14-sided house that looks a little like a gussied up grain silo. He let me look around it because it was so interesting. We bought a burl cedar bowl so I can stick all my random jewelry in my office in one place.


(Burl bowl and steel feather.)

Foggy Mountain Forge – This place. A working forge with the nicest guys ever. Marty made us a steel feather from a thin rod as he was showing us how everything worked. I also picked up a card holder that won’t walk off and Jeff got a ridiculous mace. Marty, it turns out, is also the fire chief in the area while his son, Justin, who specializes in weapons, is also a volunteer firefighter. Marty’s wife is an EMT. It makes sense. They all know how to deal with fire. I had a blast at this local artist. It’s the kind of place you revisit. And I’m sure some version of the Gilbertson family is going to end up in one of my books.

Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery – Mead! And honey! We met Dana in the tasting room and wow, they make excellent honey. No fooling. We came home with several bottles and honey and some honey-logenberry jam. It was so good. Dana is personable and happy to talk about the meadery. Soon, the place is going to host the only honey / beekeeping museum on the island. The adding ego boost was running into a family from Redmond where the wife said, “I’m so excited to meet a real live author!” It was fun and another brush with being an "obscure celebrity."

Now that I’m home, I feel relaxed and able to meet my work schedule for the rest of the year. Which needs about 1000/day/5 days a week for the next 26 weeks. Doable as long as I’m consistent. Every writer needs a real vacation to refresh the creative well. This was the perfect one for me.

 

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Freelancer Summary June 2014

by Jennifer Brozek 2. July 2014 12:55

Ever wonder what a freelance author/editor does? Each month of 2014, I’m going to list my daily notes on what I do. As I always say, being your own boss means you choose with 70 hours of the week you work. None of this talks about the random pub IMs, time doing research, time reading books for blurbs, introductions, and reviews, or short author questions. It doesn’t cover my pays-the-bills work either. This is just publishing industry stuff. “Answered pub industry email” can be anything from a request for an interview, to contract queries, to reading anthology invites, to answering questions about dates… and the list goes on.

June

 

Sunday

2014.06.01

Answered pub industry email. Blog post.

2014.06.02

Answered pub industry email. AIP blog post. Wrote the Origins Game Fair convention card. Edits on Famished: The Commons. Approved cover art.

2014.06.03

Answered pub industry email. Freelancer summary blog post. Edits on Famished: The Commons.

2014.06.04

Answered pub industry email. A whole lot of Origins Game Fair prep as a dealer and as a panelist.

2014.06.05

Answered pub industry email. Final edits on Apocalypse Girl Dreaming.

2014.06.06

Final edits on Apocalypse Girl Dreaming.

2014.06.07

Answered pub industry email. Final edits on Apocalypse Girl Dreaming.

 

 

Sunday

2014.06.08

Final edits on Apocalypse Girl Dreaming. Pre-pack prep for Origins.

2014.06.09

Answered pub industry email. Final edits on Apocalypse Girl Dreaming. Pre-pack prep for Origins.

2014.06.10

Final edits on Apocalypse Girl Dreaming and emailed to publisher. Pack and travel to Origins Game Fair.

2014.06.11

Origins Game Fair. Dealer table setup. Answered pub industry email.

2014.06.12

Origins Game Fair. Dealer table. Panels.

2014.06.13

Origins Game Fair. Dealer table. Panels.

2014.06.14

Origins Game Fair. Dealer table. Panels.

 

 

Sunday

2014.06.15

Origins Game Fair. Dealer table tear down. Panels. Answered pub industry email.

2014.06.16

Answered pub industry email. Travel home from Origins Game Fair.

2014.06.17

Answered pub industry email. Project expense summary projection on potential project. Invoice client. Pub industry phone call x2. Contract negotiation. Blog Post.

2014.06.18

Answered pub industry email. Blog Post. AIP Blog Post. Noted freelance expenses from Origins. Contract negotiation. Googlegroup management for both AIP and JenniferBrozek.

2014.06.19

Answered pub industry email. Practice reading for live event. Edits on Famished: The Commons.

2014.06.20

Answered pub industry email. Reading at Waywards. Edits on Famished: The Commons.

2014.06.21

Answered pub industry email. Contract negotiation. Edits on Famished: The Commons.

 

 

Sunday

2014.06.22

Finished edits on Famished: The Commons. Pub industry phone call. Back cover copy for Flotsam 1: Exile.

2014.06.23

Editorial reading on The Bringer of War. Invoiced a client.

2014.06.24

Answered pub industry email. Editorial reading on The Bringer of War. Blog announcement of Chicks Dig Gaming.

2014.06.25

Answered pub industry email. Editorial reading on The Bringer of War. Facebook interview.

2014.06.26

Answered pub industry email. Back cover copy for The Bringer of War. Editorial reading on The Bringer of War. Anthology story pitch.

2014.06.27

Editorial reading on The Bringer of War.

2014.06.28

Answered pub industry email. Editorial reading on The Bringer of War. Contract negotiation. Approving new cover art.

 

 

Sunday

2014.06.29

Answered pub industry email. Editorial notes for The Bringer of War. Contract negotiation. Signed and returned Melissa Allen series contract.

2014.06.30

Answered pub industry email. Final polish of Exile: Flotsam 1. Blog announcement of Melissa Allen series sale. AIP Blog announcement of Cross Cutting trilogy acquisition.

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Jennifer Brozek: Writerholic

Jennifer Brozek is a Hugo Award nominated editor and a Bram Stoker nominated author. Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited fifteen anthologies with more on the way, including the acclaimed Chicks Dig Gaming and Shattered Shields anthologies. Author of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, Industry Talk, the Karen Wilson Chronicles, and the acclaimed Melissa Allen series, she has more than sixty-five published short stories, and is the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions.

Jennifer is a freelance author for numerous RPG companies. Winner of the Scribe, Origins, and ENnie awards, her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity, Savage Worlds, and White Wolf SAS. Jennifer is the author of the YA Battletech novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, and the Shadowrun novella, Doc Wagon 19. She has also written for the AAA MMO Aion and the award winning videogame, Shadowrun Returns.

When she is not writing her heart out, she is gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest in its wonderfully mercurial weather. Jennifer is a Director-at-Large of SFWA, and an active member HWA and IAMTW. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniferBrozek.