Monday, February 21, 2011

Hump Day is Haugen Day Link-o-Rama

Some writing I found interesting this week, and think you might too ...

Kaija Swisher writes about outlaw murderer George Sitts in this Black Hills Pioneer story. I remember my dad telling me the headline in the next day's Argus Leader after the execution said: "Sitts sits"

Kevin Woster of the RC Journal recalls one of his father's former farm-hands from the Lyman County days.

The Argus Leader's John Hult is waiting for his toddler to grow up and explain herself. FYI, John was also editor of the Tea & Harrisburg Champion for a while after I sold it to Gannett.

Jim Kent of Hot Springs writes a column for the RC Journal and this week puts his faith in a hand shake.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The word from L.A. is ...

"Up to about page 50. I like it. The voice rings true. Captures South Dakota. Interested to see how it goes, but have to go out now. I like the voice in his head. Interesting."

MH adds: Thanks, but unless you're going to a Lakers game, there's no excuse to stop reading and "go out."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Breaking: Joshua now at Diesel bookstore

Diesel gives you instant access to over 2.4 million e-books from hundreds of publishers including Harlequin, HarperCollins, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Smashwords.

Now count Joshua's Ladder among them!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The story behind, and of, Joshua's Ladder

Before I started writing Joshua’s Ladder, I’d made several attempts to write a novel, but somewhere along the line they always seemed to fizzle out for one reason or another. Then, Ernest Hemmingway changed all that.

I like to mix up my usual fictional reading habits of Koontz-Sandford-Westlake-Patterson with an occasional classic, just to cleanse the palate. Since my dad was a former English/literature teacher, I still have a good library of the oldies he left behind. One night I decided to read The Sun Also Rises. I had read it in high school, but now that it wasn’t dreaded homework and I had a few more years under my belt, I read it with a new appreciation.

I was struck by the simple setting, much of it in a cafe, and the dialogue. After reading it, I realized I didn’t need to write a who-dunnit or need unsolved murders and psychotic killers to write a decent book. That new direction clicked in my head and seemed to free me up to just write a good story, have some interesting characters with interesting problems, but not problems so out of the norm that a reader couldn’t connect with them.

Now, looking back in my journal, the “idea” I wrote down for a possible novel was “guy walks along Main Street of his hometown and reminisces.” That in and of itself sounds pretty boring, but it took off from there and I’m confident you won’t find Joshua’s Ladder boring.

It does indeed start with Joshua walking down Main Street in Spearfish during one of his twice-a-year visits to town, coming down from his cabin in the Black Hills where he has retreated and lived for 10 years after two life-altering events. A decade previous, his parents and twin brother were killed in a car accident, shortly after Joshua had cancelled the wedding to his high school sweetheart. He sought solace in the Hills with his two dogs and lots of booze.

On this particular visit to town, he finds that most of his old best friends have finally thrown in the towel on him and any hopes that he might return to the Joshua of old. This revelation annoys and awakens him. He decides to start over somewhere else. He heads to Florida.

In Cocoa Beach his life takes a lively turn. He falls in love with a beautiful astronaut, befriends an elderly Haitian immigrant and two gregarious, gay triathletes. Following a whirlwind romance and engagement, his fiance takes off, literally, and commands a space shuttle mission; during which Joshua and his new buddies are charged with organizing the wedding to be held in South Dakota.

It is back in Spearfish where his old friends meet his new friends. With only a revitalized Joshua as a common denominator, they hit it off well and rejoice that Joshua has finally found the happiness that has eluded him for over a decade.

Now, all he needs is for his fiance to arrive.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Whatcha gonna find here?

Well, for starters, you will find well-written headlines like on this post.

But if that's not enough to grab you, this is going to be a place for the writings of Mark Haugen - thus the name of the blog. Clever, huh?

Six years ago I pulled up my East River roots and ventured to the Black Hills, where I live with my family in relative seclusion outside of Rapid City - within spitting distance of Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore and Hermosa, my new favorite hamlet in South Dakota.

As my previous life was spent primarily in the newspaper business, I still consider writing to be my career, and that's what has filled my late nights in the foothills. But as opposed to journalism, where I generally tried to stick to the facts, now I can just make stuff up. And in an area where the jackalopes run wild and snipe fly free, it seems I'm pretty good at that.

Such as it is, I've filled up plenty of notebooks and megabytes that I just feel the need to empty onto someone. My first novel, Joshua's Ladder, has been published in ebook form by It is available for download there and will soon be available on Amazon, B&N, Apple and all the ebook sites that matter. A paperback edition should be available later this spring.

I've also finished a couple other slightly shorter novels. They will be released in due time. Also be looking for some short stories - my favorites are a serious of six or seven that feature a dude who picks up hitchhikers. There are plenty others were those came from too.

I think what you will find is that I am not a writer who fits into any genre, which is fine with me but it's not the way of the world if you want to be the next John Grisham, Dean Koontz or James Patterson. So I guess I'll just have to settle for being the next Mark Haugen, with my you-never-know-what-you-will-get-next style.

I'll also post articles and writings of other South Dakota writers I find, plus maybe some random thoughts of my own, if I ever have any. For the most part, though, it's going to be all South Dakota, all the time, because I really like this place.

See ya around the 'puter.