Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Finished: Lee Child's 'A Wanted Man'

You can't go wrong with a Jack Reacher novel. It's as simple as that. This is the 17th novel in the series.

Even one of the lesser ones, like I consider this one, is better than most other books. Kind of like the old saying that a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work.

I also enjoyed the short story added at the end called "Deep Down" which takes us back to Jack Reacher in the Army. Pretty cool. You see more authors doing that, adding little extra's and P.S.s, like  a certain author of the novel "Runaway Trane" did as well.

According to Goodreads:
All Reacher wanted was a ride to Virginia. All he did was stick out his thumb. But he soon discovers he has hitched more than a ride. He has tied himself to a massive conspiracy that makes him a threat— to both sides at once.
Goodreads readers give it 3.96 out of 5. Amazon a 4 of 5. The Haugenometer hits it at a 6+.

And remember Reacher's rule: When in doubt, turn left.

Monday, April 20, 2015


If you are a fan of The Vikings television series on History Channel, you know that King Ragnar has infuriated many of his pagan followers by recently getting baptized into Christianity.

Well, here's the opposite happening now in Iceland.
The degree of religiosity among the (pagan) church’s denizens, however, is a matter of debate. “I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, a high priest of the Norse god religious church, Asatruarfelagio, told Reuters. “We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”
** The AP says, playwright Tom Stoppard said he will accept PEN's highest award next month in New York to help put a spotlight on a "frightening time" for free expression.

** So if you combine Air Force veteran, Playboy model and goofs walking on the U.S. flag, you'll get this story.

** Because I'm a murder mystery, crime lit, mass murderer aficionado, I found this little tidbit interesting and troubling.
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.
** Stumbled across this website and think I'm going to like it. A lot.
Dallas Mildenhall used obscure science to crack cases all over the world. Then a murder took place in his own backyard.
** Odds are your kid is going to be okay.
Kids are dying less often. They’re getting hit by cars less often. And they’re going missing less frequently, too. The likelihood of any of these scenarios is both historically low and infinitesimally small.
** So, writer Frederic Morton has died at age 90. Morton wrote 12 books including "The Rothschilds" and "A Nervous Splendor," both of them National Book Award finalists. Here's his brief, but interesting, Wiki page.

** Baseball fans, check it out: Fastballs, fastballs, fastballs.

** And, yeah, this will knock your socks off.

** And, just so you know you're not alone, thinking you're the only loser who reads this goofy blog, it went over 1,000 views in the last 30 days. That's a new record. Yeah, Drudge isn't trembling, but sometimes it's comforting to know there are others who suffer from your same malady. A misery loves company kid of thing. Carry on.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Get smashed

If you are an avid reader of the e-book variety, one of the cooler websites out there is It's filled with books from independent authors, many of whom have gone on to be best-sellers, as well as other shlubs like me.

There's no registration cost, tons of variety and you don't get those annoying emails filling up your mailbox every week. So far they have over 350,000 books published, with over 50,000 of them free.

They run the gamut from “how to” books on business to compilations of poetry to vampire erotica and regular old mysteries and romance. The talent level runs the gamut as well, just like at Amazon, with some authors better than others.

As for me, I use it for business and pleasure. I distribute my e-book versions there because of its ease of use, and the fact that they then convert my books and distribute them to Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony and several other book sites and libraries. So in addition to being available for sale on Smashwords, they are made available everywhere else, except Amazon, though you can download it to a Kindle at Smashwords. It distributes in all formats, even just to read on your laptop. Pretty slick, and it's worked well for my needs. Another feature I like is that the author sets the price and gets a much-higher royalty than at the big stores.

I’ve sold hundreds of books there, with almost 4,000 downloads of my e-books and free short stories. So Stephen King and John Grisham aren’t losing sleep about ol’ Haugen cutting into their business, but it’s also not like I threw a party and nobody showed up. Also, that’s just on Smashwords and doesn’t include Amazon and Kindle and direct sales to drunks at the Hermosa Bar.

The site was started by a dude named Mark Coker in 2008. I got on board in 2011. It's well worth checking out and it has a default "safe search" if you don't want to be caught looking at book covers of werewolves in thong bikinis and such. (You don't have that problem with my books ... yet.) And if you want to be able to look at the more risque romance novels, you can turn the safe-search option off, or so I hear. Check it out.

From Wiki:
Coker, a former Silicon Valley publicist, started Smashwords in 2008 with the lofty goal of using technology to democratize publishing - allowing writers to appeal directly to readers without having to deal with gatekeepers such as agents and editors.
In keeping with this mission, Smashwords applies no editorial screening. The only e-books Coker refuses to distribute are ones that contain plagiarism, illegal content or incitement to racism, homophobia or violence.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Meet the band

Here's the cast of characters you'll get to know a whole lot better if you read my new novel Runaway Train:

Bobby Trane - A talented boxer in his youth, he's a fan of paperback Westerns and a devout preacher. But after 10 years serving congregations in Montana, Father Bobby grows frustrated with their inattention and his inability to see any tangible results of his preaching. So he leaves, wants to meet the sinners on their turf and minister to people who might never step foot in a church.

Momma Badlow - Vivian is the queen bee of a Satanic cult that would like to make Buffalo Gap their compound. She's accused of burning churches, welfare fraud, killing dogs and makes a living selling drugs.

B.B. Badlow - Vivian's adult son is addicted to teeth whitening, but that's his only virtue.

Jupiter Badlow - Vivian's beautiful, but nasty, adult daughter is so unBadlow-like in appearance that it's suspected she was stolen at birth. She has "more curves than the Norbeck Scenic Highway" but unfortunately "she was about as well traveled upon."

Tracy Jordan - She moved to Buffalo Gap with her husband and bought the local bar with high hopes of hosting wedding receptions, dances and a nice bar. But then the town went to hell and her teacher husband is doing time for manslaughter after killing a kid in a traffic accident after one beer too many after school.

Mudflap McGee - Semi-retired from a local outlaw motorcycle gang, his home often hosts his brothers. He's old, still chiseled from his year's lifting weights in prison, and drinks enough to help Tracy make her house payment. He's questionable.

Ed Flair - A local rancher, he gets off on the wrong foot with Bobby. He's had a tough go of it, losing his wife to cancer and his daughter gone missing for a year. He suspects kidnapping. Some rain would help his mood too.

Faye Flair - Ed's missing daughter is being held captive with two other girls, cooking meth in an underground bunker for somebody somewhere. She's the glue holding the girls together.

Stanley - Only the greatest dog in the world, with an eerie resemblance to my dog. He's Faye's dog and still waits every day at the end of the driveway for the school bus that never stops anymore. He's hobbled by a blow he took defending her, barely eats, but is nursed back to health by Bobby, and does a mean Lassie impersonation.

Fathers Tyler and Simon - Two priests of opposite personalities, they are on the secret POWA team assigned by the Bishop to find Bobby, the Priest Out Wandering Around. Both coming off tough assignments, one in Iraq, the other on a reservation, they use the POWA duties to wind down; but trying to find Bobby is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But they try, from the oil fields to the Sturgis Rally. He's not helping them unwind.

All these folks interact with some other doozies, and I think you'll enjoy them all.

The paperback version is available now. You can buy it here. You know you want to.

Friday, April 3, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: 'Runaway Trane' available today!

Here ya go, just birthed my fourth novel, Runaway Trane, and it's available now in paperback at Amazon.

The book is 370 pages, but don't let the length scare you because it contains two novels. More bang for your 13 bucks and change! As I can't seem to do anything the normal way, let me explain. The newbie, Runaway Trane, is about 39,000 words (170 pages). It is followed by Zoo Falls, about 41,000 words (190 pages), which had only been available in e-book form the last couple years. Some of my friends in the timber industry here complained that it wasn't in the dead-tree format, so I included it in this book; because I always try to make the customer happy, especially when they are bigger and hairier than me. (As proof I'm not the only goofball to do things this way, I'm currently reading a paperback "Three Famous Short Novels" by William Faulkner. If it's good enough for Bill, it's good enough for me.

So as of today, Runaway Trane is available only in paperback form and only at Amazon. I will let you know as it becomes available in other outlets.

As for the e-book format, that will be available for pre-order very soon and you will be able to do that at the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords sites for every type of hand-held device you may possibly own. It's good to pre-order and you won't be billed until it downloads on May 9. Why May 9, you ask? Because it's National Train Day, of course! (Even though they spell it wrong).

So here's a bit about Runaway Trane. It won't make you any smarter, but it will make you smile. Buy it now!
Bobby Trane surprises his Montana church one Sunday by not showing up. That's usually not a big deal, except when you're the priest. 
Tired of blank faces, know-it-alls, complainers and cell phones ringing during his sermons, Bobby follows the lead of a mysterious letter he receives and takes off to save the world and meet the sinners on their turf. He is guided to the tiny South Dakota town of Buffalo Gap where sinning is aplenty. With a den of drug-dealing Satanists on one side of town, an outlaw motorcycle gang on the other side, and a pretty, young bar owner trying to make ends meet in the middle, Bobby falls hot on the trail of a local ranch girl who's been missing for almost a year. 
Meanwhile Bobby's boss dispatches the church's secret POWA team that specializes in finding Priests Out Wandering Around. Fathers Tyler and Simon venture into the most sinful places they guess Bobby may have gone. From the oil fields of North Dakota to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally they encounter all kinds of sinners and saviors, but none named Bobby Trane. The POWA duo's search mission turns into a rescue mission as they try to find Bobby before the town (and Bobby) go up in smoke.
While Bobby talks a tough parable, he also packs a mean punch -- just ask the local drug dealers. He vows not to leave Buffalo Gap until the missing girl is reunited with her father and the town with no churches or dogs finally has at least one of each.
Get it here. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The back story on the front cover

I've been intrigued for some time about the value of book covers, especially as I was noodling ideas for my own.

I asked all my book-reading friends and few, if any, ever bought a book because of it's cover. Sure, you might pass on one if it was totally unprofessional, done in crayon, or smeared with fish blood. We have our standards.

But most buy their books based on recommendations from friends, a snappy summary on the back cover or inside jacket, or they buy one because it's the latest effort by one of their favorite authors.

What I've been wanting to do for a long time is to make book covers look like old album covers or CDs. They seem to have fewer rules, especially my man Prince. He's as unconventional as they come and inventive in his covers and even in the distribution of his music.

So one day a few years back I ran across an album by the Black Keys and it was so cool and weird and dumb that I said to myself: "Self, you need to steal this idea for your next book cover." So I did, as you'll see.

Of course, I had my doubts about going against conventional wisdom. As the title of my soon-to-be-released book is "Runaway Trane" (a play of words off the main character's name, Bobby Trane), I scrolled through image catalogs of trains, railroad road tracks, cabooses, train crossing signs, nice scenic photos of trains rolling through the countryside, smoke stacks belching CO2 next to pretty trees, pretty much anything train related. I saved a couple possibilities, kept coming back to them and kept belching at them myself and decided to stick with my first gut feeling. That gut feeling being the album-cover take-off.

I ran it by a couple people, with mixed results. Decided adults are boring, I ran it by the cool kids. I showed it to my 17-year-old boy. He started to laugh, but then stifled it as it dawned on him that it might not be the reaction I was looking for. But it WAS. So that cemented my decision, sent it to my designer, and she fiddled with it, even though it was so simplistic it probably was something she learned in kindergarten Photoshop class.

Then last week Harper Lee released the cover of her much ballyhooed new novel. And guess what it it is: A train traveling down railroad tracks by a big oak tree. Not that anyone would've ever confused Harper Lee with Mark Haugen, but I did think it would look pretty stupid if I came out two weeks later with a train on the tracks going past a tree. "Real clever, Haugen," I could hear all three of my fans saying.

So I sent a note to graphic designer Hayley, told her about the Harper Lee cover, and said how glad I was we didn't go with the serious, adult, industry-standard cover I'd briefly considered.

 And she replied: "Your cover is going to be clean, RED and fabulous, Mark." So there ya go. Hope you agree, or at least laugh: