Posts I loved this week

Steve Vernon:

Thanks for the shout-out, Taylor Grace.

For those folks who want to catch up on what is hot in blogland check out this great blog entry – POSTS I LOVED THIS WEEK – from Taylor Grace’s blog.

Originally posted on Taylor Grace:

A fantastic week for blogs everywhere. I was a little worried about the size of this post (again). Then, just to add to the madness, I created a group of nonsensical categories and added more posts!

This is an awesome post on how to get deeper into your characters by finding out who they blame. Is it others or themselves? Locus of control is key. Writerology is such an awesome blog!

The Positive Writer has this great post on beating burnout with 4 great ideas. Loved it!

If you’re trying to get published and have written some short fiction, check out this post on how to get that fiction published in a Literary Magazine by Suzannah Windsor Freeman at Writer Unboxed.

Cute and informative, Winter Bayne tipped me onto this great post about punctuation from an editor in Zen/Xen.

Here are Molly Greene‘s 15 Must-have essentials for…

View original 452 more words

It’s all in how you spin it – with added peach cobbler

 

I came down with what MIGHT have been a brief summer cold or what MIGHT have been a bad reaction to some ductwork going on at the office this week. Either way I decided to pass up attending the SUMMER FEAR event in Tatamagouche this afternoon – which REALLY peeved me off. I had been looking forward to this a long time but I was feverish, hacking and sneezing and coughing – none of which were conducive to hand-selling books.

Belinda put together a delicious-looking peach cobbler and I just had some with ice cream – which did my throat a world of good.

The nutritionist that lives in the wrong side of my eating-conscience might have said something about fat and cholesterol and glycemic index – but I prefer to focus on the organic butter, fat-free sugar and gluten-free peaches.

First person to point out that ALL butter is basically organic and that sugar NEVER contains fat and that peaches DON’T have gluten in them gets a punch in the nose, dammit!

 

:) :) :)

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Noah…part 2

While I am on the topic of NOAH let me give you folks a few more grins.

 

Anyone remember these guys?

 

And how about this monologue?

 

Enjoy the giggle.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Hey Noah – my birthday blog

NoahEarlier this week my wife suggested we rent a copy of Russel Crowe’s NOAH through our cable provider.

“I know you wanted to see that movie,” she said. “And it’s nearly your birthday.”

I had REALLY wanted to see that movie. I had wanted to see it on the big screen because I was TOTALLY taken in by the nifty commercials.

Cool, I thought to myself. They are retelling the Noah’s Ark tale.

I couldn’t wait.

You have to understand – I really enjoyed watching Charlton Heston chew up the scenery in The Ten Commandments. I couldn’t wait for them to bring that good old story to the big screen. I mean, how hard could it be? The story was written right out there in The Bible.

Now – I want you folks to understand that I am NOT a Bible-thumping kind of dude. I’m a storyteller and I enjoy the old Bible stories as much as I enjoy a good ghost story – so I really wanted to see Russel Crowe building an ark and calling all the animals up there on the big screen. Only I never got the opportunity. Life got too hectic – as it sometimes gets – and I never got around to going to the theater to see this flick.

And I’m so glad I didn’t pay movie prices to see this flick.

It’s okay – I told myself. I can always buy a DVD when it hits WalMart.

Only when it hit WalMart I was too broke to bother seeing it.

And – in hindsight – I am SO glad I did not actually BUY a copy.

I just rented it.

What a flaming pile of excrement!

I was filled with a deep and all-encompassing sense of misgiving since the first five minutes of the film when they showed us this weird sort of cross between Mad Max and The Transformers.

I mean – what was up with that Mad Max landscape?

What was up with that weird stone that they were throwing to make fire?

What was up with those freaking stone angels?

I mean seriously, don't these guys look an awful lot like the Rockeater from THE NEVERENDING STORY?

I mean seriously, don’t these guys look an awful lot like the Rockeater from THE NEVERENDING STORY?

Seriously, I think Darren Aronofsky and his producers sat down and rolled up about fifteen or twenty of the hugest doobies you could ever imagine and started puffing away until the good buzz fairies began whispering into their brains.

Aronofsky: “Dude, there’s no freaking way we can expect people to believe that he built an ark so let’s give him a freaking work force of giant stone angels to build the ark for him.”

Producer: “A stone angel construction crew? Are you sure they’re not union?”

And what was up with all of those “Only sinners eat meat” scenes?

Noah – buddy – seriously, dude you NEED to try this cheeseburger!

You see – at the end of the day what it all boiled down to was that Aronofsky forgot the one basic rule of ANY movie, novel or work of entertainment.

JUST TELL ME A FREAKING STORY!

As I watched that movie I saw an endless stream of “This would be a cool idea” moments jammed together like pigs and cows and geese and chickens and giraffes in the belly of a great wooden ark – only he forgot to add a story.

It wouldn’t have been hard. We all learned the story in Sunday school. Heck, I wanted to see Noah and his kids building that freaking ark – not a bunch of poorly-CGI’d rock monsters building an ark.

I wanted to see the animals – but instead, Noah shows us a brief CGI flash of all of the birds and snakes and critters swarming in on the ark – and then Noah lights little fires and smokes them into a 40 day coma.

Or maybe Aronofsky just leaned over with one of his giant-sized doobies and shotgunned the ark.

Wow, man!

Dude!

Listen – all of you writer-types out there – don’t forget to tell a story. Keep that basic story arc!

(no pun intended)

Give us a character we care for. Get him up into a tree. Throw rocks at him. Let him down out of the tree.

Just a simple freaking story arc, dammit!

Russell Crowe was solid. Anthony Hopkins hammed his way through his unnecessary role just in order to squeeze in that whole “wise man hanging off of a cliff while being menaced by a man-eating tiger and stops to eat a freshly-picked ripe summer strawberry before he dies” zen koan into the script. The actresses were absolutely wasted. The sons of Noah were pointless. Ray Winstone’s Tubal Cain was added just because Noah needed to run out and play Horatio at the Bridge at least four or five times – and hey, we need a bad guy, right?

Pass me that Doobie, eh?

I sat through the whole thing.

Felt like forty days and forty nights worth of bad entertainment.

Damn it – my wife paid $5.99 through our cable bill so that I could watch it and by golly I was going to freaking WATCH it!

No wonder the film tanked at the box office.

(budget was $125,000,000.00 and it made $101,000,000.00 in the US.)

Unfortunately, it went on to make over 320,000,000.00 worldwide.

I think I would have been better off watching Charlton Heston crossing the Red Sea again.

Or even watching Bruce Dern in his flying ark.

(anyone else out there remember SILENT RUNNING?)

*********************************************************

In any case today is my birthday.

In honor of my birthday let me offer you folks the chance to pick up my own version of the Noah story on Kindle today for a mere 99 cents. Consider it a gift to me AND to yourself! I don’t have any stone giants or mystical space elements – but I guarantee some rock solid entertainment. Just click the cover shot and it will take you there.

Uncle Bob's Red Flannel Bible Camp - From Eden to the Ark

OR pick it up at Kobo – ALSO for 99 cents.

Uncle Bob's Red Flannel Bible Camp - From Eden to the ArkHey, the birthday pancakes are on me!

Birthday Pancakes (2)yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Friday the 13th – A Retrospective

I have a confession to make.

Friday the 13th made me scream like a little girl.

It’s 1980. Brooke Shields wears nothing beneath her Calvin Kleins. Ronald Reagan shucks Jimmy Carter’s goobers in the election that brought Hollywood to Washington. Richard Pryor has a freebase cocaine firesale. On the day Kubrick launches The Shining, I spotted a line-up at the Halifax Paramount Theatre on Barrington Street and I walked unaware into Friday the 13th.

Anyone Haligonians out there remember the Paramount?

A lot of you are going to giggle, but I love the Friday the 13th saga. Folks get to sneering down their snoot-holes at the idea of anyone my age getting all worked up over a slasher flick.

People, this is a poor man’s Bava, minus subtitles. There’s folks that study Italian horror in film school and universities.

I really want to send them to Camp Crystal Lake.

I still remember that final scene. I’d watched Carrie a year ago, and figured I had it all figured out. I figured wrong. The girl, floating in her canoe. The soundtrack making peace-and-serenity sounds. Now a hand will grab the girl. I saw it clearly. I’m brilliant.

And then Jason jumped out of the freaking lake.

Sorry if I am spoiling this for anyone – but REALLY you ought to see this movie anyway.

I screamed, asphyxiating myself on a half-chewed popcorn chunk. The guy behind me screamed, twice as loud. We screamed together. I channeled Peewee Herman, got in touch with my inner Fay Wray, and that day I fell in love with a legend.

Jason Voorhees. When you come right down to it he was nothing more than afterthought of a $500,000 budget fright flick. Sean Cunningham hadn’t really planned on making Jason anything more than the “gotcha” shot of the century. The original movie grossed 37 million, and a legend was born.

Friday the 13th 2 movie poster

1981 brought us Friday The 13th Part 2.

In a very real way this was where Jason Voorhees was actually born.

Let me tell how it all went down.

Jason came back out of the lake. I’m not sure how he got so big so fast.

He was wearing a hillbilly flour sack and tattered overalls – Oh Lord, deliver me from Bubba Joe Hatchet. There were more people hacked up. Momma Voorhees’ head, enshrined in that Texas Chainsaw trailer park shanty where Jason keeps his trophies.

Come that final scene – God, I really wanted to see her blink.

In a lot of ways this movie was scarier than the original,

It made 19 million, enough for a sequel.

Friday the 13th 3D

1982. Jason goes 3D. We get poked with a shovel handle, a yo-yo, a human eye, boobs, and a spear.

This was movie where Jason found his hockey mask.

I wonder if Cunningham knew how long that Gump Worsely prop was going to stick around?

Beancounters take note, this episode took in 36 million.

3D sells.

Friday-13th-part4-poster

1984. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. Tom Savini, make-up god is back, and the gore runs wild. Tommy Jarvis, a 12 year old with a Fangoria fetish, goes Charlie Manson on Jason’s hockey masked butt.

It’s over, isn’t it?

Not when we’re bringing in 19 million.

Friday the 13th 5

1985. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning assures that life at Crystal Lake goes on without Jason. Paramed Roy Burns, pissed off he didn’t bag a role on Emergency, puts on the mask and slices a baker’s dozen teenagers. A low in the series, but it still made 21 million.

friday-the-13th-6

1986. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. Jason is dug up and reanimated. A double dose of thunderbolt shot through a mystic looking iron spear/fence post. Jason’s worse for the wear, with bones and bits of gore and hot and running cold maggots. I don’t know how the producer missed his shot at dyno-gagging smellorama, piped in odors and a brand new soft drink sensation: Peptic Septic for the die-t degeneration. I like this installment. It reinforced the idea of Jason as an unstoppable Frankenstien-like uberzombie. Larger than life, funkier than death, I dug it with a three foot sexton’s spade. It cleared 22 million.

Friday the 13th Part 7

1988. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. In my opinion, this is one of the best of the series. We’ve got a waterlogged putrescent Jason going toe-to-toe with a stand-in Carrie. Up until he meets Freddy this is pretty well the only time Jason really broke a sweat. This was something – again, in my opinion, that the series always needed.

A decent threat to Jason’s unstoppable rampage.

It bobbed along at nearly 20 million.

Friday the 13th Part 8

1989. Jason Takes Manhattan. This has got to be one of my least favorite of the series.

Hell – why pussyfoot around?

This one sucked harder than a thousand backed up toilets.

Why didn’t they just call this Jason On The Love Boat? He spends fifteen tail-end minutes stomping through a subway tunnel and an alley. I wish they’d taken the time and budget to bring Jason to the Big Apple for real. This was a Barbie Doll striptease with no punchline. This was the worst of the series and very nearly the death of the franchise.

It made 14 million – mostly on the strength of the trailer and unfulfilled concept.

Friday the 13th Part 9

1993. Jason Goes To Hell. It begins at the end, with a super Seal Swat team blowing the living dying bejesus out of Mama Voorhees favorite son. They blast him to cat snot, and the coroner decides to eat Jason’s heart.

I don’t know.

Maybe he was just bored.

It seems that Jason Voorhees is really an Alien-like-face-hugging wriggle of betentacled goo that can steal a body faster than a Las Vegas quick-change artist.

Let me put it to you this way.

I groaned as they brought in a Superfly-style bounty hunter to hunt Jason down. Jason hops from body to body, before performing a Barkerish rebirth in the dead womb of his sister. The finale is worth all the card tricks. Jason goes blood-ballistic, tearing off limbs and hacking out a finale worthy of a Garth Ennis gunfight. Really grand guignol, mega-manga, with body parts and blood flying everywhere. A whole lot of caro syrup went into the making of this showdown.

It made a meager 15 million.

Friday the 13th Part 10

Jason X: Jason in Space.

Now this I freaking LOVED.

Here was the old Jason Voorhees back in a new arena, the way Jason Takes Manhattan promised to be. There were touches of Terminator, a whole bucket load of Aliens, and a twist that really worked.

A lot of people stayed away.

The movie brought in a measly 12 million in box office and again nearly killed the franchise.

But I loved this flick.

I freaking loved it.

There. I said it.

My second confession.

Freddy versus Jason

2003. Freddy vs. Jason.

Now I am a big fan of monsteramas,

I’m talking Frankenstien Meets The Werewolf.

This movie took over-the-top and chucked it up another couple of notches. The final showdown between the two mega-monsters had the panache of a Wrestlemania, the rubber suit zipperback charm of a Godzilla flick, and the energy of a monster truckload Red Bull tractor pull-off. I’m still not sure where the notion of Jason being afraid of water came from. Some of his greatest “kills” over most of the movies, took place in the lake. The only other negative I see from this is the flick made so much money – (82 million) – that Paramount will forget the thrust of the franchise.

I know some of you are expecting me to talk about those reboots – but as far as I am concerned they just don’t fit my feet.

Still – I am glad that today’s kids have not forgot about Jason Voorhees.

I’m going to be taking part in the Summer Fear 4 Festival in Tatamagouche this Saturday where I will man a table and sell some books and hand out business cards with links to my e-books and maybe even get to say hello to Steve Dash – the fellow who helped bring Jason Voorhees to the screen in Friday the 13th 2.

Get back in the lake, Jason. Get back to your bloodsoaked roots. This old cowboy is squatting front row center, with a bag of greasy honest-to-cow-buttered popcorn, waiting with strangled breath.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

My Latest Review!

A big thanks to Angela Crawford for reviewing my novella NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY on Amazon.

You can read the review right here!

If you click this cover it will take you directly to the Amazon listing for NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY...

If you click this cover it will take you directly to the Amazon listing for NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY…

Remember folks – on September 1st my novella will be available in Kindle format for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! :)

AND – if you can promise a Kindle review by the end of August I will be happy to send you a free review copy for your Kindle right away!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

The Importance of Kindle Reviews…

Okay, so you have just released a brand new e-book, and you have decided to give Kindle a try.

So you enter it into the Kindle system and wait for it to go live – only while you are waiting – in fact EVEN before you actually get to entering it into Kindle you REALLY ought to get yourself a few good reviews.

So how does one go about soliciting reviews?

I love that word, solicit. It brings this writing gig right down to where it truly ought to be. In the gutter. I am soliciting clients. Hey baby – how’d you like to get lucky? Show you a good time. Hook you up with a novel – giggedy-gig.

So how does a writer go about propositioning a reviewer?

Reviewers get pummeled with review requests and/or review copies. Waiting for a reviewer to “stumble” across your work and ask you for a review copy might make for an AWFULLY long wait.

Your best bet is to start checking out the review market. Depending on your chosen genre you might find yourself with an awfully large group of reviewers to choose from. That’s good. That will work in your favour.  Somebody like myself, working in horror, has a lot fewer reviewers to find. Folks in romance, YA or paranormal romance have an abundance of reviewers to choose from.

Once you begin finding reviewers you need to start researching them. Have they written a lot of reviews. Does their blog site look professional. Do their reviews read like good professional reviews or do you see a lot of “Ya, I thought this book was kuul.”?

If the review site mentions anything about a cash payment up front – run away. Don’t even stop to think about it. Writers should not pay for reviews. We give a free book, that’s what a reviewer is owed and nothing more. I wrote reviews professionally for Cemetery Dance, Fearzone, Hellnotes and several other markets – and I usually recieved a small payment – maybe ten or fifteen dollars – from the publisher of the magazine/market that I was writing for – but nothing from the writer but a free book.

What else could I ask for?

Certain sites maybe worth making an exception for. Sites like Kindle Daily Nation http://kindlenationdaily.com/ has a sponsorship plan for $139 and up that will advertise your book. I haven’t tried any of that sort of thing – nor do I intend to – but it is out there. What I would mostly warn about is sites that offer you reviews at five or ten dollars a pop. You have to ask yourself what kind of a review are you going to get when you shell out ten dollars. That is a lot different than how I operated, getting ten dollars from the owner of the review column/site that I wrote for. He was just paying me the same way you would pay anybody who provided your column/site/magazine with a certain amount of words for your readers to read.

Prepare a proper review request. Take a half an hour or so and put one together. You’ll want a short letter-sized document that tells the potential reviewer what the book is about, who you are, how many books you’ve written, whether you are new to this business.

Here’s a review request that I wrote for my vampire/hockey novella, SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME.

 

Hello REVIEWER’S NAME

I have an e-book available through Amazon.com and Kobo that I would love to see reviewed in REVIEW SITE’S NAME.

The book is a novelette. Now I know that most folks think that “novelette” is just a fancy way of saying “I got tired of writing”, but I prefer to think of a novelette as being something more along the lines of a one-night stand kind of read. That’s right – a novelette is in and out before you know it – with nothing but a slight hangover and a bad case of squirrel breath for your trouble.

And sometimes that is just exactly what the witch doctor asked for.

The novelette is called SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME and it deals with the story of over-the-hill bush league hockey team from Labrador who go toe-to-tooth with a tour bus full of vampires. And we are NOT talking sparkly vampires. Think SLAPSHOT meets 30 DAYS OF NIGHT and you are somewhere close to the mark. That may sound corny at first – on account that it is – but I believe you will be truly surprised at just how pure and real the characters are in this work.

Sudden Death Overtime - final art

The bonus story is a time travelling hockey tale that I call “Time Out”.

The good news is you don’t necessarily have to be a hockey fan to read this.

Here’s what Gord Rollo, Canadian horror author, has to say about it.

“With Sudden Death Overtime, Vernon perfectly captures the dark heart of a Canadian Winter and the lifetime passion surrounding the game of hockey. He takes a group of old friends who never backed down from a fight on the ice when they were younger and still refuse to do so even when they’re old enough to know better. Toss on the rink some memorable characters, truly great dialogue, a bus load of nasty vampires, and a shocking surprise ending that you won’t see coming and you’ve got yourself a story that’s sure to be a winner.” – Gord Rollo

Famous Monsters of Filmland likewise reviewed the e-book – “Steve Vernon gets it right. “Sudden Death Overtime” hit all the right notes with me. A wonderful cast of characters, great dialogue between the characters and an evil bus full of vicious vampires.”

Melissa from Tennessee had this to say in her Amazon.com review – “Steve Vernon did a wonderful job of crafting an original vampire story. His ability to weave a story with a flow that is virtually flawless is a testament to how good a storyteller he is. I loved the characters and their personable dialogue and was able to plant myself easily in Labrador.”

C’mon, if I can make a Tennessee girl yearn for the cold and windblown shores of Labrador I must be doing something right!

Would you be interested in receiving a digital copy for review?

I’d love to hear from you.
Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

(and then I usually add a serious dignified author’s photo to add a little credibility to my review request – like maybe this one)

Hi - my name is Steve Vernon and I was born in the days when giant prehistoric beaver walked the earth.

Hi – my name is Steve Vernon and I was born in the days when giant prehistoric beaver walked the earth.

***

So – WHY are reviews important for your Kindle sales?

I can tell you FOUR good reasons right off the bat.

1 – A good review is a natural encouragement. Say somebody stumbles onto your book over at Amazon and is thinking about buying it. Having a few SOLID reviews on there help encourage that “stumbling reader” to actually reach for that “BUY NOW” button.

2 – I am also told that a certain number of good reviews can help with your author ranking – depending on the vagaries of the Amazon buzz-machine.

3 – Certain promotional websites – such as Pixels of Ink – DEMAND a certain amount of reviews before they will consider publicizing your e-book on their website.

4 – A good review on an independent blog/website/magazine is – basically – an unpaid for advertisement. I’ve bought quite a few books in the past just because I read a good review in my favorite magazine. Every good review published anywhere else other than Amazon represents another chance for your book to be discovered by a hungry reader.

Word-of-mouth is one of the single greatest factors towards creating more sales.

The best way to think about it is that every single review is basically one more person – other than yourself – standing up in the middle of the internet telling the world to go and buy your book!

***

Lastly, I wanted to tell you folks about a brand new e-book that I have just released.

It is a novella and it is entitled NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY.

So what is it about?

Tommy has come home from the city to visit his Dad for one last time. He is determined to get to the bottom of all of the secrets that his Dad has kept for hidden behind a smokescreen of storytelling and charm.

It turns out that some secrets are best left untold.

NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY is a quiet little story about coming home and ghosts that you can never escape and a love that never dies. It is a story that will take you to the very heart of storytelling itself.

“If Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson and Robert Bloch had a three-way sex romp in a hot tub and then a team of scientists came in and filtered out the water and mixed the leftover DNA into a test tube, the resulting genetic experiment would most likely grow up into Steve Vernon.” – BOOKGASM

“Steve Vernon was born to write. He’s the real deal and we are lucky to have him.” – Richard Chizmar, CEMETERY DANCE

“This genre needs new blood and Steve Vernon is quite a transfusion.” – Edward Lee, author of THE GOON and HEADER

If you click this cover it will take you directly to the Amazon listing for NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY...

If you click this cover it will take you directly to the Amazon listing for NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY…

Now, the book is being released at $2.99 – but let me tell you a little secret. From September 1 to September 3 NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY will be available on Kindle for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

That’s right. I am planning a freebie launch on the first three days of September and I really would appreciate your help getting the word out. On September 1st I would appreciate if you folks could tweet/facebook/Google+ and anything else you can think of about the freebie. I want as many people as possible to hear about this release on that day and I would LOVE you to download it absolutely free – on September 1st to September 3rd!

HOWEVER…

If you DON’T want to have to wait until September to grab your free copy and IF you can promise to write a Kindle review of NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY before September hits, I would be more than happy to personally send you a review copy of my novella for you to read on your Kindle. Just let me know – either by commenting here or sending me an e-mail or sending me a Tweet.

HELP ME LET THE WORLD KNOW THAT I HAVE GOT A BRAND NEW FREE BOOK.

Thanks folks.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon