Come mister tally man, tally me bananas…

The need for statistics is as undeniable as candles on a birthday cake.

The abbreviations spill forth like horses running over a cliff into the sea.

If you think I’m full of old rope why don’t try talking baseball in any tavern you care to enter? Sooner or later somebody will start quoting runs-batted-in and first-pitches-out and all manner of comfortably linear statistics. Hockey fans are the same. So are most bosses that I know of. Sooner or later they will all reel out a long line of numbers and deep crunchified data.

Talk about stocks. Talk about your golf score. Talk about how many times you’ve been married.

Sooner or later somebody will hold up one finger and start counting down.

Human beings like to keep track of things. Those that don’t are generally striving to.

So, last night, when a local reporter asked me just how many books and stories I have written and published – I had to stop and think.

You see, I DON’T keep track.

I ought to.

Writers need good records. They need to know where their work is at any given time. Who they’ve sold it to, who published it, when was it published, was it ever published at all…

Good record keeping can make a very big difference to a writer. Let’s say you get an e-mail from an anthology editor who wants to pay you to reprint a story of yours. You need to be able to know if that story is promised somewhere else.

It is likewise important to keep track so that you can keep an eye on just when you’ve been paid – or IF you’ve been paid.

So say it with me writers – KEEPING TRACK IS DAMNED IMPORTANT!!!

I know. Some of you are saying – “Well, hell, Vernon – that’s easy. I’ve got sixteen stories sold. I can tell you where each of them are.”

But time rolls onward and it becomes more important the more stories, novels, poems, articles and the like that you have written.

I keep meaning to keep better track of my work – just the same way as I keep meaning to watch my diet and exercise regularly.

I mean to – and then I don’t.

But here’s the numbers that I came up with.

I have six books from Nimbus with a seventh due out by summer.

HAUNTED HARBOURS: GHOST STORIES FROM OLD NOVA SCOTIA (2007) – WICKED WOODS: GHOST STORIES FROM OLD NEW BRUNSWICK (2008) – HALIFAX HAUNTS: EXPLORING THE CITY’S SPOOKIEST SPACES (2009) – MARITIME MONSTERS – A FIELD GUIDE (2010) – SINKING DEEPER: OR MY QUESTIONABLE (POSSIBLY HEROIC) DECISION TO INVENT A SEA MONSTER (2010) – THE LUNENBURG WEREWOLF: AND OTHER STORIES OF THE SUPERNATURAL (2011) – MARITIME MURDER: DEADLY CRIMES FROM THE BURIED PAST (2012)

I have at least ten books published through the small press.

I have thirteen e-books with a fourteenth coming in a week or two.

I have two audio books.

I have about seventy-five short stories and appearances in anthologies. I’d have a really hard time tracking these all down because a lot of them were written in the pre-internet world. I stuck them in envelopes and mailed them off and later a publisher mailed me a check – which I cashed and spent a looooong time ago.

* “The Bridge” – HAWGS #1, 1986 – (a Mad Max style post-apocalyptic story – my first sale to a professional paying market – a biker mag)

* “Basket Case” – THE HORROR SHOW, Winter 1988, (I get lucky early on, placing a story in one of the great horror magazines of all time)

* “Bloodtide” – FOUR STIX ’88 (a short experimental piece sold to this one shot title)

* “Beat Well” – TERROR TIME AGAIN #2, ’89, editted by Donald Miller
reprinted – SPWAO’s “best of” anthology ALPHA GALLERY, ’90
reprinted again in David Kubicek’s trade anthology OCTOBER DREAMS, ’90

* “Yonderman” – Published in EDGE DETECTOR, a Canadian speculative fiction magazine, editted by Glenn Grant, Spring ’89

* “Statistic” – AFTER HOURS, Editor William G. Raley, spring ’89

* “In Loving Memory” – CEMETERY DANCE #2, Editor Richard Chizmar, (originally written for a NIGHTMARE EXPRESS cover contest. Sent it to this brand new magazine instead, because of the title, and the fact they sounded so hungry).

* “Night Of The Living Frogs” – recieved honorable mention in Janet Fox’s “Killer Frog” contest and was published in her chapbook ROSEMARY’S TADPOLE. Summer ’89

* “Song Of Freedom” – SEA TAILS – issue #3.5, Summer/Fall ’89 (a short story based on an oil painting in an abandoned cottage)

* “Mongrel” – CEMETERY DANCE, Spring ’90
(a small milestone. Placed first in Richard’s “best up and coming author contest”. Accompanied with an interview. My only copy of this magazine was lost during a move when a box of magazines fell off the back of my friend’s pickup truck in the middle of a highway)
* reprinted – KARL EDWARD WAGNER’S YEAR’S BEST HORROR XIX, DAW, ’91 (wow!)

* reprinted – THE BEST OF CEMETERY DANCE ’98 (double wow!)

* “Downward Bound, Downtown” – DOPPLEGANGER #13, Nov. ’90. editor Jamie Meyers (a short scary bus story, written around the time of the Montreal Massacre)

* “Midnight Snow” – AFTER HOURS Summer ’90 (another magazine lost to that badly packed pickup truck)

* “Hooney Jew, Hooney Jew” – NOT ONE OF US, October ’91 editor John Benson (one of my favourites)

* “Prufrock And The Spiders” – THE HAUNTED SUN, January ’91 (a neat magazine published in newspaper format. One of my less favourite stories)

* “Daemon Drink” – NIGHT SLIVERS ’91 (a nifty little magazine dedicated to short shorts, editted by Patricia Kocis)

* “Finger Liquor” – THE YEAR IN DARKNESS 1991 (A different sort of sale. A horror calender, with a sketch for each month and a story that accompanied the sketch. The company that produced the calender send me a sketch at random, and I my job was to come up with a story inspired by the picture. They liked it so much that they used my story and accompanying picture as the back page of the calender.)

* “Once More Round The Block” – MIDNIGHT ZOO – ’92 (another calender, only I got to write the story first and it was the artist’s job to follow my lead. I was Mr. July.)

* “Deathdreams” – NOT ONE OF US ’92 (another of my favourites. John’s a damn good editor)

* “Sorrowcrow” – DOPPLEGANGER #14 Feb. 1992 (I’d nearly forgotten this one when I turned it up in my hunt for past manuscripts. There’s a lot of my childhood in this one)

* “A Fine Sacrifice” – BAD MOON BOOKS – (there was nearly a ten year gap there, some unverifiable years, I went through a divorce, hitchhiked twice across Canada, did a whole lot of thinking, and then got back to work. One of my earliest efforts resulted in this, the winning story of Ottawa publisher’s Bad Moon Books 1999 Blood & Guts Horror Story Contest. Published in chapbook form and still available at badmoonbooks.ca. The contest is still going on as well. Interested horror writers really ought to check this out)

* Mystery Time’s Mystery Mayhem Contest – In 1999 I was fortunate enough to win Mystery Time’s annual contest for creating the worst opening line for a mystery novel. The sentence reads as follows – “As I kicked down the steel-reinforced brewery door, a screaming bullet whistled Mozart’s Requiem past the lobe of my cauliflowered left ear, barely missing the bottle of cheap recreational bourbon that I happened to be carrying in my left hand, along with my Winchester .45 kill-them-all-in-the-blink-of-a-nearsighted-owl’s-eye fully automatic military-surplus pistol, but the blonde under my arm was not nearly so lucky.”

* “Rolling Stock” – NOT ONE OF US #24 – September 2000. (Another of my favourites. Chalk another one up to John Benson. Anyone who wants to see how a small press horror magazine ought to look like, ought to get a subscription to NOT ONE OF US. Recieved an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s YEAR’S BEST FANTASY & HORROR.)

* “Dopple Dribble” – DARKNESS WITHIN #4, 2000, editor G. Durant Haire (so you think basketball isn`t scary, eh?)

* “Jugular” – CARNIVAL OF SOULS – Every October Edmonton’s Northern Light’s Theatre holds it’s annual Carnival of Souls, a festival consisting of haunted houses, a street parade, and a theatre festival dedicated to horror on stage. This year my play “Jugular” was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of the five plays presented in their Urban Tales Cabaret.

* “Something After Saturday” WHISPERS FROM THE SHATTERED FORUM #6. Editor: Cullen Bunn, 2001
(if the magazine`s name didn’t use up so much darn ink I’d submit to this more often. Another stalwart in the small press, Cullen’s Undaunted Press is slowly making a mark in the industry)

* “Catcall” CEMETERY DANCE #36 2001 Batting back in the big league, yeehaw.

* “The Woman Who Danced On The Prairie” OPEN SPACE” NEW CANADIAN FANTASTIC FICTION Red Creek Press 2003 Editor: Claude Lalumiere (a Canadian print anthology, one of my first internet sales. Snailmail seems so darned unenthusiastic. There’s a real catharsis in e-mailing an editor and hearing back from him in the next couple of days. These days I pretty well shun magazines and anthologies that don’t accept e-mailled submissions. Just got so discouraged waiting so long to hear “no thanks”. Now if they don’t like it, they zap my rejection right back to me, and I can get on with finding another market)

* “Papercut” SCRIPTURES OF THE DAMNED Double Dragon Press. 2003 (another anthology, another internet sale. E-mail rules!)

I have approximately 100 published poems, one hundred book reviews, about 20 feature length interviews with other authors and one radio play – see the above mentioned “Jugular”.

But who’s counting?

The further I get down this list the more unverifiable my statistics become. I have some of them marked down on in a little recipe box on a bunch of file cards. Others are listed on e-files lost three crashed computers ago.

Have I ever mentioned just how important it is to back up your files?

I’ve got a whole bookshelf full of those little square plastic computer files with old stories, poems and a few comic book scripts – some of them recorded on an IBM 286.

What can I tell you?

My birthday candles have melted all over my cake, it seems.

My poorly-planned posterity is hanging out of a pair of stretched-out, faded bvd’s, torn and moth-eaten and skid-streaked in all the wrong places.

If I ever get famous and die – some poor biographer is going to have himself one hell of a time trying to sniff out the last of my forgotten farts.

(and, on that banal note, let’s leave you in the capable hands of Ren & Stimpy.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

2 responses to “Come mister tally man, tally me bananas…

  1. An impressive resume. I think you’d better start helping that biographer now with a good list. or leave things as they are and let anyone who has an early work by you appear at the Antiques Roadshow in a hundred years and walk away with a huge grin on their face.

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