Turning Face: A Tale of Horror, Comedy and Wrestling

I grew up watching old school wrestling.

Grand Prix Wrestling – I watched it every Saturday.

And whenever I got the chance I went with my grandparents and saw it live at the Sudbury Arena.

Grand Prix Wrestling

That was where I got to shake hands with Andre the Giant – only back then we knew him as Jean Ferre. It wasn’t until he joined up with the WWF – which is NOW known as the WWE – that his name was changed to Andre the Giant.

Andre the Giant and a VERY young Duane Johnson, otherwise known as The Rock!

Andre the Giant and a VERY young Duane Johnson, otherwise known as The Rock!

I’m not sure why I always enjoyed watching wrestling. I think partly because of the grandiose storytelling of a good match. Good against Evil – the bad guy getting the poop kicked out of him by the good guy. Straight up cliche – but back then I loved every minute of it.

Partly I think it had to do with my Dad. My grandmother always told a story about how my Dad was what they call a “jobber” in a couple of Toronto matches. Basically, he was the dude from parts unknown who was paid to look just good enough to make the other guy look great. Apparently he only did it for a couple of matches and it was only because he needed the money. He never talked about it much – but he was always the sort of guy who would get into some sort of athletic endeavor – so the thought of Big Leigh “Red” Vernon in the squared circle does not surprise me in the least little bit.

Of course, you also know how much I love reading horror novels – so when I stumbled across this nifty little novella that combined wrestling AND horror I had to pick it up. Actually, I contacted the author and asked him for a review copy. He sent me an e-pub so that I could read it on my Kobo and it only took me about three hours to figure out how to stuff it into my Kobo.

I’m not saying that I am a technical wizard, you understand.

Click the picture to pick up a copy for your Kindle, if you like.

Click the picture to pick up a copy for your Kindle, if you like.

Well, it was a fun fast read. Nothing fancy, just the sort of a yarn that a proper “jobber” would come up with.

First off, I really enjoyed the whole back story of demon logic. There is a lot of room for other stories using this whole back story that needn’t involve wrestling.

The protagonist, Tojo, was the earth-born child of two demons on an evil sort of a missionary fund into the mortal world. Their job was to spread ill-feeling and evil just as hard as they could manage.

The problem starts when Tojo decides that he should use his demon powers to become a wrestler. Not just any old wrestler, you understand. Tojo decides to be a “heel”, that is, a bad guy wrestler.

“I can spread bad feelings this way,” he tells his Dad. “Making people feel hateful and angry watching me beat up the good guy wrestlers – also known as faces.”

The only problem is people LIKE Tojo. He just never is all that successful at being a heel.

You see, the problem is Tojo is NOT really as bad of a guy as he ought to be – even given his demonic heritage. Tojo LIKES being a good guy but he does not want to get caught at it – for fear of being banished back to hell and having his memory wiped and being recreated into something truly dark and evil.

It’s a pretty cool concept – although there were a few gaps that I felt needed filling.

Believe it or not I really wanted to know why his demon parents decided to name him Tojo. He wasn’t oriental, as far as I could tell from reading the novella. He wasn’t even Spanish. I thought it was a pretty cool name for a great big old wrestler with echoes of Mr. Fuji – but I would have REALLY appreciated knowing why his parents chose such an odd name.

Also – after his Mom and Dad die and return to hell they sort of fall out of the story – and I really felt that the author missed a great angle there. I would have loved to see him encounter his Mom or his Dad again in some other form.

Still, it was a fun read and I hope that the author revisits this arena again. Fans of wrestling and cheesy horror with a heaping helping of corny jokes will really enjoy this fast and fun read.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Halifax Ribfest 2015 – Day 2

Halifax Ribfest 2015

All right – so yesterday was totally awesome!


We started out with a quick drive down to Johnny’s Snack Bar where we ordered pancakes and sausages – and by my own personal standards, starting the day with pancakes is ALWAYS an awesome experience.

Of course my wife has told me that she has worn shoes that were higher than my own personal standards – and that was back when she used to wear flats!


Then we took a short stroll through the Halifax Forum Farmer’s Market and picked up some cat grass and some fresh strawberries. I had been hoping to pick up a bar of root beer soap – but the table with the soap didn’t seem to be there that morning.

We then drove up to Canadian Tire store and I picked up a crow bar as well as a small easy-to-build storage shed. They were having a big sidewalk sale to raise money for their Kickstart program that helps poor kids buy new sporting gear and we picked up the shed at a VERY good price.

We got home and I used the crow bar to help demolish my front deck – which is now at the halfway mark. The crow bar made the work a whole lot easier.

Then we had a nap and watched a couple of new episodes of INKMASTER and then – FINALLY – we headed down to the ribfest.

We started out with a feed from the good folks at CAMP 31 – because their cook crew were putting on the best show behind the grill.

RibFest 2015 Camp 31

We had a Porkster – which is a smoked sausage – smothered in pull pork and wrapped in a big old cheese bun – as well as a chicken and ribs combo.

We ordered a couple of cool bottles of iced tea and sat down and got to eating. Or, actually, my wife Belinda was treated to the spectacle of her husband falling snout first into a platter of pig-parts. All along we sat and listened to the wonderful country music of another local group – THE BAKERSFIELD BOYS

Let me tell you, so far out of the three rib stands we have tried this weekend the folks at CAMP 31 ranked highest. Their ribs were sweet and tender and the sausage had a distinct savoring aftertaste of apples and hickory smoke and I am pretty sure that chicken could have bench pressed a good-sized Buick.

“That’s good eating,” I said around a mouthful of pig parts.

“What’ll we do about dessert?” Belinda asked.

“I want me some corn bread,” I said.

Now, you have to understand that I have discovered that my natural country twanginess seems to naturally intensify around the proximity of barbecued ribs and by now I was sounding like I ought to be auditioning for the next reboot of DUKES OF HAZARD.

Now what Belinda didn’t know was that I wasn’t JUST thinking about dessert – but I was thinking about second helpings. So we walked up into the line-up at the SILVER BULLET which had a sort of a handmade-looking sign that read SWEET CORN BREAD $3.00.

While I was in the line-up the fellow in front of me turned around and it was Calum Johnston – the owner of STRANGE ADVENTURES. Well, Cal began to rhapsodize about all the ribs that he had eaten here at the Ribfest and his words touched something deep down inside of me – somewhere close to my pancreas – and I turned to Belinda and I asked “How about more ribs.”

(that’s right – I lay the blame on Calum)

“You want more ribs?” Belinda asked in disbelief.

“I haven’t had enough ribs today,” I told her. “You can see that I am a mere shadow of myself. I am practically fading away into nothing before your eyes.”

“That’s a big old shadow you are talking about,” Belinda pointed out. “But while you are at that you ought to get beans and coleslaw along with it so that you can tell everyone that you ate some greens at the Ribfest.”

That’s why I love that woman.

She thinks the same way that I do.


So we got ourselves another heap of ribs and they were awfully good and the corn bread was hot and wonderful even though I didn’t have any maple syrup to slather it with – but the highlight of the second meal of the evening was their beans which had that hot and spicy Texas-style flavor that always makes me hang back my head and howl like a lovesick puppy dog.

So after that we listened to a bit more music and then came home and watched a couple of episodes of SONS OF ANARCHY and ate some ice cream and drank some beer.

Let me tell you – RibFest rocks!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

For Indie Writers: You have the control. Own it.

Steve Vernon:

Some good words here. Well worth reading if you are trying to make it as an indie writer.

Originally posted on ELIZABETH HUNTER:


Here’s the thing.

There are many reasons why people decide to publish their own books. Some people get frustrated with traditional publishing. Some prefer the creative control that self-publishing brings. Others see it as a better long-term business choice to control their intellectual property for the life of the copyright. Some people want to publish their Uncle Alvin’s memoirs and hand it to him at Christmas because it was good old Uncle Alvin’s life-long dream. It could be none of these reasons. It could be all of them or a combination of any.

Whatever the reason you decided to self-publish, there you are. You’ve done it.

Now please own it.

Amid all the handwringing about subscription services and how writers are getting paid (I don’t want to go over it, so if you don’t know what I’m talking about, just read David Gaughran’s post HERE) writers seem to be forgetting…

View original 870 more words

Halifax Ribfest 2015 – Day 1

I got up Friday morning and fried a couple of eggs for my wife and I and served them up with some fresh avocado and flat bread. Then, after Belinda headed off to work I went outside with a small pry bar and a hammer and began taking apart our front deck. The wood has begun to rot in spots and we have had critters living under there in the past so we’ve decided to take it apart. There is a sidewalk beneath the deck that is fairly serviceable. The work was slow and the sun was hot and I was thinking about ribs.

I have been thinking about ribs for the last month or so – ever since the 2015 Halifax Ribfest was first announced. I had decided that this summer as a sort of a “stay-cation” Belinda and I were going down to the Waterfront and we were going to get us some ribs.

I grabbed a bus downtown and I sat in the Public Gardens for a half an hour or so watching the world go by. Belinda met me after work at the Gardens and we walked on down Spring Garden Road and then right down Salter Street and we came to the Ribfest.

Halifax Ribfest 2015

I am talking meat-lovers Mecca, friends and neighbors.

Admission is free and there was a fair-sized crowd and the smell was absolutely amazing.

We walked the entire festival site, scoping out the various menus and decided to try a meal at the TEXAS RANGERS.

Texas Rangers

Belinda ordered a Frog Legs plate with beans and coleslaw and I had a Big Texan platter. The frog legs were lightly baked and nicely done in a dry rub with a hint of sauce. The coleslaw was crisp and tangy. The beans were cooked in a tomato-based sauce and, although I prefer a molasses sauce for beans they were tasty enough.

The ribs were awesome, the chicken tasty and the pulled pork superb.

We sat in the beer tent and although the choice of beer left a bit to be desired we had a great time sitting there and listening to the music of Louisa Manual and Neil Mackinnon.

These guys were great. Louisa has an a strong smoky woman-wailing-in-a-barroom voice and Neil is a solid piano player although his tempo was a little bit hasty for some of these tunes.

In any case these two local musicians really hit the spot for me. They played “You Left Me” by Randy Van Warmer, “Walking After Midnight” by Patsy Cline and a favorite of mine “King of the Road” by Roger Miller. Belinda and I sang along while we ate our meals. The volunteers in charge of cleaning the tables were kind enough to bring me a few extra towelettes and offered to spray me down with a power hose after I had gotten into those ribs.

I’m not saying it was pretty.


We got up and walked around some more, thinking about a funnel cake, but the truck that was selling the funnel cakes was asking too darned much. Fourteen dollars is WAY too steep for a funnel cake. We wandered on down the waterfront and shared a beaver tail and then headed on home.

This morning we are going out for breakfast and then hitting the Forum Farmer’s Market. I want to swing up to Canadian Tire and buy myself a decent crowbar for the rest of my assault on the front deck. Then later today we intend to grab a bus ride back down to the waterfront and have some more ribs from another one of the food trucks.

Here is a link to the Ribfest Halifax website.

I’ll tell you all about it later.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Tom Waits and Ice Cream…

Real men drink beer floats.


Men who were born to walk alongside of the gods drink GOOD ROBOT “TOM WAITS FOR NO ONE BREAKFAST STOUT” with ice cream!

Click this picture for more info on the GOOD ROBOT BREWING CO.

Click this picture for more info on the GOOD ROBOT BREWING CO.

I picked up the mini-growler at the Forum Farmer’s Market last Saturday – and tonight, while I was crawling through the last couple of hours of my cubicle hell day job – (and if it is a DAY job why the HELL am I working a night shift?) – I had this amazing brain storm.

All of you folks in Halifax REALLY need to get out of bed Saturday morning and get on over to the Forum Farmer’s Market. They have really done something wonderful there. It feels cozy, there are some great treats to eat and it just plain feels welcoming.

And THIS picture will take you right straight to the Halifax Forum Farmer's Market Facebook page!

And THIS picture will take you right straight to the Halifax Forum Farmer’s Market Facebook page!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

The Fifty-First Shade of Grey – how HARD is it to write like E.L. James, anyway?

So…I have heard that E.L. James has announced that she is releasing a fourth novel in her FIFTY SHADES OF GREY trilogy, to be written from the point of view of Christian Grey.

Click here if you want a copy for your Kindle

Click here if you want a copy for your Kindle

I have to wonder if this gambit is going to work for her.

She claims that her fans have asked for it – but I would hazard a guess that the bulk of her fans like to empathize with her protagonist Ana.

“What if I were Ana?” they like to think. “Imagine if I were hanging on that hot rack of monkey-love pain and Christian Grey was practicing his best Boy Scout knotwork on me. Boy howdy, hum-diggedy-dum.”

Or words to that effect.

They might not dig hearing this story from a man’s point of view. They might not really get off on listening to Christian Grey’s inner knot-thoughts – “Hmmm, is it right over left and under or left under right and over?”

I guess we’ll have to hang in there and wait until those two happy young lovebirds FINALLY tie the knot…

Click here if you want a Kindle copy of the fourth book in the series.

Click here if you want a Kindle copy of the fourth book in the series.

All right – so let me pull my horns in just a little bit.

For starters, I did try to read the first book and I could not get past the first chapter. That’s okay. There are an AWFUL lot of books out there that I could not get past the first chapter.

It took me YEARS to get through Dick and Jane.

Yup, you can even order this one in paperback if you want to work your way up to 50 Shades...

Yup, you can even order this one in paperback if you want to work your way up to 50 Shades…

All kidding aside, I would be HAPPY to have written FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY. I would be HAPPY to have them many folks buy my novels.

At the end of the day a writer’s job is to get his words out there to the hungry eyes of as many readers as he can reach.

I know some of you noble-minded folks will say something along the lines of “Oh, I just write to fulfill my creative destiny” but all I have to say to that is piffle.

That’s right.

I said it.


I am sorry to use such strong language in front of your delicate eyes – but we, as writers, are craftsmen as well as artists. We are building a product that should be consumed. A book, unread, is about as useless as an unsung song. It is about as useless as a shoe that cannot be worn upon a human foot.

And if anyone says “horseshoe” at me, prepare to have a Clydesdale dropped upon your wise-cracking head.

Hi - I am a Clydesdale. My name is Clyde - but you can just call me Roadblock...

Hi – I am a Clydesdale.
My name is Clyde – but you can just call me Roadblock…

Writing is hard work – and even a novel like FIFTY SHADES OF GREY took a lot of time and effort. The truth of it is I have TRIED to write a romance twice in my lifetime.

The first time I did not know any better. I had read that a fellow can get rich writing short contemporary romances – so I wrote a novel entitled LUNENBURG LOVE.

It was bad.

It was REALLY funky bad.

Earlier this year I sat down to try and write another romance – but I got no more than a chapter into it and then this ghost showed up and this kelpie and this sea hag and all of a sudden I am writing something that you MIGHT squint at and call a paranormal but it still looks an awful lot like a horror novel to me.

I guess I just cannot do it.

It takes work, dedication and a certain degree of creativity to write ANY novel – even if it is just a hack job or something aimed at turning a quick dollar. So do not look down upon such books as FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. Any book that can sell over 90 million copies has got to have SOMETHING going for it.

I still can’t read it, you understand.

But I will not giggle TOO hard at it.

This, on the other hand, might be giggle worthy…

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

(and thanks to the folks at INK, BITS & PIXELS for the tip on this)

Deep Discount Promotion – Part 5

I sold 6 copies of GYPSY BLOOD yesterday on Amazon.com and a copy to Amazon.co.uk for 7 copies in total.

The numbers aren’t huge so far and the advertising has CERTAINLY not paid for itself – but there has been a bump in daily sales both for GYPSY BLOOD and a few of my other books. Trying to positively attribute a bump in sales directly towards promotion is ALWAYS an exercise in pie-hole-smoke, however, I am still satisfied that my efforts are bearing a little fruit.

Let me give you the full run-down, so far.
bknights – ($15) – May 24
Read Cheaply – (free) – May 24
May 24 – 4 copies sold, total=4

Booktastik – ($5) – May 25
Book Deals Daily – (free) – May 25
May 25 – 0 copies sold, total=4

Robin Reads – ($10) – May 26
May 26 – 9 copies sold, total=13

Sweet Free Books – ($5) – May 27
May 27 – 7 copies sold, total=20

ContentMo – ($1.99) – May 28
May 28 – ?

I have got another small promotion lined up for June 1 and June 2 for my massive short story collection Do-overs and Detours: Eighteen Eerie Tales – so we will see if this momentum I am building up with this one promotion carries through to the next month.

Do-Overs and Detours - playing card size

At least that is the plan.

We’ll see what the road ahead has in store for me.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon