Monthly Archives: January 2012

Consider the birds…

Most every morning I like to get out on my front deck and talk to my friends. They don’t say much back. Mostly they just sing at me.

I’m talking about birds, of course. Most likely the title of the blog would have tipped you off, I suspect – but being a writer there will always be a part of me that likes to pretend that you never saw that coming.

It’s that whole “fooled you, didn’t I” syndrome that old farts like me are all too often susceptible to.

I start with the blue jays. For them I just poke my nose out the side door and lay a handful of peanuts on the outside of the dining room window. Usually I am joined by my cat, Kismet, who likes to sit on the inside of the dining room window and thump her head against the glass trying to catch some of those birds – through the window glass. I used to feel bad about that. I used to worry that she was damaging her brain cells – but judging from the way that she nuzzles me every time I head for that door, I think she truly enjoys the experience.

Besides, cats don’t really have all that many brain cells. Most of her primary synapses deal with “Feed me”, “Pet me” and “Go away”.

After the blue jays are fed I take my basket of peanuts and stale bread and step out to the front deck.

Oh yes, I have a little basket that I carry under my arm. I look a little like a gone-to-seed bearded Snow White, that is if Snow White were crossed with a Yeti.

I lay a row of peanuts out for the crows along the deck railing. They really enjoy walking along that deck railing, trying to see how many peanuts they can poke into their beak before the drop one.

Then, I step out onto the front lawn and begin breaking up bread for the smaller birds. Sometimes they are already out there waiting for me. They sing to me. The tunes of the grackle and the starling are not particularly beautiful, but they are pleasingly unique. Basically, none of them know the tune and most of them are singing off-key and making up the words as they go.

Shoot, maybe grackles and starlings are really writers in disguise.

If they’re not out there they soon arrive by the twos and threes and before I finish scattering the bread I have an entire power-line full of feathered Steve-worshipers. Each of them singing in their own peculiar way – Steve is a god, Steve is a big hairy god.

Yes, I like that.

When I don’t think to feed them – when I am running late for work or it is too darned cold or I am feeling far too sorry for myself – they hang out there for a while and then they disappear.

They’ll depend upon me – but only up to a certain point. After that, their big hairy god’s big hairy feet begin to develop a peculiarly clay-ish aroma.


Readers are a little like birds that way. If you don’t feed them regularly they will forget you ever walked the earth. Not all of us are Harper Lee or even J.D. Salinger.

If you don’t get enough new stuff out there they will most likely find somebody else’s books to read.

The same goes for blogs or Twitters or websiting or Facebook updates or anything along the lines of social networking. Consistency is all-important. If you post with any sort of predictable frequency not only will your readership maintain itself – but it will grow.

Remember that Faberge Shampoo commercial? “And she told two friends and they told two friends and so on?”

Well, if you aren’t consistent in your updating – none of those friends will have anything to talk about.

So, that’s the lesson of the day.

Let’s keep those friends talking, shall we?

As for me, I’ve got some birds to feed.


But before I do that let me throw in a couple of random tangents.

Tangents are always cool.

They fill up empty space quite nicely.

For example, when your main character is about to go and kick the be-whumpkins out of a couple of random evil bozoes – it’s always helpful to have him thinking about how much be-whumpkin-kicking is like sledding down a hill.

I went to see the movie Tin-Tin: The Secret of The Unicorn. We watched it at Bayers Lake – because they’ve got the best movie treats in Halifax. We went to the 3D version, which was kind of cool.

I really enjoyed the experience. The motion-capture was brilliant. Watching this, I kept thinking to myself – I wish they’d make a Doc Savage movie with this technique. The sort of blending of cartoon and life would be perfect for a pulp hero like Doc Savage.

Don’t talk to me about Ron Ely. I try to pretend they never went there.

Jamie Bell was terrific as Tin-Tin but the real star of the show was Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock. His facial manipulation is brilliant. The man is made out of Indian rubber.

I wonder how many people caught Cary Elwes as the pilot of the plane?

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Free books – and a winter rant…

So I’m walking out of the local grocery store and this woman rolls by me, pushing her grocery cart.

“Do you think we ought to get some road salt?”

“Are they calling for any weather?”

“I don’t know.”

(checks smart phone that she really only bought because of her dark unspoken childhood William Shatner fetish)

“Nope, we’re okay. That can wait.”

Which brings me to my rant, today.

People, people, people. We live in freaking Canada. We’ve got this thing called winter. It happens every year or so. Fat cold white stuff falls out of the sky. Cars get stuck. Cars skid out of control. People get hurt. People get pissed off.



My grandfather taught me to tell winter by the calender. You hit late October, you ought to have your winter tires on. You ought to have a snow shovel bought. You ought to have some road salt.

Firewood split and stacked?


A few emergency tins of beans in the cupboard.




I worked at a Canadian Tire store for twelve years.

(ya, ya, I know, retail of any sort that long speaks seriously of a deep and dire need for self abuse – but what the hell, it paid the bills)

Every winter we’d have our first big old snowfall and a billion people would come running in looking to buy snow tires.

Second blizzard brought two billion more people.

Third blizzard?

Three billion.

I know.

I counted.

Let me give you a news flash Canada.


Stop treating your cell phone like it’s Cindy Day the weather woman.

Cindy Day doesn’t even know whether or not it’s going to snow next week.

In fact, if you put all of the meteorologists in the entire freaking world into a room filled with typewriters…(what’s a typewriter? Go and ask your grandma)…you’d most likely wind up with a copy of Hamlet.

Face it folks.  We’ve been really lucky this winter. Might even be lucky for the rest of it.

Might not.

People, be prepared. Salt, snow shovels, snow tires – get it ready. Take care of yourself. Because I want you all to be hale and healthy.

So that you can buy my books!



*  *  *


Speaking of which.

I’ve just announced a special three day contest.

Here’s the details.

For the next three days – from January 30 to February 1 – I will give a FREE copy of any of my other Crossroad Press e-books to anyone who sends me a copy of their purchase receipt for my book DEVIL TREE!

That’s right. If you purchase a copy of DEVIL TREE you will be the recipient of a FREE copy of either Long Horn, Big Shaggy: a tale of wild west terror or reanimated buffalo OR Gypsy Blood OR Roadside Ghosts OR Nothing To Lose OR Nothing Down OR The Weird Ones OR Two Fisted Nasty OR – shit, I haven’t published any other e-books (yet).

 Why am I doing this? Well, because as of this month Devil Tree has proven to be my bestselling e-book and I am that confident in the strength of this novel that I am willing to do ANYTHING  – (insert sound-byte of Cadbury Caramilk devil saying “Anything?) – that’s right, anything – to get more people to take a chance on this haunting novel.

 So why not take a chance? Two-for-one is hard to beat. It’s a cold and nasty time of the year out there – and we’re about to enter the shortest and meanest month of the year – and what better way to cheer yourself up than a FREAKING FREE BOOK!!!

 Do it. Do it. Do it now!

Winter is coming.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Podcamp Halifax 2012

Podcamp Halifax 2012

The sky was the color of anvils and the cold hammered into my bones. The coffee I’d brewed showed absolutely no sign of kicking in.

On what had to have been one of the coldest Sundays of the 2012 winter I stumbled blearily onto a bus bound for the Alderney Gate Library.

I was bound for Podcamp, with a banjo on my knee.

All right, so I am lying about the banjo.

 * * *

This was the third year for Halifax Podcamp – and I hear that it was bigger than ever. I had been invited to attend the first two Podcamps but my dayjob had got in the way.

Yes, I have a day job. Let’s just clear that up for those of you who prefer to imagine that being a writer means that the bank drops a dump truck load full of money on my front lawn once a month.

I keep waiting – but so far that has not happened.

The place was jammed with people. Signs were sporadic and traffic flow was as unlawfully incorrect as could ever be imagined. This was a gathering of virtual people, gurus of the internet, outlaws of the digital wilderlands – we did not need any stinking traffic cop.

I found my way to the sign-in desk by way of the coffee urn. Strategically placed next to the coffee urn were something that looked like bacon biscuits. Greasy yummy bacon biscuits. I am sure that they had a very wonderful name like Pork Ala Conte or some-such thing but to my eye they were bacon wrapped in pastry and they were awfully good.

The day was off to a fine start.

I made my way around the site before things got started, scoping out the various talk-locations. In the crowd I bumped into Kimberly Walsh – my publicity guru from Nimbus. She gave me her copy of the program. She had an i-phone and could just look at the schedule online.

In fact, everyone I saw had some sort of gadget in their hand or pocket. I felt entirely unmanned and somewhat misguided, having nothing but a wallet, a key chain and a few random pieces of change in my pocket. The only thing in my hand was the program, now smeared with bacon biscuit grease.

I decided what talk I wanted to listen to first. If I’d had an i-phone or i-pad or smart-giggly-widget of some sort I would have been able to have studied the descriptions of each talk – but I am hopelessly stuck in caveman mode. I stood there in that crowded library – hoping for smoke signals, or interesting spoor or maybe the sound of jungle drums.

Nothing but the smell of pastry and bacon grease.

So I settled on Lounge Area Number One, because that’s about all I could count to until the coffee kicked in. I chose a chair and laid me gear out to claim the chair. I’m fifty-three years old – having a chair to sit down in is awfully important to my feet and back.

I listened to the introductions and Podcamp was officially underway – fifteen minutes behind schedule.

My first talk was Stephen Smith who gave an interesting talk about the wonders of the Google Optimizer – which is kind of way that website designers could run blind taste-tests of their webpage ideas before they settled on one particular plan. It was interesting and kind of cool but in hindsight I wished I’d caught another talk.

Here is the first lesson for all of you folks who want to go to an event like this. Plan yourself out an agenda before you get there. If I had possessed half-a-brain-cell I would have planned out my attendance a little more carefully than I had. I could claim that I was busy – and I am a lot busier these days – but the fact of the matter was I let stupid get in the way of good common sense. A fellow ought to have the foresight to look at the map and study it before he heads off down the road.

Which I didn’t.

Following that talk I made my way past the bacon table but unfortunately the bacon biscuits had been all chewed up. So instead of upping my cholesterol level I made my way to the next talk. I had wanted to catch the WordPress Workshop – because I’ve been blogging on WordPress and did not know a whole lot about what I had been doing – like always.

Unfortunately, the WordPress Workshop was going on at the Theatre – and the Theatre was still running a documentary from the first session. Here I ran into one of my one main problems with the event. Because they started late everything was set off-schedule. Being still stuck on dumb – (the coffee still hadn’t kicked in) – I found it hard to adapt to the off-kilter timing of things. My anal-retentive brain cells had firmly clamped their bacon-biscuit-greasy-grip upon the orange printed program sheet – and while I should have adapted and evolved my poor old primordial self. kept wondering why nothing was happening according to the schedule.

In fact, I felt a little like Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory – wondering why everything wasn’t performing according to theory – rather than actual reality.

But I did my best to cope.

I did not stay at the Theatre, because there was a very important talk that I needed to catch in the third time slot.

Namely, my talk.

I know, I hadn’t bothered mentioned to you in the beginning of this article – but I had decided to take part in a big way in Halifax Podcamp 2012. Why not? My day job might get in the way again in 2013 – so I figured I would step up and take part.

For those of you who are curious – here is my talk description.

Why Fred Flintstone Hates George Jetson’s E-Guts!

Hosted by:

Steve Vernon – First Floor Lounge Area 2

Steve Vernon has released over twenty traditional-style books of fiction and folklore during a writing career of over thirty years – yet in 2011 he released ten e-books and one audio book in a single year. In 2012 his latest e-book – SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME: A STORY OF HOCKEY AND VAMPIRISM will be released as a part of the KDP Select program in a true display of come-over-to-the-dark-side-Luke enthusiasm.

Find out why this Kirk-is-my-icon caveman writer who wrote five drafts of his very first novel in longhand has totally embraced the 21st century Picard-will-talk-you-through-this technology. Armed with a what-the-heck-am-I-doing attitude and a truckload of other-people-told-me-this answers Steve Vernon will open up a can of unproven experience on how to successfully surf the digital wave for all of you who want to become the next successful e-book writer.

Okay, so I didn’t realize I was actually supposed to host the talk. If I’d realized that I might have grabbed a few more of those bacon biscuits and tucked them into my ditty bag – (what, don’t you have a ditty bag? I thought everybody and their great uncle Wilfred had themselves a ditty bag) – and saved them to share with the spectators to my talk. I mean, a good host is supposed to feed his guests, isn’t he?

So I fed them on bafflegab, hooraw, and gut-gas. I had determined to talk about the transitions I had gone through in deciding to get involved with writing e-books. I told them about the differences between an e-book and a traditionally—published book. I told them what mistakes they ought to avoid. I told them my sales figures and my current and future strategy and everything else I felt would be of use to anyone who had any sort of an ambition or plan to turn themselves into a writer of e-books.

I felt the talk went well. It helped that I was situated directly before dinnertime. It helps a lot if you have to talk and you can tell yourself – okay, I only need to talk until dinner and then I get to go.

Everybody listened and everybody clapped and several people asked me questions and only three people left during the talk and if I had thought to take down their names and addresses before the talk had begun I could hunt them down and cry at their door but unfortunately I forgot to gather names, addresses, phone numbers or necessary DNA samples – so I’ll just have to settle for thinking real hard “You-don’t-know-what-you-missed” thoughts in their general direction. Hell, maybe someone had just served out another platter full of bacon biscuits.

I’d even leave my talk for a bacon biscuit.

I don’t know who served the preliminary munchies but they were awfully good.

Talking about food, it was time for dinner – which was provided by Local Source and was awfully good.

Here’s what I had.

•Roasted Baby Portobello on LS bread w/ extra old cheddar, roasted garlic aioli, caramelized onion & Mesclun greens

Plus: a Roasted Root Vegetable Salad (in a cup) w/ sweet potato, blue potato, onion, garlic, spinach, feta & extra virgin olive oil

•Raspberry Mini Molten Cakes w/ FT Org. dark chocolate, rice flour & butter

•Sweet Apple Cider – 500ml

•Bosc Pear

Okay, so I just cut-and-pasted that from the menu – but I’m running out of time. I have to get to my day job this morning – but I am determined to get this all down into blog format.

This is one of the things I learned at Podcamp. All right, so I knew it already, but I had it reinforced by several of the sessions I intended. If you’re going to keep up a blog or a Twitter or a Facebook or a webpage you have got to be consistent and regular. Don’t poke it out there on the side of the internet highway and forget about it. Blog, Twitter, Facebook your face off regular.

Eat your All-Bran, dammit.

After dinner I found myself a seat in the Theatre to listen to the guest speaker Julian Smith. This is one event I did not want to miss and I was glad that I caught it. His talk was entertaining, exciting and enlightening. I learned a lot and would tell you more if I didn’t have to get to work soon – but for now why don’t you just go and check out his own blog.

Or download a copy of The Flinch – a very entertaining and inspiring work.

Finally I caught a talk with Allison Garber and Jill Mader – two local bloggers who shared all of their hard-earned experiences at running a blog.

Check out their blog here.

And here.

That’s all for now. I’ve got to get to work.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


PS: I should mention that I had a great time, learned a lot and heard from about a dozen local folks through Twitter afterwards. I even managed to sell an e-book or two. I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone interested in the way that our world is changing electronically.

Friday the 13th Kindle Kontest…

All right. So I have always had a secret fondness for the number 13.

Never mind all of this talk about unlucky. Numerologically speaking, the number 13 breaks down to the number 4 – which is a symbol of stability – like the four sides of a square. A square is a house – solid, reliable, something you can count on. A square is a box, something that will hold things. A square is something you can stand on, dance on, and absolutely rely upon structurally.

When somebody means what he says you call him a square shooter.


So, to celebrate this Friday 13th, I am announcing a contest for all of you Kindle owners.

Go to Amazon and buy yourself a copy of my novel GYPSY BLOOD.

Then, go to my website and drop me an e-mail. There’s a link in the side menu that says E-Mail Steve. Just click that and send me a message. I’ll e-mail you back with a unique question such as “What word does Chapter 13 start with?”. Then, once you’ve succesfully answered that question I will reward you with a free Kindle copy of another one of my e-books.

Yup, I said FREE.


If you’ve got a Kobo – this contest is also good. If you’ve got a Nook – well we can go there too.

Buy GYPSY BLOOD and I’ll give you one of those three e-books absolutely free. The contest starts right now – and will end on midnight Nova Scotia time tomorrow night – January 13th.

Friday the 13th.

How lucky do you feel, punk?

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


Everybody who is a writer ought to read this – WRITE NOW!!!


I’ve read this guy’s blog before and he always makes good sense. Come this summer, when I buy my Kindle for my birthday I am going to buy his e-books right away.

But for now, I’ve got to get back to my writing!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

“Yes, drill sergeant!”

“Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world.” – Tom Clancy


My muse of choice is a nasty-assed drill sergeant with hobnailed boots, tattoos way past his elbow bones, hand grenades in his armpits and a case of chronic halitosis.




yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon