Monthly Archives: March 2012

Let’s Talk About Video Stores – part 2

This is a follow-up to a previous post – originally posted back in July. You can read the original post here, if you’d like.

Today is the last day of Mumford Video. The store is nearly cleaned out. I bought six of the shelving units, intending to use them in a personal library that we are building in our basement.

Seeing the store this way touched me deeply. As I mentioned, I had been a member of this store since before it had even opened up. The truth is, when it changed hands five years ago, I almost bought the store. I was going through a transition and wanted something to do for a living – and I thought that owning a video store might have been it.

Well, it might have been – but I guess I will never know.

Here’s a newspaper article on the closure.

I also bought a few too many of her discounted dvd’s – partly to help her out and partly because I am incurably addicted.

I grabbed that copy of Mao’s Last Dancer, The Whole Monty, An American Werewolf in London, The Cube, Calender Girls, Saint Ralph, Billy Elliot, Kickass and a few more that I can’t remember.

As I was culling through the shelves I heard the store owner taking the time with one of her customers to talk them out of buying a particular movie. “You won’t like that” she told them. “It goes on and on and doesn’t ever really come to a point. You expect something to happen and it doesn’t.”

That’s what I’ll miss, most of all. Somebody that actually digs movies – rather than a Netflicks advertisement that says something along the lines of – BUY THIS SHIT.

I remember working in a furniture making factory – that has since been unioned and spent out of business. I remember the day they brought in a computerized saw that put five good men out of work. The saw was faster and more accurate and it didn’t have take lunch breaks – but nevertheless something irreplacable was lost.

That’s how I feel today.

Something irreplacable has been lost.

So long, Mumford Video.




Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

JA Konrath’s “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing”

Like I said in a previous post on Jeff Bennington’s Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe – I am in the midst of attempting to learn everything that I need to know about e-books and/or making a decent income from them.

Which is a little like saying that I have decided to swallow the Atlantic Ocean, one shotglass at a time.

After I finished reading Bennington’s very helpful e-book I decided to tackle something from someone who has become almost iconic in the field of e-publishing – namely, JA Konrath.

Now a lot has been written about JA Konrath’s freaking-mega-huge success in e-publishing.

A lot of it by himself.

This is one of the key’s to Konrath’s success. He is a media wizard. The man knows how to get the word out there. He has set himself up as a bit of an e-book how-to guru – which means that anyone trying to break into the e-book business is going to want to listen to him and learn from him and (most likely) read his stuff.

Like me.

Which is partly why he has sold over 400,000 e-books.

For some of the viewpoint check out this.

Some people figure Konrath has met with this sort of success because he started with a traditionally-published based audience – (did that make sense? I hope it did) – meaning that he already had a market base established from his Jack Daniels series.

That does count for some of his success. I don’t believe he’d deny it if he was asked.

So there – I’ve figured out JA Konrath’s success in e-publishing. His secret is his ability to get the word out, to stir up the e-reading public and the fact that he likely had a few thousand fans to begin with.

Except that doesn’t explain all of it.

I believe a significant part of his success stems from two other sources.

Number one – he’s prolific. The man writes a book about as often as some people fart. The writing business is a bit of a numbers game. You have ten e-books out there, selling a hundred copies a month – (and I’m just pulling these numbers out of my hat, you understand) – then you are a writer selling 1000 copies a month.

That’s not me, you understand. If I’m to hit 1000 copies – the 20 people out there who actually read this blog will have to begin buying my books at about 50 copies each. Maybe if I start offering a bulk discount…


Number two – and this, in my opinion, is the big one. JA Konrath is goddamn good. I started reading him from his first release, WHISKEY SOUR.

From day one, his words rocked me. I even made it a point to write a review of one his books for Cemetery Dance – even though it wasn’t necessarily a horror-based novel. His words just flow and he entertains and his dry sense of humor always makes me feel good. He’s got that same comfortable style of writers like Joe Lansdale, Robert Parker or Janet Evanovich. The man’s work reads like a good bottle of cold beer. You know what it tastes like, you know what it’s going to feel like going down your throat and you know that it will fill that craving that you have for good cold beer.

I can’t really write a proper review of  Konrath’s first book on e-publishing, THE NEWBIE’S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING. The book itself is over 1100 pages long and is simply the accumulation of everything about writing that he has ever blogged upon since 2005 to 2010. Some of the early entries are quite out-dated – as it begins while he is still firmly imbedded into the field of traditional publishing. Which, in my opinion, makes this book all the more valuable because it actually SHOWS how a traditionally published writer makes the transition – or, at least how Konrath has done it.

I’m only about seven percent of the way into the book. I’ll probably be picking at this one for months to come. Maybe it is a stupid way to go about doing things – but, because I am attempting to ride the twin horses of traditional and digital publishing – I find the advice offered in this e-book to be timeless and invaluable. There were about a half a dozen entries into that early part that I wanted to link to – tell you – HEY READ THIS, HEY READ THAT – but hell, why waste all that valuable bandwidth when I can put it to you simply.

You want to learn this business?

Pay attention to what this fellow is telling you.

That great big honking e-book of writing advice will cost you a mere $2.99 at Amazon – or you can just download the PDF for free at Konrath’s website –

Either way you’re going to learn an awful lot from reading this book.

I believe that’s as close to a review as I’m going to get.

(note – two of the commenters mentioned the Scott Nicholson e-book on e-publishing WRITE GOOD OR DIE. I know Scott and he’s a good dude and has been in the business longer than Konrath – so his words bear listening to. AND, today the e-book if free. Here’s a link. Go and grab it.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

A new review…

Not a lot to tell you.

I’ve been working most of the day, laying down by spells. The cold has still got me feeling wiped. An hour’s worth of effort calls for a half an hour of laying down.

PERSON OF INTEREST is just about to come on and I want to go and catch it.

Just thought I’d let you know about the brand new review for BAD VALENTINES.


Dealing with discouragement…

Three years ago I read a message board question at a forum that I still frequent.

I have removed all identifying names to avoid possible embarassment but it read something like this.

“I just got another rejection notice. The editor said they liked the story. They said it was “highly engaging and wonderfully weird” but it lacked a punch at the end. This is the second time I’ve been told my endings stink. The first time on another story the editor raved about it and asked if I could change the ending. I didn’t know what to do, and I added some lame ending to it. That one didn’t work either. That one was also different from how I normally write. This writing stuff is so damn frustrating I want to give up. “

This fellow was a good friend of mine – one of those acquaintanceships you strike up over the internet. I’ve never met the dude in person – might not ever see him face to face – but it peeved me considerably to hear his discouragement. We have all felt this way and I have to and I wanted to reach out and give him a hand up.

So this is how I answered.

“I was talking to a local YA writer the other day – a fellow who has sold books right across Canada, a fellow who has been writing for years with dozens of books and stories and story collections sold – and he still gets manuscripts rejected at a regular rate.

Listen, I’m fifty, and I’ve been writing for about twenty years and I get rejections as often as not. The fact is, it’s only been these last few years that I’ve really felt like I was beginning to get the hang of this writing business – and I still expect many more rejections.

Don’t let it get you down. Keep writing. Get more stories out there. The best way, I’ve found, to deal with rejections is numbers. When I was actively marketing my short stories I made it a point to try and get at least two dozen to thirty stories out there, at any given time.

So, if (when) a story came back with a rejection slip – I wasn’t crushed. I’d just look at it and say – well what the hell I am really counting on those other two dozen stories – and then fire it off to somebody else.

Writing is fishing. You throw a line in, nothing bites, throw it back in. You sit there all day, casting and enjoying the process and maybe you catch something and maybe you don’t, but if you’re doing it properly you learn from your experience and enjoy a good day of fishing.

Send the story off to someone else. Write another story. Send that one out. Get as many goddamn lines into the water as you can manage, and then get a few more.

Writing is training. Like every fighter – you’ve got to work the speed bag, the heavy bag, the crazy bag – you’ve got to keep punching.

As for endings – well, like I always say – I don’t like to start a story until I know where I’m ending it. A story is a process that your protagonist must endure and enjoy. The ending must be inevitable, unexpected and satisfying. A proper beginning asks a question. A proper ending answers the question. Endings are as tricky as carving proper Santa feet. Endings are the feet that your story stand upon.

Endings are tricky. Practice will get you there. Take a look at some of your favorite stories, shit that other writers have written and you’ve enjoyed and returned to – novel, short story, poem – doesn’t matter. Draw yourself a story-map and figure out how that author got there.

Above all else, have fun. The rejection is part of the game. Learn from it, don’t let it get you down.

Read more stories. Write more. Submit more.

Nobody starts out good. Everybody can get better. Best is nothing more than a point you’re trying to make with your gods.

This shit takes time.”

Goddamn, I can be an articulate fellow at times. So can all of us. There will come a time in your life – if you feel strongly enough about anything – that you will put your feelings into words and just reel them out. The only difference between me and thee is that I have trained myself to write them down as I reel them out.

If you want to write something worth reading find something that your passionate about and let your feelings out in words. Try to express how you feel through the mouths of character – let your heart and your passion and your feelings articulate themselves into the framework of a story. One of the key ingredients to any piece of fictional writing – and even a lot of nonfiction – is passion, intense feeling and strongly built character. You write about something you care about and your passion and feeling will show.

But sometimes that isn’t enough to carry the day.

Sometimes an editor will take a dump upon your heart from a very great height.

They won’t mean it personally but it will hit you like they did.

You’ll want to lay down and cry a little, hold your knees and rock in a fetal position, bemoan your lack of talent and cry out to the gods of creativity – “Why me, Lord, why me?”

Take my advice and stop and think about all of those countless dayjobs that we as human beings must endure. Think about all of those folks in call centres and factories and sweat shops and restaurant kitchens who deal regularly with seniors and authority-figures and bosses of all shapes and sizes crapping upon their self-esteem.

Odds are these labourers, these tradesmen, these workers will shrug off the crap and the carping and get back to the job because hell, it’s just another day at work.

So when an editor takes a dump on your self esteem don’t let it get to you. It is just another day at work. Shrug it off, shake it off, laugh at the cat or yell at the dog and then get back to it. It’s just another day at work. Just another day stringing words across paper or a computer screen.

Don’t let rejection or poor sales or a bad track record get you down.

Remember – this shit takes time.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe – a book review

Okay, so as a writer of regional folklore and history I have learned the importance of research. If I’m attempting to write down a ghost story from any particular region the first thing I want to do is to make sure I’ve got all of the facts. Facts are ESPECIALLY important when you’re dealing with ghost stories – because if you don’t have a sturdy framework of facts to build on – where else are you going to graft and dangle all of that lovely ephemeral ghostly booga-booga? I try and make sure that I have at least two or three SOLID sources for a ghost story before I attempt to record it in one of my collections.

I approached YA writing the same way. Before I wrote my children’s picture book Maritime Monsters or my Middle Grade reader SINKING DEEPER I sat down and read about a year’s worth of children’s novels trying to get a handle on how other writers did their magic.

So now, as I begin to find my way in this brave new digital world of e-books and audio-books and hyper-plasmic-neutron books – (all right, so I made the last one up from an episode of Star Trek) – I decided to do some research.

So let me tell you about this nifty little e-book on writing e-books that I picked up a few weeks ago.

Let’s start with the cover, shall we?


Now what would Jeff Bennington tell you about the cover?

For starters he’d tell you that the use of complementary colors and the large bold font used on the title and author’s name were definitely pluses. He’d tell you that this particular cover looks great in a thumbnail – which is how your prospective reader is most likely going to initially view it before he makes his decision to buy your e-book. I expect he would be especially pleased with the way that this book cover boldly says just exactly what it is about. There is no great cosmic mystery as to what this e-book is about. This e-book is a guide to the universe for indie authors.

Speaking for myself I would say that both the cover and the title offered a sly wink and a tip of the hat towards Douglas Adams “Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” as well as every “Complete Idiot’s Guide” and “…for Dummies” manual that has ever been written. It offers you the world and it actually delivers.

Jeff Bennington delivers.

That’s the kind of practical, bare bones information this guy will give you. He takes you through the steps of building an e-book. He tells you how he does it. He tells you what you want to avoid. He tells you how some other folks have done it.

The first section gives you information on why anyone might actually consider following the road of the indie-published author with clear-cut examples and crunchy potato-chip sized chapters on how he and other people have gone about getting into the business of indie e-book writing. In section 2 he gives you a crash course on how to be a better writer.  In section 3 he power-slams you into the deep end of the e-publishing business – and then, while simultaneously holding your head beneath said waters, baptising you in the one true indie writing way and simultaneously yodelling “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee” he hauls you into Section 4 – a quick wrap-up on how to make your indie career happen.

Will this e-book guarantee your ultimate success as an indie author? Will it assure you an easy road to millions of dollars in overnight royalties?

Of course not. No book does. But what it does do is to give you a quick, entertaining, educational and FUN course in what you ought to know about becoming an indie author while clearly pointing out about a half a billion mistakes that you ought to avoid doing in the first place. This is – in all honesty – one of the first e-book indie-writing manuals that I have read, virtual cover to virtual cover – but I learned an awful lot from it and furthermore there is a lot of practical reference material that I know I will refer back to – time and again.

So pick this up if you want to learn how to become an indie author – or, more importantly, how to become a more succesful indie author. Just click on the cover illustration for a quick link to Amazon to download it in Kindle format!

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


An absolutely mind-blowing review of SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME!!!

Serial Distractions

ImageSudden Death Overtime by Steve Vernon (2012) : Available as an eBook from (Crossroads Press)

It doesn’t take long after an ominous black tour bus full of bloodsucking denizens of the damned arrives in a sleepy coastal village in Northern Labrador for people to start dying and the local church to go up in flames. Unfortunately, these vicious fiends are about to find out the only thing the old timers of Hope’s End do better than drink rum is play old school, rough-and-tumble, hockey.

What makes this story by Steve Vernon (Long Horn, Big Shaggy and Devil Tree) such a sheer joy is the characters. The venerable old farts of Hope’s End are curmudgeonly, hard-bitten, slightly drunk–and made of 100% heart. The protagonist, Sprague Deacon, does little more than drink with his friends and maintain the homemade hockey rink in his backyard for the local kids. When trouble comes…

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Well, it is a beautiful day out there and I’m going to go out into it very shortly.

It’s been a busy Saturday. Wrote two more chapters in my YA novel. I’m nearly at the 30K mark, aiming for 40-50K.

I also sent out a few more review requests. I’ve been hunting up book bloggers to review some of my work – because one can never have too many reviews. The only problem is that I hear back from one reviewer for every ten requests I make. It seems that there are an awful lot of writers out there these days and most of them are likewise hungry for reviews.

Yesterday I dealt with two interview requests, answering a sheet of questions for both of them. Some interviews are done that way – through e-mail. Others are done in person or over the telephone. You get a nice degree of spontanaity over the telephone or in person – but when you’re filling out answers for e-mail questions you have the opportunity to edit your answers and think them over carefully and add to them until you sound almost freaking brilliant. I think all of those wise people you hear about – such as Confucious and Solomon and the like – were all answering e-mailed interviews.

No question about it.

Last night I helped my wife Belinda move the furniture downstairs. We are in the midst of renovations. I get a new library out of it and Belinda gets a new office. We’re both happy. We’ve got a decorator doing most of the gruntwork but we have to move the furniture. We wound up carrying half of Belinda’s old office furniture upstairs. I was severely winded after a dozen trips up and down the stairs. I am not nearly as fit as I used to be. Too much beer and grease, I suspect.

Today I am going up over the hill to check out the corner video store that is going out of business this month. I’m going to miss the place, but I’ve bought a few of their old dvd’s and they are selling us their shelves for my new library. I also have to go to the grocery store and the mall for a couple of errands. I am looking forward to enjoying the sunshine.

Here’s a couple of links to some useful blog entries I have stumbled across.

Here’s a link to an article on improving your blog traffic. I could definitely use a few more followers to this blog. I might have to learn how to write someday…

Does Bette Middler follow you?

How to Sell a 100 E-books in a day – now yer talking!

And lastly, be sure to pick up a FREE Kindle copy of Jeff Bennington’s enormously informative e-book THE INDIE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE! I’ve got a copy and I’ve really learned a lot from it so far.

That’s all I’ve got for now.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


Swim The Fly

I’m working on an interview with a review site with a series of questions primarily focused upon my 2011 Middle Grade novel SINKING DEEPER!










One of the questions asks me – “If I were throwing a literary dinner party, which six authors or characters would you invite?”

Now, I’m not going to spoil the surprise by answering that question right here – but I will tell you that one of the authors that I said I’d invite would be Don Calame – the author of SWIM THE FLY.

I read this book a few months ago and I meant to write a review on it. I actually had the book sitting here on my desk for several months as a reminder. The book still might be here, but it’s hard to find anything on my desk right now because that would involve finding my desk.

Which can be hard some days.

I’m not saying that I’m disorganized, mind you. Just a little messy.

I picked up SWIM THE FLY, because one reviewer had compared my novel SINKING DEEPER to SWIM THE FLY. So right off the bat I was intrigued.

I absolutely loved SWIM THE FLY – yet I know that some people might have some misgivings over handing it to a fourteen year old boy.


Because of smut.

It has fart jokes.

It has poop jokes.

It has jokes involving an unexpected tentpole in the main character’s denim jeans.

The book’s plot is heavily dependent upon the protagonist’s ambition to see an actual live naked girl before the end of the summer.

I know, I know. Some of you are horrified.

But some of you don’t remember what it was like to be a fourteen year old boy. The fact is we have smutty minds at that age. Our hormones are kicking into overdrive and we are just finding out about things like hygiene, sex drive and self control. We think fart jokes are the epitome of fine humour. We lock ourselves in the bathroom with Victoria Secret catalogues, any chance we can get.

We make muscles in the mirror.

We don’t stop doing any of this as we get older, mind you. We just get a little cooler about, is all.

So – when you bring a book that has that proper degree of tasteless smut and place it in the hands of a reluctant male reader – you are going to give that fella a reason to start turning the pages. Some people will tell you that we are offending the minds of teenagers if we risk the risque – but let me tell you that most teenage boys still think fart jokes are awfully cool.

So, I want to thank that reviewer who compared SINKING DEEPER to SWIM THE FLY. They are two different books and have two very distinct voices – and I don’t believe I hit some of the deep resounding smut-jokes that Calame’s book does – but just the same I had a hell of an enjoyable reading the book and I would recommend it to any of you folks dealing with reluctant readers.

Finally, let me throw a link to a Youtube video of Don Calame’s trailer for SWIM THE FLY. It has to be one of the funniest book trailers I have ever seen.

This still isn’t a review, you understand. It’s just pointing out the fact that I believe if you enjoyed Don Calame’s SWIM THE FLY than you might want to give SINKING DEEPER a try.

So let’s end this blog entry with a commercial break.

You can buy my book at

You can buy my book at Chapters.

You can buy my book at

And if you ask me, I think you ought to buy my book!

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Quick morning post…

It’s snowing out and I’ve got to go to work.

While I’m out there slogging in the salt mines why don’t you read Ray Garton’s blog entry ON DEALING WITH WRITERS.

Ray has been writing horror and suspense for a lot longer than I have. If anyone wants to catch themselves a good vampire read hunt up a copy of Ray’s LIVE GIRLS.

Here’s the link to the blog entry.

And a link to Ray’s entry on the book LIVE GIRLS – which is a wonderfully rough trade ode to pure and nasty vampire horror. A really rock solid read.

Go and check this dude out.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


More Sinking Deeper news…

 I am very pleased to announce that my middle grade novel SINKING DEEPER – OR – MY QUESTIONABLE (POSSIBLY HEROIC) DECISION TO INVENT A SEA MONSTER is one of the ten English Fiction children’s novels nominated for that category of the 2012/2013 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Awards!

This is a tremendous opportunity – not just because it is an award – but because it is an award chosen by the many children who will read these books over the 2012-2013 school year. Even making the short list, as I have, is a wonderful honor and I am truly grateful for this blessing.

And oddly enough it could not come at a better time in that I am currently hard at work – and about three quarters of the way through – my next young adult novel – FIGHTING WORDS.

Over the last year I have a had an awful lot of kids come running up to me waving books that I have written and asking for autographs at schools that I go to visit. This is a new experience. You have to understand that I have been visiting schools as part of the Writers In The School program for many years – but it’s only lately that the kids have started coming to my workshops with my books in their hands.

Let me tell you that is a feeling that is polar bear cool.

Kids are a real tough audience. You can’t afford to fart around with them. Kids want the story and they want you to get to it in the most entertaining fashion. When you are writing for adults you can stop and talk about a sunrise and the way that the rain is beating down upon the concrete and the symbolic meaning of bird turds splattered upon an empty peanut butter jar.

But when you write for kids you’ve got to cut through all of that superfluous hoopdoodlery and get to the meat and bones of the story.

I can’t write much more tonight. The words refuse to spill out because my mouth is way too full of grinning!

Or in the words of the great philosopher Socrates – yowza, baby, yowza!

   Yours in storytelling,

   Steve Vernon