Monthly Archives: August 2012

STARTING YOUR STORY – FROM A TO Z

Starting Your Story

Okay.

Let’s step into a time machine for a minute. Back to high school dances when I was a kid. They usually happened in the gymnasium. All of the boys would line up on one wall. All of the girls would line up across the gymnasium on the other wall. And then, while the music played on, we mostly just leaned there, squinting across the distance and trying to work up the courage to cross that vast span of gym floor and ask someone to dance.

Sometimes, getting started is the hardest thing of all.

So – today – I have prepared for your use twenty-six story-starting paragraphs.

Read through them and write yourself a short little story. It doesn’t have to be an epic. It doesn’t have to be particularly brilliant. This isn’t rocket science. We’re just sitting here together on opposite sides of the internet, telling each other stories.

Consider it a challenge.

Consider it an exercise.

Consider it an invitation to a dance.

 

Albert had it all figured out. She was coming by train. He wanted to surprise her. He was at the station two hours before the train arrived. He had a chocolate bar an hour before arrival time. As she was getting off the train he was hiding in the men’s washroom, waiting for her to leave.

 

Betty bought the pistol at a pawn shop from a dapper little man who was a foot too short and about thirty pounds too heavy to be considered anywhere close to desirable. He placed the pistol in a shoebox, tied with a frayed yellow string. She drove home, unwrapped the box and loaded the pistol. She turned on the television and sat there, watching a Dr. Phil rerun, waiting for her husband to come home.

 

Cyril hated his job more than any human being ought to.  He hated the sight of his desk. He hated the smell of the wallpaper. He hated the rasping wheedling sound of his boss’s voice. One morning everything changed.

 

Delores loved Cyril – but Cyril had been married to Betty for over twelve years. As far as Delores concerned that was a twelve year mistake that she was about to rectify.

 

Ernest had sold tickets at the train station for sixteen years. Every morning before work his wife would pack him a lunch – cold ham with a slice of processed cheese and a generous squeeze of yellow mustard. A cup of lukewarm tea that he sipped from all day long.  Then one morning Ernest bought a train ticket for himself for the very first time in his life. He boarded the train, handed the ticket to the conductor and sat down at a window seat to watch.

 

Felicia collected butterflies. She loved the magnificent patterns of their wing structure. She kept them mounted in picture frames in her living room where she would sit and rock upon rocking chair and stare for hours at the kaleidoscope of perfect wonder. One morning Felicia decided that she had waited and studied for long enough. It was time to make her very own set of wings.

 

Gary watched the woman upon the roof with that beautiful set of multi-colored silken wings. Any other person in the world would have felt some sort of a brief burst of excitement but Gary was tired of living. He wasn’t suicidal, just intensely lethargic. It had been coming on for some time. He took one last look at the winged woman, then returned to his room and crawled under the bed and lay there in the darkness. “I’ve been waiting for,” a voice whispered far too closely to his ear.

 

Hilda turned the television set off and wondered when Ernest would come home. He was nearly two hours late. He might have been shopping – but he hated to shop. He might have been bowling – but he hated sports of any kind. She picked up the telephone and dialed the train station. When she heard that Ernest had left on the morning train she hung up carefully and considered her next move.

 

Isaac was having a good day. He had sold that pistol as well as the three rolls of silk that the old Chinamen had left with him.  He ought to close early but you should not turn your back on luck. His father had taught him that. When the fat black man with the guitar case walked into pawn shop and said “I’d like to pawn my soul, please.” Harry simply replied “How much were you hoping to get?”

 

Jennifer had never heard such music before. The old black man’s guitar must have strung with lark song and essence of whippoorwill. She threw three shiny quarters into the belly of the guitar case and was surprised when the old man snatched the three quarters up and told her – “I can double this ten times over if you’d like to make a little medicine with me.”

 

Keith picked up the bible and started to pray. He’d done the same thing every morning and every night of his life but God had never listened – until now.

 

Laurie walked into the church with two cans of gasoline and one box of matches. Maybe now God would finally listen.

 

Max smoked his last cigarette just outside of the old church. He was staring directly at the graveyard when the first explosion roared out.  He woke up beside a gravestone, staring at himself.

 

Nancy opened one eye. Then the other. She breathed in. She breathed out. Damn it, she said – I’m still alive.

 

Orson started walking. He wasn’t sure where he was going but he had a hunch he’d know when he got there.

 

Phyllis listened to the waves rolling onto the beach. They had been telling her a story all of her life – a story that only she understood and knew the meaning to. This morning she woke up to discover that the waves had grown silent.

 

Quincy had worn cotton in his ears for as long as he could remember. He had a theory that ninety-eight percent of the words that were ever spoken weren’t particularly worth listening too. Three days following his fifty-eight birthday Quincy finally found a reason to unplug his ears and listen.

 

Rita was ready. Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue – namely herself. She sat there alone in her room sprinkling uncooked rice and dead daffodils upon the floor playing the wedding march on her dead Uncle Billy’s eight-track player.

 

Steve sat at his keyboard – wondering how in the world he was ever going to come up with a story-starting paragraph for T,U,V,W, X,Y and Z. His coffee was getting cold. His patience was wearing thin. If only someone would help him finish this all-important blog entry. He looked up in surprise to see a small blue songbird sitting upon his windowsill – whistling out the answer in a surprisingly tuneful Morse code.

Too bad Steve had failed his Morse Code Badge in Boy Scouts…

 

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Publishing is Broken, we’re drowning in Indie Books – And That’s A Good Thing

All right, all right – so I haven’t written a fresh new blog for a while. I promise something new come this weekend.

But for now I picked this up through THE DIGITAL READER http://www.the-digital-reader.com/ – which is a website that you really ought to be following on your own rather than reading it filtered through my hairy brain.

Still, I felt strongly enough to post this here. It’s an article on the indie publishing phenomenon.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidvinjamuri/2012/08/15/publishing-is-broken-were-drowning-in-indie-books-and-thats-a-good-thing/6/

The Digital Reader picked it up from Forbes.

I feel it’s a solid article that really hits the mark.

 

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

And, speaking of phenomenon, why don’t you sing along with this – using the word “phenomenon” instead of ma-na-ma-na???

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM89T74MPnE

 

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

This will give you folks an idea of the numbers of sales that are possible through e-books. These writers are selling anywhere from 1000 to 168,481 copies per month!

(no, I am not anywhere CLOSE to that sort of sales – but it is definitely something to aspire to!)

E-Books – Is it a genre thing?

A couple of weeks ago a gent named Ewan Morrison wrote an article in The Guardian entitled “Why Social Media Isn’t The Magic Bullet for Self-epublished Authors”.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jul/30/tweet-about-cats-just-write

Basically – what he said was that I’m wasting my time writing this blog entry or posting on my Facebook or even tweeting on Twitter. I ought to just sit down and write and save all of that virtual-shmoozing for the pop icons.

I wasn’t offended. It never bothers me to hear from another viewpoint. Besides, in some ways he is absolutely right. I’ve always known that my next book is going to be sold by my last book which might even sell my book after the next – especially if it is a sequel!

(I may have just given myself an aneurysm with that last sentence – goddamn, did it parse???)

He is likewise right in saying that Twitter and Facebook will someday die. Sure they will. But by then they’ll have been replaced with Nosebook – in which you can virtually sniff your friend’s armpits. The whole world will go around like a pack of wild dogs, sniffing each other’s butts and books on Nosebook.

Look for it in the spring of 2017!

The really interesting part of the story is in the comments section. There are six pages of comments. There would most likely be more – but the comment section was closed off. It’s an old article and I suppose they want to save on bandwidth – but it also felt a little like someone sending in the brute squad to keep a lid on things.

Joe Konrath – e-book champion and writer of the enormously entertaining Jack Daniels series and many other e-books besides – stepped in to comment on how he basically agrees with a lot of what the author had to say but disagreed with the whole notion that e-books were a bubble-phenomenon that would go the way of eight-tracks and Beta digital.

A passing fad.

Now that is blatant bullshit. The e-book is definitely here to stay, in my opinion. They’re still selling calculators, they’re still selling television sets and they’re still selling cellular phones. Some gadgets don’t go away. E-books are one of them.

The thing that folks need to realize is that an e-book is just the same as a traditionally published trade paperback – just in a different format is all. So saying the e-book is the death of the traditionally published book is a little like saying that your kids will be the death of you!

Then Ewan Morrison went on to step over a line.

E-books – he said – are primarily for “genre” writers.

I read a little further, moving my lips while I read, and Ewan Morrison went on to explain that “real” “literary” writers will continue to eschew the e-book.

More bullshit.

When you get right down to it – your average “literary” author is no better or no worse than a “genre” author. The fact is both genre and literary authors have one factor in common.

They’re storytellers.

Oh sure, one of them uses a lot more literary technique and undoubtedly holds his pinky finger extended while he types – but that writer is still nothing more than a storyteller.

And a storyteller wants – more than anything on earth – a consenting audience.

That’s right. We want someone to read our stories or listen to stories.

So most “literary” authors are eventually going to realize that the e-book is nothing more than another avenue towards that most desirable of resources – READERS!!!

That’s right.

Literary authors might be fancy. They might indeed hold their pinky finger extended while they type – but they aren’t stupid!

E-books are here to stay.

Genre authors are welcome to the medium.

Literary authors are welcome to the medium.

There is room in this boat for all us!

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

 

A brand-new SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME review

I’m still hip-deep in the Busker Festival and too busy to write a proper blog entry – but here’s a link to a brand-new review of SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME!

 

Hockey 30 Days of Night in Canada.

 

And here’s a link to brief write-up concerning SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME. I wrote it – so it’s really sort of an infomercial – but if you’re looking for a little publicity for you next Kindle e-book release you ought to try it out.

 

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Interview with Steve Vernon

Here’s a brand new interview. Give it a read and if you’re a fan of Canadian speculative fiction you ought to follow the blog that the interview appears on.

 

Interview with Steve Vernon.

Blog Cartoon

I’m busy getting ready to go downtown to the Busker Festival – so you folks will have to settle for a giggle rather than insight today.

The above cartoon came from CHUCK AND BEANS. There’s a link to the website embedded in the image if you want to check out more of their cartoons.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Upcoming Interview with Steve Vernon on Monday August 6th

Upcoming Interview with Steve Vernon on Monday August 6th.

 

Watch the skies!

 

Watch the skies!

 

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon