Monthly Archives: September 2013

Tesseracts 17 Interviews: Claude Lalumière

Today is the first interview with the authors of Tesseracts 17. I’ll be posting these over the next few weeks and months.

Colleen Anderson

Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast (Canada has three coasts) is due out in October, from Edge Publishing. It features stories and poetry by Canadians and  those living in Canada. Edited by Steve Vernon and me, we were lucky enough to end up with at least one piece from every province and territory (Canada has three territories) except for Nunavut.  I’m doing short interviews with all of the authors over the next few months, so stay tuned to find out a little bit more about the authors and their pieces. The anthology begins with British Columbia, where Claude Lalumière was living at the time, and opens with his story “Vermilion Wine.”

CA: “Vermilion Wine” opens the the Tesseracts 17 anthology. Steve and I were immediately impressed and swept in by the mystical, mysterious feel of this piece. How did you come up with the idea of Venera…

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Replying to a Negative Book Review?

I may have mentioned a time or two that I am a BIG fan of Chuck Wendig’s TERRIBLE MINDS blog.

I haven’t read any of his books. I really ought to. They ARE on Kobo, after all – but the household budget this year has been strained a little by my wife’s return to college and my book-buying addiction has been voluntarily curtailed.

Still, his blog makes me giggle and it teaches me at the very same time.

Just yesterday I read a blog entry of his that spoke about the reasons WHY a writer ought to think twice about replying to negative reviewers.

Let me add my own two bits here.


Oh sure, you’re going to say. That’s good advice, Steve, but I don’t have to follow your advice now – do I?

Well yes, it is good advice. And it is JUST my advice – and no, before you can say it I am NOT the boss of you.

But is good advice – even though it is JUST advice.

Same as – “Do not put your foot in that bear trap!” is just advice.

So, now that I have established that I am indeed a knowledgeable guru-giver of good advice that you really ought to listen unless you LIKE the idea of a bear trap as a pedal accessory – I probably ought to tell you WHY I think that replying to negative reviews is a BAD idea.

Listen – that negative review is just somebody who has made their mind up – and no matter HOW persuasively you try to encourage them to see things your way – odds are you are going to wind up in the middle of a discussion that most likely will turn into a digital fist fight and might possibly result in an onslaught of bad reviews – either delivered karmically by some unseen dubiously-benevolent get-your-goat god – OR – delivered to you by an angry peeved-off steamed-up mad blood-stalking book reviewer who has made it their personal mission in life to hunt your e-books down and bash them unmercifully until they either die, give up, or take up stamp collecting.

Remember – the One Hundred Year War – that really lasted about 116 years, if memory serves – started out with two old boys standing in a field saying “I disagree”.

If you want to read Chuck’s blog on this matter – and about a billion reader comments swing on over to TERRIBLE MINDS and maybe even follow it – because a good blog is a terrible thing to waste.

AND – while you are in the blog-reading mood – why don’t you hit this link and give a look-over to my other take on this situation – ADVICE FOR DEALING WITH A BAD REVIEW.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Fortune Teller Blog Hop…

fortune teller blog hop copy

A while ago I was asked to take part in a September 16th FORTUNE TELLER BLOG HOP.

Well folks that sounded like a bucket full of fun.

I said “Sure” and here’s my entry.

As part of today’s FORTUNE TELLER BLOG HOP – I’ve decided to post a story that was originally sold to a magazine with the great title of VAMPIRE DAN’S STORY EMPORIUM. Unfortunately the magazine went under just before they had the chance to publish this piece.

Eventually I turned this short story into my full-length novel GYPSY BLOOD – which I then sold to Five Star Press. Much later I re-sold the original story to BEST NEW VAMPIRES VOLUME 1 (Books of the Dead Press).

I had great hopes for this novel – GYPSY BLOOD – but it turned out that my original publisher had a REALLY weird distribution network that specialized in selling directly to libraries. They avoided selling to bookstores – so that they did not have to deal with returns. So the book was basically published and disappeared after 1000 or so copies were sold.

Since then I have released it as an e-book and have been asked many times if I would ever consider a sequel.

Well – the book is selling and I have two short stories roughed out involving the protagonist – and I likewise have a full-length novel in mind.

All it takes is time.


So what is GYPSY BLOOD about?

Gypsy Blood Cover

Carnival (whom I call Jack in the short story” is a part-time fortune teller and occult trouble shooter and a full-time pain in the neck. Do you have a banshee that needs a tonsillectomy? Call Carnival. Do you need to give the yo-ho-heave-ho to some troublesome pirate-ghosts? Call Carnival. What about that mummy that thinks she’s a rap artist? Call Carnival.

Carnival is a gypsy. His Poppa calls him a poshrat. That’s Rom, for half-blood. Carnival never listened to his Poppa when he was alive but these days he doesn’t have much of a choice. It serves him right for sticking his Poppa so close to his heart. What a way to treat a dead relative but that’s Carnival for you. A real spontaneous kind of guy. Like when he gives that succubus a permanent case of lockjaw. Or when he invites a full grown demon into the tub for a scrub-a-dub. Or when he falls in love with a vampire. Talk about your pain in the neck.

Gypsy Blood is an 85,000 word fast paced, funny and terrifying novel like nothing you’ve ever read before. The whole thing rolls like an avalanche of skateboards, building to a climactic battle royale between Carnival, his two-timing vampire lover, a she-demon with a mother complex, a social climbing blood god, the collective spirit of the city and a mercenary mariachi band in a rickshaw.

That’s right, I said a rickshaw.

You want to know more – well, you’ll just have to pony up that 99 cents before the price goes back up and download yourself a copy from Amazon.

Note: this is the THIRD cover that this e-book has had – and I’m still not truly happy with it. In the next month or so – if sales are good and the royalty gods are kind – I have a cover design in mind that I will have to purchase.

Now here is that story I promised you.


What can I tell you? I’m a gypsy, or at least the sign outside my shop says so. GYPSY FORTUNE TELLING – BY WALK-IN OR APPOINTMENT ONLY, ASK US ABOUT OUR RAINY DAY SPECIAL.

That’s one sign. There’s another on the lamp post outside my shop window. It tells anyone who cares to read that JESUS CHRIST SAVES FROM ALL SINS. PRAY TO JESUS NOW. OBEY THE BIBLE.

That’s as direct as a marine drill instructor. They don’t call it the Salvation ARMY for nothing. A Cosa Nostra strong arm paissano, with biceps the size of bowling balls and tatoos on each arm that read MUDDER and MURDER could not be half so explicit.

There’s a basket full of tracts sprouting from beneath the sign. The basket is refilled every couple of weeks. I don’t know who refills it. I’ve never seen anyone go near the basket. Maybe it is refilled by night. Maybe the tracts spontaneously procreate. Maybe there is a miniaturized printing press installed inside the lamp post.

Stranger things have happened.

I never see anyone reading any of the tracts. I think winos use them to blow their noses when the weather is cold.

Underneath the basket the motif continues – DEATH, JUDGEMENT, ETERNITY, HEAVEN OR HELL, YOU DECIDE.

It kind of reminds me of those warnings the government prints on cigarette packages.

I’ve got another sign hung on the wall beside my table. Printed on a sheet of cardboard as neatly as my penmanship allowed, in bright red magic marker; and covered with a thin layer of plastic sandwich wrap.

It almost looks professional.

“The moving finger writes and having writ moves on, nor all your wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it.”

Omar Khayam.

Now there was a fellow who knew his lines.

Me, I’m a palmist. I flip the tarot. I’ve got a knack for seeing what people want to see in the dreams. I can even fake a tea cup if the price is right.

Some folks call me Gypsy Jack.


I don’t know jack.

Is it a con? Sure, what isn’t? We live in concrete tombs built out of cons and promises and lies. We fill our ears with radio waves and television signals stuffed full of larcenous fantasies. We play bingo and invest in the stock market, and figure it is all the way things ought to be.

I’m an honest-to-Cheiro palmist. One of those crazy guys who actually believes in what he’s doing.

That’s rare, these days.

The believing.

Not the palmistry.

My granny taught me how, much to the undying shame of my poppa. Poppa thinks I should leave the teacups and cards for the women and take up a trade as an honest thief.

What can I tell you?

Fathers are never happy with their sons. I think it’s some kind of immortal law, you know?

God forbid, if I ever have a son I promise to be happy with him.

Unless he disappoints me.


So here I am, in my rented storefront with my cot out back.

The building code tells me I’m not supposed to sleep here, but I read palms, not codes. What the slumlord doesn’t know isn’t going to hurt me.

I’ve been here six months. In six more months this block is scheduled for urban renewal.

The juggernaut of gentrification.

The power of progress.

Call it what you will, it’s all means the same damn thing. Me and the tattooist upstairs and the lady in the basement who takes in homeless sailors are going to be out on the street.

What can I tell you?

Nothing lasts forever.

Six months before, I was somewhere else. Six months from now I’ll just move on. The cheapest buildings are always the ones about to die.

It isn’t that vicious of a cycle.

I like what I’m doing most of the time, except every now and then I get to feeling like a priest who’s heard one too many lousy confessions.

Like today, for instance.

Today came down like endless thunder.

I should have seen it coming. The signs were everywhere. A cat moaned under my window. A dog howled even though the moon had its eye poked out for the next three days. I woke up this morning with a mouthful of cobweb and a dead rat on my door way.

Oh can I hear an omen, please?

I should have seen it coming when she first walked in. I should have seen it in the way she looked at me like a lonely moonlit cave.

I should have turned her away.

I could have.

It was night time. I was thinking about frying a couple of sausages with some peppers and onions and garlic and that bottle of plonk I’d saved since Saturday. Then she walked in and all I saw was a customer, and a chance to feed the bills.

“I want to know my future,” she said. “Palm or cards, I don’t care, just tell me what you see.”

“What I tell you depends on what you want to know. The palm tells everything. Birth to death, cradle to grave. Only general, you know? The cards are specific, but shortsighted. Two or three months at best. The cards don’t see far, but they sure see straight.”

“I don’t know about two or three months. I just know I’m here, for now, so maybe it better be the palm.”

“Sit down.”

I’ve got a card table from a junk shop. It’s covered with a black cotton table cloth an old lady sewed me for a dream I read. There’s a couple of chairs. A green plastic lawn chair that she sits in. I found it in an alley. A wooden chair that I’m already sitting in that came with the rent.

“So are you right-handed or left-handed?” I ask.

“Does it make a difference?”

“In the old days the palmist read your left hand. Closest to the heart tells truth, so they figured. But that’s bullshit. The heart’s the biggest liar you ever met. I read the hand you think with, the one you work with. The hand you don’t use, that’s what you were born with,” I tell her. “The hand you use, that’s what you made of it.”

“What if I’m ambidextrous?”

It was late and my patience was never long-lived.

“Then you ought to make up your mind,” I said, trying to make my irritability into a joke.

She just stared.

“So are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Are you ambidextrous?”

“No,” she said. “I’m right-handed.”

So I get her to hold out her right hand.

“You’re receptive,” I say. “Like a radar dish to life, you take in what it sends you. You lap it up, like a cat licks cream.”

The shape of her palm, her splayed-out fingers, they tell me this; that and a pretty good guess. Her grin tells me I guessed right.

I hold her hand, and I test it for flexibility. A stiff hand means an unflexible person. Someone who doesn’t change easily, a control freak, unreceptive to new ideas.

Her hand is cold, but it’s almost night and there’s probably a chill in the air. I could tell her she has a warm heart, but I don’t believe in that old saying – “cold hands, warm heart”.

Next I always turn the hand over and look at the life line. That’s the line that fish hooks from between your thumb and index and down towards your wrist. If it’s long and strong it means a good healthy life. If it bends away from your thumb, like a linebacker heading out for a lateral pass, it shows a wild spirit, a black sheep, someone who has disappointed their father early on. If there is a second line inside it, it means a strong inner life.

Only this line wasn’t like any of those others. This line was like some kind of crazy spiral dance. This line looked like a long skinny worm wrapped around and around her thumb. It just kept running on, wrapping around her thumb and back again, like a string that she’d tied on so as not to forget something.

It looked like one of those spinning hypnotic discs you used to be able to buy in the back of comic books. You know, the ones right next to the garlic chewing gum, the X – Ray glasses, and the genuine shrunken heads. The discs were supposed to allow you to hypnotize women into letting you have your way with them.

Believe me, they didn’t work.

“What do you see?” she asked.

What do I see?

Christ, I don’t want to see what I’m seeing.

I try to swallow, but my tongue has swollen to the size of an overstuffed couch.

“What do you see?” she repeated.

This means a lot to her.

She needs to know.

Call me Galahad, but there’s something about a woman in need I can’t resist.

I swallow the couch and find my voice.

“I see a long life. A very, very long life.”

I’m not kidding. A life line like this you would expect to see on something like a god. Something that’s going to be around for a very long time.

“What else do you see?” she asked impatiently.

What could I tell her? It was like her life line had swallowed everything. Heart, head, fate, all gone in a gulp.

“I see hunger,” I say. “I see a life of endless hunger.”

She clears her throat, like she is tasting something she doesn’t like.

“What about happiness? What about children? What about marriage?” she asks.

There’s a well of unshed tears lingering in her voice, but she isn’t the kind of woman who cries a lot.
Not any kind of woman at all.

I remember something granny told me; about a life line that ran like this. Something I brushed off as old superstition.

I was putting pieces together.




Count Yorga and Barnabas Collins.

Like Christopher Lee in all those old Hammer movies, only worse.

This was real.

She was real.

She kept asking me questions.

“What about love?” she asked.

“What about it? You might as well ask me which way the wind will blow, three hundred years from tomorrow. It’s late. Go home, and see me in the morning.”

“I don’t see anyone before sundown,” she said.

It figures.

“What about my future?”

“Future is all you got. Future, past, and hunger. Lots of hunger.”

She looks at me like I might look at a good tavern steak.

I figure that it’s time for a little creative self-defense. I stood up quickly. I kicked over the wooden chair and brought my boot down on it as it hit the ground.

The rungs shattered.

She watches me like a patient diner, waiting for their favorite snack.

I grabbed a chair rung and pointed it at her like a knife.

“Get back vampire. There’s no future for you today.”

She looked at the chair rung. One eyebrow rose up like a black sunrise.

“Not sharp enough. If you’re going to stick me, it’s got to be sharper than that.”

Ha. Some joke.

If she smiles I’m going to scream.

I wish for the time to unsnap my jack knife and whittle a point, but wishing, like my stake, is pointless.

She holds up her palm, like an Indian in a bad cowboy movie, about to say “How.”

Suddenly she’s Mandrake, Svengali, and Mesmer rolled into one.

I don’t want to look, but I have to. I have to look at her palm, and it’s like staring at a whirlpool in the ocean, and I am falling in to it, and it is spinning about me, rising up to entangle me. It feels a little like falling headfirst into a canyon full of maggots.

I feel the line, her life line, wrapping about me. I feel like Tarzan wrestling a giant snake, only this snake is colder than any mere reptile. Cold and unbelievably dead and absolutely hungry.

I feel it sucking at me, drawing me inwards. She’s amoebic, like one of those creeping vines that strangle sunflowers.

Forget about movies.

Forget about what you read in Stoker.

Vampires, the real ones, they never bite.

They suck. I’m talking death by osmosis. A little visceral empathy, if you please.

I’ve one hope. I reach down below me, down through the clinging lines that wrap about me like I was a virgin in a lounge room of undead pick-up artists slinging line after unholy line, to feel the broken wreckage of my wooden chair.

I rise up, amidst the gut-storm of this evil thing’s life line, clinging to two chair rungs like a drowning sailor clinging to a couple of matchsticks.

I cross them, and hold them outward. I try to think of Van Helsing. I think about the pope. I think about Mother Theresa and Billy Graham and Evil Knievel.

It’s been years since my mother took me to church, but I still remember some of it.

I recite the one prayer from the rosary I remember.

“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was crucified, died, and was buried.”

I’m getting some of the lines wrong, but I must be doing something right because the lifeline about me loosens and I begin to feel a kind of hope being born – and like a ninety-year-old death bed repentant who hasn’t seen the inside of a church since his grandmother took him to be baptized, I just keep on praying.

“He descended into hell and on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God.”

I can’t remember the last of it, something about communion and resurrection and maybe it wasn’t so good a thing to be praying for in the face of what I was facing.

Then I remembered a prayer my uncle taught me, the time the neighborhood bully kicked my ass.

“Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in our day of battle; protect us against the deceit and wickedness of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.”

St. Micheal did the trick. I was free, and I was back in my room, crouched behind the refuge of my overturned card table that had somehow been kicked over in the heat of our struggle, brandishing my makeshift crucifix in the face of this hungry she-devil.

What could I do?

I kept on praying, falling back on the ever reliable Lord’s Prayer.

“Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

She swatted the card table out of the way. It slammed against the far wall and one of its chrome legs snapped off.

The part of my mind closest to my wallet mourned the loss of a perfectly good card table and my favorite wooden chair.

The sensible part just kept on praying.

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done…,”

She laughed at this, the kind of laugh that crows laugh over the bones of dead men.

I felt a little less confident, but I kept on praying.

“…as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.”

She swatted the Tim Allen cross from my hands, and I felt my daily bread grow moldy.

I crossed my fingers and began to chant, “the power of Christ compels you, the power of Christ compels you,” but I guess she hadn’t seen that movie.

She caught me by my throat, and held me close enough to smell the stink of the graveyard dirt she’d slept in.

“My people are older than your people,” she said in a voice that sounded like a toad that had somehow learned to speak. “My people are older than His people.”

I was scared. I tried not to show it. I figure I did pretty well, seeing how I managed not to soil my pants.

I kept trying to pray.

“Our father, our father,”

But I guess he wasn’t listening as her grip choked the words from me. She knew it was all an act. I hadn’t been to church since Jesus wore short pants and a training robe.

“Little god-boy,” she said with a laugh. “You mouth your prayers, yet you have not been to confession in more years than you will admit. Your words are wind; smoke that slips from the chimney that I will make of your open throat.”

“Holy Mary, mother of…,”

She shook me like a dog shakes a dead rat, and then she threw me to the floor.

“I spit on your mother.” she said.

That did it.

That, more than anything else did it.

No one insults my mother.

I was lying face-first on the floor, staring at a tarot card that had fallen when she’d knocked over the card table.

It was the card they call the hanged man.

I stared at that card and thought of my mother and as that she-demon picked me up again by my throat I found the strength to speak.

“Vampire,” I said, spitting the word like bad mouth wash. “You mock me, you say my words are empty. Yet last week I slept with a gypsy girl whose piss was warmer than what passes for your pitiful blood. Her laugh was like a gift from heaven and her heartbeat like a thunder of roses. You have nothing to match her.”

She squeezed tighter, but I was inspired. Out of pure mule-stubborn spunk I kept on speaking.

“You can take my life, and you still have nothing. No children, no love, no happiness. I know, I’m a gypsy and I see it in your palm. You live in the grave, and no matter how far you walk by night you will always live in your grave, and that is no life at all.”

I thought about dying.

I wished I had time to write out a will, but what the hell, I had nothing worth bequeathing and no one to bequeath it to.

My favorite chair was broken, and I was lying about the gypsy girl.

The truth was I hadn’t been laid in months.

And right about now my future prospects didn’t look so hot.

I kept on talking, even though the words cut through my damaged throat like razors made of barbed wire.

“As dead as I am about to be I have more future than you. That Gypsy girl will someday tell her children about the night I tripped over her father’s pig trying to sneak into her camp and was chased away by the hounds, and her children will laugh and I will be reborn in their laughter. Who have you made laugh, bitch? Who has smiled for you? Who will remember you and grin?”

She hissed like an angered snake, slamming my back against the wall and the last breath from my lungs.

The room swam. Bright spots of good-bye polka danced about my eyes.

I felt her teeth kiss my neck. I felt the weight of her nonexistent breath haunting my skin. Then she screamed, and the room turned over as she threw me to the floor. I fell beside the wreckage of my broken card table. My arm felt broken, but I didn’t have time for pain. I tried to rise. If I was to greet death today, I would do it on my two good feet.

I was my mother’s son.

I was a gypsy.

She let me stand.

She stood there, staring at something far beyond me.

I kept waiting for her to finish me, but she did nothing.

I stared at her and she stared at something so unimaginably vast, that I couldn’t begin to tell you what it was.

She began to moan, and the building shook, and if the tattooist upstairs was tattooing an angel on a sailor’s back, he probably just gave her an extra tit on her wing.

And the noise she made, such a noise, I have never heard in my entire life time.

Try to imagine the sound that the moon makes as she wails for her long lost lover on a cold November night in the highest reaches of the Balkan Mountains.

Try to imagine the shrieking of Mary as the Roman centurions nailed her heart to a couple of two by fours.

Then multiply them both by one hundred and ten.

I covered my ears, for fear of going deaf.

Finally she stopped screaming.

The corner of her left eye began to bleed a single tear, blood that was cut with the smallest spectre of sorrow.

We stood, staring at each other while I counted time by my heart beat, until she found the courage to speak.

“Do you know,” she asked, with a lopsided grin that was halfway to heart break, “Do you know that I have not seen a sunrise since your grandfather’s grandfather first drew breath?”

Her voice was strained, as if I had been strangling her and not the other way around. Her voice cracked and groaned like the door of a long unopened secret.

“What are you going to do about that?” I asked.

She smiled, the kind of smile that blessedly didn’t show her teeth.

“I think I will stand alone,” she said. “Outside your door, and watch the sun rise one final time.”
She walked to the door, opened it, and was gone.

I followed her outside.

I sat down on my front steps.

She stood beside the lamp post with that sign that spoke of redemption and damnation, waiting through the long cold night.

The two of us waited for the sun to rise.

Once a car slowed down beside her, thinking that perhaps that she was the woman who took in homeless sailors.

The man in the car spoke. I couldn’t hear his line, but I heard her laugh, that once, bitter and sweet and lonely like a very old child.

The car drove away.

We waited some more.

Once – only once – she looked back at me, and I thought that maybe she was having second thoughts.

Perhaps she was.

She could have had me. I would not have fought. I had fallen in love with that last little laugh of hers, that oh so lonely laugh that sounded so much like a child who had been turned away by her father some thousand years ago.

Loneliness ached within my heart, and love like a moth that flutters beneath the moon was born.
She could have had me, but she didn’t.

The sun rose like a dying phoenix, and without looking at me once, she screamed a long goodbye.

The End


If you liked that story than why not go and pick up the entire e-book – which takes a slightly different turn and is told in a slightly different style – but I believe you will like it just the same.

Pick up a copy at
Or on
Or pick up a copy on NOOK.
Or pick up a copy on i-tunes.
Or pick up a copy on Smashwords!
OR – Pick up a copy on KOBO!

Let’s see…I think I got them all.


Be sure to check out the rest of the participants of the Fortune Teller Blog Hop

Kayla Curry (Host)

Alyssa Auch

S. M. Boyce

N.R. Wick

A. F. Stewart

Linda Taylor

Tami Von Zalez

Quanie Miller

Ellen Harger

Deborah Nam-Krane

Erin Cawood

Danielle-Claude Ngontang Mba

Wendy Ely

Laure Reminick

Jen McConnel

yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon

Why I don’t Write Negative Book Reviews Anymore…

I just got finished reading a post over at Chuck Wendig’s TERRIBLE MINDS blog – (and if you aren’t following Chuck’s blog you are REALLY missing out on a giggle-fest and a lot of writerly wisdom – so long as you don’t mind the occasional every-line-or-two dose of potty-mouth that Chuck continually indulges in) – that was answering the question “Why I Don’t Like To Negatively Review Other Author’s Books”.

So I got to thinking on that and I posted a comment over at Chuck’s blog and now I’m going to re-post it for my readers.

Here goes.

I was a paid reviewer for about two years or so – back when magazines actually PAID you to write a review.

It was a REALLY cool gig. I got paid ten to twenty dollars for waxing loquaciously for about two or three paragraphs on a book that I hadn’t actually had to pay for. I don’t know how much per word that boiled down to – but it was still a REALLY cool gig.

But then I came to a book that I couldn’t find much nice to say about.

“This person paid for advertising,” the publisher told me. “Can’t you find ANYTHING nice to say about it?”

“Well,” I said. “I like that it had two covers – front and back – with pages in between – although it could have done with a few less of those pages – like all of them.”

Well that flew about as far as a solid concrete fart.

Another time I kicked a book hard in a review and three months heard back from an editor of an anthology that I had submitted a story too – and he wanted to know just why the hell I had gone and kicked his book so hard in print for?

Was he being unprofessional? Hell – I don’t know. I was just the guy who had kicked his book.

So if I’m reading a book and I don’t like it I just throw it in the corner and let the cat pee on it for awhile. I figure that’s criticism enough for my needs.

I still write the occasional Goodreads and Amazon review and the like – stuff that I don’t get paid for. And I’ve given up on EVER writing reviews on books that just plain toilet-bowl sucked.

The fact is we writers read DIFFERENTLY then honest-to-dewey-decimal-system readers.

A reader looks at a book it’s all about – well, I liked that.

Or – well, that book sucked worse than a toilet bowl clogged in the heart of a Texas black hole.

A writer looks at a book – well he’s looking at how it’s put together.

It’s like talking to a cabinet maker. He sees a table and he’s looking at the joints and the choices of wood and how much goat was thrown into that cabriole – while somebody else is just thinking “Gee, my beer sits really nicely on that table. It doesn’t even spill.”

Besides – my momma told me a LONG time ago that a fellow ought not to say ANYTHING if he can’t think of anything nice to say.

That’s my two bits.

Anyone doesn’t like it can get that quarter changed with the bartender.

But don’t forget to tip.

(You can read the WHOLE blog entry over at Chuck’s blog)

Yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon

Spam and Beans…

Okay – so I promised someone over on Facebook book a Spam recipe – and rather than trying to cram it all into one of their dinky little comment blocks I decided that I would write it out here in full and then link to them over there.

This is nothing more than a derivative of my world-famous He-Man Beans recipe which dukes, emperors and the occasional Earl have written and asked me about.

It starts out with a fry pan.

There are very few problems in life that cannot be solved with a frypan. Heck, if all of the world leaders sat down around a woodstove with a frypan full of my he-man beans – you bet you not a single one of them fellows would be able to spell W – A – R.

Chop up a fat old onion.

You ought to sing while you are chopping but not so loudly that you will accidentally cut a finger off – but if you do happen to inadvertently lop your pinkie don’t worry – that’s just a little more protein for the fry pan.

I like to chop a green pepper and some celery and a green apple while I am at it. A red apple or a red pepper will do just fine as well – although red apples are generally considered food for wusses.

Dump all of this chop-up into a big bowl. You should ALWAYS have your chopping done ahead of time – or else risk the generation of a little more protein for that fry pan.

If you see any fruit flies just shoot them – but aim straight. Bullet holes in the cooking cupboards is a total social faux-pas.

Go to the can cupboard and find yourself a tin of Spam and a tin of beans. Maybe even two tins of beans – if you are feeding more than yourself.

If you don’t have a tin of beans OR a tin of Spam in your can cupboard you probably ought to find that fruit fly pistol and shoot yourself with it two or three times.

There are limits, man.

Open all the tins.

Chunk up the Spam into a separate bowl – or a plate if you have shot all of the fruit flies.

Put the fry pan on the burner.

Turn the sucker up HOT.

Then, when the fry pan is hot drizzle a little olive oil on the fry pan to make it sizzle.

Throw in the onions. It is a fact of life that onions ALWAYS ought to be fried first. They smell sweet and can actually attract wayward women if the wind is blowing in the proper direction.

Then lump in the Spam and start stirring around with a big fat old wooden spoon.

You don’t have a spoon?

Start thinking about that gun again.

Then add whatever else you have chopped up and stir it like you have caught a religious fever.

Sing to your fry pan while you are stirring. You need to have a good frying song. I favor Volare sung in the key of Dean Martin.

It’ll bring them wayward women just flocking to you.

When everything is nicely sizzling in the pan open a beer – unless it’s breakfast time at which you will have to make do with good strong coffe – unless it’s Sunday and the Lord isn’t looking.

If you haven’t got beer or coffee I will again refer you to that gun.

Dump the beans into the fry pan and turn the heat down a little and try for a heroic he-man pose if anyone is looking – and even if they aren’t looking those wayward women might show up at any moment time so it wouldn’t hurt you to throw in a pose just the same.

Finally, slather a little butter onto some fresh bread and heap those Spam and beans onto a big metal plate. Find a fork – or a spoon – and dig in.

Yodel, if you must.

If I had time I’d tell you how to make bannock – which goes awfully good with he-man beans – but I’ll save that for another day.

And – speaking of spam…

If you haven’t picked up a copy of TATTERDEMON yet it is available over at Amazon for a mere 99 cents. This book is an especially apt accompaniment to this blog because in the first chapter you get to watch as the protagonist makes amazing use of her fry pan.

Tatterdemon Omnibus


AND – if you’re a Kobo reader you can pick up the very same book with a slightly different title.

Tatterdemon Omnibus

If you want a sneak peek on the Kobo volume the first segment REVENANT – is totally FREE!!!



yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Explaining Amazon Rankings…

Okay – so in the aftermath of yesterday’s big Friday 13th promotion TATTERDEMON continues to rise in the ranks.

As of this morning TATTERDEMON is:

#10,913 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#73 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror > Occult
#84 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror > Occult

Okay, so what does that mean exactly.

Well – if you are listed at ranking #100,000+ you are probably selling less than ONE copy a day of your e-book.

If you are listed between 70,000 and 100,000 you are averaging ONE copy a day.

If you are listed around #42,500 you are averaging TWO copies a day.

If you are listed around #32,000 you are averaging THREE copies a day.

If you are listed around #25,000 you are average FIVE copies sold in a day.

If you are listed around #12,000 you are averaging TEN copies sold in a day.

If you are listed around #7500 you are averaging FIFTEEN copies sold in a day.

So that’s basically what Amazon Ranking is looking at – is how FAST you are selling at any given point in time. Later next week, if TATTERDEMON isn’t still selling at the rate it sold during the sale – that ranking is going to drop back into the six digits and S – L – I – D – E!!!

The thing to consider is that the higher in the rankings you climb the more likely it is that you are going to picked up and spotted by Amazon’s various hot-bots.

(You like that term? I made it up)

You’ll start showing up on Amazon’s various “If you liked this you ought to try TATTERDEMON” lists.

You’ll start showing up on Amazon’s various “Top Sellers” lists.

You’ll start showing up on Amazon’s “Movers and Shakers” lists.

This ALL goes into affecting your visibility – and the MORE visible you are on Amazon the MORE likely you are to get noticed by the REAL buying crowd – the millions of readers who don’t bother reading your blog. Once THEY get excited about buying your book then you ought to stand back because your sales are going to soar!

If you want to know more about the Amazon Rankings you REALLY ought to start following David Gaughran’s blog LET’S GET VISIBLE.

The fact is – ALL of those ranking figures came DIRECTLY from his book. The gent has put several years into interviewing and tracking other author’s sales figures and his own and he has got ALL of the nitty-gritty info regarding Amazon’s ranking system.

He’s the expert – not me.

Or to put it another way – I’m the dude who is standing outside on the deck with his index finger stuck up in the wind saying that it’s probably going to rain today.


In fact if you REALLY want to know more about the rankings and how to get noticed on Amazon you ought to pick up a copy of his e-b0ok LET’S GET VISIBLE and READ that sucker.

You can pick it up on KOBO or KINDLE or APPLE or NOOK or at SMASHWORDS.

Read that sucker like it was the bible. I did. And it has helped me.

And – in the meantime – if you HAVEN’T already picked up a copy of TATTERDEMON, why not pick up a copy today and help me climb those rankings just a little bit higher. I’m leaving it at the 99 cent mark for the weekend – just to give EVERYONE a chance to check it out.

Tatterdemon New Cover

Just click that photo to order yourself a copy today.

Or, for those folks in the UK, you can order a copy HERE!

The UK has its own set of rankings – but they don’t seem to fluctuate as much as the US rankings – and TATTERDEMON is currently ranked 19,801 in the UK.

yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon

Friday the 13th Promotion – the final results

Okay folks – I just want to thank EVERYONE who ordered a copy of TATTERDEMON – or ANY of my Kindle e-books as part of the promotion. I’m going to leave the price as it is until Sunday – just because I work tomorrow.

TATTERDEMON has really climbed the ranks. After starting at 518,224 on September 8 it has now reached this new level.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,393 Paid in Kindle Store
#88 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror > Occult
#98 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror > Occult

For those folks who DON’T know – the lower the ranking on Amazon the better. Basically – when the book was ranked 518,224 it was the 518,224th bestselling e-book on Amazon – now it’s almost in the top 10,000.

Unfortunately – climbing those rankings is a little like trying to run up a hill against the wind. The closer you get to the top 100 the more books you have to sell FASTER than any of the other books. So ranking on Amazon is pretty transient for the bulk of we writers.

Time for sleep.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Friends can help you sell E-books!!!

Okay – so I KNOW that she didn’t HAVE to do this – but Claire Riley – who is organizing the HORROR AND THRILLER MONTH FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN.

Friday 13th sale!

Indie-pub gurus will tell you over and over again – social networking sells e-books.

Me, I say it a little differently.

FRIENDS help you sell e-books.

(real friends help you bury bodies…)

If you want more info on the Horror and Thriller Month – sign up here!

yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon

Friday the 13th 99 cent Sale!

Okay – so this is Friday 13th and I have a day-long special.

ALL of my Crossroads Press e-books are now available for 99cents.

I will be posting them throughout the morning – but if you can’t wait for me to tell you which ones are on sale here is the list.

Tatterdemon – usual price $3.99
Devil Tree – usual price $3.99
Gypsy Blood – usual price $3.99
Rueful Regret – usual price $1.99
Long Horn, Big Shaggy – usual price $2.99
Bad Valentines – usual price $1.99
Roadside Ghosts – usual price $2.99
Two Fisted Nasty – usual price $2.99
Nothing To Lose – usual price $2.99
Nothing Down – usual price $2.99
Sudden Death Overtime – usual price $2.99

The best savings – by far is TATTERDEMON – a fine, fat full-length novel of scarecrow terror – just perfect for autumnal reading. If you dig old-school Stephen King – (think Salems Lot) – then you will DEFINITELY enjoy TATTERDEMON.

You don’t believe me – just hit the link and take a look at the LOOK-INSIDE-THE-BOOK and have yourself a quick peek.

I’d really LOVE to see this book get noticed and read by a lot more readers – in fact – if you don’t buy any other of my books today – BUY THIS ONE!

Tatterdemon New Cover

(just click the book cover)

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

My Big Kindle Push – Part Three – All The Juicy Details!

It took a lot of careful planning on my part – but last week when I accidentally realized that tomorrow was Friday 13th I suddenly decided that I ought to do some sort of a big splashy promotion.

I thought about giving it a really snazzy title – like maybe – MY BIG KNEE-JERK OH-MY-GOD-IT’S-GONNA-BE-A-FRIDAY-13TH-PROMOTIONAL-SALE or else possibly BUY-MY-BOOKS-OR-ELSE-I’LL-CRY-ER-UM-SALE! but none of those seemed to have a ring to it.

So instead I just decided to slash my prices and then jump up and down and yell a lot. There’s been a last-minute election called up here in Nova Scotia – so if I need any sort of inspiration regarding that whole jump-up-and-down-and-yell-a-lot I just need to turn on the evening news.

My publishers name is Crossroad Press and it is run by two gents named David and David. I am not certain how they tell each other apart, however – as both of them have constantly assured that THEY are the better looking of the two.

So I told David and David that I wanted to mark ALL of my big-tag e-books down to 99 cents.

(do you like that expression big-tag? I hope so on account of I just invented it)

So Tuesday they pulled the switch and jammed that 99 cent switch but I kept it soft – because I’m a great believer in sneaking up on opportunity. If opportunity is ever stupid enough to knock on my door I fully intend to sneak out the side door with a baseball and then I’d club opportunity into a state of unconsciousness – (which is next door to Kansas, or so I’ve been told) – and then go through opportunity’s pockets for whatever loose change I can find.

Tomorrow is the big day, of course, and I have several paid-for advertising spots that will go live sometime between now and then. I’ll tell you all about them as the night goes on – but I first have to go and plate up a heap of homemade spaghetti which I made last night. I’m also going to open up a beer – so this thread might get a little rowdy – and heaven help me if they call in the bouncer, Betsy the Quilter.

I’m going to share a few of the results with you so far.

Tatterdemon is the book I have given the most promotion to – but none of that promotion has gone live yet – save for a couple of Tweets from a few folks who know me and have had my e-books on their wish lists for awhile.

Wish I knew me some rich folks but most of the folks I know are stone cold broke.

Tatterdemon New Cover

Anyway – here are the rankings so far for Tatterdemon. On September 8th it was sitting at 518,224.

It has been a REALLY sucky summer, saleswise.

On September 9 it slid to 552,515. On September 10 it jumped to 43,742.

Now you can do that with ONE sale – but I’m hoping that if it bounces high enough that the advertisements and announcements I have in place for tomorrow will take it even further.

Right now it is sitting at 46,513.

So – what all have I arranged by way of promotion?

I would LOVE to tell you that I bagged a spot in BOOKBUB – but I waited way too long for that – and besides, BOOKBUB is a little bit out of my price range – and let’s be honest here – BOOKBUB’s staff most likely pulls out my book covers on slow days just to giggle at.

But I HAVE secured space with E-Book Lister, E-Book Deal of the Day, Bargain E-book Hunter, E-book Korner Kafe and SweetFreeBooks.

I’ll post links up here by tomorrow for those indie writers out there who might be interested in getting in touch with these folks.

If I had more time I would have applied to a couple of heavy-duty spots – such as ENT – but that is the price I pay for being so last minute. It is a lesson I will take to heart – and I would share that with all of you indie authors who – like me – are just pooping along saleswise.

Lastly, let me tell you about DEVIL TREE and how it has been doing, saleswise.

Devil Tree Cover - scrapbook size

It started out on September 8th at a ranking of 571,645. A day later it was sitting at 89,842. On September 10th it had slid back to 247,835. That’s how fast rankings can change these days. Today – the last time I checked – it was sitting at 35,441.

I know full well that I need to sell a LOT more if I want to crack the top 1000 ranking – but I am hoping that it at least bumps the ranking up on the HORROR list for some of these books.

That’s what I want to leave you folks with at the end of this entry. Remember that promotions – to work – must be constant and steady and well-planned. Amazon is a chess game for us under-achievers and we always have to be thinking at least three moves – or three promotions ahead.

I’ve got a couple of blog tours and a shared promotion and another sales promotion planned for October – and I am looking at December as well. At the same time I am trying to write new material just as fast as I can – as WELL as I can.

Finally – let me share with you a list of all of the e-books of mine that are NOW available on Kindle for 99 cents.

Devil Tree
Rueful Regret
Gypsy Blood
Long Horn, Big Shaggy
Bad Valentines
Roadside Ghosts
Two Fisted Nasty
Nothing To Lose
Nothing Down
Sudden Death Overtime

Any of you out there care to tweet, share or shout-out my promotion tomorrow I would be very grateful. I might even have an extra beer. I might even drink it.

Oh heck, you know I’ll drink it!

Indie publishing is not a game for laggards or slug-a-beds!

yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon