Monthly Archives: January 2014

Indies for indies: the latest news on KWL bookstore events

This is something I’d LOVE to see in Halifax!

Kobo Writing Life

We can help self-published authors work with and support their local independent bookstore.  Through our partnership with the American Booksellers Association, authors can work with booksellers to sell their eBooks through the store’s website. Both parties benefit from the sales, and the authors can enjoy a real presence in–and an active relationship with–the bookstore and their local community.

The partnership between independent bookstores, independent authors, and Kobo Writing Life is an important one – the promotion of one helps the promotion of all, we believe, and by helping each other reach more readers, we make all three stronger. Your success is our success.

You may remember the announcement in September that Kobo Writing Life would be coordinating events bringing together local indie bookstores and authors, to make the most of our partnership with the American Booksellers Association. We absolutely love giving KWL authors this opportunity to promote their eBooks in…

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Tesseracts 17 Interview: Mark Leslie

Colleen Anderson

Today, I interview Mark Leslie, the first of four Ontario authors in Tesseracts 17, and a ghost hunter of a sort.

CA: Hereinafter Referred to as the Ghost is of a very popular trope; ghost stories. In fact, we could have had a full anthology of just ghost and zombie tales, so choosing one of quite a few good ghost stories was a bit of a feat. While your tale is of a haunting, it’s jaunty and fun. Why did you choose such a well worn subject to pursue?

 Though I have always written horror fiction, I rarely have ventured into what might be considered the standard tropes of the genre. I have avoided writing stories of vampires, ghosts and zombies and other standard and traditional “monsters” that grace horror fiction. But when I have drawn upon then, I’ve tried to approach the story from what feels like a…

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I’ve just had some folks over at Goodreads ask me about my hockey-vampire novella SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME.

Sudden Death Overtime - final art small

I figured that the best way to tell them was to give them a little peek at the writing.

So – without further ado, here’s an excerpt from SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME – one of the opening chapters.



Sudden Death Overtime

Tuesday night 9pm.

No one noticed quite exactly when the long black bus stole into the parking lot of the Anchor Pub. As far as anyone knew the bus just sort of drifted into the Labrador coastal village of Hope’s End like an unexpected snow flurry.

Things happen that way around here.

Slow and unexpected.

Judith Two-Bear leaned her elbows against the wood grain of the unvarnished table top. Her cigarette glowed like a lighthouse’s lonely beacon, bobbing as she nodded three beats behind the music of the static-ridden radio. She’d parked herself at the window seat since dinner time. She liked to watch the world go by from the sanctuary of the town’s only drinking hole – the Hope’s End Drink and Drop Tavern.

Several long slow warm beers later Judith Two-Bear found herself staring vaguely at the names and dates carved and inked into the table top. She knew some of them. She could guess at some of the others and she wondered just who the hell the rest really were. How many lonely souls had made their mark on this table and had then just sat here like so many half finished glasses of warm draft beer – just waiting to be swallowed but not quite yet.

Truthfully, she didn’t think of any of this.

Not in those exact words, any way.

People don’t really think that way – only in books and poetry and movies and other such bullshit. Rather, Judith Two-Bear felt it, perhaps. She breathed it in with the stale pub air. Her grew her own sort of loneliness, nursing her drink and her evolving disappointment and her unvarying boredom that were as much a part of her as was the blood that sludged through her tired veins.

Nothing was left.

She had lived her life and had nothing but time left to her lonely keeping. She had seen her kids grow up and run away, her lovers grow cold and run away, she had seen life pull up to the curb and wave gaily once or twice before passing her right on by.

Her hands weighed heavy on the scarred pine tabletop. Her knuckles were cracked and leathered like old alligator skin, tattooed with nicotine and age. Her eyes had grown dull and nothing that hinted of girlhood was left to her save a shotgun blast of freckles playing hide-and-seek within the wrinkles and worry-lines that troughed down her cheeks like a memory of tears.

She stared at her flat beer.

The time drifted past the hope of anyone offering to take her home for any other reason but pity. Fergus had said he’d see her here, but so far he hadn’t showed. She believed he’d only told her that to be kind. Fergus was a good man, after all, although he spent far too much time out there on that damned hockey rink with old Sprague.

What in God’s frozen earth did grown men see in the rattle of sticks, the slashing of steel over ice and hockey sweaters worn way beyond funk?

Judith sat there, disinterestedly listening to the soft current of gossip prowling through the Drink and Drop Tavern; folks wondering just where the black bus came from. Perhaps it was a fresh oil rig crew, or perhaps a wandering rock band. Perhaps a pack of tourists, far off course, with their pockets jingling with cartwheels of American silver and the promise of better days.

Judith knew better. No one in their right mind would come to Hope’s End, Labrador where the only thing that kept the town going was the influx of oil rig workers who stopped here between shifts to get drunk and fed and laid; the three weeks of seal hunters who would stop here to get drunk and fed and hopefully laid; and the occasionally dangled promise of incoming government money.

There were a lot of them – so many promises washed up like waves on the rocky beach, only to be pulled away just as fast.

She stared at her beer.

The lights dimmed as the town generator kicked up a notch.

The last tune on the jukebox crackled out, only to be replaced by another goddamn hockey game.

Judith stood up carefully.

Fergus wasn’t coming, she decided.

She laughed to herself.

There had never been a hope that he would come.

Life doesn’t really work that way.

Love is nothing more than a lie told in a midnight poker game where everyone cheated and nobody won.

She leaned backwards and listened to the creaks and cracks in the fossil that her doctor laughingly referred to as a spinal column.

The evening had passed as slowly as a year of chronic constipation.

She was six beer older.

Maybe seven – who the fuck really counted?

The television commentator shouted as someone banged the puck home. A few onlookers moaned and someone listlessly cheered. No one noticed as Judith emptied her glass of warm beer and turned it bottom-up on the table top.

She walked out the front door.

It was cold for a January evening. She pulled her shawl about her, holding it close. The shawl was the last gift that Little Jimmy Pinto had given to her before he’d got drunk five months ago and had fallen from the ferry, halfway home to Newfoundland.

Jimmy Pinto had washed ashore three days later. The current had carried him to the beach, shrouded in seaweed and picked at by the gulls. There were nights when Judith nightmared over Jimmy Pinto’s tide-swollen memory, the tears drowning in the memories his eyes, a crab picking listlessly at a bit of unfingered ear wax.

Other nights she dreamed of him singing – tone deaf and lustily bawling out that old Gordon Lightfoot standard, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, over and over – the only tune he knew straight through. The nightmares were her only company these days. She welcomed them as a lonely woman welcomes the nightly visit of a phantom lover.

“Damn it,” she swore at the shadows.

She had truly hoped that Fergus would have shown tonight. She had hoped that he would replace her memories with a little actual companionship.

But Fergus wasn’t coming.

“God-be-Jesus damn it.”

The wind was cold in the parking lot.

There were only a few cars. Most people lived close enough to walk.

The black bus loomed in the darkness. There was no other word for it. It loomed – like the shadow of a mountain cast over a lonely gray tombstone.

It was heavy.


Black and implacable.

For just a half an instant Judith Two-Bear felt the urge to turn and run back into the pub and scream her panic – drowning out the hockey game and the clink of beer bottles and the tired rattle of conversation.

But what the hell would that accomplish?

She drifted a little closer to the black bus – as if she wanted to prove something to herself.

This close she saw that the windows were painted over.

Even the front window, all black.

How could a driver see his way through the night?

It might have been one-way glass, she supposed. You could see out, but nobody else could see in. But it looked more like the window glass had been spray painted over. All black, as if something were trying to hide. A part of her wanted to run from the bus and the parking lot but she was too tired to listen.

She leaned over and gently touched the side of the bus.

She felt a rhythm, like a tide, like a heart beat, throbbing within the strange blackened walls of the vehicle.

Music, perhaps?

Her hand sank inwards into the cold black paint, like she was reaching into a basin of cold black water. Then she leaned a little deeper. Something purred, deep within the colour of the bus. Something purred and something drew her in. She felt it inhaling, her knees buckled slightly.

Her skin paled and the paint on the bus darkened.

She could see the grill and headlights grinning at her. She wondered just how that was possible. She was leaning on the side of the bus, nowhere close to the grillwork. She shouldn’t have been able to see it.

She didn’t care.

Fergus wasn’t coming.

She leaned there against the bus, allowing whatever was hiding inside it to drink its fill.

She wasn’t trapped – only comfortable.

The bus door grated open.

Judith drew her hand from the lulling cloy of the paint and freely entered the bus, still dreaming of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The bus door closed behind her. If there was any screaming it was drowned in the lonely swallow of a North Canadian night sinking home. It began to snow, soft fat flakes that promised a hard storm to come. The snowflakes melted and slid across the grinning grillwork of the night-dark bus.

Fergus showed up at the tavern, one hour too late.


If you want to read the rest of this tale you can pick it up in either paperback or e-book format at

Or – if you are from the UK you might want to get it on!

Or – if you are from Canada and you’ve got a Kindle pick it up here!

Or – if you are like me and own a Kobo pick it up here!

You can also hunt it up in paperback on Createspace!

Or on Nook!

Or on i-tunes!

Well, I think that I have about run past my quota on exclamation marks – not to mention self-promotional links – (another link and WordPress is going to start asking me to limit my blog entries to one character OR LESS!!!) – so I want to think you if you’ve read down this far and pardon you if you haven’t – which doesn’t really matter if you HAVEN’T read down this far.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Rottini and Sausage – Steve Vernon’s Cooking Made Easy

A couple of weeks ago somebody referred to me online as a “snow shoveling god”.

Let me make this perfectly clear. I am NO snow shoveling god. Rather, I am a fifty-five year old gent with a work ethic that runs bone-deep.

However, you CAN call me a kitchen god if you want to.


Why not?

I don’t cook fancy. I don’t cook pretty.

I just cook.

Cooking is about as easy as cold beer going down on a hot summer day.

Basically there are maybe three or four different ways you can cook something. You can fry it. You can boil it. You can bake it.

No matter what sort of gourmet restaurant you step into – no matter HOW blue the plate may be and no matter what price tag is dangling off of those vittles odds are that they were fried, boiled or baked.

It just isn’t as hard as some folks like to pretend.

I came home tonight and Belinda had a wonderful fry pan full of supper hash. There were leftover potatoes and leftover sausages and an onion and some carrots.

A side of ketchup and a bottle of beer and I was a happy camper.

“Okay,” she asked me. “What do you figure we ought to have tomorrow night?”

“Leave that me,” I said. “I have a plan.”

I looked in the fridge. We had another leftover sausage – one of those big fat smokey sausages with chunks of cheddar thrown in to the meat so that you can tell yourself that this stuff is healthy on account of cheese is made of milk and EVERYONE knows that milk is healthy – isn’t it?

I’m not talking fancy, you understand.

I looked through the pasta cupboard and found a box of rainbow rottini.

You know that stuff that is red and green and white? They make it with spinach powder and tomato powder added to the pasta so that you can ONCE AGAIN pretend that it’s healthy – on account of it’s got vegetables in it.

I found a half a yellow pepper and I pulled a big fat red onion out of the onion bucket. I boiled some water and threw the pasta in to boil. Then I threw a fry pan the size of Cincinatti onto the burner and chopped up the onion and pepper and sausage while the fry pan got hot.

It is important to remember that some of the sausage was NOT sliced evenly – so I had that throw those uneven chunks into my mouth and chew manfully. Then I moaned a little, like I had fallen into a waterbed full of stupefied cheerleaders.

A man has got to do what a man has got to do.

Then I spilled a little olive oil into the hot fry pan and threw the onion and pepper and sausage into the oil. Stirred like an occasional lunatic while keeping half an eye on the pasta, making sure that it did not boil over.

Occasionally I applied my lips to a happily opened bottle of beer.

When the pasta was ready I dumped it into a colander and then dumped the pasta back into the pot. I tipped the nicely sauted peppers and onions and sausage into the pasta.

For those of you who don’t know – saute is a five dollar word for “fried”.

Then I dumped in a package of Velveeta cooking cheese – garlic and herb flavor. I could have just as easily have added some butter and garlic powder – or shredded some cheese and added a little milk and stirred – but the Velveeta was in the fridge – which made it handy.

The whole thing took about as time and brain power as it took to write this blog entry.

Repeat after me folks – cooking isn’t hard.

Rottini and Sausage 003

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Snow-burning fog and drama-llamas

A fine snow-burning fog hung over the city last night and I awoke to find those monstrous snowdrifts had mostly melted away.

That is always a fine feeling. I have lived my life up here in Canada – and my childhood in Northern Ontario, deep in the heart of winter-country. A lot of folks will tell you that the sight of snow is a wonderful experience – but snow got old for me a very long time ago.

It is important for a writer and a human being to do their utmost to ward off all forms of negativity. You should welcome each new experience as just another facet of that big fat wonderful diamond that some folks call life. There is no need to take a black marker to any of those intricate unique facets.

Some days the sun is shining and some days it rains – no sense moaning about it.

Leave that to the drama-llamas.

You know those folks who walk into a room with a complaint on their lips and a frown permanently eroded into the corners of their mouth. Those folks whose nose turns down as if God had wedged a chunk of ripe manure up both of their nostrils and told them – “There, take a good long sniff.”

Folks like that grow as old as snow for me – but I do my level best to remind myself that these sorts of people are nothing more than one more shard of experience that I must do my level best to accept and observe.

We writers are watchers.

We have to be. It’s part of our business.

The next time it starts to snow again I want all of you folks out there reading this blog to do me a big favor and try to put on a grin. Tell a joke if you want to – or a pun if you have to. Whatever it takes to giggle your way through one more damn snowstorm.

Like the man said…

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


A Blizzard of Words – Plowing Yourself Out of a Writing Rut

Well, it snowed yesterday.

How bad did it snow?

Let me show you a picture. After all, a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words.

Halifax, Jan. 3, 2014

Not much you can add to that photo. It came down hard – maybe 40 cm. of snow all told.

Heck, it IS winter, isn’t it?

So this morning I rolled out of bed and prepared myself a hearty breakfast. A pork chop, some pan-fried veggies and a heap of hash browns. Two slices of rocks & twigs toast, heavily buttered. A tall glass of water to hydrate myself. A cup of strong black coffee to stir up the inner fire.

These days I shovel in shifts. I’ll go for a bit and then I’ll come in and take a breather.

Here’s what our driveway looked like after the first round of digging.

Car Jan. 4, 2014 001

The worst part of it was the end of the driveway where the plow had crammed the snow chest deep.

Car Jan. 4, 2014 002That heap wasn’t QUITE as bad as it looks. It did get smaller on the other side.

Here’s a side-on view.

Car Jan. 4, 2014 003Well, it took me six hours of digging but now the end of the driveway looks like this.

Car Jan. 4, 2014 005And the driveway itself looks like this.

Car Jan. 4, 2014 006

(And yes – our car DOES have a red nose. And we call her Goldie)

As you can see the sun came out today and once I got the driveway scraped down to pavement a couple of bags of road salt worked their wonderful magic.

Some folks might say that I am a bad man for using salt – but they can just talk to my aching back.

* * *

So – what’s this got to do with writing?

Well, sometimes a manuscript can look an awful lot like that snowed-in driveway. A part of you will cringe at all of that work that lies ahead. A part of you will suddenly see a need to watch your entire collection of Bonanza episodes – all 430 of them.

Do not listen to Lorne Greene.

Step away from that horse, pilgrim.

It’s time for a little elbow grease. Start the shovel swinging and the words a’flinging.

(who said old farts can’t rap?)

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Harry Potter et al, et all…

My wife and I have a long-standing ritual of spending New Years watching a huge dvd series. Over the years we’ve watched Rome, we’ve watched all of the Friday the 13th movies, we’ve watched all of the Lethal Weapon movies, we’ve watched all of the Elm Street movies and many others.

Okay, so last night we finished the last movie in the Harry Potter series – having watched the first movie on December 30. There was a lot of good stuff in those eight movies – but I’d REALLY like to know why the last three movies in the series (Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows Part One AND Two) were so darned dark.

I’m not talking dark in tone – I’m talking dark visually.

For a good part of the six or eight hours we spent watching those last three flicks I kept wondering if the color on our television wasn’t busted. Did somebody leave their sunglasses hung over the camera lens? I felt as if the director (David Yates) had about three colors on his color wheel – black, white and brown.

I took a look at some of the critical websites – such as IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes and all I kept seeing was that – “Because these last three films were darker in tone the filmmaker felt it ought to be shot darker” – which is a little like saying all graveyard scenes ought to be shot from underneath the already-buried coffin!

All in all I enjoyed the series and was glad to get the chance to watch them one after the other and to enjoy the evolution of a fictional series. I don’t believe I am EVER going to get around to reading all of the books – and I understand that a LOT of the last couple of books were omitted and/or mangled by the film series – but it was still a very interesting experience.

I really enjoyed the flavor of the last couple of movies. I liked how they became more “adult” in theme – but I really missed the simplicity of the earlier movies story arcs. I felt a little muddled in the last two or three movies. I didn’t really understand what the villain Voldemort was attempting to do with all of this power he was acquiring. I didn’t feel he really lived up to his role as main villain. He seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time sitting at a supper table and playing with his snake.

In any case I am glad to have finally got the chance to see all of the movies in sequence. The books made a billion dollars and continue to sell. The movies likewise were successful and continue to do well. I watched with the eye of a writer – trying to learn just how a series can be created.

Any Potter fans out there want to shed a little light on this for me?

What other movie series REALLY turns your crank?

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Happy New Year – you better smile when you read this, pilgrim!

Hey folks.

This is the time of year when a lot of blog-writers get to thinking about what is going to happen in the coming year.

Dudes like J.A. Konrath, or Smashword-owner Mark Coker, or The Digital Writer Nate Hoffelder.

These folks are a whole lot smarter than I am. They have sold a whole lot more books than I have. Heck, my cat has probably sold a whole lot more books than I have.

Kizzy and book 003

The only thing that I can tell you about 2014 is that it is here and we’re in it and on it and if we want to make the best about the coming year we had better hang on tight!

It’s time to cowboy up!

Cowboy SteveThat’s right.

2014 is going to be tough – same as every year before it – and you need to be cowboy tough!

Keep on reading and keep on writing and have yourself one heck of a ride!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon