Monthly Archives: March 2014

Spring Cold, Writing Fever…

Books for the Book Fair 002

Everybody needs to have a plan.

But you know what they say about plans, don’t you? Plans are what folks like to make while life is busy throwing great big chunks of solid frozen giant gorillas doo-doo down upon your head.

No – it wasn’t John Lennon who said that.

My plan was to finish the second volume in the UNCLE BOB series this week and have it ready for release – only I decided it would be more fun to go and catch a rotten spring cold instead.

And it was a bad one.

I actually paid the neighbor’s kid to shovel the snow that fell on Wednesday.

We had a weird freak snowstorm that dropped about 50cm of snow on our heads this Wednesday.

Garbage-bagged giant gorilla do-do would have been a whole lot preferable.

But all the same I keep on writing.

Mind you I did not do any writing last week. Like I said, I was flat on my back. I wasn’t even THINKING about writing.

So I had to re-schedule.

I am now aiming for a release date for the next volume on April 10, 2014.

Take a look at the new cover.

Uncle Bob's Babel Babyyours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Planners versus Pantsers – How I Write – by Suzanne Church

Okay – so I am rested up a little bit.

Here is that second guest post I promised you folks today – from Canadian Science Fiction author Suzanne Church!

Suzanne Church color headshot 2012 google

Planners Versus Pantsers

Suzanne Church juggles her time between throwing her characters to the lions and chillin’ like a villain with her two sons. She writes Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror because she enjoys them all and hates to play favorites. Her award-winning fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Cicada, and On Spec, and in several anthologies including Urban Green Man and When the Hero Comes Home 2. Her collection of short fiction, ELEMENTS is published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

In the writing business, writers can generally be divided into two categories: Planners and Pantsers.

Planners tend to outline what they will write before they compose the first sentence of a project. They might simply rough out the major and minor plot points, or structure the story chapter by chapter, or even block out each scene in detail. Planners will also use a variety of tools at their disposal, such as indexed cue cards, color-coded sticky notes, or cross-referenced spreadsheets. Some of my writer friends swear by Scrivener, the word processing and novel plotting software. I tried Scrivener, but haven’t used it yet to plan out a novel.

Pantsers write by the seat of their pants. They open a word processing document, glance at the blank page, and then start writing. They claim that while they’re in the zone they allow the characters to speak for themselves, take the author in interesting directions, and make their own decisions.

I’ve tried both techniques. I tend to write short fiction as a pantser and novels as a planner.

In my opinion, two books on planning and analyzing plot and structure are particularly helpful for Planners. Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass and Save the Cat by Blake Snyder.

For my recent major novel overhaul, I made copies of each page in the Breakout Novel workbook, and then worked through every exercise before I performed a full-on editing pass. I believe the result was a much stronger and more organized draft. For the same book, I also created a Blake Snyder “Beat Sheet” that lists the timing of all the book’s plot points.

Then I used my favorite planning tool…Excel to create a multi-worksheet planning file.

Worksheet 1 contains the list of each chapter’s number, title, the number of words in the chapter, a word count of the most recent edit for the chapter, and the date I worked on it.

Worksheet 2 references the numbers and names of the chapters from WS1, but then also lists the purpose, theme, and Beat Sheet pacing numbers for each chapter.

Worksheet 3 lists every character (major and minor) that appears in the book, their purpose to the story, their major traits (hair and eye color, habits, preferences) as well as my “alphabet check” to ensure I haven’t overused one particular letter in the alphabet (to avoid having five characters’ names all begin with the letter D).

Worksheet 4 is where I track all of the setting details for the book. For each location I list every detail referenced in the book, so I can be consistent scene to scene — color of the walls, size of the couch, ceiling height, fridge color, ceiling fan vs florescent lights, door to the yard, etc.

Essentially my spreadsheet is my bible (or codex if you prefer) and can be especially helpful if I need to set the novel aside for a while. Then, after working on other stories in other universes, I can return to the novel-in-question, open my spreadsheet, and quickly recall all of the important details I’ll need to begin again.

Overall, you have to find which technique works best for you as a writer. Maybe, like me, you’ll use a combo — pantser for short stories and planner for novels — or perhaps you’ll come up with another technique that works for you.

ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction is available now in Canada and April 30, 2014 in the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

Elements web page size



Hey folks. I’m still recovering from a week-long cold. I’ve been sick since last Sunday but I have promised two Canadian writers a guest-spot on my blog here – so without further ado I turn the page over to Sarah Butland.

How I Write – Sarah Butland

With an unfocused mind, a four year old playing hockey and lunch looming, I find a deadline and meet it. My fingers type as fast as they can while I yell congratulations and plead “just another minute”, hoping I can come up with something of some merit.

Blood Day came out of this exact predicament and when I at last had a minute to read it I was blown away. However the ideas come to an author, I think we’re all a bit surprised when we read our own stories and delighted when it all comes together.

With blog posts such as this one I stress, worry and hesitate to come up with a topic and then suddenly my fingers just go and hopefully get to a point when it all ends.

Some writers I know get up earlier in the morning or stay up late at night, I can’t find that luxury. Working at a full time job at nights and home all day with my little boy leaves very few moments to sit and think so instead of thinking I just write with fingers crossed.

Pressure makes my stories grow weirder.

Normally a mystery author, this fantasy short story took me by surprise and when it won top prize in the contest I entered it in, I questioned my entire focus. Now I just write any genre as the story comes to me which I actually think is best for challenging purposes and meeting new people, doesn’t make it easy to create a steady fan base.

Moral of this story is that I write what I can when I can and hope for the best. Not for the most sales or biggest monetary prize, but to show my son what it’s like to live a dream and be passionate.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my story (and stories). What a great idea for a blog installment!

Happy writing and ever reading,

Sarah Butland

PS: Between March 27th and March 30th you can download my award winning short story for free on Amazon / Kindle at


So any of you folks out there with a Kindle who are looking for a fast free weekend read why not grab yourself a copy today.

As for me, I need to go back downstairs to my couch and lay down for awhile.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Writers – LEARN from your reviews!

All right – so most of you folks who have been following my blog will undoubtedly know that I have recently written and released an e-book entitled Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp – From Eden to the Ark.

I have ONLY mentioned about twelve or fifteen or a hundred times or so in the last couple of weeks. 🙂

Buy My Book on Kobo!

Buy My Book on Kobo!

And some of you folks might ALSO know that I am hard at work on the next book in the series Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp – From Babel to the Bullrushes.

The sequel will be due out by the end of the month. It is about three times the length of the first volume – more along the lines of a full-sized novel and involves some of the liveliest writing of my entire career.

Preorder my second book on Kobo NOW and save half-price!

Preorder my second book on Kobo NOW and save half-price!

(Oh pity the fat greasy spam that has died and gone on to spam-heaven to make this spam-laden post possible.)

Some of you may have even picked up a copy of the first book for your Kindle e-reader – or possibly you might have taken advantage of the Kindle Matchbook program and ordered a paperback copy of Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp – From Eden to the Ark and received a free Kindle e-book along with the paperback!

Buy my book on Kindle and giggle at us poor unfortunate  Canadian Kobo-slobs.

Buy my book on Kindle and giggle at us poor unfortunate Canadian Kobo-slobs.

Or you can buy book 2 on Kindle.

Some of you folks may have wondered just WHY I am writing about the Bible when I usually am more comfortable writing about ghosts and voodoo and monsters and giant screaming gorillas.

Oh wait, I haven’t written that last book yet.

Well – as I always say – I am a storyteller.

And the Bible is chock-a-block full of fat juicy stories that are just dying to be told.

So I decided to write some Bible stories. In fact I decided to write the ENTIRE Old Testament in my own voice – or rather the voice of my protagonist, Uncle Bob.

Naturally, I have taken a few liberties in the name of storytelling – but I figured that you folks would understand what I am up to.

That’s right – I made an assumption.

I actually ASSUMED that my readers could read my mind.

Writers have to watch out for that sort of problem constantly.

You get all caught up in the act of creation and you start thinking to yourself that just because you can see it in your mind – just because you KNOW what you are doing – that your reader will likewise follow along.

That is so much bull-puck.


Sure, MAYBE your reader will read between the lines.

MAYBE they will understand the brilliant subtlety of your manuscript.

Odds are they won’t.

I found this out the hard way.

I sent review copies to TWO different Christian reviewers who BOTH got stuck on the line in the first chapter that went like this –

“Come the fourth day God decided that he needed a little bit more light and he threw the sun up into the sky and he wired it in good and proper and made sure it was up to the official celestial world-building code of construction and then he decided that he might like something little calmer – like maybe say a night light – so he wired in the moon and then he poked a few holes in the night sky and he decided to call those poke-holes stars and then he strung up a few constellations to give folks something to dream on and then he had himself a cigarette because even God needs to take a break now and then.”

Turns out that BOTH of those reviewers pulled to a screeching halt just as soon as they came to that image of God having a cigarette.

It upset the both of them.

Now I know that some of you folks are giggling at this – and some of you folks might think that I ought to giggle too.

Let me tell you how my whole thought process on this matter evolved.

First off I was a little angry and a little frustrated and even a little hurt. It bothered me that they couldn’t tell that I was writing in the voice of someone (Uncle Bob) who was TELLING the tale of creation in his voice.

So I stopped and took and breath and e-mailed a reply to the first reviewer. I explained my position and she saw what I was saying and understood my creative aim. I wrote the second reviewer as well with the same sort of explanation and she seemed to likewise get it.

That made me feel a little better but I was still feeling a little owly about having to get off of my high horse and EXPLAIN what I had written.

“How could they be so stupid?” was the first thing I thought.

Then my inner editor – who had been sitting inside my imagination listening to me work myself into a funk over this did something wonderful and compassionate and totally brilliant.

He climbed down out of my imagination, stepped behind me, and kicked me square in the keester – which is Latin for butt.

(Incidentally, my inner editor wears work boots – big smelly steel-toed work boots – and he smokes a cigarette that smells as if it were made out of old horse manure, pages torn from the lost volumes of the Library of Alexandria, and a crumple of rusted barbed wire.)

“Look, you,” my inner editor said. “The reason they couldn’t understand what you were getting at is because you DID NOT put it on the freaking page!”

I pointed out that I was writing on a computer and most of the copies of the book would likely be digital – so that any page involved was strictly theoretical – so he walked around and kicked me in the butt again.

His boot toe hadn’t got any softer through use.

“I deserved that,” I told my inner editor.

“I know you did,” my inner editor – whose name is Ralph – replied. “So what are you going to do about it.”

“I guess I might think about rewriting it just a little.”

“You are freaking right that you are going to rewrite,” Ralph said. “You are going to REVISE – which means you need to look at that manuscript through the eyes of a reader – not Carnac the Magnificent!”


So that is EXACTLY what I have done.

Now I don’t ALWAYS listen to reviews that closely – until I start hearing the same comment over and over and over again.

So I revised the first two chapters of Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp – From Eden to the Ark.

If you want to read the revised version I have already gone ahead and posted it on my blog here.

Just click this link and it will take you there. For those folks who are wondering all that has been added is the italicized paragraphs – about three pages worth.

Let me sum this whole blog entry up for you.

WRITERS – listen to your beta-readers and your initial reviews – ESPECIALLY when they all seem to be agreeing on one particular point.

Your words AREN’T golden snowflakes.

They CAN be changed.

Both God AND Ralph encourage the occasional U-turn.


Lastly, I want to send out a note of thanks to two wonderful reviewers who wrote wonderful reviews for my new book.

First off – thanks to Veronica Dorval who told me that my book brought tears to her eyes.

And secondly – thanks to S.D. Hintz who pointed out that this book is a great fit for adults and teenagers alike.

Readers have no idea how greatly appreciated a well-written review can be for a writer. They can help sell the next book or more important they TRULY put a grin on a writer’s face. Writing is an awfully solitary sort of profession and the personal feedback that a short review offers is not to be down-played one little bit!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

The Genetic Limitations of Manhood

Have you ever wondered about men?

Have you ever wondered why we all seem to think that we’ve actually got a shot at the prom queen – no matter how much our physical self seems to actually be a salute to the inevitable effects of gravity and a rapidly-shrinking belt?

Uncle Bob Author Shots 003

We fellows are genetically constructed that way. A lady smiles at us and all of a sudden it’s “Oh. She likes us, she wants us, I’m going to score tonight, good golly yowza!” A lady squints over a bit of windblown grittle that has spilled into her eye and sort of halway-almost-kind-of smiles at us and all of a sudden it’s “Oh. She likes us. She wants us. Good golly yowza!”

It is sad but true.

All of us – man and boy – will find ourselves sooner or later standing in the bathroom making muscles in the mirror and singing into our hairbrush – “I’m too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt, I’m too darned sexy…”

When we really ought to be singing something more along the lines of this little ditty…

I’m afraid that it’s biological.

We males have been built by nature to go forth and multiply – and we all think that our pocket calculator is WAY bigger than yours – when sadly it’s just a little bit faster is all.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS – the above post started out as a a reply to an author-friend of mine who was wondering on Facebook why a good friend of hers had suddenly decided to start talking about his…um…libido to her in the middle of what had started out as a perfectly innocent gab.

Fellas – DO NOT USE the word “libido” in any attempted passes. I’m sorry. It’s just way too Latin a noun to be used even indirectly. You’d have a lot more luck grinning at her while woggling your eyebrows up-and-down wildly and making Daffy Duck woo-woo sounds in her general direction.

A little chest-thumping and orangutang noises doesn’t hurt either…

The New John Constantine!

All right – so a LOT of you folks out there aren’t as comic book geeky as I am – but I am a big old fan of John Constantine (Hellblazer) and I was SO disappointed with Keanu Reeve’s lame as a petrified one-legged moose portrayal of John in the 2005 flick CONSTANTINE.

Which sucked platypus eggs – and not in a good way.

But I have got to tell you the casting of this skinny little Welshman Matt Ryan has REALLY got me a-tingle. Sure, it’s just a television show – but they DEFINITELY have got the look good and proper!

Here’s hoping.

Anybody else out there as comic-book-geeked up about this one?

Here’s the link!

And here’s the photo!

The New Constantine, Matt Ryan!

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp – From Eden to the Ark (an excerpt)

Uncle Bob's Red Flannel Bible Camp - From Eden to the ArkIntroduction

Everybody in the world needs an Uncle Bob.

He isn’t much to look at.

As near as I can tell he is ALWAYS dressed in red flannel. His shirt looks like he might have picked it up at Wal-Mart about three days following the first Mesopotamian War. My Uncle Bob is just a little teapot of a man with a sort of a question mark slump in his shoulders, a breath that smells a little of tobacco and Listerine, and a belly-bulge that looks as if a medicine ball had given birth to quadrupal-quintuplets inside of his stomach

Uncle Bob is a straight talker – which means that he ALWAYS says just exactly what is on his mind at that particular point in time – even though sometimes you might feel that he is taking the long way around the barn to get to his ultimate point.

In fact – Uncle Bob can be counted on to say out loud just EXACTLY what everyone else in the room is quietly thinking.

“Some stories need to be told straight out,” Uncle Bob told me once. “And some stories need to be snuck up on and some stories need to be shouted out loud. The only problem is knowing just exactly WHICH stories need to be told straight and which need to be rambled out and snuck up on. In fact there have been more wars and arguments started by folks trying to ramble around a straight out story than a fellow could count on a whole handful of fingers and toes times a whole entire pocketful of pocket calculators.”

Yes sir, the man has pure talking talent. I could listen to my Uncle Bob talking all day long – and sometimes I actually have.

Occasionally, I even had a choice in the matter.
But – if you want to boil the truth long enough the simple fact is that my Uncle Bob has taught me nearly everything there is to know about everything important in this world – and he’s just getting set to tell me about the rest of it.

Let me give you an example.

Let me tell you about my Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp.

This whole thing started when he caught me running away from my Sunday School. I had stuck my hand up and asked to leave the room and then I had gone ahead and left the entire building – namely, our town church – and if I have any sort of say in the matter I might keep on going until I have put an entire continent between me and Sunday School.

You see – I had NEVER really understood that whole concept about having to go to school on a Sunday. I mean I already went five days a week for most of the year. Why in the heck did grown-ups think that a fellow really needed an extra day of schooling?

“I didn’t like it in there,” I told Uncle Bob. “The preacher kept on talking about loving your enemies and forgiving and such.”

“Well, loving and forgiving is important,” Uncle Bob said. “Especially when it comes to talking about your enemies.”

I shook my head.

“I don’t know about that,” I said. “Benny Jeeters is always pushing me around at school.”

“He’s a bully, all right,” Uncle Bob said. “His Daddy was before him, too.”

“Well how am I supposed to forgive THAT?” I asked.

“The way I see it the only way I can truly forgive Benny Jeeters is maybe after I have snucked up behind him with a big old rock and maybe thumped him maybe thirteen or fourteen times – and then I might forgive him with a few kicks to the ribs and maybe show him my new baseball bat about five or six times fast before he could up and surprise-hit me back.”

“Is it really a surprise if a fellow sees it coming?” Uncle Bob asked me. “That whole process doesn’t sound very sporting to me.”

“It all depends on hold your mouth while you’re doing it,” I told him. “He who gets in his first hits fastest doesn’t get hit back come the lastest.”

Uncle Bob could see the truth in that.

“That still doesn’t tell me about why you hate Sunday School so much,” Uncle Bob said. “Why don’t you try and explain it to me?”

The way I figured it that would take me at least a month of Sundays to properly accomplish – but I figured I had better do my best to explain it to Uncle Bob before he took it into his head to take me back into Sunday School.

“I know all the stories already,” I said. “I’ve heard them at least a hundred times or so. I know that Eve got Adam in trouble by listening to a snake and then Cain hit Abel with a rock and God got upset and rained down buckets and drench-loads for forty days and forty nights and then Moses snuck out of Egypt after drowning the Pharoah and his army in the Red Sea – and I think the Tower of Babel fell down somewhere in between the hello and amen.”

“That’s pretty close,” Uncle Bob told me. “I guess you’ve been listening.”

It was true.

I liked listening to those stories just fine – the first two or three dozen times I went to church and actually listened – but after hearing them told every Sunday year after year after year I just had begun to think that maybe that preacher ought to find himself a whole new book.

“You like going to the library, don’t you?” Uncle Bob asked.

“Sure I do,” I said. “Books are like television that you can watch without ever having to worry about commercials. Books have special effects and fierce battles and sword fighting and gunplay and bank robbing and dragons and war. Books are cool – all day long.”

Some of the kids at school laughed at me about how much I loved books but the simple truth was I would spend a day curled up inside of a book than having a half a dozen birthday parties every year – unless those parties happened to happen inside of a bookstore.

“Well don’t you know that all they are talking about in Sunday School is the Bible?” Uncle Bob asked. “And the Bible is one of the best books in the whole wide world?”

I knew about the Bible.

Heck, I had even tried to read it once but I got all confused about all of that talk about begetting and smiting and such.

“The Bible is full of battles and death-defying escapes and lions and even a dragon or two. There is war and there are heroes and there is more special effects than you could shake a star cruiser at,” Uncle Bob went on.

“Now you’re just making stuff up,” I said. “I didn’t read any of that there.”

“I am not making it up,” Uncle Bob told me. “Besides, sometimes you have to make up something to get to the truth of what’s bothering you.”

I wasn’t so sure about what he was telling me.

In fact – I was pretty sure that he was just trying to fool me.

Grown-ups will do that to you if you let them get away with it.

“Just let me tell you one of the stories,” Uncle Bob said. “In fact I will tell the whole first book to you and then you try and tell me that you don’t think that it isn’t worth hearing about.”

Well, I figured so long as I didn’t have to go back into that dry old church that I had nothing to lose by sitting here and giving Uncle Bob’s version of the Bible a fair shake.

“This here first book is a story that is called Genesis,” Uncle Bob began. “And it goes something like this…”

And then he kept on talking.

Chapter One – Fiat Lux
“Let there be light,” God said – and then all at once there was a bright and calm and peaceful light shining across the entire universe.

God didn’t make that light, Uncle Bob went on. He just let us all see it – just the same way as you might let someone else see you smile – which is why I kind of like to think of God as the world’s largest light bulb. I suppose you might also think of him as something of a light switch – like he was just turning on the light – but I prefer to think of the light as shining right out of God like it was a part of him that he was allowing us to share in.

Now, just so as you know the rest of this story is going to be ALL my Uncle Bob talking so I am going to do away with all of the quotation marks and the “Uncle Bob said” parts so that you can get right down to the important part of listening and hear it all straight out.

Fiat Lux, Uncle Bob said.

Okay – so that last “Uncle Bob said” snuck out.

I promise I won’t interrupt you again.

Fiat Lux is Latin for “Let there be light” – and I know that it sounds like a cross between a sports car and a vacuum cleaner with a bar of soap caught up in its wind-hose and maybe it actually is because light is something that is bright and shiny and faster than anything you could ever think of.

“That’s good,” God said.

Come the next day – once God could finally see what he was doing he got right down to the business of world-building.

First he raised up a sky just the same way as you or me would raise up a roof over a big old barn that you and I were raising out of a heap of two by fours.

I like to think that he was covering the whole thing over with an umbrella of sky to protect it from spoiling.

“That’s good, too,” God said.

Then – on the third day, if you are actually keeping count – God just let fly a couple of terrifying terra-firma karate chops, neatly parting the land from the water just as easily as you might part your hair.

Now getting that water separated from that land was important because you can stand upon land but you sure can’t stand upon the sea – unless you are wearing a pair of inflatable life jackets for sneakers.

And I know that some of you know-it-alls and read-the-books out there are just dying to reach over and correct what I have just written down and to remind me about that young fellow from Galilee who actually did manage to walk upon the water – but what I am writing and telling you about right now is the Old Testament.

We’ll get to that New Testament, by and by.

“That’s good, too,” God said.

Some of you might also be wondering just why I am talking of light bulbs and race cars way back in a time when things were just getting started and race cars and light bulbs and vacuum cleaners hadn’t even been invented yet – but what I am talking about is the word of God – broken down for us ordinary people – and the way I see it the word of God is a kind of be-all and end-all sort of statement.

What I mean to say is that the word of God is timeless – so any anachronisms that you might spot need not actually apply.

Meanwhile – on that very same third day – God got down to the sowing and the planting and he cast down seeds of every kind that you could imagine. Before you knew it grass was growing and trees were branching up out of the dirt and whole fields of cabbage and tomatoes and bluebells and nasturtiums and potatoes started sprouting up like living green shouts of hallelujah come dinnertime.

But not brussel sprouts.

Not even God would touch brussel sprouts.

I don’t know just WHO invented brussel sprouts – but he sure wasn’t holy.

“That’s even better than good,” God said, feeling more than a little impressed with himself. “I must be on some kind of a wild lucky roll.”

Come the fourth day God decided that he needed a little bit more light and he threw the sun up into the sky and he wired it in good and proper and made sure it was up to the official celestial world-building code of construction and then he decided that he might like something a little calmer – like maybe say a night-light – so he wired in the moon – and then he poked a few holes in the night sky and he decided to call those poke-holes stars and then he strung up a few constellations to give folks something to dream on and then he had himself a cigarette – because even God needs to take a break now and then – and he decided that he would call that cigarette smoke something else.

“Wait a minute,” I interrupted. “Are you trying to tell me that God smokes cigarettes?”

“I never said that,” Uncle Bob replied. “What I am trying to do is to tell you a story.”

I wasn’t buying that at all.

“I don’t remember hearing anything about cigarettes in the Bible,” I said. “I don’t remember hearing the preacher mentioning anything about Marlborough country either.”

Uncle Bob thought about that.

“Listen,” Uncle Bob said. “I am telling you a story – which means that I am using my very own words and thoughts and imagination to do it with. No, it doesn’t say anything about God smoking a cigarette in the Bible. I just like to think of him that way is what I am saying.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Let’s say that you pick up a newspaper tomorrow,” Uncle Bob said. “And it’s got a story of the President of the United States in it. Do you think that story is going to mention anything about what the President had for breakfast or whether or not he had a beer or a cigarette before going to bed?”

“No,” I said. “I don’t imagine the story would have anything to do with what he ate or smoked or drank.”

“Of course not,” Uncle Bob said. “The story would be about what the President was doing for the country. It would be about him creating this political program or ordering that dam built or this particular war declared. Newspapers – and Bibles – rarely ever concern themselves with what God or the President does with his little time. To them it’s more important to talk about what he does with his big world-shaking this-is-what-is-going-to-affect-me-and-other-people sort of time.”

That made sense to me.

“Only I’m not writing a newspaper article,” Uncle Bob said. “I’m just telling a story about God and what he did back then. That means I get to use my own words and my own voice and my own particular ideas about what God is all about.”

I guess I could follow that.

At leastways I told Uncle Bob that I could.

“God created man in his own image,” Uncle Bob explained. “So when I tell my stories I like to think about God in my own image as well. It helps me understand him a whole lot more than just sitting down and reading and memorizing a full grown Bible.”

“Did you ever even read the Bible?” I asked Uncle Bob.

“I’ve read it twice in my lifetime,” Uncle Bob said. “And I’m reading it – bit by bit – for a third time. But when I tell a story I am telling it fresh for the very first time ever. And I try to tell it the best way that whoever I am telling it to can understand it.”

“So you mean that you’re lying about it?” I asked.

“No,” Uncle Bob said. “I am not lying about it. What I am doing is telling the story as I like to remember it.  You see, to me, those old boys – Adam and Moses and Abraham and Cain – were most likely folks like you or me. They didn’t REALLY know that they were supposed to be biblical. They were just trying to get on with their day and do the very best they could – just the same as you or me.”

That made sense to me.

“I see God the same way too,” Uncle Bob said. “I see him as being just like me – a being who means well and is doing his job the very best way that he knows how.”

“So now God has a job?” I asked.

“Of course he does,” Uncle Bob said. “He has got a job and he does just as hard and as good as he can do it on account of he is trying to take care of his family – namely, all of us people down here on the planet earth.”

“If you say so,” I said, still not quite getting it.

“What I am trying to say is that I don’t exactly know exactly WHAT God is like,” Uncle Bob explained. “All that I know is that I hope God is a little like you or me because at the end of the day I wouldn’t feel one bit comfortable with a God who didn’t know how to relax and have a smoke and chew the fat at the end of the day.”

I guess I understood that a little bit. I always liked to figure that God took time out to read a comic book now and then to – because even God can enjoy reading about the Hulk dropkicking Superman all over the planet every now and then.

“So God DOESN’T smoke?” I asked.

“How would I know?” Uncle Bob asked with a grin that showed all of his fake teeth and the few real ones that he had left. “I’m just telling a story.”

“Now can I get back to telling it?” Uncle Bob asked.

“Go ahead and tell,” I told him.

“So God hung those stars and the moon and hand-waved his cigarette smoke all across the sky and decided on what to call them once he did,” Uncle Bob went on.

“I think I’ll call them clouds,” God said. “That makes a whole lot more sense than calling them whooping cranes.”

Now some of those heavenly star-holes were nothing more than whoops-goofs and fudge-it-ups where God had either misplaced a nail or banged his thumb with the hammer when he was swinging it.

And yes – even GOD his-own-self occasionally bangs his own thumb.

Once God had done all that sky-building he set the whole thing a-whirling and that there gave us seasons and years and probably gave us income tax as well – but that’s okay because all good things come with some sort of a price tag dangling.

You don’t believe me – go and ask Minnie Pearl.

So God give us everything – only the one thing that he did not give us no matter how many times people try to blame it on him – was that God did NOT give us religion.

That was something that man made up later.


yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS – I swear – on a stack of Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel shirts that I will DEFINITELY write a non-spam blog entry by the end of tomorrow for all of you folks who are heartily tired of seeing me jump and down on this blog page waving a sign that says BUY MY BOOK!

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Lord of The Rings versus Game of Thrones

All right – so I am SUPPOSED to be writing the next volume of UNCLE BOB’S RED FLANNEL BIBLE CAMP – but I was sidetracked by BOOK BLOGGER INTERNATIONAL’s blog entry comparing Lord of the Rings with Game of Thrones.

I commented on the blog – but I thought I’d post my thoughts here as well to share with all of my loyal blog-followers.

That’s right – all three of you.

I see you out there reading – when you REALLY ought to be writing.


Here goes…

The funny thing is my wife and I are just watching GAME OF THRONES for March Break. We stomped through the first two seasons on DVD and are beginning the third season tonight.

I love GAME OF THRONES – but I give the edge to LORD OF THE RINGS just because it is a complete and singular story arc. It has beginning and an end.

Actually, it has three or four endings – when is somebody going to tell Peter Jackson that LONGER ISN’T NECESSARILY BETTER.

GAME OF THRONES is a television series – so as such it is built around the notion that there ALWAYS has to be one more episode. So right off the bat it has that working against it.

I know, I know – you are going to tell me that GAME OF THRONES is based on a series of books – BUT IT’S A SERIES THAT HASN’T BEEN FINISHED YET!!!

That does NOT inspire confidence in me.

I know that George R.R. Martin says he has the situation entirely under control – but coming up with a proper ending to ANYTHING is awfully hard – let alone an umpteen book epic fantasy series.

So that bothers me. The notion that George R.R. Martin might not be able to get around to finishing it bothers me. The idea that someone – a publisher or a producer or a network – might get the idea to hire some well-meaning amateur – and anyone who steps into someone’s world-space is IMMEDIATELY an amateur – bothers me.

Shoot, I hope I didn’t dash that last sentence to death on you.

GAME OF THRONES has the edge on gritty – that’s for certain.

It likewise has the edge on get-down-to-it. There’s a WHOLE lot of lets-get-naked-and-get-our-funky-groove-on going on in GAME OF THRONES.

But LOTR has grandeur.

I watch the LOTR trilogy and my heart swells up and yodels in pure honest isn’t-that-cool delight.

But don’t talk to me about Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy.

Talk about a fat man jumping a large shark…


If you want to read the original blog entry swing on over to BOOK BLOGGERS INTERNATIONAL and give it a read!


And don’t forget that this is your last week to take advantage of my pre-order Kobo release of UNCLE BOB’S RED FLANNEL BIBLE CAMP – FROM EDEN TO THE ARK.

Uncle Bob's Red Flannel Bible Camp - From Eden to the Ark

And I KNOW that you three (or is it four) loyal blog followers out there are undoubtedly getting sick to death of me pitching this new release – but hey – no one ever said that I had pride…

You can also pick up UNCLE BOB’S RED FLANNEL BIBLE CAMP – FROM EDEN TO THE ARK on Kindle as well for a mere 99 cents.

Uncle Bob's Red Flannel Bible Camp - From Eden to the Ark(and if you think you are sick to your belly of hearing me yelling “Uncle Bob this and Uncle Bob that” you ought to just stop for a half of a half of a minute – which is fifteen seconds – to think about how weary I am of typing out the title nine or ten thousand times – that’s ELEVEN whole words in that title – typing it out has probably shaved off about five or six months of my life expectancy so far!)

Momma warned me about too many subtitles…

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon



This came from WRONG HANDS – a series of cartoons by talented cartoonist John Atkinson.

You REALLY ought to follow WRONG HANDS!

Thought For The Day – March 10, 2014

“I try to write stories that would interest me. I don’t think you can do your best work if you’re writing for somebody else.” ― Stan Lee

That’s the truth of it.

I always try to write the sort of story that I would like to read – no matter how weird and twisted it gets.

Write for yourself first.

Then market it as best as you can.

Stay true to your own voice. Don’t try to sound like someone you aren’t.

* * * * * * * * *

Okay – so my wife has been going to college this year – preparing for a brand new career in Medical Administration. She has spent the last twenty-five years teaching bellydance and zumba and she is tired of jumping up and down for a living.

So this week she is on her March break and I took a week’s vacation time to do some things together with her.

So today – for the first time in my life – I took a Zumba class with her.

I ache in places that men shouldn’t ought to ache in. My armpits smell like a colony of small Siberian moose have been living in amongst the armpit hair for the last sixteen years and haven’t learned how to wipe themselves yet.

I held my own. I stayed on step at least three beats everyone else – but I kept shaking my moneymaker – (I’m not saying it was pretty) – and I kept thinking Fred Astaire thoughts while living in a Fat Albert realilty.

I had fun.

Believe it or not – I had fun.

Moral of this story – be true to your own voice – but NEVER be afraid to try something that you haven’t ever done before.

Uncle Bob's Red Flannel Bible Camp - From Eden to the Ark