Daily Archives: May 19, 2014

Writing Wisdom from my Wife

My wife, Belinda, made us a proper Victoria Day lunch. Lamb kidney – an old school British dish that would have fit right in on the table of the dining room of Downtown Abbey.


Lamb Kidney









Lamb kidneys, beefsteak tomatoes, onions, chives, fresh mint and American bacon served with a proper slab of toast.

(And to all of you folks out there who are cringing and going on and saying “Ewww, kidneys.” – hush up and mind your manners. This was real food – the way that real people ate – long before organic bananas and cheeseburgers and fofu – (which is tofu made without cruelty to soybeans)

A lot of folks don’t realize but my wife – who has taught bellydance for about thirty years – was a red seal chef for several years before that. She cooked at the Lord Nelson back when the Lord Nelson Hotel was considered one of the finest hotels in Halifax. She cooked at the Silver Spoon Cafe – where she created some of the finest chocolate truffles in the province. She cooked tavern fare at Winston’s and several other restaurants in town.

People who have known my wife for many years see her only as a dancer. They do not see her other skills and talents.

Now she is heading towards a third brand new career as a medical administrator. She has completed a year in community college and is already serving her work term in the local hospital. You see her now and you would think of her as being a smart and efficient office worker. You wouldn’t see the chef or the professional dancer.

People are complicated creations. It is a great mistake to take any of them at face value.

You just take a look around you.

There are probably just as many people that you know who have intriguing and unexpected back story.

That’s right – I am using a writer’s term “back story” – because that is what I am – a writer.

Some folks look at me and they don’t see the fellow who used to heave around furniture and empty out eighteen wheelers. They don’t see the woodworker or the house painter or the militia man or the tree planter. They don’t see the palm reader or the poet or the fellow who used to make money as an artist’s model.

People are complicated.

“We are built like disco balls,” my wife told me once. “Each of us possess many facets and we glimmer and reflect in our own kind of way.”

You think about that the very next time you sit down and try and squeeze a character out of your pen.

(and I know that most of you do your writing on the keyboard same as me – but somehow the idea of squeezing a character out of a keyboard does not seem nearly as poetic or powerful an image as squeezing one out of a pen – so there it is.)

Nobody is all good or all bad or all funny.

People are complicated.

Your characters ought to be as well.


And before I let you go – here’s an Anderson Live episode showcasing the cast of Downton Abbey.

Here’s part one of the episode.

And here is part two of the episode.

Happy Victoria Day!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Promoting Tips for Indie Writers…

The problem with e-books is that they are way too virtual. You can’t really carry them around with you and display them on tables and wave them in potential readers faces without going to the clunky bother of hauling out your e-reader and pulling the e-book out for them to see.

So a few weeks ago I ordered business cards from Vistaprint.

business card





Now I know that is a pretty basic design. In fact, at my last book signing a young graphic designer tried to pitch me with his own design. I told him that I was operating on a Kool-Aid stand budget. I told him that I was one of the last creative do-it-yourself pioneers.

I told him that I was cheap.

He was impressed by my use of the QR – that funky little square that looks a little like that television you bought from the dude in the leather jacket on the street corner outside the bowling alley, last Thursday night. If you scan that QR it will take you directly to the Kobo page that lists all of my Kobo releases.

To see what I mean just try clicking that picture of the business card for an instant demonstration.

Now – in hindsight I really should have paid the extra few dollars for a double-sided business card – and then I could have put a QR for my Kindle releases as well.

Ah well. Hindsight is really only good for looking out of that hole in the seat of your favorite blue jeans.

Now I know that some of you folks who regularly follow my blog will point out that I already mentioned this business card in an earlier blog entry – but some things bear repeating – like those cucumbers in last night’s Greek salad.

Ah, cucumbers – the gift that keeps on giving.

Another tool that indie writers should never forget is Twitter.

Yes, even old farts like me can Twitter.

Now – a lot of folks will tell you that you CAN’T sell books on Twitter.

And they’re right. Let’s face it – you can’t sell books ANYWHERE. The darned things just sit there and refuse to be bought. But what you can do on Twitter is to entertain folks, give them a giggle or two, enlighten them just a little and maybe along the way draw just a little bit of attention to your e-books.

That’s where books sell, after all.

Books sell in the imagination. You’ve got to get your potential readers thinking about your books. Plant the notion in their brain – “Hmm, I like reading Steve Vernon’s blog entries and I even like reading his Tweets – might be I might ACTUALLY enjoy reading one of his books.”

If you scatter enough of those seeds before you know it they’ll start sprouting up like so many cucumbers in the dirt.

Seriously – as all of you gardeners know – NOTHING grows faster than cucumbers – unless you’re talking radishes and I don’t think I’ve met anyone in the world who eats radishes, except for my granddad who loved those funky little red burp-factories.

Remember – don’t misspell in your tweets and blog entries. There is NOTHING that says “this dude can’t write” than misspelling and/or misusing a necessary bit of the English language.

And do not fall back on “text-speak”.

I do NOT want to see any of you folks tweeting out something like

“Seriously U ought 2 BI MY BOOKS, DUDES!”


Now - if you click THIS cartoon it will take you to an earlier blog entry I wrote - NINE RULES FOR EFFECTIVE TWEETING - IN TWEETS!

Now – if you click THIS cartoon it will take you to an earlier blog entry I wrote – NINE RULES FOR EFFECTIVE TWEETING – IN TWEETS!

(Note – I borrowed the cartoon from a blog entry written by UK author/blogger Terry Tyler. You might want to check out what she has to say about the Tweeting of writers in her blog.)

Remember – at the end of the day an indie writer must learn how to channel the marketing-moxie and shameless carnival-huckster-chutzpah of William Shatner.

Now get out there and plant those cucumber seeds!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon