Monthly Archives: June 2014

Chain Letter Blog Hop

Canadian author, SARAH BUTLAND, asked me to take part in a Monday morning blog hop.

It went something like this.

Sarah: “Do you want to participate in a blog hop?”

Steve: “I don’t know about hopping. My feet are kind of sore this morning. Couldn’t I just text you folks? I mean – if I actually owned a cell phone – which I don’t – I’d be GLAD to send everyone a text – just so long as it wasn’t a pop quiz text. I always hated those in school.”

Sarah: “I think you mean test, not text.”

Steve: “Text, test – either are both beyond my capabilities. Can’t you just ask me to do something easy – like drink a bottle of cold beer and chase it with a cheeseburger? I can have that barbecue blazing in a minute, if you like.”

(pause to salivate over the thought of cheeseburgers and beer)

Sarah: “Listen. It’s easy. You just have to answer the following four questions on your post next Monday, ask three other authors and link to all of them.”

Steve: “Three other authors? And then they are going to link three other authors? This is beginning to sound an awful lot like one of those chain letter pyramid plans.”

Which is my long-winded way of saying that I completely forgot to contact three other writers and so I have broken the chain letter blog and I’ll probably have horrible luck from now on and probably grow up to be a writer or something instead of the dentist that I was supposed to grow up to be…

I'm sorry, but the doctor has got his hands full...

I’m sorry, but the doctor has got his hands full…

Question #1 – WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

I am just about to begin working on a time travel novel set on Citadel Hill, right here in Halifax. This novel involves a couple of ghosts that are drawn from an actual authentic ghost story that has been told about Citadel Hill for about two hundred years are so. I will be writing this over the month of July as part of the July Camp NaNoWriMo write-a-fifty-thousand-word-novel-in-a-month-or-die competition.



Wow. That’s a tough one. I’ve been told that I have a heck of a storytelling voice and that I bring that with me every time I set out to put words down on paper. Other folks tell me that my work is different in that I frequently leave beer and cheeseburger stains on their e-reader screens. I’m not quite sure how that works – but I have heard that it actually happens.

Question #3 – WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

I’ve had an awful lot of relatives ask me that very same question. I think it all started when I was a kid watching the old horror movies on CBC. Once a month on Friday nights they would run an all-night horror marathon with Vincent Price and Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi and a whole mess of wicked cool old-time horror movies. I never missed a single marathon. Since then I have fallen deeply in love with the realm of the booga-booga. Anything nasty and scary and fun just fits naturally into my creative world.


It’s a little like constipation. My stories get clogged up inside of me, bound tighter than a month on an all-cheese diet. The pressure builds until the words are just screaming to get out. Then I let them pour out onto the keyboard and do my best to keep up with the flow.

That is probably a little more graphic than cultured might approve of – but the simple fact is I am one of those strange dudes who would rather write a story than talk. I am a living, breathing storyteller. I can’t help it. I was warped at birth.

Lastly, I am supposed to link up with three other writers – so I spared no effort in unearthing three local writers who were happy to appear here in my blog.


More flowers and stuffed animals 015

What do you mean those aren’t real writers? Who are you to judge? Just because none of them have the digital quality (meaning fingers) to successfully unleash their creativity upon a keyboard does not disqualify them from having the ambition to create whole stories from the stuffing and nonsense of their tiny toy imaginations.

All right – so I goofed up. I left the actual search for guest writers to about thirty-eight minutes past the last minute – give or take a week or so. Blame it on my mind being preoccupied with no projects. Blame it on the fact that I actually released three new books over at Kobo and will eventually enter them into Kindle later this week.

The truth is I am not even sure what the name of this blog hop is supposed to be so I just invented that “Chain Letter Blog Hop” title up above. If the thought of someone actually making something up like that offends you than you really ought to stop hanging out with writers. We are notorious liars. We make things up at the drop of a hat.

So I goofed up.

Blame it on the fact that I am a careless kind of fellow.

I am a worm.

I am a lowly wiggling worm.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

300 : RISE OF AN EMPIRE – This Ain’t Sparta, dude…

All right – first things first.

I absolutely LOVE the movie 300.

I love it so much that even though I had my leg broken while watching the movie’s first release at a local theatre here in Halifax on a St. Patrick’s Day evening matinee I still went out and bought the dvd when it hit the stores.

I love the testosterone and the straight-ahead no-nonsense storytelling of 300.

So, last night when I made a quick run to WalMart I was very happy to see that 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE had finally hit the stores.

I grabbed a copy. Figured I’d go home and watch it with my wife. We had both had a long day and an evening of cold beer and swashbuckling would be just fine and dandy.

Turns out we might as well have just plugged in an old Ed Wood movie for all the entertainment we got out of this flick.

What a crappy, crappy, crappy movie.

I may have have left out a couple of crappies there.

First off, let’s start with the actors. Our main hero, THEMOSTICLES, was played by an Australian dude named Sullivan Stapleton.

Anyone remember Gerard Butler from the original movie, 300? Butler just oozed charisma and masculinity. The man was a walking advertisement for porterhouse steak, marinated in Old Spice aftershave and testeronal bull sweat.

This Stapleton dude looked like he would have felt more at home in Dr. Oz infomercial. The man always looked a little constipated and uncomfortable on screen. I took a look at IMDB to see what else he had done and I saw a whole lot of nothing. Maybe in Australia he is King Kong – but to me he seemed just a little bit on the Tarzan-Cheeta-side of life.

What was going on, anyway? First off we have got this evil woman Artemesia who is supposed to be a super-nasty expert of all forms of military conflict but mostly all she seemed to do was to stand around and stomp her foot and throw little hissy-fits before throwing her generals over the side of the ship.

And then we’ve got Themostocles who’s sole military achievement was to fire a dumb luck arrow at the fleet of Persians. That’s it. The dude got lucky – so that made him our hero.

We saw a glimpse of the Spartans and of Queen Gorgo and of Xerxes – but mostly it was Artemesia chasing after Themostocles in muddy murky blurred out battle scenes. Blood was flying all over the place like so much badly-shook-up cherry cola and every now and then we’d have Aremesia demonstrate her military prowess in another hissy-fit.

I mean that girl was making more drama than a season full of The Kardashians.

About 90% of the way through the movie Queen Gorgo (Gerard Butler’s wife from the first movie) and Dilios (the one-eyed storyteller/soldier from the first movie) decide that it is time to do something about the Persians that are pouring into their country after having shadily turned her husband Leonidas into a stunt-double for Saint Sebastian)

“You know,” I said to my wife. “This is RIGHT where they ought to have started this movie.”

That’s the point they missed.

You’re making a sequel to a much-loved movie don’t be messing around inventing characters that didn’t appear in the first movie, clogging up the story-line with unnecessary back story.

Beginning, middle and end – that’s a story.

Take your hero, put him into a tree and then throw rocks at him.

WHY didn’t they just start right there and then take Queen Gorgo and her Spartan and Greek forces with Dilios keeping busy with a little testosteronal-narrative every now – “Now what those Persians didn’t know was that the Duke Brothers had actually switched the roadblock sign…”

Lastly, I want to say a bit more about I call false strong women.

I know a lot of strong women. They are as common in this world as are strong men. But the strong women I know DO SOMETHING if there is something that needs to doing. They don’t just stand there and shake their ta-ta’s and arch their eyebrows and throw their generals overboard. They actually use their mind and come up with a strategy and take action.

Women can kick butt – just like fellas – and they don’t need to be all bitchy to do it – but that was all that Artemesia seemed to be able to do.

“I’m a strong women and a mean motor-scooter,” Artemesia would say. “Want to see my bodacious ta-ta’s?”

I’m sorry – but women play a bigger role in this life than just being there to waggle their bodacious ta-ta’s. If you are going to give us an evil character who happens to be a woman and is supposed to be a military wonder – DON’T LEAVE US STANDING THERE WONDERING!

I mean, what was up with that big naval master-plan that she concocted?

Let’s put a bunch of kamikaze suicide-bomber Persians into the middle of an ocean full of oil and have them dog-paddle with explosive backpacks up to the Greek ship and then when they halfway there lets start shooting some flaming arrows at them – while we are sitting our boat in the same darned oil-filled look-out-its-gonna-blow ocean?

Yeah, that was brilliant, all right.

I am truly sorry that I wasted twenty good bucks on this dvd. I am going to give it away. I don’t ever want to see it again. The movie absolutely sucked. It was a masterpiece of truly abysmal storytelling.

That’s okay, though.

I’ve got another movie I picked up from the five dollar bin. I figure it will make up for the incredible disappointment that was 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE.

That’s right.

I bought myself a copy of MEN IN BLACK 3.

yours in storytellling,

Steve Vernon

Writing and Push-ups and Lions

should you be writing right now-

On Tuesday I begin my big writing challenge – the July NaNoWriMo write fifty thousand words or die challenge.

Which means from July 1 to July 31 I need to write a MINIMUM of 1612 words a day.

That’s an awful lot of words and I know that a lot of you folks who read this entry are going to say something along the lines of “Good job, Steve.” or “Shag it, man!” or “You’re freaking nuts!” or “You can do it!”

Some of you folks might think to yourself – “Wow. How can he do that?”

Well – for starters I don’t KNOW if I can do it successfully – but let’s assume I can.

This is how I look at this sort of writing marathon.

Writing is a little like push-ups.

Do all of you know how to do a push-up? Do you remember in high school phys ed when the teacher would explain to you how to do push-ups? He’d say something along the lines of this.

PHYS ED INSTRUCTOR – “Push-ups are easy. Just lay down face-down on the ground.”

ME – “I can do that.”

PHYS ED INSTRUCTOR – “Now set your hands down flat against the ground at a little more than shoulder-width.”

ME – “That’s easy too. My shoulders aren’t very wide. Can I take a nap while I am at it?”

PHYS ED INSTRUCTOR – “You’re supposed to be pushing up. Raise your body up from the floor. Think of your body as a straight and keep it straight while you push up.”

ME – “You want me to push-up? But I just got down here. Are you sure I’m not supposed to be taking a nap?”

At this point in the game my phys ed instructor’s face would begin to assume the color of a burning rose. I’m talking way-past-beet red, like the sun coming up while you are wearing red-tinted sunglasses and sipping on Hawaiian Punch cocktail and chewing on ripe red cherries smeared with strawberry jam.

PHYS ED INSTRUCTOR – “NO! It’s not time for a nap. You’re on the floor. Are you a worm?”

ME – “Yes sir – I am a worm, sir. I am a lowly wriggling worm who is about to take a nap.”

Which is how I first got to meet my High School principal.


Seriously, I can do an awful lot of push-ups. The way I got started was to get out of bed in the morning and do five perfect push-ups. Then come the end of the week I would add one more push-up. Are you doing the math? That’s five plus one – makes six.

(Burt and Ernie would be so proud of my mathematics)

Then – one week later I would add one more push-up.

After five weeks I was into the double digits.

And every week I would add one more push-up.

So I want you do this for me.

Sit down and write a hundred words on your novel.

Write those hundred words every morning – first thing after you get out of bed.

Come the end of the week write 110.

Just like that ancient Greek wrestler dude who started out carrying a baby lion cub around on his shoulders everyday.

Everyday that lion cub grew just a little bit bigger and that ancient Greek wrestler dude grew a little bit stronger.

Everyday that ancient Greek wrestler dude fed that lion cub a great big old t-bone steak to make sure that lion cub grew just a little bit bigger.

At the end of a year that ancient Greek wrestler dude had muscles like Schwarzenegger.

At the end of two years that ancient Greek wrestler dude looked like Samson and Hercules and Arnold Schwarzenegger had themselves a three-way tub and a love-child who liked the taste of ouzo.

Two and half years in that lion got tired of eating steak – but that’s six hundred words this morning and we’ll just that lion eat in peace.

I’m sure not going to interrupt its chewing.

Meantime get busy working on your push-ups. You never can tell when you might need to out-wrestle a lion.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS – if you want to read a bit more about CAMP NANOWRIMO – read it HERE!

The Family of Writers

The Family of Writers

Does anyone else write in your family besides yourself?

Would it bother you if anyone did?

yours in storytelling

Steve Vernon



Today’s guest blog entry is from talented writer and zombie afficianado, RHONDA PARRISH.

Take a sneak peek at an excerpt from Rhonda’s brand new collection of zombie tales, WASTE NOT.

Waste Not


By Rhonda Parrish


The last time I saw my former feeder he was rushing out the door to work. I thought it odd when he didn’t come home that night, but truthfully, I welcomed his absence. It meant I didn’t have to endure his incessant ruffling of my fur, or the condescending high-pitched voice he reserved exclusively for talking to me.

Plus, I got to stretch out and take up all the bed I wanted.

The next morning I was woken by the sound of a loud explosion. It hurt my ears and rattled the house’s windows. After a nice, long stretch, I had a bite to eat and climbed into the west-facing window upstairs. Smoke filled the air and irritated my nose. It must have been even worse on the other side of the glass.

Over the next few days smoke came and went, some clouds more offensive than others. Mostly I stayed in my window, enjoying the sun on my fur and the interesting view below. Ghouls chased the feeders through the streets. They came in waves, like the fires. One group of ghouls and feeders would pass through with much screaming, banging and excitement, and then, sometimes for hours at a time, the world would be silent. Eerily silent. Even those insufferably chirpy birds had nothing to say. Then, eventually, inevitably, another wave of predator and prey would pass by, giving me something to watch and leaving carnage in their wake.

It was a good life.

Then my water dish ran dry.

That was my first hint something had gone wrong.


Want to read more?


Waste Not Small



Blog Illustration

Rhonda Parrish – Author at Large

And – if that isn’t enough for you why don’t you read a little bit more about WASTE NOT over at Rhonda’s very own blog site!

* * * * *

The stench of rotting flesh is in the air!

Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 33 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #SummerZombie

AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in June, here’s the complete list, updated daily!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


Sometimes an awful lot can hang on one good story…

Bart Simpson Blackboard

I have NEVER claimed that I was a very good student.

The truth is I didn’t enjoy school until I figured out that the easiest way to get a good mark in English was to write a really good story or play.

Indeed a lot of my love for writing originally stemmed from that goofy-looking kid who sat up close to the front of the classroom because he hadn’t yet learned that he actually needed glasses to wear to see from the back of the class.

I didn’t find out that I needed glasses until I was seventeen years old and was taking driving lessons and continued to drive the instructor’s car off of the side of the road.

Sometimes it takes an awful long time for a fellow to learn how to see.

That’s how it was in school.

I kept beating my head against the blackboard trying so very hard to be a “good” student when all that I really needed to do was to just be myself and tell my stories.

It reminds me of history class.

My history teacher was a gent named Bill Carrise who truly loved the study of history. He would sit up there at the front of the class telling us stories of ancient Kings and Queens just the same as some folks will tell you what their maiden aunt Gertrude has got up to with the town motorcycle gang.

One day Bill decided to retire to a stone farmer’s cottage in Southern Ontario to grow mooseberries or some such foolishness. Bill’s replacement was an ex-economics teacher whose idea of instruction was to sit perched upon the edge of her desk reading the history at us.

She kind of reminded me of a Spandau gunner sitting in her bunker mowing down us poor hapless students with a nonstop ack-ack-gack constant stream of monotone boredom.

At the end of the day history is nothing more than a series of well told stories – and sometimes an awful lot can hang on one good story.

Here endeth the lesson.

Now, for dessert, why don’t you give a look at this Youtube video that tells the entire History of the English Language in about eleven minutes flat.

And thanks to Nate Hoffelder over at THE DIGITAL READER for pointing this video out.

All of you folks out there who have any interest in indie-publishing or the digital world in general REALLY ought to be following THE DIGITAL READER.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


Writing Just Isn’t All That Hard…

Word Cloud

Listen, I hear from a lot of folks about how they get stuck on what to write next.

Or else how they are stuck in the middle of what they are already writing.

So I want to tell you folks that writing isn’t all that hard.


What’s the first thing you do when you meet a friend?

Do you shake their hand? Do you wave at them? Do you waggle your bottom suggestively?

(Okay, so that last approach might get me arrested)

Odds are, sooner or later, you will tell them a story.

“How are your kids?” they will ask.

Or “How is your husband?” or “How is your dog?’ or “How are your feet and ears?”

They’ll ask you a question and you will answer it with a story.

It’s just as natural as breathing. We all want to share our experiences in this life. We need another set of ears and eyes to reflect our experiences upon.

So that’s what you are doing when you sit down and write a story or a novel or a gi-normous opus of sixty-eight volumes.

You are just telling somebody a story. You don’t know that somebody yet – but they want to hear your story – so you write it down and you publish it and then a whole lot of somebody-folk out there pick that book up and read it.

Repeat after me.

Writing is just talking on paper – and whether you like it or not, odds are you are an experienced talker.

So don’t sit there staring at that empty page.

Get busy and start talking.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

I’m going to summer camp…

All right – so I have just signed up for Nanowrimo Summer Camp.

I know. I am mad. I am crazy. I am one of the herd and will most likely be either trampled by the younger stronger bucks or I will lag behind and get picked off by the most dangerous and ravenous e-hyenas.

I am aiming for a 50,000 word YA novel – beginning on July 1, 2014 and winding up on July 31, 2014. That’s looking at 1612 words a day.

Which is a lot.

I know some writers can pump out two or three or five thousand words a day easily – but I’ve been grinding my wheels a bit and I would like to do something to help kickstart my progress forward.

I am writing a time travel novel set on Citadel Hill, right here in Halifax.

Citadel HillThere are also a couple of ghosts based on an authentic Halifax Citadel Hill ghost story to thicken the brew. This is a story I have had kicking around in my head for some time now and I am truly looking forward to finally getting it written down.

Anybody else looking to sign up can find the details right HERE!

And here are some writing tips designed specifically for Nanowrimo.

And lastly, here is my official Nanowrimo page.

Wish me luck!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

(PS – for those folks who don’t know what NaNoWriMo means – it simply is NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH!)

David Bain is a toe-stubbing son of a gun…

Let me tell you all about David Bain’s latest book – Riders Where There Are No Roads.

This book falls under that uniquely creepy and fun category of weird western.

Now, I know some of you folks out there might not have heard that term used before, so I went some great deal of effort to look up the definition for you.

Well, I actually just took a look in Google – but as my Uncle Bob told me a long time ago that whatever you do in this lifetime you ought to be certain that you let people know that you did it with a GREAT deal of effort.

As in – I carried my empty beer glass to the kitchen sink and sort of glanced in the direction of the empty dishwasher which needed filling – with a GREAT deal of effort.

You get the idea.

So let’s break this term down into bite-sized chunks.

According to – which is how folks spell Webster’s these days – the word WEIRD is an adjective that means “fantastic, bizarre, involving or suggesting the supernatural” or if you make a habit of wearing a kilt the word is a noun that means “fate or destiny”. The word historians believe the word WEIRD originated in the pre-900 Middle English term “wyrd”.

You know – like in those three wyrd sisters who double-double-talked old Macbeth into making some REALLY bad decisions.

So that’s a pretty good start, I figure.

Then we come to the second part of the term – namely, the word WESTERN.

Well, according to the word western – especially when it is spelled with a capital “W”, as in Western – is a noun used to connote a story, movie, or radio or television play about the U.S. West of the 19th century.

Connote is an awfully good word, isn’t it?

I highly recommend you using that word “connote” any chance you get – especially when you are trying to convince people that you have gone to a “great deal of effort” – as in, “That certainly connotes the great deal of effort that I went to eating that western sandwich that was accidentally setting there on your dinner plate.”

See, right off the bat people hear you use that word “connote” and they start thinking that your use of that word connote “connotes” that you are really a little smarter than you actually might look.

Are you following me so far?

Admit it.

I am beginning to grow on you.

Kind of the same way that creeping fungus or glottal crotch rot or tabasco-stained moldy boxer shorts grow on you.

Now where was I?

Oh yes – when you put those two words together you come up with something that is a bit of a mutation. It is a little like chocolate pizza or coffee-flavored beer or maybe a hammock that can cuddle.

When you put those two words together you come up with what we literati like to refer to as a “cross genre”.

Now that doesn’t mean a genre that has got out of its cuddling-hammock without the benefit of a cup of coffee-flavored beer or a slice of chocolate pizza.

Basically, the word “cross genre” is just a long-winded way of saying “fun”.

And weird westerns are AWFULLY good fun.

In the weird western novel Riders Where There Are No Roads David Bain combines two very different sorts of characters as he deals with the outlaw-turned-sheriff crack shot Gentleman Jim Brodie and the snake-oil salesman Dr. Darius Darke. Then you throw in some demonic cowboys, a pick-up truck that thinks it used to be a horse – or maybe it is a horse that used to be a pick-up truck that is dreaming that is a horse, a living and breathing dragon and a mystical bad-ass biker for starters and you know that you are in for some mind-blowing storytelling.

Dave asked me if I would write a blurb for this book – but I cannot in good conscience write that blurb because I am pretty certain that Dave was drunk when he wrote this book. In fact, I think I might have been drunk when I read it because I laughed and I grinned and I giggled and I snorted Dr. Pepper out of my nostrils at every chapter break, making so much noise that my wife came running upstairs to see if I was either possessed by Pazuzu or else having an epileptic seizure and as a result of her run she stubbed her toe as she was coming around the outer door frame of my writing office door.

On top of which I leaped up to run to the rescue of my wife – doing my best to make it look as if I was going to a great deal of effort at the time – while simultaneously praying that she did not haul off and hit me – and I likewise stubbed my own left toe on the inner door frame of my writing office.

So I cannot tell you that David Bain writes like a drunken man galloping down a ninety degree incline on a love-sick yodeling mule – because his book made my wife stub her toe – and she only has ten of them to spare.

I cannot tell you that Riders Where There Are No Roads is funnier than a pig eating pickles – because David Bain stubbed my own favorite left toe.

I cannot tell you that David Bain’s storytelling technique ought to be set upon a podium hung high above the highest Olympic podium so that David Bain’s story can drop paragraph-lengths of poop down upon the heads of the Olympic gold-medal winners – because David Bain is a toe-stubbing son of a gun.

Yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon

If you click this cover it will take you directly to the Kindle listing of David's book which you can purchase RIGHT NOW for a mere 99 cents. It just doesn't get any better than that.

If you click this cover it will take you directly to the Kindle listing of David’s book which you can purchase RIGHT NOW for a mere 99 cents. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

If you want to check out David Bain’s blog article – DON’T WORRY ABOUT WORD COUNTS – THE BATHROOM BREAK METHOD click here!


November in July – or how many Bratwursts do you need to write a novel?

Okay – so here is a confession.

I have NEVER attempted NaNoWriMo.

You know – that sausage-factory November phenomenon that everyone and his dog seems to get into these days? That you-can-write-a-novel-in-30-days fad?

Well, it isn’t a fad anymore.

The fact is – it is spreading.

July is coming up and has been selected for a sort of SUMMER CAMP NANOWRIMO session.

That’s right – you now have the month of JULY as well as the month of NOVEMBER available to write your novel in.

Depending on who you are that might be good news or it might be bad news. I’m undecided. First, the purist in me says – “Hey! Wait a minute! That isn’t November. That’s July! What’s up with that, eh?”

I mean how long before we have NaNoWriMo YEAR???

However, the writer in me says “Maybe this is something I can use.”

The fact is I am FINALLY finishing that Bigfoot novel I have been struggling with. I wrote the first paragraph of the last chapter this morning – (you cross multiply that by pi-r-squared and you will come up with the national population of Bratwurst – home of good sausage makers) – and I have got a 50,000 word novel in rough outline format.

This might be a FINE time to get involved in this novel-writing event.

What do you folks think? Should I go for it?

You want more info – read this.

Mmmm, bratwurst!

Here’s a link (not a sausage link) to an article with a bit more info about Camp NaNoWriMo.

Camp NaNoWriMo Top Tips for Success!.

And here is the sign-up page for Camp NaNoWriMo.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon