Daily Archives: August 30, 2014

Food Crawl – part 2

Fans of the old RED FOX TAVERN will be happy to know that they are open for business as a brand new Bubba Ray’s Sports Bar. We ate there tonight. I had a Rickard’s Red and a mushroom and swiss burger – which was awesome. Belinda had a Coor’s Light and a big plate of ribs. Mustn’t forget to mention the deep fried dill pickles which we had as an appetizer.

Absolutely perfect.

The service was great. Our waitress, Amanda, had only worked there for two nights but she was right on the ball. The food took a little while in coming but it was perfect. No complaints whatsoever. I’d recommend swinging by there for a beer and some grub first chance you get.

Make no mistake though. This isn’t the RED FOX anymore. This is BUBBA RAY’S. Fans of chicken wings will be glad to hear that Wednesday nights are Wings night at this location.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

The Perfect Halifax Food Crawl

So – both my wife and I had yesterday off and I decided that it was time to for a good old-fashioned food date.

You know how some fellows will take their lady out to dinner? They’ll go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant and try to make polite conversation and fuss around with the menu and smell the wine steward’s cork if he offers it to you?

Well, that just isn’t our style.

We started out by heading downtown on the bus in the early afternoon – about 3pm to avoid the 5pm rush. We didn’t drive because sometimes it’s nice to have a beer when you eat and the local police here in Halifax are awfully funny about drinking and driving.

We got off at Spring Garden Road in front of the new Public Library and walked up to the intersection.

“Where are we going?” my wife asked me.

“Never you mind,” I told her. “This is an adventure and I get to lead.”

For those who might take that wrong way I want to remind you that my wife has about two decades of making a living as a professional dancer to her name.

Meaning I actually NEVER get to lead.

🙂

(right dear?)

🙂

So we crossed at the intersection and stepped into the Nestlé Toll House Café

5475 Spring Garden Road

Belinda had a giant waffle cone of pralines and cream and I had myself a Nutella milkshake.

The ice cream was delicious – but I am fairly certain that the milkshake cup had a hole in the bottom because that milkshake disappeared awfully fast on me.

Oh wait a minute – (patting stomach) – I think I’ve found it.

It’s a great little shop to stop for some gooey sweet chocolately treats and the “Double-Trouble” sandwich looked awfully tempting in that it was two cookies of your choice with a filling in between of either icing or ice cream – depending on your druthers. The giant cookie cakes looked awfully good as well.

So we conversed a little – well, actually she conversed and I mostly made nom-nom-nom sounds over the extra ice cream that had mysteriously fallen out of Belinda’s ice cream cone and my mysteriously empty milkshake cup.

Afterwards we walked down and swung by the Black Market and then to the Neptune Theatre where we bought a couple of tickets for an upcoming Dylan Thomas play of “Under Milk Wood”.

We made our way down Barrington and for a quick peek at Strange Adventures comic book shop. My wife had not seen the new location so we had a quick look around. Afterwards we ambled on over to the Urban Cottage Antique Shop.

Then we made our way down to Historic Properties and checked out a little clothing shop that sold nightshirts. Belinda LOVES nightshirts and she picked up this one.

We made our way along the waterfront, stopping to chat with local artist Brad Perry – a gent who has been sketching caricatures on the Waterfront for over twenty years now. I used to set up my palm reading booth right next to his pitch back when the waterfront was open to free-range vendors.

After that we walked to The Shack Oyster Bar.

Click the photo and it will take you to their Facebook page.

We were just in time for BUCK A SHUCK Friday – which goes from 5-6pm on Fridays.

We each had a dozen raw oysters. I had mine with a bit of lemon and Belinda added horse radish to hers. There was a bit of a wait because of the crowd but the oysters were awfully fresh and tasty. We sat at an outdoor table and hand fed scraps of the leftover oyster meat to a starling who landed right on the middle of our table. After we fed him I shooed him off and told him to make for Alcatraz.

🙂

After that we headed up to THE OLD TRIANGLE IRISH ALEHOUSE and were served by a lady name of Lou who gave us some of the best customer service we had ever experienced. We split a smoked salmon platter with some slices of freshly baked soda bread, some lovely capers and slices of onion and cucumber and tomato. I had a glass of Guinness that suffered from the same problem that my milkshake had while Belinda tried a pint of Harp ale.

We ate our faces off but then – when the waitress Lou came back to the table to ask us about desert only I told her that we were on a food date and we weren’t done yet.

“Follow me, darling,” I said to my wife.

“We are we going?”

“On an adventure.”

So we headed up the hill to 1567 Grafton Street to the Scanway Cafe where I told the girl behind the counter that me and that giant hunk of chocolate bread pudding needed to be alone together for awhile. We got our desert to go and we hopped a bus and came home and watched an old Peter Falk Columbo movie while I made some more nom-nom-nom sounds over my bread pudding and Belinda got into a slice of Chocolate Genoise Cake with Espresso Buttercream in the middle.

The two of us were grinning and giggling and happy as a pair of cuddly guddy-gutted lapdogs.

So the next time your mate asks you if you would like to go on a dinner date – DON’T THINK SMALL!

Never mind the Pub Crawl – think Food Crawl!

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

How to Write – First, Learn To Juggle…

To follow-up on my last post “HOW TO WRITE – COMPLETE WITH BUNNIES” I decided to re-blog an article I wrote a lot of years ago on how to make it as a writer – back before the internet kicked in.

 

How To Write – First, Learn to Juggle

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

“I’m sorry, it’s just not working out.”

“Let’s just be friends.”

Everybody has to deal with rejection at one time or another. From the first time you see that ashtray you worked so hard on in art class, stuffed in the same basement box as Aunt Millie’s latest attempt at a family tree; to that promotion you fought so hard for and then had to watch as it was handed to the boss’s dweeb third cousin, twice removed.

One of the hardest things to deal with when you are getting started as a small press writer, is rejection.

“Sorry, this doesn’t fit our current needs.”

“Not for us.”

“Have you ever thought of taking up plumbing as a profession?”

Writing is a numbers game. You learn that the first time your teacher tells you she wants to see a five page essay on what makes ducks fly north. You learn to elaborate, to spin vivid description, to write really big and how the margins can be creatively adjusted on your dad’s word processor. If I say a lot, you figure, maybe the teacher won’t notice that I’m saying nothing at all.

Writing can be that way, at first. You’re just trying to pad the pages, until that really great opening scene that game to you in the midst of a bout of sleep deprived fervour inspired by an all night monster movie marathon, and that nifty ending you cribbed from a 1963 movie that you found in the basement box next to your ashtray and Aunt Millie’s attempted geneology; can somehow be linked together if you can just write enough paragraphs and/or chapters.

Writing is a confidence game. You have to relax and think you’re good enough at what you’re doing to be printed. It can shake that confidence if the first thing you send out is rejected.

When I first started writing with the intent of publication in mind, I would write one story and send it off and sit down and wait. Then, when the inevitable rejection came back I would go into a state of mourning, wearing a black hockey sweater and frantically scribbling angst ridden suicide notes. Five weeks later I would gather up the courage to send the same story out to another market, and repeat the process.

Then I learned to juggle. When I got my second story out, (a collection of angst ridden suicide notes strung about the thematic device of a second hand hockey sweater), I sent it out. Now I had two stories out. When the first story came back, with another rejection, it didn’t hurt so bad. I had another story out there that was sure to sell. Hockey was big that year. I felt confident.

Confident enough to write a third story and send it off.

Are you getting the idea?

A beginning writer needs to have a goal. A beginning writer needs to have a body of work. What better way to conjure up that body of work than by writing a large group of stories, poems or articles. Once you have a dozen, two dozen, or thirty submissions in the mail at any given time, rejection becomes nearly painless.

And you will learn, as well. Writers aren’t born, they grow. There’s an old saying – to be a writer you must first write a million words. Give yourself the time to learn how to compose a story. Give yourself time to learn how to market a story. Be a juggler. Get those stories out there, in midair.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

How to Write – Complete with BUNNIES!!!

WritingWriting is always a head game that we writers love to play with ourselves.

Back in the early years I can still remember how it was, sending out submissions and waiting for publisher’s replies.

I still have several publishers that I deal with and it NEVER gets any easier. You send your stories out and you sit and you fret and you wonder if they are going to “make it” out there in the big bad world or not.

I can still remember how it would feel back when I used to regularly have at least twenty to thirty stories submitted during any given week. I remember the excitement I’d feel, tearing open one of the hundreds (or even thousands) of SASE’s I sent out to accompany my manuscript.

For those folks who don’t know or don’t remember – an SASE was an acronym for a SELF-ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE. That was what you had to send with EVERY submission you made back in those days. Remember, I started sending out stories and poems and articles back in the mid-eighties. I spend several hundred dollars a year on postage stamps. I used to regularly visit my local stamp shop to pick up a regular supply of unused American stamps so that I could submit to US publishers – because even back then there were a lot more US publishers.

I remember the depression I would experience every time I opened one of those SASE and read the polite no-thanks and the not-for-me’s and the not-at-this-time. Lord, there were so many ways for a publisher to say “YOU STINK!” that after a while I began to feel like I was the only stag dater on a dance floor filled with prom queens and each of them were already dating the star quarterback.

Nowadays – after forty years of submitting my words for public consumption you think I would have grown used to the sensation but it NEVER gets easy. This is NOT a game for folks who are easily discouraged.

That’s why I love this new online writing community that has evolved over the last decade. I absolutely LOVE the immediacy of being able to deal with a publisher or an editor through e-mail. I do not miss SASE’s and I do not feel any regret that my cigar box full of American stamps sits untouched on a shelf above my desk – sometimes for months at a time.

Just last month I submitted a story to an upcoming Canadian collection of New-Noir fiction and I received an acceptance in FOUR days! I was over the moon with excitement. The book won’t see print until 2015, so I won’t tell you any more details – but believe you me I was insanely elated.

Other days are not so easy.

I still receive rejections. No writer EVER escapes them.

A lot of folks think that in this day and age of e-publishing that a writer would be able to escape such feelings. Believe you me there is still a lot of aggravation involved in e-publishing a new novel or novella or even a short story and waiting to see how many copies are sold. Independent writers are still out there frantically checking their sales figures and waiting for reviews to show up on Amazon or Kobo or Goodreads.

This gig never gets easy.

But even on the worst of days – when the e-books aren’t selling and the rejections are flying at me from the right and the left and right down the middle – I still can comfort myself with thoughts hassenpfeffer!

Click this for your Bugs Bunny fix!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon