Monthly Archives: September 2014

Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue…

Okay, so I’m having my morning coffee and taking a fast peek at Twitter and I ran into this trailer for an upcoming Keanu Reeves movie – JOHN WICK.

It looked like a good no-brainer action flick. I happen to really enjoy no-brainer action flicks so I thought I’d take a peek at the trailer.

It looked all right until Keanu’s voiceover at about the minute mark.

“I lost everything. That dog was a final gift from my dying wife.”


Holy whiskey, tango, foxtrot Batman – who farted in the Bat-Elevator?

Having some ex-green-beret, ex-superspy, ex-hitman, ex-badass-black-op go bonzo-berserk because somebody killed his dog is fine motivation for a no-brainer action flick.

But do not spell it out in a piece of dumbass-dialogue like that!!!

I must be getting meaner as I get older but I almost spilled my coffee when I heard that line – and that coffee was a final gift from my wife who was going off to ride the bus to her day-job.

Come on, scriptwriter.

(or more as likely, come on, director)


You don’t need to spell EVERYTHING out. That single stinking piece of dialogue air-dropped JOHN WICK squarely into cliche-land.

I’m sorry, Keanu. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I really kind of enjoyed you in SPEED and you were freaking awesome in THE REPLACEMENTS and I am really sorry that I cannot think of another movie that I even remotely liked you in but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Peaked, way too early!

Don’t talk to me about THE MATRIX. The way I see it those two sequels pretty well double-negatived that whole movie into the Phantom Zone of inconsequential cinema.

Let me tell you about dialogue.

Have you ever had a policeman ask you for your driver’s license? How about at the liquor store – when the counter clerk asks you for some ID?

(and damn it – folks stopped asking me for ID thirty-eight years ago)

Every single piece of dialogue in your book and/or movie is your character’s ID card!

You don’t want to hand that liquor store clerk a piece of ID that looks as if your buddy Photoshopped it up out of a template he found in a bubble gum machine.

Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue!

If your character opens up his mouth – make DAMN sure that something interesting falls out of it!

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS – If you REALLY want to read yourself a novel about somebody willing to go to war over a dead dog – pick yourself up a copy of Jack Ketchum’s RED.

This is – by far – my favorite Ketchum novel and well worth reading. There was a movie made but I’m pretty sure Keanu Reeves wasn’t in it.

A writer daydreams…

I love how this guy thinks!

This month I have sold at least one book a day. That’s a good start, I figure. By next year I’d like to be selling FIVE books a day.

I’m not in a hurry. My books are out there and new people find them every month.

It is one of the reasons that I really LOVE being an indie writer. I have got the world’s widest bookshelf. Anything I write is going to remain available for as long as I want it to stay.

This is also the reason I enjoy writing for a regional publisher. They’ve got my entire back-catalogue still available – and I sell copies every month.

Tick, tick, tick – like a steady driving clock on the wall.

A mile is nothing more than a whole lot of inches.

This is how a writer daydreams!

This is how a writer daydreams!

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Peanut Butter Pie. New Music From Girl Friend.

My wife has a GREAT recipe for peanut butter pie.
I wonder how this one would stack up to her recipe?

I Sing In The Kitchen

Peanut Butter Pie

If peanut butter is not your thing, then you might want to just walk on by today’s recipe.

But if you DO love peanut butter, I’ve got a pie for you. The PB flavor is strong, but the texture of this pie is light and fluffy from whipped cream folded into the peanut butter-cream cheese base. Honey-roasted peanuts add a sweet crunch and a topping of whipped cream is the crowning touch.

Peanut Butter Pie
Peanut Butter Pie


9 whole graham crackers, crushed into crumbs (about 1 1/4 cups of crumbs)
1 Tbs light brown sugar
5 Tbs melted butter
1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts, chopped (or use the candied peanuts here)
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, divided
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream, plus whipped cream, for garnish, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 325℉…

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Promotion Of A Free Book – Experiment And Results, Part One.

I’ve been trying to figure out how best to maximize my promotional techniques for KDP. I thought I’d take a look at how somebody else manages the trick.

Floating Down The Maran . . .

Ok, I admit it. I am converted. I now believe in paid promotion for my books, even if I am still trying to get it as cheap as I can.

My crime novella Second Time Lucky went free on Tuesday with two of the promotions bknights put up on Fiverr. Before the promotion total downloads 247, of these 241 were free and 6 paid. Here’s the promo so far (as usual, all times are GMT):

23/09/2014 (19:18 – Bknights promos go live)
14:20 (1 download)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #26,262 Free in Kindle Store
#9 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English
#11 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir

16:09 (still 1)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,784 Free in Kindle Store
#8 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller…

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Manly Romance Writer: Q&A With Nic Tatano

All right – as some of you folks know I am currently working on a paranormal romance – and, being a fellow, I kept hearing that smarmy little know-it-all voice in the back of my brain that kept on asking me just who in the heck did I think I was kidding!

Well – I guess Nic Tatano has been making a mark for himself as a male romance writer – so there is hope for an old fart like me yet!

Give a look at this interview reblogged from Lady

Kindle Freebie Promotion Techniques

It was just a few months ago that I was attending a writing festival when someone asked me a very good question.

“Just how many e-books do you have available on Kindle?” someone asked.

“Well, someone,” I replied. “That is a very good question. I have about thirty e-books available on Kindle.”

“Wow,” someone said right back at me. “If I had thirty e-books I’d have a half of a dozen of them in Kindle Select and I would be selling like crazy.”

I’ve been thinking about what that someone told me ever since then.

Let’s be honest – I am NOT selling like crazy on Kindle. In fact, my Kobo sales have outstripped my Kindle sales right from the get-go.

Now that is something to be happy about – because sales are sales – but the fact is that my distribution of sales has always been a disturbing anomaly for me. Almost every other indie-author that I have talked to reports that they make the majority of their sales through Kindle. Sure, there are ALWAYS exceptions, but by and large Kindle is the big dog in this here pound.

I just counted up my Kindle releases, and I actually have FORTY-THREE separate books available on Kindle. That includes TWENTY-EIGHT independently release e-books, ELEVEN e-books released through e-publisher Crossroad Press and FOUR e-books released trough my traditional regional publisher Nimbus Press.

That is a lot of Kindle e-books.

My sales REALLY ought to be better than they are.

So this fall I have decided to do something about that. I have taken the advice of that someone – (and this wasn’t the first time that I had heard similar advice – this was just the first time that I had ACTUALLY decided to do something about it).

So – for starters – I have placed SIX of my independently published e-books into Kindle Select.


I’ve already held two freebie promotions.

You can read about the first Kindle freebie promotion performed HERE and I am going to tell you how the second Kindle freebie turned out – right now.

For the last two days my e-book, BIGFOOT TRACKS, has been available for FREE through Kindle. I already gave you folks all of the details of the promoting that I did for this freebie right HERE.

So here are the results.

As you might know, I ran the first promotion for NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY on September 1 to the September 3. I gave away 613 copies on the first day, 193 copies on the second day and a piddling 66 copies on the third day.

That is 872 copies in total.

With this second promotion – running from September 22 to September 23 for BIGFOOT TRACKS – I gave away 464 copies on the first day and 435 copies on the second day.

That is 899 copies in total – in TWO DAYS!

So – what have I learned?

Well – for starters, I am convinced that a TWO DAY freebie promotion is a lot more effective than a THREE DAY freebie promotion. That third day was a bit of a wash-out and in hindsight I believe that in the future I will stick with two day promotions rather than three.

MIND YOU, I haven’t yet experimented with follow-up freebies. That will be another bridge to cross – but right now I am just trying to get the hang of this whole freebie strategy.

I have been puzzling over the difference between the 613 first day copies of NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY versus the 464 first day copies of BIGFOOT TRACKS.

It can be a mistake trying to compare sales figures on any given day for two VERY different releases – however I am pretty certain that the 613 had a lot to do with the fact that September 1 was LABOR DAY.

(or LABOUR DAY, if you’re Canadian, like myself)


Labor Day is one of those oddball vacations. There isn’t necessarily a lot of family get-togethers that come with Labor Day. It is more often a time to get out to the cottage or clean out the backyard or just plain fart around.

THAT is the audience I am looking for. The farting-around crowd. I empathize with the farting-around crowd. The farting-around crowd are MY kind of people. The farting-around crowd are READERS!


A proud member of the Fart-Around Society of North America

Amen, my brothers and sisters!

Let me tell you how my two promotions have worked out for me so far.

NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY is still sitting at a fairly respectable Amazon ranking.

 Amazon Best Sellers Rank:  #260,569 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store) #56 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Mythology & Folk Tales > Folklore

Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#260,569 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#56 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Mythology & Folk Tales > Folklore

NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY has bagged NINE reviews with an average ranking of 4.2 stars and I have sold copies since that freebie promotion at the e-book’s regular price and I have ALSO had copies borrowed through the new Kindle Unlimited program – which will pay me a per-copy rate in the next month or so.

I am interested to see how this Kindle Unlimited program pays off for me in the long run. It is hard to predict because they do not announce the monthly pay-off until later – but I have been averaging a 1-to-3 borrow-to-sales ratio ever since I entered these six books into Kindle Select. That means for every three books I sell, one book is borrowed – and either way I make money.

Some indie writers fear the Kindle Unlimited program. They worry that the borrows are “cannibalizing” their sales figures. Well, as far as I am concerned – RIGHT NOW – my sales figures are all theoretical. So I don’t worry about losing sales to the borrows. The way I figure it – right now – I make money on every borrow and I make money on every sale and either way I am happy.

That might change down the road but right now I’ll steer by that concept.

The single biggest result I can report is that out of the 24 days of September that have already happened I have sold and/or KU-loaned e-books for 20 days out of 24 so far this September.

That does not count the freebies at all.

(I had to read those last couple of sentences again just to make sure it actually made sense. If it doesn’t make sense blame it on my weak-assed coffee.)

Previously to this I was averaging sales on Kindle of two or three books a week. Now I sell Kindle books almost every day. Not a lot of them – not yet – but right now that is my immediate goal for the rest of the year is to try and sell EVERY DAY.

Come October, I hope to kick this into a higher gear. I have got promotions lined up on E-Book News Today and Kindle Books and Tips as well as several other promotional websites. I have also got a book pitched to BookBub as well – although that is a long-shot. In the meanwhile I am working on a brand-new novel – (I’m about 12000 words into what I hope will be a 50000 word paranormal romance – the first in a new kickass series) – and I am beginning to lay out a few well-planned promotions for October and November to try to keep those daily Kindle sales happening.

If, by the end of the year, I can start selling a book or two every day on Kindle I will count that as a fulfillment of my goals. In 2015 I want to look at selling a lot – a lot more regularly.

So, for now my strategy will remain a series of recurring promotions that will splash into my little e-book pond like so many well-aimed pebbles.

As a certain man once said – “Most human problems can be solved by an appropriate charge of high explosive.”

All right – so what does UNCOMMON VALOR have to do with selling e-books? Well, I think of each of these promotions as being the digital equivalent of a well-placed charge of high explosive. Taken one by one they have a little effect – but you line them up one after another and all of those little ripples in that little pond are going to turn into a world class monsoon of momentum.

Oh hell.

The Metaphor League has just issued a cease-and-desist order for me to stop cheerfully mangling so darned many metaphors in my blog entries.


I am going to keep reporting my strategies, techniques and the results of my approach for two specific reasons. Number one – to help me remember and to learn from the experiences. I’m old and I forget things easily if I don’t make it a point to write it all down.

Number two – I want to help you good readers by letting you see the mistakes that you should avoid and to note the good techniques that actually do work.

Hopefully we can all start selling more e-books together.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

As anyone who has been following my blog knows, I have been trying to improve my Kindle e-book sales figures.

Finding the Strength to Keep On Writing – OR – Silencing Your Inner Prune!

Folks who follow this blog know that I frequently hang out at kboards – and if you have ANY sort of interest in indie-publishing you REALLY ought to start to hanging out there as well. There are folks on there that sell a HECK of a lot more e-books than I do – and they are more than happy to pass some of that knowledge onto other writers.

Early back in September a writer started a thread on the kboards Writer’s Cafe saying that she had begun to lose hope and did not know if she had the strength to keep on writing.

Some of you folks might have had a similar experience. Writing – ESPECIALLY independently-published writing – is a constant test of your faith in yourself and your own creative abilities.

So let me tell you what I told her.

I am 56 years old and have been writing for about forty years and I am still trying to figure things out.

Writing isn’t an instantaneous process. You don’t snap your fingers and become a “great” writer. You become a writer by writing a lot of stuff.

There are ALWAYS going to be crap-tacular reviews. There are ALWAYS going to be people who don’t like your stuff.

Look at how many people bought FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY.

I tried hard to read FIFTY SHADES. I tried three times and I could not get past the first couple of pages. It hurt my eyes. They are leaking puss right now just thinking about those first few crap-tacular paragraphs.

But THOUSANDS of people loved that book!

Don’t start figuring that every review is going to be positive – because they are not.

I just released a short novella and had a three day freebie giveaway to try to boost it’s profile. Among other things that promotion netted me eight reviews. Seven of those reviews were glowing. They loved me words. Wanted me to run for President – even though I’m a Canadian.

However one of those eight reviewers didn’t like my book. She peed all over the pages – great big splashing drops of sulphur-reeking e-urine – and she was giggling while she did it. She told me my words stunk so badly that her pet skunk died after sleeping next to her Kindle.

It was bad.

It was very, very bad.

Did I let it get me down?


Remember, you can’t please everyone.

Sit down, write – and please yourself.

Besides – I wish to the high holy Moose Mountains that I had a book with as many reviews as you’ve got. Obviously you must be touching some of those readers.

We’ve all got that inner prune – that sits there and farts at our creations and tells us we are no stinking good. Remember – that’s just the inner prune that is squeaking at you. Don’t pay it no heed. It won’t ever go away. Life doesn’t work that way. But you just remind yourself that the inner prune is NOT worth listening too.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Tell that inner prune to shut on up and then get back to your writing.

(stepping down from the pulpit)

Now that I am done thumping my chest let me assure you that even writers with as many years experience as I have encounter this gnawing nasty inner prune feeling. I’ll come up short and say to myself – “Vernon, who are you kidding? Your words are crap. You had to tie your keyboard to your ankle and jump off of into the deep end of the Arctic Ocean.”

What it boils down to is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

Some old wisdom in a brand new blog entry.

If you want to read the entire kboard thread swing on over here.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS: Don’t forget that today is your last chance to pick up a copy of my BIGFOOT TRACKS: A CREEP SQUAD COLLECTION for FREE over at Amazon.

Or pick up a copy at

If you’ve already picked up a copy I thank you. If you have read it and enjoyed it I could ALWAYS use a good review. And – lastly – please spread the word about this freebie anyway that you can. Tweet it, Facebook it, talk to your cat about it or just scribble the link on your nearest mensroom wall.

Promoting Your Kindle Freebie on a Budget

All right – so my most recent blog entry told all of my blog followers about my latest Kindle freebie promotion.

Now that I have got that whole BUY-MY-BOOK madness out of my system – let me tell you a few of the tricks that I have used to promote this latest Kindle freebie in hopes that you might benefit from my experience.

First off let me tell you that I am on a severely deep-discount promotional budget – which is a long-winded way of telling you that after I pay my bills I don’t have all that much left over to spring for e-book promotions.

I’m not broke – but my wallet is pretty seriously bent.


Bigfoot Cover

So, for starters I tweet about it.

You can follow my tweets if you are REALLY that desperate for cheap entertainment. All jokes aside, you will find a LOT of informative retweets aimed specifically at all of you writer-types out there who are – like me – struggling to make it as an indie e-book writer.

Okay – so once I have tweeted it out I send a few carefully worded tweets to such Kindle freebie Tweet sites as @DigitalBkToday @kindleebooks @Kindlestuff @KindleBookKing @KindleFreeBook @FreeReadFeed @4FreeKindleBook. I also add hashtags such as #kindle and #freebie and #BookBoost.

Some of these twitter pages will retweet your original tweet. Also, if you have established a good relationship with some of your Twitter followers they will likewise retweet.

Now understand that Twitter is not necessarily your most effective tool to promote paid books – however, freebies are a nice and easy and reflex-driven impulse purchase – and a tweet does not take much time at all out of your morning.

Time is ALWAYS at a premium in promotion.

I have also begun posting about this freebie on various Facebook freebie promotional pages. None of this is high-quality promotion, you understand. Twitter and Facebook are the digital equivalent of stapling a photocopied poster of your next big event on a random telephone post – but every little bit of promotion is better than no promotion at all.

A couple of weeks before all of this e-book was scheduled to go freebie I set up several promotional campaigns. I have used bknights in the past and have been very pleased with their Fiverr offers. In fact, when my bkknights Fiverr promotion did NOT do very well, bknights promptly refunded my initial five dollars as a Fiverr credit. There isn’t a lot of promotional websites that offer that sort of service.

So I set up a bknights Fiverr promo for the freebie offer. Last time I used it on Not Just Any Old Ghost Story it helped me move almost 900 free copies which has done wonders for that e-books visibility.

I also reported my freebie offer to Pixel of Ink. They are a LOT fussier about which e-books they choose to promote. They are one of the bigger promotional websites, so they can afford to be picky – and I don’t expect them to pick up BIGFOOT TRACKS and promote it for free – but it only took a couple of minutes to send them my information and it never hurts to try.

Cover all your bets.

I also spent another five dollars on a spot at The Kindle Book Review – (thanks to good buddy, Jeff Bennington, who tipped me off to this service). The Kindle Book Review have always done well for me in the past and I expect good results with this advert – and here it is right here!

I also entered it at Free Book of the Day – which is a free listing for upcoming freebie Kindle promotions. I don’t know how effective this is – but I will knock on any door that I see in hopes of making a few more sales.

I tried Book Basset this time around because I had heard from a few writers I know that they had good results – but that does not go live until tomorrow. That one cost me $7.99.

That’s something I should mention. This is a TWO-DAY freebie offer. My last freebie offer was three days – and I found I gave away the majority of my free e-books on the first two days and the last day was pretty punky. So I have made sure that I have an equal amount of promotions going live tomorrow, as well as today.

I also sent a promotion through eBooks Habit – which will go live tomorrow as well as It’s Write Now.

SO – why do I want to give away all of these e-books?

In a word, visibility. The last big freebie promotion – as mentioned earlier in this blog – has resulted in a few more Kindle sales. In fact, this month is the FIRST month that my Kindle sales have out-stripped my Kobo sales. Each free Steve Vernon e-book that goes out there means one more new reader who might enjoy that read enough to go take a look at my other thirty-odd Kindle e-books.

Each one of those freebies is a teeny-tiny Steve Vernon jumping up and down and saying “BUY MY BOOKS!”

Remember, Kindle Amazon ranking is determined by how well have performed over the last thirty days or so. So any big push will keep your e-books afloat in that vast sea of visibility.

I’ve got a lot more promotions set up for October and a bit of November for my full-length Bigfoot novel BIG HAIRY DEAL and I will tell you all about them in the near future.

I will tell you that BIG HAIRY DEAL is NOT going to be free for quite some time – and that I have managed to get it noticed on several high-quality promotional websites. I’ll tell you all about that in the near future.

Now available for pre-order - a full length novel for a measly 99 cents.

Now available for pre-order – a full length novel for a measly 99 cents.

In the meantime, I hope my words have helped you writer-types get a better handle on how to promote your next Kindle freebie.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Bigfoot Tracks – a Creep Squad Collection

I just wanted to tell you folks about a brand new collection of mine that is available today and tomorrow for FREE on Kindle.

I am talking about BIGFOOT TRACKS.

This is a fifty page collection of three short stories introducing some of the characters in the Creep Squad.

What is the Creep Squad?

The Creep Squad is a group consisting of every urban myth, every tall tale and legend and story that you have ever heard of.

I am talking Bigfoot, Paul Bunyan, the Frankenstein monster, Coyote, the Prophet – Tecumseh’s many-storied half-brother – all lead by the Ghost of Sam Steele.

Why don’t you pick up a copy today. It’s my treat. It is on me.

Please help me out and grab a free copy today on

Please help me out and grab a free copy today on


For all of you UK readers here's a link to

For all of you UK readers here’s a link to

I absolutely HATE to muddy up my blog with blatant self-promotional posts like this one – but I am truly a desperate man with a severe lack of staunch moral fiber. Spread the word if you can and help me out.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Talk Like a Pirate Day Pirate Awards: The Best Pirate Stuff Ever


I’m too busy writing today to put up my own blog – so why don’t you folks have a look at this one from THINGS MATTER!

Hannah Reads Books

Talk Like a Pirate Day

My friends — dare I say, mateys — the day has come. Talk Like a Pirate Day. The revered holiday on which we talk like pirates. In celebration of this all-important holiday, I give you, a completely random and subjective list of pirate-themed awards, in no order at all! 


The Pirates' Mixed-Up VoyageBest Middle Grade/Children’s Pirate Book

The Pirates’ Mixed-Up Voyage by Margaret Mahy.

When Lionel Wafer declares himself “captain” and christens his boat The Sinful Sausage, he and his “crew,” a parrot and some sea-loving landlubbers, embark on a humorous voyage. This book is delightful.

Best Pirate Improv Comedy Skit

Whose Line Is It Anyway with special guest Whoopi Goldberg!

Best Doctor Who Pirate Episode

“The Pirate Planet” from the era of the Fourth Doctor! This episode treats the concept of “pirate” more metaphorically, with an entire planet that pillages other planets. There is a bit of quintessential “pirate” in the captain, though. He…

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