Monthly Archives: March 2016

Should I Write Full Time?

This morning I was over on kboards and I came across a thread where a young fellow asked the kboard folks to read one of his stories in order to determine whether or not he ought to write full time.

Here’s how I answered that question.

Funny story.

I used to know this old fellow who played the violin. He had records out and his picture in the newspapers and the Queen even curtsied to him once or twice, or she might just have dropped her hankie.

He told me about this second fellow who walked into his studio one day and begged the old fellow to just listen to him play, just once.

“Just tell me if I am good enough to play professionally,” the second fellow begged.

So the old fellow said okay and he listened while the second fellow played.

Was he any good?

How the heck should I know? Remember, I’m just telling the story here. My ears were nowhere close to the second fellow’s fiddle.

“Was I any good?” the second fellow asked the master violinist, who always preferred to be known that way rather than just calling him “the old fellow”.

“You lack the fire,” the master violinist said.

Well, I guess ten years later that second fellow ran into the master violinist in the street.

No, he wasn’t driving a car when he ran into him. He was just walking and he was grinning ear to ear.

“I want to thank you for telling me that I did not have the fire,” the second fellow said to the master violinist. “I have put away my fiddle and now I work for the tax bureau and I own a house and I have a wife and three fine children and I am happier than ham and eggs.”

The master violinist gently chuckled.

“You need not thank me,” he said. “The truth is I tell that to everybody who plays for me. I always tell them that they lack the fire.”

The second fellow was horrified.

“You rotten-eyed son of a bear,” he swore without swearing. “You told me that and I gave up my fiddle and if I had not listened to you I might be a master fiddle player right about now – or at least a pretty good one.”

“That’s just it,” the master violinist said. “If you DID have the fire you wouldn’t have listened to me in the first place.”


I’m telling the story – not to be a wise guy although I do have a third level black in wise-guy-sery.

I’m just telling it because I’ve been to tell it out for some time now. I’m going to post it up on my blog so that all three of my loyal readers, counting my cat, can read it and chuckle – because a chuckle is better than a cup of coffee to start your day with.

Let’s get serious for a minute.

It would be nice if everyone here read your story and said you were brilliant – and maybe you are – but my advice to you would be to keep on writing the way that you are for awhile. Do NOT give up the day job until you have built up a little bit of a cash mattress in your savings account, like about a year’s worth of expenses. Meanwhile, keep on writing your books.

The REAL barometer that you need pay attention to will be your bank account. If you start seeing three or four pre-decimal-point digits worth of deposit falling into your account from your writing THEN you ought to ask yourself the question you are asking today.

If you go to work and tell your boss what you really think of him right now, odds are you are going to be so stressed out in a month or two when you are writing as fast as you can and collecting up a heap of collections noticing and wondering if you can hook up a hamster to your computer because the power company has pulled the switch…and you are going to suddenly find yourself too stressed to write.

Don’t be in a hurry.

If you are good enough – and LUCKY enough – you will get to where you want to be with your writing.

Think about your first book as being your first date with the most beautiful woman on the planet who knows how to cook. This ISN’T the time to start making forever plans and calling up a caterer and rolling up pennies for an engagement ring.

Take it slow.

Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Give yourself time and build up a strong back catalogue and then when you have five or six or eighteen or twenty big fat zombie novels (or whatever you decide to write) rolling in those three or four or five digit monthly checks THEN think about pulling that pin.

Most of all just try and have fun with it for a while.


Now let me tell you folks about a time when I asked myself that question.

I was working at a factory job pushing about ten to fifteen thousand boards a day into a double-bladed table saw that was affectionately known as “The Death Machine”.

I mean that it looked like something out of a Roger Corman flick.

Well, I guess I had won myself an Arts Council grant – or it might have been a Canada Council grant – I can’t remember which. I have bagged a couple of each of those over the last forty years and they kind of blur after a while.

Whatever it was, it was about three thousand dollars, which seemed like a lot of money way back then.

Then something bad happened.

I started thinking – which is GENERALLY a bad situation rapidly getting worse.

I decided that I was going to write Harlequin Romances for a living. I had heard that you could get rich by writing them and I figured all that I had to do to pay my bills was to sell about four of them a year. At that point in time Harlequin was putting out a huge amount of books every year so my theory looked plausible on paper.

The only problem was, was that I could not write a Harlequin Romance to save my life. Sooner or later John would be looking at Mary and some swamp monster would come oozing up out of the haunted swamp and this gang of bad-ass bikers would come roaring in town with machine guns blazing and a kamikaze pianist would pedal his piano into down and start banging out show tunes.

Or to sum it up – I sucked at writing romance.

I walked away from the Death Machine and I wrote all summer long and I wound up with a horrifying Harlequin romance that did actually warrant a hand-written rejection letter that along with a whole lot of “There, there dear.” and “Well that wasn’t TOO bad.” basically said what I should have known in the first place.

Don’t be in a hurry to give up your day job.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS: if you want a FREE kindle copy of REVENANT – the first book in the TATTERDEMON trilogy – it is on for free today only.

My advice is to grab it while you can.

Plan A


Fun With Photofunia

All right – so I just discovered that my blog ONLY holds a certain amount of images. SO – every time that I put an image in one of my blog entries I lose an image off of an earlier blog.

I could fix this by signing up for a paid WordPress page – but right now I am on a serious budget.

So – I am going to put another image up.

It gives me a certain feeling of power – like that dude in the life boat who says – “Okay, we cook the fat fellow next. Somebody tear up a few chunks of wood off of the side of the life boat and we’ll have ourselves a cooking fire.”

This is a picture I built over at Photofunia.


I’ve put it up on my Facebook page and I’m going to use it as a Tweet. I have to admit, the thought of my book cover hanging in an art gallery kind of tickles me pink. Of course, sooner or later somebody would run out of wall space and put my cover into the backroom, behind a mop bucket and a half-melted mannequin.

And – if anyone is curious – you can pick up a copy of TATTERDEMON over at Amazon.

The book is available for free through Kindle Unlimited – IF you are a member of that program.

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon


A Tribute to Nurse Kellye

Okay – so I always dug Nurse Kellye.

Fat Heffalump

Do you ever watch an old TV show that you thought you knew really well, and find a whole bunch of new things about it that you missed when you first watched it?  Especially watching something as an adult that you watched as a kid – you notice characters that you didn’t before, story threads that weren’t easy to pick up on unless the series was seen in order, brief roles by people who later became famous, or just understanding jokes and references that went over the head when you were a kid.

Like most people of my generation, I grew up on a solid diet of M*A*S*H – it started the year I was born and I can’t ever remember it not being on television.  It was a firm favourite of everyone in my household – which now surprises me as it’s very progressive for it’s time and I…

View original post 929 more words

My Writing Picks Up Speed

Over the last week or so I have been focusing upon increasing the speed and the regularity of my writing.

I get up every morning and start writing right away. I try to do a bit more writing throughout the day, depending upon my work schedule – and then, at the end of the evening I might even write a little bit more – although usually I am pooped.

Here is my progress so far.

March 18 – 3000 words

March 19 – 1000 words

March 20 – 1500 words

March 21 – 2000 words

March 22 – 2500 words

March 23 – 1000 words

March 24 – 1000 words

March 25 – 1500 words

March 26 – 1700 words

March 27 – 1300 words

March 28 – 1250 words

That is 17,750 words in 11 days. I am aiming for 50000 words and I intend to have the novel completed by the end of April.

I am not as fast as this guy – but I am determined.

Wish me luck.


And – if you are looking for a little free reading material today – why not grab a copy of my short story, HARRY’S MERMAID?

It is free today – but only today. Grab a copy while you can, give it a read and let me know what you think. I could REALLY use a few more Amazon reviews.

Nag, nag, nag.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

How I Wrote 28,000 Words in Two Days

Now THIS is how you get the job done!


Source: How I Wrote 28,000 Words in Two Days

34 Compelling First Lines of Famous Books |

The first lines of a story set the mood and draw readers in. This infographic features first lines from some of the most famous books of all time.

Source: 34 Compelling First Lines of Famous Books |

My Adventure with Kindle Scout

Here’s another newcomer to Kindle Scout. Welcome, Chariss!

Chariss K. Walker, Author

Day 4, March 22, 2016

Purple Kitty is more off than on the hot & trending list, but remains on the first two to three pages of Mystery, Thriller & Suspense category. I feel very good about that. Out of 96 hours, it’s been on the “hot” list for 18 hours. I work hard to keep it there, but what can I say? More books are added to KS each day. Readers can only nominate three books.

Steps I took today:

  1. I tweeted to 46,000+ readers through Ask David, twice. Once in the morning, once in the afternoon.
  2. I found retweeters on Twitter and sent an announcement in hopes they would retweet on my behalf.
  3. I attempted to contact Facebook again to complain and appeal their decision to block me…nothing worked.
  4. I joined a free retweeting service, traffup. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.
  5. I bought an ad…

View original post 1,193 more words

Being Homeless…

I have got the day off from work today. I had a little leave time left at work and I took it to give me time to tell some stories at an event going on tonight here in Halifax. The local homeless housing society contacted me a while ago and asked me to come and tell a few stories at an event being put on at their largest apartment complex that they set up to give housing for families who find themselves out of doors.

This is a special event to me – although I have not let on to the organizers just how personally special it really is. You see, about twenty-five years ago, shortly following a divorce, I decided that I needed to do something different to shake up my existence. I was too broke to buy myself a sports car and besides, I did not know how to drive. I was also just a little too old AND too broke to attract too many young shapely cheerleaders. No sir, that just wasn’t happening either. So I decided to go on the road and I took a job planting trees out in British Columbia – maybe 3000 miles away from Nova Scotia. I had talked to quite a few folks who had made an awful lot of money planting trees and I figured that if I get myself out there I was going home with a backpack full of money. So I got in behind of my thumb and poked it out into the wind and hitchhiked across country to work for about a month in the British Columbia high north, up in the Rockies. The only fly in my ointment was that I totally sucked as a tree planter. I mean Johnny Appleseed looked down from storyteller heaven and said something along the lines of “My golly, but you sure stink, buddy.”

So I gave it up as a bad idea. I dropped my gear right in the middle of the planting grounds and called my foreman several names that I cannot print out loud without resorting to such colorful punctuation as #&@%!!!

You have to understand that I was a little steamed at the time.

You stand on the side of a Rocky Mountain in the middle of a clear cut that looks kind of like a post-apocalyptic nightmare, without a lick of shade and about two hundred degrees of sunshine mixed with thin mountain air and about 150 pounds of tree seedlings and a shovel hanging off of you and just see how even-tempered you would tend to be.

Let’s put this whole thing into a financial perspective.

I had come to British Columbia with about $35.00 in my pocket and I headed back home with about $9.00 in my pocket.

No word of a lie.

I got back to Halifax and I had nowhere to stay. I had been sharing a house with a half a dozen university students but the lease had slid and the house was being renovated and the only fellow left to keep an eye on the house was a very privileged fellow – and the only tenant in the house whom I hadn’t been able to really get along with. He and I never fought, you understand – but we never did really ever learn how to tolerate each other. Just the same, I had a few months left to the lease – even though I wasn’t paying anything on account of the house was being renovated.

So I took a chance and I pitched my tent in the backyard. I stayed there the whole summer and I worked every day at every single stinking little casual job I could find. The local Salvation Army had a work hall where I would go and odds are receive a ticket to go and work as a casual laborer. I chopped wood and broke ice and painted houses and raked leaves and moved furniture and cleaned a church and did whatever rotten stinking job the work hall boss handed me. At the same time I had my name in at three different employment agencies and found occasional work through them. I also checked the job boards at the university that I had been attending previously.

Every day I came home fully expecting to find my tent and sleeping gone, but thankfully that never happened. Nobody stole it and the young fellow minding the house either grew a heart or just lacked enough of a backbone to try and antagonize me by trying to rid me of my only belongings. It did not help that I had discovered an unlocked swing window in the basement and I swung in every morning to shower and use the toilet. I usually got out before he woke up but a few times he caught me and he always asked me “I don’t suppose you’d tell me how you are getting in here.” but I just let him wonder. If he didn’t want to get up early enough to see how I was doing it, I was not going to enlighten him.

Understand that I am not bragging here. I hated the fact that I had to resort to such tactics but I had to keep myself clean enough for certain jobs.

Well, by September I had managed to scrimp enough to rent a two room bachelorette (that’s what the rental agreement called it) in a local rooming house that was known as “The Bucket of Blood”. I’m not kidding about that nickname. It seems that a tenant was killed there many years ago and the nickname had stuck. There was a shared kitchen and a shared bathroom and I had a living room and a bedroom and my own refrigerator and that was enough to keep me off of the street.

It had been a near-run thing.

If my tent had gone missing or if I had come down with a cold or a flu or if I hadn’t been able to make enough money to pay the deposit to rent the room I might just as easily have fallen through the cracks. I was as close to being a bum as I ever wanted to be. I learned a heck of a lot from that experience but I still remember how close I had come. I remember walking the streets of Halifax on the weekends with a hockey bag over my shoulder picking up enough bottles to give me just enough money to put a jug of milk and a loaf of bread and a couple of tins of beans and a package of wieners in my fridge. I can still see the sight of “normal folks” stepping across to the other side of the street to avoid me coming with that big old hockey bag full of empty beer and pop bottles.

All I needed was a leper’s bell.

Leper Rules

We are all that close to the edge. A missed paycheck or two can shove any of us over. I was lucky enough to not fall too far but by golly it was a near run thing – so I am happy to get this opportunity to meet some folks who have walked that road and are just stepping up from it.

I grew an awful lot of stories from all of that experience that year. I met an awful lot of really interesting people at all levels of life. I talked with truckers and bums and madmen and dreamers alike. These folks have all found their way over the years into my books and my poetry. I learned how not to give up and how to keep on trying and I learned a work ethic that has never let me down since then.

I also learned that I suck as a tree planter.

Yours in Storytelling

Steve Vernon



My Conversation with Kindle Scout

I had a GREAT phone conversation with Megan, the program manager of Kindle Scout yesterday and things are moving along nicely for my novel, KELPIE DREAMS.

The book is currently with an editor. I will receive an edited draft by April 4th at the latest. I will then have five days to run through the edited copy of the manuscripts to make and/or approve any edits that have been made and/or suggested by the editor. Megan told me that I could have more time to go through the edited draft if I felt I needed it – but that would have an effect upon the time table of my release. I told her that I was fine with five days and I am fine with it. I have worked with editors before and I have often needed only one or two days to turn over an edited manuscript. For me, writing the book is usually what takes the most time.

Assuming I can get the book back to them promptly then my pre-order should go live on April 19th. That is when all of those folks who were kind enough to actually nominate KELPIE DREAMS will receive their free advance copy and THAT is when I will REALLY need to have to hope for some strong early reviews. The plan is to have a good amount of strong early reviews in time for the book’s official release date of May 3rd.

The judging committee said that KELPIE DREAMS was a “funny, exciting, romantic adventure with a complicated protagonist who you could really root for”. They said a few more things as well – but I didn’t get it all written down and I was a little too embarrassed to ask her to repeat it.

I am REALLY excited with how well organized the Kindle Scout and Kindle Press crew are and I am very excited to work with them again in the future. I am already working on a second book in my Kelpie series and I was very excited to find out that because I have already placed a book with Kindle Press that I would have the choice of either submitting to Kindle Press directly – once they’ve had a chance to see how Kelpie Dreams actually sells – or I could choose to run another Kindle Scout campaign.

That last bit of information was GREAT to find out.

I am rough-drafting the second book in the series but I haven’t yet decided how I am going to approach the submission next time.

One thing is for certain.

I do want to see KELPIE TEARS out under the Kindle Press banner, right beside KELPIE DREAMS.

However, whether I approach this as a new Kindle Scout campaign or just pitch the book to them directly has yet to be decided. One thing is for certain – I really am excited with the thought of my book reaching a bunch of interested pre-release readers like Kindle Scout allows you to do. The thought of maybe seeing some fine fat reviews on the day of release is enough to make any indie author’s heart tingle.

For now I am working on a new submission to my local publisher and am also working on rough-drafting an outline for KELPIE TEARS.

Long story short – I’m getting busy with some honest to keyboard writing, right now. March, April and May I expect to be writing just as fast as I can.

Wish me luck.



Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

The Road of the Writer

All right – so today at 5pm I’ll be talking on the telephone with Megan from Kindle Scout about my new novel. I was up at 2am trying to figure out what I was going to say. I hate it when that happens. It is like some little monkey inside of my brain decides to get up out of bed and turn all of the lights on.

While I am slinging coffee into my my mouth and trying hard to wake up why don’t you folks have a look at this blog?

It is a truly inspirational read that tells of how a truck driver decided to get on off of the road he was on and went on to become a full time writer. I never drove truck, but I worked on so many loading docks over the years and I hitchhiked with quite a few truckers on many journeys that I just have to grin and think to myself – see, you can do that too.

See – you can do that too.

Cranky Truck

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon