Tag Archives: canada

Doors – and writing…

Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Many years later, in front of the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia would remember that distant afternoon his father took him to see ice.” –  ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Back around this time of the year in 2012 I wrote a blog entry about the importance of a good first line.

Just this morning while scrolling through my Twitter feed I came across a link that lead me to a DeMilked photo-article entitled TWENTY FIVE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DOORS AROUND THE WORLD.

That owl-door at the top of the page is one of those twenty-five magical doors.

“That’s beautiful,” I thought to myself. “I ought to put that up on my Facebook page.”

Only while I was getting set to put it up on my Facebook page I thought – “Wait a minute. I ought to write a blog entry about how your first sentence is like a doorway to your novel” – which was actually what this blog entry was going to be titled.

At first.

Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Only that got me to thinking that ACTUALLY the cover of the novel is your front door.

The mind works that way sometimes when you are in a creative state of existence. One door will lead to another will lead to another.

Hands up, out there. How many of you have ever seen the movie FORREST GUMP?

Now that was a fellow who never met a door that he did not try and enter.

That’s what a writer needs to do. He needs to step out into the world and begin opening doors – and if one door leads to another – well, he had better be prepared to open that door as well.

Explore the possibilities.

You might open one door and then decide to write yourself a poem but that poem will lead you to another door and you might that open that door and decide to write yourself a short story and then that short story might lead you to another door and if you have the courage to open that door you might find yourself with a whole novel hiding behind that door.

Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

So don’t be afraid to open that very next door that you come to. Keep your eyes wide open and explore the possibilities.

A blank page is an open doorway.

There is no telling WHERE it will lead you to.

If you need a little bit more inspiration why don’t you take a look at the deMilked website where all of these wonderful doors came from.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS: Over the last week I released THREE e-books – which sounds pretty impressive except when you stop to consider the fact that I was working on BIG HAIRY DEAL for over six to eight months, and that the three stories in BIGFOOT TRACKS were written sometime ago, and that FIGHTING WORDS was written and released on KOBO several years ago.

I’ve already told you about the first two books in my last two blog entries but let me tell you a little bit about the third book which I released in Kindle format thanks to Kindle’s new KID BOOK CREATOR.

Scheduled for launch on Sept. 19, 2014.

Scheduled for launch on Sept. 19, 2014.

I’m afraid I have done VERY little promotion for this book beyond just sticking it up out there and keeping my fingers crossed. I’ve got a lot more promotion lined up for the two Bigfoot books. But this is a very Nova Scotia kind of story that I first thought about writing when I read about a “fight club” that had been set up in rural Nova Scotia using high school kids as meat puppet moneymakers.

TESSERACTS 17 – How Anthologies Work…

It is going to be a hectic month.

As you know from yesterday’s blog post – my middle-grade novel SINKING DEEPER has made it to the short list of the 2013 Silver Birch Award. That isn’t until the spring – but I’m already got a LOAD of preliminary work to do.

Besides that – it’s October. Means my busiest month of the year.

Let me tell you about the rest of the week.

This morning in a couple of hours I am off to entertain the kids at the Halifax Grammar School. They are having a HUGE Book Fair – put on by one of my favorite local bookstores – namely, WOOZLES. I’ll be telling stories to kids from primarty to Grade 1 – ALWAYS a challenge.

Then I grab dinner and head to work for a solid night shift.

Tomorrow I do get a morning to myself. I have a whack-load of correspondence to get to. I need to go through a few more submissions for TESSERACTS 17 – (more on that in my next blog entry)

Then off to work for a night shift. I am being picked up at the office at the end of the shift and driven to Annapolis Royal where I’ll spend the night. Friday morning I will give a short but intensive writing/storytelling workshop to two groups of high school kids.  Then a drive home and a little bit more quiet steady breathing.

Saturday is Election Day. I might end up voting online – but I don’t like that idea one bit. I don’t like the idea that we are eventually putting all of those seniors who come out every election and work a few hours out of work.

Then I catch a bus to Bayers Lake for a book signing at the Chain Lake Chapters outlet from 2:30-4:00pm.

Wheee.

But you didn’t open this blog entry to hear me whine, did you?

Let me tell you about anthologies…

Let me tell you about the anthology that I am working on as an editor.

Namely, TESSERACTS 17

Here’s the link to the guidelines if you haven’t checked it out yet.

http://www.edgewebsite.com/books/tess17/t17-catalog.html

We are a little behind schedule on turning around stories for TESSERACTS 17 – and by “we” I mean “me”. I am – I’m afraid – very definitely the weak link in our editorial team. My colleague Colleen Anderson has been NOTHING but the absolute epitome of organization.

I, sadly, am the definite Yang to Colleen’s professional Yin.

(Mmm, that sounds like a good title for a movie – “The Bitter Tea of Professional Yin”)

We are getting set to send out the first wave of rejections – which, as always, means that it is a good sign if you haven’t heard back from us yet. Means you might have made the “Maybe” pile.

You see – that is how most anthologies wind up working. The editor – or editors – will cull through the slush heap of submissions and will set them into three piles.

Pile One is the “this just doesn’t work for us” – which can be either “Oh my god I need to cut my nose off and feed it to my bulldog ‘cuz this story stinks so bad” – or, more often what it means is “Oh my god you sent a “haunted hat” story to an anthology built around “haunted shoe” stories”.

Pile Two is the “Maybe, baby” pile – which is where the editor will put the stories that might fit – “Okay, this guy is writing about haunted socks – which is pretty close to haunted shoes”.

Pile Three is the “If we don’t buy this story RIGHT NOW we might as well load a bulldog full of cut-off noses and haunted shoes and blow our collective editorial brains all over Pile One and Pile Two”. This is DEFINITELY the pile that you want your story to land upon – but it is DEFINITELY the shortest pile in the entire process. Editors don’t want to take that big leap right away – just because if they say YES-YES-YES to the first twenty stories that are submitted they might miss out on a truly wonderful story that comes in on the very last day of submission.

So we hold off. We play hard to get. We like to keep you guessing.

So – if you haven’t heard from us here at Tesseracts 17 yet – maybe that’s a good sign. Maybe you are on Pile Three – or at the very least Pile Two – unless maybe we’ve fed your story to the bulldog.

So – what are we looking for here at TESSERACTS 17.

Well, for starters – we are looking for CANADIAN authors.

Here it is – right from the guidelines.

“The Tesseracts anthology series is only open to submissions from Canadians, landed immigrants living in Canada, long time residents of Canada, and Canadian expatriates living abroad.”

Might I also add – NO MULTIPLE SUBMISSIONS. You send us a story – send us your best one – and we’ll look it over. We like it, we’ll keep it. I was just kidding about the bulldog. But you send us two stories at the same time and we’ll get confused trying to decide which one to keep. Means we’ll most likely wind up shooting both of them right back at you.

So rule two – DO NOT CONFUSE THE EDITORS.

Put one foot forward. One story, one poem – let us read it. Don’t try to swamp us with your entire back catalogue of three hundred and sixty-eight trunk stories – no matter how wonderful your Mom thinks they are.

Lastly – let me tell you what I am looking for.

This is me talking – not my colleague Colleen – and not Brian Hades, our boss of all bosses.

This is me – the dude with the beard.

I would love to see a few stories that say “I AM CANADIAN”.

Some Canadian settings, some Canadian characters – something that tells the reader that he has picked up a copy of TESSERACTS – a by-god collection of Canadian speculative fiction.

That’s on my wish list.

Now I’ve got to get ready to go to school.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS: If you’d REALLY like to get an idea on what TESSERACTS is all about pick up a copy of TESSERACTS 16. And definitely take a look at my story “Three Thousand Miles of Cold Iron Tears” – which involves Bigfoot, the ghost of Sam Steele and the building of the Canadian Railroad – if you’d like to get a better idea about how I truly think.

order here – http://www.amazon.ca/Tesseracts-Sixteen-Parnassus-Mark-Leslie/dp/1894063929

Or here – http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1894063929/edgescienceficti

or here (for Kobo) – http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Tesseracts-Sixteen/book-e2V4rvKmiUOZkGXBdPzpyw/page1.html?s=msvvDDaOlka8xxG9qDqyTQ&r=1

or here (for Kindle) – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009DK6UHK/edgescienceficti

SAMPLE SUNDAY: MIDNIGHT HAT TRICK – read the excerpt

I’ve recently released a collection of three novellas of Canadian horror entitled MIDNIGHT HAT TRICK.

The three novellas include SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME – which is available separately and is a novella of hockey and vampires.

The second novella in MIDNIGHT HAT TRICK is entitled HAMMURABI ROAD. It was originally released in trade paperback and hardcover from Gray Friars Press in a two novella collection entitled HARD ROADS. The book is out of print although you still might be able to find copies of it out there. I’ve even got a few sitting on my bookshelf.

The third novella is entitled NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY – and it has never been published before.

The collection is available in Kobo format – just hit the link on the illustration at the bottom of this page to download a copy – and it will soon be available in Kindle and other formats.

 

NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY

I have heard an awful lot of stories and I have even told a few of them myself and nearly every story I have ever heard or told was born from my dad. I guess this one is no different and why should it be? My dad has told me nearly every story that I have ever learned and twice as much as I’ll ever be able to forget.

And even now I remember it all.

He has told me about snow snakes and mud trout. He has told me how dreams were nothing more than stories waiting to be born. He has told me that the ocean was made out of tears cried by a woman who sits upon the bottom sobbing and shaking so hard that the waves toss and turn in their sharing of her sorrow. He has told me how my home province of Nova Scotia once served as Glooscap’s bed and Prince Edward Island was the pillow for his head.

“But Cape Breton was the old dark fooler’s canoe, you bet,” Dad would tell me. “Hunting or fishing, when Glooscap wanted to get himself anywhere handy to interesting he came right straight up to old Cape Breton Island.”

My dad has told me how the raven stole the sun from the heart of winter and traded his song to keep it. He has told me how icicles are nothing more than snow-angel-tears wept down for all of the snowflakes that never reached a child’s out stretched tongue. He even claims that the flounder got to be so ugly-faced a fish after losing an ill-planned swimming race with a fast-moving skate.

“That old flounder pulled a face in disgust and it just stayed stuck,” Dad told me. “Believe you me, nothing sticks harder than regret.”

And maybe that’s so. We all learn to carry so much damn regret. We drag it around behind ourselves and we wear it sewn into the inner lining of our shadow. I think that the heart of every ghost story ever told is awash with the soft faded autumnal color of pure unredeemable regret.

“Why do you tell me so many stories?” I once asked my Dad.

“A man is nothing more than the stories he knows,” Dad answered. “And here in Nova Scotia we grow our stories long, rambling and deep. Life isn’t all about cable television, cell phones and newspaper. There are the silences that whisper between the words, those secrets not shared that linger long after any story ever told. Believe you me, mister man, there is a tale to be told for every wave that washes the shores of Nova Scotia.”

This story is one of them, I guess.

#######

“Get in,” the trucker said, so in I got.

I had been standing here on the side of the road just short of the east most end of the city limits of Toronto, my thumb hooked hopefully into the contrary-minded west wind, just wishing for a ride when that big old semi rig pulled up.

When it hissed to a halt I was halfway lost in a day dream, wander-bound and telling myself a slow quiet sort of nothing-thoughted story, staring off down the highway and thinking on how absolutely miraculous it was that this single patch of road could tie one end of our country to the other and by nature must touch nearly every other road in North America. It is like my dad always said – bloodstreams and building blocks – a body sometimes wonders just how much of the world is made out of nothing more than itself made big.

I clambered into the truck before the driver could think to change his mind.

“Strap yourself on in,” the trucker told me.

The trucker was built big, even sitting down. All shoulders and arms looking like he had strength enough to tear that steering wheel off the dashboard and tie it into a forget-me-knot about my gawking neck. He looked like he had been poured out of concrete into the seat of that semi-truck and let harden for a while. He reached over and shook my hand clear down to my toe bones. I counted my fingers when he let me have them back again.

They seemed mostly intact.

“Been out there long?” he asked.

“Long enough,” I said.

Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t nearly as terrified of him as I was scared of what might be waiting for me back home in Deeper Harbour. Going back home will do that to a fellow if he has any sense of history or style. Memories will scare you if you think on them hard enough.

“So where are you headed?” the trucker asked me while I was busy strapping myself into the shotgun seat.

“Nova Scotia,” I answered, keeping it simple. Deeper Harbour would have been far more information than he needed to hear. When you are hitching a ride it is best to keep your answers comfortably vague. Facts will only get in your way. The road isn’t a place for conviction or scrupulous detail.

“I’m going that way too,” he allowed. “Halifax.”

“Good,” I said. “That suits me fine.”

I figured I could easily hitch the rest of the way up the Cabot Trail to Deeper Harbour, once I got myself handy to Halifax.

“You got a name?” he asked.

 

 

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

NOW AVAILABLE ON KOBO!

There is magic in the number three.

The three stooges. The three wise men. The three little pigs. The three weird sisters.

And now – MIDNIGHT HAT TRICK – a collection of three wonderfully chilling novels from Nova Scotia storyteller Steve Vernon.

HAMMURABI ROAD is a dark tale of retribution, backwoods justice and getting closer to a black bear than you ever dreamed possible. The story starts with the eternal triangle – three men in a pick-up truck – two in front and one duct-taped in back.NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY is a story about coming home. It is a story that will take you to the root of storytelling. A young man – the son of an honest-to-god Nova Scotia storyteller hitchhikes home only to find that his father has fallen in love with a dream.SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME is a fast and fun read that asks the question – what would a bunch of over-the-hill old-time hockey players from Northern Labrador deal with a tour bus full of vampires? If you are having a hard time dealing with that concept – just throw the movie SLAPSHOT into a blender with the movie 30 DAYS OF NIGHT and hit frappe.

This isn’t high literature, you understand. This is a cold beer, a hot cheeseburger and a warm summer day.

“Steve Vernon gets it right. SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME hits all the right notes with me. A wonderful cast of characters, great dialogue and an evil bus full of vicious vampires.” – FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND

“This genre needs new blood and Steve Vernon is quite a transfusion.” – Edward Lee, author of GOON and THE BIGHEAD

“Steve Vernon is the real deal.” – Richard Chizmar, CEMETERY DANCE MAGAZINE

 

What other famous “threes” can you remember???

Yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon