Tag Archives: ebook

Old Cover versus New Cover

All right – so with Valentine’s Day coming up I decided it was time for a Valentine’s Day promotion – so I am offering BAD VALENTINES 1 and BAD VALENTINES 2 for 99 cents each the whole entire month of February.

Only I don’t want to just talk about folks buying my books here today.


I want to talk about fixing up old covers. There are quite a few of my older books that need new covers and bit by bit I have been trying to remedy that. I’ve been involved with several group promotions – the kind where a bunch of authors shout out a page full of books by these authors.

Nothing says “Don’t buy this book!” like a book with a crappy cover proudly displayed amongst a whole entire page full of books with wonderful covers.

So – I decided to spring for a new cover for BAD VALENTINES.

Let me show you the old cover first.


Now, it’s not terrible but it still doesn’t have that layered depth that a lot of classy covers have. So, as I said, I decided to spring for a new cover on Fiverr.

I know – but I’m broke.

Now, buying a cover on Fiverr is ALWAYS a gamble, but I thought I would take a chance, just because the copy of the cover that I had was of such poor resolution that it came out blurry on a lot of pages.

So I got this one instead.


Now I don’t know about you, but I feel that this is a heck of an improvement over my first cover. Now – for a measly five bucks – I believe that I have a lot more of a chance of selling copies of my book.

Never be afraid to upgrade your older releases. Even if you kind of like the old covers, a new cover will give you a new look that might just catch the eye of some brand new readers. It can be worth the investment. Remember, a cover is one of the most obvious selling features. You want something that is going to catch the eyes of your prospective readers. You want a cover that says – “Dang, I got to have me that!”

What do you folks think?

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

E-Book Holiday Promotion How-To

For those folks who have been following my blog for a while, you might remember that I had a HUGE October promotion for two of my books – TATTERDEMON and DEVIL TREE.

Well sir, I have to say that all in all my promotion was a good short-term success. For starters it sold an awful lot of copies of both books and it has left me with a fine long “tail”.

So what is a tail, you might ask?

A tail is kind of like the splash that a rock makes after you throw into the nearest pond. Basically what a promotional tail is – is the effect on future sales that a short term promotion has.

I made over a hundred dollars in Kindle sales alone in October. No, that isn’t a lot for some of you more successful writer-types – but it is a pretty good month for me. Currently, two-thirds of the way through November I am already past the hundred dollar mark in Kindle sales alone. With a little bit of luck and a few extra sales I might even hit the two hundred dollar mark in Kindle sales as well.

And THAT is a big first for me. Two triple digit sales months in a row is definitely a bit of a personal record. The last two years I have mostly been in the double digits, barring a couple or three out-of-the-average months.

Now, as I reach the back end of November my sales have begun to slow down. I am coming to the end of my “tail”. So it is in my best interests to throw another rock into the pond and see what sort of splash I can make on my upcoming December sales figures.

Fortunately, some thoughtful marketer invented Black Friday some time ago.

Now – Amazon has been getting on the Black Friday band wagon for a while now. Some folks are upset about the notion of Amazon saying “Hey, you can do all of your Black Friday shopping from your living room couch” – but the older I get the more I hate shopping malls – so I am NOT necessarily against this whole concept. It isn’t like Amazon INVENTED online shopping, is it?

And even Canada has jumped onto the whole Black Friday concept – and why not? We’ve already got over our October turkey comas and we are still riding high on a sugar-buzz of leftover Halloween candy.


Admit it – how many of you out there have JUST developed a sudden craving for candy corn?

So I have been taking a VERY close look at the Black Friday – Cyber Monday weekend of November 27-30th.

Here’s what I have been up to.


First off – I have signed on for the Master Koda Black Friday Cyber Monday Facebook Party. 

This is a group effort put together by about four dozen authors – who are each chucking their own particular sized promo-boulder into the great collective pond.

In addition I have set up several HeadTalkers and one Thunderclap each of them advertising several of my e-book bargains including several 99 cent e-books and a couple of freebies.

I have also signed up for promotions at ebookstage  and My Book Cave – both of which cost me absolutely nothing – because both of these promo-sites are just getting started.

I have also spent two five dollar bills on a Fiverr promo with bknights and Bookkitty – both of whom have performed well for me over the last year or so.

So WHICH e-books am I promoting?

I am glad you asked.

My Halifax-based time travelling toilet extravaganza A BLURT IN TIME is available for only 99 cents all November long. I have set up a HeadTalker campaign as well as using the bknights and the bookkitty and the My Book Cave listing to help promote this one – as well as talking about it during the Master Koda weekend.

My hockey-vampire novella, SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME is likewise available all November long for ONLY 99 cents. I have set up a Thunderclap campaign to help promote this one.

My mermaid short story, HARRY’S MERMAID  is going to be available for FREE from November 27th to November 30th. I have set up a HeadTalker campaign and an ebookstage listing to help promote this one.

And – as a reward for reading all the way down to the bottom of this blog entry, my story collection TALES FROM THE TANGLED WOODS is free today and tomorrow on Kindle.

Tangled Wood

Click the cover and it will take you directly to the Amazon.com listing. 🙂

Yes sir and yes ma’m – I am throwing one big old multi-faceted promo-rock into the pond of Black Friday. It isn’t too late to set up your own promotion as well. You’ll find some VALUABLE tips in Penny Sansevieri’s ULTIMATE HOLIDAY PROMOTION.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon





Want to Get Into Bookbub???

First – READ THIS!

With a tip of the hat to good buddy Robert Stanek


logo-7371ab8547ec8da72d51d75c2eb8b7bbyours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

If you enjoyed this blog entry or any of the others that I have posted this week – why don’t you do one of the very best things that you can do for an indie writer and pick up one of my e-books?


Steve Vernon on Kindle!

Steve Vernon on Kobo!

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

Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp – From Eden to the Ark (an excerpt)

Uncle Bob's Red Flannel Bible Camp - From Eden to the ArkIntroduction

Everybody in the world needs an Uncle Bob.

He isn’t much to look at.

As near as I can tell he is ALWAYS dressed in red flannel. His shirt looks like he might have picked it up at Wal-Mart about three days following the first Mesopotamian War. My Uncle Bob is just a little teapot of a man with a sort of a question mark slump in his shoulders, a breath that smells a little of tobacco and Listerine, and a belly-bulge that looks as if a medicine ball had given birth to quadrupal-quintuplets inside of his stomach

Uncle Bob is a straight talker – which means that he ALWAYS says just exactly what is on his mind at that particular point in time – even though sometimes you might feel that he is taking the long way around the barn to get to his ultimate point.

In fact – Uncle Bob can be counted on to say out loud just EXACTLY what everyone else in the room is quietly thinking.

“Some stories need to be told straight out,” Uncle Bob told me once. “And some stories need to be snuck up on and some stories need to be shouted out loud. The only problem is knowing just exactly WHICH stories need to be told straight and which need to be rambled out and snuck up on. In fact there have been more wars and arguments started by folks trying to ramble around a straight out story than a fellow could count on a whole handful of fingers and toes times a whole entire pocketful of pocket calculators.”

Yes sir, the man has pure talking talent. I could listen to my Uncle Bob talking all day long – and sometimes I actually have.

Occasionally, I even had a choice in the matter.
But – if you want to boil the truth long enough the simple fact is that my Uncle Bob has taught me nearly everything there is to know about everything important in this world – and he’s just getting set to tell me about the rest of it.

Let me give you an example.

Let me tell you about my Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp.

This whole thing started when he caught me running away from my Sunday School. I had stuck my hand up and asked to leave the room and then I had gone ahead and left the entire building – namely, our town church – and if I have any sort of say in the matter I might keep on going until I have put an entire continent between me and Sunday School.

You see – I had NEVER really understood that whole concept about having to go to school on a Sunday. I mean I already went five days a week for most of the year. Why in the heck did grown-ups think that a fellow really needed an extra day of schooling?

“I didn’t like it in there,” I told Uncle Bob. “The preacher kept on talking about loving your enemies and forgiving and such.”

“Well, loving and forgiving is important,” Uncle Bob said. “Especially when it comes to talking about your enemies.”

I shook my head.

“I don’t know about that,” I said. “Benny Jeeters is always pushing me around at school.”

“He’s a bully, all right,” Uncle Bob said. “His Daddy was before him, too.”

“Well how am I supposed to forgive THAT?” I asked.

“The way I see it the only way I can truly forgive Benny Jeeters is maybe after I have snucked up behind him with a big old rock and maybe thumped him maybe thirteen or fourteen times – and then I might forgive him with a few kicks to the ribs and maybe show him my new baseball bat about five or six times fast before he could up and surprise-hit me back.”

“Is it really a surprise if a fellow sees it coming?” Uncle Bob asked me. “That whole process doesn’t sound very sporting to me.”

“It all depends on hold your mouth while you’re doing it,” I told him. “He who gets in his first hits fastest doesn’t get hit back come the lastest.”

Uncle Bob could see the truth in that.

“That still doesn’t tell me about why you hate Sunday School so much,” Uncle Bob said. “Why don’t you try and explain it to me?”

The way I figured it that would take me at least a month of Sundays to properly accomplish – but I figured I had better do my best to explain it to Uncle Bob before he took it into his head to take me back into Sunday School.

“I know all the stories already,” I said. “I’ve heard them at least a hundred times or so. I know that Eve got Adam in trouble by listening to a snake and then Cain hit Abel with a rock and God got upset and rained down buckets and drench-loads for forty days and forty nights and then Moses snuck out of Egypt after drowning the Pharoah and his army in the Red Sea – and I think the Tower of Babel fell down somewhere in between the hello and amen.”

“That’s pretty close,” Uncle Bob told me. “I guess you’ve been listening.”

It was true.

I liked listening to those stories just fine – the first two or three dozen times I went to church and actually listened – but after hearing them told every Sunday year after year after year I just had begun to think that maybe that preacher ought to find himself a whole new book.

“You like going to the library, don’t you?” Uncle Bob asked.

“Sure I do,” I said. “Books are like television that you can watch without ever having to worry about commercials. Books have special effects and fierce battles and sword fighting and gunplay and bank robbing and dragons and war. Books are cool – all day long.”

Some of the kids at school laughed at me about how much I loved books but the simple truth was I would spend a day curled up inside of a book than having a half a dozen birthday parties every year – unless those parties happened to happen inside of a bookstore.

“Well don’t you know that all they are talking about in Sunday School is the Bible?” Uncle Bob asked. “And the Bible is one of the best books in the whole wide world?”

I knew about the Bible.

Heck, I had even tried to read it once but I got all confused about all of that talk about begetting and smiting and such.

“The Bible is full of battles and death-defying escapes and lions and even a dragon or two. There is war and there are heroes and there is more special effects than you could shake a star cruiser at,” Uncle Bob went on.

“Now you’re just making stuff up,” I said. “I didn’t read any of that there.”

“I am not making it up,” Uncle Bob told me. “Besides, sometimes you have to make up something to get to the truth of what’s bothering you.”

I wasn’t so sure about what he was telling me.

In fact – I was pretty sure that he was just trying to fool me.

Grown-ups will do that to you if you let them get away with it.

“Just let me tell you one of the stories,” Uncle Bob said. “In fact I will tell the whole first book to you and then you try and tell me that you don’t think that it isn’t worth hearing about.”

Well, I figured so long as I didn’t have to go back into that dry old church that I had nothing to lose by sitting here and giving Uncle Bob’s version of the Bible a fair shake.

“This here first book is a story that is called Genesis,” Uncle Bob began. “And it goes something like this…”

And then he kept on talking.

Chapter One – Fiat Lux
“Let there be light,” God said – and then all at once there was a bright and calm and peaceful light shining across the entire universe.

God didn’t make that light, Uncle Bob went on. He just let us all see it – just the same way as you might let someone else see you smile – which is why I kind of like to think of God as the world’s largest light bulb. I suppose you might also think of him as something of a light switch – like he was just turning on the light – but I prefer to think of the light as shining right out of God like it was a part of him that he was allowing us to share in.

Now, just so as you know the rest of this story is going to be ALL my Uncle Bob talking so I am going to do away with all of the quotation marks and the “Uncle Bob said” parts so that you can get right down to the important part of listening and hear it all straight out.

Fiat Lux, Uncle Bob said.

Okay – so that last “Uncle Bob said” snuck out.

I promise I won’t interrupt you again.

Fiat Lux is Latin for “Let there be light” – and I know that it sounds like a cross between a sports car and a vacuum cleaner with a bar of soap caught up in its wind-hose and maybe it actually is because light is something that is bright and shiny and faster than anything you could ever think of.

“That’s good,” God said.

Come the next day – once God could finally see what he was doing he got right down to the business of world-building.

First he raised up a sky just the same way as you or me would raise up a roof over a big old barn that you and I were raising out of a heap of two by fours.

I like to think that he was covering the whole thing over with an umbrella of sky to protect it from spoiling.

“That’s good, too,” God said.

Then – on the third day, if you are actually keeping count – God just let fly a couple of terrifying terra-firma karate chops, neatly parting the land from the water just as easily as you might part your hair.

Now getting that water separated from that land was important because you can stand upon land but you sure can’t stand upon the sea – unless you are wearing a pair of inflatable life jackets for sneakers.

And I know that some of you know-it-alls and read-the-books out there are just dying to reach over and correct what I have just written down and to remind me about that young fellow from Galilee who actually did manage to walk upon the water – but what I am writing and telling you about right now is the Old Testament.

We’ll get to that New Testament, by and by.

“That’s good, too,” God said.

Some of you might also be wondering just why I am talking of light bulbs and race cars way back in a time when things were just getting started and race cars and light bulbs and vacuum cleaners hadn’t even been invented yet – but what I am talking about is the word of God – broken down for us ordinary people – and the way I see it the word of God is a kind of be-all and end-all sort of statement.

What I mean to say is that the word of God is timeless – so any anachronisms that you might spot need not actually apply.

Meanwhile – on that very same third day – God got down to the sowing and the planting and he cast down seeds of every kind that you could imagine. Before you knew it grass was growing and trees were branching up out of the dirt and whole fields of cabbage and tomatoes and bluebells and nasturtiums and potatoes started sprouting up like living green shouts of hallelujah come dinnertime.

But not brussel sprouts.

Not even God would touch brussel sprouts.

I don’t know just WHO invented brussel sprouts – but he sure wasn’t holy.

“That’s even better than good,” God said, feeling more than a little impressed with himself. “I must be on some kind of a wild lucky roll.”

Come the fourth day God decided that he needed a little bit more light and he threw the sun up into the sky and he wired it in good and proper and made sure it was up to the official celestial world-building code of construction and then he decided that he might like something a little calmer – like maybe say a night-light – so he wired in the moon – and then he poked a few holes in the night sky and he decided to call those poke-holes stars and then he strung up a few constellations to give folks something to dream on and then he had himself a cigarette – because even God needs to take a break now and then – and he decided that he would call that cigarette smoke something else.

“Wait a minute,” I interrupted. “Are you trying to tell me that God smokes cigarettes?”

“I never said that,” Uncle Bob replied. “What I am trying to do is to tell you a story.”

I wasn’t buying that at all.

“I don’t remember hearing anything about cigarettes in the Bible,” I said. “I don’t remember hearing the preacher mentioning anything about Marlborough country either.”

Uncle Bob thought about that.

“Listen,” Uncle Bob said. “I am telling you a story – which means that I am using my very own words and thoughts and imagination to do it with. No, it doesn’t say anything about God smoking a cigarette in the Bible. I just like to think of him that way is what I am saying.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Let’s say that you pick up a newspaper tomorrow,” Uncle Bob said. “And it’s got a story of the President of the United States in it. Do you think that story is going to mention anything about what the President had for breakfast or whether or not he had a beer or a cigarette before going to bed?”

“No,” I said. “I don’t imagine the story would have anything to do with what he ate or smoked or drank.”

“Of course not,” Uncle Bob said. “The story would be about what the President was doing for the country. It would be about him creating this political program or ordering that dam built or this particular war declared. Newspapers – and Bibles – rarely ever concern themselves with what God or the President does with his little time. To them it’s more important to talk about what he does with his big world-shaking this-is-what-is-going-to-affect-me-and-other-people sort of time.”

That made sense to me.

“Only I’m not writing a newspaper article,” Uncle Bob said. “I’m just telling a story about God and what he did back then. That means I get to use my own words and my own voice and my own particular ideas about what God is all about.”

I guess I could follow that.

At leastways I told Uncle Bob that I could.

“God created man in his own image,” Uncle Bob explained. “So when I tell my stories I like to think about God in my own image as well. It helps me understand him a whole lot more than just sitting down and reading and memorizing a full grown Bible.”

“Did you ever even read the Bible?” I asked Uncle Bob.

“I’ve read it twice in my lifetime,” Uncle Bob said. “And I’m reading it – bit by bit – for a third time. But when I tell a story I am telling it fresh for the very first time ever. And I try to tell it the best way that whoever I am telling it to can understand it.”

“So you mean that you’re lying about it?” I asked.

“No,” Uncle Bob said. “I am not lying about it. What I am doing is telling the story as I like to remember it.  You see, to me, those old boys – Adam and Moses and Abraham and Cain – were most likely folks like you or me. They didn’t REALLY know that they were supposed to be biblical. They were just trying to get on with their day and do the very best they could – just the same as you or me.”

That made sense to me.

“I see God the same way too,” Uncle Bob said. “I see him as being just like me – a being who means well and is doing his job the very best way that he knows how.”

“So now God has a job?” I asked.

“Of course he does,” Uncle Bob said. “He has got a job and he does just as hard and as good as he can do it on account of he is trying to take care of his family – namely, all of us people down here on the planet earth.”

“If you say so,” I said, still not quite getting it.

“What I am trying to say is that I don’t exactly know exactly WHAT God is like,” Uncle Bob explained. “All that I know is that I hope God is a little like you or me because at the end of the day I wouldn’t feel one bit comfortable with a God who didn’t know how to relax and have a smoke and chew the fat at the end of the day.”

I guess I understood that a little bit. I always liked to figure that God took time out to read a comic book now and then to – because even God can enjoy reading about the Hulk dropkicking Superman all over the planet every now and then.

“So God DOESN’T smoke?” I asked.

“How would I know?” Uncle Bob asked with a grin that showed all of his fake teeth and the few real ones that he had left. “I’m just telling a story.”

“Now can I get back to telling it?” Uncle Bob asked.

“Go ahead and tell,” I told him.

“So God hung those stars and the moon and hand-waved his cigarette smoke all across the sky and decided on what to call them once he did,” Uncle Bob went on.

“I think I’ll call them clouds,” God said. “That makes a whole lot more sense than calling them whooping cranes.”

Now some of those heavenly star-holes were nothing more than whoops-goofs and fudge-it-ups where God had either misplaced a nail or banged his thumb with the hammer when he was swinging it.

And yes – even GOD his-own-self occasionally bangs his own thumb.

Once God had done all that sky-building he set the whole thing a-whirling and that there gave us seasons and years and probably gave us income tax as well – but that’s okay because all good things come with some sort of a price tag dangling.

You don’t believe me – go and ask Minnie Pearl.

So God give us everything – only the one thing that he did not give us no matter how many times people try to blame it on him – was that God did NOT give us religion.

That was something that man made up later.


yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS – I swear – on a stack of Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel shirts that I will DEFINITELY write a non-spam blog entry by the end of tomorrow for all of you folks who are heartily tired of seeing me jump and down on this blog page waving a sign that says BUY MY BOOK!

Blog Photo 001

Why I don’t Write Negative Book Reviews Anymore…

I just got finished reading a post over at Chuck Wendig’s TERRIBLE MINDS blog – (and if you aren’t following Chuck’s blog you are REALLY missing out on a giggle-fest and a lot of writerly wisdom – so long as you don’t mind the occasional every-line-or-two dose of potty-mouth that Chuck continually indulges in) – that was answering the question “Why I Don’t Like To Negatively Review Other Author’s Books”.

So I got to thinking on that and I posted a comment over at Chuck’s blog and now I’m going to re-post it for my readers.

Here goes.

I was a paid reviewer for about two years or so – back when magazines actually PAID you to write a review.

It was a REALLY cool gig. I got paid ten to twenty dollars for waxing loquaciously for about two or three paragraphs on a book that I hadn’t actually had to pay for. I don’t know how much per word that boiled down to – but it was still a REALLY cool gig.

But then I came to a book that I couldn’t find much nice to say about.

“This person paid for advertising,” the publisher told me. “Can’t you find ANYTHING nice to say about it?”

“Well,” I said. “I like that it had two covers – front and back – with pages in between – although it could have done with a few less of those pages – like all of them.”

Well that flew about as far as a solid concrete fart.

Another time I kicked a book hard in a review and three months heard back from an editor of an anthology that I had submitted a story too – and he wanted to know just why the hell I had gone and kicked his book so hard in print for?

Was he being unprofessional? Hell – I don’t know. I was just the guy who had kicked his book.

So if I’m reading a book and I don’t like it I just throw it in the corner and let the cat pee on it for awhile. I figure that’s criticism enough for my needs.

I still write the occasional Goodreads and Amazon review and the like – stuff that I don’t get paid for. And I’ve given up on EVER writing reviews on books that just plain toilet-bowl sucked.

The fact is we writers read DIFFERENTLY then honest-to-dewey-decimal-system readers.

A reader looks at a book it’s all about – well, I liked that.

Or – well, that book sucked worse than a toilet bowl clogged in the heart of a Texas black hole.

A writer looks at a book – well he’s looking at how it’s put together.

It’s like talking to a cabinet maker. He sees a table and he’s looking at the joints and the choices of wood and how much goat was thrown into that cabriole – while somebody else is just thinking “Gee, my beer sits really nicely on that table. It doesn’t even spill.”

Besides – my momma told me a LONG time ago that a fellow ought not to say ANYTHING if he can’t think of anything nice to say.

That’s my two bits.

Anyone doesn’t like it can get that quarter changed with the bartender.

But don’t forget to tip.

(You can read the WHOLE blog entry over at Chuck’s blog)

Yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon

Scheduling Secrets – Or How Not To Pose Like a Wannabe Bruce Lee…

This morning, I rolled out of bed and fell into a blog post.

It happens that way sometimes. As I’ll go on to explain – I like to check my e-mail and the first e-mail I opened lead to me to a blog posting over at THE WRITER’S GUIDE TO E-PUBLISHING.

This particular post dealt with a writer’s schedule.

While I was crafting a reply-comment to that blog post it got to me thinking that I ought to use this reply-comment as the basis for my next blog entry.

That’s right. Writing that innocent little reply-comment awoke my innate writerly thieving instincts and I decided that I was going to steal that reply-comment that I was writing – which is a little like stealing from yourself, I suppose – and use it as a blog post on my own blog.

Or, to put it another way –

“Immature artists imitate. Mature artists steal.” – Lionel Trilling.

To which I might add:

“Long-past-their-stale-date artists steal from themselves.” – Steve Vernon



Because I am one of those poor goomers who must still put up with a day job – and because my day job hours are rarely predictable – (I really think they use a dart board to write up our monthly work schedules) – I find it hard to set anything that even resembles a work schedule.

In fact, when I Google “work schedule”, Wikipedia says “That ain’t you.”

However, I’m fortunate enough to be an early riser. I had three paper routes when I was a kid and I had to be up at about five am to get breakfast into me – (I’m big on eating) – and get those papers sorted and delivered before going to school. As a result I am programmed to wake up before the crows have even started scratching themselves.

First off, I’ve got to make my way to the bathroom, where I sit for a while – (it’s safer than trying to aim in the dark) – and pet our black cat Kismet, who usually wants to know why the hell I haven’t fed her yet. I don’t know what her problem is – I fed her all yesterday – but she’s just funny that way.

I just looked up “patient and reasonable” on the Google and it told me “That ain’t cats”.

And here’s a picture of Kismet, sniffing the hell out of the inside spine of one of my books.

Then I sit down at the computer. I like to futz around on the internet for an hour or so before I begin dawdling which sometimes leads to a bout of full-out procrastination. I mean, why wait to put off what needs putting off to? I’m ambitious and I like to plunge boldly into my pre-writing procrastination.

I was going to look up “organized” on Google but I couldn’t find the to-do list that I’d wrote that down on to remind myself with.

You see, I like to start with checking my e-mail – which is what lead me to this blog entry here on THE WRITER’S TO E-PUBLISHING – before I begin. I’m pretty certain that one of these mornings I’m going to find myself something important in all that spam.

If possible, I like to warm up with something that requires some fast and creative free-range writing – such as this comment – (which I have already decided that I am going to steal on myself after I get commenting and use it in my own blog) – and to rattle some sort of a blog reply or a blog entry or to answer somebody’s question on the two or three message board forums I like to poke it.

(and I know that last sentence has most likely peeved the heck out of my Strunk and White’s Elements of Style – but me and Strunk/White haven’t been talking in years)

You see – I find that writing a blog entry or a thread reply like this – before I begin my actual work on whatever manuscript I am working on – is a really great warm-up. It’s a little like stretching yourself before a session at the gym – or shadow-boxing in the locker room before you walk into the arena and step into a boxing ring.

It isn’t anything like prancing around ten feet away from the fellow you’re supposed to be fighting – striking imaginary Bruce Lee poses and making kee-yii sounds like that blue jay outside my window is making. Striking poses like that in a fight doesn’t impress anybody – not even your Mom – and you’re most likely going to give yourself a charley-horse while trying to snap-kick a fist full of mid-air nothing.

Usually sometime around a half an hour into that hour long warm-up I’ll make my way downstairs and butter up a couple of slices of toast. I used to peanut butter and honey them but my wife says that has something to do with my belt shrinking on me so I just smear a little butter and then scoop out a bowl of cottage cheese. I pepper the cottage cheese – even though I’d much rather dump a couple of dollops of maple syrup onto the cottage cheese – but again, apparently that has something to do with my belt shrinking.

I’ll Twitter a bit and run through my e-mail and get all of my ducks lined up.

Then, I sip my coffee and get to work.

So, I guess that I have established three undeniable facts with this comment.

Number one – I like to take a poke at the social media side of things before I get to work on what really needs doing.

Number two – I really need an internal editor when commenting on other people’s blog entries.

Number three – If I worked for myself all day I’d most likely fire myself, sooner or later.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS: Here’s a link to that blog where this whole thing started. Folks who are interested in learning more about the craft from successful e-book writers really ought to be following this blog – THE WRITER’S GUIDE TO E-PUBLISHING.



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

A Brand New Review for DEVIL TREE!

Please check out the brand new review of my horror/historical novel DEVIL TREE over at Amazon.com.




Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


Starting Your Story


Let’s step into a time machine for a minute. Back to high school dances when I was a kid. They usually happened in the gymnasium. All of the boys would line up on one wall. All of the girls would line up across the gymnasium on the other wall. And then, while the music played on, we mostly just leaned there, squinting across the distance and trying to work up the courage to cross that vast span of gym floor and ask someone to dance.

Sometimes, getting started is the hardest thing of all.

So – today – I have prepared for your use twenty-six story-starting paragraphs.

Read through them and write yourself a short little story. It doesn’t have to be an epic. It doesn’t have to be particularly brilliant. This isn’t rocket science. We’re just sitting here together on opposite sides of the internet, telling each other stories.

Consider it a challenge.

Consider it an exercise.

Consider it an invitation to a dance.


Albert had it all figured out. She was coming by train. He wanted to surprise her. He was at the station two hours before the train arrived. He had a chocolate bar an hour before arrival time. As she was getting off the train he was hiding in the men’s washroom, waiting for her to leave.


Betty bought the pistol at a pawn shop from a dapper little man who was a foot too short and about thirty pounds too heavy to be considered anywhere close to desirable. He placed the pistol in a shoebox, tied with a frayed yellow string. She drove home, unwrapped the box and loaded the pistol. She turned on the television and sat there, watching a Dr. Phil rerun, waiting for her husband to come home.


Cyril hated his job more than any human being ought to.  He hated the sight of his desk. He hated the smell of the wallpaper. He hated the rasping wheedling sound of his boss’s voice. One morning everything changed.


Delores loved Cyril – but Cyril had been married to Betty for over twelve years. As far as Delores concerned that was a twelve year mistake that she was about to rectify.


Ernest had sold tickets at the train station for sixteen years. Every morning before work his wife would pack him a lunch – cold ham with a slice of processed cheese and a generous squeeze of yellow mustard. A cup of lukewarm tea that he sipped from all day long.  Then one morning Ernest bought a train ticket for himself for the very first time in his life. He boarded the train, handed the ticket to the conductor and sat down at a window seat to watch.


Felicia collected butterflies. She loved the magnificent patterns of their wing structure. She kept them mounted in picture frames in her living room where she would sit and rock upon rocking chair and stare for hours at the kaleidoscope of perfect wonder. One morning Felicia decided that she had waited and studied for long enough. It was time to make her very own set of wings.


Gary watched the woman upon the roof with that beautiful set of multi-colored silken wings. Any other person in the world would have felt some sort of a brief burst of excitement but Gary was tired of living. He wasn’t suicidal, just intensely lethargic. It had been coming on for some time. He took one last look at the winged woman, then returned to his room and crawled under the bed and lay there in the darkness. “I’ve been waiting for,” a voice whispered far too closely to his ear.


Hilda turned the television set off and wondered when Ernest would come home. He was nearly two hours late. He might have been shopping – but he hated to shop. He might have been bowling – but he hated sports of any kind. She picked up the telephone and dialed the train station. When she heard that Ernest had left on the morning train she hung up carefully and considered her next move.


Isaac was having a good day. He had sold that pistol as well as the three rolls of silk that the old Chinamen had left with him.  He ought to close early but you should not turn your back on luck. His father had taught him that. When the fat black man with the guitar case walked into pawn shop and said “I’d like to pawn my soul, please.” Harry simply replied “How much were you hoping to get?”


Jennifer had never heard such music before. The old black man’s guitar must have strung with lark song and essence of whippoorwill. She threw three shiny quarters into the belly of the guitar case and was surprised when the old man snatched the three quarters up and told her – “I can double this ten times over if you’d like to make a little medicine with me.”


Keith picked up the bible and started to pray. He’d done the same thing every morning and every night of his life but God had never listened – until now.


Laurie walked into the church with two cans of gasoline and one box of matches. Maybe now God would finally listen.


Max smoked his last cigarette just outside of the old church. He was staring directly at the graveyard when the first explosion roared out.  He woke up beside a gravestone, staring at himself.


Nancy opened one eye. Then the other. She breathed in. She breathed out. Damn it, she said – I’m still alive.


Orson started walking. He wasn’t sure where he was going but he had a hunch he’d know when he got there.


Phyllis listened to the waves rolling onto the beach. They had been telling her a story all of her life – a story that only she understood and knew the meaning to. This morning she woke up to discover that the waves had grown silent.


Quincy had worn cotton in his ears for as long as he could remember. He had a theory that ninety-eight percent of the words that were ever spoken weren’t particularly worth listening too. Three days following his fifty-eight birthday Quincy finally found a reason to unplug his ears and listen.


Rita was ready. Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue – namely herself. She sat there alone in her room sprinkling uncooked rice and dead daffodils upon the floor playing the wedding march on her dead Uncle Billy’s eight-track player.


Steve sat at his keyboard – wondering how in the world he was ever going to come up with a story-starting paragraph for T,U,V,W, X,Y and Z. His coffee was getting cold. His patience was wearing thin. If only someone would help him finish this all-important blog entry. He looked up in surprise to see a small blue songbird sitting upon his windowsill – whistling out the answer in a surprisingly tuneful Morse code.

Too bad Steve had failed his Morse Code Badge in Boy Scouts…


Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon