Tag Archives: ghost

Telling Stories at the Tidal Bore…

Tidal Bore StorytellingI have taken part in a lot of cool storytelling gigs over the years.

A couple of months ago I was contacted by Aurora at the Fundy Tidal Interpretive Centre and asked if I could take part in a storytelling event this August.

Well, it turns out that I had the time and they found myself and my wife lodgings for the evening – which made a big difference to whether or not I could attend and take part.

I had Thursday and Friday off from work and my wife took a vacation day for Friday. Once she got from work on Thursday we hopped in the car and braved our way through the rush hour traffic. Once we got on the highway things moved pretty quickly.

We reached the Bed and Breakfast that was donating our lodgings. It was a really pretty spot right on the Bay of Fundy and it was called CRESTHAVEN BY THE SEA.

The Cresthaven was a lovely little spot with big comfortable rooms and a great decor. Our hosts, Warren and Cathrine Yuill, did their best to make us feel at home and I wished we had more time to spend just to soak up the view of the Bay of Fundy.

For supper, we walked down to the local restaurant, BING’S EATERY.

The owner, head artist and cook served us up two fine meals. I had a substantial smoked meat sandwich on sourdough bread with a heap of healthy baked potato wedges while Belinda tried the fish taco. Again, I wish we had had a bit more time to really sit and enjoy the meal and possibly try a bit of dessert – but we were on a pretty tight timetable.

We arrived at the Interpretative Centre and enjoyed a splendid view of a very quiet-looking river. I met my good buddy and fellow writer, Stephen Lowe and his lovely wife Gwen Frankton. I met Stephen at last year’s SUMMER FEAR  Horror Festival in Tatamagouche.

Thanks to Stephen Lowe for the photograph.

Thanks to the help of astronomer Paul Heath we had a splendid view of an absolutely gorgeous moon through a telescope that looked powerful enough to have readily focused upon the feathery navel of a Bedford Basin bald eagle.

Then the real star of the evening – the Tidal Bore – came roaring in. Within about fifteen minutes that sleepy river was transformed into a roaring torrent that would have fit right into a 1970’s disaster flick. All we needed was Charlton Heston thumping his fist against the iron railing saying something dramatic like “Damn you, tidal bore. Damn you – you are louder than me.”

Here is a Youtube video I found to give you folks a bit of an idea. We were perched out there on that big iron viewing platform they show early on in the two minute or so video and had a splendid view of the entire experience.

That will give you folks a taste – but really, you want to get yourself up to Maitland sometime this fall and catch the wonderful spectacle firsthand. Call ahead to the Interpretive Centre to get an idea on the timing. Admittance is free the experience is definitely breathtaking.

Afterward the arrival of the bore I did my best not to further bore the audience, telling a couple of local stories as well as a retelling of that wonderful old classic, “The Golden Arm”.

Then Paul reset his telescope and treated to my first look at the planet Saturn. Previous to this experience I had only ever seen Saturn in movies and textbook photographs but thanks to that big old telescope I could see the rings of Saturn just as clearly as I see the wrinkles around my baggy old eyes every morning in my bathroom mirror.

Speaking of mornings – Belinda and I had a wonderful sleep and a really fine breakfast at the Cresthaven.

It was a great little working vacation and I hope to do this again sometime next summer.

***********

Incidentally, I’ll be signing and selling my books this year in Tatamagouche for the SUMMER FEAR 4 as well on August 23, 2014 at the Tatamagouche Grain Elevator.

Hope to see some of you there.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

My Big Kindle Push…part one

Okay – so for some reason I’ve done pretty well at Kobo. Now ground-shattering – but most months I make over the hundred dollar mark – so my bank account gets a little bit of a goose. I want to do better and I know that it is possible – but for me this is a long game and right now I’m happy with the way that Kobo has been selling.

However, over the summer, my Kindle sales have atrophied. I’ve been thinking about this for a while – and I have come up with a bit of a strategy. It’s a long-term strategy – like I said – this is a long game for me and I am prepared to pay my dues.

But I do want to see some sort of action with my Kindle releases.

The first thing I did over the last few weeks was to begin a line of single story releases. I’ve created a new line of stories that I call STEVE VERNON’S SEA TALES. So far I have FIVE books in the series.

The Dark and the DeepIt was Billy McTavish’s first sea voyage.

He had signed on to the serve as convoy escort on the THISTLE a Royal Canadian Navy corvette.

Through U-Boat attack and Luftwaffe bombing runs, Billy had thought he had seen all the horror that the Atlantic could offer a young Canadian sailor.

But Big Jimmy Noonan had other ideas…

Built For Hanging On

This is one of my favorites and one of my wife’s favorite as well.

In fact, this is probably the closest thing that I have written to a romance. It’s the tale of how a fifty year old marriage of two VERY stubborn Maritimers survives the apocalypse.

It hasn’t sold a copy yet – but it is early days and I am hoping that folks will discover this one.

And no – I am not hinting.

Harry's Mermaid

This story originally appeared in ON SPEC magazine a couple of years ago.

It is the tale of a group of homeless who catch something that is ALMOST like a mermaid.

If that doesn’t tell you enough to go on than just try and imagine John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row written by H.P. Lovecraft.

Now that’s a mental image that you don’t visualize everyday – now is it???

I Know Why The Waters of the Sea Taste of Salt

This is a story set in war-torn Okinawa – back in the final days of the Pacific Campaign of World War 2. The story is told from the point of view of a young Kamikaze pilot preparing to fly his fighter plane into the side of an American battleship. It is a story of guilt, loneliness, memory and the taste of the sea. It is probably the “heaviest” story in the entire series – think Yukio MIshima and you are somewhere close to the mood of the piece. Slow, thoughtful, sombre and highly symbolic.

Oh, and there’s a sea monster as well…

Finbar's Story

The last story is more of a dark fantasy tale. The best way to describe it is to start out by telling you that water is a constant liar. If you tell a story with water it cannot be trusted and it will wash away in the first hard rain or in the tears of a long good cry. And stories told in blood and stone stick longer by far.

Finbar Tanner is telling a story to his son, Isaac. It is a story of love, desire and sacrifice. It is a story of blood and water and stones. It is a story of the deeper currents that flow within a man’s heart. It is a story of the sea.

So that is the entire five sea tales – so far.

Each of them are a stand-alone story. Each of them is priced at ninety-nine cents. You don’t have to read them in any particular order. Each one is a separate unique tale – with nothing in common but a bit of salt water.

If you want more info – just click one of the pictures.

Along with these five sea tales I’ve also released two brand new novellas and a stand alone story. I’ll tell you about them tomorrow.

And on Thursday I will tell you all about my big Friday 13th promotion.

I know I’m being a stinker – but ANY good storyteller knows how to leave his audience hanging in suspense.

Yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon

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

Tatterdemon – an excerpt

Tatterdemon New Cover

 

TATTERDEMON – AN EXCERPT

Chapter 1

Preacher Abraham Fell stared down at Thessaly Cross, breathing like he’d run for a good long stretch. He leaned over, bending at the knees to lay another slab of fieldstone upon her chest.

“We beat you with hickory and we beat you with iron,” he said, “and you withstood every blow.”

He stooped down and picked up another rock, never taking his eyes off her, as if she were some kind of dangerous viper who might strike at any moment.

He set the next rock on top of her, directly beside the others.

“We shot you and the musket balls swerved in midair like they were afraid of sinking into the taint of your flesh.”

He scooped up another rock, grunting as he scooped. He just wasn’t as young a man as he used to be – and no wonder…

Sights like this one aged you faster than years ought to run.

“We hung you in a noose woven from a widow’s gray hair, a noose soaked in children’s tears and you kicked and cackled like a hell-kite in the wind.”

He laid the next rock down, sank to his knees and scooped up another stone. He was building a kind of rhythm that made the labor just a little easier.

“We burned you but even fired failed us.”

It was true. She had witched a storm from a cloudless sky and drowned the blaze cold. Seth Hamilton, the town smith who had been the only man to dare kindle her pyre had been cindered black.

“Let the stones crush you and the dirt eat you,” Fell said, laying another rock – which made thirteen stones in all. These were all good-sized stones, hand-picked, at least the weight of child’s corpse. She ought to have been crushed by the weight upon her, yet she carried the load as if it were nothing but sticks and straw.

“Where did you hide the broom, witch?” Fell asked.

“Maybe it’s up your bunghole,” Thessaly taunted.

The broom was her power and Fell feared it – although he knew that he shouldn’t have. It was just a thing of woven willow. His grand-nanny swept the pine boards of her cabin daily with just such a broom and she certainly wasn’t a witch.

Was she?

He bent for another stone.

Thessaly spat in his face. “Bury that, God kisser.”

He dropped the fourteenth stone upon her. It made a hard sound, like she had stared too long at the Gorgon. He grunted at the effort and she laughed at his strain – which stung his pride hard.

“You must pay for your crimes against God and this community,” Fell said.

Thessaly snorted. It wasn’t any kind of human sound. Her snort sounded like a boar in rut.

“What I pay for is refusing to give you my land,” she pointed out, as the wind rattled the grass. “What I pay for is witching your field in return for your greed. I pay for your cattle that ate the gray grass. Happiest of all, I pay for your daughter, Fell.”

Eliza.

Damn it.

Fell could still taste the smell of the dead meat festering in the back of his sinuses. He’d put down the last tainted beast this morning. He’d beat it square in the skull with his best chopping axe. The metal of the blade had chewed into the bone and stuck hard. He’d had to put his left boot against the cow’s forehead and lean back to work the axe loose. The unholy cattle hadn’t moved, not one of them, even after he’d cut the first two down. They just stood there in his field, the wind making slow soft harp sounds blowing through their gray rattled guts.

He had put his daughter Eliza down before he had started with the cattle. Then he burned what was left of her and buried her ashes in the field.

The husk that he had burned and buried wouldn’t have nourished a worm.

“Was the milk tasty, Fell?” Thessaly taunted him. “Did young Eliza find it sweet?”

“Witch!” Fell hissed.

He snatched up a skull-sized rock, scraping his hand against the rough granite and marking it with his own blood. He would match his stone and his blood against hers, he fiercely swore.

But first he had to know.

“Where did you hide the broom?”

“Closer than you imagine.”

She spat again. The phlegm spattered the grass. The wind blew a little harder as Fell flung the stone. The granite chipped and sparked upon her flesh.

The farmer in Fell’s soul feared a run of wildfire. A spark could easily rise up in dry times like this and tear through an entire countryside.

“I’ll curse you, Fell. I’ll curse you and all those who stand with you.” The old woman began to chant. “Merry through the prickle bush, the gore bush, the hump; careful round the holly fall, she’ll catch your shadow hold…”

The onlookers stiffened like a pack of wintered-over scarecrows. Fear, or something darker, rooted their feet to the earth. Fell stumbled back from the pit. The wind stiffened and gusted as Thessaly laughed all the harder.

“Our father,” Fell began to pray. “Protect us from this harridan’s evil spells.”

Thessaly continued to laugh.

“It is no spell, you fool. It is nothing more than a children’s rhyme, Fell. It was only a nursery rhyme. Maybe I wasn’t witching your field. Maybe I was merely waving my broom at a thieving crow.”

Did she speak the truth?

Fell smothered his doubt.

Thessaly Cross had killed Eliza and Abraham Fell would not rest until he saw the witch finally dead.

He knelt down and caught hold of the next stone.

Only she wouldn’t stay quiet.

“Witches don’t curse, Fell. Only men curse,” Thessaly ranted. “They curse themselves and their pitiful lot.”

“You lie,” Fell said, working the stone free

“Truth! I tell truth. Witches dance in easy circles. We follow the rhythms of time and tide and the wind that washes the earth’s bones dry.”

The wind howled. A tangled snare of root rammed through the dirt. Fell stepped back too late. The root twisted like a snake. It snared Fell’s wrists and held him fast.

“Witches plant what men water with tears,” Thessaly shrieked. “Witches sow the sorrow men must reap. Know this, Fell. When you harm a witch, you plant a grudge as old as regret.”

Fell tugged against the root. From the corner of his eye he saw the rest of the townsfolk, snared like screaming rabbits.

“I have you, Fell. I have you all. Now you will see what a witched field really is.”

Thessaly set the field to work.

She stirred dead grass into unholy life. The strands and stalks whirred like a wind of teeth, slicing through men and women who tried too late to run away.

The first man died in mid-scream, as a gust of grass harrowed the meat from his bones. A root, flung like a dirty javelin, impaled a second man. A third went down beneath an airborne avalanche of fieldstone.

The wind grew gray with dust, straw and flesh. The earth opened in great cratered, swallowing mouths. The townsfolk all died screaming.

Only Fell remained.

He stared at the carnage, as helpless as a snared rabbit.

“Witches sow, Fell. Witches sow and men must reap.”

She raised her hands.

He saw gray dirt imbedded beneath her fingernails.

“Shall I tell you where I have hid my broom, Fell? Have you guessed? Do you really want to know? I buried it in your very own field.”

The broom rose straight up from the earth’s dirty womb, not more than an arm’s reach from Fell.

“I and my broom will wait for you, Fell. We will wait for you like a seed waits for rain. Live with this. I have taken everyone you know, but I let you live to breed. I let you live with the knowledge that one day I will return to visit your descendants.”

Fell braced his feet in the dirt. He prayed for the strength of Samson. He fought against the root.

“Now I will show you how to bury a witch,” she crowed.

She hugged herself as if hugging an unseen lover. The earth moved in reply as a thousand rocks flew from the flesh of the field and hovered above her homemade grave. Fell tore his wrists from the shackle of root.

He felt the skin rip from his bones.

“No descendants! No curse! Today we die together,” he howled.

He uprooted the broom with his freshly skinned hands. He threw himself upon her. His momentum drove the broom handle straight through her heart. A gout of stinking blood splashed his face.

The willow-twig head of the broom stood out in all directions like an angry star. Fell saw the flash of tiny unimaginable teeth grinning from the end of each writhing twig.

Then the broom took him.

It ate at his face like his skin was nothing more than apple rind. He felt the white-hot twig-worms gnaw his features. He felt them tear and burn through the bowl of his skull. They crawled into the jelly of his brain and nibbled at his thoughts.

He had time for one last scream.

The broom ate that as well. It swallowed each morsel of Abraham Fell’s pain and terror as it dragged him deeper down into the hole with the witch. The rocks poised above them like a pair of hands, ready to applaud. Thessaly pushed him from her. She nearly pushed him from the grave.

“Live, Fell. Let the meat grow back upon your opened skull. Crawl back from the brink of death. My curse shall stand. This earth grows too cold for me. I will wait for you and your descendants in the belly of hell.”

“No!” Fell pushed back down upon her. “The curse ends here.”

He shoved forward. He felt the broom slide and suck through the cage of his ribs. He pushed himself closer, impaling himself on the broom handle. The willow wood splintered inside him. It nailed him to Thessaly’s twisting frame. He felt her bones wiggling beneath her meat like worms in the dirt.

She nearly slipped free.

He bit her lip, tearing grayish meat. The pain racked her concentration. She let her spell and the rocks above them drop. The grave, the broom, the witch and Fell were sealed inside completely.

For a long time, nothing moved.

The moon rose like a slow ghost, lanterning down upon the butcher field.

A small gray form pushed from the rocky grave. The gray hairless skin glistened beneath the cool wash of moonlight, like the hide of a stillborn rat.

It crawled away into the darkness that surrounded the field.

A lone owl hooted remorselessly

Sooooon…

****************

Did you like that?

That’s the first chapter.

If you want to read more you’ll have to spend a little money – namely $3.99.

Yes, I know, it always comes down to money.

You can order it directly from the publisher http://store.crossroadpress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_243_244&products_id=412

You can order it from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/TATTERDEMON-ebook/dp/B0081UEXPE/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_3

You can order it at Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tatterdemon-steve-vernon/1110694364?ean=2940014405942

You can order it at Amazon.co.uk http://www.amazon.co.uk/TATTERDEMON-ebook/dp/B0081UEXPE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337247755&sr=1-1

You can order it at Kobo http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Tatterdemon/book-2UgrygnVO0eCN47XmyEKZQ/page1.html?s=VzBvn_KEz0C4Lpt_jUQoWA&r=1

You can order it at Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/160392

You can call me Ray, you can call me Ray-Jay, you can even call me Raymond…

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon