Tag Archives: hockey

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





Bubba, Buy My Book

After my last couple of entries I wanted to put up something a little more on the light side and a little more true to what I created this blog to be.

Only problem is I am supposed to be writing, right now. So I don’t really have the time to sit down and come up with something new – so I thought I would put up a blog entry that was originally a guest-blog on another website.

Hope this gives you a giggle to get your day back into the funny waters.


All right.
First off, I’d like to thank D.D. Scott for having me here today.

Secondly, I’d like to thank Bubba.

Finally, let me make a confession.

I am lousy at parties. Heck, I can’t even spell the word shmuu…shmoos…schmoozing.
(thank you Spell Check)

I’m the kind of fellow who will sort of slide in through the back door and drift over to the munch table and stand next to the pizza dip for the rest of the evening.

(mmmm, pizza)

I’m just not that good at small talk. I’m more comfortable with writing. Way more comfortable. You get me behind the keyboard and I’m as smooth as silk and nearly twice as dangerous. I’m a writing fool – but I’m foolish when it comes to selling these books. Which is why I started hanging around D.D. Scott’s WG2E in the first place.

It’s simple, see. I read about how D.D. Scott was selling books faster than goose grease through a short puppy. I read how people were just lining up to buy her books and I figured if I hang around her long enough then some of her marketing brilliance was going to rub off on me.

And, of course, D.D. being the wonderful host that she is invited me to hang around even longer than she ought to have. We’re talking the stray dog syndrome – you see that mangy old yellow something-or-other Heinz-and-a-half wet dog that you just have to throw a ham bone to?

That’s me.

“Steve,” she told me. “Why don’t you get involved in my FEATURED AUTHOR program at RG2E?”

Well, first off, I had to go and Google to make sure the RG2E wasn’t really some sort of a Star Wars character – but then once I found out exactly what the RG2E FEATURED AUTHOR PROGRAM was, I became mildly interested – but oddly cautious.

“D.D.” I said. “I want to learn how to sell more of my e-books. Are you sure this will help?”

“Well Steve,” D.D. said – thinking to herself that she really ought to be writing her next book. “Why don’t you tell me what all you have done in the way of marketing?”

“I was hoping you’d ask me that.” I said. “Let me tell you what I’ve done. I think it’s brilliant. I started out my advertising campaign by writing BUY MY BOOK on a hundred different men’s room walls – in a hundred different shades of marker – along with leaving my phone number.”

“And how did that work out for you?” D.D. asked – looking around hopefully for some sort of an exit.

“Not so well,” I said. “I did receive an awful lot of interesting phone calls and enough lurid and sticky phone talk to paint about three hundred and sixty-two more shades of grey – but other than that I didn’t sell so much as a copy.”

“So what did you do then?”

“I diversified,” I explained, after making a quick run to the Spell Check to figure out how to spell the word diversified. “I tried leaving similar messages on the walls of a hundred different women’s rooms – which brought me to my first arrest.”

“Say what?”

“My arrest. I tried to explain to the security guard that I was only marketing in that ladies room – and then I tried explaining to those two policemen that the security guard telephoned – and then I tried explaining to the judge why those two policemen had brought me to his courtroom – and then I tried explaining to Bubba – and he told me that he understood – that he wasn’t guilty either.”

“And then what happened?”

“Well, that led me to a ninety day intensive hands-on seminar on life in the local jailhouse – which I believe will come in useful in writing my upcoming prison novel entitled A PEN IN THE PEN – A WRITER’S LIFE BEHIND BARS.”

“Well Steve,” D.D. said – discretely fumbling through her pockets with the hopes of discovering a ninja escape smoke bomb – or at the very least a can of pepper spray. “Maybe you ought to try some social networking. Have you tried Facebook?”

“I tried it,” I said. “But Mark Zuckerberg said my face looked funny. So then I tried twittering, but the birds asked me to kindly get out of their tree. So then I tried spamming on message board forums – but that spam looked so good I just had to get out the fry pan and slice me a few slices and…”

(this interview has been interrupted while the author Steve Vernon puts on his pants and goes down to the kitchen to hunt for Spam)

While I was out in the kitchen D.D. went through her pockets again. She still couldn’t find that ninja smoke bomb but she did find a slightly-used peanut butter cup that she tucked back into her pocket.

“You’ve got some Spam on your beard, Steve,” D.D. helpfully said.

“What, did I miss some?” I asked, discretely trying to lick the Spam from off of the corners of my beard.

“What else did you do?”

“Well, I thought about buying some five star reviews – but there was that whole money thing – so instead I decided to try writing some sock puppet reviews – only all of my socks were in the wash – so I tried ventriloquist dummy reviews – but then the dummy told me that my lips were moving – so I give it all up as a bad idea.”

“And then you came here,” D.D. said.

“No, not then,” I said. “I had one more brainstorm. I filled out five hundred message in a bottles with notes that read BUY MY BOOK and I corked them suckers up and I threw them one by one into the Atlantic Ocean.”

“Why the Atlantic Ocean?”

“Well you see the book I was trying to sell is called SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME. It’s a fast and funny novella that asks what if a team of old fart hockey players from the shores of Northern Labrador decided to challenge a tour bus full of vampires to a sudden death hockey game.”

“Why would vampires want to play hockey?”

“Well that’s just it,” I said. “These old boys did something to the vampires that peeved them off so much that there was no way on earth that they could do anything else besides take up the hockey challenge.”

“Well what did they do to make those vampires so mad at them?”

“I can’t tell you,” I said. “You’ll have to buy the e-book,” I said. “But that’s why I chose the Atlantic Ocean. Because Labrador is on the Atlantic.”

“That’s brilliant,” D.D. said. “Very creative.”

“Yeah, the judge thought so too, after he give me another ninety days for desecrating the environment – which is way worse than littering.”

“You’re back in jail?”

“Faster than you can say hello Bubba,” I explained. “Which is why I really want to take part in your FEATURED AUTHOR program here at the RG2E. You see, my lawyer is pretty sure that this qualifies as some sort of community service…”

At which point D.D. threw the peanut butter cup onto the floor, performed a couple of kung fu side-kicks that would have made the spirit of David Carradine sit up and grin – before she performed a triple somersault backwards and belly-flipped through an open window.

The last I saw of her she was running for her keyboard.


If this post moved you to pick up one of my books why don’t you start with SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME? I guarantee you that little yarn of vampires and hockey will please fans of hockey, vampires and just plain good old-fashioned storytelling.

It is available on Kindle for a measly 99cents - and if you still aren't certain just click this picture and check out all of those solid reviews.

It is available on Kindle for a measly 99cents – and if you still aren’t certain just click this picture and check out all of those solid reviews.


I know. I know. Most of you are thinking to yourself - why buy this when it is just another vampire/hockey novella? I mean I'm sure you have already read about a billion vampire/hockey novellas. I'm certain that you have got cases of them stored in your attic. Well don't you see that if you grab this copy it will make your collection complete. Pick it up of Kobo just by hitting this picture. With your mouse clicker, not your fist.

I know. I know. Most of you are thinking to yourself – why buy this when it is just another vampire/hockey novella? I mean I’m sure you have already read about a billion vampire/hockey novellas. I’m certain that you have got cases of them stored in your attic. Well don’t you see that if you grab this copy it will make your collection complete. Pick it up of Kobo just by hitting this picture. With your mouse clicker, not your fist.

Keep on grinning. Life looks better that way.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 (And – in the interest of full disclosure – a VERY different version of this blog entry was originally posted at the Readers Guide to E-Publishing)


I’ve just had some folks over at Goodreads ask me about my hockey-vampire novella SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME.

Sudden Death Overtime - final art small

I figured that the best way to tell them was to give them a little peek at the writing.

So – without further ado, here’s an excerpt from SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME – one of the opening chapters.



Sudden Death Overtime

Tuesday night 9pm.

No one noticed quite exactly when the long black bus stole into the parking lot of the Anchor Pub. As far as anyone knew the bus just sort of drifted into the Labrador coastal village of Hope’s End like an unexpected snow flurry.

Things happen that way around here.

Slow and unexpected.

Judith Two-Bear leaned her elbows against the wood grain of the unvarnished table top. Her cigarette glowed like a lighthouse’s lonely beacon, bobbing as she nodded three beats behind the music of the static-ridden radio. She’d parked herself at the window seat since dinner time. She liked to watch the world go by from the sanctuary of the town’s only drinking hole – the Hope’s End Drink and Drop Tavern.

Several long slow warm beers later Judith Two-Bear found herself staring vaguely at the names and dates carved and inked into the table top. She knew some of them. She could guess at some of the others and she wondered just who the hell the rest really were. How many lonely souls had made their mark on this table and had then just sat here like so many half finished glasses of warm draft beer – just waiting to be swallowed but not quite yet.

Truthfully, she didn’t think of any of this.

Not in those exact words, any way.

People don’t really think that way – only in books and poetry and movies and other such bullshit. Rather, Judith Two-Bear felt it, perhaps. She breathed it in with the stale pub air. Her grew her own sort of loneliness, nursing her drink and her evolving disappointment and her unvarying boredom that were as much a part of her as was the blood that sludged through her tired veins.

Nothing was left.

She had lived her life and had nothing but time left to her lonely keeping. She had seen her kids grow up and run away, her lovers grow cold and run away, she had seen life pull up to the curb and wave gaily once or twice before passing her right on by.

Her hands weighed heavy on the scarred pine tabletop. Her knuckles were cracked and leathered like old alligator skin, tattooed with nicotine and age. Her eyes had grown dull and nothing that hinted of girlhood was left to her save a shotgun blast of freckles playing hide-and-seek within the wrinkles and worry-lines that troughed down her cheeks like a memory of tears.

She stared at her flat beer.

The time drifted past the hope of anyone offering to take her home for any other reason but pity. Fergus had said he’d see her here, but so far he hadn’t showed. She believed he’d only told her that to be kind. Fergus was a good man, after all, although he spent far too much time out there on that damned hockey rink with old Sprague.

What in God’s frozen earth did grown men see in the rattle of sticks, the slashing of steel over ice and hockey sweaters worn way beyond funk?

Judith sat there, disinterestedly listening to the soft current of gossip prowling through the Drink and Drop Tavern; folks wondering just where the black bus came from. Perhaps it was a fresh oil rig crew, or perhaps a wandering rock band. Perhaps a pack of tourists, far off course, with their pockets jingling with cartwheels of American silver and the promise of better days.

Judith knew better. No one in their right mind would come to Hope’s End, Labrador where the only thing that kept the town going was the influx of oil rig workers who stopped here between shifts to get drunk and fed and laid; the three weeks of seal hunters who would stop here to get drunk and fed and hopefully laid; and the occasionally dangled promise of incoming government money.

There were a lot of them – so many promises washed up like waves on the rocky beach, only to be pulled away just as fast.

She stared at her beer.

The lights dimmed as the town generator kicked up a notch.

The last tune on the jukebox crackled out, only to be replaced by another goddamn hockey game.

Judith stood up carefully.

Fergus wasn’t coming, she decided.

She laughed to herself.

There had never been a hope that he would come.

Life doesn’t really work that way.

Love is nothing more than a lie told in a midnight poker game where everyone cheated and nobody won.

She leaned backwards and listened to the creaks and cracks in the fossil that her doctor laughingly referred to as a spinal column.

The evening had passed as slowly as a year of chronic constipation.

She was six beer older.

Maybe seven – who the fuck really counted?

The television commentator shouted as someone banged the puck home. A few onlookers moaned and someone listlessly cheered. No one noticed as Judith emptied her glass of warm beer and turned it bottom-up on the table top.

She walked out the front door.

It was cold for a January evening. She pulled her shawl about her, holding it close. The shawl was the last gift that Little Jimmy Pinto had given to her before he’d got drunk five months ago and had fallen from the ferry, halfway home to Newfoundland.

Jimmy Pinto had washed ashore three days later. The current had carried him to the beach, shrouded in seaweed and picked at by the gulls. There were nights when Judith nightmared over Jimmy Pinto’s tide-swollen memory, the tears drowning in the memories his eyes, a crab picking listlessly at a bit of unfingered ear wax.

Other nights she dreamed of him singing – tone deaf and lustily bawling out that old Gordon Lightfoot standard, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, over and over – the only tune he knew straight through. The nightmares were her only company these days. She welcomed them as a lonely woman welcomes the nightly visit of a phantom lover.

“Damn it,” she swore at the shadows.

She had truly hoped that Fergus would have shown tonight. She had hoped that he would replace her memories with a little actual companionship.

But Fergus wasn’t coming.

“God-be-Jesus damn it.”

The wind was cold in the parking lot.

There were only a few cars. Most people lived close enough to walk.

The black bus loomed in the darkness. There was no other word for it. It loomed – like the shadow of a mountain cast over a lonely gray tombstone.

It was heavy.


Black and implacable.

For just a half an instant Judith Two-Bear felt the urge to turn and run back into the pub and scream her panic – drowning out the hockey game and the clink of beer bottles and the tired rattle of conversation.

But what the hell would that accomplish?

She drifted a little closer to the black bus – as if she wanted to prove something to herself.

This close she saw that the windows were painted over.

Even the front window, all black.

How could a driver see his way through the night?

It might have been one-way glass, she supposed. You could see out, but nobody else could see in. But it looked more like the window glass had been spray painted over. All black, as if something were trying to hide. A part of her wanted to run from the bus and the parking lot but she was too tired to listen.

She leaned over and gently touched the side of the bus.

She felt a rhythm, like a tide, like a heart beat, throbbing within the strange blackened walls of the vehicle.

Music, perhaps?

Her hand sank inwards into the cold black paint, like she was reaching into a basin of cold black water. Then she leaned a little deeper. Something purred, deep within the colour of the bus. Something purred and something drew her in. She felt it inhaling, her knees buckled slightly.

Her skin paled and the paint on the bus darkened.

She could see the grill and headlights grinning at her. She wondered just how that was possible. She was leaning on the side of the bus, nowhere close to the grillwork. She shouldn’t have been able to see it.

She didn’t care.

Fergus wasn’t coming.

She leaned there against the bus, allowing whatever was hiding inside it to drink its fill.

She wasn’t trapped – only comfortable.

The bus door grated open.

Judith drew her hand from the lulling cloy of the paint and freely entered the bus, still dreaming of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The bus door closed behind her. If there was any screaming it was drowned in the lonely swallow of a North Canadian night sinking home. It began to snow, soft fat flakes that promised a hard storm to come. The snowflakes melted and slid across the grinning grillwork of the night-dark bus.

Fergus showed up at the tavern, one hour too late.


If you want to read the rest of this tale you can pick it up in either paperback or e-book format at Amazon.com.

Or – if you are from the UK you might want to get it on Amazon.com.uk!

Or – if you are from Canada and you’ve got a Kindle pick it up here!

Or – if you are like me and own a Kobo pick it up here!

You can also hunt it up in paperback on Createspace!

Or on Nook!

Or on i-tunes!

Well, I think that I have about run past my quota on exclamation marks – not to mention self-promotional links – (another link and WordPress is going to start asking me to limit my blog entries to one character OR LESS!!!) – so I want to think you if you’ve read down this far and pardon you if you haven’t – which doesn’t really matter if you HAVEN’T read down this far.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Getting the most out of your Amazon Reviews…

Let’s face it.

If you’re interested in selling your e-books Amazon is pretty well the place you want to be.

In a word – Kindle. They are still the top of the food chain when it comes to moving e-books.

But they are awfully fussy about reusing their reviews.

Basically – once you post a review at Amazon in their review section it belongs to them – which means that if you want a potential reader to buy one of your e-books – and you believe that a certain review on Amazon is just what is required to make that sale happen – then you have to figure out a way to get that potential reader over to Amazon and aim their eyes at a specific review. Which is relatively easy if you only have one or two reviews on that book in the first place – but if you’ve got more than a dozen reviews you don’t REALLY want to take the chance that the first review that potential reader looks at is the one bad one that says that your feet smell funny – and so does your book.

So – how do you get your reader to a specific Amazon review?

It is easy. So easy that I suspect that a lot of folks already know – so I am posting this entry for those folks who just haven’t figured it out yet.

Click over to the book in question.

Scroll down the review page until you reach the review you want to link to.

THEN – click the title of the review. That will take you to a separate page where the review is proudly displayed.

Look down at the bottom of the review and you will see a little tag that reads “Permalink”.

Click “permalink” and then copy the link that it takes you to off of your browser bar.

For example:


That should take you to the latest review of SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME. It’s one of my favorite reviews and – as soon as you read the part about Tim Hortons – you will understand why!

The man read the book in Tim Hortons.

I absolutely love it.


yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


A brand-new SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME review

I’m still hip-deep in the Busker Festival and too busy to write a proper blog entry – but here’s a link to a brand-new review of SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME!


Hockey 30 Days of Night in Canada.


And here’s a link to brief write-up concerning SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME. I wrote it – so it’s really sort of an infomercial – but if you’re looking for a little publicity for you next Kindle e-book release you ought to try it out.


yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

A brand new review…

I’ll have to sit down and right a proper blog entry tomorrow for my 100th blog entry – but today I’ll soon need to head off to a shift at the dayjob – so for now I’ll just let you know that there’s a brand new review of SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME at Life After Undeath.

Check it out.


yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Still freebird…

Still free today.

SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME is now sitting in the #18 spot in the TOP 100 FREE IN KINDLE list. I’m hoping for a fresh new wave of downloading today to push it into the #1 position.

Let’s be honest, folks. I have no idea what being #1 will bring me.

Perhaps a huge upsurge of sales of my other Kindle e-books.

Perhaps a spontaneous revelation as to the meaning of the universe.

Maybe American Idol’s Randy Jackson will turn up at the front door and tell me  “Not too bad, dawg, a little pitchy in spots but your really brought it. You’re going to Hollywood!”

I’ll let you all know when I find out for certain…

SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME – available on Amazon.com


Available on Amazon.co.uk


Today and tomorrow only.


yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

The final freebie…

My e-book, SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME, is available in Kindle format for FREE today, tomorrow and Thursday.










This will be the last chance to get Sudden Death Overtime for free. Following this giveaway I’ll be pulling the e-book from the KDP Select Program in order to release it in Kobo and other formats.

I’ve been working on two YA novels that will be released as part of a new Kobo program in the next month or so. More details to follow.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Just in time for play-off season…

Just in time for the play-offs!

Read it between commercials.

Read it while your husband/wife/labrador retriever is monopolizing the television set!

Read it on the toilet!

(warning Will Robinson, too much info-dump…)

Just read it!






I know, I know – this is just another vampire/hockey novelette. But I am big-time excited to see SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME begin to move this month after a March of gentle stagnancy. There have been a couple of VERY visible reviews and the right people have begun to talk.

(insert dramatic music here)

Like it, tag it, buy it, review it. Read it to your cat. Carve SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME upon the bark of the oldest tree in the forest – and then apologize to the tree for defacing it’s grainy squirrel-ridden epidermis – and then buy and sacrifice 117 (a holy number in certain nameless sects) copies of SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME to the gods of random Amazon statistics.

Turn a rock over in your garden and whisper “sudden death overtime” to the fattest earthworm you unearth.

(hey, oligochaeta have e-readers too…)

“Steve Vernon gets it right. SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME hit all the right notes with me. A wonderful cast of characters, great dialogue between the characters and an evil bus full of vicious vampires. Reading SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME brought back so many memories of my childhood and our backyard skating rink that our father would painstakingly work on for hours. We would spend hours out there in the winter playing hockey. Of course, we didn’t have a bus load of vampires to fend off…unfortunately.” – Famous Monsters of Filmland

“With SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME, Vernon perfectly captures the dark heart of a Canadian Winter and the lifetime passion surrounding the game of hockey. He takes a group of old friends who never backed down from a fight on the ice when they were younger and still refuse to do so even when they’re old enough to know better. Toss on the rink some memorable characters, truly great dialogue, a bus load of nasty vampires, and a shocking surprise ending that you won’t see coming and you’ve got yourself a story that’s sure to be a winner.” – Gord Rollo – author of VALLEY OF THE SCARECROW

“Steve Vernon was born to write. He’s the real deal and we’re lucky to have him.” – Richard Chizmar

What are you waiting for? Order a copy today.

“This novelette reads like a bottle of very cold beer – goes down smooth and fast with very little after-burpage!” – The Hanson Brothers

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Sunday morning, coming down…

There is a story that Johnny Cash used to tell about how Kris Kristofferson landed on his front lawn one Sunday morning with a song that Johnny “Just had to sing”.

The song was Sunday Morning Coming Down.

Give a listen, if you’d like!

Sometimes, that’s just how ideas hit you. They’ll land on your front lawn or beat on your door whistle down your chimney pipe.

Other times you have to root for them. You have to turn over stones and hunt through a gravel-floored basement or ramble through a dusty attic dream.

Times like today I am surrounded by ideas. I feel a little like Custer at the Little Big Horn – where the heck did all those ideas come from and which one do I shoot first?

I’ve just finished a third retightening of a manuscript for an upcoming collection – the third in about three weeks. The head editor passed it to me all marked up. I corrected it. Then it was handed to another editor who handed it back all marked up. I corrected that too. Then, two days, I got it back for a third time with a few more marks in it. I corrected those yesterday and this morning and fired it right back.

A lot of you folks out there are already beginning to tap out comments that will read something – “That rotten-eyed horse-wallow of an editor. How dare they criticize your work so much. Don’t they realize what a nice guy you are? Don’t they realize just how hard you work at this gig?”

And then there is some of you folks who want to tell me – “See, that is why you should self-publish everything as an e-book. Get the hell out of traditional publishing, Vernon. Why are you wasting your time and energy writing for somebody other than just yourself?”

And then there’s a few of you who are reading this and thinking to yourself – “I wonder what Lady Gaga is up to right about now?”

The point is, though, I still enjoy writing for the traditional publishing market. My regional books reach out to people who wouldn’t necessarily pick up an e-book – asuming that one can actually pick up something that exists strictly on a digital level.

And I don’t mind all of this extra edit-work. The fact is, this book really needs all of that extra painstaking effort. The book I’m working on isn’t my usual collection of ghost stories. This new book – as some of you already know – is a collection of historical maritime murder mysteries. There is a lot of fact and detail and circumstance that can easily get all futzed up by a careless writer – and I can sometimes be just that.

The fact is, we all can be careless writers. Nobody gets all of the details perfect. Nobody’s grammar is impeccable – it ain’t I tell you. Nobody spels everythin perfectly and typos do happen at the most inconvenient and unexpected occasions!

So I welcome the editor’s inquistion. Tie me to the rack and flail me with a cat o’ nine tails drenched in vinegar and lemon juice. Hold them heated irons to my heels and flay me inch by inch – all the while whispering with garlic, raw onions, sardines and Stilton cheese-riddled breath – “Who’s your daddy, writer-boy?”

I want to give that to you. I want to cut that into the heart of your muse and let her tattoo it in your nostrils so that you breathe that idea into somewhere deep within your essence.

“Do not fear the editor”.

Soak that up, would you? Don’t get all dog-locked on the notion that your words are precious as diamond-encrusted snowflakes.

Fact is, I just revised that last image – changing the initial “diamond-crusted snowflakes” to “diamond-encrusted snowflakes”.

Fact is, we all could use a little revision in our words. 

Fact is, your editor and your publisher are your very first clients – and you damn well better know how to keep them happy.

This is business and you got to please the paying customers.

Amen, and gesundheit!


Now, a few words on the great e-book experiment.

Last week’s “free-lease” of my novelette SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME has met with mixed results.

We moved about 500 or so free copies – which sounds like a lot, but in the world of the “free-book” you want to hit numbers in the thousands before you can get yourself up into that fleetingly visible top 100 bestselling zone.

As most of you know, that’s what the whole idea of a giveaway is. You want to give away enough free e-books to bump your Kindle rank up into the top 100. You don’t stay there for very long, but the idea is that you stay long enough so that people notice that your book exists. That’s what it all comes down to. You see, there is a great abundance of e-books out there, with more being released every day.

To sell books you need to make certain that readers know you are there.

Let me take you back to the days of the Depression. The days when workers would line-up at the worksites looking for day labor in the fields or the fruit trucks. The foreman would come down to the edge of the mob of hungry people and choose out a dozen or so workers – however many he needed that day. Those few got work, which meant they got paid, which meant that eventually they would eat.

A lot of times that work went to the big fellows. The tall boys who just plain stood out from the crowd or else could push their way close enough to foreman to be noticed just long enough to be hired.

For that day.

That’s where your average e-book author finds himself. Standing in a crowd behind a line of big tall fellows, trying hard to be noticed.

Fellow needs himself a trampoline or else a pair of stilts.

So, to get back to my original subject – has the “free-lease” of my two e-books – BAD VALENTINES and SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME been a success?

I don’t know yet.

One thing it has done is produced a brief but solid review at the Amazon listing of SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME.

A lady from Tennessee who picked up a copy of Sudden Death Overtime had this to say –

“Steve Vernon’s ability to weave a story with a flow that is virtually flawless is a testament to how good a storyteller he is. I loved the characters and their personable dialogue and was able to plant myself easily in Labrador.”

She said more but you’d have to click that cover photo to read the rest over at Amazon. For myself, I feel that if I can transplant a Tennessee resident to the Labrador shore than I have done my storytelling duty.

Reviews – good reviews – can work as a pair of stilts. Or, perhaps more aptly, a good review is the equivalent of having somebody wave a sign with a picture of your novel over the heads of all of them big tall fellows.

Either way – you get enough of those good solid reviews and a few more of those readers can see you over the crowd.

Even less-than-flattering reviews can work for a writer. Take a look at what Amanda McNeil has to say about my horror/historical DEVIL TREE in her WordPress review blog OPINIONS OF A WOLF!

Not everything she says is glowing and wonderful, but she does have a lot of good things to say about the book. She’s painted a fine sign and by posting it on her blog she is doing a reviewer’s duty of waving that sign above the crowd. In turn, I will post notices of that review – which works in a similar fashion. Now I will wave a sign pointing to her blog – which will in turn increase her visibility.

Maybe that is all that the internet is slowly becoming. A bunch of people waving signs saying “Look at me!” or “Look at me looking at him/her!”


All of this talk of sign waving brings me to the Halifax bus strike. We are about a month into this strike and people are beginning to adapt. I had some trouble on Friday morning, walking two and half miles in heavy old winter boots, rather than the walking shoes I have been getting by with – but other than that I am adapting nicely. So is everyone else.

People are being hurt by this situation, however. There is a whole lot less casual shopping these days. People who might normally ride a bus to a mall or a boutique are staying home. People who have cars find themselves spending more on parking and such. The city has stepped up it’s traffic patrol and is handing out more tickets than ever – which makes for a whole lot less expendable income for walkers and drivers alike.

There have been some pretty stupid moves on both sides of the fence. I won’t bother going into all of the bad decisions that Peter Kelly has made for himself – and, even though he isn’t the only one on the management side of things he is the figurehead for the opposition.

On the other hand, the union has made a few bonehead plays as well. Starting with that Valentines Day march with everybody waving and dancing and happy at the thought of third party arbitration. A big display like that is bound to set off alarm bells in anyone you are trying to strike a deal with.

Let’s break it down, shall we? You and I are trying to reach an agreement. I suggest the possibility of arbitration to settle our dispute. Then, while you are standing there and still considering whether or not you are going to agree to my proposal, I start a one-man Snoopy dance of joy and happiness upon your front lawn. Before too long you will start to wonder just why I am so happy and what do I think I am going to get out of this agreement – and if I dance too hard and too happily you are definitely going to reconsider agreeing with arbitration.

That’s what happened, in my opinion. Council looked out and saw all of those happy dancing bus drivers and decided they didn’t want to run the risk of giving them even more reason to celebrate. Basically, the union forgot the principal rule in negotiation – always maintain your poker face. So now they are stuck with those silly heart covered t-shirts and signs – and we are heading towards St. Patrick’s Day and the transit union is still waving Valentines.

Not to mention the decision to announce that they were going to STOP the access-a-bus. Which, in effect, is saying that we are going to picket seniors and the disabled – which is who the access-a-bus serves. Even though the union hastily back-tracked and said that all they meant was they were going to delay the access-a-bus, not stop it – the announcement still, in my opinion, made them look both silly and hard-hearted.

These are all my theories. Doesn’t change a thing about the reality that both of these sides are dog-locked in a perpetual state of disagreement and it doesn’t look like they are going to solve their disagreements any time too soon.

Maybe somebody ought to send for an editor…

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon