Tag Archives: Kindle Scout

DOES KINDLE SCOUT SUCK???

It is Sunday and I’ve got the day off and I intend to do some writing.

But first, let’s talk about Kindle Scout. A lot of people ask me – IS KINDLE SCOUT WORTH IT?

Well, mileage can vary, like they say in the commercials.

My book, KELPIE DREAMS, (available in audiobook later this month), won Kindle Scout back in May 2016. I got a big fat $1500 US advance, which translated to about $2000.00 up here in Canada. That’s a lot of money for this old boy. I paid some bills and even a few frills for my wife. As a direct result my local publisher matched that Kindle Scout advance on my latest regional book.

So that’s definitely worth it.

The only problem is I haven’t managed to sell off that advance yet. I have sold about a 1000 copies of KELPIE DREAMS and am still about $275.00 worth of sales away from turning this into a paying proposition.

So – Kindle Scout sucks, right?

Wrong.

I suck. Not in an oh-heck-I-might-as-well-jump-off-an-asteroid sort of suck. No, no I am talking about a whole different level of suckitude. I have had a rough couple of years losing family and dealing with other personal crisis and my fighting instincts have been dulled down a bit. So I suck. Some of you folk will want to tell me not be so hard on myself, but I don’t blame myself for this level of suckitude that I have unexpectedly acquired. I own it, I accept it and I am taking steps to rise above it. Sitting around and grumbling about the ineptitude of the folks at Kindle Scout would not serve me one little bit – so I will take on that suckitude and conquer it.

Kindle Scout works for some folks.

Let’s take Tom Swyers for example. His book, THE KILDEER CONNECTION, was released in August of 2017 and has sold over 5000 freaking copies.

Is KILDEER a BETTER book than KELPIE? Heck no, but what is true is that Tom Swyers has promoted his release in a heck of a lot more ways than I had ever thought of. Better than that, his KILDEER is #2 in a series, so a significant portion of those 5000 readers who bought a copy of KILDEER have read it and enjoyed it and have gone on to buy a copy of Tom’s first book, SAVING BABE RUTH.

Tom Swyers took what Kindle Scout gave him and made it work.

So – is Kindle Scout worth it?

You bet your sweet patootie it is worth it – but you ought to give some serious thought about what comes next. Be ready for that next move. Have your paperback version ready to hit print in a week or two after the e-book release. Have your promotional material all ready to roll. Have your guest blogs pre-written. Have your Twitter feed all HootSuited up – (or whatever freaking gadget/app/thing-a-ma-bob that you use). Get busy thinking about the next book and your next campaign.

Be ready to work at it.

As for me, I know what I need to do. I am working on that new local book for my traditional publisher. I aim to have it submitted in the next couple of weeks. I have a deadline and I am cooking.

Then I need to get busy working on my next book. I need to get back on my writing machine and start boogying. Enough of wallowing in my own personal funk.

I am NEVER going to blame the folks at Kindle Scout for my own personal suckitude. The fact is, I have worked with at least TWO of the suckiest small press publishers on the planet, over my forty years of pounding keyboards into money and BOTH of those sucky small press so-called-publishers have gone the way of the do-do, meaning that they are done-done!

So I am NOT even going to mention their names, because they are dead and gone – but the point is – I HAVE SEEN THE BEAST OF SUCKITUDE – and Kindle Scout (or Kindle Press) does NOT look a ding-dong-thing like either of them.

So YES – Kindle Scout can work, just so long as you are ready to work too. Be prepared to promote your release and be prepared to follow up your new release with a brand-freaking-new release and don’t just sit there in the funk of your office chair moaning and wondering when Kindle Scout is going to send you some brand new money.

Speaking of money – I still owe about $275.00 on my KELPIE DREAMS advance.

The good news is that KELPIE DREAMS is currently on sale from this Sunday to next Sunday (February 4 to February 11) for 99 cents.

SO – if I can only manage to sell 300 copies of KELPIE DREAMS over the next week I will burn that last bit of advance down to the ground and my book will become a paying proposition!

So please, if you can find the time, pick up a copy of my book for 99 measly cents. If you already have bought a copy, thank you very much, and could you PLEASE shout it out somewhere. On Facebook, on Twitter, even write it on the walls of your washroom at work.

As for me, I’m going to keep on writing.

I am getting down off of the soapbox now.

End of sermon.

 

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

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“Quirky, strange, weird, bizarre and filled with humor” – BookDragon Nin

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How To Promote a Kindle Release

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In case you haven’t seen this cover enough…

Back in the spring of 2016 my novel KELPIE DREAMS was fortunate enough to be selected for Kindle Press, thanks to a successful Kindle Scout campaign. I have talked about this at length throughout my blog but now I need to talk to you folks about the ways that a writer such as myself can promote their Kindle Press release. In fact, this is going to give ALL of you indie authors out there some ideas on how to promote any sort of a Kindle e-book release, so there is something here for everybody.

Let’s start by explaining how the steps work here. When you enter an unpublished manuscript into a Kindle Scout campaign you are given thirty days to jump up and down on the internet, trying to attract some fresh hungry readers to come and take a look at your Kindle Scout campaign page and hopefully NOMINATE your book. Then, at the end of thirty days, if you have attracted enough nominations – AND (and this is WAY more important than the nomination process) if you have written a book that Kindle Scout deems salable, then you are selected for publication.

That’s what happened to me. I got enough nominations and wrote a good enough book that I was awarded a $1500.00 advance and a publication deal with Kindle Press.

Kindle Press is the publishing arm of Kindle Scout.

So, in May 2016, my book KELPIE DREAMS was published by Kindle Press and I began trying to pay back my advance. That’s the hitch, you understand. You have to sell enough books to pay that $1500 back before you can begin receiving royalty checks in your bank account.

Which kind of sucks – but hey, I am used to this. I was a traditional writer back before I became an indie writer, and actually I still publish traditionally, which makes me a HYBRID writer.

Personally, I have always felt that the term “hybrid” sounds a little bit more like some sort of supernaturally nutritional loaf of bread that you have to know the secret password to purchase at shady midnight health food bars – but I haven’t had enough coffee yet this morning to think straight – so what do I know?

Well, selling the first $1000.00 bucks worth of books turned out to be easy. The first few weeks all of the power and muscle of the Kindle Press promotional team was placed squarely behind my release, but as I squeaked past that thousand dollar point things began to peter out.

Now I can hear some of you folks out there saying “AHA!” and “I KNEW IT!”. I can hear your “This is all a freaking conspiracy!” bells going off and I can hear other folks coughing loudly into their palms and saying “SCAM!” like they were trying to scare a cat off – but it isn’t so.

The fact is, I know of quite a few Kindle Press writers who paid off their advance VERY quickly – some in the first two or three days. So this isn’t a scam and this isn’t the way that it always plays out. I just didn’t push hard enough during those first couple of sales weeks.

So – what can you do about this sort of a situation?

Well, back in January I was notified by the folks at Kindle Press that they were about to launch my book into a huge BOOK FOR A BUCK promotion. Meaning that KELPIE DREAMS, along with 99 other Kindle books, were going to marked down to a dollar for the entire month of February.

Now was the time to get out there and promote. Only problem was, I fell down with a case of Noro-Virus just as sick as I could get and I missed out on getting some of my promotional spots lined up.

I’m better now and I’ve been promoting all February long, as best as I could manage to.

The only problem is, I am on the Bataan Death March of a fiscal budget. I am so broke that all of the Krazy Glue and duct tape in the universe could not put my bank balance back together, so I could not afford some of the ritzier book promotional services.

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Hands-on promotion technique

Here’s what I did.

For starters I weeded through TWO book promotion lists, looking for the cheap and the free.

(and doesn’t that sound like a kickass name for a spaghetti western – THE CHEAP AND THE FREE?)

I checked out Kindlepreneur’s list of 127 Best Book Promotion sites as well as this big fat list.

I found 18 services who offered a CHANCE at free promotion – Awesome Gangs, Pretty Hot.com, Discount Bookman, Book Pinning, Bookzio, Daily Cheap Reads, ebookasaurus, Book Circle, Free Book Listings, eBook Listen, Book Bongo, readper, Bargain Booksy, Indie Book of the Day, Ebook Booster, Reading Deals, Bookscream, Armadillo ebooks, eBookSoda, Book Pebble and eBookSkill.

Now, the thing to remember is when you sign up for FREE promotion, you are making a bet that those services MIGHT just have enough room to fit you in “pro bono” and MIGHT just think your book is salable enough that they will get behind you and promote it. They do make a bit of money through their Amazon Affiliate Connection, but it isn’t a lot. They REALLY make money by having authors PAY them to promote their books. So, if you have the money, I recommend actually spending a bit of it on promotion – but I’m broke right now, so I don’t.

The other problem is that you don’t always hear about when your book is being promoted by any of these free services – IF they promote it at all.

I was helped out by Awesome Gang, BookScream, and readper for free.

Actually, my readper promotion just went live today. The company is being set up by indie author, Jaxon Reed, and you really might want to get in on the bottom floor of this promotional service. I have been VERY impressed with his service so far.

In addition, I have taken part in several multi-author cross-promotions during the month of February, one of which got me up to the 12250 Amazon ranking, which is an all-time high for this month, so far.

Thanks, Roz Marshall!

For those folks who are wondering, a multi-author cross-promotion happens when a group of authors get together and set up a master-page with one or two of each of their sales books listed at a bargain price, and then they promote that master-page through each of their personal fan newsletters. It can work out really well if you have a good book with a good cover and get yourself in with a good group of authors. And, best of all, it is often free, although some cross-promotions ask for money, primarily so that they can offer a cool gift to folks who visit the cross-promotion, like a free Kindle or an Amazon gift certificate.

That’s something for another blog entry, though.

I also used HeadTalker and CoPromote and group Retweets to get the word out about my KELPIE DREAMS sale through Twitter. Now understand, it is a foolish game to go and try to sell your e-books on Twitter. There is just too damn much white noise and chatter. Folks tend to avoid your BUY MY BOOK tweets. But, as I said, I am broke and desperate and I have no pride what-so-ever.

Besides, I do see a little bounce from this strategy. It isn’t the best way to go about promoting your e-book, but if you are financially-challenged, it is better than nothing.

On February 15th I paid five dollars for a Book Pebble promotion, and I have to say that the pebble didn’t make too much of a splash. I’m not sure if it sold ANY copies at all.

So far, throughout the month of February I have balanced at around an Amazon ranking of 30000 to 50000, meaning that I am selling about 10 books a day. As I mentioned, at one point I was up to about 12000, which is about 15 books per day. This morning I started out at about 29000 and have moved up to 27300, which is about 11 books per day so far.

(for those folks who are wondering just WHERE I am pulling these numbers out, I use the Kindlepreneur Calculator, which gives me a rough estimate of how many books I need to sell in a day to hit a certain ranking. It isn’t accurate, but it seems to be pretty close to the mark.

Today, as I mentioned, my readper promotion is going live and my eBookSoda is also going live. So I am hoping that this one-two promotion will bump up my rankings enough that folks will begin to notice KELPIE DREAMS and maybe I will sell a few more copies.

I hope you folks will cheer me some good luck as I head towards the end of February!

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Kelpie Dreams – an excerpt

I’m very proud of KELPIE DREAMS. I wrote this novel with the intention of aiming it directly at Kindle Press – and, thanks to a arduous thirty day Kindle Scout campaign I actually managed to have KELPIE DREAMS selected as a new release for Kindle Press.

That meant a $1500 advance – which came in awfully handy, even though I have already burned it up on paying the bills. It also meant a professional editing of the manuscript – and how was I supposed to know that there was such a thing as a m-dash?

🙂

Well, KELPIE DREAMS has been up for pre-order for the last week or so and on May 10, 2016 the e-book will go live on Kindle and folks will be able to pick it up whenever they want to. If you happen to be a member of Kindle Unlimited you can even read the book for free. In fact, you can read most of my books for free that way these days, as I have put almost all of my e-books into Kindle Select.

Well – enough jibber-jabber. I’d like to take a moment here to share the first chapter with you folks. I hope that you enjoy KELPIE DREAMS.

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Chapter One—The Color of Mourning

I only wanted to say good-bye. Do you know what I mean by that? I sure don’t. A woman’s last thoughts on this earth really ought to mean something deep and profound, but for some mysterious and inexplicable reason, at this moment all I could really think of was the memory of my mother.

I know what you are thinking. You are saying to yourself that it is only natural to think about the woman who brought you into this world at the moment when you are getting prepared to step out of this world. Well, listen—you have to understand that my mother is one of the strangest human beings whom I have ever had the pleasure—as well as the undeniable displeasure—of knowing and sometimes not knowing. My mother always told me that my middle name should have been Hemorrhoid—partly because that was the only true gift that she ever remembers me giving her during my nine months of slowly getting around to being born—but mostly because, as she put it, I was the world’s greatest pain in the butt.

“Hemorrhoid isn’t really any kind of a name,” the delivery doctor had argued with my mother, after she had quietly confided her choice of a name for her firstborn child to approximately half of the hospital’s five and a half floors’ worth of patients and staff in one long lungful of a screaming shout: “Jesus dying nail-palmed Christ almighty, Margaret Hemorrhoid Sally Anne Macbeth—will you just hurry the Hell up and get born!”

“Hemorrhoid really isn’t a name at all,” the delivery doctor told her. “It is more along the lines of a somewhat irritating medical manifestation.”

“I have an Aunt Hermione,” my mother tartly informed the delivery doctor. “That’s close enough to Hemorrhoid, isn’t it?”

Jazz hands, Mom, big-time jazz hands.

“I want to name the child Hemorrhoid,” my mother insisted. “I have the right to, if I want to do so.”

And yes, indeed—that was most definitely the single biggest jazz hands, hallelujah, and please-pass–the caramel-coated-popcorn moment in my entire lifetime.

Thank God and all the saints in heaven that my mother was a stubborn and staunch Catholic and that the attending priest that she had insisted upon being present for the delivery somehow managed to talk my mother out of naming me Hemorrhoid about ten minutes before the final push. I think that his argument might have involved a threat of excommunication and quite possibly her being unfriended and permanently blocked from the Vatican’s Facebook page.

All right – so I lied about that last part. Facebook hadn’t been invented back when that priest was arguing with my mother over my name – still, however he managed to convince her to change her mind, I am eternally grateful to the attending priest. I mean, just think about it. Can you actually imagine spending your entire lifetime constantly spell-checking your own first name? Go ahead—just try to close your eyes and spell h-e-m-o-r-r-h-o-i-d without having to resort to a discreet peek at a medical dictionary. I dare you.

God bless spell-check.

***

I am not quite sure just exactly why I was thinking about my mother’s peculiar choice in birth names at this particular point in time. It wasn’t like I had lost my mother. I knew exactly where I left her, even though she was certain in her mind that she wasn’t really there, where I had left her, at all.

So where was she?

Depending upon the direction of the wind, she was standing somewhere between forty and sixty years ago in her mind. Either way, she was a whole lot younger and a whole lot prettier and was waiting for my Dad to come home from the war.

Which war, you ask? Well, any war, actually. You just name it. Depending upon the day of the week my mother would tell you that she was waiting for my dad to come home from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or even that little British brew-up in the Falklands. Mind you, my father had never actually served in any of these particular wars. He hadn’t even been a member of the Canadian Armed Forces or any armed forces at all—unless you count the fact that he filled two sleeves in every dress shirt that he ever wore—but he was not a member of any actual army that I have ever heard of.

My mother made up that tiny little itty-bitty detail as well. She has always been a bit of a fabulist—which is a high-faluting, froufrou way of saying that she was a stone-cold, natural liar on any given day of the week—and her deteriorating mental situation at this point was giving way to that whole magnificent stretch-the-truth tendency of hers.

The mind is a wonderfully talented origamist that way. Whenever it wants to it can fold reality into any number of possible permutations and combinations. I do not know everything that there is to know in this life, but I do know this: dementia is God’s greatest practical joke on anyone who has ever meant to get around to sitting down someday and finally, once and for all, writing her own life story down for posterity.

Any publicity rep will tell you—never buy into your own PR.

Now I can hear you thinking that dementia is actually not something to be joked about, but I learned a very long time ago that it was better to laugh about something that you cannot do anything about, rather than breaking down and crying. In fact, when it comes right down to it, tears are nothing more than slow, wet giggles running snail tracks down your cheekbones.

So what was I really waiting for?

I stood on the side of the Lunenburg highway, close to Blue Cove and what the locals refer to as the Lonely Point Lighthouse. The wind was calm and the morning was clear and I could see the distant lighthouse that had given the area its name in the first place.

The lighthouse was actually not on a point but rather a lonely little spit of an island situated just beyond the cove. I believe that at one point the island might actually have been connected to the shore by a thin stretch of low-rising land, but the vagaries of the tidal shift had gradually erased all memories of the earthen connection.

I stood there alone, bathed in the early morning light of a Nova Scotia morning and holding a white-painted wooden picket-cross gently in my left hand, while leaning upon the handle of a slightly rusted garden spade. I know, you are wondering to yourself just what exactly a picket-cross is. Well, it is a cross made out of two wooden fence pickets that I kicked out of my garden fence.

Are you satisfied now?

I probably looked just a little bit like Bram Stoker’s old vampire-hunter, Abraham Van Helsing, in drag or possibly some sort of a strange roadside born-again penitent reverend mother in a tropical print polyester windbreaker and a pair of tangerine dress slacks. I wondered yet again if I shouldn’t have worn black. Black was the color of mourning, wasn’t it? No, not black.

Black was definitely not the color of mourning. Black was a color that was worn by international spies and by people who did not happen to suffer from the lingering embarrassment of dandruff. Black was worn by old school nuns and by Anglican ministers and by the occasional chain-smoking neo-bohemian performance poet.

As far as I was concerned, the color of mourning was neon yellow. You don’t believe me? Just give me a minute and I swear to you that I’ll convert you over from black to yellow thinking. Besides, Abraham Van Helsing was supposed to be a heroic figure, unless maybe you counted Anthony Hopkins’s rather dubious portrayal of the fearless, overeating, flatulent vampire hunter in Francis Ford Coppola’s overrated 1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula—and who in her right mind would want to count that?

Don’t listen to the critics. Critics know nothing. Let me just gather my thoughts for a moment, if I might. That might take me just a little bit of doing, kind of like the sort of doing that it would take to sit down and reorganize a yarn ball factory after a large herd of giant kittens had rambled their way through the back stockroom of yarn balls. What was I really doing? I must be freaking crazy. What on earth was I doing out here? I looked again at the wooden picket-cross that I was holding.

I was pretty proud of that picket-cross. I had managed only to bend one single, solitary, ten penny Dollar Store nail and to bang my thumb only twice hammering those fence pickets together. If you did not count the splinters in the heel of my left hand and the toe that I had stubbed when I had kicked those pickets from out of my garden fence, you would almost swear that I actually knew what I was doing.

I wish I knew what I was doing. I looked down at what I had written upon the face of the picket-cross. HAMILTON ARTHUR MACBETH. The name was neatly written in a black indelible marker that I had also purchased at the Dollar Store. I sometimes think that a person can satisfy the logistic demands of her entire lifetime with one concentrated shopping spree at a good-size, well-stocked Dollar Store.

As I said, I was proud of that picket-cross. I hadn’t even misspelled my son’s name. That would have been a terrible sin, now wouldn’t it? Misspelling your own dead son’s name? Now that would have been bad form, indeed.

“Now why in the world did you want to name him after a city?” Mom had asked me repeatedly on the day that I gave birth to Hamilton in the Halifax IWK Grace Hospital. “And why on earth did you have to pick the name Hamilton? At the very least you could have chosen Halifax or New York or Toronto or somewhere decent. I mean, Hamilton isn’t really a city, is it?”

Jazz hands, Mom.

Big-time, Bob Fosse jazz hands.

A battered, primer-red Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser drove by slowly. A woman gawked through her fly-spattered windshield at me, as if she had never seen anyone standing on the side of the road with a homemade picket-fence crucifix in her hand before. I caught a glimpse of her wide country face sporting a set of snowplow jaws that looked as if she had chewed on bubble gum and beef jerky and cases of anabolic steroids for the last twenty-three years or so. I suppose that she could have been admiring the fit of my brand-new tangerine dress slacks and my carefully playful salmon-pink Hello Kitty T-shirt, or maybe she could somehow discern that I had actually lost ten whole pounds in the last three weeks—because grief beats the hell out of Weight Watchers.

She could have been thinking anything at all. Anything was possible when you stop and think about it.

Three weeks ago my life had almost made sense. Three weeks ago my eighteen-year-old son, Hamilton, had still been alive.

I looked out and down at the ocean below me, where Hamilton’s stolen/borrowed neon yellow Audi had smashed directly through the highway guard rail and plummeted over the cliff and down into the deep and cold Atlantic Ocean.

Why had he done it? I didn’t really know.

It was quick, they told me.

“He couldn’t have felt a thing,” the police officer who had come and knocked at my door the morning after my son passed away, had informed me. “That water in March is so cold it would have taken his breath away and stopped his heart, quicker than you could say gesundheit.”

The police officer had kept a straight face while he said it all to me, and I knew that he was just trying to be kind in his own way about a duty that he would rather someone else were doing. I wondered whether there was a workshop on delivering bad news in person that police officers had to take before they were allowed out of the police station and onto the city streets.

I wondered whether he carried a card with a printed response for a situation like this.

I wondered if that hypothetically printed card actually said, “quicker than you could say gesundheit.”

I mean, what else could you say at a time like that? Death often happened this way—quickly, like an unexpected sneeze.

I tried to put myself in his place and imagine just exactly what I would have said to me if I were him, aside from, “Thank God that it happened to you and not me.”

Hi, nice lady. My name is Officer Michael Wallace—and no, I was not actually named after the CBS 60 Minutes newscaster Mike Wallace. I have a pair of squinty blue eyes and a badge and a cracked tooth that almost makes my grin look charming if you did not count the coffee breath and that speck of unchewed lettuce stretched boldly across my yellowing left molar—and oh, by the way, your eighteen-year-old son Hamilton just stole a neon yellow Audi and took it out for a joyride and was hit with a sneezing fit when an unseasonable blackfly flew directly up his right nostril and made him sneeze just before he lost control and rolled that neon yellow Audi around that rusty angle iron of a highway corner—right before he ran that Audi down into the ocean, where he drowned.

But hey—it was quick. “Gesundheit,” I said. I am laughing. I am crying. You can do both of those things if you really want to—or even if you don’t want to. It is a kind of a black and yellow sort of way of doing things. You can call it a study in contrasts, if you will. Sometimes, you can laugh and cry at the very same time, and it is a good thing and it is a bad thing and it is nothing at all.

Of course, any other time the act of laughing and crying at the very same time is not so good a habit to fall into. It tends to confuse the unwary, the young, and the unlearned audience.

A gray-winged herring gull sitting upon a weathered pine stump turned and looked directly at me. He was probably wondering whether I was speaking to him. He might even have been trying to figure out whether he had somehow sneezed without knowing it, thus causing me to say “Gesundheit,” as I had said. He might even have been worried that he was possibly catching a cold and that he ought to stock up on his vitamin C and echinacea.

Or maybe I was just making the whole thing up.

I made my way slowly down the rocky hill, carefully carrying my wooden picket-cross and the spade that I had brought for digging. I felt a little bit like some sort of a one-woman protest march or possibly even a solo wildcat strike aimed directly at the Atlantic Ocean.

Way to go, Norma Rae.

Of course, if Hollywood was ever foolish enough to make a movie based upon my life, I would never have been played by Sally Fields. Sally was far too playful and too mainstream and too narrow-hipped and well-meaning to portray me accurately. Not to mention that she was too darn short. I had always been built along the lines of a tall drink of water.

No, if there were ever to be a movie made out of my life, it would most likely have turned out to be a modestly budgeted, made-for-television movie, and my part would most likely be played by Mariska Hargitay from the tenth season of Law and Order.

Yes, Mariska certainly possessed that necessary somber, thick-haired, exotic gravitas that I always felt I should have possessed in another lifetime or so. Of course, I could have also been played by a Bette Davis or possibly even a pre-Munsters Yvonne De Carlo, although both of them were too darn short.

I wasn’t really all that fussy, come to think of it.

And how did you like that choice of words, anyway?

Gravitas.

I always did like that word. Gravitas. It sounded to me like something that you would take for an upset stomach or maybe even a case of sea sickness, which was an apt thought, given that I was getting ready to walk into the ocean.

I looked about me at the rocks and the water. I could hear the sound of seagulls calling out in that screaming happy sob of a song. I could hear the waves rolling and slapping upon the rocks. I could smell the ocean waiting patiently below for my grand entrance. I am ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

And don’t you dare tell me that I am misquoting because anyone can quote something that somebody else already said. It takes style to misquote something in your very own way.

I think somebody else said that before, but don’t quote me on it.

The rocks were slick from the morning damp and the churning waves that rolled and tossed below me. There were clumps of blue-eyed grass and thickets of alder shooting up among the scatter of coastal bric-a-brac. The supple early-spring branches of the alder bushes already bore the small, fluffy catkins that would eventually fall away and grow into buds that would mature into more branches and more leaves and more simpleminded hopefulness. There was order here, amid the apparent chaos. Nature always knew what the hell she was doing.

I wish that I knew what I was doing. What in the name of blue blazing hell was I really doing? It wasn’t as if anyone were really going to get so much as a lousy stinking chance to see this stupid little homemade, rinky-dink, white-painted Red Green picket-cross all the way down here, hidden by the rocks and the waves.

It wasn’t like anyone who actually did somehow manage to see the picket-cross would actually know what the picket-cross was supposed to symbolize in my heart of hearts—and really, how many hearts can one person have?

I wasn’t even sure what the picket-cross—built out of those two white-painted pickets that I had kicked out of my bungalow’s garden fence—was supposed to symbolize. It’s not like I was even all that Christian of a person. I don’t go to church—not even at Easter. I have always believed that Sunday mornings were better spent sipping on a tasteful ceramic bucket of hot, black coffee and gnawing tastefully upon a box of chocolates approximately the size of an economy-class aircraft carrier, nose-deep in my Kindle, most likely reading a fat, spicy romance.

That was just the kind of a person I was. I wasn’t holy. I wasn’t heroic. I was just myself. About the only remarkable thing about me was my name—Lady Cordelia Macbeth.

Yes, I actually do go by my second name, Cordelia. I prefer to be called Dee, but it actually does still say Lady Cordelia Macbeth on my birth certificate and my driver’s license and on my Dalhousie University Master of Library Science degree. With honors.

The name was given to me by my very own mother, who had really wanted to name me Margaret Hemorrhoid Sally Anne Macbeth until, as I already told you, the attending priest had talked her out of it. The name had been her idea, though. Three weeks before going into labor she had spent one entire evening reading three Coles Notes abridgements of Macbeth, Romeo and Juliette, and All’s Well That Ends Well as part of a summer self-improvement plan that she had read about in the pages of a Cosmopolitan magazine. She had actually intended to read four of Shakespeare’s plays, but apparently she had fallen asleep halfway through A Midsummer Night’s Dream—and who could really blame her?

You see, my mother had a theory.

“If I read each of these books aloud during the run of my pregnancy,” my mother had told anyone who cared to listen, “my child will grow up to have an IQ of 365, one point for every day of the year, give or take the occasional leap year. God has given me the gift of a blessed pregnancy, and he has ebbed the flow of my menstrual tide and allowed my egg to seed and flourish, and in return I am going to give the good Lord a son who will grow up to one day become the president of Mensa.”

That’s right. My mother actually wanted to have a son. That was not all that unusual, I suppose. What was truly unusual was the way she constantly reminded me of that fact throughout my first twenty years upon this earth.

The way I figured it, my Mom was born with a permanent case of penis envy, and she was determined to pass that condition down to me as some sort of what-the-freak legacy of my continuingly embarrassing existence.

“Fine,” she said to the attending priest. “If I cannot name my daughter Hemorrhoid, then I will name her Lady Macbeth. Lady is a perfectly good name, isn’t it? I had a dog named Lady once, and she was perfectly fine until a Mary-Kay-pink Winnebago motor home ran her over. And my husband’s last name is Macbeth, so how can that be wrong? That is almost positively biblical, now, isn’t it?”

Sure, Mom. Lady and Macbeth. Walt Disney and William Shakespeare. Big-time, old-school, Al Jolson jazz hands.

It was an absolutely perfect name for a child destined to be picked on and left out and teased mercilessly for the first twelve years of her education.

My father, who had grown up bearing the last name Macbeth and the first name Dane, knew all too well just how often other people would make fun of such a name, had insisted upon adding the name Cordelia to the mix.

Way to stick up for your only daughter, Dad.

“If you have to name her after your dead pet dog and that damnable play,” my father said to my mother, “at the very least, let me name her after my favorite great-aunt.”

“Do you mean that great-aunt of yours who smells vaguely of elderberry tea?” Mom apparently replied. “What kind of a name is that for a man’s daughter?”

You see what she did there, didn’t you? I wasn’t her daughter. I was his daughter. Not that it really mattered. You see, my mother never really cared to listen all that closely to anything that my father had to say.

“You are afraid of life,” Mom often told my father. “I don’t know what I did to deserve a husband like you for all of these years.”

Even on that lonely April morning when my dad had finally had enough of my mother’s constantly bullying ways and had quietly packed a red-plaid suitcase and stood there silently in front of the two of us at the breakfast table over our morning grapefruit and slightly burned whole wheat toast and had quietly told her that he was finally leaving.

Ten minutes after he had closed the door behind himself and walked away, out of my life, I remember my mother turning and looking at me and calmly wondering aloud, “Gee, I wonder just where your father is going to.”

There it is—that trick that she did. That was how she always put it. He was never “her husband.” He was always “my father,” the same way that I was “his daughter.”

Even then, Mom just did not get it at all. Her husband walked out of her life over grapefruit and burned toast, and she simply could not fathom the idea that it might actually have meant something.

Remember what I said about origami and the mind?

As for me, I remember sitting there wearing on my face what I imagine was the single stupidest look that a human being has ever worn. My father’s departure had come as such a surprise that I could not believe it was truly happening. Afterward I experienced an eerie feeling of quiet disbelief—as if my father had never really gone. On some mornings as I lay in my bedroom and listened to my mother shuffling the dishes out of the dishwasher and into the cupboard, I remember feeling as if I had never actually had a father, as if he had never even existed in the first place, like he was some kind of a weird oedipal figment of my overly active and overly educated imagination.

I felt that same way when that young police officer told me that my son, Hamilton, had been killed in that stupid neon yellow Audi. I had been shocked and stunned as if someone had thrown a bucket full of ice water squarely in my face.

I had felt that very same ice-water splash at the church and at the funeral and at the cemetery and over the last three weeks as I had sat on my couch staring at reruns of Judge Judy, Doctor Phil, and Sesame Street, while eating cheap dark chocolate and peanut butter sandwiches by the plateful, all washed down with several tall glasses of cold grape Kool-Aid after the box of red wine had run out.

Who said that daytime television isn’t good for your health? And how in the hell had I managed to lose ten pounds on a diet like that? And then just last night I had awoken from one final dream of splashing cold water, and I had got up from my bed, and I had walked out into the backyard, feeling as if I were sleepwalking while still wide awake.

Then I had stared up at that moon looking down at me, and I had felt something pulling at my heart’s blood. I had deliberately walked into my backyard and over to the garden fence in my pink silk nightgown, and I had kicked two wooden pickets from the fence, stubbing three of my toes and tearing one of my toenails down to the quick and ruining a perfectly good pair of fuzzy pink bunny slippers.

Don’t judge me—or my fuzzy pink bunny slippers. The fuzzy pink bunny slippers had been a gift from one of my students—one of the few honest perks of being a high school librarian. I didn’t get too many apples, and I only ever got one single “World’s Best Librarian” coffee mug, and I got way too many excuses for students not having returned certain books, not to mention the jam-stained and grape-pop-smeared pages of way too many pulpy new adult novels—but I did get a pair of fuzzy pink bunny slippers.

You have got to learn to count your blessings.

I returned to my kitchen, and I fumbled through the kitchen drawers until I found my claw hammer and a jar of ten-penny nails that I had purchased at the Dollar Store, and then I had banged this pathetic picket-fence cross together on my dining room table leaving a dent in the pine wood tabletop that would most likely never heal, and at that exact moment, standing there in the dining room beside the wooden chair that my son would never sit on again, I knew—without really knowing at all—what I was about to do. I knew exactly what I needed to do to wake myself up from out of the walking-dead stupor that I had fallen into since hearing of the death of my only son.

So I had driven out here, and now I stood here in the early morning light of a Lunenburg Lonely Lighthouse Point dawn. Just try to say that five times fast with a mouthful of dry salted popcorn.

I carefully stepped down the hillside, looking for what I believed to be the perfect spot to place my homemade wooden picket cross.

I could see the lighthouse looming in the distant morning haze looking for all the world like a giant up-yours gesture to the waves that crashed upon the beach. I could see what looked to me to be a horse standing calmly beside the lighthouse, so I guess someone actually did live in that lighthouse, which was strange, given that nowadays most of the lighthouses along the Nova Scotia coastline were either automated or simply abandoned.

I was watching the hillside and looking for the proper spot, rather than looking exactly where I was placing my feet.

Which was right before I fell.

The flattened rock that I had just placed my foot upon skidded out from beneath the sole of my sneaker, and then I slid, and I skidded some more, and the skid turned into a tumble, and I tried to catch my footing, and instead of catching my footing I wound up performing a sort of unintentional drunken triple cartwheel down into the Atlantic Ocean.

I am certain that if anyone had been watching, it would have looked as if I had deliberately flung myself down into the water.

I could see the headlines even now.

Bereaved Librarian Mother Clumsily Flings Herself Down into the Atlantic Ocean in a Fit of Stupid Sorrow, Thoughtfully Carrying Along Her Very Own Homemade Picket-Cross Although Neglecting to Leave Behind a Last Will and Testament.

Film at eleven.

Fortunately I had my mouth closed when I hit the water, but then I screamed, and as a result I spoiled that one single bit of good luck. I swallowed about a half of a bathtub full of cold ocean brine.

“Help!” I choked out.

Stupid. Who did I think was actually going to hear me? The lighthouse keeper? The sea gulls? The dirt?

I stood up out of the water. I was dripping wet. I was going to catch myself a cold if I did not quickly finish what I was doing, so I looked around until I found a good spot, safely sheltered from the reach of the tide.

I studied that spot for a few moments. I wanted it to be perfect. This was the last thing that I was going to do on this earth, and I wanted it to be right.

I smiled.

I could see a make-believe memory of Hamilton lying at peace, there in that wave-kissed dirt. I could almost visualize the roll of his shoulders hidden within the granite that poked up out of the mud. I could see the tousle of his permanently comb-resistant hair in the thickets of unruly grass that were scattered in the mud. I could hear his breathing in the rolling waves.

I pushed the picket-cross down into the mud as best I could manage. I leaned my weight on it, and then, when my weight wasn’t enough, I used the flat of the garden spade like a hammer and drove the picket-cross farther down into the mud until it was seated deeply enough that I felt certain that it could not be dislodged by a casual breeze or the scuttling of a wayward hermit crab.

I raised the shovel up over my head.

I did not think it at that time, but I am pretty sure that at that moment I looked more than a little bit like Abraham Van Helsing, driving that last stake down into Mina Harker’s heart—a perfect Bram Stoker moment.

Bang!

“Damn you!” I swore unexpectedly, knocking the picket-cross down into the mud and biting off those two words like a too-hard, molar-breaking chunk of overcooked peanut brittle.

Bang!

“Damn you!” I swore again, driving the picket-cross down a little farther into the mud.

Bang!

“Damn you!” I shouted just as loudly as I could manage.

Then I leaned upon the cross.

The cross did not budge, so I guess that last shovel bang and “damn-you” had done the trick.

I would have liked to have sung a hymn, but as my mother always told me, I could not find the proper key for any song if I were a locksmith—and she was probably right.

I wept for a while, just a little bit. I’d had a lot of practice in weeping over the last three weeks. Maybe that was how I lost those ten pounds. Maybe I had shed ten pounds of tear drops, and maybe I ought to patent this method for losing weight.

I looked around one more time. What else should I do? Should I leave a good-bye note? I didn’t have so much as a single sheet of paper to write on, which was a sad state for a librarian to find herself in, but there you go, now, don’t you? I used the blade of the garden spade like a wood gouge, and I patiently carved “Farewell” into the mud.

All right, so I had intended to carve “Farewell” when I started out, but gouging the letters in the mud wasn’t nearly as easy as it sounds like it would be. So I settled for gouging out the word “Bye,” but I could not for the life of me remember if it should be spelled “By” or “Buy.”

Where the hell was spell-check when you really needed it the most?

I laid the shovel down for the next grieving mother to use. And then I turned and walked calmly out into the deep Atlantic water. This was the very last thing on earth that I was ever going to do, and I was determined to get it right.

“Goodbye,” I said, only there was no one there to hear me—or at least that was what I thought.


Well – that’s Chapter One. If you want to read more of it you’ll just have to order it over at Amazon.com.

I will eventually be putting it into paperback format and I will be selling it wherever I am signing my own books – but right now, if you want to read ANYTHING by Steve Vernon I would be most intensely grateful if you would pick up a e-book copy of KELPIE DREAMS. If you read it and like it, PLEASE leave an Amazon review. And tell your friends.

I don’t usually lay it on this thick when it comes to asking folks to buy my books – but this one really counts for a whole lot for me. I really want to work further with the folks at Kindle Press. I believe that they can do a heck of a lot for my career as an indie writer – but first off I need to sell a whole whack of copies of KELPIE DREAMS.

Help me out, would you? I don’t think that you will regret it.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

KELPIE DREAMS – Now Available For Kindle Preorder

I got home from work last night only to find a few tweets, e-mails and a couple of Facebook messages letting me know that my Kindle Scout winning novel, KELPIE DREAMS, was now available for preorder on Kindle.

I can’t tell you just how happy and excited this one makes me feel. It has been a while since I have broken such new ground as this and I am just a little flushed with excitement over the whole notion.

Folks who have been following this blog know that I have already kept a thirty day diary of my Kindle Scout Campaign – from Day 1 to Day 30 which you can read about right here!

I do intend to write a big old blog talking about my experiences between my acceptance and the release of KELPIE DREAMS – but it is not this day!

Today I have got some writing to do. I am about a week or two away from completing a manuscript for my regional publisher – one that will hopefully hit a lot of bookstores here in Nova Scotia.

Then I have already begun roughing out a Kelpie novella to follow up on KELPIE DREAMS.

I want to thank everyone here who nominated KELPIE DREAMS for Kindle Scout and I hope that you enjoy reading that novel – because, for nominating my book you have probably already received your free copy. I have already heard from one of my readers who has read and enjoyed the novel and will release her review in her blog, at Amazon and at Goodreads shortly before the book goes live.

The book will go live on May 10, 2016.

I am so darned pleased and excited.

I would be intensely grateful to anyone who sees fit to preorder KELPIE DREAMS.

kelpie

That link above is for Amazon.com.

My UK readers can preorder it through this link.

My Canadian readers can preorder it through THIS link.

And, lastly – if you happen to be a subscribing member of Kindle Unlimited you can grab this book for free.

I want to thank you folks one more time. I wouldn’t be here at all if it wasn’t for your support.

 

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

THIRTY DAYS OF KINDLE SCOUT – DAY 11

HEY GANG – Happy Valentine’s Day.

But enough about all of you folks – LET’S TALK ABOUT ME! I just hit my twelfth campaign day with eight straight days of Hot and Trending – that’s 197 hours of H&T and 745 campaign views and I am beginning to get a little bit nervous.

Which is stupid – but also human – so there you go.

A couple of days ago I mentioned the problem that some folks seemed to be having with HeadTalker. Some folks had been reporting that the views from HeadTalker were NOT showing up on Kindle Scout.

Well, at first I thought that made a lot of sense – but then I looked into it a little bit deeper. I contacted Nolan Thompson – one of the founders of HeadTalker and did a little bit of investigative reporting.

The way he explained it to me was this – Once a person’s HeadTalker campaign has ended and the message is shared, your clicks wouldn’t come from HeadTalker. They would come from the social networks that your message is shared on. Therefore, if someone clicks your short link on Facebook, they are considered Facebook traffic.

Which makes perfect sense to me. I just hadn’t thought of it that way in the first place. All I knew was that I was looking at my Kindle Scout Campaign page and it was listing all kinds of Facebook and WordPress and kboards views – but NO HeadTalker views.

My goof, totally.

Anyway, now that I have straightened all that out I just want to say THANK YOU to all of you wonderful folks who have shared and tweeted out this blog and who have nominated KELPIE DREAMS. Without all of your help I would be nothing more than some dude with way-too-much beard rattling out bad jokes upon an unread blog page.

Uncle Bob Author Shots 006_sharp

 


 

PLEASE HELP ME win a Kindle Scout publishing contract by nominating my book and you can earn a FREE Kindle copy of my newest novel KELPIE DREAMS if the book is selected.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

 

THIRTY DAYS OF KINDLE SCOUT – DAY 4

Words are nothing more than small teardrops of ink falling upon a page. Your average human will make himself a point, talking in trickles, teacups and rambling streams. A writer is doomed to spend his days pouring out his heart, just waiting to yell tsunami.

Don’t ask me who said that, on account of it was me.

Let me tell you about my Kindle Scout campaign.

I had one hour hot & trending for my first day, two hours on my second and third day and twenty-four whole straight hours on the KINDLE SCOUT HOT AND TRENDING LIST all day yesterday.

It is early days – and I realize that Hot & Trending is fleeting and doesn’t necessarily mean all that much at all but I still have to grin and yell whoopee.

It is Superbowl Sunday and I feel like I just scored the first touchdown of the day.

Superbowl


 

PLEASE HELP ME win a Kindle Scout publishing contract by nominating my book and you can earn a FREE Kindle copy of my newest novel KELPIE DREAMS if the book is selected.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Perfection is the Enemy

Perfection is the enemy.

Don’t think that you are EVER going to get a manuscript PERFECT!

It is NOT going to happen.

You will misspell. You will break tense. You will forget that your protagonist’s hair is raven black, and call it canary yellow.

Don’t sweat it.

Perfection IS the enemy!

Get your first draft finished.

Read it.

Revise it.

Get the final draft done.

Don’t freaking try to get it perfect.

Perfection IS the enemy.

Listen to your drill sergeant!

 

Drill Sergeant

I’m closing in on completing a final draft of my very next Kindle Scout campaign – KELPIE DREAMS.

Kelpie-Dreams

I get done with this one and I need to jump right into my next project, the final draft of a YA Nova Scotia ghost story novel that I want to complete for my regional publisher.

Right now, I absolutely NEED this kind of drive and motivation.

And even after 40 years of writing – this final lap still comes with difficulty.

So do not beat yourself up when you face this point yourself.

Just remember.

Perfection IS the enemy.

PERFECTION

And if I am not enough motivation for you then give a listen to this dude who REALLY knows what he is talking about!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

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