Tag Archives: Sinking Deeper

Choosing a Good Book Cover…

Your book cover is the first and BEST impression that you will give to your reader – so you need to make certain that it is a GOOD one.

Do you want to save money on book covers?

HIRE a good cover artist.

BUY a cover premade.


Don’t get your kid brother – who is a freaking whiz at staying in between the lines of his coloring book – do “whip you off a cover”.

Don’t sit down with a Youtube video and a photo of your cat, thinking to yourself that it’s EASY.
It ain’t easy.

Don’t do ANY of these things unless you are prepared to settle for a readership that consists of your wife, your dog, your mom and your other family members.

Kizzy and book 008
(hands up out there you folks who remember the great Canadian house hippo?)

Let me give you an illustration. It’s from one of my traditionally published books – but it IS available on Kobo and it DOES illustrate my theory perfectly.
Let me show you three photos of three separate cover designs my publisher Nimbus and I came up with for my YA novel SINKING DEEPER.

It might help if I told you a little bit about the novel.

This isn’t a commercial.

It only LOOKS like a commercial.)

Sinking Deeper is the story of a young boy who decides with his grandfather to invent a sea monster. Now I know that sounds pretty prosaic – but when you throw in a jailbreak, an impromptu caber toss down a moonlit midnight street, a dory sinking, a couple of musical saw interludes along with some bagpipes and a team of gum-booted dragon dancers, a troop of Boy Scout ghosts, a treatise on stamp collecting and the attempted assassination of David Suzuki you have a better idea of the range we are dealing with in this novel.

So – this was our first idea. We wanted something that said “maritime”. We wanted something that looked a little “homemade” – like the kind of a book cover that a fourteen year old boy might actually come up with. AND – we wanted to incorporate the sea serpent that I had been signing my name with whenever I autographed any of my sea-monster related books.

Sinking Deeper (second version)

Then we worked on it a bit more and we finally came up with this version.


Which offers a little bit better balance of design and a happier shade of blue. I also really liked the way that the title seemed to actually “sinking” into the ocean.
That is the cover that we went to press with and there are still copies of this out there in bookstores across the country. However, this year Sinking Deeper made the shortlist for both the Hackmatack and the Silver Birch award – which meant we moved over 3000 copies in a single month – which isn’t too shabby for a regional press.

I told the publisher we might want to look at a cover that was a little more visual and that stood out on the bookshelf a little better.

So they came up with this version – from the talented Sydney Smith.

Sinking Deeper New Cover

That’s what we have on our e-book version right now. It will hit the print run sometime this October – just in time for Halloween.

Now THAT says sea monster.

If you set the first two versions on the bookshelf in a bookstore and stood a few a feet away all that would see is a hazy blue glare. But you set this third version on the bookshelf in a bookstore and you can stand TEN FEET away and you’ll still see a freaking sea monster.

So remember – choosing a cover is VERY important. A cover is like a handshake with a prospective reader. He sees a good cover then he might actually reach into his wallet and pull out the money to BUY that book.

And that’s a good thing.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

My first piece of fan mail…

As I’ve told a lot of you folks – I’ve been fortunate enough this year to see my middle-grade novel SINKING DEEPER: OR MY QUESTIONABLE (POSSIBLY HEROIC) DECISION TO INVENT A SEA MONSTER has made the short list in both the Hackmatack and the Silver Birch Award.

Which means my book is being read by kids all across the maritimes as well as the province of Ontario.

I was VERY happy to receive my VERY first piece of fan mail for SINKING DEEPER just yesterday.


It came from a young girl named Lucy. She lives in New Brunswick and the letter was sent to me through her local library.

This is what it said.


My name is Lucy. I belong to the Hackmatack book club. How were you inspired to write this book? I really like sea monster books, especially this one. Most of them I read are from Halifax, N.S. I am from Halifax too. I love your book so much! Are you going to write any more books? Bye.

Love, Lucy.

This is what we kids writers write for. The gift of being able to touch a young person’s imagination is absolutely precious and rare and wonderful.

So I sat down this morning and wrote Lucy a reply.

I thought I’d post it here for you folks to read.

April 16, 2013

Dear Lucy,

I want to thank you very much for your kind letter.

I’m very excited to be a part of the Hackmatack Award Program and I am glad to hear that you enjoyed reading SINKING DEEPER.

You asked what inspired me to write this novel. Well, I’ll tell you. Inspiration is a little like that nagging little brother who will sneak up and grab you by the ear and start whispering words into it. Inspiration will pester you until there is nothing else to be done but to get up from wherever you are comfortable and to go out and create the thing.

Whether you are a writer or an artist or just a talented jump-roper figuring out how to jump over that big old green neon jumping rope in a brand new and exciting way – like maybe with one arm tucked behind your knee-cap and your eyes closed tight shut – inspiration is what will wake you up in the morning and get you started through the day.

Inspiration is something that grows in your imagination. You grow enough of it and your heart and spirit will just inhale it on up just as natural as somebody breathing in and out.

You don’t need any kind of encouragement to remember how to breathe – now do you?

Inspiration works the same way as breathing does.

We all do it – kids and adults alike.

The only real trick is to learn how to recognize it.

So how is that done?

Well – recognizing inspiration is easier for kids like you than it is for old grown-ups like me.

Recognizing inspiration is a little like seeing cows.

Let me explain.

Think about the last time your parents drove down the road out to the country – most likely going somewhere. And there you are sitting in the back seat looking around for something to see.

And then you see it.

Parked behind a big farm fence, chewing on a cud the size of Wisconsin.

A cow.

“It’s a cow!” You’ll say. “It’s a big freaking cow!”

Odds are the grown-ups did not see that cow. They were way too busy watching the road and thinking about income tax and talking about baseball statistics and chewing on their own grown-up cuds.

Their imaginations were cluttered with the rattle of newspaper and time clocks and gray old ink.

But you spotted that cow – right out there in the green field. Maybe you gave it a name – called it Georgina or Murgatroyd or Lumbago. Maybe you gave that cow a set of cow-wings and sent it off to the moon to look for moon-pickles.

Maybe you sang it a little cow song or dressed it in a moo-moo or honked its horns real loud.

That’s imagination talking.

That’s inspiration talking.

So – what inspired me to write SINKING DEEPER?

Well, it might have been a cow – but actually it was a real life sea monster that inspired me.

I wrote that novel thinking about Old Ned – the Lake Utopia monster in New Brunswick.

I was also thinking of the Miller Lake monster here in Nova Scotia that was originally nothing more than a torn-up tree stump that somebody painted to look a sea monster – mostly because they were inspired. Then a group of Boy Scouts got together and started painting that lake monster even fancier. Then, when somebody decided to steal that old sea monster’s head – (and the thought of a headless sea monster is pretty scary, don’t you think?) – then somebody else made another sea monster head.

And it all started with the gift of inspiration.

So that’s what inspired me. The idea that some little kid could actually create an entire sea monster out of nothing more than a single wistful dream.

Y’see, I remember what it was like to be a kid.

Kids are a way lot more powerful than people want to believe.

Kids have a firm grip on the key to their imagination.

Kids believe in monsters.

Lastly, you asked me if I was going to write another book.

Yes I am.

I’m writing one right now.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

(if anybody is interested in reading SINKING DEEPER you can pick it up on Kobo right now or hunt it up at Chapters or at Amazon or get your local bookstore to order you a copy. I guarantee a good read – and a generous helping of inspiration.)

Spreading the word…

It’s always difficult to spread the word about your writing. You have to be so careful to walk that very fine line between “Oh here comes Steve, he writes – doesn’t he?” and “DUCK AND COVER – HERE COMES STEVE – THE HUMAN SPAM MACHINE – MAN, I JUST KNOW HE’S GOING TO TELL ME TO BUY HIS BOOKS!”

I try to stay in the middle, mostly.

Guest appearances are a great way to help raise your writerly profile.

So when the folks at VAMPCHIX & BITE CLUB asked me to be a guest blogger at their page I jumped at it.

You can jump at it too, if you’d like.






I love gardening. There is nothing quite so unearthly grounding as the feeling of slamming your spade into a heap of dirt.

Oh shoot.

I’m punning aren’t I?

I promised the doctor I’d stop doing that.

“Keep up your serial killing,” he told me. “It’s healthier than punning.”

All right.

I’ll do it.

This time I will stick to it.

No more puns.

I swear.

I am turning over a new leaf.

Well, I’m turning dirt over, anyway. Let me show you a patch in my garden.









Last year those tulips weren’t there. What was there was a patch of lilies. The lilies had been infested with lily beetles – little nasty red eating machines – that would strip the lilies down faster than a bucket load of Agent Orange.

So last year I yanked the lilies and planted an assortment of tulips. They’ll only be pretty for a week or two. I might put some gladioli in there to come up later in the summer. When the mood strikes me.

This weekend I also did some gardening. I plunked some big pumpkin orange gladioli in the tulip bed out front – so that I’ll have some flowers come the end of summer. I also cleaned out a bed of nonproductive random blooming nothings – which is a polite of describing a patch of garden that had gone to weed – and I replaced them with a pack of seeds for perennial sweet peas. I’d been saving those seeds from the old house where I had a huge perennial sweet pea that nearly swallowed the whole front wall.

I don’t know if the seeds will grow. I planted them and will just have to wait and see. The first time I planted the sweet pea it took about two years before it really came up.

That’s my style of gardening. I like to put down perennials by the heaping handful and then just wait and be surprised year after year.

That’s why I like e-books. They are out there and they will keep selling long after I’ve moved on to write something else.

See, you knew I was going to get around to comparing flowers to writing, sooner or later.

Here’s another picture of those tulips. The thicket they are standing in surrounds our front lawn. It gives the whole yard a kind of unkempt, uncombed English cottage kind of feel to it – which I like.








That stretch in front is the rose hedge that I put in two years ago. It goes right around the house and by the end of the summer it should have thickened in nicely.

Life – like gardens – are a work in progress.



But we were talking about getting the word out.

Sometimes that will happen all by itself.

Like this morning when I recieved an e-mail from a reviewer who had reviewed SINKING DEEPER a while ago.

He e-mailed me to let me know that he had just put up a blog entry that mentioned my novel SINKING DEEPER in amongst a list of ten under-appreciated YA novels.

I appreciated that.

SINKING DEEPER is a really good read that just seems to have sunk below the radar a little bit. Here’s hoping this blog entry pulls it back up a bit.


You’ll definitely want to take a look at some of those other books as well.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


The fine art of getting going…

There is a foot race going on today. The Bluenose Marathon. Umpteen thousand runners and walkers going out to run a marathon or a half a marathon, or a 10k or a 5k or around the block…you name it.

Running is like writing. Sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other.

Damn that’s deep. A new-born gnat could drown in such profundity.

I’ve been trying to get my act together for a month or two now. Spent a lot of time and effort finishing up SINKING DEEPER. Then finished the working draft of my next release – due out this fall – which is now in an editor’s hands.

Work like that is always easy. You know that sooner or later that editor will hand it back to me and then all I need to do is to go through what was written and fix what was broke.

For me, that’s easy.

There is a third project underway. Another collection of regional history, only a different angle than just ghost stories. I’ve got that one all mapped out – so it is just a matter of writing it – which I am doing.

That’s not as easy, but still not hard.

And then there is a fourth project that I have just got underway. A YA novel, complete unrelated to either the region or Sinking Deeper. It is necessary for me to dig a little deeper and reach a little further than just my regional books. So I have started this new project. Wrote one whole chapter yesterday and another this morning. If I can get over the hump and push it then I should have a good first draft done before the end of June.

That’s a little harder.

I’ve also just slid a pitch to another publisher of YA for a work-in-progress that really fits a new line they’re developing. That’s just a shot in the dark. The story is all roughed out – so actually writing it won’t be hard at all – but selling it – well that’s another bag of potatoes.

I am also waiting to hear from a publisher who has had a submission for a very long time. Too long, really, but they are a company I would really love to work with – so I have rattled their door handle and buzzed their door bell and have been assured that my answer is in the pipeline – any day now.

Yet another reason to remember that writing is nothing more than waiting mispelled.

Only I’m not much on waiting. I am at my best when I have got something new underway. Ideally I like to have projects laid out for a year or two ahead. I like to have them sold and written and me working on something else. That keeps my fires lit and my engines humming.

There is a couple more e-books in the works and a couple more in the planning stages.  Strictly horror genre – very different from what I do now – but all part of the plan.

A blog like this is written as much for myself as my readers.

Take it from me.

A writer, writes.


Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Something precious, gone forever…

Just about a month ago I recieved a note from Vikki at the Flying Dragon Bookshop in Toronto. They were ordering my book, Sinking Deeper.

I was very excited. Seeing my primarily Maritime market-base shifting slowly across Canada is just what I needed to hear about.

Now I have heard something else about the Flying Dragon Bookshop.

Something you might hear about other bookstores across this country.

They are closing.

(taken from their Facebook entry from today)
It is with heartfelt regret, that we announce today The Flying Dragon Bookshop will be closing its doors on June 30, 2011.We have in recent months explored opportunities to embrace the technological advances that have presented themselves with such rapidity in our industry. But at the end of the day we realized that for us, it was al…l about the books and the tactile, sensory experience they provide.

It is bittersweet that we have just received the 2011 Libris Award for ‘Specialty Bookseller of the Year’ from the Canadian Booksellers Association.

While we can’t imagine not being able to walk into the magical world of The Flying Dragon on a daily basis, we know that our futures hold wondrous adventures and we wish the same for all our loyal customers and our colleagues in the publishing industry.

We want to end the way we started, by talking about the books with you, our fellow booklovers. Please join us for Nina’s Summer Reads on Friday, May 27th at 9:30am.

We invite all our Flying Dragon friends, customers and colleagues to celebrate our wonderful collection of books that have been so lovingly chosen.

Until June 30th, in appreciation, we will be offering our collection at 20% off.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
~ A. A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh)

I still remember back in 2008 when Halifax’s 169 year old bookstore, THE BOOK ROOM, closed its doors. It was like losing a close friend and I still mourn the loss of that store. I know, I am a cornball – but something is gone. Something that cannot be replaced.
I also remember watching Frog Hollow Books close its doors.
Little tiny nooks of culture and comfort – gone forever.
I am not here to rail against the 21st century.
Some of my best friends are e-books. I have written a few of them.
I am just here to tell you folks that one more monument to the love of a books is falling. They will probably put up a hair salon or a coffee shop in its place. That’s it – it’s gone.
There is only way to stop this from happening to your favorite bookstore. Get out there and buy a book. Ask the folks at Woozles, here in Halifax, about my deep-seated addiction for the written word. Ask the folks at the Bookmark and at Chapters and at any of the used bookstores in town.
I am a book-a-holic shop-fiend. I can’t walk into a bookstore without purchasing a book.
Please, catch this addiction from me. I am not talking bankruptcy. I am not talking about spending the kid’s college fund. All I am asking is to make it a weekly habit. Go to your favorite bookstore and buy a book.
Before that page finally turns.
Yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon

Sinking Deeper

I probably ought to tell you a bit about this novel I keep referring to in my blog entries.

Sinking Deeper is the kind of book that begins with a jail break, moves into an impromptu caber toss and a subsequent dory sinking – and that’s just the first three chapters.

Sinking Deeper tells the story of Roland, a boy growing up in a town that is dying. The tourism is gone. The industry is gone. Even his family is dying. Roland’s mom and dad are divorcing. Roland hits upon the idea that the creation of a sea monster is just what the town of Deeper Harbour needs to be reborn. This is a story about the power and value of the storytelling tradition and how time and change will often wash us out into deeper waters.

In addition, Sinking Deeper has received a four-star “Highly Recommended” review in a recent issue of Canadian Materials magazine (Volume 17, Number 27).

“Whether you read Sinking Deeper as an adventure, a comedy, a story about family and relationships or as a travelogue to a small fishing community inNova Scotia, you will not be disappointed. Steve Vernon is a virtuoso storyteller whose voice takes readers to unforgettable places and introduces them to amazing people.”

 On Library Thing one Canadian librarian has this to say –

This book was a treat to read–funny, poignant and moving. The tone was reminiscent of Brian Doyle’s novels, which I read as a child. Vernon genuinely captured the atmosphere and character of small town life and I cheered for and cried with Roland throughout.

I’ve had four other books released by Nimbus Publishing – three ghost story collections (HauntedHarbours, Wicked Woods and Halifax Haunts) and one children’s picture book (Maritime Monsters). All of these books have sold very well locally, but Sinking Deeper is a book that deserves to be read right across Canada. I hope I am not being too pushy or bold but I am trying to do everything in my power to see that this book gets noticed in other provinces besides my own. Sinking Deeper is a story that needs to be read – by young and old alike – right across Canada.

So buy this book. At $12.95 it isn’t much more than a mall meal – with a whole lot less calories and cholesterol.

Sinking Deeper is available through all library wholesalers – ISBN 978-1-55109-777-0 – cover price $12.95.

If you can’t buy the book then ask for it at your local library.

Read Canada!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Roses and ‘riting…

Well, this is the season, isn’t it?

I’ve been busy this weekend in my garden and backyard. I spent one evening mowing it – twice. It has been raining like Noah for the last few weeks and the grass was knee deep and rising and I cut that green stuff to a depth befitting a custom-built pool table.

And I weeded.

And weeded.

Primarily I concentrated on weeding the rose hedge.

Which has a story, naturally. I planted the rose hedge last year – digging a bed that ran the length and width of our long and skinny city lot. We are situated on the corner of three streets, directly beside two shopping mall parking lots – so our yard is a natural intersection for all manner of windblown litter. I usually end up out there bending and stooping with a pair of barbecue tongs, picking up the litter at least once a week. So the hedge was partly planted with the idea that it would trap the windblown litter and lessen my need for bending and stooping.

My back likes that idea.

As I weeded I also fertilized and dumped some splendid smelling cedar mulch on the rose bed as I went along. This pretties up the whole rose bed and also makes it less inviting for weeds and such.

As I got to the last ten feet of the rose bed – which is probably about 70 or 80 feet long in total – I noticed that the bed was getting narrower and less neat. So I dug and rooted about, cleaning up that last ten feet.

As I was doing so I thought about how much like a manuscript this rose bed was. You see, when I work on a manuscript – I usually find that I put the most effort into the beginning and first half of the work – and give short shrift to the ending because by that point I am about ready to get the heck out of Dodge and get to work on something new.

Like maybe a beer.

I often find the worst editorial criticisms – such as “you’ve made an error in tense” or “bad grammar” or “continuity issue” or “what in the hell were you thinking?” – occur in those last few chapters of the work. Just like this rose bed the whole work suffers from a lack of attention and genuine stick-to-itiveness.

So from here on out I swear that when I get to the end of a novel manuscript and I want to hurry up and be done with it and get it off to my publisher who no doubt is up all night long pacing and worrying and wondering just when his next dose of my undeniable brilliance is going to cross his desk – that I will stop and take a look out of my office window which faces that last ten feet of rose bed and I am going to be a little bit more careful about what I write.

That’s right.

I have just written an entire blog entry advising you writers to slow down and smell the roses.

Time for black coffee.

(see what those roses grew into)

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Friday the 13th Book Signing…

Well, it was a pretty quiet as book signings went. I usually have pretty good luck with Scotia Square book signings but not this time around. An unfortunate set-up left me in a sort of blind spot, so that a lot of potential customers walked on past me – in spite of my best attempts to entice them with clever luring comments such as “Hi there.” or “Good day.” or “Buy my book, damn it!”

(Okay, so I only used that last one once – and his hearing aid battery was most likely dead)

Still, I managed to sell a total of 8 books – 2 copies of Halifax Haunts, 5 copies of Sinking Deeper and 1 copy of Haunted Harbours.

Which made me happy in an oddball kind of way. The other two book signings resulted in more sales – but mostly Halifax Haunts. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to sell a book and Halifax Haunts nets me a fatter royalty, but I still really really really want to see Sinking Deeper make some sales. This is my first YA novel – and I do not intend it to be my last – so I have to make sure it out-performs my other books – or at least sells as well.

So buy my book, damn it!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon