Tag Archives: Steve Vernon

So What’s the Fuss About Indie Authors?

Independent AuthorsWhat’s an indie author, anyway? Independent. Self-published, but also self-directed and self-marketed.

As has always been the case, many authors self-publish because they’re not offered a traditional contract. That might mean their work isn’t high-quality, but it might also mean they have a great book for a small market. Publishers have to have high sales volume to cover their overhead. Or it could mean any number of other things. Maybe they defy genres. Or they just don’t fit in the marketing “box.”

Others are confident, tech-savvy, and would have to think long and hard about accepting a traditional publishing contract. They like their freedom and the higher rate of return per book sale.

As technology makes this option more accessible to writers and as the publishing houses are clinging more to known sellers and avoiding risk-taking, independent publishing can only rise.

For Readers:

Best bet? If you’re interested in any book, especially an independently-published one, use Amazon.com’s “look inside” feature (even if you plan to buy elsewhere–shhh). See what you think of the writing. Read some of the reviews, alert for clues about the quality.

Like Christian fiction? If you’re on Facebook, check out the Christian Indie Books group. You can scroll through the posts or click the “photos” tab to see galleries of participating authors’ books.

Or find Christian Indie Authors on Pinterest.

For Writers:

Here are some resources I’ve found very helpful:

Going Indie Internationally, by Valerie Comer, posted at International Christian Fiction Writers: part 1 & part 2.

India Drummond has an excellent Tutorial Walkthrough: Formatting Documents for Createspace. (Thank you to Steve Vernon for sharing this link with me.)

Online writers’ groups, especially those with a section for indie authors. Also, Createspace, Kindle Direct, Kobo’s Writing Life and others have user forums.

Why Me?

I was happily published with a traditional house, and I loved it. Choose NOW Publishing is small enough that they invited and accepted my input. I felt like part of the team. I learned a lot from the marketing director, and had flexibility in setting dates and price points for sales. When Choose NOW decided to discontinue its fiction line, I was disappointed, but I saw the potential. I’d already been learning what I needed to know for the indie route, and it was either finish the Redemption’s Edge series on my own or kiss it goodbye.

This summer I reacquired my rights to Heaven’s Prey (and bought the cover because I loved it too much to commission a different one). The series will stay together, even though there’s a definite downshift in the intensity level after book 1.

Heaven’s Prey, second edition with Canadian spellings and with the majorly embarrassing mistake corrected, is now available for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iBooks and Scribd. The print book will be out shortly.

Redemption’s Edge #2, Secrets and Lies, is in the final editing stages and the cover will be ready sometime in September. I hope to release it November 1. Stay tuned for more information, and remember that my newsletter subscribers get the first look at the new cover!

Review: Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp: from Eden to the Ark, by Steve Vernon

Cover art: Uncle Bob's Red Flannel Bible CampUncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp: from Eden to the Ark, by Steve Vernon (Stark Raven Press, 2014)

Author Steve Vernon is a storyteller, and what richer source of tales than the Bible? With biblical literacy ebbing, a fresh delivery of the classic stories may be just what people need to spark an interest.

Uncle Bob is the flannel-shirt-wearing narrator, telling his nephew about the action running through what the youngster thinks of as a dry book. (Bob nabs him escaping from Sunday School.) Uncle Bob promises:

The Bible is full of battles and death-defying escapes and lions and even a dragon or two. There is war and there are heroes and there is more special effects than you could shake a star cruiser at. [Introduction]

I picture Uncle Bob as a cross between Red Green and Bill Cosby’s Noah routine, but a bit more off-the-wall. Bob’s interpretation of the classic Bible stories from creation to Noah plays a bit loosely with the facts, and he throws in plenty of nods to current culture. In his own crusty way, he tries to disprove the folks who claim the Bible is down on women (although he’s perturbed that many Old Testament ladies aren’t named.)

Here’s how the author describes Uncle Bob:

Uncle Bob is just a little teapot of a man with the sort of question mark slump in his shoulders, a breath that smells a little of tobacco and Listerine, and a belly-bulge… [Introduction]

Can’t you see—and smell—him? Steve Vernon has a definite talent for painting 3-D word pictures.

If you don’t like offbeat humour, this is not the book for you. It’s not for children, but teens and adults will find some chuckles and the occasional insight.

Two of my favourites:

Chapter 1: [as God created light] I prefer to think of the light as shining right out of God like it was part of him that he was allowing us to share in.

Chapter 3: Once a body gets to wondering, sooner or later they are bound to wander.

Some readers will find the book irreverent. If that’s you, give it a miss. I’m sure the author—and rustic Uncle Bob—means no offense.

Personally, I chalk those moments up to Uncle Bob’s hyperbole and his figures of speech. What he’s trying to do is personalize God to the nameless nephew in the context of men the boy would know from his community. Much like the Huron Carol casts the Nativity in a North American winter setting with the Great Spirit.

The two spots most likely to cause contention are when Uncle Bob refers to God having a cigarette (stopping to rest after the work of creation) and cussing (Bob’s clumsy attempt to set up a joke). The Bible reveals God as holy and majestic, and we know He wouldn’t literally do either of these things, but I think He’s also big enough that He’d see the intended humour and not see contempt or disrespect. I mention this in detail, though, because different readers have different sensitivities to this sort of thing, and life’s too short to waste reading something that makes a person angry.

The book gave me a few smiles, and that quote I shared about the light blessed my spirit. I hope Uncle Bob can encourage readers to check into the Bible for themselves.

I really enjoyed Steve Vernon’s young adult book, Sinking Deeper Or My Questionable (Possibly Heroic) Decision to Invent a Sea Monster. Most of his fiction is in the horror genre, which is out of my range. For more about the author, visit his blog, Yours in Storytelling.

Steve Vernon’s intent is to produce a string of Uncle Bob books to touch on the remaining highlights of the biblical narrative, and book two, Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp: from Babel to Bulrushes, is now available. There’s also Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp: Genesis for Kindle, which combines Eden to the Ark and Babel to Bulrushes.

[Kobo review copy from my personal library.]

Picks from 2013

My favourites from 2013:


Best of the year: also most satisfying series wrap-up:

Most satisfying mystery, and very close to best of the year:

Most can’t-wait-to-read-the-next-one mystery:

Most life-changing (fiction):

Most life-changing (non-fiction):

Most satisfying science fiction (and action):

Most satisfying fantasy novel:

Most satisfying speculative fiction:

  • Mask, by Kerry Nietz

Most satisfying historical:

Most laugh-inducing:

Most personally helpful writing how-to:


Most life-changing posts:

Review: Sinking Deeper, by Steve Vernon

Sinking Deeper cover artSinking Deeper: Or My Questionable (Possibly Heroic) Decision to Invent a Sea Monster, by Steve Vernon (Nimbus, 2011)

Fourteen-year-old Roland lives in the dying seaside town of Deeper Harbour, Nova Scotia. His parents have separated, and when he’s with his police-chief father, he sleeps at the jail while his dad does night patrol.

Except when his grandfather convinces him to sneak out for some prank-type vandalism. That’s how the story opens, and lest parents be concerned, there are consequences and restitution. There’s also, through a madcap series of events, the inspiration of how to revitalize the town’s tourist industry so Roland’s mom won’t make him move to Ottawa in search of a better future.

Roland, along with Grandpa Angus, 15-year-old Dulsie, and her father Warren, will create a sea monster. And they do—through spreading rumours and building an actual “Fogopogo” for the townspeople’s “sightings”.

The story is told in the first person with evocative descriptions like this one:

I … squoodged the sleep-sand out of my eyeballs with the sides of my fists. (p. 3)

And observations like this one:

The idea that had been sneaking around the basement of my imagination jumped up and smacked me directly between the eyes. (p. 30)

This is a fun novel, heartwarming in places, and with plenty of humour. It also has plenty of depth, which, sadly, makes for a more realistic ending than I’d hoped. But the characters are delightful, and Roland discovers new layers to these people he’s grown up with and thinks he knows.

I heartily recommend Sinking Deeper for young adult readers and adults who are still in touch with their 12-to-14-year-old selves. Sinking Deeper was nominated for the Silver Birch and Hackmatack Awards.

Steve Vernon is the author of four collections of Maritime ghost stories, the children’s picture book Maritime Monsters, and more. He and his publisher, Nimbus, are local to me, but I heard of this book through a blog giveaway (and won!) You can learn more about Steve Vernon at his blog and on Facebook.

[Review copy won from Polilla Writes.]