Working on Novels

Working on Novels

This week I’m back to blogging about the love of my life – no, not my lovely wife, Sunny, although I must admit she’s the true love of my life. I mean I’m blogging about my fiction again.

People know me for a few different things: author, speaker, publisher. And since I ghost write books for entrepreneurs, a fair number of people have come to know me for that. Sure, I do smaller projects – blog posts, social media, marketing articles, and so on – but I really like working on the bigger canvas of a book.

So when I blog about writing, it could be about different types of writing projects. But, as my Twitter profile says, “When I’m not writing fiction, I help entrepreneurs write their marketing.” In other words, the fiction comes first.

How do I do it? Well, there was a time when it was a compulsion to write. My inspiration came from everywhere, and I wrote hundreds, if not thousands, of poems, songs, short stories, and then novels. I fell into fiction the way any writer does, I suppose – reading a wide variety of classics, falling under the spell of great writers, and wanting to weave those same kinds of spells on others.

It’s kind of interesting, but I never got any real accolades for my fiction; I was too young. In school, I was Class Poet, then editor of a high school and a college literary magazine. But those magazines featured mostly poetry of mine. It wasn’t until I’d finished grad school that I began writing my first novel.

Shooting for the Stars

At 25, I started writing Brothers’ Hand. Within about a year, I started Jana. I’ve told the story too many times, but suffice to say that I spent the next 20 years working on Brothers’ Hand, Jana, and finally Miles of Files. All told, each book represents around seven years’ worth of effort.

When I write effort, though, that doesn’t really express it. I mean labor, as in the kind of work that takes everything you’ve got. While my peers were going off and getting married and raising children in their 20s and early 30s, I went home night after night from my day job and spent the majority of my free time and effort working on my novels.

I’m proud of the results, and pleased that readers have responded to them. Of course, the only way to continue to sell books is to write more…and that means I’ve got to get busy on the next work-in-progress, Whizzers. I have a ways to go, but I’m going to keep shooting for the stars with it, just as I did with the first three novels. And I hope the final product is even better than the others.

running

“When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around”

Like most Americans who grew up in the 70s and 80s, I've got a fair amount of song lyrics floating around my head. Today's post is entitled "When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around" after the Police song of that name. And I'll admit, I...

Rolling With The Changes

I’m back on the blog today after a two-week break, which hasn’t really been a break at all. At least, it hasn’t felt like one. But the topic of today’s post is change, and for good reason: I’m dealing with some major changes in my family, as my parents move past the...
coming-of-age

Dreams, Memories, And Growing Up One Day At A Time

We use up too much artistry in our dreams—and therefore often are impoverished during the day. - Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow   Boy, ole Nietzsche really had it right, didn’t he? Last night I went through mental movies that ranged from being...
book-building

Book-Building 101

This week's post is called Book-Building 101 because I want to provide my fellow indie authors a little info on the mechanics of putting out a completed book. And I'm not talking about plot, structure, or basics like editing or proofreading. I'm talking about the...
money

Do What You Love, and the Money Will Follow…Right?

Recently, I was reading a post from an online trainer who coaches authors and other professionals. This trainer discusses the contrast between writing for money and writing for passion. In other words, the age-old conundrum: if you do what you love, will the money...
storm

Sometimes All You Can Do Is Rock With The Storm

A while back, I was having a very bad Monday, and wrote a blog post called Roll With The Punches, Baby! The idea was that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose; sometimes life hands you a bouquet of flowers, other times, a punch in the mouth. On that particular...
drivers

Florida Drivers, Beware

This weekend I had to run out for essentials, which I’m only doing when absolutely necessary. But it seems like plenty of other people were out there, too, and I can’t help believing some of them just didn’t want to be bored at home. So when it came time for me to get...

The Marketing Thing Vs. The Working Thing

Last week, I took a vacation with my lovely wife, and missed doing a blog post entirely. I see where WordPress has an option of writing and scheduling posts, but frankly, I was too busy doing that with my monthly newsletter. I figured I could ignore the blog for a...
ISBN

More Fun With the ISBN Number

I've grown so accustomed to cranking out my blog posts on Monday afternoons, I almost forgot to schedule one for today. Thanks to the magic of WordPress, I can write this in the morning and schedule it for the afternoon. By the time you're reading this, I'll be out on...
Best Accounts to Follow on Twitter

Best Accounts to Follow on Twitter

Recently I wrote a blog post about how many writers struggle to find interesting topics. It occurred to me that, for those of us who are writers and/or entrepreneurs, one good topic for this blog might be Best Accounts to Follow on Twitter.

Of course, this is totally subjective, and part of the problem is your reason behind following someone. Are you looking for inspiration? Entertainment? Advice on business, marketing, and more? All of these? That might drive you to follow people I don’t follow, or drive you away from people I do follow.

So rather than make this a one-category post, I’m putting it out there as a sort of catchall. I follow these accounts for a variety of reasons, including inspiration, entertainment, and education.

Here are my top ten Best Accounts to Follow On Twitter, in no particular order.

  1. Open Culture – The great thing about Open Culture is that they provide interesting cultural content of all kinds. From a story on a teacher turning Beatles’ songs into Latin to a link to Jorge Luis Borges’ favorite novels, Open Culture is cool…and eminently shareable. No wonder they have over 400K followers.
  2. Maria Popova – Like Open Culture, Maria Popova offers a plethora of cool cultural postings. Much of them are of a literary or philosophical bent, so thinkers and lovers of the arts should really check it out.
  3. Frances Caballo – Social media strategist Frances Caballo found a great niche: authors. I’m a fan of her work as well as a follower, and was more than pleased the day I saw she’d followed me back.
  4. Josh Elledge – When it comes to PR in general, syndicated TV/newspaper expert Josh Elledge provides advice for anyone looking to get more press in a way that journalists will love. He and I follow each other, too, and he’s proved a valuable resource in boosting my profile.
  5. Real Marsha Wright – If you want a lot of eyeballs on a Sunday tweet, check out the #ThinkBIGSundayWithMarsha hashtag as featured by Marsha Wright. I’ve often gotten several THOUSAND impressions from one of these tweets, so it’s a great way to get your name in front of more people who might not be part of your normal audience.
  6. Anne R. Allen – A true writer’s writer, Anne R. Allen is a Top 10 blogger for authors. She’s witty, smart, and retweets great content. Check out my guest post on her blog here.
  7. Joanna Penn – Best-selling British author Joanna Penn has become known as a resource for other authors on publishing, entrepreneurship, and more. She’s also down-to-earth enough to follow you back if you’re putting out great content. So, as in the case with Frances Caballo, I was pleased when she followed me back!
  8. Novelicious – Novelicious posts beautiful images with cool writer quotes. Nothing wrong with that. I like to retweet about once every day or two, both for aesthetic and inspirational reasons.
  9. Gary Wilbers – Gary is a business coach and keynote speaker, with over 4,000 followers on LinkedIn. He’s just building up his Twitter following. He’s got a book out called Positive Cultures Win. Check him out here.
  10. Mixtus Media – Run by Jenn dePaula, Mixtus Media is huge on Instagram and Twitter. If you’re looking for book marketing tips, she’s got great content, too.

There are quite a few other Twitter accounts I follow and frequently retweet – including Kim Garst, Regina Kenney, and fellow author Jay Lemming – so if you’re looking to build up your Twitter, these are all great folks to follow. Some of them might even follow you back!

anti-vaxxer

Anti-Vaxxer Hysteria and the Mo-ron Contingent

I can’t help but wonder: what kind of idiot do you have to be to believe that Bill Gates has nothing better to do than follow you around while you schlep to Wal-Mart, pick up your dry cleaning, and eat the free breadsticks at Olive Garden? I've always got my cell...
drum

“I Want to Bang on the Drum All Day”

Ever have an old song pop into your head and then it’s just there all day?  For those of you reading this who are old enough to get the reference, today’s blog post title comes from a Todd Rundgren song from the early 80s, “Bang the Drum All Day.” Todd Rundgren was...
music

“Music Hath Charms to Soothe a Savage Breast”

So wrote William Congreve in 1697, and it’s still true today. Of course, not everyone today understands that “hath” meant “has,” or that a “savage breast” was another way of saying “wild heart.” And these days, more music is made to stimulate than to calm.My own...
editor

Need A Writer? An Editor? A Proofreader? How About All Of The Above?

Late last week I got a call from a husband and wife asking about vanity publishers. Yes, such predatory companies are still out there, preying on the hopeful. These nice folks asked me if it sounded legit when a "publisher" offered to put the wife's book out for a...

What If I Don’t Want to Sell?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving a talk called Marketing Your Novel that was hosted by the Orlando Public Library. A good twenty people or so were kind enough to show up on a blazing Florida Sunday afternoon to hear me speak. The talk went well: I gave the group...
break

A Bit of a Blog Break

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dementia

There’s Not Much Funny About Dementia

I must admit, I never thought I’d be writing a blog post on a topic like “how maintaining my sense of humor helped me deal with my mother’s dementia.”  Not that I was oblivious to the possibility. My grandmother on my mother’s side developed dementia in her early 80s,...
Miles

The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

I wrote most of Miles of Files between 2007 and 2015. I felt my first novel had been an artistic success, but I wasn't so sure about the second one. Now, I'd moved on to this third novel without having found a publisher for either of the first two. And it was totally...
arrows

Slings and Arrows, Arrows and Slings

Almost two years ago, right at the beginning of the pandemic, I wrote a blog post called Sometimes All You Can Do Is Rock With The Storm. The idea was that, hey, everyone is having a rough time right now, and we’ll likely see more rough times ahead. Knowing that life...
advance reader copy

Does An ARC Have to Include A Cover Illustration?

One of the most confusing concepts in publishing is that of the Advance Reader Copy, or ARC. I call it confusing because there appears to be no universal agreement on what those initials actually mean. While some sources refer to an ARC as an Advance Reader Copy,...
How Do You Write A Book?

How Do You Write A Book?

This past week I had the chance to talk to a fair number of business owners. That’s normal for what I do, but the interesting thing this week was the similarity of the conversations.

Not all entrepreneurs ask me the same things. Some ask me what I do. Many of them end up asking me how I do it. What was so unusual this last week was how many people asked about writing books.

On a coaching call earlier today, I found it fascinating how the coach mentioned that you should tell your clients that your work has three elements:

  1. It’s easy.
  2. It’s fun.
  3. You can’t do it alone. That’s why you need me!

Now, I was interested in this because it ties in to what I do – in particular, writing books.

And the thing is, it’s not easy at all. Writing a book is like climbing Mt. Everest alone. Sure, you can surround yourself with a “team” – marketing, cover design, editing – but when it comes right down to it, you are the writer. It’s your baby.

Fun? Uh, been through a root canal lately? How about hemorrhoid treatment? I can’t think of too many experiences more grueling than writing a book. In fact, the root canal and the hemorrhoid treatment sound like they’d be over with a lot quicker.

Point #3: You can’t do it alone. Well, that’s actually where I come in. As a ghostwriter for entrepreneurs who need a great book to expand their authority, reach, and influence, I can do the heavy lifting. It’s a team effort, but I’m the main writer.

So people ask, “How do you do it?” And I have to answer, “Very carefully.” It’s a process, and it takes time. And because each client’s project is different, I don’t know exactly how it’s going to work until we get into it.

For more on ghostwriting books, email me at info@msahno.com or just text the word ghostwriting to (813) 528-2622.

excellence

Literary Excellence and Why Writers Need to Be Readers

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More on Literary Fiction

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door

The Open Door Of A New Year

Dawn another year, Open it aright; Thou shalt have no fear In its fading light. —Joseph Krauskopf   I read this quote in a meditation book a couple days ago and it kind of stuck with me. Not the exact wording, of course—I mean the overall spirit. After all, the...
spirituality

Spirituality in the Fictional World

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A Vacation Blog Post and a Manross Library Appearance

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cancel

Anyone Else Thinking about Canceling Cancel Culture?

Ordinarily, I’m on the side of the poor, the beaten-down, the marginalized. In short, the outsiders. But this week, what’s on my mind is something a little on the opposition side, or what I’d like to think of as the middle. Most everyone who knows me would describe me...
sleep

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #8: Forgetting Your Best Ideas

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creativity

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #5: Creativity vs. Money

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asia

Adventures In Southeast Asia

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” ― Eugene Ionesco I first began visiting Southeast Asia over twenty years ago, so it probably comes as a surprise to readers that I haven't written about my...
repetition

Insanity: Writing the Same Thing Over and Over?

Sometimes I feel like I’m standing at the bottom of those steps. I’ve been really lucky: I’ve had the good fortune to publish and sell four of my novels, and I run a freelance writing and editing business as well. I have great clients who love what I do and send me...