Memorial Day 2019

Memorial Day 2019

I don’t have a special message for Memorial Day. I never do.

In fact, looking back through the archives for previous years’ messages, I see I don’t have any.

Maybe I deleted them to save space on the server. Perhaps I deleted something in an effort to avoid courting controversy. Or maybe there never were any to begin with.

I seriously don’t remember.

You see, I don’t have a military background or come from a true military family. Not really.

This, in spite of the fact that my father and his father were both Marines. Simply stated, they never saw any action, and did their time without much to tell. No battles, no horrendous deployments. Just did their time and that was it. Like jail.

The only relative I had who went through some level of combat was my mother’s late brother, my Uncle Ray. He was a World War II vet who fought in Europe. The lone story I got from him was how he surprised an enemy combatant in a latrine, which he described as “killing a Commie taking a crap.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the greatest generation.

So whether you spend Memorial Day in thrall to American exceptionalism or ashamed of our country’s foreign adventuresor, like me, somewhere betweenhere’s hoping your Memorial Day is as peaceful as it can possibly be.

book

Who Gives A Damn About Your Book?

Back in April, I wrote a blog post called What I’ve Learned in Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business. Since I have  those six years of experience, I figured I’d list six things I’d learned—not necessarily one per year, but one for each year. The response was...
mother's

The Worst Mother’s Day Ever

Mother’s Day has always been kind of a tough holiday in my family. Mom’s got an early May birthday, so it seems like there’s virtually no breathing room between her birthday and Mother’s Day. It’s kind of like if your parent was born shortly before Christmas. You get...
Thanksgiving

Gratitude Week: A Thanksgiving Reflection from Mike Sahno – Author. Speaker. Publisher.

2018 has been trying, to say the least. In January, I posted a New Year's resolution to finish my current WIP, Whizzers, this year. Then, on Valentine's Day, that got back-burnered when the call came that my 81-year-old mother had taken a fall and had to be...
disturbances

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #9: Distractions, Disruptions & Disturbances

This week's blog post has three sections: distractions, disruptions and disturbances, as if they were three unique items—which, of course, they can be. There’s a common “writer” meme that reads, “Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the...
followers

Frances Caballo on Why You Should Never Buy Twitter Followers or Facebook Likes

I don't often feature guest posts on my blog, but today's post is a special exception. Social media guru Frances Caballo graciously accepted my invitation to guest here.If you don't know Frances, you should: she's the author of numerous books on social media for...
excellence

Literary Excellence and Why Writers Need to Be Readers

Back when I first launched my company, I often used the phrase literary excellence as part of my branding. The idea was that Sahno Publishing evolved out of the notion that literary excellence is more important than a financial formula. The company entered the...

Writing Based on Experience

Recently, I’ve been writing more about writing, giving some explanations about why I write what I write…or, in the case of the three novels I’m currently promoting, why I wrote what I wrote. Brothers’ Hand, which takes place in the fictional town of Carverville, NY,...

Frustrated By the Publishing Process?

Beep. Beep. Beep. You wake up bright and early to the sound of the dreaded alarm clock. First thing, you brew some coffee and grab your computer. It’s a Thursday, so you have to go to work, but you feel compelled to start each day with a bit of writing. You also...
artists

Calling All Artists

This week's blog post is going to be super short: if you've ever read the blog, you’ll know I'm posting often about my upcoming book launch. I’m releasing my fourth novel in 2019, and I’m putting a lot of emphasis on finding artists first. I put out a call for graphic...

“Narratives of Transcendent Origin and Power”

Somewhere around a million years ago, I received a gift from a fellow writer, a book called Walking on Alligators by Susan Shaughnessy. I wasn't familiar with Ms. Shaughnessy, but the book is subtitled A Book of Meditations for Writers, and it has a format similar to...
3 Reasons the End of Game of Thrones is an Example of Good Storytelling

3 Reasons the End of Game of Thrones is an Example of Good Storytelling

Social media is interesting: every time an artist or entertainer creates a new work, it’s going to get mixed reviews. Even in the case of a highly popular TV series like Game of Thrones, the armchair critics come out with their claws sharpened—especially when something doesn’t satisfy their expectations.

On HBO, this reached a peak frenzy with The Sopranos’ infamous cut-to-black ending. I was a fan of the show, watched it live, and I have to admit I was one of those poor souls who leaped to his feet, thinking the cable was out. When the credits rolled, it felt like a punch in the gut.

I didn’t like David Chase’s ending for the series, but I respect the artistic choice. In retrospect, it was actually a pretty genius move. With Game of Thrones, another epic HBO series, I had a slightly different reaction. I’ve already given away the game a bit with my headline, but let me explain what I mean.

  1. It didn’t satisfy your expectations. Yeah, I said it. I read a few social media posts, and an article or two, and one thing really blew my mind: a huge percentage of Game of Thrones fans wanted to see Jon Snow on the Iron Throne at the end. Now, I’m not enough of a GoT fanboy to say this definitively, but I can’t think of a worse, more cliché ending. Yay, the good guy wins! Yay, a happy ending! Have any of those people actually understood the show they were watching?

Secondly, there were several other reasons it didn’t satisfy your expectations. Who could have predicted Bran Stark as the king? I didn’t like that guy at all. If Jon was a loveable meathead who made multiple bad choices, Bran was the cold fish unloved by just about every male viewer, and probably not much loved by female viewers either. Come on, think about it: who did people expect to be king at the end? It might have been Cersei, or Jon, or Dany, but it wasn’t Bran.

Thirdly, didn’t you expect at least Jon, if not Tyrion, to die? I did, even during the finale. Again, unsatisfied expectations but an outcome that’s not altogether heartbreaking.

  1. It wasn’t anywhere near the bloodbath of the penultimate burn-the-city down episode. If you watched the whole season, you might have expected another massive slaughter at the end, with just a character or two surviving. But that’s generally not the way HBO rolls. Think of The Sopranos: although there were a whole slew of major characters who got whacked or injured in life-changing ways as the series moved toward its conclusion, the series finale had a surprisingly low body count. Of course, Tony may have been killed—or maybe not.   

My point is that you don’t need a constant series of deaths to have a great story, and in fact, too much murder and mayhem can hinder a story. By moving between battles and quiet aftermath, the showrunners masterfully made it feel like a real-life sequence of events, not the end of a cheesy fantasy series.

  1. The character arcs were logical and the cinematography was spectacular—and the end formed a slight cinematographic circle I wouldn’t have noticed if someone hadn’t pointed it out to me.     

On the character arc issue, I have to say I agree artistically with the outcomes for the major characters: Cersei and her brother Jaime deserved their fate, and it was ironic that they died in the place they wanted to protect; Tyrion’s outcome made sense in that he ended up getting what he said he didn’t want (but probably did anyway); and Arya’s adventures at sea leave open the possibility of a movie.

Sadly, Dany deserved to die, if only because she was such a danger to the kingdoms. The showrunners got a lot of heat on social media, much of which implied that Dany’s transformation was inexplicable. But actually, it wasn’t all that surprising: heartbroken by Jon’s rejection, stung by the betrayal or outright rejection of just about everyone around her, why wouldn’t she take out not only Cersei but half the city as well? And there were plenty of warning signs along the way, as Tyrion mentioned to Jon in the finale.

As for Jon, I’d say he was lucky to have escaped at all. I guess a lot of fans loved the guy, but I really didn’t care for the character. Not a bad person, mind you, but what a fool. He should never have opened his big yap and told so many relatives he was Dany’s nephew, he should have run like hell as soon as he stabbed Dany (how did he not end up Drogon barbecue?), and on and on. I’d have to chalk it up to dumb luck—or the showrunners’ unwillingness to kill off a beloved character—that he survived the entire series.

Lastly, the cinematographic circle I mentioned above: I found a post on social media showing that the last shot of the series finale was almost exactly the same as that of the series opener. (You can see the images here.) Genius!

So it just goes to show: you can make intelligent, reasonable choices in your storytelling that avoid cliché or corny endings, but still anger a whole bunch of fans. It comes with the territory. All I can say is thank goodness all those Monday morning quarterbacks weren’t running the show.

newsletter

A Sneak Peek at My Latest Quarterly Newsletter—And An Invitation

Okay, I'll admit right out of the gate that this isn't really a "sneak peek." My subscribers got it yesterday. Most of what I send them each quarter is content exclusive to subscribers, but every once in a while I'll share something here as well. The following is from...
announcing

Announcing The Whizzers Launch Team!

This weekend, I got my edited copy of Whizzers back from editing and sent out my monthly newsletter announcing the formation of the Whizzers Launch Team. Stuff is a-happening! As Mike Ehrmantraut once said to Jessie Pinkman, "Big doings today." Of course, that...
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...
serial

If You Don’t Write in a Serial Format, Good Luck With Amazon Classifications

This week’s topic is one near and dear to my grizzled, cynical old heart—adjusting to the nightmarish landscape of book classifications. Some writers have no problem with this stuff, and hey, more power to you. But as I wrote in What I’ve Learned In Six Years of...
perils

Instafreebie and The Perils of Evil

Most of you who read this blog know that I'm not a big one on writing about the perils of evil...at least not at the same level as the serial killers or the kings of genocide. Sure, I've got some pretty bad people in my books: Johnny, the doper and rapist in Brothers'...
radio shows

Radio, Radio

Normally, when I've done radio shows, it's been related to promotion of a novel, or of my novels in general. This week, it's something completely different. (If you got the Monty Python reference, kudos. If not, Google them after you read this post. Then thank me in...
break

Taking A Break

Today I'm taking a break from the regular weekly blog post—not because everyone is exhausted (which is true enough) but because we had a four-hour blackout in my neighborhood this afternoon! So now I'm too busy to create anything new, and time has run out....
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...
can we talk

Can We Talk?

I don't know how many of my blog readers are familiar with Joan Rivers—possibly not that many—but there was a time when the catchphrase Can we talk? was known to just about every adult in America. Joan may be gone, but it seems like people are talking more than ever....
Can We Talk?

Can We Talk?

I don’t know how many of my blog readers are familiar with Joan Rivers—possibly not that many—but there was a time when the catchphrase Can we talk? was known to just about every adult in America. Joan may be gone, but it seems like people are talking more than ever. All talk, all the time, everywhere you go.

I’ve always been a bit of a talker myself. I get that from my mother. Growing up in our house, Mom sat at the kitchen table with us three guys, my father, my older brother and me. Dad was extremely quiet, and my brother took after him somewhat in that respect.

As the youngest in the family, I sat there at the table listening to my mother’s endless monologues about the cute kids she taught at school. I can’t help thinking there was a moment when I looked from my father to my brother and thought, “Aren’t either of you going to do anything about this?”

And when the answer turned out to be No, I started talking. If I didn’t, she would. So I became the second most talkative member of my immediate family.

 

An Ear For Dialogue

I first learned I had something of an ear for dialogue while still in high school. When my friends responded well to a little short fiction I’d written, I was hooked. Looking back, those first stories were actually pretty terrible, but they were still decent first efforts. What stands out most: the dialogue.

In college and grad school, I learned that I had to take my professors’ praise with a healthy grain of salt. They were impressed with my writing skills, and gave me good grades, but they didn’t have to write for a living. A professional writer-in-residence came along, and this guy was one cool dude. He hung out with us students, we got him high, and all was well with the world, as far as I was concerned. The one thing I remember him saying was that I had an “ear for dialogue.” That stuck with me.

 

Examples From Novels

Looking back now at some of the work I’ve done in my life, I can find examples of dialogue that still pleases me in its economy and how the characters can be easily differentiated from each other. For example:

 

“Now you just shut up and listen to me —”

“What?” His eyes blazed. “What?”

“I said shut up and —”

He seized her arm and she dropped the pan, paralyzed, his grip like some steely claw digging into her soft flesh.

“Nobody, Louise—nobody—tells me to shut up. Okay?” His teeth clenched, sweat trickled down his forehead.

“Let go of my arm, you bastard.”

“Did you hear what I said?”

“Let go, you —” She tried to hit him.

“Nobody!” he screamed, flinging her back. [From Brothers’ Hand.]

 

Another example:

“Of course, in Americar, one meets so many women… but I’ve found almost all of them—the good-looking ones, anyway—are frightfully ordinary. And they’re almost always paired off with some bloody swaggering Cro-Magnon man who’s got all the tact and delicacy of a Mongolian idiot.” [From Miles of Files.]

 

And finally: 

Someone had recently asked how old his kids were and, without thinking, he’d replied, “About three and a half marriages.” [From Miles of Files.]

 

The example from Brothers’ Hand shows unbearable tension and even violence between a parent and child, but above all, the dialogue shows a clear difference between who’s speaking, without a lot of he said/she said attributions. I’m proud of how that came out.

The samples from Miles of Files are much different: they demonstrate a grim humor, and both make their characters (the British Graham and the American Mac, respectively) look pretty bad. A lot of this stuff happens organically for me, and requires little rewrite. It just flows.

So there you have it—a bit about dialogue from an author who’s always found creating it to be one of the least difficult aspects of writing a novel. Can we talk?

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...

Breaking Into the Top 100

Recently, I posted something on LinkedIn called Author, Entrepreneur, or Authorpreneur? My point was that, if you're interested in breaking into the top 100 in your Amazon category, you're probably going to have to spend some time acting like a businessperson when it...
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...

“Narratives of Transcendent Origin and Power”

Somewhere around a million years ago, I received a gift from a fellow writer, a book called Walking on Alligators by Susan Shaughnessy. I wasn't familiar with Ms. Shaughnessy, but the book is subtitled A Book of Meditations for Writers, and it has a format similar to...
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...
technophobia

Technophobia: A Writer’s Confession

To today's computer-savvy readers, "technophobia" might sound like a quaint leftover from the 20th century. You remember, right? Back in the 1980s, guys like me wrote poems of dismay about the invasion of technology into the arts. I still remember the words I penned...
genre writer

The Challenge of Writing in a Different Genre for the First Time

I’ve never been what you’d call a genre writer. In fact, I’ve said this for years: “I’m not a genre writer.” Problem is, we live in an age where everything must be classified. It’s weird. I’m a guy who grew up listening to a lot of rock (the genre formerly known as...

Talk of der Führer at the Local Library??

This past weekend I had a pretty weird, disturbing experience related to Nazism, which I only documented on my personal Facebook page. In retrospect, it's probably just as good for blog fodder as anything else. I must be a little naive, because somehow I've managed to...
MLK

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2022

Here’s wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For many of us, today is always something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seemed to take in recent years....
happy new year

Happy New Year From Mike Sahno – Author. Speaker. Publisher.

Today was the last day of 2018, and it's also my last blog post of the year. I almost missed it. One of the only reasons I've had success as an author, speaker and publisher is because I've been both relentless and consistent. I used to think my natural, God-given...
Roll With The Punches, Baby!

Roll With The Punches, Baby!

Today is just one of those Mondays.

I got a letter from the IRS that said they “believe there’s a miscalculation” in my return. So that big $300 refund I was planning on receiving? Fuhgeddaboutit. But hey, at least I don’t owe them anything, and they’re not auditing me. Woo hoo!

To make matters worse, the stock market is in turmoil today, too. My modest retirement account is showing a -0.29 returnand the day’s not even over yet. Happy Monday!

Not long ago, I wrote a piece about how sometimes things just don’t go your way. I was thinking about this over my morning coffee when I read a quote in a book called Touchstones that resonated with me. I’d like to share it with you.

“Winning provides us with motivation and fun. But when we give primary importance to being a winner, we weaken and lose balance.”

Windshield or Bug?

Wow. I was stunned to come across that quote this morning, as it hasn’t exactly been a winning month so far.

And it’s just life stuff. The standard issue, soul-sucking life stuff that usually comes at you in bunches. A grown-up will say, “Well, that’s life sometimes,” and still have a positive attitude. Still buckle up for the ride, suit up, show up, and do the work that needs to be done.

That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m the adult here. I can be an adult in these situations. Right?

It’s “love bug” season here in Florida, and I was reminded of an argument with my ex-wife when I saw all those nasty bugs on the front of the car earlier. The argument came one day when she was complaining about something (as she often did), and I said, “Some days you’re the windshield and some days you’re the bug.”

My ex just didn’t get that expression, and thought I was calling her an insect. So my misguided effort to give comfort led to one of our many arguments.

I lost that argument, and a whole lot more, but so what? Some days you win, some you lose. Life goes on. Next Monday, maybe, will be much better. And when it arrives, I’ll be here celebrating, God willing.

And who knows? The rest of this week may be an okay week, or even a great one. One day at a time.

biscuit

“What Do You Want for Nothing—A Rubber Biscuit?”

Readers who are old enough to remember the Blues Brothers’ cover version of The Chips’ Rubber Biscuit will no doubt understand the reference in today’s headline. For everyone else: just shorten it to “What do you want for nothing?” I guess that’s my way of saying,...
deferred

21st Century Etiquette (Or the Lack Thereof)

"There are so many unreliable people now that being reliable in and of itself is a valuable rare trait." - Louis Leung I have always thought that certain bare minimum requirements for etiquette are particularly important in business. For example: "do what you said you...

Writers Kickin’ It Old-School

Today was one of those days when I thought I might have to start kickin' it old-school. Not even halfway through the afternoon, my brand new modem/router went on the fritz. Suddenly, I couldn't work. My day was already well-planned out, with social media posts for...
history

Nostalgia, Conspiracies, and A Vanishing World

Recently, I’ve been visiting the minutiae of history a little more than usual. Some of my readers may be aware that I’m a a big music fan, and have collected music in various formats over most of my life. While it’s often digital these days, I've also been known to...
answer

We’re All Looking For The Answer

Today’s post is a bit of a topic combo, if there is such a thing. What’s on my mind? Elements of a February 2019 post called No More For The Road and the March 2019 post I Survived Catholic School. Don’t worry. I won’t repeat what’s in them. You can read them for...

Strictly Commercial In SE Asia

Three weeks is not a normal lapse of time between blog posts for me. I try to blog at least once a week, anyway, but from November 9th through November 23rd, I was on my first real vacation since 2015. The destination: my wife's native Thailand. This was my fifth trip...

Indie Authors & Literary Fiction

Back in July, I posted an interview with fellow indie author Jay Lemming.  Jay has a terrific ongoing project simply called “Survey: Indie Writers of Literary Fiction.” In his survey, he asks fellow lit fiction authors about one of their novels, and in particular,...
punches

Roll With The Punches, Baby!

Today is just one of those Mondays. I got a letter from the IRS that said they "believe there's a miscalculation" in my return. So that big $300 refund I was planning on receiving? Fuhgeddaboutit. But hey, at least I don't owe them anything, and they're not auditing...
sanity

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #10: Maintaining Some Semblance of Sanity

I’m going off the rails on a crazy train. —Ozzy Osbourne, "Crazy Train"   Last October, I posted an article on pandemic fatigue, about how 2020 had been exhausting. Ha ha ha! The pandemic was only seven or eight months old by then! Who’da thunk it? I must be some...
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...