A Free Ebook From Sahno Publishing—And An Open Invitation For More

A Free Ebook From Sahno Publishing—And An Open Invitation For More

Regular readers of this blog might be surprised to see me write about giving an ebook away. In fact, I wrote a post a few months ago called Why I Think Giving Your Work Away Is (Mostly) A Bad Idea.

So why the change of heart, you may ask?

Actually, there’s no change of heart here. I don’t have a free ebook on Amazon, namely because they won’t let me. You see, I’m not what you’d call an “Amazon-only” author. My novels are also available on Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, and a variety of other platformsnot just the internet giant.

As I wrote in that previous article, I think giving your work away is generally not a good thing. Who else is expected to do that? If a rock musician goes into the studio and works on an album for a year, is he expected to give the thing away when it comes out? Heck, even your local plumber expects to get paid that day for his work. Why should a hard-working writer be any different?

But, okay, I get it: you write a series, and you can enroll people by luring them in with the free ebook. And Amazon, in its infinite wisdom, can get all sorts of free stuff from you, if you’re a writer. Can you say “Kindle Unlimited?”

So that’s my reasoning. And I won’t even go into the many ways Amazon punishes writers for not being Amazon-exclusive. Just one example: the company currently lists the paperback version of my novel Jana, which retails at $17.95, for under $4. Get ’em while they’re hot, folks!

 

Rides From Strangers

When it comes to the giveaway game, I’ve always resisted heavily, as you can understand from the examples above. And so you may wonder where my short story collection Rides From Strangers fits in.

As I put together the manuscript and paid for cover and interior design, I had a thought: maybe this slim volume of short stories wouldn’t command much of a cover price. In fact, maybe it wasn’t economically viable to pay additional costs to create a print version at all.

I still hope the day will come when it makes sense to print copies of the collection; I’d love people to be able to hold the book in their hands. But for now, I prefer to give the ebook version awaysomething I simply can’t do on Amazon, since I’m not exclusive to their platform.

Rides From Strangers is an eclectic collection. Some of the stories are a little scary; some are a tad vulgar; some are probably hopelessly sentimental. All reflect my own aesthetic.

And I think the best way to put it out there is to give you an incentive to get it: join the email newsletter list at no obligation to get a free copy, either in PDF or EPUB format. You’ll get news on what I’m working on, recommendations of other cool authors, and who knows: I may even give something else away.

If you decide later to unsubscribe, no harm, no foul; the ebook is still yours to enjoy.

Have a great week, and as always, thanks for reading!

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The Power of an Attorney

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Would You Like A Side Order of Misogyny, Prejudice, or Homophobia With That?

Would You Like A Side Order of Misogyny, Prejudice, or Homophobia With That?

I didn’t intentionally set out to write a new novel addressing the rampant intolerance, Islamophobia, and racism in America today. I really didn’t.

My novels always start with a character, or characters. Sometimes their actions get pretty hectic right out of the gate; other times, there’s more of a slow burn. But character is first and foremost, and I’ve even written a blog post on that subject. I’ll start new projects with snippets of dialogue, or interior monologue, belonging to an as-yet-undefined character.

Such was the genesis of my latest WIP—that’s Work-in-Progress for all you non-writers out there—a novel tentatively titled Jihad Insurance. Before I had a title or even a theme, I had J. Edgar Schnatz, an obnoxious, fully-realized Hollywood director with a potty mouth and a truckload of politically incorrect opinions. In fact, I might more accurately say he had me. Well, he had my attention anyway.

 

It’s Still Annoying to Use the Word Zeitgeist, Right?

Okay, I won’t start this section off with it, but something in the air right now must have influenced me to move forward with Jihad Insurance and J. Edgar’s unholy adventures. It’s ironic, too: prior to delving into the first and second chapters of the manuscript, I didn’t even have an opening. On the other hand, I had over twenty pages of a historical novel that’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. Somehow, that book would have to wait.

One of the weirdest things about writing a blog post discussing a WIP is I haven’t discussed it with anyone else. The only thing I’ve shared about this novel is some dialogue, which I read to an old college friend. (It’s hilarious…and yes, he laughed.) So I find myself in the awkward position of writing about something I don’t know much about, this developing novel.

Of course, I’ve mapped out a general plot line, and I’ve created some character sketches of people whose roles I don’t quite understand yet. I’m sure, as time goes on, more will be revealed. That’s the creative process.

 

Is One Theme Overarching?

I don’t have an answer to that question, although I have my suspicions. But I thought I’d throw it out there today as the theme to this week’s post—which is a day late, I know, owing to a little WordPress problem. And the question for you, the reader, is this: do you think one of our many cultural problems is most in need of being urgently addressed above the others?

Systemic racism, personal prejudices and bigotry, misogyny…these all play their parts in my upcoming novel. The trigger warning, if I were inclined to write such a thing, would be longer than most short stories. But is there one theme, above all others, you’d like to see addressed—no matter how painful it might be to read?

And there’s the rub, as it were. This novel is undoubtedly going to be filled with some of the ugliest human behavior around. Not physical violence, but violent language, rudeness, insensitivity to the sensibilities of any decent reader, really. That’s sort of the point. It’s satirical, and the characters’ bad behavior shows them in their truest, least flattering, light.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

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

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 onstage with Joni Mitchell—apparently directing her in a transition from solo acoustic performance to a chorus line—to sitting in a classroom, either high school or college. The instructor mentioned Syd Barrett, and I reacted rather strongly—as opposed to the rest of the class, who did not react at all. A fairly unsetting degree of unwanted attention, something I’ve garnered at multiple junctures in real life as well.

When you’re an empath, your cage definitely gets rattled in situations that wouldn’t bother less sensitive souls in the least. So it’s no surprise to me that I have dream versions of these same types of experiences.

It’s interesting how many of them take me all the way back to high school or college, though. You know those dreams people have where they’re suddenly naked? I never get those. In my most anxious dreams, I’m in college and trying to find my mailbox, or unable to find the key to the mailbox, or finding said mailbox overflowing with unopened letters.

Always with the mail. Maybe they’re test results.

 

Coming Of Age In the 20th Century

It’s funny writing about mail, since most of us aren’t expecting a whole lot of snail mail these days. I won’t even go down the political rabbit hole a USPS discussion could take me, but I’m fascinated by how much my coming of age in the 20th century was driven by expectations about mail—writing letters to girls, waiting for cards from relatives…and yes, even the Columbia Record Club. Somehow, I recall, I managed to get one over on those scammers.

And I’ve been thinking about some of these things because I recently read a coming-of-age story that takes place in the 1980s. Coming-of-age stories mean different things to different people. I’d imagine that, for a certain demographic, some Judy Blume books are coming-of-age novels.

I took a long time to come of age, having stunted my own emotional growth from my early teens to my mid-20s with heavy, uh, partying. For me, a 20-something book can easily be a coming-of-age story.

 

Blast from My Past

Brothers’ Hand, my first full-length novel, is a kind of coming-of-age story. Jerome Brothers, a guy in his 20s, hangs out almost exclusively with teenagers. Part of it is that he’s single and at loose ends, while all his friends from college have moved away, gotten married, and so on. But part of it is also, surely, that he’s just a tad emotionally immature. Such was the author himself in those post-grad-school years.

I think it’s quite fascinating how early experiences can shape our lives in many ways. I’ve read that, from a developmental viewpoint, a child’s personality is pretty much fully formed by the time they are eight. Eight! It’s no surprise, then, that the things we do in our second and third decades can also loom large throughout the remainder of our lives.

For me, a lot of it is musically-oriented, as the Joni dream referenced above illustrates. Between the ages of about nine and 29, I probably learned the lyrics to over a thousand songs, just from exposure, singing along with them, obsessing over records, tapes, and then CDs when they came along.

And one of the best things about middle age for sure: I know I’ve definitely, by now, come of age. I’m not what I will be, I’m not yet what I want to be, but I’m sure as hell a lot better than I used to be.

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“Broke Down And Busted In The Promised Land”

Man, are you exhausted or what? I know I am. We all are, right?

In fact, I was thinking of titling today’s blog post Exhausted, but then the phrase “broke down and busted” drifted into my mind.

It comes from a song by a band called The Hilltops, which eventually morphed into Blue Mountain in the 90s. Here are the opening lyrics:

By the side of the road where the weeds grow wild / There’s a woman walking with a fatherless child

With her eyes on the ground, walking hand in hand / Broke down and busted in the promised land.

 

Regression or Withdrawal?

I couldn’t find a photo on Pixabay to go with those lyrics, but I did a search for exhausted. Hence the cat picture.

Between the pandemic and the nationwide protests here in what Joni Mitchell once called “Good-Old-God-Save-America,” I think a lot of people are feeling broke down and busted.

And I don’t know if it’s a regression into childhood or a withdrawal into myself, but I chose that cat photo because it struck a chord with me.

We had a cat named Gumdrop when I was a young boy (yes, I named her), and she got a little notch in her ear from a fightlike the cat in the picture. I hadn’t thought about that little notch, or the cat for that matter, in years.

Cats sleep about twenty hours a day on average, I once read, and then spend the other four hunting, eating, or whatever. I don’t know about you, but I envy them right about now.

So I’m going to keep this short today. Stay safe, everyone—and get some rest!

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