Who Are You? And What Do You Want?

Who Are You? And What Do You Want?

Readers of this blog who are also movie buffs may be able to help me out today: tell me where I got that title about identity!

I’m fairly certain there was an old movie or TV show where a character said, “Who are you? And what do you want?” But for the life of me, I can’t remember it.

Turns out there are quite a few places those questions get put together—from the Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon (haven’t seen it) to The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (seen it, but that’s not the exact quote).

Whatever the origin, these questions have been asked by millions of people over thousands of years. They’re the “big questions” about one’s identity. And it occurred to me that a reader new to the blog, dropping in out of nowhere, might wonder, Who is this guy? And why is he blogging about all this stuff?

It’s been a while since I’ve done an introduction of myself here, so today is going to be a bit of that.

 

 

Who Am I?

Well, this could take all day, but I’ll keep it brief. I’ve been a writer nearly my entire life, and by the time I finished graduate school with my M.A. in English Lit and Writing, I was pretty well overqualified for your average writing gig.

Without any publications under my belt, though, I didn’t have many employment opportunities. It was the classic conundrum: “I need a job to get experience, but without any experience, no one will hire me.”

So I worked on my personal writing projects between the time I got my master’s and the time I got my first full-time writing job at the ripe old age of 37. That was a full two decades ago, and since then I’ve published my first four novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve run my own company since 2015.

 

 

What Do I Want?

Fame and glory, of course! But in all seriousness, I’d like people to read my fiction. And, to gain the interest of an ever-widening circle of readers, I give away my short story collection Rides From Strangers in ebook format to anyone who joins my email newsletter list. It’s not available anywhere else, so you’ve got to get it here.

Ideally, I’d like people to check out my other books, and if you like the short fiction, I think you’ll love the full-length novels. All are available in paperback via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and even Wal-Mart. Check out any of their websites and just type in my last name: S-A-H-N-O. The ebook versions are also available through Kobo.

Want to learn more? The best way is to Google SAHNO. In addition to this website, that first page of results also gets you to my Amazon author page, Twitter, LinkedIn and Goodreads. If you’re interested in interviewing me for a podcast or blog, reach out through one of those channels, and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

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...
ebook

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

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story

The Power of Story

It’s been a noisy week in Tampa… In the mid-1990s, I felt like I had a surplus of free time. A new transplant to Florida, I worked a menial job in a mortgage company, spent my evenings tightening up two out of my three Great American Novels, and trying to live a bit...
software

How Hard Is Software Supposed to Be?

So last week I took the Memorial Day holiday off from everything: no blog, no book project...nothing. Just me and my wife enjoying the day off from work. We don't get that many of those together, so it was nice to just hang out, sleep late, and watch mindless TV shows...
ebook

Are Stories Inevitably Autobiographical?

Recently, I’ve been writing quite a bit about writing, providing some explanations about why I write what I write. I’ve even got an upcoming podcast appearance talking a lot about my background and history in relation to my works of fiction. In the case of my short...
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...
scam

Is the American Dream Just a Straight-Up Marketing Campaign?

Warning: profanity ahead. I should just start all my posts with that from now on: profanity ahead. I was scrolling through my Twitter feed recently when I saw someone had tweeted something like, What's the biggest scam of all time? Patriotic Americans might be shocked...
IngramSpark KDP

Using IngramSpark and KDP Print For Your Paperbacks

This week's post is about using two different companies for Print-On-Demand publishing—IngramSpark and KDP. Ever since Amazon began offering services to authors, there's been a question in the indie author community: should I use them? My answer, initially, was a...
Books: Great Holiday Gifts, or The Greatest Holiday Gifts?

Books: Great Holiday Gifts, or The Greatest Holiday Gifts?

I saw a cartoon the other day that features a character who’s starting to sing, “It’s beginning to look a lot like…” A second character quickly and quietly puts the first character down, saying, “Shh. Sleep now.”

Dark stuff, right? But hey, these are dark times—in the eyes of some of us, anyway. What could be more appropriate than “inappropriate” humor? Especially if you truly loathe the holidays.

 

Putting the “Fun” in “Dysfunctional”

If you’ve read this blogor, in particular, my most recent novel—you may be aware that I grew up in a dysfunctional family.

How dysfunctional, you ask?

Well, let’s just say I hate the holidays. Both December 25th and 31st have been truly awful on multiple occasions in my life.

When I was a kid, there was a fair-to-good chance on any major holiday that Dad would stop off at the American Legion after work and come home with a good buzz on, leading to Mom getting angry, an argument ensuing….

Put it this way: I call holidays “horror-days.”

 

And This Has to Do With Books How?

With that background, you might wonder why I’d bring up the holidays at all. But hey, it’s a weekly blog, so why not? And the holidays are almost upon us again. Yay!

I’ve developed my own healthy non-traditional rituals for getting through the holidays, so don’t worry. I’ll be fine. And since I wanted to talk about books and holidays this week, I figured why not combine them?

If you’re an author, and you haven’t already mapped out a holiday marketing strategy, get busy! There’s still time left (a little) before Thanksgiving. And if you’re a reader, why not give a gift you can open again and again? I wish I could tell you how many times I’ve gotten a book as a gift, but the number isn’t as high as I’d have liked. I love books!

So there you have it: a Monday blog about both books and the upcoming holidays. And remember, a book may not be the greatest possible gift, but it’s still a pretty great gift.

spirituality

Spirituality in the Fictional World

Almost two years ago, I wrote a post called Talking About A Metaphysical Work where I tried to discuss spirituality in fiction. At least, that's what I thought I was doing. See, I had just published my fourth novel, Whizzers, and I knew I needed to promote it. I had a...

A Conversation With Literary Author Jay Lemming

Today's blog post is a little different - an interview with fellow literary novelist Jay Lemming, author of Billy Maddox Takes His Shot. I'll let the interview speak for itself, but for more on Jay, visit his website at https://jaylemming-author.com. Thanks for...
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,...
spiritual

Do You Have An Interest in the Spiritual?

Today’s post is the second of a three-part series I’m creating on some of my personal interests. Last week, I wrote about metaphysics; this week, I’m writing about spirituality; and next week, I’ll be writing about music.Of course, the metaphysical and spiritual are...
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...
scam

Is the American Dream Just a Straight-Up Marketing Campaign?

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genre writer

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

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Whizzers

The Glories of Language: Making Stuff Up and Other Fun Things I Do

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post

Why Subscribe To A Blog?

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you probably know I post something new on my blog most Mondays. Or maybe you don’t know that at all. I’ll admit, I’m not exactly the greatest promoter of my own blog. When it comes to social media platforms like Twitter, I'm...
slow

How Fast Is Too Fast? And How Slow Is Too Slow?

Do you crank out copy at a fast and furious rate? Or are you “the slow one,” the writer who labors over every word, phrase, or even punctuation mark? Or, even more weirdly, are you one of those writers who strikes a happy medium between racing and plodding? I must...
“I Want to Bang on the Drum All Day”

“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 known as a bit of a musical wizard, an intellectual type not easily pigeonholed. Described on Wikipedia as “unorthodox,” Rundgren had two big hits in the early 70s, “Hello It’s Me” and “I Saw the Light,” both pop confections that still sound timeless today.

Ten years went by and Rundgren hit the charts again with the purposefully moronic “Bang the Drum All Day.” Favorite lyrics include the following:

 

Every day when I get home from work

I feel so frustrated

The boss is a jerk

And I get my sticks and go out to the shed

And I pound on that drum like it was the boss’s head

Because I don’t want to work

I want to bang on the drum all day

 

I mean, come on. Who wouldn’t like that guy? Well, okay, maybe a few bosses…

 

“Ready for your next assignment?”

This afternoon I tried to find a clip from Charlie’s Angels that said “Good morning, angels. Ready for your next assignment?” But to no avail. Instead I fell down a YouTube rabbit hole featuring Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and Farrah Fawcett. It’s been hours!

I’m kidding, of course, but today I did feel a bit like Charlie’s Angels must have felt sometimes when they heard his voice piping out of that vintage Western Electric speakerphone. A sense of “another one?”

In short, I’m ready for Thanksgiving.

Don’t get me wrong: I love it that my clients keep feeding me work. And right after finishing one assignment today (17 articles), I got another one (ten more). It’s good news. I’m grateful, as I should be during “Gratitude Month.”

But really: I’m ready to watch some football on a full stomach.

Have a great week—and I’ll see you right before the official holiday!

spiritual

Do You Have An Interest in the Spiritual?

Today’s post is the second of a three-part series I’m creating on some of my personal interests. Last week, I wrote about metaphysics; this week, I’m writing about spirituality; and next week, I’ll be writing about music.Of course, the metaphysical and spiritual are...
guilt

The Problem With Guilt-Inducing Advice

I frequently see tweets asking, “What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever heard?” I don’t know if I want to comment on that, exactly, but I do have something else in mind. Probably the biggest cliché writers will ever hear is some variation on the old saw, Write...

About Brothers’ Hand

As Sahno Publishing continues the marketing campaign in upstate New York for Brothers’ Hand, I want to check in both with readers and potential readers. Like the blurb on the back of the book says, this is a story about Jerome Brothers, who comes from a small town in...
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'...
ledge

Nightmare On Acid Street

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“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,...

Blogging About…Blogging?

Last week I blogged a bit about my upcoming relaunch of Miles of Files and the accompanying blog tour. This week, I'm not delivering just more of the same. Other exciting events are afoot! First off, I'm pleased to announce that I'm going to be hosting another guest...
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...
procrastination

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #2: Procrastination

Last week I started a new series here on the blog, “Writer Problems.” Naturally the idea is to offer solutions, but I’m always happy to get suggestions. Feel free to reply in the comments below. Whereas last week’s blog was a lengthy meditation on insomnia, today I...
Got Those Old Indie Author Newsletter Blues

Got Those Old Indie Author Newsletter Blues

It’s Monday again, and that means it’s time for my weekly blog post. Today I’m going to talk a bit about newsletters—more specifically, the kind of newsletter an indie author like myself sends to his readers.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, an author newsletter is much like any newsletter, I suppose. The difference is that an author, depending on his or her style, readership, and personality, can customize newsletters to the point where one author’s idea of a newsletter is completely different from another’s in every way imaginable.

 

Why Send A Newsletter in the First Place?

I know no one is actually asking me that question right now, but let’s pretend you did. Glad you asked!

Just as each newsletter is different, authors have different reasons for sending them—from gaining readers to creating an ongoing dialogue. I would say that, generally speaking, the reasons authors have a newsletter list are as follows:

1) Get connected – Every writer is by nature a communicator. A newsletter is a great way to reach out and make some kind of connection. I’m a fan of comedian Marc Maron, who hosted quite a few Instagram live chats during the height of the pandemic. About 500-1,000 people showed up. Some were trolls, but most checked in, asked Marc questions, and made comments. On his podcast, he mentioned he was doing this, and wondered aloud as to why. He answered his own question by talking about how it’s good to feel connected with people.

2) Stay connected – We all have a relationship of some kind with artists and the work they create. In the case of a comedian and actor like Maron, he has an ongoing dialogue with fans, and they genuinely care about him. Though no celebrity myself, I’ve always sought to build a relationship with all readers—not so much because I want “fans,” but because I write to communicate feelings and insights, and love to know how these touch my readers. Which leads me to…

3) Building readership – Like anyone who works hard at his craft, I’d love an ever-growing base of readers. I was actually thrilled when I got my first 5-star review of Whizzers from a reader in Canada. And what better way to reach readers on an ongoing basis, in between projects, than a newsletter?

 

So Why The Blues?

I don’t always have news or updates each month, so I asked my subscribers a while back how they’d feel if I changed my newsletter from monthly to quarterly. Now, I have a great open rate from my list—ranging anywhere from 20% to 65% in an industry where the average open rate is 15%. So I know my readers are pretty engaged. The bummer was that only one person responded, and the response was basically, “Yeah, quarterly would be fine. Can I have that free e-book you mentioned?”

Which is fine, really. It’s a big commitment to create a newsletter every month, so in one sense I was relieved. One good thing: another reader getting a copy of Rides From Strangers, the free short story collection I mentioned. It’s only available to newsletter subscribers. I’ve wanted to get this onto the devices of as many readers as possible over the past few years, but it hasn’t taken off like I’d hoped it would. Perhaps if I’d been willing to pay more money to market it, but come on—it’s free! How much should I spend, really?

To get your free copy of Rides From Strangers, all you have to do is go here and provide an email address. There’s no obligation, I’ll never give your email away, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Thanks for stopping by, and, as always, thanks for reading!

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...
asia

Adventures In Southeast Asia

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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...
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And So The Tour Ends

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running

Running & Writing: A Classic Combo

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Whizzers

Authors’ Pandemic Sales and The Dubious Metric of “Necessities” Vs. “Luxuries”

​Considering everything going in the world, the past week was a pretty good one for me. Almost a year after its initial publication, my novel Whizzers—which had flatlined in the Kindle store—suddenly spiked to #179,500. When one of your babies jumps that much, it gets...
copyright

When Do You Need To Copyright Your Work?

​Over the past few weeks, I’ve written a couple of well-received blog posts on the publishing process, one of which is about the importance of having a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) and the other of which is called What’s the Risk to Not Having A...
followers

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

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“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...
Navigating the Murky Waters of Political Correctness

Navigating the Murky Waters of Political Correctness

“If you don’t have a sense of humor, it just isn’t funny.” 

Wavy Gravy

 

When it comes to political correctness, I’m not convinced we should go back to the “good old days.” I mean, do we really want to go back to calling someone born to an unwed mother a bastard? Heck, people don’t even use the phrase “unwed mother” or “out of wedlock” anymore, do they? Come to think of it, what do we call them? I guess we don’t call them anything, and isn’t that the whole point?

 

The Blunt Instrument of Satire

I was considering these rather unpleasant questions, at least in part, because I’m working on a novel of a highly delicate nature.

Nah, I’m kidding. In fact, I’m working on a novel of a highly indelicate nature: Jihad Insurance, the fictional equivalent of a blunt instrument. The main character, sleazy Hollywood director J. Edgar Schnatz, decides to make a “mainstream” porn movie with as many famous actors as he can find. Chaos ensues.

It’s not exactly what you’d call politically correct.

 

A Tongue-in-Cheek Trigger Warning

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no way to write a satirical novel of this nature without being politically incorrect. So I will be prefacing it with an all-inclusive, tongue-in-cheek “trigger warning.” It begins with “If you’ve ever done porn; been molested…,” and goes on to list everything I could think of in terms of possible triggers, concluding with “a work of fiction that makes fun of everyone and everything may not be for you.”

I’m generally not in favor of political correctness, despite my far-left liberal stance on most positions. While it’s a little old school, I believe there’s a vast gulf between speaking or writing a word and calling someone that word.

I write this in a time where we have become an increasingly infantilized nation, what with the “N-word,” the “C-word,” the “F-word,” and who knows how long before we use up the other 23 letters in the alphabet in this manner. When you consider the number of actual bombs our country drops on people, we really shouldn’t be traumatized by an individual using an “F-bomb”…should we?

What do you think? Shall we tiptoe more and more around what might offend our friends’ and neighbors delicate sensibilities? Or should we put on our big-boy and big-girl pants and grow the hell up? You know where I stand. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

genre writer

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

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family

Forget the Big “Family & Friends” Plan

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A Journey with A Few Heiresses

Way back in 2016, I got a guest spot on a blog called Writing in the Modern Age by an author named Marie Lavender. Of all the writers I've contacted online, Marie has to be the most prolific – more than 20 books published over the course of 15 years. Marie and I have...
creativity

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

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mother's

The Worst Mother’s Day Ever

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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...
running

Running & Writing: A Classic Combo

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trigger

Why Trigger Warnings are Bad for Everybody

Recently I almost got into a Twitter skirmish about trigger warnings, or TWs, as they say in the trade. One of my followers asked the Twitterverse their opinion on them, and I gave mine. In essence, I said I don’t believe in them. While trigger warnings originally...
catholic school

I Survived Catholic School

This post isn’t meant to be provocative, though I understand my readers who also happen to be good Catholics might see it that way. No, it’s something else altogether.Years ago, it wasn’t unusual to hear someone talking about how the nuns hit their knuckles with...
COVID-19

The Scary Weekend I Thought I Had COVID-19

Since March 2020, I’ve lived almost as though there was no such thing as a coronavirus vaccine. You might wonder why, as multiple vaccines have been available since earlier this year, some even before that. I’ll tell you why. My wife is an essential worker who...