Slings and Arrows, Arrows and Slings

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 is difficult, and will end for all of us someday, how shall we live today?

Of course, no one could have imagined then that COVID would be the gift that keeps on killing for years, not months. Or that so many of our fellow citizens would turn out to be such stupid, selfish babies. As I’ve said many times over the past couple years, “You’re not storming the beach at Normandy; you’re being asked to wear a mask at Costco.”

But okay, I get it now: trying to get people to pull in the same direction is like trying to corral cats.

 

Meet the New Year, Same As The Old Year

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed the absence of a post last week.

I was simply not up for it. And I’d had high hopes for January 2022turning a page on what’s been, at best, a write-off, at worst, a terrible couple of years.

Then one of our cars died and had to be replaced.

Then I got thoroughly soaked by a disreputable auto dealership.

My only uncle and godfather, my uncle Jack, died.

Our heater stopped working. It was 47 degrees overnight.

Then the stock market tanked more than it already had this year, lowering the value of my modest retirement account.

Okay, okay, I give! I give!

 

Another Bozo on the Bus

Truthfully, I recognize that these are run-of-the-mill life challenges. Aging relatives pass on, cars and heaters come and go, money is just money. Although my wife worries about it even more than I do, I reminded her last night that we’ve never missed a meal. Our challenges, steep as they may seem at times, are nowhere near those of most people around the world. I get it, I’m just another bozo on the bus.

On the other hand, I could use a little break from the slings and arrows. I’ve got some new projects to start tomorrow after wrapping up January’s many projects. That’s good. My lovely wife has a new job. Fingers crossed, that will be good, too. And this FridayGod willing and the creek don’t rise—I’ll have an astonishing (to me) 33 years of continuous sobriety. That means I’ll get a few unearned “attaboys.” For that alone, I’ll be grateful.

Happy Monday and, as always, thanks for reading.

short blog long video

A Short Blog Post, But A Long Video Interview

Most of my Monday blog posts are a few hundred words long. Sometimes that's because I'm just plain long-winded (hey, I'm a novelist!), but usually it's for SEO purposes. The Google machine tells you that your "content" should always be at least 300 words long. In a...

More on Literary Fiction

While I'm recovering from some oral surgery I had last Friday, I'm inclined to just rest and update my blog another time. But I'll be on vacation soon, so I'd rather post something than nothing. With that, I recommend blog readers check out my fellow literary author,...
authenticity

Putting Yourself Out There

I see a lot of social media posts these days about "authenticity." The idea is that clients and customers, and potential clients and customers, really appreciate your authenticity—mainly because so many fake people have tried to sell them something they didn't want to...
author

Are Authors Typically Obsessive-Compulsive?

Recently I’ve noticed a trend in author blogs toward the confessional. After all, no one wants to read about your characters all the time, and God knows that readers don’t want to read about marketing. They want to know something about you. Happy to oblige. Although...
no more for the road

No More For The Road

I took my last drink 32 years ago. Hard to believe I’ve reached that many years of continuous sobriety. If you’d asked me the day before I stopped drinking whether I had an alcohol problem, I would have said No. Mainly because I didn’t think I did. What I had was an...
relax

Five Ways to Relax During Quarantine

​I thought a good blog post this week would be on how to unwind—not just during our current era of quarantine and “social distancing,” but on any day off. What my wife calls a holiday. That could be any time, right? I’ve been running so hard lately, I've barely had...
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...
launch team

Turning a Street Team Into a Launch Team

If you're reading this blog post in April or May of 2019, you probably already know that my fourth novel, Whizzers, will come out later this year. I'm working on launch ideas of all sorts, and the launch itself is likely going to be late July. For the uninitiated,...
isolation

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #4: Isolation vs. Solitude

I’m a loner With a loner’s point of view —Bruce Cockburn, “Loner”   Writing a novel is a solitary activity. We all know this. And while there are some exceptions to the rule—screenwriters who work on a team in a “writer’s room,” partners who write a book...
racism

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;...
Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2022

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.

Sadly, it wasn’t really a turn. It’s just that much of the racism that still exists in the U.S. was hiding in the shadows until not long ago. The white supremacy movement, the ironically-named Proud Boys, seemed to have been relegated to the fringes. A mere year ago, they were storming the Capitol.

Perhaps there is some good here. Like a wound that will heal sooner if exposed to the air, maybe it’s best that the bandage has been ripped off the pervasive racism that continues to fester in so many communities. 

Still, it’s painfully obvious we have a long, long way to go. Most young people today don’t carry the absurd racist and homophobic beliefs so many of their elders did, or still do. But as the new generation comes of age, we have to equip them with the tools to create real, lasting change.

Therein, perhaps, lie our greatest challenges.

So however you celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, take a moment to reflect on how you can help in the struggle in the years to come. We’ll need every voice, every vote, and every action, from the greatest to the smallest, to win the battle over the forces of hate. As Warren Zevon wrote, They say love conquers all / You can’t start it like a car / You can’t stop it with a gun.

manuscript

Top Five Things to Check Before You Turn Your Manuscript Over

This week's blog post is for my writer friends. Everyone has a checklist of things they know they need to consider before publishing. When it comes time to turn that manuscript into a book, it's all too easy to get caught up in marketing considerations or thoughts of...
famous

Almost Famous—And That’ll Have To Be Enough

Last week I was on the phone with someone who asked me, "Are you the same Mike Sahno who wrote Whizzers?" I must admit, my initial reaction was not a confident, “I certainly am.” In the almost three years since its publication, no stranger has ever asked me that...
attorney

The Power of an Attorney

Last week I missed the deadline to post my Monday blog, then missed any other opportunity through the rest of the week. The reason? I'm power of attorney for my mother, who took a fall and had to be hospitalized. Hence the headline for this week's post. Being power of...
healthcare

Our Broken Healthcare System Vs. The Decent, Affordable Healthcare of a Developing Nation

​Is your country’s health care system an egregious scam that bilks patients out of their money? Mine is. I didn’t have a blog post topic planned for today, but a bill that showed up in my mailbox changed that in a hurry. I’ve been talking about this anecdotally to...

It’s A Small World After All

Most of my blog posts are related in one way or another to the business of being an author - expanding your author platform, improving your book marketing, and so on - and not strictly self-promotional. However, every once in a while, I've got a radio interview or...
syzygy

From The Shadow Side to the Syzygy

Anima rising, Queen of queens Wash my guilt of Eden Wash and balance me - Joni Mitchell, Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow   I’ve always enjoyed learning new words—or, as is more likely at my age, relearning words I’ve forgotten—so I was pleased to put syzygy in the...

But I’m Too Busy to Blog!

If you're like me, you're a committed writer: maybe you keep to a rigorous writing schedule, or maybe you have actually written a full-length book or books. Chances are good that if you're reading this, you're also a blogger. Maybe you even have a blog like this one....
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...
indie author

What I’ve Learned In Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business

As someone who’s spent the better part of the past 20 years making his living as a writer, I definitely have some opinions on what works and what doesn’t in this business. However, there is a subset of that 20 years, and that’s the novelist part of the equation. Some...

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...
Insanity: Writing the Same Thing Over and Over?

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 work on a steady basis. What more could I want?

Well…

Any of my readers who also happen to be writers know a little something about repetition. As a rhetorical device, repetition can be subtly powerful, or not so subtly. Think of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Dr. King used a little device called conduplicatio, which is repeating a phrase over and over for effect, typically at the beginning of a sentence. Powerful and effective, right?

However, there’s another kind of repetition that can drive you a little batty.

 

Great, Great, Great Clients

As I said above, I have great clients. They tell me they appreciate my hard work, and I make their editors’ jobs easy. Unfortunately, sometimes being good at a particular thing can make it, counterintuitively, harder and harder to do.

The example I’m thinking of today is writing short articles for one of my favorite clients. They send me batches of work and I do each batch, one at a time.

These batches resemble previous batches, in that the content is mostly the sameor at least extremely similar to the previous batch. In other words, I have to essentially keep rewriting the same content, again and again.

On the surface, that might not seem difficult. But if you’re a decent self-editor as well as a talented writer, you’ll know one thing: there are only so many ways you can say the same thing and say it well.

Rather than treat each new article as an unknown entity, I now refer to the previous three, or four, or five (the numbers keep getting higher). And what I find is that some articles are better than others. Of course.

No client would want you to copy/paste and charge them the same rate, and this great client of mine is no different. The challenge is that, if I’ve already written it quite well twice—and written it pretty well a third time—how in the heck am I supposed to write it as well or even better a fourth, fifth, or sixth time?

 

The Upside of Not Having a Byline 

This type of work is typically anonymous, and that’s all to the good. I would not want bylines on the same content revised and rewritten and turned inside out four, five, six times. 

So I’m not writing this today to complain. I’m lucky to still have a business after all this pandemic time, and the challenge I’ve described is a textbook example of a First World problem. I get it.

But still, you can understand why I’m feeling a little like I’m at the bottom of a long staircase as I look at my next batches of projects I’ve already written four or five times. Can’t you?

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....

What’s the Worst Thing About Social Media?

I’ve been known to refer to social media as antisocial media, so you might wonder what I think is the worst thing about it. Online bullying? The relentless self-promotion? (Buy my book! Buy my service!) People tagging you or adding you to lists without asking...

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...
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...
railroad

Getting Back on Track

Last week, Hurricane Irma came barreling toward the eastern seaboard like a runaway freight train. Here in Tampa, the weather reports in advance of the storm were even more melodramatic than usual – “Tampa is poised to take its first direct hit from a major hurricane...
holidays

Closed for the Holidays

This week's blog post isn't about writing or reading or even about having a great holiday. It's about self-care. Ordinarily, I don't create an entire blog post about being closed for the holidays, but this year I'm making an exception. I used to work for a company...
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...
newsletter

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...
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...
The Open Door Of A New Year

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 courseI mean the overall spirit. After all, the last couple years have been a little difficult for the world, haven’t they?

New Year’s is a tricky thing. On one hand, we all know it’s just another day. There’s no special magic to December 31st or January 1st, for that matter. Like hours and minutes, the dates we’ve adopted on our calendar only mean something because we assign meaning to them.

Still, it’s tempting to view them as so many others do: as opportunities for growth, change, improvement…you know how it is. New Year’s resolutions come and go (mostly go), and people review their previous year with pride or chagrin.

I’m certainly not immune: this past year I walked an average of 2.4 miles per day and lost 15 pounds. I feel good about that. On the other hand, work commitments prevented me from making as much progress on my Work-in-Progress, Jihad Insurance, as I’d planned. So there’s that.

 

Resolve Not to Resolve

This year I have absolutely no resolutions. My modest improvement from 2.2 miles per day to 2.4 MPD came about organically, and anything I do better this year will have to come about the same way.

In fact, my wife and I have been working our heinies off, and that will likely continue. We built a house for her parents last year, no doubt one of the biggest accomplishments of our lives.

This year promises no rest for the weary, however. Both of us have work commitments that continue to look heavy for the foreseeable future, and that’s not a bad thing. Like I told a friend recently, a job is not a basic right; we’re lucky to have the work.

As we stumble toward what so many of us hope is the end of this long, dark pandemic, we turn toward the open door of a new year. We hope it’s better than last year, or the year before. And we’ll do what we can to make it so.

What’s the Worst Thing About Social Media?

I’ve been known to refer to social media as antisocial media, so you might wonder what I think is the worst thing about it. Online bullying? The relentless self-promotion? (Buy my book! Buy my service!) People tagging you or adding you to lists without asking...
Whizzers

Talking About A Metaphysical Work

On July 21st, I launched my fifth full-length work of fiction, Whizzers. I spent years working on about the first 30% of the novel, then burned through the remaining 70% from late 2018 through March 2019.So now it's the thing on the front burner. When I finished my...
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...

Taking a Page from the Dylan Playbook?

Although he doesn't use the term himself, recent Nobel winner Bob Dylan's relentless touring has been referred to as the Never-Ending Tour. Taking a page from the Dylan playbook might seem like a weird idea for an author, but recently I have thought about doing just...

Lovers In A Dangerous Time

This past weekend, I did what a lot of us are doing nowadays—frittered some time away on Facebook. I'm doing one of those "post the cover of an album you love" every day for a week or whatever, and Sunday's pick was Bruce Cockburn's Stealing Fire, which featured the...
sausage-making

Book Projects: The Sausage-Making

Lately I've been writing a few blog posts about my background and life experiences, some of which may be of interest to my readers. Today I'm going back to talking about books a bit, but I think this topic may interest both fellow writers and non-writers. Of course,...

Short Story Contest Part II

Last week, I launched a short story contest here on my blog as part of a major national promotion. To recap: this is not a call for submissions; I'm serializing a short story in anticipation of my upcoming release of a short collection. Here's how it works: read it...

Cover Reveal: Rides From Strangers

Rides From Strangers is coming! Today’s post is a reminder about the upcoming publication of my new short story collection, which is indeed called Rides From Strangers, after the first story in the book. For those of you already on my email newsletter list, I will be...
staycation

The Big July 4th Staycation

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” —Eugene Ionesco   I'll admit it: last week’s blog post was pretty much non-existent. All I posted was a flag picture and a headline, “Happy birthday,...
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...