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 and send in comments, suggestions, and/or corrections. The best, most helpful one will be the winner. The prize: not only will I send the winner a free copy of the e-book of the story collection itself, but also a free PDF of the novel of their choice! That’s Brothers’ Hand, Jana, or Miles of Files!

The working title for this one is Rides from Strangers, and I’m posting it in three parts. Last week was part I, and here’s part II:

“Lucky guess, man. The hair, you know. You look like a soldier. So, how long were you over there?”

“Too long. Two years, six months and eight days.”

“But who’s counting, eh?” We both laugh, but I still feel jumpy.

“Yeah,” I say. “‘The pay in the army, they say it’s mighty fine. They give you fifty dollars, and take back forty-nine.’”

“That’s a good one.” He slouches down in the seat more, smiling.

“What about you? What do you do?”

He glances out the window. “Me? I’m a buyer, man.” He shrugs the way rich people do when they don’t want to talk about money.

“A buyer, eh? Of what?”

“The ultimate product,” he says, and flashes the amigo grin again. “The ultimate product. So, you like the car?”

Since he’s changing the subject, I don’t feel too comfortable pressing the point. I resolve to forget it for now. “Yeah, it’s amazing. What kind of engine did you say?”

“I dropped a five-o-two crate engine in here,” he says. “Had to customize a bit to do it, you know? All sorts of fabrications. But what the Hell.”

I nod, saying nothing.

“You believe in Hell, amigo?”

Sweat beads up on my forehead. I decide to change the subject a little myself. “Yeah, I just came from there,” I say, and glance over.

He gets the drift, and laughs. “Just came from there. That’s good, man. That’s really good.” He slides down in the seat a little more, getting comfortable. He closes his eyes and I wipe the sweat off my brow.

“We’re only about four miles from Amarillo now,” I say.

“Mm-hm.”

“Nice day for a drive.”

He mumbles something about it being a great car, and I hear it, but I’m suddenly preoccupied by my surroundings. This stretch of highway is pretty bare but I always recognize certain landmarks, in order, from having driven it so often. We’ve just passed one, a big old boulder, and I realize something is drastically wrong with the landscape: not just the absence of the state lottery billboard I see every time I pass this way, but the absence of the building just beyond it, an office complex they built fifteen or twenty years ago. I slow down.

“What the…? Something’s wrong, man. What the Hell’s going on?”

“Hm?” He opens an eye, fixes the stare on me, like a lizard squinting.

“The whole—there’s a building gone from here. It’s just gone!” I pull over and park.

“Yeah, that urban renewal can be a bitch. Well, easy come, easy go, eh?” He grins lazily, closes the eye.

“No, man, you don’t understand: the building’s gone, the parking lot … it’s like it was never here.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

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...

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...
genre

Have You Ever Written In A New Genre?

When you don't normally write genre fiction, it can be difficult to talk to non-writer people about your work.I love the classics, and have always worked hard to create modern classics of my own. You could call them Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, or just...
blog posts

Author Newsletters

I'll be the first to admit I am not an expert on author email newsletters. However, I believe they're important, and I try to be on top of mine every month. Today's blog post is about that. Normally I send out a newsletter to my email list each month on the 6th. Not...

Communication? Keep It Simple, Sweetheart

Last week’s blog post was all about business. This week, I’m still going to talk about business a little, but really it’s more about writing. And if there’s one lesson we should take to heart in writing – in fact, in all our communication – it’s Keep It Simple. Today...
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...
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...

How Freelance Writers Can Ditch The Content Mills – And Get Paid What They’re Worth

So today turns out to be a great day for a guest post, since I've got a sprained wrist – time to rest my hands and arms. Without further ado, here's freelancer extraordinaire Tara Malone on how to ditch the content mills! You’re sick and tired of your day job and...

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...