The Official Blog of Author Michael J. Sahno

Top Ten Words or Phrases That Have to Go

 

 

 

 

So I’ve been looking at some topics for blogs, and I find all kinds of great ideas.  One of the more amusing ones is posting about personal stuff or pet peeves, so your readers get to know you better. This idea can work, but it can also be a disaster. I’ve seen writers post all manner of personal stuff that, quite frankly, I don’t want to know. Worse, there’s no compelling reason to care. Does Glenda’s reader really need to know that she collects her own toenail clippings? Do my readers care that I don’t remember what I had for breakfast two weeks ago, but still remember the lyrics to every Frank Zappa song I learned when I was in high school?

I’m going to guess no. But pet peeves, well, that could be interesting…especially if they’re somehow relevant for writers, or just writing in general for civilians.

And then it hit me: with the continual (d)evolution of our language, there are some highly annoying phrases out there right now that make my skin crawl…that make me feel like that guy above. I’m sure I’m not the only one who majored in English who feels this way. Looking at articles online that address this topic – Most Annoying Words and Phrases of 2016, etc. – I find that even the perennial offenders like “whatever” or “like” don’t bother me as much as some of the others.

So here we go with my current, latest, on-the-fly Top Ten Words or Phrases That Have to Go.

Adulting – I thought it was bad when the word parenting became not only accepted, but common. Never did figure out what was wrong with just saying raising children (maybe it was George Carlin: “Don’t plant ’em too deep!”), but okay…whatever! And now we have devolved to adulting? […]

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 I’m hard at work on a project with a deadline that’s coming up shortly. I was transcribing an interview for it, and the interviewee literally used the phrase “minimizing unnecessary resource utilization.”

Okay, don’t laugh. This is a highly intelligent, educated, well-paid professional. Someone at the top of his game, who’s probably more respected in his field than many of the rest of us ever will be. But still, you have to ask: What exactly does minimizing unnecessary resource utilization mean, anyway? Well, you probably know, don’t you? It means reducing waste. You know, like the waste of unnecessary words.

I don’t mean to be harsh here, but come on. First of all, I have never liked the word utilize. I’d be fine if it were stricken from all dictionaries tomorrow. The word use is perfectly fine, and there’s no real need to ever replace it with a falsely high-falutin’ one like utilize. Of course, this interview had to do with health care and the insurance industry. So a phrase like resource utilization or utilization review wouldn’t have caused me to bat an eye.
But You Like Big Words, Don’t You?
The larger point I want to make here is this: I’m a writer, but that doesn’t mean I have to decorate all my sentences with “impressive-sounding” words. I was in love with language as far back as when I was eight, and my favorite word was antidisestablishmentarianism. I didn’t know what the hell it meant (who does?), but it was my favorite word. Through grammar school […]

Strictly Business

So lately I’ve been looking a little bit like this guy – although this dude is younger, and probably better-looking, than me.  I mean I’ve been hunched over an iMac or MacBook quite a bit, working furiously on building my business.

Now, I know that the people who check this blog to find out about my novels and short stories don’t want to read about that…just like I know that the business people I interact with regularly don’t give a flying flip about my books. So I’ve got a real conundrum. What to write about, what to write about.

Let me just say this: if you’re interested in my fiction, there’s more on the way. The short story collection Rides From Strangers will be available for free download soon. Designers are competing for the cover, and it will be ready soon. I’m just being really picky. I still plan to release it in September, so…not too far away.
But You Said Something About Business?
Oh yeah. This past week, I made some major changes in my current business model. See, my business card reads “Author. Publisher. Speaker. Coach.” But where have I been speaking lately?

You guessed it. Nowhere.

Well, okay, not exactly true. I pitch Sahno Publishing at networking events in front of groups large and small regularly. And I have my Tampa Literary Authors event coming up this weekend. But you get the idea.

You see, my freelance copywriting gigs feed my addiction to writing fiction, not vice-versa. Still, I think speaking engagements that pay me can mean a lot for the company. So I’m dramatically ramping up my speaking efforts over the next 10-12 months, and will become a Certified Master Speaker by the end of May 2018.

I’ve also changed my approach to how many new clients I will take on for writing projects. My […]

Coming Soon: Rides From Strangers

I don’t typically recommend blatant self-promotion in blog posts, though I do have a post here somewhere entitled Blatant Self-Promotion…ha! This week, however, I’m getting excited about my upcoming release, and decided it’s time to talk about it again.

I thought I’d posted about Rides From Strangers recently, but I was wrong. I haven’t blogged about it, anyway, since last August. (Wow! I blew my own mind with how the time has flown.) The last time followers of this blog would have read the title Rides From Strangers, I actually hosted a contest here, where the prize was a free e-book. Now, I’m not posting the story again. The time has come to announce the upcoming publication – in September, no less – of a new book, which is indeed called Rides From Strangers, after the first story in the collection.

For those of you already on my email newsletter list, I’m going to give it to you for free. But that’s not all. I’m also going to offer the e-book for free to anyone who joins the email list.

See, I’ve been going to these business conferences lately, mostly run by companies making seven or more figures per year. And these highly successful business people all have something in common: they give away great content. Some of their best stuff, in fact, is free. It’s all about delivering value.

So that’s where I’m going with Rides With Strangers. I’m putting it out there for free. I really hope people like it. And if they like these short stories enough to buy one of my full-length works of fiction, great; if not, so be it. You don’ t have to subscribe to the email newsletter forever to get the short stories. Sign up, and as soon as the ebook is available, you can download it for free. If […]

Roundup: Best Accounts to Follow On Twitter

Recently I posted on LinkedIn about blog posts, and how many writers struggle to find interesting topics. It occurred to me that, for those of us who are writers and/or entrepreneurs, one good topic for the blog might be Best Accounts to Follow on Twitter.

Of course, this is totally subjective, and part of the problem is your reason behind following someone. Are you looking for inspiration? Entertainment? Advice on business, marketing, and more? All of these? That might drive you to follow people I don’t follow, or drive you away from people I do follow. So rather than make this a one-category post, I’m putting it out there as a sort of catchall. I follow these accounts for a variety of reasons, including inspiration, entertainment, and education. I have an M.A. degree, but it’s in English; I’ve gotten most of my business education from experience and from reading successful business owners…especially in the world of marketing, SEO, etc.

So here are my top ten Best Accounts to Follow On Twitter, in no particular order.

Open Culture – The great thing about Open Culture is that they provide interesting cultural content of all kinds. From a story on a teacher turning Beatles’ songs into Latin to a link to Jorge Luis Borges’ favorite novels, Open Culture is cool…and eminently re-tweetable. No wonder they have over 300K followers.
Maria Popova – Like Open Culture, Maria Popova offers a plethora of cool cultural postings. Much of them are of a literary or philosophical bent, so thinkers and lovers of the arts should really check it out.
Frances Caballo – Social media strategist Frances Caballo found a great niche: authors. I’m a fan of her work as well as a follower, and was more than pleased the day I saw she’d followed me back.
Josh Elledge – When it comes to PR in general, syndicated […]

The Marketing Thing Vs. The Working Thing

Last week, I took a vacation with my lovely wife, and missed doing a blog post entirely. I see where WordPress has an option of writing and scheduling posts, but frankly, I was too busy doing that with my monthly newsletter. I figured I could ignore the blog for a week.

When I came back, I thought I’d end up writing a lengthy post excoriating the Canadian Border Patrol for the absolutely horrendous treatment my wife and I received at the Rainbow Bridge (Border Patrol, you guys suck…you know who you are). But I decided I had bigger fish to fry. Suffice to say, Canada won’t see either of us again any time soon.

It was actually a bit of a working vacation: I had to start a project for my biggest client, which needed to be finished immediately upon our return. I also hosted a book signing event at the library in my hometown, so it wasn’t exactly a restful vacation…unless you consider driving from Niagara Falls to Bristol, CT in one day “restful.” Naturally, I was pleased to return to Florida, where I knew I’d be logging some serious hours at my desk.
But What About Marketing?
So yeah, I’ve been super busy…almost too busy to market my business. Here’s why a look at Anne R. Allen’s blog made me think about marketing, and how important it is. 

I’ve been following Anne’s blog since before my own guest appearance there in March, and this week’s post felt very timely. It’s about having an “author strategy,” and covers branding, production, and discoverability. (You can check it out here.) 

That post reminded me of a conversation with a former colleague of mine right when I started my freelance career full-time. I’d been so used to being an employee, I wasn’t sure whether I could become an entrepreneur at the ripe […]

A Vacation Blog Post and a Manross Library Appearance

The following post has been pre-scheduled. I’ve never tried to pre-schedule a blog post before, so I had to look up how to do it. If you know me well, you won’t be surprised by that. Hey, I’m on vacation while you read this. Modern technology!

I find it interesting to see how many articles are out there on “How to Schedule a Blog Post on WordPress.” Google delivered a bunch of results, including a totally unhelpful video from WordPress themselves. I ended up using an article called “How to Schedule your Posts in WordPress.” Pretty basic, right?

The funny part was the phrase “if you are going for a vacation, but you don’t want to abandon your blog.” Wow, really? Abandon? Talk about a dramatic word choice! I wonder if my poor blog would be sitting by the side of the road crying if I ignored it for an entire week.

Well, okay. Those of you who look in on this blog from time to time probably won’t care if I take a well-deserved vacation. In fact, I’d guess the only reason you read my blog is to find out about me doing something. And this week, I’m planning on doing nothing.

But of course, that’s not completely true. You know how vacations are: you end up driving for twelve or thirteen hours, and that’s not exactly relaxation, is it? And, being a writer, I had to schedule a writerly event. So I’m appearing at the F. N. Manross Memorial Library on Saturday, May 6th at 2:00pm. It’s a nice little library in my nice little hometown. And I intend to be nice and relaxed by the time I get there.

So stop by, if you’re in CT. Pick up a book or three. If you get there early, you might meet a few […]

Goin’ Home

About a million years ago, I read a Peanuts cartoon quoting Thomas Wolfe: “You can’t go home again.” Perhaps fifteen years later, I discovered Wolfe in a lit class, and read Look Homeward, Angel. Eventually, I also got through You Can’t Go Home Again, along with a few others. A troubled genius, Wolfe was also a pretty great read – thanks in large part to that greatest of editors, Max Perkins.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I’ll be going home soon…well, going back to the city where I grew up, Bristol, CT. It hasn’t been “home” for me for a while. In fact, it’s fair to say that my adopted home of Tampa, Florida – where I’ve lived since 1994 – is more in my comfort zone than CT ever was.

Still, there’s a bittersweet aspect to going back to visit the old homestead. Memories that live more in the bones than the brain come to life. Feelings, not thoughts, bubble to the surface. As normal as it is for others, it’s a weird place for me.

So when I sought to book a library event in advance of my return, I wasn’t sure where to go. The old Bristol Public Library sits at the edge of a small hill in a relatively unpleasant part of town; by contrast, the smaller Manross Library is in Forestville, a sort of Bristol suburb where my father grew up. I’m told it’s in a somewhat nicer neighborhood than the main branch. I’ve been away so long, I wouldn’t know. I like nicer neighborhoods, so I opted for Manross.

There’s a feeling of “Hometown Boy Makes Good” in this whole endeavor of scheduling a book signing for myself. Calls and emails to the local newspaper, social media posts inviting old classmates to drop by. I’m looking forward to it.

The […]

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, Jay Lemming. Jay and I follow each other on Twitter and have both read – and boosted – each other’s work. I thoroughly enjoyed his novel Billy Maddox Takes His Shot, and I highly recommend it.

Last month, Jay published his 2017 Literary Fiction Survey for Readers, which you can find here. Now Jay is at it again, with a big cross-promotional project among a group of authors…the biggest cross-promotion I’ve ever seen.

It’s called, quite simply, the April 2017 Literary Fiction Giveaway. And it’s an embarrassment of riches: Jay has joined forces with ten other authors to promote each other’s work, thereby exposing their own audiences to each other’s audiences. I would have joined the fun myself, but I’m still working on the completion of my own giveaway, the short story collection Rides from Strangers. Anyhow, check these folks’ fiction out: you can get a free preview of the books by just joining the mailing list of each author whose work you’d like to sample. Genius!

And now I’m going back to the pillows and pudding. Have a great week, everybody.

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 that.

Of course, for an indie author, “touring” might not involve a whole lot of flights or bookstore visits. As blog tours become more popular than ever, it’s possible to get exposure to audiences around the world. I recently finished a massive (for me) blog tour for Miles of Files, and I think it went well. Now that it’s over, the question becomes, What next?

I’ve got three books out. However, unlike most sane authors, I didn’t release them over a period of, say, four or five years – I released them all on the same day. As I mentioned on Anne R. Allen’s blog, I figured that would be the best way to get attention for them. After all, who has ever done such a thing? Well, they landed with a resounding thud, and then I had to pick up the pieces and work as relentlessly to promote them as Dylan works to satisfy his legion of fans.

So okay, lesson learned. But there’s another issue. None of those three novels could get proper promotion at the time, competing with each other as they were. (I also still had a full-time job, but that’s another story.) Once I began working solely for myself, I got into proper promotion, it became obvious – one book at a time.

Brothers’ Hand came first. After all, it was my first novel, and, weirdly enough, was selling better than either of the other two novels. Once that promotion was done, I jumped over Jana and into Miles of Files. The […]