Everyone, I’m proud to announce the release of my debut novel, The Holy Fool: A Journalist’s Revolt. (Cue stunned celebration inside my head.)
After many years of wanting to be a writer, several years after I first got the idea of writing a journalism thriller (what else would a journalist/ex-journalist want to write about? 🙂 ), and a year after I started seriously trying to see if anyone would be interested in publishing it, I am now a published author. I started this blog in part because I wanted to make that come true. And now, it has.
So, let me introduce you to the book.
[From the back jacket:]
It is September 2008, in the city of Chicago. On the eve of the presidential election and the Great Recession, Chicago Journal columnist Samuel “Sonny” Turner has been writing an investigative series on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His bosses at the paper are reluctant to run the stories, which are based on top secret government files leaked from a Pentagon source. Turner increasingly wonders whether he will have to travel a different path to tell the truth.
Despite these conflicts, he agrees to do a favor for his mentor, Journal City Editor Gus Pulaski – investigate his own newspaper to see if its owner is looking to sell or close the paper due to financial difficulties. As Turner and Pulaski begin to conspire to somehow save the newspaper from a final edition, Turner is considering his own plans to get the truth out. Turner, frustrated by the constraints of traditional media, considers starting a new form of journalism from the ashes of the old.
In Russian literature, the holy fool was a man who lived outside the boundaries of normal society, who could speak truths others could not. Turner sees himself as the journalistic version of this fool.
I first got the hint of an idea a little over eight years ago. Inspired by an incident I had read about in college regarding the 1993 ownership fight over the New York Post that eventually wound up with the staff in open revolt, I began to wonder how a similar incident might unfold at a fictional newspaper in Chicago (a town that has seen its own share of newspapers with shaky financial situations). How might it happen as the Great Recession of 2008 unfolded, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at their peaks? And could this prompt one newspaper journalist to create a new way of practicing his profession, a new outlook that’s been needed more as the years have passed?
I basically wound up with the first draft of the book a year or two later, but it was way too big. Like, 166,525 words big. If you’re George R.R. Martin or Stephen King, one of the big sellers, publishers will print books as big as you want them. But for a first-time author, they find reasons not to publish your stuff, especially once you get over the 100,000-word mark.
So, I sat on it for a bit. I showed some excerpts to some writing friends/acquaintances of mine. I went to a few events at the Midwest Writing Center over the course of a few years to get some expert/talented amateur opinions.
And then, I settled in for the revision of all revisions. Within two years, I had trimmed 166,525 to 128,191. In another year, I cut it again, down to 93,562, and managed to do it telling a leaner, meaner, faster story. It was an experience that I hope never to have to go through again, but I absolutely had to go through it to get a fundamental education about writing and the revision behind it. Revising is king; never let anyone tell you differently. The Holy Fool was the vehicle by which I went from just aspiring to write to being an actual fiction writer after all of those dreams years ago.
It was only after all of that was done that I decided to see if anyone was interested in publishing it. Here I have to admit that what happened was the result of some networking. During my time working at a school district in Eastern Iowa, I happened to meet a fellow writer, a published writer, a co-worker and school librarian by the name of Bert Miller. Unfortunately we are no longer colleagues, but we’ve kept in touch online.
During the last months of my stay in his district, I beta read one of his books, Moons of Gemini, that was published through Biblio Publishing of Columbus, Ohio. He suggested I might try to get in contact with them and see if they would be interested in my work. After I sent them a query in March 2018, they wrote me back and said they were interested. And 10 months later, I’m now a published author.
I went ahead and thanked a whole bunch of people in the acknowledgement page of the book, but I also want to do it here.
Thanks to the Midwest Writing Center for their support, programming, and work-shopping opportunities. On a similar note, thanks to the Muscatine, Iowa writers’ group Writers On The Avenue for their support and critiques. Special thanks go to members Misty Urban and Pat Bieber for their insight and advice on this project and ones currently in progress.
So many thanks go to Bert for his encouragement, friendship, and support for this project. Thanks also to Biblio Publishing for making my dream of being a published author come true.
I’ve also got to thank my family. My parents, Bill and Suzanne Liegois, gave me my love for the written word and encouraged me to follow a career path that would keep me writing throughout my life. My kids, Jacob and Madeline, have been so encouraging to me on my new adventure in life as they are about to start on their own paths in life.
Finally, there’s my wife, Laura. We’ve been together for more than 20 years. She’s loved me both writing and not writing, but she always supported my type-type-typing away whenever I got an interesting idea. She is absolutely the best and the center of my world.
So, now that I’ve got the synopsis, the story, and the thanks out of the way, where can you buy my book?
Right now, the paperback version is available for purchase both on Amazon and at Biblio Publishing. Go to the following links:
There are plans right now to have it available in ebook format. I will post those links when they are ready to go. Wait, lies, as my daughter said. It is now on Amazon Kindle in ebook form, and you can get it at this link. It will be on other sites soon.
In addition, I have now added a “My Work” page to the blog, with links to the book (and books yet to come).
For those who want to just walk up to me (literally and metaphorically) and ask me if I can buy/borrow/grab a copy of this book from me… I’m in the process of getting some of them sent to me. I will let you know here when I have them. (This is more aimed at close friends/family/people who might actually see me on the street IRL rather than online).
For those of you who choose to join me on this adventure and by a copy of The Holy Fool, I say welcome. Hope you like the book.