A Week in the Writing Life, 4 February 2023

Okay, welcome back after last week. I’m hoping to get used to the weekly pace of putting something out every week. I’ve been sticking to it fairly well so far, but I want to keep consistent and try and write quality work (heh heh) as well. Let’s see how it works, shall we?

Homefront Stuff

The photo for this entry is once again courtesy of my wife Laura, and it’s a sunset scene from Lucas County, Iowa. I always remember the quote from Mark Twain about my hometown, although there’s some good sunsets around here as well.

Below is the quote, for those not familiar with it. Twain lived in Muscatine for a short time and even worked for the paper there (the Muscatine Journal, which Twain’s brother co-owned at the time.).

And I remember Muscatine—still more pleasantly—for its summer sunsets. I have never seen any, on either side of the ocean, that equaled them.

Mark Twain

What I’ve Been Writing

I’ve been taking a close look at the beginnings of my rough draft to the second book of my series The Yank Striker. This has resulted in more looking than writing, but I consider revisions and planning to be equally as important as word count, even though I’d still like to have at least another 200,000 words under my belt by the end of this year.

I’m realizing that something that I need to worry about, since I am actually writing a series for the first time in my life, is the concept of continuity. According to an article on Wikipedia (which states at the beginning that the article has “multiple issues,” so take this with as much credibility as it’s worth, continuity in fiction is:

…a consistency of the characteristics of people, plot, objects, and places seen by the reader or viewer over some period of time. It is relevant to several media.

Wikipedia (?) (Shrugging emoji)

Sometimes, these types of mistakes are obvious. I remember watching the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Commando with my grandparents, my father’s parents, at their home. I remember my grandfather being quite impressed with the film as we all shared bowls of popcorn, and it was a good slice of American 1980’s action cheese.

There was one scene where Arnold turned a wrecked convertible that had landed on its side back onto its wheels. However, when Arnold and the girl who was hanging around him (Rae Dawn Chong) drove off in the car, it was without a single scratch. (Continuity…)

This is apparently not a new thing. I learned this week about the concept of “Homeric Nods,” which is a term referring to continuity errors occurring in the epic poems of Homer when he wrote them 2,700 or so years ago. To be fair, his works and others were told by multiple authors over a period of centuries, so he had a bit of a disadvantage trying to keep everything straight[1].

With a novel that ends up being at least more than 50,000 words and often can run close to twice that amount, that means there are a lot of moving parts and facts that you need to keep straight and not get inconsistent with. When that becomes two novels, that’s twice as many moving parts, and if it is in a series, both of those novels have to be consistent with each other. The more books you add to a series, the more that Charles Lindbergh’s saying about three engines making it three times as likely to have engine failure makes more sense[2].

However, I am looking forward to this work. This will be the last opportunity for me to sort out any weirdness with the first book, because once it gets published, you sort of have to stick with it. Of course, that is going to wind up taking away from pure writing production, but this is not something that I can just blow off. It’s a time commitment that is well worth it for a good final product.

I’m also looking forward to getting some feedback on the book from my writing group. I’ve sent them an electronic copy of the manuscript, and I’ll be hearing from them in a few weeks, anyway.

With proofing The Yank Striker and trying to make more progress on the second book in the series, as well as trying to write here, I’ve not had much time for other projects I’ve discussed, such as the memoir, my fan fiction, and the poetry collection. However, all of that is not too far from my mind.

What I’ve Been Doing Having to do With Writing

My first public appearance of the new year will be coming up very soon – three weeks from now, as a matter of fact.

I’ll be participating in the Read Local Author Fair at the Johnston Public Library on Saturday, February 25. I’ll be out there with many other area authors from 2 to 4 p.m. that day. I’ll bring myself and copies of The Holy Fool for purchase, and I’ll also be there to talk about my upcoming series The Yank Striker. Thanks to the Johnston Public Library for the invitation, and I look forward to meeting old friends and new acquaintances there.

What I’ve Been Reading

Time for some more reading recommendations, especially people I’ve been checking out on Substack. Some of these are going to be slight repeats from last week, so be gentle with me and I’ll share more links than I did before.

I talked about the fact that Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaiden’s Tale, has a good presence on Substack. A few months ago, she had a very interesting article entitled “SOME VERY BASIC BASICS ABOUT WRITING NOVELS.” She attempts to define what a novel is, and I think she does a fantastic job while having fun with the concept. You should check it out.

I talked last week about the Iowa Writer’s Collective and the great work they are doing on Substack telling the story of Iowa. There’s two people I wanted to point out. Laura Belin is one of the top blogging journalists in Iowa, and I’ve been reading her site Bleeding Heartland for at least the past five or six years. However, she is also on Substack on the page Iowa Politics with Laura Belin. If you want to find out what’s going on with Iowa politics, that’s where you want to go on the Internet.

And if you want to find out what’s going on in Eastern Iowa, especially the Quad Cities area where I first began my own journalism career, check out Along the Mississippi. For 32 years, Ed Tibbetts was the man when it came to covering government and politics for the Quad City Times, and I was proud to consider him a colleague. Now he’s taking his skills freelance, reporting on important items like this one about a railroad merger with an impact on the Eastern Iowa area. I would urge you to give him a read – he is one of the best I’ve ever seen in action.

If you’re interested in writing fiction and possibly making money writing fiction online, I’d check out Fictionistas on Substack. I’ve subscribed to them in an attempt to start sorting out how I might actually start creating my own online fiefdom, and read interesting articles like this one by Michael Mohr on how to create tension in fiction and memoir.

Finally, there’s a melancholic plug for Futbol with Grant Wahl. This was the Substack site of Grant Wahl, the best American soccer writer that I’ve ever read in my lifetime. Grant passed away late last year while covering the World Cup, but you should visit the site and see what he had to say about the Beautiful Game.

Writing Quote of the Week

A while ago, when I was mainly on Facebook, I was in the habit for a while of posting quotes about writing on Mondays for some random reason. I’m still a fan of quotes about writing, so I decided to revive the practice here from a quote from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams. Considering it took me until 9 p.m. Central Time to finally get this posted, I though the quote was particularly appropriate.

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Final Thoughts

You might recall that I posted a while back regarding my love for my out of date Alphasmart word processor. I really wish they were still in business, but no dice. There’s this company out there called Freewrite that is trying to put out “simple” word processors that are very portable and durable. However, their cheapest model runs for $500 – the same as most full-service laptops – and the most expensive Hemingway “Signature” edition runs nearly $1,000. I’m a writing hipster, but not that much of a freak.

However, I just learned that the company is releasing a new product, likely in July of this year. It’s called the Alpha. Hmmm… reminds me of something, and it only is running around $300. It might be worth a look.

This week looks sort of thin for this post, but hope springs eternal for next week. Take care everyone, and feel free to read my obligatory plug for my Substack.

While I do appreciate you following this blog, I really would like you to subscribe to my Substack page. By subscribing to that page, you’ll not only be receiving my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (the companion blog to this one), but you’ll also be signing up for my email list. I will eventually be opening some special contests, offers, and first looks at original fiction, poems, and other items. Just click the button below.


  1. This made me think – when was the first time in literature that there was a consistent revision and editing process? Does anyone have a idea of when that first started happening? I’ve been teaching writing process for 25-plus years but I have no idea about that and it seems silly to just Google it for some reason. Someone, please prove you’re smarter than me or at least less prideful than me and comment if you know the answer.
  2. Then again, he was wrong about the Nazi’s and didn’t have the guts to admit he was a polygamist, so what did he know?

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