A Week in the Writing Life, 13 May 2023

[PHOTO NOTE: I gave you a look at my previous hometown last week, so this is a look at someplace near my present home. This is Red Haw State Park just outside Chariton, Iowa. There’s a few more pics below.]

I’m getting the newsletter out a bit later on Saturday than usual (I thought it was going to be 5 p.m., but it’s more like 5:30.

/Insert shrugging emoji here.

I’ve been busy with last-minute school year stuff and other items. We can talk now, though. 🙂

Home Front Stuff

From the photos accompanying this newsletter, you can probably tell that we are well into the transition from spring into summer and the air conditioning is now in operation. Red Haw State Park is one of the lesser-known nature spots in Iowa, but I’ve really come to love it in my few years living in Chariton. It’s even got a little beach, and there’s some camping and boating facilities, as well. It finally fully opened back up recently after cleaning up from a tornado.

I’m also looking forward to summer vacation starting in a week. Although the teaching year was not as bad as I had initially feared, I am increasingly glad that my teaching duties will be almost exclusively special education next year. I think it is the educational work I feel most comfortable with. Even though I might not be teaching writing full-time next year, I’m finding that doing my own writing is more than making up for not being a writing teacher.

My daughter’s visiting us the weekend after my classes are done. I’m quite looking forward to that.

What I’ve Been Writing

I do believe the last round of revisions and edits for The Yank Striker are now in the books. Now, I’m waiting for my publisher to move on their end. They have a lot of other projects they are trying to get finished, but I’m hoping I can get a release date for sometime this summer. That would obviously be an advantage for me, as I would be more available for promotional appearances, etc.

I’ve been doing more work with planning and drafting what I’m going to refer to as The Yank Striker 2. I have a better idea of what that is going to look like and the size of that project. I’m hoping that I can have it done as a rough draft by the end of the year and be ready to publish it during Summer 2024. I used to go years between writing projects in my procrastination days, so this is all new to me. I’ve got 16,000-plus words all set to go and I’d like at least another 70,000 for a modest-sized book. Like Tolkien and other fantasy writers know, why write a massive book when you can have a series?

I submitted that essay for the Writers on the Avenue collection I discussed last week, after a bit of revision on portions of the rough draft I’ve been compiling on a memoir project I accidentally started working on over the course of blogging about my past experiences with writing over my life. Whenever they publish that, I’ll announce it here. The collection is going to feature a lot of great Iowa writers and friends like Mike Bayless, Misty Urban, Mica Rossi, and my former high school classmate Juan Fourneau.

What I’ve Been Doing Having to do With Writing

Reformatting posts on Substack is going slowly. I did do a slight design revamp of the Substack page now that there are more design options available. I decided on a purple and gold color scheme in honor of my old hometown school, Muscatine High School. I’m quite happy with the result. If I’ve got some time later this month, I might look and see if the WordPress site might need a design refresh as well.

Once I have a release date for The Yank Striker, of course, I will have to start firing up my promotional machine (or lack of it) to preview the book. I’ve got some ideas for this, and I might want to begin that promotion even if I don’t have a clear date yet. You might be seeing some excerpts from The Yank Striker on these pages soon.

If you want to check me out when I post Substack Notes, here’s where you can find me.

Writing Advice for the Week

Use active verbs in your sentences as much as possible instead of passive verb sentences.

A passive verb sentence has something happening to the subject of the sentence.

(Example: “The body was dragged by Sam and Dean Winchester into the living room.” The body is the subject of the sentence, and has something done to it, so that makes it a passive sentence.)

An active verb sentence has the subject of the sentence doing something.

(Example: “Sam and Dean Winchester dragged the body into the living room.” Now the brothers Winchester are the subject of the sentence, and they are doing something, so that makes it an active sentence.)

Note the directness of the active verb sentence as opposed to the passive verb sentence. Also note the passive verb sentence takes more words to say the same thing.

You won’t always be able to avoid using passive verb sentences based on the writing circumstances. However, you should always at least see if rewriting a sentence into active voice is a good option.

What I’ve Been Reading/General Recommendations

Art Cullen has a good look at what’s been going on in the Iowa Legislature and with Gov. Kim Reynolds.

If I’m interested in writing books fully online and on Substack, this might be a way to do it. It seems a bit intimidating to do it all on my own, but it seems to have promise.

I like it when writers, especially those who write about politics, are able to self-reflect when they get it wrong. It is a skill greatly lacking in national news journalists and non-existent among certain opinion writers. Dave Busiek is definitely self-reflective in this piece about the CNN town hall earlier this week. Give it a read.

It goes without saying I’ll be reading and rereading this piece about how to sell a book on Substack. Thank you, On Substack.

Next week, I’ll try to post some WordPress stuff I’ve been reading, as well.

Writing Quote(s) of the Week

Here’s two that seem to fit my mood as I begin this new writing project.

There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.

Beatrix Potter

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.

Neil Gaiman

Final Thoughts

How about this? My first Substack subscriber over the age of 18 to email me at jason.liegois@liegois.media gets an autographed copy of The Holy Fool. Make sure to include your name, mailing address, and any requests for the inscription. The inbox is open, everyone.

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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.

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