A Week in the Writing Life, 27 May 2023

This might be one of my shorter weekly newsletter posts, since I’ve written some supplemental posts just about that new book I’ve got coming out.

So, I’ll get on with the newsletter and keep the promoting to a minimum. Promise.

Home Front Stuff

Other than me being on the phone and emailing a good number of people, my first full week of summer vacation has been quietly uneventful, which I’m glad for. As I was already on vacation, my only bit of awareness of Memorial Day weekend approaching was the fact that I was trying to send out my queries to various locations and people before Friday was done, after which nobody would be checking their emails or messages for at least three days.

My wife pointed out to me that this will be the first time since at least 2001 that we have celebrated Memorial Day on our own. Both our son and daughter have their own school or work plans this weekend, which is not that much of a surprise considering they are now 22 and 21, respectively. Time flew for all of us, but I think I at least did appreciate having our kids with us when they were here. I’m just happy that they’re beginning their own journeys through life and finding some success.

What I’m Writing

Not that I’m going to bang on about word count here in detail (if you’re really interested in such things, check out my writing journals here), but I’ve not been too happy with my productivity over the past couple weeks. In years past, I might write less than 3,000 words a week and not be too upset about it, but now I look at that and think I’ve had an off week if I didn’t get above 4,000.

Now, however, I need to just kick butt and start writing stuff. I’ve started to sort through what I’ve put together already on my newest “pro” fiction project, The Yank Striker 2 (working title). I’ve pretty much put together how I want to structure the book, but I haven’t gotten around to actually adding more than a small amount to the manuscript. I have to get going on it if I want to be done with a rough draft by the end of the year, and have a finished product ready for next summer. That would be a fast turnaround time for me, but I want to try and see if I could put it together that fast. Since I’m dealing with a series, the books absolutely don’t have to be 100,000 words or even 80,000 words, so that is a plus.

Along with all of the above, I’m still interested in moving forward with a possible fantasy series, a memoir, and perhaps a poetry collection at some point. I’m very possibly messed up in the head, but at the very least, I don’t have any excuses anymore that I don’t have anything to write about. And that doesn’t even take into account the amount of writing I’m putting together for my blogs, which is probably the only reason why my word count numbers aren’t fully in the latrine.

What I’ve Been Doing Having to do With Writing

I decided to break down and and make some more use of Instagram, because I refuse to engage with Twitter for reasons I laid out before.

So, I decided to set up a new Instagram page dedicated to my writing and writing activities. I’m still attempting to get the hang of it. You can check it out here if you want a laugh.

I’m planning on making a bunch of personal appearances and book signings all through Iowa this summer and beyond. I just posted a new list of some of those appearances I’ve confirmed here; I’ll be updating that list on a regular basis.

As of this writing, I don’t have a final location set for the “official” book launch for The Yank Striker. I do know that I want it to be sometime either in late June or early July. You’ll hear about it on these pages first.

As for the rest of it… I’m continuing to update pages, etc. etc.

What I’ve Been Reading/General Recommendations

One good thing to read disregard all that because I haven’t had time to put a list of links together. I’ll try to do better next week. Or, maybe I should just restrict that to my Substack Notes? Let me know what you think.

Writing Quote of the Week

Needed some inspiration this week. I hope this will do it.

This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.

  • Neil Gaiman

Final Thoughts

It feels like there’s a lot happening with me, the blogs, and everything else. There’s some exciting times ahead. See you next week.

– 30 –

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.

A Week in the Writing Life, 20 May 2023

Things are hopping here over at my place. I’m officially on summer vacation and there is a bit of a to-do list for me coming up. And one of those things concerns you, my readers and subscribers. Let’s get into it.

Big Announcement

It’s coming.

I’ve now finalized my publishing contract with Biblio Publishing for my latest book, The Yank Striker: A Footballer’s Beginning. It will soon be available for sale both in paperback and ebook format. And I cannot be more excited to share this story with the world. It’s a story that has been years in creation and development.

As readers of this blog, my friends, and my students are aware, I’m more than a little obsessed with the sport of soccer. It’s a fandom that has stretched throughout my life, but picked up speed ever since I became a devoted fan of the sport and the US Men’s National Team as I watched them play during the 1994 World Cup.

I wrote the first essay that post above refers to more than 10 years ago. I’d have to say that it’s been at least that long since I began to ask myself a simple question.

What would an American Diego Maradona look like? What would an American Lionel Messi look like?

There have been a lot of great American players now and in the past, although I can safely say none of them could have been ranked among the top 10 players in the world during their careers. But, what if?

I wrote the first essay that post above refers to more than 10 years ago. I’d have to say that it’s been at least that long since I began to ask myself a simple question.

What would an American Diego Maradona look like? What would an American Lionel Messi look like?

There have been a lot of great American players now and in the past, although I can safely say none of them could have been ranked among the top 10 players in the world during their careers. But, what if?

I turned that question over and over in my head for a long time, wondering what kind of person that player would be. Eventually, a character started to form in my head, the character of a young man by the name of Daniel John (DJ) Ryan.

Before this, I had written two (unpublished) novels and one published one (The Holy Fool: A Journalist’s Revolt). Looking back on the main characters in all of those books, I would have to say that all three of them were, if not copies of myself and my personality, at least a reflection of them. DJ Ryan, however, is something far more unique and different than me, of which I’m glad.

What’s it About, Again?

We meet DJ Ryan as a 17-year-old an All-American wide receiver about to graduate high school. Most people know him as the son of John Daniel “Junior” Ryan, former legendary college and NFL linebacker turned college football national championship winning coach at Hamilton State University, just outside Dallas. They might also know him as the younger brother of Junior Ryan’s star quarterback and son, John Daniel “Trey” Ryan, who is now a college All-American and dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate.

It would seem natural for DJ to join his dad and brother at HSU for glory and a title, with an eye toward a future NFL career and financial security. However, DJ’s relationship with his dad is complicated, especially considering Junior Ryan’s divorce from DJ’s mom Jenny, driven first by Junior’s womanizing and neglect and later by Jenny falling in love with another woman. DJ himself is attracted to people regardless of what sex they are or aren’t, but he knows that the world of football is a hostile place to people like him, so he tries to keep that part of himself private.

Then there’s DJ’s love for the other sport known as football – soccer. He’s a talented striker for both his high school and semipro teams. However, he sees that as just a hobby or private passion… that is, until he is spotted by a scout from the Premier League club Donford FC, and he offers to have him come to London for a tryout.

DJ faces two choices – what sport will be part of his future? And will he continue to live in secrecy, or out in the open?

So, When’s it Coming Out?

I am planning on having a proper launch party for The Yank Striker. I am currently searching for locations for that event, likely to be somewhere in the Des Moines area. There will probably be some other events as well, and I would love to put something together somewhere in my current town as well as my old hometown of Muscatine, among other locations.

The official launch of the book will be in July. I will have an exact date in the weeks to come. As always, watch this space, and subscribers here will hear about it before anyone else.

What I’ve Been Doing Having to do With Writing

I don’t remember if I mentioned this previously[1], but I undertook a quick refresh of this site’s look. I like the new options for Substack to alter the design of pages, so I decided to change the colors on The Writing Life to purple and gold, the colors of my former school, Muscatine High School. I’ve always had a soft spot for that color combination, and I honestly think it looks hip. So, there’s my explanation for that.\

On my WordPress page (Liegois Media, https://liegois.media), I decided to freshen up the look of that page as well. So, I changed it from the Penscratch 2 theme to Independent Publisher 2.

In both cases, leave me a comment on either site if you care about such things.

I had a great meeting today with the Iowa Writers’ Corner (IWC) in Des Moines. Roxanne Rustand was our guest speaker and gave a great presentation on book publishing and promotions. Her site has some very good resources for writers, as well, so I’d recommend checking them out. Between her and some of my other IWC members, I have a lot of homework and reading to get through beginning this following week.\

What I’ve Been Reading/General Recommendations

As I promised last week, I’m giving a couple of shout-outs for sites I’ve run into on my WordPress feed.

Robin Leeann was one of the first people I started following on WordPress, and I really admire her work. This piece is a great reminder to all the writers out there.

Literary Hub is one of the great online locations for writing about writing and writing in general. For example, there are some fine author interviews such as this one on Samantha Irby. Go ahead and check it out.

Writing Quote of the Week

This is the way you should approach writing. It takes a lot of mental energy, however.

You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.

  • Ray Bradbury

Final Thoughts

Again, I’m really excited to share not just The Yank Striker with you, but all of the later books in the series to come. I’m looking forward to the ride.

– 30 –


  1. If I did, I’ll do it again. Heck with it.

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.

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.

– 30 –

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.

A Week in the Writing Life, 6 May 2023

[PHOTO NOTE: Since part of this newsletter will talk about me participating in a project with my old writing group in Muscatine, I thought I’d include a random picture of Tom Bruner Field, which has hosted amateur, college, and semi-pro baseball in town since 1910. It’s a nice bit of history.]

This week has been a busy week for me when it comes to real life and odd and ends, but not when it comes to writing, perhaps. I have been doing a few things, though[1].

Home Front Stuff

It’s finally beginning to get warmer here in South Central Iowa, although today is a quite comfortable sixtyish degree day. These are still in-between days, like I remember as a kid going to school with my coat on and leaving school with it wrapped around my waist. We didn’t have a massive heat wave last year around here, so I hope we get lucky again. My wife knows that this is absolutely the farthest south that I’d ever want to live[2].

I’ve gotten more solid confirmation that I will be teaching close to 100 percent high school special education next year, and I’m pretty happy with that and the district. I’ve had a chance to meet some of the new incoming teachers for our district, and I’m looking forward to working with them. Although not a lot is going well for education at times, I am glad that I work for a good district with good colleagues.

It’s also the end of the football (AKA soccer) season in Europe. My beloved Liverpool might have a chance at European football after a long hard season, Wrexham got promoted to the Football League after years of struggle, and Napoli won Serie A (the Italian top-league) for the first time in 33 years, the third time in its history, and the only time without the great Diego Armondo Maradona in their lineup[3].

What I’ve Been Writing

I am still in the third round of “final” revisions on The Yank Striker. In my first review of the book and the changes that were made on the second round, I’ve found only a couple errors to note for my publisher. I’m going to undertake a read-through just to look for any remaining proofreading errors. Hopefully, I will not find any others, and this book will begin the final steps of the publishing process and I’ll have a book ready to sell by this summer.

Not to go into word count here in detail, but it has been down for the past two weeks. A big reason is that I have been busy with revising The Yank Striker one more time.

The other reason is that I’ve been putting together an essay for a collection by Writers on the Avenue, the group of writers I belonged to in Muscatine and I really do credit for encouraging me to get back into writing on a regular basis. The essay is an excerpt/refashioning of a memoir project I accidentally started working on over the course of blogging about my past experiences with writing over my life.

When they finally publish the collection my essay should be in, I’ll let you know. WOTA has a lot of very talented, experienced writers that I learned a lot from.

With all of that, I’ve only had a little time for original writing except for a few paragraphs. I’m hoping this next week goes better. I won’t be publishing a paid-subscriber exclusive or another post this weekend, but I am hopeful that I will be getting something ready for next weekend. I have to say that I have been impressed that I have been blogging more consistently than I have since I started my WordPress blog back in 2017.

What I’ve Been Doing Having to do With Writing

All quiet on the Western Front, as they would say. Updating some of the old posts I imported from WordPress to Substack and WordPress itself are at a standstill, but I’m hoping to restart that soon. Part of the problem is that I’m trying to get grading done for the end of the year and more than a few students have late assignments.

What I’ve Been Reading/General Recommendations

I’ve mentioned them before but the

Iowa Writers Collaborative is a great group of writers here in this state doing a fantastic job of letting their subscribers know what’s going on in Iowa. Their weekly roundups are a must-read.

I might have also mentioned this place somewhere, but The Library will probably be one of my first contacts once my new book is out. I’m always loving to see new resources for writers out there.

Writing Quote(s) of the Week

I referred to it last week, so here’s Stevie King’s Rule #1 and #2 of writing.

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.

  • Stephen King

But, there’s this quote to consider if you ever think that you’ve learned everything there is to know about writing.

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

  • W. Somerset Maugham

Final Thoughts

It’s been great to see that I’ve been slowly gaining some subscribers, and I hope you have been getting something from my newsletter. If there is something you want to see more of, or you are liking something that I put out here, please let me know. I’m trying to see how I can be of the best possible benefit for my readers.


– 30 –


  1. I really am writing this at the last minute, so I’m hoping I get it out by noon today [EDIT: Nope lol].
  2. South toward the Equator, that is. Moving to New Zealand or southern Argentina doesn’t sound like a bad idea.
  3. Yes, there is a definite reason I decided to write a dramatic book series based in the world of football.

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.

A Week in the Writing Life, 29 April 2023

[PHOTO NOTE: Since I’m on the road this weekend, I decided a picture of a road (Iowa Highway 14) might be appropriate. Ignore the fact it’s a winter picture.]

It’s been another week for me. Let’s talk about it.

Home Front Stuff

Can’t say I have any complaints about the weather this week in Iowa – relatively dry (except for Friday) and temperatures right in the 60’s. It only gets a bit awkward at work when you don’t have good control of the furnace and you have to turn on the AC in the afternoon or else everyone gets sweating to death and nobody wants that while people are trying to teach and learn.

I had a chance to get out of town for a day so I went trekking back to Muscatine for my dad’s birthday. Since it’s even tough for me to get together with my kids, if I can find a time to do that with my parents, I want to try and take it. Nowadays, I treasure every chance I get to see them, because you never know when I’ll get the next chance to see them[1].

In other professional news, it looks like I will be teaching again next year at my current school district. This year was a bit of a strange one for me, because it was the first time in a decade when I was teaching 100 percent language arts to both middle and high schoolers. All indications are that I will likely be doing all or nearly all special education next year. I’m starting to find that I seem to prefer the special education field better than the general education field, so I’m looking forward to what will come next year.

What I’ve Been Writing

I am now in the third round of “final” revisions on The Yank Striker. My hope is for a considerable amount of close reading and a bare minimum of changes. I would like this to be the last round of changes made before my publisher and I make the book available for publication.

What’s frustrating me about this and the sequel to the book I am now writing is I’m having to try and do some more planning for the sequel rather than straight writing. As much as some writers like to write by the seat of their pants (“Pantsers,” as some of the fellow members of my Iowa Writers’ Corner put it), I never could feel comfortable with not planning where my stories are going to go. This especially seems to make sense to me, given this will be part of a series and I believe that I will need a solidly secure world-build and background for it. I’m well-ahead on that score, but I still feel like I need to do more, and I need to relax and get that planning done while not being so paranoid about my word count. I can be productive even if I’m not putting a massive amount of words on paper.

One thing I sorted out that will feature in the next book is this: I’ve managed to come up with a club anthem for my fictional East End of London club. I took an old East End pub tune, worked around the lyrics, and voila, a new club anthem. Many different clubs have their anthems, like “You’ll Never Walk Alone” for Liverpool and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” for West Ham United, and I thought it would be appropriate for my fictional team to have its own song. I had initially thought of some reworkings of rock tunes[2], but to absolutely make sure to avoid any copyright issues, I decided on a public domain tune with roots in the East End. I might give some of my paid subscribers a look at that tune sometime soon, or another type of paid subscriber post, but due to my traveling this week, that might be not quite in the cards. We’ll have to see.

Again, I am trying to avoid a slump in about three weeks when I go on summer vacation. I have suffered through some similar slumps during the past two years, but I think that with my awareness of this tendency, I have a better chance of fighting against it. I’m not going to post the numbers here on Substack, but I’ll probably mention in the weekly newsletter if I beat the slump. If you are desperate to find out my weekly word-count numbers, check out this section of my Worpress blog Liegois Media.

What I’ve Been Doing Having to do With Writing

Not much changing here. I’m trying to make a note to try and look through more Substacks during the weekend and midweek, and make some more Substack Notes. I think they are good for short notes, announcements, and shouting out other authors.

Earlier this week, for example, I announced that all my subscribers had been entered into a giveaway for my first book, The Holy Fool, as part of my anticipatory celebrations for the next book coming out. I’ll announce the winner of the contest next week on Substack Notes, but I’ll reach out to the winner beforehand. Said winner will receive an autographed hardcopy of the book from me. Good luck, everyone.

What I’ve Been Reading/General Recommendations

This was a good review of a writing and planning tool called Obsidian by the author of Occam’s Lab . Check it out.

This was Parker Molloy ‘s great look at the closing of Buzzfeed news and its consequences.

Writing Quote(s) of the Week

This is the real reason why you need to follow Stephen King’s admonition that to be a good writer, you need to read a lot as well as write a lot.

Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.

William Faulkner

Final Thoughts

I’ve praised the band Fairport Convention recently, and I’m a big fan of their English folk and rock blend; essentially, it’s the English equivalent to the Byrds of the 1960’s (and around the same era, too). I start thinking of some good fantasy adventures like Lord of the Rings when I hear it.

Here’s another one of their better songs to wrap this up. Take care.


– 30 –


  1. So, if you are wondering why this particular newsletter might be a bit shorter than some of my others, that’s the reason.
  2. “C’mon Feel the Noize” seemed to be one of the higher ones on my list, or a similar sing-along from the 1970’s glam rock era.

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.

A Week in the Writing Life, 22 April 2023

[Photo Note: An old picture of my hometown of Muscatine sometime around the turn of the 20th Century. It just looked cool; there was no other reason to include it.]

It’s been another week for me. Let’s talk about it.

Home Front Stuff

The weather in southern Iowa has continued to keep weird. It was in the 30’s and actually snowing on Sunday, up into the low 70’s by Wednesday, and then 50’s and rainy by the end of the week. But sure, there’s no such thing as climate change that brings with it unpredictable swings of weather[1].

I managed to meet my son in person when I was up in Des Moines for last Saturday and we had a good time[2]. He had fun telling me some stories about his work at the Iowa Events Center, where he works part time in maintenance when he is not doing his regular heating and air conditioning work. I realize how few times I will continue to see my kids in person now that they are in their twenties and trying to make their own way in the world.

Speaking of kids, my daughter got to go to the University of Missouri in Columbia last weekend with some of her fellow University of Iowa chemical engineering students. It’s great to see her growing and learning new stuff.

What I’ve Been Writing

I have to admit that work on The Yank Striker 2 has not gone as far as I wanted. I feel like I was just waiting for the last little round of revisions for the first book in the series to happen soon, but I’m still waiting on the next step. And now that I’ve gotten the new proof, that can begin. My hope is that I don’t find anything and I tell my publishers that all is good. I can dream, anyway.

So, I feel like I need to review what I’ve already written for the second book before I can start writing more new material, and there’s a bit of a mental paralysis. There’s always fan fiction for some fast productivity, but I don’t want it to be a crutch for running in place when I want to do something productive. I ended up doing some anyway because I wanted to be writing something, at the very least[3].

I think this is just the rehashing of an old argument I’ve had with myself for the past year. I know that whenever I’m more productive, when the numbers are up, I feel psychologically better about myself. I’ve said this before, but I never understood writers who had to be in depressive or chaotic moods to be their most creative. I always do better when I’m in a good place psychologically.

That’s one of the reasons that I’m really attentive of a slump after I go on break next month from school. I have often found myself so exhausted mentally from the end of the experience that my mind basically wants to do nothing for at least four to five weeks.

Getting back to The Yank Striker itself, I get the feeling that I will eventually announce a release date sometime this summer. This would be convenient for me, as I would have more free time to get involved with things like release events, appearances, and the like. We’ll have to see, as I am still waiting on more details as to when this is coming.

With all of that on the horizon, I think, a revisit of my first book, The Holy Fool, and what I think it had to say about the state of journalism in America might be a good topic for a paid-subscriber exclusive item. However I do want to have a book contest giveaway involving The Holy Fool and some of my subscribers. Watch this space – I might do a special May Day giveaway.

I’ve posted a few Substack Notes during the previous week and this week as well. It’s been a great way for me to run into even more writers that have impressed me, so I ended up subscribing to a few of them. If I make that a habit, do I add those notes to my writing totals that I keep track of? The mind reels. As long as I use it in small doses, I think it will go all right.

What I’ve Been Doing Having to do With Writing

I’m continuing to try and clean up the Substack with all of the older or outdated posts that got imported from Liegois Media. That’s still going to take a long time, longer than I had hoped. I wished there was a menu option where you were able to easily access a large number of your past posts to change their status or delete them. Unfortunately, no such feature exists in Substack, so that will take much longer than even I anticipated.

Updating some of the posts in Liegois Media, I expect, might take longer, and will not start until I finish on Substack. Again, it’s going to take a long time, but I have to frankly doubt there is a big demand for people to read all of my old posts without paying for some, or that I would be forgoing a ton of dollars if I didn’t get everything set up right away.

What I’ve Been Reading/General Recommendations

There have been so many people I have been running into on Substack, WordPress, and Facebook. There have been a lot of good stuff out there.

Reb Brown is an actor who was big in the ’70’s and 80’s. I saw him in films like Uncommon Valor, Space Mutiny, but I knew him best as my first encounter with Captain America. He seems like an honestly sweet dude. This is a pic of him as Cap.

The New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly has a page on Substack. It’s nice to see that not all publications are getting rid of their cartoonists like the Des Moines Register did to Brian Duffy. I like her work, especially this one.

Robert Leonard is a radio man from my neck of south central Iowa who also writes on Substack. He just published something in TIME recently; it’s worth a read.

Writing Quote(s) of the Week

I have to say I absolutely believe in this quote. It’s the same instinct that got me reading fiction as a kid and the same instinct that has me writing.

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.

Philip Pullman

And I have an extra quote from Louie to get myself motivated because I truly need that this week after the lull in writing that I’ve been facing.

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.

Louis L’Amour

Final Thoughts

I was doing some research on my new project and looking into English folk songs for a potential football club anthem (regarding The Yank Striker series) and wound up looking at a page of great American folk songs when I heard this one by the late great Blaze Foley. If there are more perfectly crafted songs, there are not many of them. Take care.

– 30 –


  1. It’s nuts that I’m starting to talk about the weather all the time? I think it’s because my personal life gets pretty routine, especially with the ins and outs of a typical school year.
  2. And yes, I know that technically makes it the week prior to this week, but we can color outside the lines sometimes, right?
  3. Occasionally, I’ll write some things in these newsletters that are a bit contradictory. I should explain that I typically put this together over the course of several days and my mood (and the circumstances behind them) can change a bit. I have to get started on the process almost as soon as the last newsletter finishes or I wouldn’t ever have it done on time.

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.

A Week in the Writing Life, 15 April 2023

[Photo note: My front porch area this Easter weekend, courtesy of my wife. It’s a nice place to relax in the morning because the sun comes up behind the house from the west.]

Hi, everyone. Let’s get to it.

Home Front Stuff

I decided to include that photo at the top of this newsletter since A., my wife took it, B., it showed her nice work with our back patio, and C., it was a reminder of a fantastic weekend weather-wise. It is the type of spring weather I really look forward to when April comes around.

Unfortunately, this week in southern Iowa has hovered in the 70 to 80 degree Fahrenheit territory, which is entirely too much like early summer weather for my taste. If I lived in a place that was 50-70 degrees year-round, I would be in paradise[1].

Although we were not in the same city, me, my wife, and both our kids had steak for Easter Sunday dinner rather than the traditional ham, with excellent results all around. We might be starting a new family tradition.

What I’ve Been Writing

Due to the volume of corrections/revisions I suggested for the manuscript of The Yank Striker, it took me until this week to get that second revision of the book wrapped up. I’m hoping to get a better idea of when the publishing date for the book will be within the next few weeks. When I know, you will be the first to know.

After an extended hiatus, work on The Yank Striker 2 has resumed this week. Much of this work had been more in the nature of initial revisions and review as I see what I already have and start making plans for what I want to put in the book. I’m a bit frustrated that some of the written notes I could have sworn were stowed away in one of those hand-sized notebooks I have around my house and get half-filled with writings. After a quick check of my existing notebooks, I decided to recreate those notes in another half-used book and solidify my tentative plans for how I want to plot out the project. With more than 15,000 words already down, I want to make sure what I have to tell next will fit a manuscript of about 80,000 words or so, which I think will fit this second part of the series.

I’ve been working on a few ideas for some more paid-subscriber exclusive material, including a continuation of this article I did regarding worldbuilding in fiction, a revisit of my first book, The Holy Fool, and what I think it had to say about the state of journalism in America and elsewhere, and a quick discussion of the new Substack Notes feature on Substack. Keep an eye on this space to see which of those ideas I decide to tackle this weekend.

On a somewhat related note, I’ll likely try and post my first Substack Notes this week as well. We’ll see how that goes. There have been one or two people who are wondering whether it could be an alternative to Twitter. My experience with Twitter was something of an afterthought, so the decline and fall of that platform is not really a concern to me anymore. Hopefully, Substack notes doesn’t end in tears like Twitter did, though I am somewhat optimistic.

What I’ve Been Doing Having to do With Writing

I’m still trying to update my pages and previous posts to account for the new paid subscriber tier. I talked about that a bit during the last newsletter, so I won’t repeat all of that here. I actually think I could have imported my entire WordPress blog to Substack now that I was reading some of the Substack FAQs. Oh, well, I’ll stick to what I have now, I think. I’m about… 35 percent finished with the Substack work, at least? It’s a work in progress.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll be meeting with my Iowa Writers’ Corner writing group right around the time this newsletter gets published. I’m on the program this week with a presentation on revision. I’m glad that I worked up my Google Slides presentation for the meeting at least a week in advance, so I had that going for me this weekend.

Another thing that I need to think about is having a regular reading schedule as well as a writing schedule. There are so many great writers out there on WordPress and Substack and I try to catch them sometimes, but I don’t do it on a consistent basis. I truly believe in Stephen King’s advice that good writers have to both write a lot and read a lot. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I need to be doing constructive writing as well as the fun sort of writing. And, if I expect people to read my work online, I should be willing to do the same. Perhaps I could try and set aside dates (midweek and weekend?) to just tour the writing interwebs for a bit and see what other people are writing. I have been doing at least some reading as you see below, but I need to make it more of a routine. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Free Piece of Writing Advice/Insight for This Week

I do believe I’ve settled on having these short writing advice pieces in the newsletter every other week. I want whatever advice I do give to be something that you typically couldn’t just Google right off or figure out when you use spellcheck/grammar check on your documents. I also want for the advice not to come off as too repetitive, because I am writing this newsletter on a weekly basis. I’ve also re-titled the section “Free Piece of Writing Advice/Insight for This Week” because some of these thoughts might be more observations that precise instructions to readers. Consider yourself warned.

This week, my advice is this: as soon as you can, try to find a writing group. By a writing group, I mean a group of people who are interested in writing, are actively writing, and who are interested in making themselves better writers. Not all groups that call themselves “writing groups” could fit all three of those criteria.

Why is this a good thing? A good writing group helps sustain your interest in writing. It puts you in touch with people who share your interests, can encourage you and provide solid critiques, and be an invaluable resource for you as you seen to improve all aspects of your craft. I credit belonging to writing groups later in my life, when I wanted to restart my interest in writing, as a critical part of my growth and development.

Also, don’t be discouraged if, for example, you live in a smaller community where there might not be enough people to form a strong writing group. There are plenty of opportunities to meet online with writing groups and even attend meetings through Zoom, Google Meets, or other programs. My group has many members who attend virtually (and I count myself among that number sometimes).

What I’ve Been Reading/General Recommendations

Although I’ll likely get into a deeper dive into my initial thoughts on Substack Notes in another post, I appreciated this post from the founders of Substack on their vision for the platform. It’s been refreshing to see this idea of growing an online community through reader-first and writer-first policies. Hopefully it stays that way.

Theodora Taylor is another writer out there who is giving some writing advice on Substack through her page The Official Universal Fantasy Substack. I’m starting to dive into her advice, and once I get paid, one of her e-books will likely be on my shelf. Looking forward to it.

Writing Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is absolutely true. Also, if you have several different places where you can stop a story, you have a nice little series on your hands. 🙂

There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.

Frank Herbert

Final Thoughts

When I have some time to myself and don’t have anything else going on, like work, family obligations, this blog, or my other writing projects, I’ve begun to think about this big fantasy project I’ve been pondering for the past couple of years. Whenever I do get it started and I start looking for some music to listen to while writing fantasy, I think this song will be on the top of my playlist. Fairport Convention is the real deal.

– 30 –


  1. Can you guess that I’m living as far south as I ever want to at this point?

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.

A Week in the Writing Life, 8 April 2023

[Photo note: Just visited Muscatine[1][2] last week. This was a mood.]

If you haven’t figured it out already, these weekly newsletters will remain free for all subscribers, regardless of whatever subscription you have from me. I need to make sure I’m providing everyone a value for their time and support, regardless of whatever level that is.

Also, if you haven’t figured it out, it takes more than a day to put all of this together. At this point, I’m starting to write this edition of the newsletter on the day after the last one came out. It’s fine, though. The less I rush this, the more likely it’s going to be a quality offering[3].

So, let’s talk about the week that was.

Home Front Stuff

I managed to get together with both my parents and my kids last weekend, albeit not at the exact same time. However, I did appreciate seeing all of them, especially my parents since I had not seen them in person since at least Christmas. I’m an only child, and the older I get, the more that I want to treasure and nurture my relationship to them since I know how much people treasure their kids now.

I lived in my hometown with my family next to my parents for about 15 years, and I don’t think that I appreciated having my parents as near to me as I did at the time. I am glad that my kids got to experience living next to their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I didn’t have the opportunity to do that myself, since we were the only members of my family living in Iowa until I got married and started having kids.

I’m also getting a bit annoyed with starting to see weather in the 70 degrees and higher numbers occasionally here in Iowa. I was promised spring for this year, you know.

What I’ve Been Writing

As of today’s post, I do believe that my second revision of The Yank Striker is now in the books[4]. I will likely have to review this briefly before handing it in to my editors, but I feel grateful that I got it done in the self-imposed time limit that I had set for myself. Goal-setting can work, kids.

My hope is that the back and forth with my editors on any changes calms down and that we can finally have a release date for The Yank Striker. I’m now hoping for a summer release for the book, as that would give me more freedom to promote the book when I am on vacation. But, it is getting increasingly close to being a reality. It even has an ISBN number and everything.

As for the rest, work on The Yank Striker 2, other fiction projects, my memoir, and other items has paused a bit. I’m hoping to restart all of them soon after some of these revisions on The Yank Striker are sorted.

As for the next subscriber-exclusive post I have plans for, I’m thinking about a follow-up to the piece I just wrote on worldbuilding. As it turns out, I have to make a presentation on revising for my writer’s group next week, so it can be difficult to have something ready to go by then. However, I am going to make a big effort to have this ready for you, readers.

What I’ve Been Doing Having to do With Writing

Remember when I said that this whole subscriber exclusive thing was going to be longer than a one-day process? Turns out I was overly optimistic about how fast that process was going to take. 

If this was a large outfit or publishing concern, I’d be talking to my webmaster to step up the process and get it done as soon as possible. Of course, I can’t whip my webmaster into shape to get this done right away, because I’m the webmaster here. My WordPress and Substack sites are essentially a one-man band. Of course, all of the revisions I’ve been trying to fast-track as I mentioned above have been taking away time from this activity.

As I had suspected, since the changeover process is a bit more straightforward with Substack than it is with WordPress, I’ve decided to concentrate on getting most of the work done on the former platform first. There, it is merely a matter of switching over whole posts to subscriber-only status and deleting some blogs that I don’t want to muck around with on Substack (including my Wednesday writing journals and any posts exclusive to the WordPress page. That I might get done in the next couple of weeks.

The WordPress page is going to take a little longer. There, I will have to set up subscriber-only blocks of material that are only available for paid subscribers. So, that involves entering the edit function of a particular post, creating the subscriber block, cutting the section of text and material I want to have subscriber exclusive, paste that material in the subscriber block, and then hit the update button. This is at least a couple of steps more than I would have to do on Substack. One advantage to the work on WordPress, however, is that I won’t be planning on deleting any extra posts, so that will save me some time. However, this will not start until after I have finished my Substack work, and I do not have any estimate for how long the entire process will be. I’ll keep you updated, because I’m always looking to talk about something on these weekly newsletters[5].

What I’ve Been Reading/General Recommendations

Roger’s Bacon is a former evolutionary biologist and current high school science teacher (a latter profession where it is very hard to find good candidates, by the way). He has a Substack named Secretorm. I must say, even his links posts are an intriguing read. I’s say check it out.

Substack is rolling out a new feature called Substack Notes that is sort of a short post format similar in size to tweets, but not quite? I still appreciate how Substack is more about people finding other people because they are interested in good writing, not some algorithmic mumbo-jumbo.

Writing Quote of the Week

You know what, this explains how I felt about reading growing up, so I’ll post it.

We live and breathe words. …. It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone. They could be honest with me, and I with them. Reading your words, what you wrote, how you were lonely sometimes and afraid, but always brave; the way you saw the world, its colors and textures and sounds, I felt–I felt the way you thought, hoped, felt, dreamt. I felt I was dreaming and thinking and feeling with you. I dreamed what you dreamed, wanted what you wanted–and then I realized that truly I just wanted you.

Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince

Final Thoughts

The day before this newsletter got posted, I received word of the death of the German publishing heiress, music promoter, actress, and model Nora Forster. She might be better known for being the wife of Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd singer John Lydon, and the mother of Ariane Forster, better known as Ari Up, vocalist for the English punk rock band the Slits. I’ve been a fan of Lydon’s music ever since I was a kid, even though some of his recent statements regarding Brexit and other political matters don’t sit well with me.

I had first read about John and Nora’s relationship when I read Lyndon’s 1994 memoir Rotten – No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs[6], and it was a description of a truly wonderful and loving relationship by all accounts. Nora was several years older than John, and she had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease for the past five years. John had been her caretaker during that time. Before then he and Nora had served as as the guardian to Ari’s three children when she found herself mentally unable to care for them and, later, after Ari’s death from cancer. Alzheimer’s and dementia are likely the worst diseases anyone can face, and I can only imagine the hardships that John faced seeing his loved one fade away and having to care for her during that time. It’s a hard road for any partners or family of those affected by dementia.

In her and John’s honor, I’m posting this song. As I kid I was more of a Sex Pistols fan, but nowadays I’m an admirer of Public Image Ltd, so this might be my favorite of his. Rest in power to Nora and I hope John has peace.

– 30 –


  1. For new subscribers, that’s my hometown. Google it to find out more – it’s the only town in the world with that exact name.
  2. The photo shows the Norbert F. Beckey Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River from Muscatine to the Illinois side of the river.
  3. Of course I say that, then I wind up doing revisions on this newsletter less than an hour or two before publication lol.
  4. When I say second revision, I mean the second major revision since I’ve submitted it to the publisher. I have completed at least three other major revisions and about the same number of minor revisions before that process.
  5. As previously stated, lol.
  6. That is a great read that I would highly recommend.

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.

A Week in the Writing Life, 1 April 2023

I will say that I am always glad when this day falls on a weekend. You do not want to be in a school on this day, much less teaching there. Any interest that I once in pranks or pranking people left me a long time ago. My personal opinion is that it gives some people permission to be absolute jerks, not that people need much of an excuse nowadays.

Aaaaaand that was enough misanthropy for a while. Let’s get to the writing talk, shall we?

Home Front Stuff

I usually don’t celebrate my birthday publicly, but I decided to do that to see who might actually be willing to support my writing (more on that later). As I hinted last week, I have started to write these more than a few days earlier than it actually runs, because otherwise I’m going to be rushed to get this up at a reasonable time on Saturdays and the quality might be a little bit low.

Anyway, the reason I’m mentioning this is because the plan is that today (1 April) I will be having a joint birthday feast and celebration with my daughter, and my wife and son will be there too, maybe even my parents. I do plan on visiting my parents before that as well. It is rare for us to get together since we now live halfway across the state from each other, and I treasure that time with them. I try to call them on a regular basis because I now know what it’s like to be wondering how my kids are dealing with young adulting and hoping they’re okay. Goodness knows how my mom and dad handled it with me being their only kid, and I last lived full-time with them at least twenty-five years ago.

What I’ve Been Writing

I’m deep into a second revision of The Yank Striker this week. Now that I’ve checked to see that all the first revisions got taken care of (good news, the vast majority of them are done), I’m needing to review for any other major revisions (or minor ones) before we go forward. How many more times through the process we’ll go through, I can’t say, but this is coming closer to reality.

Work on The Yank Striker 2 has paused a bit. I want to make sure that I’m going to be productive with the blog since I’m actually expecting people to pay for reading some portions of it lol. The other issue is that I want to make sure that what I have written looks good enough to match with the first part, so much of that work is going to be revisionist in nature rather than new writing, at least at first. As of right now, I already have 15,000-plus words in the rough draft, so that’s a little progress. (I’m not expecting the second book to be much longer than 80,000 words.)

I’m also planning to write my new piece on worldbuilding locations, with some of the experiences that I’ve had with both The Yank Striker series and my first book, The Holy Fool. The plan is to make that the first ever subscriber-exclusive piece for Liegois Media and The Writing Life With Jason Liegois. Now, whether I manage to actually write this piece is a totally different situation. Let’s all watch here to see if I make this deadline. (I think I might?)[1]

As for other stuff, I’m still doing dribs and drabs of the fan fiction, usually just to make sure that I’m at least writing something. I’m not as dedicated to it as I was, say, a couple of years ago, but it is something that is a good creative outlet for me. One advantage to it that other outlets don’t have is that I don’t have as much pressure to like promote it or monetize it like other things that I create.

What I’ve Been Doing Having to do With Writing

At this point, the paid subscriptions on Liegois Media (WordPress) and The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (Substack) should be up and running. Whether it is running smoothly or not is another issue. I mentioned before that there might be some technical complications to setting up some of the paid sections. I do not consider myself a webmaster or programmer by any means, but thankfully being online no longer requires you to have a basic knowledge of HTML programming or anything like that to set up a web site. I’m it when it comes to who’s behind everything, everyone.

I am not too concerned about whether everything is totally perfect for this launch or not. I’ve come to believe that it’s better to jump into this rather than try and tinker with everything and try and put together the perfect plan to run a site, which doesn’t exist. Might as well have fun with this and see where it leads.

Free Piece of Writing Advice for the Week

It is going to be very interesting to see if I can make this a a good section of the newsletter and not be repetitive. It might if I keep it quick.

Remember how I said last time that it’s good not to rely on “crutch words,” words that wind up being repetitive filler in your writing? I would also say that you should make sure to not use “crutch punctuation,” as well. For example, I realized after I had one of my more recent works proofread that I was relying waaaay too much on em-dashes (basically, this: – ). I should not have been using them all the time to try and make these big long pauses, or as a replacement for ending a comment. If I really wanted to merge two sentences together, I can use a semicolon every one in a while, or maybe a colon if the second sentence directly explains something in the first sentence.

What I’ve Been Reading/General Recommendations

I always feel like I want to try to read something I’m going to learn from, even if I’m not sure that it will be a reading experience that I want to return to. It’s a way of challenging myself, which is why I insisted on buying Infinite Jest and The Pale King by David Foster Wallace and insist on trying to read them, even though I couldn’t even get through the first fourth of each book[2]. I get that same feeling reading Brad DeLong, an economics professor at University of California at Berkeley, a deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the U.S. Treasury during the Clinton Administration and the author of a few books. He wrote this breakdown analysis of the new GPT-4 chatbot soon after it came out, and I’m always interested in hearing about how AI will change things or not. Give him a read.

Paul Krugman is not a writer who needs my hype, but I’m giving it to him anyway. A professor of economics at such places as MIT, Stanford, Yale, and Princeton, among others, he’s the winner of the Nobel Prize of Economics for his theories on international trade theory. He’s also pretty much the only columnist at the New York Times that matters. He knows how economies work. If you have the cash to get a NYT subscription, he’s worth a read.

Writing Quote of the Week

As my next big fiction project (other than The Yank Striker series) will involve fantasy, I figured a quote from one of the first fantasy writers I fell in love with might be appropriate.

Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.

Lloyd Alexander

Final Thoughts

Well, that’s it for now. Hopefully you, the reader, is getting something out of this, and you should be assured that I’m willing to write something even when I’m not trying to promote something. You’ll hear from me sooner rather than later.

– 30 –


  1. I’ll probably post something quick right after it goes live.
  2. I did pick up a love of footnotes from DFW, so there’s that.

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.

A Week in the Writing Life, 25 March 2023

Hi, again. [Please note, the above image is not my actual birthday cake lol.]

Although I find that I am doing pretty well with putting out a weekly newsletter, I have to note that I am starting to put it together earlier and earlier in the week (although not necessarily finishing it early in the week). One of the difficulties that I find on a regular basis is finding readings to recommend and give links to, especially when I find myself busy with writing and the day job (teaching).

Home Front Stuff

As I might have mentioned previously, I’ll be celebrating my 50th birthday soon (no use in denying it when I can use the occasion for a promotional event lol). As for the family celebration of the event, that might have to wait until the following weekend. It appears that we might be combining the celebration of my 50th birthday and my daughter’s 21st birthday (nine days prior to mine) into a single event. This is a side effect of having my kids living in two different cities, none of which I live in.

At least for now, we all live in the same state, but who knows how long that will last. I never lived in the same state as my grandparents and most of my aunts and uncles, but my kids lived in the same area as their grandparents and maternal aunts for most of their childhood. Circumstances can always change, and I just treasure the times that I am around any of my family, especially my wife and kids.

What I’ve Been Writing

New sneak peek picture of the inside of The Yank Striker: A Footballer’s Beginning.

I’ve already gotten my second proof for The Yank Striker in the mail on Monday. Now it’s sit around and wait as I get the next proof back and see what else needs to be done. I hope there’s not too much left to do, but I can’t rush things either. Of course, I have to check and make sure that all of the revisions I asked to get done actually did get done. As I started looking at that this week, it appears the vast majority of those did happen, which should help out my second round of revisions.

I thought it might be useful to some of you writers who are looking for a system to help revise your longer projects to give an insider’s look at my process behind The Yank Striker, something I began with my first book The Holy Fool and refined during this project. It’s going to post here about an hour after this post goes live, so go check it out.

As for other writing, once I finish the first look at the new proof, I hope to get back to writing The Yank Striker Part 2 (working title). Like I mentioned last time, one of my issues stemmed from me not really being comfortable with the description of a particular setting in the first book in the series, so I didn’t want to proceed with scenes at that setting (an important one in the book) in the new book until I resolved it in the first book. Especially with it being a series, I knew that I had to get it right the first time to avoid continuity errors and awkwardness.

With that in mind, I’m planning on putting together another article for the following week that covers putting together settings for a fictional place. I might even turn it into my first subscriber-exclusive piece for Liegois Media and The Writing Life With Jason Liegois. Keep checking those spaces.

What I’ve Been Doing Having to do With Writing

I think I might need to explain a reference I made last week when I compared the monthly meeting of my writing group to the plot of the film Saturday Night Fever. I have to remember once again that there are an ever fewer number of people who have a direct memory of the 20th century, although I had to realize it about 10 years or so when I was teaching a class of eighth graders and I started to figure out their ages[1].

Many film fans (and music fans as well) of 1977 saw the music and the dancing and the fashion of the movie and didn’t get much farther than that. But a lot of the perceptive people recognized the film as an exploration of characters looking for meaning and validation in their lives. Gene Siskel, the late great film critic of the Chicago Tribune, was so obsessed with the film that he eventually purchased the white suit that star John Travola wore at the film’s climax. Anyway, this was a long-winded way of saying that writing and my fellow writers are a great escape from the regular grind of my workdays and something I truly look forward to.

Last week, I already talked about preparations for paid subscriptions on Liegois Media (WordPress) and The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (Substack). I’ve already got the payment systems set up for both sites, so it’s just a matter of getting the subscriptions to go live. As I promised, that will happen at 8 p.m. Central Time March 30. For Substack, the process will be more or less immediate.

However, it will be more of an evolving process on WordPress, because you can’t simply have a certain amount of posts become subscriber exclusive. Apparently, you have to have subscriber exclusive boxes so that you can get the subscribers to pay for it. That means I might be more than just a few days reformatting new subscriber box content. Now, I say all this, but watch and see the Substack be more complicated than WordPress. I might be able to let you know how it’s going by the next time I post the next A Week in the Writing Life.

Free Piece of Writing Advice for the Week

During our members’ meeting of the Iowa Writer’s Corner last weekend, we had a great presentation from one of our new members, writer TK Cassidy. It was entitled “Crutch Words and the Dreaded Lack of Definition.” To summarize the presentation, she talked with us about words that we tend to use repeatedly in our writings that can be both monotonous for our readers and not specific enough to be properly descriptive for them as well. They tend to happen in everyday speech quite a lot[2].

Go ahead and use the “find word” function in the word processing program of your choice. If you find yourself using certain words hundreds of times over the course of a book-length manuscript (especially these ones, thanks to Hannah Bauman for them), try to change them out for more descriptive alternatives[3][4].

What I’ve Been Reading/General Recommendations

Korynn Morrison is an artist from Sydney, Australia, I met on Substack. She’s just as good of a writer as she is a visual artist, like this piece on the concept of stillness and how it can lead to more self-awareness. Check her out.

I had a chance to reread my copy of Up the Down Staircase, Bel Kaufman’s classic 1964 novel of a young female rookie teacher in the New York public school system. The trailer for its 1967 film adaptation appears to be a bit extra. A movie trailer more than four minutes long? Anyway, see it for yourself:

One of the things I noticed about the book was how a lot of the issues teachers had to deal with back then are just as present now, if exacerbated by increased pressures on students and technology. However, it would be quite easy to re-adapt the book for today’s time, switching out those letters, assignments, and interoffice memos with emails, texts, and Google Classroom files.

Writing Quote of the Week

Since I was talking earlier about eliminating crutch words and vivid descriptions, this seems appropriate.

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

Anton Chekhov

Final Thoughts

Let’s close things out with a jam. If someone tells you that all of the music of the 1980’s and their music videos were overproduced mush, you might want to show them this little number from Minneapolis, Minnesota’s own, The Replacements.

Thanks to all my readers, and especially my subscribers, for your continued support. I appreciate it very much, and I’m not going to forget it.. Writers keep writing and everyone take care of themselves.

– 30 –


  1. Then again, they could just look up the history like I did. One of my personal mottoes is “I looked it up.”
  2. I tend to believe the theory that people use these words in speech to buy time to allow you to think about what to say next.
  3. Of course, when it comes to dialogue, this rule doesn’t necessarily count. In fact, a good amount of realistic dialogue would contain plenty of crutch words.
  4. Yes, I’m getting on my footnotes again.

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