Writing Journal 5.12.2019: The week I admitted that I was essentially taking May off

Yeah, I basically have been taking the entire month off. It’s not quite like the old procrastination days, but it’s sort of like that.

+398 words written.

Days writing: 2 of 7.

Days revising: 2 of 7 for 60 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 2 of 7 days.

There are occasions where I realize I’ve been working on a project for an extended period of time (in my case, three projects) and have gotten burned out trying to move them forward. It is not a permanent condition, but one where I want to take a mental break before getting back at it.

If you’ve been following me for the past few weeks, there’s been three issues that I have dealing with that I think have had a direct influence on my not writing. They are, in no particular order:

  • The impending end of Game of Thrones and how obsessed I’ve become with the TV series. I have to admit here that unlike some people who avoid all spoilers, I am obsessed with spoilers and leaks and every bit of information that I can find out about the show. In deference to those who hate spoilers, I will not post any here. [EDIT: This journal entry was delayed because S8E5 was on right in the middle of it and I had to catch it.]
    What I will say, however, is that I’ve found the show to be far better than many of the fans online have said. Even though not everything has been perfect, I’ve really been satisfied with the season and the storytelling. And honestly, it’s also made me curious and interested in trying fantasy writing myself.
  • The end of the school year. We are just down to 10 days left with students. (There’s two other in-service days, but I can work those in my sleep.) Since we’ve had to extend the school days, they’ve felt so much longer than normal, especially the closer we get to the end of the year. However, I am so glad that we will be getting out of school before June, which is more than I can say for some districts in Iowa.
  • Some personal uncertainty and lack of clarity regarding my wife’s work situation and our family’s situation about whether we would be staying in our hometown or moving somewhere else for work. This uncertainty was a big load on my mind and my family’s mind, but it got resolved this week. Even though I typically don’t post on personal stuff here, I will make a quick follow-up post on this mid-week. Don’t worry, however – things are looking good for us.

On an unrelated note, just a reminder that I’ll be hosting a book talk on my novel The Holy Fool at the Rock Island (Ill.) Public Library at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 1. I’m going to be there courtesy of the Midwest Writing Center, which is hosting the event.

In lieu of progress on my projects, since there was essentially none, I’ll just do a quick reminder of what they are.

  • Project A: This is a book about a young man who is a football player and the son of a famous college football coach who is also obsessed with soccer. I first got the idea to write about what I thought the first American Lionel Messi might be like and it turned into one of the richest characters I’ve ever written about.
  • Project B: This is a short novel about a young teen who shoots two of his classmates during a psychotic break. After five years imprisonment, he is looking to rebuild his life with the help of his brother, but former high school classmates start turning up dead around him…
  • Project C: For someone who never messed around with poetry, the idea of me putting together a poetry collection is a real trip. However, I think this is some of the most interesting stuff I’ve written, and a way for me to connect to where I grew up.

    The projected deadlines for those projects:
  • Project A, begin querying agents and publishers: Sometime in early-mid summer 2019.
  • Project B, finish major redrafting of the rough draft (more of a second rough draft rather than a more focused revision): End of summer 2019.
  • Project C, finishing creating rough draft poems: End of 2019.

I did get this written more or less on time, so there’s always that silver lining. 😀 I’ll write more later.

A Few Events That Are Coming Up (AKA Stuff I’m Doing Having To Do With Books)

It appears that I have started something that might begin to approach a book tour for my book, The Holy Fool.

the holy fool cover shot

There’s going to be a few events that I will be hosting or at having to do with writing, and some of them having to do with my book. So, if you want to put them on your calendar and can actually go to or travel to the Eastern Iowa area, I’d love to see you there.

HNI Musser Public Library

  • At 11 a.m. Saturday, March 30, I’ll be giving a book talk on The Holy Fool at the Musser Public Library in Muscatine, now located at the corner of Mulberry Avenue and Second Street. In addition to the book, I’ll be discussing this blog, my experiences with writing as an author, as a journalist, and as a teacher, among other topics. I might even have a few copies of my books around. We’ll be up in the large third floor meeting room there.

Writers on the Avenue

  • At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, I’ll be a presenter at the monthly meeting of the Muscatine, Iowa writing group Writers on the Avenue. I’ll be giving a presentation on revising and helping lead a writing exercise regarding revising (bring your own work if you want), but there might be people asking about the book, too.

800px-Rock_Island_Public_Library_from_northwest

  • From 2-4 p.m. Saturday, June 1, I will be giving a book talk at the Midwest Writing Center, located at the Rock Island (Ill.) Public Library, 401 19th Street, Rock Island. Thanks very much to the center and its executive director, Ryan Collins, for hosting the event.

I’ll make sure to make an update post as time goes on and add any events that are coming up as well. I’m looking forward to all of them.

Writing Journal 2.10.2019: Weird week leads to a slow week

(You notice how I’ve been using photos of winter scenes? It’s snowing a lot.)

The numbers are not too much to write home about, but here they are:

+469 words written.

Days writing: 2 of 7.

Days revising: 4 of 7 for 180 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 4 of 7 days.

Yeah, not really impressive given last few weeks. I have been making progress, but not as much as I want. Work has gotten in the way some (even with all the snow days, imagine that.) And the fact that there might be another snow day or two during this week will not help, either. Oh, well, I’ll be teaching in June anyway.

I’m just doing one post this weekend, so I’ll try to get in everything going on all at once.

Promo items/Stuff for The Holy Fool

  • I mentioned that I will be having my first promotional appearance for my book this Saturday. It’s still on. All of the information is here.
  • I want to set up a book talk at my local library here in Muscatine. I think it would be more of a book discussion than a signing, although I would be giving a copy of my book to the library as well. Once I get that sorted out, I’ll let everyone know date and time.
  • Now that I have books in hand, I want to start doing a giveaway or two through my Goodreads page. As soon as I have that locked down, you will hear it here first.

Writing Stuff

(I went over all of these books here, just to get you caught up).

  • Project A: Wrapping up my latest revisions on it, likely within the next week, after my beta reads. After that, I will be proofreading when I have time and begin considering markets for it. Some possibilities would be publishers/agents who are interested in books with sports themes or LGBTQ characters.
  • Project B: This will likely pick up when I finish the latest revision on Project A. Length of time on this would likely be 2-3 months. I’ll also likely need some beta readers to review as well. After that, I start considering publishers/agents.
  • Project C: I’ve compiled a collection of poems in one location. My initial thoughts are that I will need a bit more material before I consider shopping it around. Length of time to complete a full compilation before starting revisions would be maybe 6-9 months.

That’s about all I have for now. Keep reading me and everyone else, and if you are in the Midwest and getting as much snow as I am, stay safe.

 

I Have Books

Another short blog post to let people know that I have books.

Just got the delivery from my publisher this week. So, I do have physical copies of my book in paperback format. A couple are already spoken for, but some are not.

It may take a while for some of these to get out, given the polar vortex sitting over Iowa and a couple of other states, but it will happen. I’m also planning at least one giveaway through my Goodreads page.

I’ll have some word about at least one book signing coming up soon, and perhaps some other items coming up. I’ll keep you in the loop when plans are set.

Being The News Rather Than Writing It

It was an interesting experience walking into my local newspaper as the subject of the story rather than writing one myself.

But, it was a good article about the publication of my book. Go ahead and read it here – the reporter did a great job to be honest.

Anyway, that’s all for tonight – I’ll probably check in before the weekend and the weekly journal. Take care and keep warm if you’re in the Midwest like me – apparently it’s going to get really cold soon.

The Holy Fool And Other Publishing/Project News: Update 1.27.2019

All right, I just wanted to let you know a couple of things about what’s going on, project-wise.

  • The My Work section of the site has been fully updated with new links, etc. Check it all out.
  • I’m anticipating my first small shipment of books any day now, although the weirdness with the shutdown might have led to a delay or two. As soon as I get them in my hands, I’ll spread the word and I’ll probably sponsor a giveaway or two.
  • A lot of this I am anticipating is going to heat up (pun not intended) during late spring/summer. I’m hoping to make some book signings/appearances in my local area during that time to get the word out about what I’ve written.
  • I’m also probably going to be busy looking for publishers and/or agents to take on the other projects I have been working on behind the scenes. I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy working with Biblio Publishing, but they are not accepting new fiction projects at this time. So I will be checking in with other possibilities for publication. However, I am optimistic. I’ve been published before, so I think I can be published again.
  • With that in mind, I have been separating my works in progress into two different categories. The first category is Ready To Go – projects that I would be able to present to publishers and agents within four months or less with the intention of publishing next year. For right now, I’m calling them Projects A, B, and C.
    • Project A is the novel about a soccer player that I’ve talked about on and off. I’ve already had it beta-read and have made revisions to it with those comments in mind. I’m giving it another little shave to get the manuscript under 85,000 words, just to keep the story moving.
    • Project B is a long-dormant crime drama centered around a young man suffering from mental illness who kills two boys who had been tormenting him at his high school. The story picks up when he is released after five years in jail and how he struggles to be part of society again. I think the book has a few flaws, but it’s a quick read – currently under 50,000 words – and I’ve been feeling good about what I’ve been revising.
    • Project C would be a collection of some of the poems I have written in recent years. A couple of the ones I want to include have appeared in this blog, while others I have yet to write or am in the process of writing. I think that would be relatively easy to put together.
  • The second category is going to be Future Projects – stuff that is somewhere from planning stages to incomplete rough drafts. This includes 2-3 potential sequels to Project A, a series about a fictional indie rock band from the 1980’s-90’s, and probably two science fiction projects. In short, I am not lacking stuff to write about for some time to come.

So, that’s where I’m at with all of my projects at the moment. I’m feeling excited going forward with them, and I hope they can find an even bigger audience.

A Message To Anyone Who Reads My Book…

…Glad you picked it up.

If you bought it, that’s great. Glad to get a few extra bucks into my pocket while telling you a story that, I think, is pretty cool. Trust me, I wouldn’t have spent years writing it if I hadn’t.

There’s also the chance, however, that you might have read it in the library. I’m in the process of getting some a copy dropped off at my library and maybe a couple of others around the area. Some of them also do ebook loaning, so I’m interested to see if they could do that, as well.

The point being, I appreciate anyone who reads my stuff, no matter whether you pay for it or borrow it from the library. If you are wondering how you can help me out, even if you can’t pay for my books, I have a way for you to do it.

Tell people what you thought about it.

Yeah, you can do that on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, but there’s a couple of other places it can be even more useful.

On Amazon, they give you space on the product page to leave a review of the book or product. Let me put out a personal plea for you to write a review there. Let people know what you thought of it honestly. Tell them what you dug about it and if anything could be improved, and leave it up there. In case you got it from the library and don’t know where to leave a review, here is the link for my author’s page on Amazon. Just go to one of the book links there and do a review. Yeah, you’ll have to sign up for an account, but you probably already have one and it’s free anyway, right?

Also, feel free to leave it on other sites. For example, this is the site for my ebook on Barnes and Noble. If you sign up for Goodreads, you can do that same thing – here is my author’s page there. You can even leave a review for my book on my publisher’s site and you don’t have to sign in for anything.

And don’t feel like you have to write three or four different reviews, either. Cutting and pasting is perfectly acceptable. 🙂

The point is, I would truly appreciate it if people would start reviewing my book, even if they don’t have 100 percent positive things to say about it. The more people start talking about my book, the more people start noticing my book, and the more likely it is that people start buying it.

Anything you can do, I thank you for it.

More Book Updates, Promotion News, Etc.

Yesterday was a wild day – around 80 visitors to the site just with the little promotional work that I’ve done so far. That plus the 100-plus followers I’ve gotten on WordPress (and others on my other social media pages) has me thinking something could slowly be starting.

So, let me update everyone on a couple of items regarding The Holy Fool and associated items.

  • I now have ebook versions of The Holy Fool up and running on some other sites thanks to my publisher, Biblio. They are on Barnes and Noble and Kobo, for starters. I have also updated the “My Books” section of the blog with those links.
  • You can also find my book on the Apple app, but for some reason I can’t seem to find a URL link for that. Just search for my name on the Apple book app and you’ll find it.
  • I’m hoping to have a better idea of when I will be getting some author’s copies in my hands by sometime this week. I feel good about that, because I have a couple of people close to me wanting some autographed copies. In addition, I want to get some to my local library and have some available for signings, book giveaways, etc. When I know, you’ll know.
  • Still educating myself on the Amazon and Goodreads author programs (links to my pages on both sites are on the sidebar of this blog). I have the feeling that I will be able to make a lot of use out of both sites as promotional vehicles and to keep in touch with future fans.

That’s most of the new news bookwise – as time goes on, I’ll continue to keep everyone in the loop.

The Holy Fool: A Journalist’s Revolt [ANNOUNCEMENT]

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.

the holy fool cover shot

[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.

Just Hit 100 Follows On WordPress

I was impressed when I saw that. Thanks to everyone who’s ever taken the time to follow me here or on my other social media sites.

I try and check out people who follow me whenever I can – I wish I had time to do it more.

For every visitor and follower here who’s ever checked my blog out – thank you.


 

Remember that I’m releasing #TheHolyFoolLaunch post at noon on Saturday, January 19. Come on over to check it out and maybe buy a copy.