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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

 

Journalist To Novelist In One Step


©2010 Daisy Getty Design
Six years ago I quit my job as a newspaper reporter to go write books.

No. Not just books.

I quit my job as a journalist to go write novels.

Fiction.

Now, given the current condition of the newspaper industry, that probably makes me look like a genius to some, as though I ought to be waxing rhapsodic on the eve of my debut novel's publication. ["Boon" is available in stores and online. View the trailer at YouTube, read an excerpt, or visit WhatTheBoon.com.]

Indeed, several newspaper friends have inquired in recent weeks as to how they might do the same thing. How, they ask, does a journalist becomes a novelist?

"How?"

I've written and rewritten the answer to that question at least 100 different ways in the past week, all of which amounted to very poetic piles of steaming horseshit.

You want to know how? My answer is "no."

No.

Few journalists have ever accomplished anything worthwhile without first hearing "no" -- No, you can't talk to him ... No, you can't have that document ... No, you aren't allowed -- so that's my answer.

No.

When I started down this road, back in 2004, my life was good. I'd been a journalist for 15 years, more than half of which I'd spent writing for a growing, mid-sized newspaper in suburban Los Angeles. It was a dream job, well, as close as I was going to get to a dream job in journalism anyway, and the only job I wanted at that particular paper, a position that allowed me to spend weeks at a time researching and writing in-depth stories, but with enough flexibility to also dive into bigger news events as they occurred -- murders, manhunts, wildfires. Sure, if The New York Times had rung me up and invited me to come work for them, I'd have gone, but the only reason anyone from that paper ever called was to pitch a subscription special, and, well, I was OK with that.

The trouble was, I never intended to spend my life working for newspapers.

The only reason I got into it was because newspapering was the route most of my favorite writers took -- Twain, Hemingway, Thompson. Journalism was a way to see the world, or, at least, more than I would have seen otherwise. Writing for a newspaper provided me the kind of access no amount of money could buy, not that I had any money to begin with. I met heads of state, royalty, saintly people, and heartless scoundrels. I heard tales of tragedy, loss, and redemption straight from those who'd experienced it, and sometimes I even saw an injustice put right because the newspaper published a story about it. My experience was no more remarkable than any other reporter's, but I loved it, all of it, even the hate mail and the threats, which I quickly learned to interpret as indicators that I was doing the right thing.

But, then, one day I just woke to the realization that I'd stayed too long.

The newsroom reaction to my departure was mixed. Some of my colleagues were very supportive, while others treated me like a silly heart, as though the pressure had finally gotten to me, their well wishes the sort of sweet nothings you'd expect to see inscribed on Valentine candies.

"Good luck."

"You're brave."

My sources in government circles shared with me the wildest explanations they'd heard, gossip about how I'd finally stepped on the toes of some pol powerful enough to demand my dismissal. A few even offered to speak to my boss on my behalf, in defense of my job. A book? Even they could have made up a better excuse than that.

The most frank assessment came from one of my favorite editors, who, I'm glad to say, is still a good friend. She called the move "a mistake."

It was the most wonderful thing anyone could have said to me.

"A mistake."

It was the same as saying "no."

No, you can't have that. No, you can't go in there. No, you're not on the list.

So, how does a journalist become a novelist? There's not much in the how-to realm of writing that hasn't already been said so many times in so many books that bookstores dedicate entire sections to the issue. About all I can add is what you're bound to hear thousands of times before, during, and after writing your first damn book:

No.

No, you can't do it. No, you'll never do it. No, don't even try.

No.


More information about TJ Sullivan's debut novel "Boon" is available at WhatTheBoon.com.

An excerpt of "Boon" is online at TJSullivanLA.com.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

 

Official 'Boon' Web Site Now Online


— Artwork © 2010 Daisy Getty Design —
The official Web site for my novel, "Boon," went live Sunday night.

The new site offers readers an opportunity to learn more about the book, its characters and setting (be sure to check out the character profiles). There's video and audio, as well as events listings, and press info.

Check it out at: WhatTheBoon.com.

(Twitter Me)

-- TJ Sullivan is the author of the novel Boon.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

 

Boon: A Novel, and Playlist



When I was outlining my novel "Boon," I created a playlist of songs with themes similar to those in the story, or that I identified with particular characters. This is that playlist.

Also ... I'll be the guest at tonight's SPJ-LA Mixer in Downtown LA. More info at LAObserved.com

(Twitter Me)

-- TJ Sullivan is the author of the novel Boon.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

 

First Book Signing Set for 'Boon'




The first book trailer for "Boon" is online [short version above, full-length version at right]. Although the concept of book trailers may seem odd to some, it's becoming more common in the book industry for both fiction and non-fiction. I'm interested in hearing what you think about the concept.

Also ... I'll be making my first official appearance as the author of "Boon" on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at the Society of Professional Journalists - Los Angeles Chapter Mixer in downtown Los Angeles.

The mixers are very casual, so I expect to keep it brief, a Q&A perhaps, more of a conversation than a "talk." The focus of the discussion will be the journey from journalism to fiction. I initially referred to it as a "road" from journalism to fiction, but changed my mind as the word "road" implies that there is a distinct path between the two worlds, which, in my experience, is not the case.

There will be no reading. I learned long ago to never read aloud in a bar. But, I will gladly sign a few books.



THE LOWDOWN:

WHEN: Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: The back room at the Redwood Bar and Grill, 316 W. 2nd Street in downtown LA; 213-680-2600. Street and lot parking is available in the area. The bar is close to the Civic Center Red Line Metro stop.

COST: It’s free fun for all! (You’ll have to buy your own drinks. Happy hour ends at 7 p.m.).

SPJ-LA asks that you let them know you’re coming by sending an e-mail to: spjlosangeles@gmail.com.

More info is available in the SPJ press release on the event. Download it in pdf format. Or, view it online at the SPJ-LA Web site.

Hope to see you there.

More information about "Boon" is available on the Books page.

(Twitter Me)

-- TJ Sullivan is the author of the novel Boon.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

 

'Boon' Available Online Now


My novel, "Boon," won't be released officially until early next year [Feb. 16, 2010], which, as I've been told by many a bookstore manager, means you can't make an over-the-counter purchase of it yet. However, both the paperback and hardcover editions are already available from several booksellers online, including Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

"Boon" is also available as an eBook, including formats for Kindle, Microsoft Reader, and Adobe eReader.

Google Books offers a preview of the paperback edition, as well as links to more sellers.

Book signings will be held starting in February. Updates will be posted on my books page, at the official Boon Web site, and at Facebook.


(Twitter This)

— TJ Sullivan in LA

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Monday, September 14, 2009

 

First Review of 'Boon'

The first review of my novel, "Boon," is in ...

Here's the blurb:
"In his first novel, 'Boon,' T.J. Sullivan imagines a world where the news is produced not by perfectly objective, detached automatons but instead by human beings with real vulnerabilities, obsessions, distractions and temptations. It’s a story of manipulation and opportunism, portraying a constant struggle between doing what’s required and doing what’s right. The strength of the narrative is Sullivan’s indefatigable use of detail, which lets the reader feel each character’s every hunger, every pain and every breath."

-- M.E. Sprengelmeyer, The Communicator

Coming Winter 2010. In the meantime, I hope to see you at Facebook.

(Twitter This)

— TJ Sullivan in LA

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

 

Fan Page Up At Facebook


In preparation for the release of my novel, "Boon," I now have a fan page at Facebook.

Shameless self promotion? Yes. Of course. But, if I don't tell you about it here, you'll end up hearing about it on the street and we all know how things can get distorted and blown out of proportion that way.

I'll have much more info to share in the next couple months. We've got time. The novel is coming in Winter 2010, which is why I'm busy doing things like setting up Facebook pages and learning about planning book signings and readings, etc ...

In the meantime, I hope to see you at Facebook.

Here's a brief synopsis of "Boon":
Set in the suburbs of Los Angeles, "Boon" tells the story of a young newspaper reporter who becomes mired in the murky world of small-town politics when her journalistic pursuit of the facts becomes tangled with her personal pursuit of homeownership, a situation that ultimately forces her to make a choice between fulfilling her dreams and fighting for what she believes in. The quest for truth and square footage exacts a steep price in T.J. Sullivan’s witty, suspense-filled debut novel.


(Twitter This)

— TJ Sullivan in LA

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