Guest Post: My Journey in Writing & Publishing by Andrew Joyce

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Dawn has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new book, Mahoney. I thought it might be interesting to any new writers out there if I talked about my journey in general and the publishing business in particular.

I sold one of my first short stories and it was published in an anthology of short fiction entitled The Best of 2011. Since then I have written seven books. Several have become best-sellers on Amazon and two went on to win awards in their genres.

My first book, Yellow Hair, was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing, to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months. I had them as adults in the Old West. Then I sent out query letters to literary agents.

A few weeks later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in the country emailed me. He loved the story and suggested a few changes. They were good suggestions, and I incorporated some of them into the book. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults. The book went on to reach #1 status in its category on Amazon (twice) and won the Editor’s Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. And just for the record, the final word count was 79,914.

My readers really enjoyed the book. So I ended up writing two sequels, one of which reached #5 in its category on Amazon. Then I turned my attention to my first novel, the one I couldn’t sell to an agent. I whittled it down from 164,000 words to 132,000 and published it myself. It won Book of the Year from one outfit and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from another.

Now that I’ve established my bona fides, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned along the way. It might help you with your writing career or it might not. I hope it does.

The first piece of advice I received from a fellow writer (while I was writing my first novel) was that the process of writing is what’s important. Not the dreams of becoming a best-selling author. Not the certainty that Hollywood would come a-knocking on my door, begging me to let them turn my book into a movie. No, what is important, according to my friend, is the act of creating.

Of course, I did not believe him. I was going to be the next Stephen King, and I was already (figuratively speaking) picking out a tuxedo to wear to the Academy Awards. I was not going to self-publish. I was going to get an agent and get published by one of the Big Five Publishing Houses.

I did everything I had to do. I spent ten hours a day, seven days a week sitting at my computer, writing. When the book was finished, I spent ten hours a day sending out query letters to agents. When the book was rejected because of word count, I wrote another, shorter novel. When it was accepted and published, I spent ten hours a day sending out emails (over 3,000) to book bloggers (each addressed to the blogger by name, and that takes a lot of work) requesting an opportunity to write a Guest Post for the purpose of marketing my book. Then writing the Guest Posts took up another serious chunk of time. To date, I’ve written well over three hundred Guest Posts. At first, the rate of return was not much. But once I worked with a blogger, they were more apt to respond positively when I came to them for help in marketing my next book.

Side note: Even Stephen King has to market his own books. He puts aside $200,000 of his own money to buy advertising for each book he writes.

Now, ten years later, I know that my friend was right, plain and simple.

My agent and I have since gone our separate ways. His client roster included some of the most famous authors in the world who, combined, sell millions of books a month. Understandably, he was more focused on them than me, so I set out on my own.

I love writing. I used to hate editing, but now I like it. And I really hate marketing. This kind of marketing is okay because I’m writing. Before I wrote my latest novel, I came to a decision. I was going to write Mahoney for myself. I had a story I wanted to tell and I wanted to tell it in my own way. I didn’t care if the book sold or not. It’s a long story (171,000 words). I was told time and time again that I should make it into a trilogy. But that’s not what I wanted. I ended up doing it my way and it worked out pretty well.

This post has gone on a little bit longer than expected. So, I better wrap it up. Here’s my advice for all you new or aspiring writers:

  • Sit down at your computer and write. Let the words flow. You have to have the fire in the belly. Turn off the TV. Better yet, throw it out the window.
  • Write for yourself. Enjoy the process.
  • If you want, try to get an agent. But do your homework. Learn how to write a killer query letter. And never approach an agent until your book is finished and 110% edited!!!
  • There’s a lot to be said for self-publishing. Here’s an article you should check out.
  • Read, read, and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on! Reading to a writer is as medical school is to a doctor, as physical training is to an athlete … as breathing is to life.
  • NEVER, EVER RESPOND TO A NEGATIVE REVIEW. Do so at your own risk.

That’s about it. Good luck in your endeavors.

Andrew Joyce
August, 2019
Gloucester, Massachusetts

In this compelling, richly researched novel, author Andrew Joyce tells a riveting story of adventure, endurance, and hope as the Mahoney clan fights to gain a foothold in America.

In the second year of an Gorta Mhór—the Great Famine—nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney lies on the dirt floor of his small, dark cabin. He has not eaten in five days. His only hope of survival is to get to America, the land of milk and honey. After surviving disease and storms at sea that decimate crew and passengers alike, Devin’s ship limps into New York Harbor three days before Christmas, 1849. Thus starts an epic journey that will take him and his descendants through one hundred and fourteen years of American history, including the Civil War, the Wild West, and the Great Depression.

Available on Amazon.

August 24 & 25 only 99¢

About the Author

Andrew Joyce left home at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written seven books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen’s Book Reviews.

Website

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Guest Post: Danny and the Crab by Andrew Joyce

A few months ago, Andrew Joyce wrote a guest post about writing one of his books, Molly Lee. It was a great post, so when he emailed me about another one, I was happy to have him back. I’m glad I did because I love this story! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

 

 

AndrewMy name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Dawn has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new book RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure. I think it’s a good book, but what do I know? Anyway, I’m kinda shy about tooting my own horn. So I think I’ll turn things over to my dog, Danny the Dog. He always has a bad attitude and usually does not speak highly of me. But please understand that we co-exist as the old Soviet Union and the United States co-existed. We tolerate each other. So without further ado, here’s Danny.

Danny Looking GoodMy human, Andrew, dragged me away from a juicy steak bone to help him out. For a person that works with words for a living, he has very little to say in real life. He wants me to tout his book for him, but I don’t think I will. Instead, I think I’ll tell you about our latest adventure. We’re always having adventures, but this one takes the cake and it’s 100% true.

Andrew and I have been having some fine ol’ adventures lately. Well, maybe fine is not the exact word. I’ll start with the light stuff first. Andrew is okay for a human, but he does leave a lot to be desired. Do you know he hasn’t bought me a chew toy in years? I’m talking about those rawhide things. Yummy! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a toy type of dog, but I do like a good chew now and then just like everyone else.

Anyway, we were out walking around the marina (we live on a boat) about a week and a half ago when we happened upon Chloe. She’s my friend, a chocolate lab. She’s only a year old and very playful. Sometimes I will deign to acknowledge her existence, but most of the time I just ignore her. She’s a mite too rambunctious for me, like most females of my acquaintance.

So while she’s bouncing around me and nudging me with her snoot, trying to get me to play with her, I noticed a piece of rawhide lying on the dock. It was half chewed and it was oh-so inviting. Of course, I went over and started to sniff it. Chloe followed me and put her snoot down to it also. That’s when I had to assert myself. I gave her a short bark and a little growl to tell her it was now my chew thing. Then I grabbed it and made it officially mine.

I guess Andrew didn’t get the memo. He tried to take it from me while telling me stealing was not a good thing. Lucky for Andrew that Chloe’s human, Jeff, was there or Andrew would have lost a finger or two. Jeff told Andrew that it was all right for me to have the treasure. We went home and I sat out on the dock and chewed the thing until it was no more. All in all, it was a very good day. However, the next day, as you shall soon see, was a day that will live in infamy.

At the moment, I’m torn between telling you of my harrowing escape from the jaws of death or to tell you about Andrew’s slight, prosaic run-in with mortality.

I guess I’ll save the best for last. Here’s what happened to Andrew:

I was out walking him a few evenings ago and I was doing my usual sniffing. I caught the scent of a chicken bone or two in the vicinity and went on alert. Unfortunately, Andrew did also. The place we were walking is infamous for chicken bones, so Andrew was watching me like a hawk. And because he was looking at me, and not where he was walking, he slipped on an exposed root. His foot went into a small depression and we both heard a loud SNAP! His only comment: “Let’s go home while I can still walk.” He knew the pain and the swelling would soon set in and he wanted to be on the boat when that happened. He wanted to be near his pain medicine . . . I believe humans call it vodka. Well, long story short, Andrew had broken something in his ankle, but we don’t know what. He has a doctor friend, who offered to x-ray it for him at no cost, but the idiot (Andrew, not the doctor) said, and I quote, “We know something is broken, so the x-ray will only tell us what we already know. It was probably just a tendon snapping, I’ll be fine.”

I reckon you can’t argue with reasoning like that.

Now to the important news . . . what happened to ME last Saturday. Andrew is not the only wounded member of this household.

Saturday is the day the male humans escape their females and come to the Tiki Hut at the marina to drink beer and talk of manly things. Andrew is not a guy type of guy; he’s kind of a sissy, so he doesn’t hang out with the other males. Me, I like the guys and I am always happy to spend some time with them. Andrew usually brings me up there on Saturdays and leaves me for a few hours so that I can hang out. Then he goes back to the boat before the fresh air kills him. But this Saturday Andrew had some business to discuss with his friend Don, so he stayed around.

After Don and the other males made a big show of welcoming me, Andrew tied my leash to a tree. For some reason, Andrew doesn’t trust me, so I’m always on the damn leash. But I didn’t mind, there was a new scent on the ground and I was in heaven.

I followed the scent over to a log where it was the strongest … oh joy! There was a crevasse at the middle of the log and I poked my snoot into it. That’s when I got the surprise of my life. Out came a crab. But I was undaunted . . . his pincher claw did not faze me at all, no siree bob it did not!

This is going to be fun, I thought. I barked and backed him up a bit. Then he raised his claw over his head in a defensive position. That’s when my world was turned upside down. He clamped his big ol’ claw right on my beautiful nose! Yeow and double yeow! I let out with a cry that sent Andrew scurrying over, bad ankle and all. When he saw what had happened, he had the temerity to laugh at me.

Now the two of us sit on the boat staring at one another. Andrew has ice on his ankle and I have ice on my nose. Actually, there is more ice in Andrew’s vodka drink than on his ankle.

Here we sit, just two old males wishing for better times. And I’m not about to forget his laughter during my darkest moment. My Waterloo if you will. As I write these words, I am plotting my revenge.

Resolution-800 Cover reveal and PromotionalOh yeah, go out and buy his book.

This is Andrew again. On behalf of Danny and myself, I would like to thank Dawn for having us over. It’s been a real pleasure.

 

 

Available on Amazon.

 

 

 

Guest Post: Writing Molly Lee by Andrew Joyce

My name is Andrew Joyce, and I write books for a living. Dawn has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new book, MOLLY LEE. The story is a female-driven account of a young naive girl’s journey into an independent, strong woman and all the trouble she gets into along the way.

Now you may possibly be asking yourself, What is a guy doing writing in a woman’s voice? And that’s a good question. I can only say that I did not start out to write about Molly; she just came to me one day and asked that I tell her story.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

My first book was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing, and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months. Then sent out query letters to agents.

Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me that he loved the story. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status on Amazon twice, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But not quite.

My agent then wanted me to write a sequel, but I had other plans. I was in the middle of editing down my first novel (that had been rejected by 1,876,324 agents . . . or so it seemed) from 164,000 words to the present 125,000. However, he was insistent, so I started to think about it. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I tied up all the loose ends at the end of REDEMPTION, so there was no way that I could write a sequel. And that is when Molly asked me to tell her story. Molly was a character that we met briefly in the first chapter of REDEMPTION, and then she is not heard from again.

This is the description from MOLLY LEE:

Molly is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.

It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them—a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.

Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice.

We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.

As I had wondered whatever became of Huck and Tom, I also wondered what Molly did when she found Huck gone.

I know this has been a long-winded set up, but I felt I had to tell the backstory. Now I can move on and tell you about Molly.

As stated earlier, Molly starts out as a naive young girl. Over time she develops into a strong, independent woman. The change is gradual. Her strengths come from the adversities she encounters along the road that is her life.

With each setback, Molly follows that first rule she set against self-pity and simply moves on to make the best of whatever life throws her way. From working as a whore to owning a saloon, from going to prison to running a ranch, Molly plays to win with the cards she’s dealt. But she always keeps her humanity. She will kill to defend herself and she has no problem killing to protect the weak and preyed upon. However, when a band of Indians (for instance) have been run off their land and have nowhere else to go, Molly allows them to live on her ranch, and in time they become extended family.

This is from a review on Amazon:

A young female in nineteenth-century rural America would have needed courage, fortitude, and firm resolve to thrive in the best of circumstances. Molly Lee possesses all of these, along with an iron will and an inherent ability to read people accurately and respond accordingly.

I reckon that about sums up Molly.

I would like to say that I wrote MOLLY LEE in one sitting and everything in it is my pure genius. But that would be a lie. I have three editors (two women and one guy). They kept me honest with regard to Molly. When I made her a little too hard, they would point out that she had to be softer or show more emotion in a particular scene.

I set out to write a book where every chapter ended with a cliffhanger. I wanted the reader to be forced to turn to the next chapter. And I pretty much accomplished that, but I also wrote a few chapters where Molly and my readers could catch their collective breath.

One last thing: Everything in MOLLY LEE is historically correct from the languages of the Indians to the descriptions of the way people dressed, spoke, and lived. I spend as much time on research as I do in writing my stories. Sometimes more.

It looks as though I’ve used up my allotted word count (self-imposed), so I reckon I’ll ride off into the sunset and rustle up a little vodka and cranberry juice (with extra lime).

It’s been a pleasure,

Andrew Joyce

Barnes and Noblehttp://geni.us/P2X  

iTunes ... http://geni.us/TH1

Kobo … http://geni.us/2EHU
Smashwordshttp://geni.us/1ZNZ
Andrew’s Web Site ... http://andrewjoyce76.com

 

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Molly is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.
It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them—a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.
Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice.
We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.

Available on Amazon.