Mark Twain’s Connecticut Farm for Sale

What a beautiful house and property! I knew I should have played the Powerball this past week… The house was actually bought for his youngest of three daughters, Jane “Jean” Clemens. Mr. Twain lived next door for two years before passing.

You can see this beauty here: Mark Twain’c Connecticut Farm

This story was originally posted on abcnews.go.com and written by Joi-Marie McKenzie.

I love Mark Twain’s stories, although I have to admit I have not picked one up for a re-read in quite some time. Winter goals!

Meet the Author! Andrew Joyce

Biography:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

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How he came to write this book:

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I would like to thank Angela for allowing me to be here today to promote my latest, Yellow Hair, which documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage I write about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in my fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.

Now that the commercial is out of the way, we can get down to what I really came here to talk about: the research that goes into writing an historical novel or an action/adventure novel that uses an historical event as a backdrop.

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I want to say that I learned the hard way how important proper research is. But it wasn’t really that hard of a lesson. In my first book, which takes place in the last half of the 19th century, I made two mistakes. I had the date of an event off by one year and I had my hero loading the wrong caliber cartridge into his Winchester rifle. I would have gone blissfully throughout life not knowing how I had erred if not for my astute fans. Both mistakes were quickly pointed out to me in reviews of the book. One guy said he would have given me five stars if not for the wrong caliber bullet mistake. I had to settle for only four stars. Lesson learned!

Before I get into telling you about the year-long research I did for Yellow Hair, I’d like to tell you how I researched my second and third books and describe what that research entailed.

My second book was a western and the protagonist was a woman. The research took about three months. I had to know everything from women’s undergarments of the late 19th century to prison conditions for women in those days. (I sent my heroine to jail.) That kind of research was easy. Thank God for the internet. But then I had to do some real research. Molly (my protagonist) built up her cattle ranch to one of the largest in Montana, but she and her neighbors had nowhere to sell their beef. So Molly decided to drive her and her neighbors’ cattle to Abilene where she could get a good price. She put together the second largest herd on record (12,000 head) and took off for Abilene.

That’s when I had to really go to work. I wanted my readers to taste the dust on the trail. I wanted them to feel the cold water at river crossing. I wanted them to know about the dangers of the trail, from rustlers to Indians to cattle stampedes.

This is how I learned about all those things and more. First of all, I found old movies that were authentic in nature. I watched them to get a feel for the trail. Then I read books by great authors who had written about cattle drives to soak up even more of the atmosphere of a cattle drive. That was all well and good, but it still did not put me in the long days of breathing dust and being always fearful of a stampede.

That’s when I went looking for diaries written by real cowboys while they were on the trail. After that, I found obscure self-published books written by those cowboys. Then it was onto newspaper articles written at the time about large cattle drives. That’s how I had Molly herd the second largest cattle drive. I discovered that the largest was 15,000 head, driven from Texas to California in 1882.

My next book took place in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Here new elements were added such as wolves and the extreme weather as adversaries. Dogsledding was also involved. I have seen snow only three times in my life and I have never dogsledded. I knew even less about wolves. I had to learn about those things. I had no idea what it was like to travel across a wilderness on a dogsled at seventy degrees below zero. I also had to acquire knowledge about the dogs themselves, especially the lead dog. I learned about all that by doing the same things I did for my second book. The old diaries were the most helpful. As to the gold rush, there was plenty of material in the form of self-published books by some of the participants. Some were never even published, but I found copies of them in the archives of universities and historical societies. Again, newspaper stories printed at the time were very useful. Concerning wolves . . . I read everything I could get my hands on about wolves—their habits, the pack hierarchy, the alpha male, and the different jobs or tasks the males and females have while hunting.

Now we come to Yellow Hair. As I mentioned above, the book is about the Sioux Nation from 1805 to 1890. I had to know both points of view, the white man’s and the Sioux’s. Getting to know the whites’ take on things was easy. There are many, many books (non-fiction) that were written at the time. I even found a book written by Custer detailing his strategy for wiping out the Sioux entirely. That was hard reading. And, again, there were universities and historical societies whose archives were a great help.

As to the Sioux’s point of view, there are a few books that were dictated to newspapermen years later by the Indians that took part in the various battles that I weave into my story. I found a lot of material from Native American participants of the Little Big Horn, written twenty to thirty years after the fact.

But I wanted to immerse myself in the Sioux culture and I wanted to give them dignity by using their language wherever possible. I also wanted to introduce them by their Sioux names. So, I had to learn the Lakota language. And that wasn’t easy. There is a consortium that will teach you, but they wanted only serious students. You have to know a smattering of the language before they will even deign to let you in. I had to take a test to prove that I knew some Lakota. I failed the first time and had to go back to my Lakota dictionary and do some more studying. I got in on my second try.

I’m running out of space, so I reckon I’ll wrap it up. I hope I’ve given you a little insight into the research process. It’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. But it is also a blast. Every new discovery is like finding the motherlode.

I’d like to sign off with another commercial. The three books I alluded to above are:

I would like to thank Angela once again for having me over and you good folks for tuning in.

Andrew Joyce

Darkly the Thunder – William W. Johnstone

This is not a book I read before, and it has a published date of 1990. I am very surprised I never read it, as I graduated in 1990, and I spent my middle school and high school years reading everything he published.

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Anyhow….It was a great story, along the same lines as all of Mr. Johnstone’s Horror genre.

A little bit of supernatural, a lot of hometown-feel-good-connections. A whole lot of creepy things going on; blood and gore included.

People acting strangely, hearing thunder that shouldn’t be rumbling. The Fury, as it came to be known, was an evil presence that was controlling a town. But several deceased persons were fighting the fury on the other side. Sand and Morg and Joey. Howie is young, but he knows his stuff, and finds ways for them to communicate with Sand. His sister Angel is a strong force as well. Their parents are done for, as is most of the town.

One thing I loved the most about Mr. Johnstone’s stories is that young kids always played a major role. They were not dismissed for their age; but respected for their abilities. (Maybe I got pushed down one too many times for being who I was???)

I enjoyed the book, but it is not one I would read again. It was definitely worth my time, and I do not just say that because I had a personal communication with the author 🙂

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I could never express how much I miss this man!

 

What are your favorite horror stories that still keep you awake at night? I will be reviewing mine very soon!

Finally! My Etsy Store

I have many things to add, and many projects in the works. But with the help of a WordPress technician, my store finally shows up! Top of my page, click on “store”.

I am currently working on some amazing pine book boxes, painting book covers, and spines, of some classic novels.  I am also painting book covers on canvas, 11×14 to start, until I get a good idea of what everyone is interested in buying.

I am homeschooling a 10th grader, have another going to public school in 7th grade, and another MBA class starting for me on September 22. I am editing a fantastic book that I cannot wait to introduce to the masses, and still reading for enjoyment to post some book reviews.  Oh, and I work about 45-50 hours a week; did I forget to mention that?

I have the most understanding boyfriend ever, because my life is just crazy busy, and he accepts it! I am looking forward to Autumn, the most awesome time of the year! I will be holding a raffle for a couple of book bags with a great Halloween story, mug, hot cocoa or tea, and a smelly pumpkin type candle. Stay tuned!

Thank you for your support, your kind words, and your amazing stories!

 

Yesterday’s Tomorrow – GW Pomichter & William DuPree

A fast-paced political thriller, this story is timely in that you will see many familiar names in the political environment where the story takes place.

After the deadliest terror attack on American soil, the entire East Coast is in blackout condition. While residents cope and adjust to their new way of life, their family members, who belong to the military, are working on both a solution, and catching those responsible.

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Life is very different when you can’t start your vehicle, use a cell phone, or even turn on a kitchen light.

This story contains several phrases and acronyms that are common in military life. Each is explained the first time it is used, so it makes the reading smooth-going. Those with military experience will especially like this story, in my opinion.

As is my general rule (unless if the story is horrible, and I will let you know it!), I avoid spoilers as much as I can. What I can tell you, is that you quickly become vested in the survival of these families, neighbors, and friends that create a well-rounded story. This is an easy read, with plenty of action and suspense.

To Learn more about Mr. Pomichter, follow the link: G.W. Pomichter