Guest Post: Andrew Joyce and his Stories

Click on Any Cover for Amazon Link

If you haven’t run across Andrew Joyce in your blog travels, he’s a prolific writer of short stories and novels. He’s here at the Mirror to share a bit of his writing journey, and if can entice you, sell a book or two. His latest book, a collection of short stories, is on sale today for $.99. Take it away, Andrew:

Hello, my name is Andrew Joyce.

I have a new book out entitled Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups. It is a collection of short stories I’ve written over the years. Inside Bedtime Stories you’ll find tales of fiction and nonfiction. There are all sorts of genres within its pages, from westerns to detective stories to love stories and just about anything else that you can imagine. Some of the stories are dark and some are lighthearted, but I hope you’ll find them all captivating.

Okay, now that I’ve got the commercial out of the way, I can get down to something Diana and I thought I should talk about. Namely, my experience writing short stories versus novels, and why I chose some of the stories included in the book.

First, a brief history of the modern short story:

Magazines had been around for a while, but were never widely distributed until the early 1900s. That’s when future novelists such as Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, Louis L’Amour, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Raymond Chandler, to mention just a few, honed their writing skills by writing short stories for monthly publications. They all thought the stories would be a one-time shot and that would be the end of them.

Long after they and their novels became celebrated, their short stories were collected into anthologies and published. I’ve read every one of those collections. My point is, they all wanted to write novels, but while they were writing their first novel, or in between their first and second, they wrote and sold short stories as a way to keep the wolf from the door.

Not that I’m putting myself in their class—no friggin’ way! I’m just saying that I, too, started out writing short stories, but they were not for publication. I wrote them because I like to tell stories. My earliest short stories were just emails to friends, telling them of my youthful adventures. They were all true, but because I led a somewhat colorful life way back then, the emails read like fiction stories. When I ran out of stories about myself, I started in on writing fiction.

Just for the hell of it, I threw one of my early nonfiction stories up on a writing forum on the internet, and it was granted the honor of being included in a print anthology entitled The Best of 2011. I even got paid for it.

That prompted me to try my hand at writing a novel. I had read an article about the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862 and it outraged me. I had never heard of it before, so I started doing research and that research led to a 164,000 word novel (eventually edited down to 139,000 words). It took about two years to research and write. To entertain myself when not working on the novel, I would write short stories, but I never did anything with them. They just sat in a file folder.

So anyway, I set out to get an agent to help me publish my recently completed novel. I sent out about a million query letters. But 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, 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 in the Old West. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status in its category on Amazon—twice—and it won the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013.

I wrote two more books before I finally got my original novel published. And in all that time, I continued to write short stories. You see, I don’t own a TV. So at night, after working on a novel all day, I’d bang out short stories, mostly for my own entertainment.

That’s why I write novels and that’s why I write short stories. But some of my short stories are not that short. Some are over 20,000 words. Many are in the area of 10,000 words. I do have a few that are no more than 100 words. But I would have to say that the majority of my stories fall into the 2,500 word category.

My current book came about because my editor hounded me for two years to put all my short stories into one collection. Actually, it was supposed to be a two-volume set because there was so much material. I fended her off for as long as possible. I didn’t want to do the work of editing all the stories—there were a lot of them. But she finally wore me down. Instead of two volumes, I put all the stories into a single book because I wanted to get the whole thing over with. I had other books to write.

Bedtime Stories is comprised of 218,000 words. I couldn’t fit another story in if I had to. Yeah, for an eBook I could have, but the print book already had 700 pages and was three inches thick, so I kept a few stories out. And it’s a good thing too. The ones I left out, I didn’t think were up to par. One cannot hit a home run every time one’s at bat.

In the month since I published Bedtime Stories, I’ve written at least ten new short stories. But please don’t tell my editor.

Andrew’s Bio:

Andrew Joyce left high school 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 five 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.

Joyce now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mahoney: An American Story.

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups: 

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups is a jumble of genres—seven hundred pages of fiction and nonfiction … some stories included against the author’s better judgment. If he had known that one day they’d be published, he might not have been as honest when describing his past. Here is a tome of true stories about the author’s criminal and misspent youth, historical accounts of the United States when She was young, and tales of imagination encompassing every conceivable variety—all presented as though the author is sitting next to you at a bar and you’re buying the drinks as long as he keeps coming up with captivating stories to hold your interest.

Comprised of 218,000 words, you’ll have plenty to read for the foreseeable future. This is a book to have on your night table, to sample a story each night before extinguishing the lights and drifting off to a restful sleep.

Mr. Joyce sincerely hopes that you will enjoy his stories because, as he has stated, “It took a lot of living to come up with the material for some of them.”

117 thoughts on “Guest Post: Andrew Joyce and his Stories

  1. Chantal says:

    This is my struggle!! I have always said that my biggest problem will be getting the number of words I seem to use, to print. I’ve been really pushing myself to find the beauty in brevity – have done a couple of contests of late, with limiting word count. It has been rewarding as a practice, but I don’t know how I could make my novels adhere to the same principle. Thank you for proving that sometimes work doesn’t need to be “cut.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great comment, and it’s a struggle that I hear over and over again. I’m probably completely out of line, but I’ve always felt that the story should dictate the length, not some arbitrary world count. Yes, we need our writing to be sharply honed, but honestly… imagine some of the great books of our time squished into 80,000 words. I watched one writer whittle away all the beauty in his book. It was heartbreaking.
      Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Andrew! And wow, lots of short stories–so glad you’ve got them all together. I’ve got to get back into writing shorts–gotta do something to keep the creative juices going while in “wait” mode on my journey to publication 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know. Prolific or what? I don’t think I could write that many stories in a lifetime. Thanks for the visit, Julie. I hope you’re getting some writing time in! 🙂

      Like

    • Andrew Joyce says:

      I know you said wait in quotes, but please don’t wait. If you hit a dry spell writing, stop and read a book. And if you really want to get writing, don’t turn on the TV until your novel is finished. Better yet, throw the damn thing out the window. AND turn off your cell phone. Those things work for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tina Frisco says:

    I never tire of Andrew’s writing style, even in posts. He’s so entertaining that you’re rapt before your realize it. Fab post, Diana ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. dgkaye says:

    Fabulous and interesting interview with Andrew here today Diana 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I wish I were as prolific as Andrew! I think short stories are a great way for a writer to hone his skills without getting bogged down in the demands of a full-length novel, the scope of which many fledgling authors aren’t yet prepared to handle.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Andrew is one of the best. I always enjoy his interviews.

    Like

  7. Christy B says:

    Thanks for introducing me to Andrew! Wow, he says at the end of the post that he’s written ten stories since his book published – he’s on a role!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Annika Perry says:

    Diana, lovely to see Andrew featured on your blog! Andrew, short stories are hugely popular at the moment. Time restraint is one reason, I feel and your book of short (and not so short) stories fits neatly into a popular genre. Best of luck with this book and also congratulations on your other novels and for reaching #1 in the amazon charts – fantastic!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. D. Thanks so much for sharing this collection of short stories. I love short stories and I will definitely look for his book! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  10. You had me at the title of the book, “Bed Time Stories for Grown-ups” and I love the cover. Glad you persevered until the publishing world finally recognized your talent. This book sounds perfect for my attention span at bedtime. I’ll be checking it out. Thank you for sharing, Diana!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Andrew Joyce is the guest of D.Wallace Peach on her blog Myths of the Mirror.. Andrew is sharing the history of the modern short story and his own philosophy on the length and breadth of the style.. and if you think his latest short story collection is short.. no way… it is 218,000 plus words.. divided no doubt in to some stunning adventures. #recommended

    Liked by 3 people

  12. reocochran says:

    These sound like amazing stories and nearly books all in themselves!
    Andrew, best of luck with this fantastic collection of both fictional and non-fiction short and longer stories.
    Diana, you have such a generous spirit, sharing others and spreading the good reads, too. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  13. balroop2013 says:

    What a prolific writer is Andrew! I like the way he proved himself despite the rejections! Wishing him great success! I love short stories. Thanks for this post Diana.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I do love reading your thoughts on novels vs. stories, and what an intriguing title for your newest book. But, I must confess, as soon as I saw your other Western books, I got somewhat distracted. I’ve been on a binge for Westerns lately so I’m going over to check those out.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. babbitman says:

    I’ll put that collection on my list of “stuff to buy & read” (it’s already a bit long, but what the hell…)
    Some of Andrew’s tales from his nefarious past that he’s posted on his blog made my jaw drop open and hair stand on end. There’s definitely a movie in the story of his life! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Enjoyed the post… Best wishes.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. It’s nice to meet you, Andrew. “Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!” Great line…we might be related! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Carrie Rubin says:

    Great success story to read, and such a prolific writer! Shows how much work really goes into the writing life.

    Liked by 4 people

  19. Good luck to you, Andrew!

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Jennie says:

    Wonderful post about one of the greats. I’ll never forget waiting for my Chinese take-out and reading my first Andrew Joyce story about a hobo. Still is my favorite blog post, and thank goodness I found Andrew’s books and stories. He’s a fun character, too!

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Andrew Joyce says:

    I look forward to you reading one of my books. That’s the only reason I write’ em. I want people to read my words.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. This man can certainly spin a yarn!

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Thanks, Andrew, and Diana for this great interview/review. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Lovely to see Andrew over hear on your blog, Diana. I have his book of short stories to read over my December holidays. A very interesting post about Andrew’s writing journey.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Almost Iowa says:

    Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico.

    Drop out of school to get an education – it’s what a lot of people on the road used to tell each other.

    Keep on Truck’n. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  26. delphini510 says:

    I find you story about your writing and the publishers fascinating and filled with humour in spite of the gruelling work.
    Very intrigued about “Yellow Hair” which I take it being the book about the Sioux.
    Will get one, just which to choose.😊
    Miriam

    Liked by 3 people

  27. noelleg44 says:

    Andrew is a fantastic writer. Great of you to feature him, Diana!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Most interesting. I look forward to finding and reading your books.

    Liked by 2 people

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