Andrew Joyce, Publishing, and Molly Lee

My name is Andrew Joyce, and I’m here to promote my latest book, MOLLY LEE. However, before we get to that, I thought I might entertain you and maybe even enlighten you with a little story about the publishing business.

My first book was a 125,000-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.

Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City told me that he loved it and suggested a few changes. They were good suggestions, and I incorporated about 80% 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. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. Oh! and one more thing, the week after I signed with my agent, I received emails from three other agents stating they would consider representing me, and an eBook publisher sent me a contract to sign. Those things were flattering, but my agent believed in the story when all he had to go on was the mess I had originally sent him.
Now about the book itself: there is Tom and Huck of course, but I introduce a new character, The Laramie Kid.

What ever happened to those little boys, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer? They grew up that’s what. In the spring of 1861, General Beauregard fired on Fort Sumter and the now twenty-four-year-old boys can’t wait to sign up to fight the Yankees.
In the first battle of the war, Tom is wounded and Huck sets out to bring him back to Missouri. However, along the way, they run into trouble and Huck ends up saving the life of a sixteen-year-old Yankee soldier who deserts and travels to Missouri with the boys.
Once in Missouri, the Yankee, whose name is Jed, leaves for California. A month later, Huck and Tom set out for San Francisco where Tom hopes to catch a ship headed for China. Huck goes along to keep Tom company, but plans on returning to Missouri when Tom sails.

Jed never makes it to California. Tom sets sail but never reaches China, and Huck never sees Missouri again. Twelve years later, they come together in the town of Redemption, Colorado to fight a greedy rancher and his army of hired guns.
They are not boys anymore. They are now men doing what men have to do. Huck is a famous lawman, Tom a widower, and Jed is the infamous Laramie Kid, a notorious gunfighter.

REDEMPTION is a novel of three intertwined stories that take place between 1861 and 1873. It is a story of growth and learning, a story of change as told through the reminiscences of a sixty-year-old Huck Finn . . . adventure stories that dovetail together for the climax.

Okay . . . so I wrote a book. Big deal! But to my surprise, it did quite well. I wrote it as a one-time novel, wrapping everything up nice and neat and pretty as you please at the end.
Now we come to the crux of the matter. My readers really enjoyed the book. Reviewer after reviewer said they would love a sequel, but given how I ended the story, they could not envision that being possible. And I was thinking along similar lines.

Then I started getting emails badgering me to continue the adventure; at first, I ignored them. Finally, to stop the badgering, I started MOLLY LEE, the sequel to REDEMPTION.
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.
MOLLY LEE is not so much a sequel as it is a parallel story to REDEMPTION. But the two stories do cross paths on occasion. MOLLY LEE was written as a “stand alone” novel; one does not have to have read the first book to enjoy the second.

As one reviewer wrote:
MOLLY LEE takes us on a roller coaster ride of grand proportions. Molly is my new favorite character.”
An excerpt:
I awoke early the next morning. I remember the date, 23 July 1861. It was to be the day I was going away with my hero—the man who had saved my virtue, maybe even my life. I did love him so.
Ma was setting out the plates for breakfast when I noticed that she was a mite shy on the number. “Ma, ain’t you gonna feed Mister Finn and the Captain?”
That’s when Ma said the words that would change my life forever. “Mister Finn and the Captain are gone; they left before first light.”
I turned from Ma so she wouldn’t see the look on my face, then I ran out to the barn. Sure enough, Huck and Tom were gone, and they had taken the Yankee boy with them. At that moment, the air was hard to breathe. I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t believe Huck would leave without me. There must be some mistake! But there was no mistake, Huck had gone and left me behind.
Another excerpt:
We womenfolk have it tougher than men when it comes to affairs of the heart. What you are about to read is my story. It is not a pretty story, and I am not proud of it. I think the only proud moment of my life was the day I met and fell in love with Huck Finn.
MOLLY LEE is the story of a woman who knows what she wants and starts out to get it. Molly is about to set off on the quest of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.
So, that’s about it. For those of you who do read the book, I fervently hope you will enjoy it. And seeing as how this little piece was written to gin up interest in MOLLY, I would humbly ask that you reblog this post.

Thank you,
Andrew Joyce