“Writing non-fiction is definitely harder, because making stuff up and trying to pass it off as truth is something only career politicians are good at.”

I first started writing The Last Christmas Card in the winter of 2009 – just now wrapping things up where publishing is concerned. Fourteen years passed with the manuscript securely digitized on an antique floppy disc, including being stored upstairs in my noggin during that time. Not sure if I wanted to complete things, my wife, Joleen, persuaded me to one year ago after she read several of the book’s beginning chapters.

Always knowing where I wanted to start and end this tale, yet not having a specific town where things were supposed to take place was a major problem. Lake Havasu City wouldn’t work because it was much too young. The location I chose needed to have a limestone house as stucco and a tile roof just wouldn’t cut it.

This is my first foray into writing fiction and I like it. A fair amount of research still needed to be done, yet when a roadblock suddenly came up all I had to do is make junk up to get around it. Writing non-fiction is definitely harder, because making stuff up and trying to pass it off as truth is something only career politicians are good at.

Visiting Council Grove, Kansas, I found that location to be picture perfect. For those having never been there, Council Grove is akin to an oasis in the prairie, first discovered by American Indians going far back in America’s history. An abundance of water was a magnet to wildlife of all type, with the indigenous natives following them. Starting in the mid 1800s, Council Grove became a major stopping point on the Santa Fe Trail. Now a major tourist attraction, “Hay’s Last Stop Store” built in 1850 still stands.

Many of the events in my book are ones that I played a role in, with other family members and friends doing the same. The Atlas missile silo mentioned in the story is approximately one mile from my wife’s Uncle Lee and Aunt Joan Mills’ farm. Joleen’s cousins, Randy and Larry Mills, took me there in 1975.

A humorous horseback ride talked about chronicles one that my family, including Uncle Noel and Aunt Gay, with cousins, Randall and Cheryl McDaniel, went on in 1964, at Buffalo Lake in Lubbock, Texas.

An 1860s limestone house mentioned is exactly like one in Manhattan, Kansas, that my wife and I were prepared to purchase, at least I was, but didn’t for unusual reasons, one of them being the home sat on County Road 911. A 1941 Willys pickup truck which is a key part of the story is a takeoff from a 1938 Willys that Joleen’s brother owns.

The “Freedmen” Cemetery is in the same town, Dunlap, Kansas, where my wife’s late father, Herman Freeman, was an elementary school principal for several years. This cemetery holds emancipated slaves going back to the American Civil War. Dunlap was a designation for African-Americans wanting to escape the pain and horrible memories of enforced bondage. I could go on and on but won’t. Palmetto Publishing is wrapping things up, with the official release date – May 23, 2023.

Another fiction book is rolling around in my head and this time Lake Havasu City will be featured, with The London Bridge as the main subject. I can’t wait another fourteen years to finish this one because at that point, I’m not sure I’ll be able to see the keyboard!

Author: michaeldexterhankins

ordinary average guy

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