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Jul8

See reviews on B&N

Here’s one review on Barnes & Noble, where average is 4.6 of 5:

“Delightful Read”

This was a great bio/novel I got all teary at the end. It is both a wonderful story of a strong and competent woman and a love story. I grew up with the story of Annie Oakley as told in the musical Annie Get Your Gun, and sang The Girl that I Marry as a kindergartner, and never knew the true love story which beats the movie version in my opinion. Thanks for a great read, J. Marshall!

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Jul4

Talking Oakley with WOCA

I just did an interview with WOCA, a major Florida radio station, about “Little Miss Sure Shot,” about Annie Oakley the public figure, and how she might compare to anyone today – among many other questions. Listen to the MP3 file!

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Jun9

New review

Very nice review appears in June/July issue of North Valley (PHX) magazine, page 32. You can find it at northvalleymagazine.com and flip through the digital issue.

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May13

Now an audiobook!

Little Miss Sure Shot is now an audiobook, available through Audible – just search for the title on Amazon and the audiobook is available as an option.

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Mar20

Nice review from Lost in a Book

 Not knowing anything about Annie Oakley before starting this book I was not sure what I was in for but it wasn’t long before I became engrossed with the story. Marshall has been quite clever in his presentation of this book, stating clearly that it is not a biography, but it is also not a novel either. Somewhere in the middle is this book that looks at key moments in Oakley’s life, and explores her rise to stardom and life in the spotlight with a few fictional elements added.

There is not a lot of dialogue or plot, and being a semi-fictionalised account of Oakley’s life it isn’t supposed to have a plot per se, but Marshall writes in such a way that it has a narrative feel which also makes the story flow nicely. I liked that it read more like a novel than a nonfiction biography, having said that the writing does have an informative tone to it mixes this with snippets of dialogue and scenes that balance it out nicely.

Annie’s life is presented chronologically, though there are brief references to future moments or memories of the past, but Marshall connects these together smoothly and doesn’t jar the story with them. While Marshall admits this not a true biography, there is no doubting it has a great deal of information about Oakley’s life. Marshall explores Annie’s childhood and how she started shooting at 8 years old, and he also focuses intensely on her time with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. One of the great and consistent elements in the story though is the exploration of Oakley’s marriage with Frank. As her husband for 50 years it is wonderful to see their connection grow and the influence he had on her life.

While the Wild West show was interesting, discovering about life during that time and the difference in society across Europe and America not to mention Annie’s place within them was fascinating. It was also wonderful to discover just how famous Annie was and the impact she had on the world. As a person she comes across as someone who is independent and knew what she wanted, and she was determined to be herself no matter what. Her strong ideals, ingenuity, and her desire that every woman should learn to shoot makes her a wonderful woman and key part of history, something which Marshall captures wonderfully.

I really enjoyed this book and I loved learning about Annie Oakley and her life. The problem of not being a real biography means there is an uncertainty about certain facts and events, but Marshall’s recount about Annie’s life piques your interest and curiosity in just the right way to want to go and learn more about her. Knowing this biography is based on some element of truth though makes the sad bits sadder but the good bits greater and there is no doubt it is a charming and heart-warming story and one of admiration for Annie and the life she lead.

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Feb19

Mandi Bowerman review

Jeffrey Marshall’s Little Miss Sure Shot: Annie Oakley’s World offers fresh eyes on one of America’s best-loved Western heroines. Annie Oakley has always captured the imagination of people with her famous gun tricks. The book doesn’t read like a standard biography. It’s more like the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder; a blend of fact and fiction.22242410 The formula works well for Marshall’s novel.

The novel paints a sweet and touching picture of her relation with Frank Butler that lasted over 50 years. The book didn’t just focus on facts. It brought me into their lives. I really enjoyed the epilogue  at the end. It was a good way to close the book that left me happy.

The book is in chronological form and easily guides readers through Annie Oakley’s. It’s not a play by play of everything that happened to her. It focuses in on important things in her life, like her time with the Wild West show and her relationship with Butler.  The pacing of the book was reasonable and enjoyable.

This book is great for people who like history and biographies with a little fiction thrown in. It’s an enjoyable light read about a fun figure out of history. There aren’t too many biographies out there featuring women of the west.  The ones I have read are just a statement of facts or overblown fiction. I found the combination in the book very pleasant. Give this book a read and tell me what you think.

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Feb8

New review from Midwest Book Reviews

A superbly written historical novel, “Little Miss Sure Shot: Annie Oakley’s World” is a solidly engaging and entertaining read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections, it should be noted that “Little Miss Sure Shot: Annie Oakley’s World” is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.95).

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Jan24

From LAS Reviewer

Annie Oakley is almost a legend in western history. This author’s account of her lets you get to know her personally. You learn of her humble beginning where she learned to use the rifle to keep meat on the table for her family, about her well-loved husband, and about her travel life as she toured with shows to both show off her skill and support herself. It’s a fascinating story.

It’s even more enjoyable because the author lets her talk. She never had a formal education so while she could shoot well, she couldn’t read. She did learn how later in life. She’d worked a seamstress once, so she could make her own costumes. And when she married Frank Butler she’d found the love of her life. If only we all could be so lucky.

Mr. Marshall accurately portrays that era and mines the history that remains of Annie’s Oakley. She was born at a time of change in the world and she adapted. They travelled all over the world. She wasn’t fond of Venice because of all the water. Little facts like that made it fun to read.

This could have been a very dry historical read, but Mr. Marshall infused his characters with personalities and opinions and made the story alive. Annie and her husband Frank made a mean team. They made enough to live comfortably and her shooting skills were admired by all. In Europe, women weren’t supposed to be shooters. After she shot, she had their admiration.

I knew quite a bit about Annie before I read this book, but I learned several things along the way: How she didn’t like Venice, how she was insecure when another young woman joined the show, and when her hair turned white. Mr. Marshall did a very nice job compiling the facts and presenting them in book. If you’ve ever wanted to read a good book about a competitive female shooter, here you are.

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Jan5

New blog post on lessons from Annie’s life

http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2014/12/what-todays-young-women-can-learn-from.html

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Dec11

Goodreads Interview

 

1. What can you tell us about your book, Little Miss Sure Shot: Annie Oakley’s World?

 

It’s been structured largely as a narrative, written in the third person without interior monologue, and as an easy read that moves along quickly. And it’s short – just 148 pages. The novel is built around Annie’s real life events, but does deviate in places and doesn’t try to account for her entire life. Its principal focus is on the years she spent with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the fame and acclaim it brought her. A second and very important emphasis is on the loving marriage between Annie and her manager and husband of 50 years, Frank Butler.

 

 2. I imagine you researched a lot on this. How much time did you spend researching and what interesting things did you find out?

I did read a few biographies – one or two were especially good – as well as do considerable research on the Internet. Hard to calculate the time spent, but the core research took place over a few weeks. One of the more interesting findings: Compared to Buffalo Bill Cody, there is relatively little written about Annie. Another is a variety of discrepancies that come up in accounts of her life: while the consensus is that she married Frank Butler in 1876, when she was 16, one or two accounts claim they might not have married until much later, around 1884. Knowing her background, I felt the former was far more likely.

  1. What is it that intrigues you about the Historical Fiction genre?

The ability to put the reader back in another era, in which so many things are different: dress, manner of speech, entertainment, transportation, etc. I’ve been particularly taken with some novels I’ve read about old-time New York City. As a writer, it’s a fascinating challenge to make history come alive. And it can vary in approach. You can write around a real person, as I did, or invent someone and set them in that era.

  1. What do you believe is the difference between writing fiction and non-fiction?

They’re hugely different, and I have a pretty good perspective after a career as a print journalist where I was consumed with writing and editing non-fiction. Non-fiction is concerned chiefly with facts (reporting) and narrative; the principal challenge is organization of the material and flow.

With fiction, far more is involved that relies on imagination – character, scene and setting, interior monologue, etc. Plotting a novel is also far more complex than writing a magazine piece, for instance.

  1. How have you yourself found fiction to write compared to non-fiction?

Considerably harder, especially when it comes to creating scenes, dialogue and character. I wrote a non-fiction business book many years ago, and while that required a lot of interviews and organization, there wasn’t any call on imagination and relatively little on creativity. And I have a couple of unfinished thrillers from many years ago that I felt were well-written but not well-plotted, which really hurt them.

  1. How has having been a journalist for 35 years helped you in the transition to being an author?

I was an author in the middle of my journalism career, with the non-fiction book mentioned above. But just being in the habit of writing and editing does make the writing process easier – kind of like riding a bike, to use a common example. Doing it more makes it more routine.

On the other hand, journalists are used to more immediate gratification: depending on the cycle of the organization you’re with, you might be creating something hourly, daily, weekly or monthly (or perhaps on occasion even less frequently). But writing a novel takes patience some journalists may not have. It’s difficult to think of taking a year or even a number of years to finish something.

  1. Where you nervous, anxious or perhaps feeling something else when you realized you’d just written a novel?

None of the above – perhaps not elated, but satisfied and proud of being able to finish the task I set out on many months earlier.

  1. Why do you believe there was so little prominent women of the Wild West?

That’s a very good question, and it’s really a subtext to my decision to focus on Annie Oakley. Women just weren’t allowed to have positions of authority – they were homemakers, or whores, or women who traveled in wagon trains to the West. In Annie’s era, it was entertainers who were famous, like Lillie Langtry or Jenny Lind, or “characters” like Calamity Jane or “Unsinkable” Molly Brown, who parlayed new-found wealth to become a leader in Denver society.

Look at “westerns” as we’ve come to know them: The men are heroes, or villains, and the action usually revolves around them. It’s pretty hard to find a woman who doesn’t fit into one of those categories cited above.

  1. What do you find to be the hardest about writing?

Another difficult question – the answer is very individual. For me, it’s about inspiration. For years, I’ve been spontaneously writing reviews of movies or TV shows I’ve seen. There, the hard part is trying to convey ideas and themes without reciting a plot; it requires stepping back and putting the work in context. But the work has to inspire that review.

Another hard part is rewriting or editing yourself. There’s a lot less time to do that in journalism, especially under tight deadlines. But for fiction or longer non-fiction pieces, it’s about polishing a phrase or finding a different word, for instance. I probably do less of that than a lot of writers – I generally am happy with first drafts – but in fiction, I think it’s essential. Lots of prominent writers over the years have talked up the value of rewriting.

10. I see you also wrote a book of poetry. What can you tell us about that and do you also consider yourself a poet?

I suppose that if you’ve written a poem, you can call yourself a poet – but it should be a lot more involved than that. In my case, my book was a collection of poems in free verse that I’d written over more than 35 years. Some had been published in anthologies or local newspapers, but never in any prestigious publication. I actually wrote a few dozen more in the months leading up to publishing that volume in 2009, and it was interesting to compare my “new voice” with much older poems. In general, I liked my newest work better than the old. I thought it was more original, and more evocative.

So, am I a poet? Yes, but I use that term gingerly. If you apply the term to people who spend much of their lives working on and publishing poetry, I’m not.

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