The Longest Trail

By Roni McFadden

Longest Trail I never considered myself a writer. The only experience I had was writing letters to the editor of newspapers when I would get upset about something! My kids would roll their eyes when another letter by their mom would reach the papers.

I organized a reunion to the pack station where I worked in 2003. There were about 30 of us seeing each other for the first time in more than 30 years. As stories were told, someone said there should be a book about the place. All eyes turned to me. I don’t know why. But that was the start.

When I first started to write the book it was really going to be more about the “place”. I did a lot of research on the Native Americans there as well as the man who built the pack station. But, as I started writing, I realized that the story really had to be about my journey AT that “place”. I started writing down different things I remembered and each chapter developed from those memories. Then, I had a bunch of separate stories and needed to figure out a way to tie them together.

That is when telling the grandchildren came to me. Once I figured that out it all just flowed.

I borrowed the term “True Life Novel” from Jeannette Walls’ story about her grandmother, Half Broke Horses. I thought that would let people know that it was a true story, but with creative license to make it flow for the reader. It has won 3 awards for non-fiction (Global eBook Gold, winner EPIC eBook award, and winner USA REBA Awards), but another reviewer told me a year or so ago that the subtitle might cause some people a bit of confusion on whether the book is fiction or non-fiction.

This year after my mentor John Slaughter passed away I decided I wanted to put in an addendum about losing him. So, I thought it would be a perfect time to add all the pictures that would let the reader see what I was writing about.   I made changes and decided to republish it as a second edition. I changed the “True Life Novel” to “A True Story”. I changed the description on the back cover. I added the addendum about John, and added 58 pictures.   (The pictures are in color on the author photoKindle edition.)

The book took 9 years to write. I put it aside for a year or so to write and publish the “Josephine” book in 2009. Josephine: A Tale of Hope and Happy Endings continues to win awards as well, most recently receiving an Honorable Mention in the Purple Dragonfly book awards in two categories: Animals, and Spirituality. It is a book about death, love and hope for children of all ages told by the filly, Josephine, who is a great granddaughter of the legendary Seabiscuit.

Thank you, Roni, for appearing on my blog, and best of luck to you with your second edition of The Longest Trail.

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great story, Roni, of how you began writing. In reading this post, I discovered that, like you, I also had not considered myself a writer, nor a reader! How times, places and acquaintances change us for the better, eh? Thanks, Heidi, for letting Roni share her story…

  2. Isn’t it great to learn how people have come to write books!? I love it!

    • It is great! I became a writer by asking to be a campus newspaper photographer 🙂 That led me to journalism and I never thought I’d be a journalist let alone a writer…

  3. I love hearing how books come into being. Thanks for sharing.


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