By Roni McFadden
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 Kindle 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.