This was my first western novel. I would call it my first novel of any kind, but I wrote other novels in other genres before this that never saw the light of day. I played around with various genres, but my first love was westerns so I kept coming back to them.
In fact, The Long Trail wasn’t even my first western novel. It was the first one I published, but not the first one I wrote. I actually wrote Tremain a few years before it. And before that, I wrote a wagon train novel and then a sequel. When I decided I was tired of the publishing industry telling me the western was dead and decided to self-publish some westerns as ebooks, it was The Long Trail that I decided to lead off with.
I haven’t regretted the decision. Readers have seemed to embrace the family McCabe from the very start. With a very limited budget (I had about three dollars in my pocket) I had no money to put toward promoting this novel, so I just published it on Amazon with no fanfare. I didn’t really expect much because I had been told too many times by professionals within the industry that westerns no longer sell. An established agent told me just months earlier that she was having trouble finding contracts for her established western writers, so she couldn’t take on any new ones. But with absolutely no advance notice or advertising, The Long Trail leapt to a couple different Amazon best-seller lists.
In a way, this novel was a risk because it is a bit different than most western novels I have read. It isn’t a good-versus-evil story. It’s a story about three-dimensional characters and what they are learning or failing to learn from life. It’s about family and what it means to be a part of a family. Yes, it had villains in it. Particularly, a former Civil War guerilla raider who decided not to hang up his shingle once the war was over and is now in the area hitting ranches. But the story isn’t about the fight with this raider. It isn’t about guns and horses and good guys and bad guys. It’s about the men and sometimes the women who carry the guns or ride the horses or do battle with the bad guys.
I said once that this story is about second chances and the redemption of the human spirit. I think this adequately covers the scope not only the novel but the series that sprang from it.
There were some title changes over the years. It was called Desperado originally, because of a line Josh said to Dusty in one of the first drafts. That particular chapter was drastically reshaped a couple of times in one stage of revision or another, and that piece of dialogue was dropped. Hence, I needed a new title. It was called The McCabes at one point, and it was called The Long Ride for long time. About two weeks before I released it on Amazon, I changed the title one more time, to the one it now has.
About fifteen months after I released The Long Trail on Amazon, I stumbled across the Blue Cottage Literary Agency. They signed me on and they worked their magic, and on May 20 of this year, The Long Trail will be released in large-print paperback form by Wheeler Publishing.
If you take the plunge and buy a copy, let me know what you think. I love feedback from readers. Throw me an email.