In the first place, I didn't intend to write a Western, nor to have it made into an audio book.

It just happened.

It came about like this; I was dating a guy who didn't like science fiction. "Write a Western," he told me. "They always sell."

So, I did.

I didn't consider it much of a "Western"; okay, so it was set in Nebraska and there were cowboys and Indians; to me it was a Romance, because it was about love, betrayal, and revenge. And it was short--only about 110 pages. He read it, supplied a couple of corrections as a Western novel reader, and pronounced it "Great."

Well, Time marched on and so did the boyfriend but I was left with the story. I set it aside and went back to my science fiction but it kept niggling in my memory. I had this novella, I had spent time writing it, so I should do something with it. The problem was, not many publishers accepted book manuscripts of that length. Finally, I sat down with my Novel & Short Story Writers Market and went through it page-by-page, looking for publishers who handled novellas. There weren't many and most of the ones there were didn't want Westerns. Finally, I came upon Books in Motion, an audio book company. They wanted stories specifically not more than 110 pages and they accepted Westerns. So, I wrote a synopsis and a cover letter, included an SASE, and sent my little manuscript on its merry way...

...and promptly forgot about it--as I am prone to do--ask Linda or MM!

Time trotted onward some more and I had other things to think about. I was scheduled for hip surgery; the prosthesis I had been given in 1973 needing replacement--the teflon covering on the socket had disintegrated, making seven holes in what was left of my hip socket. A week before my admission, a letter came from Books in Motion, thanking me for my submission, telling me they had changed their requirements and now wanted full-sized manuscripts, so, though they liked my story, they were returning it. I stared at the letter, perplexed. Walk the Shadow Trail--that was my title, all right, but when had I sent the manuscript? I couldn't remember. Going to my Submissions Log, I started checking the entries. Sure enough, there it was-April, 1996-a year before! I reread the letter, decided I wasn't going to let a little thing like a lack of length stop me; after all, they liked the story, didn't they? Keeping my fingers crossed to invalidate the lie, I whipped off a quick letter informing them that originally the manuscript had been longer, but at some anonymous person's suggestion, I had shortened it and if they liked, I'd put the deleted chapters back and would they reconsider it then?

They would.

So, I wrote the non-existent chapters, bundled the whole thing together and returned it for their approval.

In a few weeks--while recovering from my surgery--I received another second letter from Books in Motion.

A contract. What a get-well card!

And the rest, as they say, is history....

(The above picture courtesy of Walk the Shadow Trail has since been made into an e-book, a print edition, and is available on Kindle from


  1. Arkansas Cyndi // August 27, 2008 at 5:23 PM  

    That is a wonderful story, Toni. I love western romance. It's one of my "secret" genres I'd like to write. Shhh. Don't tell anyone. :)

  2. Mary Marvella // August 27, 2008 at 10:41 PM  

    Give the woman lemons and she'll open a lemonade stand! Good story, Toni.

  3. Joanne // August 28, 2008 at 9:03 AM  

    Inspiring story. What a get-well card. Who actually "reads" the audio book? Sometimes the it you we will hear?

  4. Toni V.S. // August 28, 2008 at 1:31 PM  

    Are you kidding? I wouldn't dare put my "scratchy Southern drawl" out there for the public to hear! No, a very talented actor named Rusty Nelson reads it. The reader for The last Voyage of Sinbad was the greatest--he did both the male and female voices to perfection--especially the villain. Made him sound like Bela Lugosi!

  5. Beth Trissel // August 29, 2008 at 1:06 PM  

    Great tale, Toni. I enjoyed it. :)

  6. Mary Ricksen // August 29, 2008 at 6:31 PM  

    You can't beat that!

    I used to read for audio books for the blind. It was fun.