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.

Secretly, I didn't consider it a "Western". Yes, it was set in Nebraska, yes, there were cowboys and Indians, but to me it was a Romance. And it was short--only about 110 pages. He read it--used his expertise as a reader of Western novels--and made a couple of corrections, 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/fantasy--wrote the Sinbad series and the kan Ingan Chronicles--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 to replace my crushed hip had worn itself to a nub (probably from all the sky-diving and mountain-climbing!) and taken part of my pelvis with it. A week before my admission, a letter came from Books in Motion, thanking me for my submission, telling me that--alas!--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...WALKS 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--a handy device--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 pages 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?

The day before my surgery, I got their answer: They would.

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

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

A contract. What a get-well card!

And the rest, as they say, is H-I-S-T-O-R-Y....

Walks the Shadow Trail was one of the publishers best sellers for several months. It has since been published in ebook and softcover by Double Dragon Publications.

(This excerpt is taken from a presentation I made at the South Coast Writers Association in 2001.)


  1. Mary Ricksen // January 9, 2009 at 2:06 PM  

    Sky diving? Mountain climbing? Holly Mowly! What daring fun!
    I want you to know that all these books and your talent to pump them out so quickly, makes the rest of us all feel jealous.
    I loved the blog today!
    I am always curious as to why so many people read out blog and then don't leave a comment. I wonder why?

  2. Mary Marvella // January 9, 2009 at 3:31 PM  

    First, Yes out Toni is prolific and a superb writer who doesn't sit and wait for life to come to her.

    Mary R, I believe sometimes people think they need to write something wonderful. Others don't know how to sign in as anonymous and some think we'll steal their email addresses. WE WON'T!

    There are still folks who don't realize how good comments make the blogger feel.

  3. Mary Marvella // January 9, 2009 at 3:32 PM  

    I meant our Toni. I can't type.

  4. Mary Ricksen // January 9, 2009 at 4:30 PM  

    Toni you are a dynamo. You make us proud. I envy your drive and I admire your ambition.

    If people only knew how good it feels when someone recognizes your words with any simple comment.
    It lets us all know when we post, that we are reaching someone who listened.

  5. Nightingale // January 9, 2009 at 5:04 PM  

    How exciting to have an audio book? Did the guy who read it have a sexy voice?

  6. Anonymous // January 9, 2009 at 5:59 PM  

    That is very very cool. I ADORE audiobooks. I could never be a reader, but I love to listen to then. A good reader can make all the difference.

    Actually, I had no idea that you could submit directly to an audiobook company.

    Great story, Toni

  7. Scarlet Pumpernickel // January 10, 2009 at 10:41 PM  

    I think some people visit, read the blog, then go away without knowing there are interesting comments to be read! Most of the really good stuff that I've come across has been on the comment sections of lots of blogs! There are often threads there that you would entirely miss if you didn't click on comments! Mommie, perhaps a blog about the value of comment and reading them is in order! What do you think?


  8. Mary Marvella // January 12, 2009 at 4:16 PM  

    Good idea Scarlet.