Book Jacket

 

rank 5598
word count 35712
date submitted 16.09.2008
date updated 02.09.2010
genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
classification: universal
incomplete

To Truckee's Trail

Celia Hayes

1844
Fifty men, women & children
Eleven wagons
2,000 miles of empty wilderness

And nothing to depend upon... except each other

 

In the year of 1844, a party of fifty men, women and children set out for California. These are their stories; the doctor-diarist and party co-leader, the old mountain-man who guided them, the feisty woman with her brood of children who means to rejoin her husband in California, and the taciturn wagon master … They walked two thousand miles, across trackless plain and desert, fording rivers and climbing mountains. They found a new trail through the wilderness, hoisted their wagons up a sheer cliff, were caught by the winter snows and faced starvation, with nothing to rely on but their own courage and trust in each other ... but all were inexorably drawn to Truckee’s Trail, and the dream of a prosperous life in the fair land, beyond the rocky mountain pass!

 
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tags

california trail, old west, pioneers, wagon train

on 5 watchlists

42 comments

 

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Elizabeth Kathleen wrote 257 days ago

This is a nice book. It has many elements that make reading interesting. I was only able to read the first chapter due to time constraints, but it appears to be a fine book in the making. I found something you might want to change. In her first letter it says, "I have unwell for a few years". I think you probably meant "I have been unwell". Again, this is a nice book.
God bless you!!!
Elizabeth Kathleen
"If Children are Cheaper by the Dozen, Can I Get a Discount on Six?"
"The Sticks and Stones of Hannah Jones"

Vowles wrote 292 days ago

You have managed to capture the style of the era amazingly well, this is a very enjoyable read.

RichardBard wrote 974 days ago

Hi Celia!

Since you haven’t been to Authonomy for a while, I hope it’s okay that I’m sending this through your book comment:

I’d like to thank you for backing BRAINRUSH (a Thriller) last year. Because of you it hit the Authonomy Number-1 slot, attracted an agent, and landed a film option. Now that’s a brain-rush! The formal book launch is September 1st and the sequel will be released in December. None of this would have been possible without your help. So, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

Sincerely,
Richard Bard, BRAINRUSH

PS. If you want a good laugh, check out the temporary book-trailer video on the BRAINRUSH website. It’s there as a placeholder for the upcoming professional video. The current one features children and it’s guaranteed to make you smile! And yes, the younger kid on the screen is really me. You can see the video at www.RichardBard.com. The link is also on my Authonomy profile page. While you’re there, check out the “Feel the Rush” promotion that will get you BRAINRUSH plus 2 FREE thrillers from the Kindle Top-20 PAID Bestseller list – yes, really!

TalulaJane wrote 1325 days ago

I love the combination of journal entries made by John and the imagery of his anxiety for his loved one. The dialogue seems to be pretty on the spot (from what I know, which is very little) of the times in which this story were to have taken place. I enjoyed it thoroughly- like a trip backwards in time! Backed.
Carrie
The Darkwood Tales: Demouri's Defeat

SusieGulick wrote 1374 days ago

Dear Celia, Well, I've backed your last 2 books & have discovered your other 4, so will back them. :) You pitch, journals, diaries, & letters are totally impressive of the migration from Missouri to Truckee (I was raised in Chico & my mom in Alturas). What a work of art you have done & let me peak into this part of history. :) Love, Susie :) p.s. Hope you'll back my 2 memoir books. :)

zan wrote 1375 days ago

To Truckee's Trail

Celia Hayes

I loved the intimacy of the letters and diary entries, and the 1843/1844 setting was very credible. Nice change of pace compared to modern times with our instant communications and so on - of course many pros and cons, but this has been delightful so far. I found this readable, interesting, and I like the simplicity yet forceful nature of your overall plot. Happy to have backed this.

Colin Normanshaw wrote 1434 days ago

A real feel for its era. This should do well with its target audience. Backed with pleasure. Colin

Celia Hayes wrote 1443 days ago

Thank you, CM - I had fun with working out what the characters were like - they are based (most of them!) on real people of which only a very little is known - so I had to take that known %1 and spin the other %99 out of it!

Celia Hayes

crazy mama wrote 1443 days ago

Your style is poetic and gentle. Allowed me to feel John's distressI love this genre. Am so impressed with how well you interlace history and fiction. Beautifully written and happily shelved. Good luck with this!

Sly80 wrote 1448 days ago

John's fear for his wife's health is evident from the start, 'the gasp and wheeze that frightened him down to his soul'. The use of language here is exceptional, 'a jaw-cracking yawn sent John's thoughts in all directions', and it never once moves outside the time and the setting.

The characters have diverse reasons for heading to California, some of these are tangled, as reasons tend to be. The practical measures are more straightforward, the provisions, the wagons, the eye to the future with luxury goods. The first travellers we meet are an interesting collection, John - a level-headed doctor, Elizabeth - his frail wife, Moses - an impressionable and naïve young brother, Allan - 'the most hot-headed and tactless man in three counties', and Sarah - his sassy little wife with a smart mouth. Oh, and then there's the French Canadian, Francis. A small party journeying to meet up with a larger group, 'floating free as bubbles on the river'. I have to say that the entire scene with the blacksmith was a particularly stunning cameo.

I've read and been told some tales of the trail westwards and the terrible sufferings that were endured. It's a brilliant premise for a novel that will get deep inside each character and dig out their strengths and weaknesses, and wring the reader to the bone at the same time. You clearly demonstrate that you can do just that, Celia, with your highly talented writing ... backed.

Possible Nits: 'Good night, then, Doctor John' needs a stop (period) at the end, not a comma. 'arm-chair ... armchair' both versions are used.

Jim Darcy wrote 1465 days ago

This has a real ring of authenticity about it. you describe well and your characters are well rounded and convince. This has the makings of a fine tale and I would certainly read more. Jim Darcy The Firelord's Crown

soutexmex wrote 1470 days ago

I do like that short pitch. But that long pitch? I think you can end that with some kind of question to draw in your casual passerby reader. Being Authonomy's #1 commentator and amateur pitch doctor, trust me, you have mastered this basic sales technique to grab the casual reader. That's how you climb in ranking to gather more exposure and comments to better your novel. SHELVED!

I can use your comments on my book when you get the chance. Cheers!

JC
The Obergemau Key
Authonomy's #1 rated commentator

Celia Hayes wrote 1472 days ago

I always wondered why there weren't more stories on here set in early America. it was such a fascinating time in our history. I like the style you use in this and it's very easy to read. You feel the hope and sense of adventure that you know these people had to have. Your details are also good, I felt like i was right there with them. I think you've done a wonderful job with this, it's entertaining and educational. Your characters feel real and I'm willing to follow them to the end of the exhausting journey. Best of luck with this.

Melissa

I'm not much of a proofreader or editor so I don't look for typos, mistakes, etc. I like to read as a reader, and this was very enjoyable.



Thank you so much, Melissa - it was a wonderful story, and I didn't have to create very much out of my imagination ... well, the diary and the letters ... and the conversation that the characters had, as well as what I could make of them out of the very little that is known for sure. The readers who have read the book entire have loved it extravagantly, and I also wonder why there are so very few stories like theirs. Imagine, having all you own in a little wagon, and taking your family - and looking out at 2-thousand miles of howling wilderness...
We need stories, and the story of the Townsend-Stephens Party is one of them.

Celia Hayes wrote 1472 days ago

To Trukee's Trail:

Celia,

As John writes his entry for 3 November 1843 the passage in italics carries the language register of the period and this immediately stamps on you book integrity to period, while also sowing the first seeds of the ensuing drama.
John's fear of losing his sister, Elizabeth, is not over-dramatised or melodramatic but everyman's moment on the brink of desolation who has loved his close relative and been loved; so I was soon attuned to your style - integrity to historical backdrop, empathy with your characters; as any one of us might have empathy with a close relative whose health gave serious concern.
The other characters are seamlessly woven into the story through very natural dialogue, the whole carrying an air of realism and enabling the reader to find the story plausible enough to enter as a participant.
To the end of Chapter 1, the prose, storytelling and focus all bear the hand of an experienced writer and this, combined with the interesting premise makes me want to abide with this book to the end.

Backed
Ray
(A Child from the Wishing Well)



Thank you so much, Ray - everyone tells me that I have a very good ear for period dialog and style. (although Elizabeth is John's wife - not sister)

Celia Hayes wrote 1473 days ago

This is a truly enjoyable read. I vacationed in Truckee once so I know the heighth of those mountains they have ahead of them. You have a good mix of characters. The dialogue and different accents sound authentic. I wish you had written a prologue to explain how you came to possess these letters (I'm assuming they're real; if not, you sure fooled me). Either way, this is a good read. I would curl up in a chair in front of a fire and continue to read this. I’m adding it to my shelf. Burgio (Grain of Salt).



Thanks, Burgio - the letters are actually made-up! The diary, also, although patterned after real emigrant diaries - although many readers have assumed they were authentic documents! In my first draft, I had a modern-day bookend intro and closing chapter, explaining the letters, but the main story read so well without them, and since I wanted to keep readers firmly in the 1th century, I just omitted the bookends entirely.

PS - will add a few more chapters!

Burgio wrote 1473 days ago

This is a truly enjoyable read. I vacationed in Truckee once so I know the heighth of those mountains they have ahead of them. You have a good mix of characters. The dialogue and different accents sound authentic. I wish you had written a prologue to explain how you came to possess these letters (I'm assuming they're real; if not, you sure fooled me). Either way, this is a good read. I would curl up in a chair in front of a fire and continue to read this. I’m adding it to my shelf. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

Celia Hayes wrote 1473 days ago

TO TRUCKEE'S TRAIL:

Celia,

You write with great passion and honesty about brave people who believed in striving for a better life. That you have chronicled this important piece of history so vividly, and portrayed through your excellent characterisation the amazing qualities that brought their quest to fruition, is a tribute to your undoubted writing talent.

Backed, with admiration.

Sheila (Pinpoint)



Thank you so much, Sheila - I felt very passionately that the story of this particular group of wagon-train emigrants ought to be better-known. I suppose that I have rather scattered my 'backers' by putting up all of my books, rather than letting them concentrate on one or two - but Truckee is a heck of a story, and I would like to prove that I am capable of telling more than one!

Sheila Belshaw wrote 1473 days ago

TO TRUCKEE'S TRAIL:

Celia,

You write with great passion and honesty about brave people who believed in striving for a better life. That you have chronicled this important piece of history so vividly, and portrayed through your excellent characterisation the amazing qualities that brought their quest to fruition, is a tribute to your undoubted writing talent.

Backed, with admiration.

Sheila (Pinpoint)

Celia Hayes wrote 1474 days ago

Thank you so much, Lynn!

lynn clayton wrote 1474 days ago

I think of all the writers on Authonomy, the historical ones impress me most. Not only do they write with intelligence and scholarship, they seem to write with the most eloquence. That's what I think about this book, anyway. Backed. Lynn

Celia Hayes wrote 1485 days ago

To Truckee’s Trail

This has a great start; the narrative scene is set through the senses, giving atmosphere.
Your style of writing fits perfectly with the story (Which came first?).
This really captures (how I imagine) this type of journey. – Good luck


Thanks, Famlavan - I don't know which came first - but one of my weird writing talents is to be able to 'mimic' writing styles. You know, like people who can do accents, after listening to someone with one? I can 'do' period styles and conversation: all I need to do is to 'load up' on the author or period that I need to mimic, and then I can do it for pages and pages. I am very good at 19th century now, having had heaps of practice with this, and with the Adelsverein Trilogy. Right now, I am doing two more books - in one I am doing a 'voice' rather like that of the Little House on the Prairie series - simple, but observant, through the eyes of a child in the early stages, and in the other, a voice of a late Victorian romance, with complicated sentences. Thanks for the backing and the comment -
Celia

Famlavan wrote 1487 days ago

To Truckee’s Trail

This has a great start; the narrative scene is set through the senses, giving atmosphere.
Your style of writing fits perfectly with the story (Which came first?).
This really captures (how I imagine) this type of journey. – Good luck

Melcom wrote 1497 days ago

Very accomplished writing capturing the period wonderfully.

The dialogue is spot on too.

Interesting premise, one that proves much.

Great work.

Melxx
Impeding Justice

Jesse Hargreave wrote 1518 days ago

Backed.

Jesse - Savant

AlanMarling wrote 1521 days ago

Dear Celia Hayes,

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I liked what you have in the pitch, but if you changed the order by telling about the characters first, then the resulting hardships would carry more tension because they almost happen to friends. I also appreciate how your story starts with the stakes: Elizabeth’s health is spiraling downward and only a journey to California will save her. “permanent impairment” set my teeth on edge. You ingrain the stakes by having the doctor imagine the pain of life without her. You don’t need the adverb in “tapped cautiously” since you chose the correct verb and “cautiously” is implied in “tapped”. I also appreciate how you make the doctor hesitant to travel to the “foreign country” of California. You mentioned it to be a “wild and savage” place. I live in said location, and I can only concur with the good doctor.

I can tell you enjoy writing, and I urge you to keep at it. Bravo! Backed.

Best wishes,
Alan Marling

Lorri wrote 1551 days ago

It feels to me as though you've captured the era perfectly. Lovely writing, dialogue, and a great flow.

backed.

Lorrii

JAG 2.0 wrote 1898 days ago

I think this is a well-written work with very well-researched period language and attitudes. It moves along well and the correspondence works well within the story. I did think the private letters were a little long and took up just a tad too much time.

Choice of oxen is correct for the period. Most of the historical detail are accurate. However (and this is a very minor point), the colors of the blacksmith's coals, the flames, and the metal are incorrect. This is not something very many would pick up on though.

I will watchlist this and await further chapters. Again, well-done.

franceshunter wrote 1972 days ago

Celia, I have finally made it over here to Authonomy and have put "Truckee" on my shelf. I love the story, the setting and the sense of pace. I hope you're doing well with this book. I look forward to having a look at the Adelsverien trilogy soon. I've always been fascinated with the story of the German settlers around Comfort who were staunch Unionists during the Civil War and paid a big price. Best, Frances

Celia Hayes wrote 2015 days ago

Oh, thank you so much, Paul! Another reader and reviewer said "Truckee" could have been sub-titled "Wagon-Trains for Dummies" it was so detailed about what a jorney of that magnitude involved. If you do go all the way to Truckee City, the little museum in the Old Jail stocks "Truckee" in their bookstore. Every year or so, they buy a box of twenty!

I am just as happy as anything with Booklocker, myself - now that I have some very skilled editor friends who have gone over my next books (The Adelsverein Trilogy) with a fine-toothed comb. They are honestly one of the best of the POD houses around, I think. They don't make their money in an expensive schedule of services - just the cover design fees, and formatting the manuscript, and in their portion of copies sold. Like most authors, I'd love to make enough from my books to quit the day job, but as time goes on, I wonder if it isn't better in the long term to have gone independent. No one telling you that you have to radically change your story to be 'sellable', to slap a cover on it that gives you the cold grue... and that you should shut up and be grateful because there are a million other struggling writers out there and you are the lucky pup to have a mainstream publisher, anyway!

Oh well - enjoy 'Truckee' - and thanks for the kind words!

Kaychristina wrote 2023 days ago

Hi Celia, just wanted to let you know I've watchlisted "To Truckee's Trail" and will have a good old read later - bit late right now! Just caught my eye on the revolving "Books" page, as I do love the old West, and your pitch is great. Your other books interest me as well! (My own "Annacara" is set later)! See you soon, from Kay

Kaychristina wrote 2023 days ago

Hi Celia, just wanted to let you know I've watchlisted "To Truckee's Trail" and will have a good old read later - bit late right now! Just caught my eye on the revolving "Books" page, as I do love the old West, and your pitch is great. Your other books interest me as well! See you soon, from Kay

Kaychristina wrote 2023 days ago

Hi Celia, just wanted to let you know I've watchlisted "To Truckee's Trail" and will have a good old read later - bit late right now! Just caught my eye on the revolving "Books" page, as I do love the old West, and your pitch is great. Your other books interest me as well! See you soon, from Kay

Celia Hayes wrote 2034 days ago

Eighteen chapters complete, and with a couple of pages of notes at the end. I did have fun with the voices - rendering the letters and the doctor's diary, and then Eddie remembering events as an old, old man, years later. I had to make him a larger character throug-out, because there is a chapter at the end, where most of the women and children are at a winter-camp in the mountains waiting to be rescued. Neither John or Elizabeth were a part of that, and Isabella Patterson had not been a narrative voice - so I made Eddie a bigger character, both to tell of that event, and also to fill in what happened after.

Curiously, the key to the character of John was a book of Lord Chesterton's letters. The real Dr. Townsend took a box of books in his wagon to California, and that book was among them. So I worked backwards from that - what sort of man would have appreciated Lord Chesterson's Letters?

Celia Hayes wrote 2034 days ago

Thank you all - I have tried very hard to incorporate such accuracy in "Truckee" as that it would pass muster by serious historians of the emigrant trails. And it's a particular gripe of mine that so many westerns and so-called-historicals are nothing but modern folk got up in costumes!

BP wrote 2034 days ago

Celia, your skill with the language of the period is very satisfying. My imagination was coaxed into 1844 and made ready for the journey. Courage and destiny. I've put it on my bookshelf.

TrudyWSchuett wrote 2034 days ago

I'm moving this from the watchlist to the bookshelf -- ACCURATE historical fiction is a rare thing indeed, and it deserves to be read.

Most of what passes for historical fiction these days is nothing more than a present-day story in period costume, and for people like me who've read a bit of history, this is frustrating, which is why I quit reading anything labelled "historical" a few years ago.

BP wrote 2035 days ago

Just added this one to my watchlist. Good luck.

Philippa wrote 2036 days ago

Sorry Celia. Apologies for failing to do my homework. I am really glad that it is out and being read. It is very difficult when countless people (and I'm not talking about kind friends) really are grabbed by what you write and yet it is not 'commercial'. It used to be the business of publishers to create commercial, by backing their own taste. You have really encouraged me to join IAG, if only to have fun in concert with others having fun. Hopefully this site might gradually change the concept of commercial. Will read more soon

Celia Hayes wrote 2037 days ago

Already do have a publisher, Phillippa! It was put out by Booklocker.com more than a year ago, and by my calculations, it seems to have sold almost 300 copies to date. Which is about twice as many as the usual POD/subsidy press sells. The local museum in Truckee, California sells it through their museum store, and I have hopes of other pioneer museum stores picking it up as well.

I did shop it around to the usual literary agents and mainstream publishers for about a year. Three agents read it entire, loved it personally and said nice things about my writing... and regretfully that they didn't think it was 'commercial'. Which puzzled me no end, because everyone who had read it had two reactions - "Wow!" and "Why did I never hear of these people before?"

Frankly, I'd love to have it picked up by a mainstream big publisher, but I'm having more fun this way. People have told me that there are two ways to get noticed by the major publishers - the first way is to hope your manuscript catches someones' eye in the slush pile. The other way is put it out there, sell a bunch of copies, get some good serious reviews, win some contests... and then the major publishers might be inclined to take notice.

Oddly enough, when I did the original draft of 'Truckee' I did have 'bookend' chapters with a modern character, introducing the story by finding the diary in an old box of books and memorabilia. I finally decided to drop the modern bits, since I thought the story of the Townsend Party stood well enough on its own.

Philippa wrote 2037 days ago

Celia, One gets to things in a very roundabout way...via the forum on the IAG then a look at your website and a glance at this book there. The extract immediately convinced...you have a fine ear for language inflexion and period speech, so you have obviously read a lot of such formal address (which I love!) I felt drawn in to the characters and their situation...there is a misery that accompanies my wholehearted approval...I wonder whether this will find a publisher.. Suggestion (can't you 'fake it'?) By this I mean can the account of this journey be found by a 'contemporary character' (related by circumstance or happenstance) so that it becomes contemporary because of its consequences.? The other really good period book on this site Magdeburg escapes this but period speech is considered 'difficult' (and one must never challenge a reader!) The suggestion is only because I'd like to believe this will find a publisher so it is on my bookshelf and my watchlist. P>S This was a very impetuous comment and may be entirely abandoned as I read on! All good wishes

paul house wrote 2041 days ago

have continued to read and enjoy your book and have now put it on my bookshelf. Thanks for your comments on mine.

paul house wrote 2042 days ago

I really enjoyed this and I liked the inclusion of the letters to give information and a period feel to the piece. I shall come back to it and read more. In the meantime, I shall put it on my watchlist.

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