I doubt that anyone would benefit from tales about my military service, as it was undistinguished and I retired so long ago. In a nutshell, I enlisted in 1960 at eighteen because I wanted to get married and needed a job; I opted for airborne infantry because we needed the jump pay and I thought promotions might come faster in the infantry. After I made sergeant I was encouraged to go to OCS, and elected Field Artillery as I was pretty good with numbers. I went to night school whenever I could (no ‘Bootstrap’ for reserve officers then), finally got a BS in Business Admin, and retired in 1980 as a major.
I wanted to become a banker, but my Merrill Lynch stockbroker talked me into going into that field instead. When I said I had no sales experience, he said, “You were a staff officer, right? Didn’t command anybody, got people to do what you wanted them to do through logic? Hell, you ARE a salesman.” Turns out he was right, and I’m eternally grateful to him. It was a giant leap of faith to go from 20 years of salary on a semi-fixed schedule to commission sales, but next to my wife it was the best thing that ever happened to me. We prospered quickly and I was able to hire both son-in-laws and a nephew as partners, as well as the brother-in-law of one son-in-law; we also had five support people on the team, including one of my daughters. I’ve been retired from Merrill since December 2009, but my four former partners are still in the business.
Prosperity allowed me to begin collecting firearms in a serious manner, and I focused on antiques-mainly the Western Era, circa 1850-1890. As I approached my second retirement, I decided to write a non-fiction book on the explosive changes in ‘gun tech’ during those years. As I researched the Civil War period, I stumbled on the story of the Eighth Texas Cavalry and got so excited about their accomplishments that I changed gears and wrote a historical novel about them instead, entitled NO GOOD LIKE IT IS. I’ve subsequently finished the sequel (DOG SOLDIER MOON) and started on the third piece of the trilogy (HIGHER GROUND), which includes the Battle of Little Bighorn.
I now spend much of my time marketing my books. In addition to direct sales at book festivals, gun shows, county fairs, church fests, etc., I call Indie book stores and ask them to look at my website (www.mckendreelong.com) and consider carrying the novels on consignment. I’m also in the process of getting both books into Ingram’s distribution program, which will make them eligible for big chains (Barnes&Noble, BooksaMillion, Costco, Walmart, etc.) Advice? Marry well, work hard, save vigorously, and if you EVER wake up thinking you want to write something that could be remotely associated with ‘Westerns,’ roll over and go back to sleep. Or at least put a vampire in it.
McKendree R. (Mike) Long III is a former soldier whose awards and decorations include the Parachutist’s Badge, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Silver Star, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (Gold and Silver Stars). Retiring in 1980, he served the next 29 years as a Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch and began to work on his first novel during his last years there. NO GOOD LIKE IT IS was published through Createspace upon his second retirement at the end of 2009. The sequel (DOG SOLDIER MOON) was released by Goldminds Publishing in December 2011. A third piece (working title: HIGHER GROUND) will include the battle of the Little Bighorn. A short story,TWO FOR ONE, was selected for the 2012 Petigru Review. Mike has a BS in Business Administration and is active in SCWW, SERTOMA, SCV, and Western Writers of America (WWA). He is a Life Member of the NRA and VFW, and is an avid collector and shooter of guns of the Old West, much to his wife’s dismay. Married since 1960, Mike and Mary enjoy traveling the West, but split most of their time between Blythewood and Seabrook Island, SC. They have two married daughters, four grandchildren, one granddaughter-in-law, and one great grandson.