Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Author Guest Post: Susan Spence, Author of A Story of the West

In association with Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Susan Spence, author of A Story of the West!

My First Book Sale That Mattered

When I received the first hard copies of A Story of the West, I put a few in a bag and began peddling them. It was just lil' ol' me, nervous and alone, pounding the pavement. I went to a couple of stores and sold a few copies, mainly because even though I was an unknown first-time author, as a local, there was some interest.

One day I thought, what the heck, and decided to try my luck at a store in a nearby town where I bought dog food. It was a unique place because on one side you buy livestock feed, as well as halters for horses and other animal supplies. On the other side was an upscale western boutique that carried really nice, expensive clothing and gifts. 

I approached a clerk on the boutique side and asked her if they sold any books. she told me that they carried a few coffee table books, but that I should come back and talk to Carol, the owner.

I returned when Carol was there, introduced myself, told her about A Story of the West and asked if she would be interested in carrying it. Her reply was that she  would have to read the book first. She then asked me to sell her a copy at cost. I willingly obliged and handed over a signed copy for only slightly more than I had paid for it. 

I waited for a couple of weeks before I went back as I was terrified of hearing my first critique by a stranger. Finally, my knees knocking, I got up the courage to return and ask Carol what she thought of my creation.

I still remember walking up to her. She didn't smile as I approached and I couldn't read her expression. I asked what she thought of it, and she replied, "I loved it. I think it should be made into a movie." She then bought copies to carry in her store and she told me she would encourage her employees to read it so they could help promote it.

Needless to say, her words made my day. I left walking on air and with the confidence to continue pushing my novel. 

Sadly the store closed shortly after that. I heard Carol decided that, with the slow economy, it was a good time to move on to other things. I hope she is doing well. 

The moral of the story is, I believe in your book! 

About The Author:

Susan Spence has always been intrigued with life in the west in the 1880s. She researched historical accounts and first-person narratives as she prepared to write A Story of the West. A lifelong resident of the west, she currently lives in Montana on an old sheep shearing station with lots of furry critters and one partially furry critter. This is her first novel, and she is busily working on a sequel due out in late spring.

BUY THE BOOK: A Story of the West

Book Description: A Story of the West

Matt Daly's eyes narrowed as he faced the stranger in front of him. "I know I don't have a quarrel with you because I don't know you," he growled.

"But I know you," the menacing outlaw sneered back, clearly ready to use the Colt revolver hanging from his hip. 

Only a few years earlier Matt and his father had trailed a herd of longhorns north from Texas into Montana Territory. Upon arriving, they decided to stay and raise cattle on the fertile grasslands.

Shortly after the Northern pacific rail line was completed it became easier for people to head west. Lavina Lavold stepped off the train in Miles City with her family and immediately caught Matt's eye. When they fall in love, Matt's life seems perfect.

There are unscrupulous men, however, determined to build cattle empires. A ruthless neighbor decides he wants the Daly's claim, and he will stop at nothing to acquire their ranch. Since the entire area is undeeded land, it is up for grabs and there is no law on the rough frontier to prevent a range war. When Matt refuses to back down, his life takes a dangerous turn.

Forced to abandon his family, his travels take him down a long road of misery. An encounter with an Indian medicine man helps him to regain his sense of self, but not until after he gives in to his desperation.

A Story of the West depicts life during the open range ranching days of the Wild West. Besides plenty of action, I have added a woman's perspective to settling the American West. I researched the era to ensure historical accuracy and have written an accurate portrayal of life during this time, as well as an exciting read.

Book Excerpt: A Story of the West

Matt rode into the town of Laramie. In years past it would have been a lot livelier. Cowboys just off the range would have been drinking up their summer wages. Now there was a grimness. It was the same feeling that encompassed the entire western prairie.

Matt tied his horse to the hitch rail in front of the first saloon he found. As usual he checked brands on the other horses standing there and looked at the faces inside before entering the bar. After purchasing a bottle of the cheapest whiskey, Matt walked past a table where a couple of men sat. One of them looked at him and sniffed loudly.

“Smells like we got one of them prairie lice in here.” He was too drunk to know if Matt really smelled like sheep or not. He just wanted to pick a fight.

Matt set the bottle down on a table, picked the man up by his neck and threw him to the floor. He glared at the shocked man lying at his feet, then at his companion. “Who are you insulting, you dirty sack of shit?”

“Just be on your way!” The bartender yelled at Matt. He knew the two were trouble makers, but they were also regulars, something he was short of these days.

Matt grabbed the bottle, shaking from the rage that had engulfed him. It scared him. Never had he felt out of control like that. He had wanted to kill the man with his bare hands.

He decided he was going to have to keep moving. But first he was going to have a bath and buy new clothes to get the stink of sheep, real or imaginary off of him. It was cold out, late fall. Matt wondered if he should risk getting a hotel room. There was one that offered baths. That would feel good. Maybe he would stay just a couple of days. Matt let his guard down as whiskey saturated his consciousness.

He had also been recognized. A cowboy who had once worked for Bully Buehler saw him on the street. He was sitting in on a poker game at another saloon that evening.

“Hey Red.” He knew the man sitting across from wanted a reputation with a gun, so he decided to bait him. “There’s a man in town you oughta’ meet, name of Matt Daly.

Red knew the name. He practically drooled. “He’s here now?” The other smiled. The trap had been set. He had no feelings towards Matt one way or another. He just wanted to cause trouble.

The man named Red called Matt out the next evening, after he knew Matt had spent the afternoon drinking. “Hey Daly!” Matt turned and faced a tall redheaded man showing off the new Colt Peacemaker that hung from his hip.

“I know I don’t have a quarrel with you because I don’t know you.” Matt first wanted to talk his way out of a gunfight, but once again he felt his rage bubbling close to the surface.

The other man was way too cocky. He sneered. “I hear you think you’re pretty fast with a gun. I also hear you’re yellow.”

There was no way Matt was going to back down. He seemed to become another man as his rage turned to cool anger. He would wait all night for the scum to draw first, and then he would blow the asshole’s face off. His determination grew, taking over any other thoughts. His eyes narrowed as he stared the man down. Red faltered slightly by blinking. He had expected Matt to be scared of his large presence. It had always worked before.

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