Author: Elisabeth Grace Foley
Page count: 160
Genre: Western/Short Stories
Price: Ebook $2.99, Paperback $7.99
Elisabeth Grace Foley was born and raised in the Northeast, but has spent much time in the West through books, film and imagination. A homeschool graduate, she chose not to attend college in order to pursue self-education and her writing career. Her first published story “Disturbing the Peace” was an honorable mention in the first annual Rope & Wire Western short story competition, and is now collected with six others that are appearing for the first time in her debut short story collection, The Ranch Next Door and Other Stories. An avid reader and lifelong history buff, she also enjoys music, crocheting and spending time outdoors. She lives at home with her family and a large stack of writer’s notebooks.
Tell us about your book:
A collection of Western short stories that go beyond the standard action and adventure of the genre to focus on character and conflict. In the award-winning “Disturbing the Peace,” honorable mention in the 2010 Rope and Wire short story competition, a sheriff experiences a revelation about himself and his relationship with the people of his town, while in “The Outlaw’s Wife,” a country doctor worries that his young friend is falling for a married woman whose husband is rumored to be a wanted criminal. From the suspenseful “Cross My Heart” to the comedic romp of “A Rangeland Renaissance,” to a Western twist on star-crossed romance in the title story, “The Ranch Next Door,” these stories will appeal to a variety of readers, as well as established fans of the traditional Western. These seven stories total approximately 40,330 words or 161 book pages.
How long did it take to write the book?
I wrote the title story of the collection, “The Ranch Next Door,” in March 2010, and finished “Delayed Deposit” in September of this year. So the first and last stories were actually the first and last ones written, though the five in in the middle, written between and during other projects over that year and a half, aren’t all in the order I wrote them.
What inspired you to write the book?
Historical fiction has always been my preferred genre, particularly Westerns. My ambition is to write novels, but I’ve been writing short stories for a while, to hone my writing skills and for the enjoyment of it, and when I had enough for a collection, I decided to go ahead and publish it.
With short stories, inspiration comes from all different places. I think a couple of them—“Disturbing the Peace” and “Angel Unawares,” I believe—actually started with ideas I got from dreams. The title of “The Ranch Next Door” was inspired by that of a “lost” song by noted Western songwriter Bob Nolan (author of standards like “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” and “Cool Water”)—“lost” because it was registered for copyright, but no lyrics or sheet music have survived. With no idea what the original song was about, I fell to imagining what kind of story would go with that title, and had one written before I knew it!
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
I don’t have a very rigid daily routine, other than that I like to get work done in the mornings, if possible. I hand-write my first drafts in college-ruled notebooks, then type them out and edit lightly as I go along. Any major edits come after reading them on paper and having a few other people read them.
Since none of these stories have a really detailed historical background (e.g. the characters and settings are all fictional), I didn’t have to do any heavy-duty research; from time to time I would just have to look up the historical accuracy of a word or phrase I had someone use, or other small details. For instance, after reading “The Outlaw’s Wife” my mother asked me if I was sure the term “linen closet” was used in the 1800s. I wasn’t sure, so I looked it up online and was actually able to find an 1872 excerpt from Godey’s Lady’s Book that used the term.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I hope they have the sense of pleasure that comes from reading a good, satisfying story with engaging and entertaining characters. Rather than entirely following the traditional Western patterns of action and adventure (though of course there is some of that, too!), these stories are more character-driven, centering around people facing conflict, decisions or surprises. I hope they’ll appeal to a broad range of readers as well as established Western fans.
Where can we go to buy your book?
Any other links or info you’d like to share?
My blog: http://www.thesecondsentence.blogspot.com
Excerpt from book:
From “Delayed Deposit”:
Across the street, Jim Beaudine rested his shoulder against the rough plank wall at his left, rifle in hand, watching the silent shaded windows of the bank. He heard footsteps behind him and then Sheriff Graham was at his side, breathing noisily after his run.
Graham was a stocky, sandy-haired man, rather short, with a round bulldog face which had a tendency to turn red at the slightest exertion or irritation. At the present moment it was already a warning pink.
“Who’s in there?” he asked of his deputy, squinting across the sunny street at the bank.
“Middleton, of course…one of Arnold’s freighters, Mrs. Eberley and the Murphy boys.”
“Well, this is a nice kettle of fish,” said Graham, and to do him credit, he did not mean the hostages.
“That’s who was seen go in, anyway, and haven’t come out. Nobody saw the hold-up gang get in. They must have come through the side door and got the drop on everyone.”
“Door should have been locked,” said Graham testily.
“Should have don’t mean it was.”
Graham wiped the sweat from his forehead with his hand, wiped his hand on his trousers and gestured impatiently toward the bank. “What’s going on in there? Have you seen anything?”
“Nope. They’re trying to figure out what to do, I guess.”
“They must be first-class idiots to try something like this in broad daylight, with the place full of people. And if they are idiots it won’t be hard to get them out of there.” Graham nodded twice emphatically, highly satisfied with this conclusion.
“Always thought it was a bad idea to have a door back there,” said Jim Beaudine musingly.
“Well, if they didn’t have a door there, they wouldn’t be able to take shipments in and out without being seen from—” Graham realized the futility of the argument in mid-sentence and finished in exasperation, “oh, never mind.”