Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Jamie Lisa Forbes, Author of 'The Widow Smalls': Is on Tour this week. Read an excerpt from this book.

Publisher: Pronghorn Press (October 20, 2014)
ISBN: 978-1-932636-97-0
Category: Short Stories, Literary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Available in: Print & ebook, 231 Pages

Thirty years of browbeating from rancher Bud Smalls has penned his wife, Leah, into emotional isolation.  Now Bud is gone and Leah owns the ranch, but there is no help forthcoming from Bud’s brothers who want to force her out and take the ranch for themselves.  When their attempt to humiliate her instead becomes her opportunity to succeed, Leah begins to find her way back to herself and learns how much she can gain by opening her heart.

The Widow Smalls is just one of the stories in this collection by the WILLA Award winning author of Unbroken, Jamie Lisa Forbes, who writes about the hardships of making a living from the land with an understanding that comes from first-hand experience. 
Her deftly drawn characters include star-crossed lovers, a young rancher facing his first test of moral courage, an inscrutable ranch hand claiming an impressive relative, a father making one last grasp for his daughter’s love and a child’s struggle to make sense of the world around her.   Each will pull you into the middle of their stories and keep you turning the pages. 

Praise for 'Unbroken':
"Throughout this beautifully written story, I pictured the scenes, the characters, and visualized it all as if I walked among them. Five stars."-Laurel Rain-Snow, Rainy Days and Mondays
"Unbroken is a powerful, absorbing book from the first page to the last. Forbes' Wyoming ranch background adds rich flavors to the story. The author draws realistic, complex characters. Unbroken is an unvarnished testimonial to a way of life that few of us know."- Mary E. Trimble, author of ' TUBOB: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps'
"The author brings to life the setting in this story. I could easily envision ranch life, and how being responsible for the land could consume someone. The harshness of the elements, or the struggles of managing livestock seemed so realistic. I found myself being drawn into this story right away. There was so much to this story, the author not only allowed a very realistic look at ranch life, but also paints a story of family drama and broken relationships. A story well worth reading."- Brenda Casto, VW Stitcher
"The writing is realistic and true to the nature of life in rural Wyoming. Harsh winters, endless wind, and dependence on neighbors to survive form the backdrop of this novel. Ms. Forbes writes with a sparseness of prose to match the landscape. This book is one that opens a window onto a way of life few people experience."- Suzanne Lilly the TeacherWriter
"Unbroken was a very satisfying read for me.  I found myself putting off eating so I could read "just one more chapter" because I was so involved in the lives of the characters.  Ms. Forbes has a way of drawing you into the lives of the characters and making you feel like you are there living and working beside them, being friends with them.  It's wonderful and when the book is over you feel sad, because you want more of the story even though the story has come to its conclusion.  But you want more because you don't want to leave the characters. 
To me that is the mark of a good book, when the characters and the storyline stay with me after finishing.  When I'm still thinking about something they said or did or wondering about a point the author was making or even applying something to my life.  Unbroken has something for everyone.  Descriptions of ranching life, romance, friendship, parenting, tough decisions and so much more.  There is never a lull in the plot and I found it to be an amazing read."- Crystal Fulcher, My Reading Room

About Jamie Lisa Forbes:
Jamie Lisa Forbes was raised on a family ranch in southeastern Wyoming.  She graduated from the University of Colorado with honors in 1977 and then lived in Israel until 1979, when she returned to her family’s ranch and raised her own family over the next fifteen years.  Today, she writes and practices law in Greensboro, North Carolina.  She enjoys spending time with her grandsons and playing old time Appalachian fiddle.  With her Arabian horse, Cody, and her cattle dog, Reb, she still devotes part of her life to the outdoors.

Buy Widow Smalls:

Barnes and Noble
Book Depository



Snowflakes swirled around the barnyard, like one of those bubble toys, Roy mused, that you shake to watch the flakes spin round.  He stood transfixed in the sifting white, forgetting himself, forgetting his cattle. The drone of the truck engine bored into his skull at last—oh, his father would curse at the waste of gas—and he reached for the door handle, ready to climb in.
He felt a hand grasp his shoulder and he turned to see Norm, his hired hand. With Norm’s snow goggles on, all Roy could make out was his jowls. 
“Roy. I’m quitting.”
The truck rumbled. Snow rode the updrafts, fell again. Norm shuffled from foot to foot.
“I feel bad for ya. It’s your dad. It’s not you. I mean…He can call me a stupid sonofabitch if he likes, but to cuss out my wife…Roy, it ain’t worth it.”
This storm had drug Norm down—that was all. “He doesn’t mean half the crap he says. And he’s only out here on weekends. We got the rest of the week to ourselves.”
“We’re leaving now.”
“Now? We’re weaning calves today. We’re shipping ’em out next week!”
Norm sighed, as if he meant to feel guilty, but couldn’t quite squeeze himself into it. “Yeah, I know.”
“We just ate breakfast!” Roy blasted, “Why didn’t you tell me then?”
“I couldn’t do it then but when I came out here…” Norm looked up and snowflakes snagged in the ruff around his hood, “seems like I just don’t want to do this anymore.” 
He stuck out his hand. Roy hesitated, then shook it and although he meant to offer some words of thanks, his annoyance tongue-tied him and Norm disappeared around the corner of the barn without another word.
It was always something. Roy had been on the place for three years now, since 1955, and the one thing he’d learned was that ranching was no smooth business. If you squeezed enough water out of the snow-melt for hay, the hay machinery broke down. If you only lost one or two calves in the spring, the market dropped. If you had hay and a good calf crop and the market was strong and you were getting ready to wean and ship, the help quit.
He trudged towards his house. Well, the help always quit. Six months to a year was the best they’d kept ‘em. Sometimes just two weeks. Sometimes just two days.  Some of them, like Norman and Jeannie, were people his own age, people he liked. Most of them were just lazy drunks, as much of a burden as the cattle themselves.
As he slipped off his coveralls in the mudroom, he opened the door a crack.  “Fran?” he called. He didn’t want to startle her.
No answer. Just Ernest Tubb, faintly, on the radio. He walked through to the kitchen in his socks. Fran sat at their shiny chrome table, a cigarette smoldering between her fingers.
“Fran.” He leaned against the door frame.
“What are you doing home?” She turned to him, her eyes dark pools in her sallow face. With all the snow, she hadn’t been outdoors in a month. 
“Can you believe it? Norman quit!”
“Hmmm.”  Her gaze drifted back out at the snow. “Roy, do you think we could go out tonight?”
“Tonight? It’s only Wednesday!”
“I haven’t been to town all week.”
“It’s snowing, honey.”
She drew the cigarette up and inhaled. “It’s always snowing.”
It was hard these days to shove aside the nagging doubt that his wife was unhappy. Things had been so easy at first that he thought it was meant to be that way. He was the son of the town banker. She was the daughter of the town banker’s lawyer.  Everyone had said how perfect it was. And of course, she’d follow him to the ranch. 
He’d never ask her to work with him. She was above that and besides, it was too hard for a woman. Every day, he ate breakfast and lunch at the bunkhouse with the hired help so Fran wouldn’t have to wake up early and cook. That left her alone, waiting for babies, among the plumped pieces of wedding furniture. But three years had gone by and no baby came.
He rang the bank and when the secretary picked up, he turned away from Fran.
“Tully Carlton, please…Dad?”
“Yes.” Tully’s irritation at the interruption buzzed through the line.
“Norman quit.”
“He’ll stay for weaning today, won’t he?”
Roy heard a click. They were on a party line with three other families. Since the listener wasn’t hanging up, it had to be Lillie Strader. He always struggled:  what should he do, ignore her, or say “Ms. Lillie, if you don’t mind, I’m using the phone.” If he said anything, he’d break the flow of his own conversation and risk insulting her, which would be unwise the next time he needed her husband, Ollie, to come help brand.
He ignored her. “No. Norman says he’s leaving now. I can’t do it myself.”
“We’re shipping them out next week. Can’t you get Ollie Strader to come help for today?”
Roy bit his thumbnail. “I don’t know Dad. I haven’t talked to him.”
“See if you can talk to him, or someone. I’ll get some new help out as soon as I can.”
Roy hung up the phone. Fran hadn’t stirred. Cigarette smoke spiraled up from the ashtray. Lillie Strader was more interested in his weaning problem than Fran.

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