God's Thunderbolt (2008)
Winner of the 2009 Spur Award for Best First Novel from the Western Writers of America, this is the first of the Vigilante series (pictured at left).
December 1863. Daniel Stark, New York lawyer, has come to Alder Gulch to get enough gold to redeem his family from debt and disgrace. But as travelers who try to go home with their gold disappear, Dan realizes that in Alder Gulch, ruffians rule and murder is tolerated. Then a friend is murdered, and Dan prosecutes the suspected murderer in miners court amid continual threats to kill him. After testimony during the trial reveals a criminal conspiracy operating in the area, Dan joins a Vigilante group that unites Union and Confederate sympathizers in establishing law and order. But as the Vigilantes close in on the conspirators, Dan, now the Vigilante prosecutor, faces the horrible prospect of hanging both a friend and the husband of the woman he has come to love.
God's Thunderbolt is available as a paperback at your local indie bookstore, on Amazon or as an ebook on Kindle. You can also order it as an audio book from Audible.com or Books in Motion.com (at right).
The Spur Award for Best First Novel
"Since 1953, the nonprofit Western Writers of America (www.westernwriters.org) has promoted and honored the best in Western literature with the annual Spur Awards, selected by panels of judges. Awards, for material published last year, are given for works whose inspirations, image and literary excellence best represent the reality and spirit of the American West."
It's a great honor for a first-time novelist. That early encouragement proved that I should continue. Thank you to a wonderful organization of writers.
The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award
In January 2010 I entered God's Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA). That year the ABNA was opened for the first time to self-published novels, as well as to those previously unpublished, so I thought, Why not?
God's Thunderbolt started the contest with another 4,999 entries, and ended in the top 50. That's 1%. It did not win, but I'm happy with its placing. The contest was not about the best book. It was about finding a book that Penguin editors felt they could make into a work of significant fiction. They eventually found that book, and I'm delighted and pleased for the winner. I hope her career takes off and that she will write more good books for Penguin.
I got a lot out of the contest. I had a shot at a contract with Penguin, one of the major publishers in the world, without the intervening step of finding an agent. That in itself can take years. Believe me. I've been there.