I have published a lot of books this year.
By the end of June I will have published nine novels in six months.
I am extremely fortunate that a lot of folks have found these new books, and even more fortunate that many of you are becoming fans of my novels. I’ve always said that my readers are the smartest, best looking people in the world, and I believe this continues to be true. As long as you’re reading, I’ll keep writing.
You just don’t know how much it means to me when you leave a review and say “this is the first book I’ve read by this author but it won’t be the last.”
I am humbled by some of the things readers have said, either in reviews on Amazon or messages they’ve sent via email or on social media. I’m really grateful.
After a 20-year career in newspapers, I’m pretty accustomed to harsh critiques of my writing.
I once spent 45 minutes on the phone with a very angry woman who did not understand why I wrote a news article about her son who was arrested in possession of large quantities of drugs. She conceded that he had the drugs, she just didn’t like that I wrote about it. My newspaper writing even got me some death threats along the way, and I was sued twice (both times the judge dismissed the case at the first hearing), so a 1- or 2-star review just doesn’t sting very much.
So the last few months have been a really fun change of pace for me when it comes to reviews and comments about my writing. No one has yet threatened to kill me over one of my novels.
I threw a lot of books at you this year. Those books are not all in a single series, and I know some readers are having a tough time figuring out what to read next.
Some authors publish a “series companion” that helps readers figure out the right order to read books, and I’ve wondered if something like that would be useful for folks who are just discovering my novels and want to read more.
So here is my own version of a series companion along with a preview of what I have coming soon. I hope to add to it significantly in the next few years.
Set in the 1870s in Colorado Territory, Too Long the Winter tells the story of a mountain man who kidnaps a young girl. The girl’s father, a U.S. Marshal, and a trapper form a 3-man posse to trail the mountain man in an effort to rescue the girl.
This is a dark and cold novel. A reviewer described the ending as “bittersweet,” and I think that’s as accurate a thing as can be said about it. You won’t leave this with a happy, glowing feeling, but I think you’ll be glad you read it.
Too Long the Winter is sort of a universal book. Even if you don’t like Westerns, there’s a strong chance this book will push some buttons for you.
Set in the early 1880s, when the town marshal is gunned down by the Garver gang, Deputy Jase Trulock forms a posse of townspeople to chase after the Garvers. The Garvers are making a run for Profanity, an outlaw town on the border of New Mexico and Arizona.
While technically a standalone novel, one of the characters in Trulock’s Posse appears in two more (as yet) unpublished books, so in that sense Trulock’s Posse is part of a series.
Personally, I think Trulock’s Posse is one of my best novels. I think the action moves quickly and the characters are interesting and well developed. But I think it’s also true that sometimes a writer can publish something that he thinks is one thing and readers will think it’s something else. I discuss it a little more below, but Trulock’s Posse has not done well. It has a poor rating on Amazon and has not been as well received among readers as my other novels. I am trying to learn from my mistakes and have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I did wrong with Trulock’s Posse so that I don’t repeat those mistakes.
I doubt you’ll regret reading the book. I don’t think it’s that bad. But a lot of people who have read my other novels are choosing to skip this one, and I don’t hold that against anyone.
Jack Bell, Zeke, Minko, Honor, Jason … This is a traditional Western about U.S. Marshals living in north Texas in the years after the Civil War when Texas was under control of the federal government and not yet admitted back into the United States as a self-governing state.
Jack, Minko, and Zeke are tasked with chasing fugitives, solving murders, catching stagecoach robbers, and enforcing the nation’s new Civil Rights laws.
For Jack Bell, some of the conflict in the stories comes from the fact that he was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War, yet he now wears a badge making him a federal government lawman (the Yankee Star).
His childhood friend, Zeke Thornton, was a Unionist in north Texas during the war near a place where (historically) one of the largest mass hangings took place when Unionists were rounded up and lynched during the war.
I love this dichotomy among my characters and will continue to unravel it in future novels.
In my mind, at least, the Two Rivers Station books are my “Gunsmoke” series. I’m a fan of the old Western starring James Arness, and I think of Jack and Zeke in similar terms to Marshal Matt Dillon.
While there are currently three books in the series (Redemption, Deception, and The Yankee Star), this is a continuing series and there will be more Two Rivers Station Westerns coming soon.
It’s probably better for the reader experience to read these books in order, I think a reader could pick the books up in any order and still be satisfied. Redemption (Book 1) certainly has more character development and world building than Books 2 and 3, which are shorter, faster reads.
A 4-book series that I like to think of as an “epic Western.” Lodero makes a graveside promise to his mother to discover what happened to his father who never came home from the gold fields.
Over the course of four books (The Noble Widow, The Six-Shooter Capital, The Name of the Horse, and Return of the Gunfighter), we travel with Lodero as he unravels the past and follows clues that lead him to retrace his father’s final years.
These books should be read in order because the unfolding of one part of the mystery leads to the unfolding of another, and there are spoilers in each successive book.
I don’t mind saying that the Lodero series is a personal favorite. I love all my books, but there is something unique and special to me about this series, and I think it is a really fun read.
The Jackson Speed books are my original series. Not strictly part of the Western genre, the Jackson Speed novels are, for me, a passion project. I love writing these books. Heavily researched, Jackson Speed is a historical interloper. He appears at many of the most important moments of 19th Century American History, and he encounters many of the most important people of that time.
The Speed novels are part history lesson, part comedy, part adventure, and part drama.
Speed is an unsavory character. He is a coward and a womanizer, and the novels purport to be Speed’s memoirs and are told from the perspective of the old man remembering his youthful exploits.
Because these books are so heavily researched, it takes me longer to write one. And I realize they are not to everyone’s tastes. But I love these books and will continue to write in this series.
The novels jump around chronologically in Speed’s life, and so I hope they are written in such a way that a reader can pick up any book and jump right into the series.
I’ve said many times that the Speed books are not to everyone’s tastes. Jackson Speed is not a typical Western hero. He’s not a hero at all. Or maybe he is. One of the things that I wonder about as I write these novels is whether or not Speed (writing his memoirs) is an honest narrator. It’s possible that he’s more of a hero than he lets on. Or maybe not.
I don’t really recommend the Jackson Speed books to readers, which is a weird place for an author to be.
Some early readers focused heavily on the character’s personality flaws and were turned off. If you don’t get the joke, you won’t like these books. I am a big believer that people should read books they enjoy. The Speed books have plenty of redeeming qualities. They are funny. The history is thoroughly researched. I think they are well written. But these books are honestly not universal in the way that Too Long the Winer is. You have to be the “right” reader to enjoy Jackson Speed, and you have to be willing to come along for a ride and trust me a little that we’re going to get somewhere.
COMING SOON (or soon-ish)
I have several projects I am working on or have finished, and I honestly haven’t decided on a release schedule yet.
The only one I’m sure about is the new ANIMAS FORKS series.
I am so excited about this series, in part because I’m writing it with a wonderful author friend of mine. While I will end up doing the bulk of the series, she is going to write at least three or four books.
Initially we’re planning a 12-book series with a book being released each month from August 2018 to May 2019. Yes, that’s not 12. We’ll release three books in August to give the series a jump start.
Animas Forks is a real Colorado ghost town, though the Animas Forks in our series is a bit bigger and a bit rougher than the real Animas Forks was. Our Animas Forks is a combination of Leadville, Silver City, and Deadwood. We’ve got some wonderful characters we’re weaving into the series, and different characters will be the focus of different books.
I think this series is going to be a lot of fun for readers who like to follow a big story.
So look for the Animas Forks series coming in August.
Jackson Speed in the Lincoln County War … if you’re a fan of Jackson Speed and you’ve been wondering when he would show back up, I am about 60 percent of the way through the next Jackson Speed book, and it will see old Jackie Speed in Lincoln County, New Mexico, hanging out with William Bonney. That’s right, Billy the Kid and Jackie Speed.
Currently with my editor: The next book that will be ready for publication (probably in July) is a standalone novel that features a recurring character from Trulock’s Posse.
In all candor, Trulock’s Posse did not do well, as I mentioned above.
Of the books I’ve released, it has the lowest reviews and generally weak sales (although in the last couple of weeks, more readers seem to be picking it up). Because my writing is my primary source of income, I have to pay attention to how much money a book makes. That’s just the raw facts. So I am reluctant at this stage to plan a release of a book that features a recurring character from Trulock’s Posse.
I do not yet have a title for this book, but it is set in 1860 and follows a family traveling on the Santa Fe Trail. They are being guided by the recurring character from Trulock’s Posse (which is set in the 1880s, so this features that character 20 years younger). They are being stalked by a gang of outlaws, also going on the Santa Fe Trail to the gold fields of New Mexico Territory.
I’m honestly torn about releasing this book. It is slower paced than many of my other novels (one of the criticisms of Trulock’s Posse that resulted in a 2-star review). So this one may sit on a shelf for a while. It’s kind of a coin toss for me right now, and may hinge heavily on what my editor says about it.
This book and the character actually started before Trulock’s Posse. I’ve noted in the past that Trulock’s Posse was a “surprise” novel. It was not part of my original publishing plan for 2018. I wrote it after I wrote novels that still are not yet published. The idea to put the recurring character in Trulock’s Posse came after I had started writing the book. So the character existed before and outside of Trulock’s Posse.
All the same, I’m nervous about releasing this book and I just don’t know what I’ll do.
New Series: I’m working on a series of books featuring a Texas sheriff set in the early 1880s. These are more mystery and crime fiction than some of the others and are similar in tone and style to the Two Rivers Station books. My goal is to have three or four of these ready to go before I publish, and I don’t know exactly when that will be. Maybe later this year or maybe early in 2019.
Future Series: If you’ve already jumped into the Lodero Westerns, you’ve met Juan Carlos Baca. He quickly became a favorite character for me, and early feedback from readers suggests others liked him as well. The Lodero series was only ever intended to be a 4-book series, but as I was writing it, I realized I’d opened a door to a second, related 4-book series that would also feature Juan Carlos Baca. This has barely moved from the plotting stage, so unless it becomes a sudden priority to me, look for this sometime next year.
It’s always possible that I could revisit Lodero at some point in the future and the series could extend beyond the original four books, but as of right now, that’s not on the horizon. I like the characters, though, and I might not be done with them.
Two Rivers Station: I hope in September or October to start releasing the next books in the Two Rivers Station series. I know that series has developed a lot of fans, and I am grateful to those folks and want to reward them with more from their favorite characters. Initially I thought I would revisit Two Rivers Station early in 2019, but I know what it’s like to be a fan of a series and have to wait for a new release, and I’d rather not make you wait that long.
I am fortunate that I have a fairly thick notebook labeled “Story Ideas,” so I think it’s safe to say that I will publish a lot more books in the coming months and years. If you’ve read one of my Westerns and enjoyed it, I think you won’t be disappointed with the others. I have a fairly consistent style when I write.
My hope is that I’m always improving, both as a storyteller and as a writer. I am grateful for feedback, in whatever form it takes – whether it’s a review on Amazon or a message on social media. Reviews, especially good reviews, help me sell books, so I crave those. As much as writing is a passion for me, it is also a career, and anything that readers can do to help me gain new readers is greatly appreciated. If you know folks who enjoy Westerns and would share my books with them or post a link to my books on social media or leave a review on Amazon, all of these things would help me so much.
And one last thing … I love to connect with readers who enjoy my novels and other folks who are as passionate about the Western genre as I am. I’ve created a Facebook group for folks who love Westerns, and it would be awesome to build this into a huge group of fans. So if you’re on Facebook and love Westerns, feel free to click the join button and get into the Peecher’s Classic Westerns group.