About robpeecher

Novelist. Journalist. Story-teller. Jean's husband. Father. Loves tacos.

Typical Jackson Speed readers are Flashman fans

Jackson Speed

The Jackson Speed novels often get compared to George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series.

I am a fan of the Flashman novels, and I readily admit that Speed was significantly influenced by Flashman. Many of the emails I receive from readers of the Speed novels or the reviews that readers leave on Amazon refer back to Flashman.

It was never really my intention to court fans of the Flashman novels, but I think it’s accurate to say that the typical reader of the Jackson Speed Memoirs is a fan of Fraser’s Flashman novels. Probably he has read all the Flashman novels twice, and he’s looking for books similar to the Flashman novels – books that are historically accurate and feature a comical anti-hero rather than the archetypal hero who is bold and daring.

My goal, when I started writing the series, was to write novels set in 19th Century America that I expected would appeal to an American audience. I wanted to write accurate portrayals of historical events and include in them a scoundrel, a cowardly womanizer whose motives are never glory or honor but purely selfish. I wanted to create a character in the Flashman mold but put him in the period and place of history I am most familiar with.

In my research, I look hard to find the obscure stories from American history where I can insert my roving rascal, and my expectation is that even a lot of well-versed armchair historians will learn something.

Whether you’re a fan of the Flashman novels and you’re looking for a character similar to Fraser’s cad Flashman, or you just enjoy humorous historical fiction, I’m just thrilled that every month it seems new readers are discovering and enjoying the Jackson Speed novels! I don’t get a lot of reviews on the books, and I only occasionally hear from readers with an email, but the fact that all four of the books continue to sell consistently suggests to me that people are enjoying the books, and I’m grateful that are!

Help a brother out, leave a Jackson Speed review

Help a brother out ... please leave a review if you've enjoyed a book.

Help a brother out … please leave a review if you’ve enjoyed a book.

If you have read and enjoyed any of my books, I would really appreciate a short review on Amazon. Reviews help sell books. Even if I handed you a copy and you didn’t buy it from Amazon, you can still go to Amazon and leave a review.

It doesn’t have to be long or thought out or grammatically correct. A word or two: “Fun read!” or “Enjoyed it!” would be very helpful to me. One of the best reviews I’ve received was from someone who said the book was so funny “I cried and almost pee my underwear.” Do I care that her pee is present-tense and her tears are past-tense? Not at all. I’m just glad she’s soaking wet from top to bottom.

Or, if you’re a bit more verbose, a longer review is always very helpful, too. If you can describe the book or what you enjoyed about it – even what could have been improved – all of these things are worthwhile and helpful to other readers who are considering reading the book.

Obviously, if you were ambivalent about the book (3 stars) then that’s not going to help me, and if you absolutely hated it (1 star or 2 stars) then I’d prefer you keep your opinion to yourself. But if you hated the book so much that you feel compelled to leave a one star review, I do hope you’ll be specific about why you hated it and give other potential readers an honest accounting of your opinion.

But I think I’d rather have an honest 1 star review than a fake 5 star review.

I know people are enjoying the Jackson Speed books because sales of all four of the Jackson Speed novels are consistent. Clearly folks are reading a book and coming back for the next book in the series.

I was recently lamenting the lack of reviews to a friend of mine. I told him that I’ve had more people email me through my blog to tell me they enjoyed the books than have posted a review on Amazon – and that’s something I don’t understand. Especially when Kindle readers get a prompt to post a review when they finish the book. For someone to email me through the blog requires at least another step or two.

It might be that people get to the end of a Jackson Speed book but never get the prompt because they don’t reach the last page after the endnotes. It may be that the endnotes are dooming me from getting reviews.

Based on my sales reports from 2015, it looks like I picked up somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 new readers in the United Kingdom and another 30 new readers in the United States who read all four of the Jackson Speed novels just in 2015. There were others, too, who read some but not all of the books. That doesn’t include the folks who bought books in 2014 (and we won’t talk about 2012 and 2013 when my sales were so poor I thought about never writing another novel again).

If half of those people who bought all four books in 2015 (and presumably did so because they enjoyed them) would leave a review, it would help me out so much. Instead, I only received one review on a Jackson Speed book in all of 2015.

All the conventional wisdom on novel writing tells me that reviews will improve my sales. Someone recently told me that Amazon has an algorithm that kicks in when a book reaches 50 reviews, and writers find it difficult to get traction before they have those 50 reviews. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be dead and gone before my books start getting traction.

I am deeply grateful to everyone who has read a Jackson Speed book and come back for a second one. Those people who have read all four of the books are the people who keep me writing. I love you folks more than I love my dogs (and you come in very close behind my children, and on some days you’ve got them beat, too). You can’t understand the feeling I get when I see a copy of El Teneria sell and a few days later I see a Blood Tubs sell and then an Orange Turnpike and then a High Tide. It’s like I can watch someone enjoying the Speed books (and yes, I realize, it may not necessarily be the same person, but I like to imagine it is).

So please don’t misunderstand me begging for reviews to think I’m not grateful. Every time I look at a sales report and see that people are reading my books, I am humbled and so very thankful.

But I really need some reviews, too.

Seriously, me begging for reviews is so much better than me begging for spare change on the side of the road. Help a brother out.

Exciting stuff in the Jackson Speed universe

The cover for Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves.

The cover for Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves.

I’ve got some exciting stuff going on in the Jackson Speed universe.

Speed fans will be glad to know their favorite 19th Century rascal will soon be making a new appearance. Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves, a novella, will be released April 22, and it will be followed closely by a second novella in which Speed meets for the first time famed detective Allan Pinkerton. Speed fans will know that Pinkerton is a recurrent (and favorite) character in the Speed universe, but I’ve not yet explored how the two came to be friends.

More noticeably, to followers on Facebook and readers of my blog, I’m also re-branding the books. As part of the re-brand, I’ve designed new covers for most of the books (I’m keeping the Alex McArdell cover of High Tide, but changing the rest of them). I wanted a more consistent look to the book covers and something that would allow me to more quickly publish Jackson Speed stories.

In the past, I’ve been frustrated by the rate at which I released novels. I’m getting about one novel written each year, and I’d like to publish Speed stories faster than that.

To improve my novel publishing rate, I’ve decided to release shorter novellas – stories that hit somewhere around the 30,000 word mark that I can write and publish every four to six months. My plan is to release two or three or four novellas a year. I will release the novellas only as Kindle e-books, and when I have three or four I will combine them together for a full novel to be released as both e-books and paperbacks.

I may not have a thousands of fans out there, but I know what it’s like to be engaged in a series of books and eager for the next one to be published and waiting on an author who is too, too slow. All the evidence is that I’m picking up more readers every month, and I’d like to be more accommodating to the folks who enjoy these stories.

So in between the full-length novels, I’ll publish novellas, and that should mean three to five new Speed stories will be out every year so long as I can keep coming up with historical events from the 19th Century that deserve to have a scoundrel inserted among them.

Hopefully, too, the novellas can serve as an entry-point for new readers who don’t necessarily want to invest in a novel-length book but want to see if Speed is the sort of character they’ll love to hate.

As readers know, I jump from point to point in Speed’s life, so the books and stories do not have to be read in chronological order or even in the order I released them. About the only ones that should be read back-to-back are Orange Turnpike followed by High Tide because one leads directly into the other.

If you’re among those people who enjoy a Jackson Speed novel, thank you so much! I’m grateful to everyone who buys a book or reads a book through Kindle Unlimited. If you enjoy the books, please give a thought to leaving a review at amazon.com. Reviews are especially helpful to readers who are trying to decide whether or not to give a new indie-author a try.

And let me know what you think of the new covers! Leave a comment or shoot me a message through the blog.

Who likes pretty stuff?

 

Stained glass "wine bar"

Typically I use my blog for the sole purpose of promoting my books, but I’m going to do a little bragging on my wife today.

When we both found ourselves unemployed a year ago, I asked Jean what she would do if she could do anything. She said, “I want to be the female Indiana Jones.”

We shortly ruled that out, and as a second option she said she wanted to start doing stained glass art again.

When we were still newlyweds and living in Carrollton, Georgia, Jean learned from her father how to make stained glass art. For about a year she had a studio and she created pieces that she sold on consignment and at craft fairs, and she did a few commissioned pieces.

Then we left Carrollton and she lost her studio space and life started getting in the way. She had a job, she was pregnant again and suddenly we went from having one son to two and then three, and little shards of glass and lead don’t mix real well with little kids, and 18 years later, Jean hadn’t done stained glass in 18 years.

So we started from scratch a year ago. The boys and I cleaned out a workshop at our house that we were just using for storage. We bought the equipment she needed. My dad built her some tables to work on. And within a week or so, Jean was making stained glass again.

Almost a year later, and she’s built a pretty good business that is continuing to get bigger all the time. She’s doing a lot of commissioned pieces and she’s working right now on her first window for a home builder.

She has an etsy store that she can’t keep stocked and a list of orders from customers as long as your arm.

And the work she does is GORGEOUS!

Most of it gets posted to her Facebook page, so I’d encourage you to go check that out if you like pretty stuff.

Jackson Speed & the Green Eggs and Ham

green-eggs-and-ham-1

Periodically I’ll drop a line or a scene into one of my novels just because it makes me laugh.

Obviously, when I’m writing the Jackson Speed novels I’m trying to develop scenes that will amuse my readers, but sometimes the jokes are just for me. If any reader catches onto the joke, that’s even better.

In writing Jackson Speed and the Blood Tubs, I dropped a line into Chapter 11 that was a great example of this. Speed is staying at Barnum’s hotel in Baltimore and he’s gone down for a breakfast of “ham and eggs and cabbage.”

It’s a throw-away line, right? He might have had a breakfast of eggs and bacon or bacon and grits or sausage and biscuits with apple butter. I suppose I could have had him eating an Egg McMuffin, though it might not have been appropriate for the time period.

In fact, it wasn’t a throw-away line. Somewhere in my research for the novel, I stumbled across the recipe for “green eggs and ham.”

Red cabbage, when cooked with eggs, will turn the eggs green.

So I tossed in an homage to the greatest poet of my childhood, Dr. Seuss, as a fun little joke to myself.

That’s right, Jackson Speed eats green eggs and ham.

At least one reader caught the joke. I got a message not long after Blood Tubs was released from someone who thought “ham and eggs and cabbage” was an odd combination of foods, so he searched the breakfast to see if there was some special 19th Century reference, and his search produced links to green egg and ham recipes.

Of course, Blood Tubs is full of references to poets.

I still am tickled by the scene where Speedy reads Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” to woo Southern belles in Baltimore. Whitman, of course, was a rabid abolitionist, and the attendees at the ball where Speedy read Whitman to the women were all secessionists, of course.

When I write these scenes that amuse me so much, I always call my wife in and make her read them. Her reaction is generally how I know if I’ve written a scene that will amuse a wider audience or if I’ve written a scene that is all for me.

I’m not suggesting that readers should Google every meal Jackson Speed has. Sometimes he eats oysters simply because oyster bars were like the Subway sandwich shop of the 1860s.

No NANWRIMO for me this year

I'm not doing NANWRIMO this year, but I won it last year and finished out Jackson Speed at the High Tide.

I’m not doing NANWRIMO this year, but I won it last year and finished out Jackson Speed at the High Tide.

A couple of people have asked me if I was going to do NANOWRIMO this year. For those unfamiliar with it, NANOWRIMO stands for National Novel Writing Month and the idea is that you write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. NANOWRIMO is an online (and in person) community of writers who encourage writers.

It’s a cool deal, and I did it last year (writing the last 50,000 words of Jackson Speed at the High Tide last November). I really enjoyed NANOWRIMO, and it probably forced me to finish the fourth Jackson Speed novel about two months earlier than I would have.

NANOWRIMO works really well for me for a couple of reasons. First, I’m accustomed to working on deadlines having spent 20 years or so in the newspaper business. Second, Jackson Speed’s life has already played itself out pretty thoroughly in my head. There may be details yet to be written, but I have a fairly thorough understanding of where he’s going and what he’s going to do. So the only thing that stands between me and the conclusion of the next novel is research and time. I don’t have to dream up a lot of ideas. I just have to do the research and make the time to write.

But when it comes to NANOWRIMO this just isn’t the year for me.

In May I closed the newspaper I owned. In August I sold that newspaper to the Athens Banner-Herald and they hired me on a part-time, freelance basis to do some work for the paper. Also in August, I started a new business with one of my former college roommates, Ken Sawyer. The work to start a new business is significant, and right now it means that I’m spending a lot more time writing for work than I was a year ago when my duties ran more along the lines of editing and managing the newspaper. For MoonCalf Press – the business Ken and I started – I’m also doing a fair amount of writing.

None of that is to say that I’m not also writing Jackson Speed. A few weeks ago I started the fifth book and I’m a significant way into it. It’s possible (though not likely) that I will this month write 50,000 words of the next Jackson Speed book anyway, but I don’t want to commit to NANOWRIMO if I’m already thinking that it’s unlikely that I’m going to be able to finish it out.

For whatever reason, I tend to publish most of my books in the spring, and I suspect the next Jackson Speed book will again publish in the spring, maybe mid-May.

So, for those writers who are participating in NANOWRIMO, I wish you luck! You have all my sympathy as I reflect back on last November when I stayed up until the wee morning hours trying to knock out another 5,000 or 10,000 words. It really is an experience, and if you win NANOWRIMO (or even if you just give it a good try), I think you’ll be glad for the effort you put into it. I know in my case it will last with me for years as one of my favorite writing events, and I hope next November I’ll be better positioned to give it another go.

Speed’s English ancestry

Allan Pinkerton, America's first detective, was born in Scotland. The Pinkerton in the Speed novels is a Partick Thistle fan.

Allan Pinkerton, America’s first detective, was born in Scotland. The Pinkerton in the Speed novels is a Partick Thistle fan.

I’ve written before that the Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser provided much of the inspiration for Jackson Speed, and there is no question that the Jackson Speed books are similar to the Harry Flashman novels.

The character type – the roving rascal, the womanizing coward, the historical bully – is inspired by Fraser’s Flashman. I also employed the same tool of holding out the novels as “found” memoirs. It is a fact, too, that Jackson Speed was dreamt up while I was re-reading Flashman (for the third time) and reading Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative.

But the deeper I get into writing the Speed novels, the less I think I rely on Flashman and the more Speed has become his own person. I’ll admit, when I wrote the first Speed novel, “El Teneria,” the voice speaking to me in my head was more Flashman than Speed.

But I’ve found, particularly with “Orange Turnpike” and “High Tide” and now as I write the fifth Speed novel, that the voice I hear in my head is Speed’s voice.

It helps, too, that having written him through Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, I think Speed is more American now than he was in “El Teneria.”

Let me explain: Even though I live in rural Georgia, a British accent is a commonplace thing for me. I know several guys who are English and living here. I play soccer with them all the time. I watch English Premier League soccer and Scottish Premiership soccer, so the announcers all have English or Scottish accents. I follow on Twitter and Facebook many fans of the Scottish soccer team Partick Thistle, and I read their tweets and posts every Saturday morning. And because we’re all Partick Thistle fans, I get to read a lot of cussing, so much so, that I even gripe and moan and complain with a Scottish accent these days (liberally laced with “fook” and “pish” and “shite”).

I watch Top Gear and, at least when I wrote “El Teneria,” I watched a lot of Doctor Who and even Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

So, I may speak with a Southern drawl and I may be surrounded by Southern accents here in rural Georgia, but I am still constantly exposed to various British accents.

And because Jackson Speed was so heavily influenced by Harry Flashman, I think Speed started life with more of an English influence than I ever intended.

But the more I write (and gain confidence in my own character and my own writing), the less Flashman influences Speed. My character has grown into his own. And he’s developed his own voice, with a properly Southern accent. It helps, too, that he’s been through some very American experiences and been hanging out with very American people. I mean, how can you keep your English influences when you count among your friends people like Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee?

Without question, Jackson Speed traces his lineage back to England, and his ancestors are Harry Flashman and the guys from Top Gear and Premier League announcers, but I think he is now fully and completely American and, more importantly, Southern.

Nevertheless, I continue to owe a debt of gratitude to my fellow Partick Thistle fans on Twitter and Facebook (and the Scottish sitcom “Still Game”), and they will continue to find their way into the Jackson Speed books. I get my Allan Pinkerton dialect from Partick Thistle fans. Pinkerton, of course, pre-dates Partick Thistle’s founding, but I am confident America’s first detective would have been a Thistle supporter.

The fifth book is coming along very well now. Speed is currently hanging out in Indian Territory with Stand Watie, but he will soon be making his way west to encounter Joaquin Murieta.

Jackson Speed in the Rush, first 835 words

JoaquinTheMountainRobber

I’ve been working on the next Jackson Speed book, in which our cowardly hero flees the war in Mexico and travels into Indian Territory before catching a case of gold fever and heading to California in the Gold Rush.

If you’ve followed the novels, you’ll know that this goes backwards in the chronology of his life (the most recent book saw him in Gettysburg, some 14 years after the Gold Rush) and picks up where the first Jackson Speed book left off.

I’m extraordinarily pleased with the way this book starts out. The opening chapter was a lot of fun for me to write. The first chapter came in around 5,000 words, but I thought it might be fun to post the first few paragraphs (835 words) from the novel. Really, I’m at rough-draft stage in the writing, so these 835 words are still subject to change.

If you’re a fan of Ol’ Speedy (or even if you’re not), I’d welcome any praise these 835 words might elicit. If you think it’s complete trash, you can feel free to keep your damn fool opinions to yourself.

So here they are, the opening paragraphs to Jackson Speed in the Rush:

Back in the ’70s and ’80s – even into the ’90s – whenever I visited my California mines to see how much my foremen were stealing from me, the old miners still talked about Joaquin Murieta. They employed his legend to scare small children and coerce pretty girls to sit up close to them in the wagons. I’ve even heard that there are writers penning poetry about him, and that Joaquin Murieta has become a folk hero for some Californians.

Well, Yellowbird’s mythology not withstanding, I can tell ye Joaquin Murieta was full to the brim with evil, and I don’t know what poor bastard donated his head to Harry Love’s jar of alcohol, but it weren’t the real Murieta. Yellowbird, who was my cousin by marriage, never even met the real Joaquin Murieta.

I’ve no doubt that a dozen or more banditos invoked the name of the hated Joaquin in the early days of the Gold Rush. Back in ’48 and ’49, miners all up and down the North Fork feared that name more than they feared any other thing, for Joaquin had made a general nuisance of hisself, causing all sorts of trouble and murder.

For a time, miners and shop keepers and virgin maidens – what few there were – were safe in their camps, shops and beds, for Joaquin Murieta no longer marauded.

But in the early ’50s he showed back up, holding up stores, killing miners, robbing Forty-Niners of the measly quantities of dust and the tiny nuggets they worked months to accumulate, and forcing himself upon helpless womenfolk. But that Joaquin – or, perhaps more appropriately, those Joaquins, were never the real one. Why, if the tales could be believed, Joaquin Murieta was holding up a store in San Francisco in the morning and by midday he was up in the Sierra Nevada raiding mining camps, and by dark he was below Los Angeles raping farmers’ daughters. Not even Joaquin Murieta was capable of such daily journeys, but a dozen or so banditos looking to hide their own identity and at the same time paralyze their victims with fear, well, they might be expected to borrow the man’s legend.

But having known a fair few number of California banditos, maybe even some of whom took on the name Joaquin Murieta, I can say with absolute certainty, when it came to pure cold-blooded evil, not a man among ’em could stand in the same company as the real Joaquin Murieta. It’s a fact that I’ve known murderers who would cut your throat for no reason other than they had not yet killed a man all week and it was already Tuesday. I rode for a bit with Billy the Kid. I’ve been hunted by the entirety of the Third Corps of the Army of the Potomac, sent to do me in by none less than Devil Dan Sickles, but I’ve never known a man so filled with joy by doing evil as Joaquin Murieta. If he knew that they’d made him a romantic robber, he’d cut off the fingers of the poor fools who penned such nonsense and laugh with glee as he force-fed those fingers to the authors. There can be no truth in these fables that Joaquin’s bloodlust was the result of cruel treatment to him and the murder of the girl he loved, for that man was evil from the word go, and he never had it in him to love another thing. It weren’t revenge the man sought, but only vicious murder.

No, by 1850, the real Joaquin Murieta was at the bottom of a cliff where I’d left him with two of the fingers of one of his henchmen, and good riddance to him and them.

Perhaps it was the only time in my entire life where danger bared its vicious fangs and rather than flee or hide, I stood like a man and faced it. And I’ll say this, too: – Of all the things I’ve done in my life, fair and foul, there’s not much I’m more proud about in my old age than putting two balls of lead in that bastard’s gut and one in his eye.

It’s a good story, but to explain it fully, I have to start on a lonely river in what is now Oklahoma but was then Indian Territory. I came to the Indian Territory in the early fall of 1847, having fled the war in Mexico. I was out of my way, for a strange wanderlust had erupted in me. But if I’d returned home as I’d initially planned, the course of my life would have been forever altered. And while I’ve had many an opportunity to regret my decisions, as I look back now on the totality of the thing, I can’t say that I’m too sorry for the way it all went. The truth is, the wanderlust that set me north rather than east is what made me a rich man, so I’ll be damned if it was all bad.

Jackson Speed proves too risque for teenagers

whitman leaves of grass

Last night my oldest son and I were shooting some video for another project, and he had the idea of shooting video of me reading from one of my novels.

I thought immediately of one of my favorite scenes from a Jackson Speed book – the Baltimore ball in “Jackson Speed and the Blood Tubs” where Speedy is attempting seduce a Baltimore Belle by reading poetry to her. The book at hand is Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. So Speed picks it up and begins to read aloud to a gathering of ladies.

It is outrageously funny to me that Speed, a Pinkerton agent attempting to save president-elect Abraham Lincoln from the vicious gang of assassins, the secessionist Blood Tubs, is using the poetry of abolitionist Walt Whitman to woo these Baltimore belles.

The scene makes me laugh every time I think about it.

But not everyone thinks it’s funny.

When I first started writing the Jackson Speed novels, my sons were young enough that my wife would not let them read my books because of the sexual content. I’ve never thought the books were particularly graphic, but I admit my sensibilities are a little more jaded than some.

The boys, now older, will agree that the content of my novels is no more graphic than the latest Eric Church song, but because the books were written by their father, they are completely freaked out by even the hint of sexual innuendo that came from their dad’s imagination.

So my sons have never read any of my novels.

And when Harrison looked over my shoulder at what I was going to read for the video last night, he completely freaked out. He caught a line that made him more than a little uneasy. He’s 19-years-old, but he went running from the house and dragged his 14-year-old brother with him.

What Harrison doesn’t know is that the offending line was not from his father but instead came from Walt Whitman.

If you are familiar with Leaves of Grass, you’ll know that the thing would make Hugh Hefner blush. When it was first published in 1855, Whitman was working for the Department of the Interior. Interior Secretary James Harlan fired Whitman after reading it. In 1882, Boston’s District Attorney threatened Whitman with local statutes against obscenity. Whitman’s publisher even dropped the book at one point.

I probably will not produce or upload the video. Something about teenagers running from the house shakes my confidence. But if you think you can handle erotic poetry from the 1850s and you see the humor in a Southern Pinkerton agent wooing secessionist women with abolitionist poetry, maybe you should give Jackson Speed a read.

Maybe I’ll try to find a tamer scene from one of the books to read for a video, one that won’t assault my sons’ fragile sensibilities. Maybe the scene where the Blood Tubs torture the army spy.

Great launch for Jackson Speed at the High Tide

Jackson Speed at the High Tide: Volume IV of the Jackson Speed Memoirs

Jackson Speed at the High Tide: Volume IV of the Jackson Speed Memoirs

In the past three years I’ve launched eight books or short stories – four Jackson Speed novels, a couple of Moses Calhoun short stories, Iron Curling Ale and Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings.

The launch of Jackson Speed at the High Tide has been the best so far.

The book went live on Amazon as a Kindle ebook last week and I made no announcement at the time. I was waiting for the paperback to be live before I started any promotions. Nevertheless, within a couple of hours of the book going live, someone in the United Kingdom bought one of the books!

If you think that doesn’t make me feel like the John Grisham of the War Between the States, then you are dramatically underestimating the value of the sale of one $3 ebook.

I’m still not sure exactly how so many people in the United Kingdom found the Jackson Speed books, but every time I get a royalty check in British pounds I am so grateful to my English speaking cousins.

Sales for High Tide have been surprisingly good these first few days, and I’m trying very hard to improve my marketing efforts. My hope is there may be some folks coming to see Jackson Speed for the first time.

If that’s you, I’ll offer a little background: Jackson Speed was born in the spring of 2013 while I reading Shelby Foote’s “The Civil War: A Narrative.” By a happy coincidence, I was splitting time between two books that May, Foote’s Civil War book and George MacDonald Fraser’s first Flashman novel. This was my third or fourth time reading Flashman.

I came across a passage – not more than a paragraph or two – where Foote described the efforts of the famous private detective Allen Pinkerton and “a female spy” who saved Abraham Lincoln’s life from an assassination plot prior to Lincoln taking office. Foote named the group planning the assassination as the “Blood Tubs.”

My imagination exploded. It was Fraser’s influence on me that did it. In an instant, I saw the entirety of Jackson Speed’s life form in my mind, and that morning I started writing the first Jackson Speed novel. That one was Jackson Speed: The Hero of El Teneria, and I introduced the lecherous young coward from the Mexican-American War in that book. It was followed up by the book that inspired the series – Jackson Speed and the Blood Tubs.

Volume III of the Jackson Speed Memoirs (Jackson Speed on the Orange Turnpike) leads directly into Volume IV – the latest in the series.

If you’re new to Jackson Speed, my intention was to write a series where you could pick up any book and start from there, and you certainly do not have to read them in the order they were written.

I suppose the books are popular in the United Kingdom because of the Flashman influence. It must be that the Brits just love a cowardly, lecherous scoundrel. No shame in that. I love them, too.

I’m pleased to say, though, that my domestic sales have picked up quite a bit over the past few months, and now that Jackson Speed at the High Tide is done and dusted, I’m working on Volume V – Jackson Speed in the Rush! This one will go back in time in Speed’s life, and readers will discover how he made his fortune in the California Gold Rush of ’49.

Texas Ranger, Forty-Niner, Pinkerton Detective, Yankee spy, Confederate officer, Wild West Gunslinger … Jackson Speed may be all these things, but if you read his memoirs you discover that he’s also a cowardly adventurer, a rascal, and a womanizer.

As one reader stated in a review, “The history is true and the fiction is fun!”

So check out the Jackson Speed novels if you like your heroes to be cowardly, and if you enjoy what you read, I’d love to hear from you!