Humor columns have a new home

If you enjoyed my humor columns that have appeared in newspapers and in the book Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings, I’m happy to report that those columns have a new home.

Going forward, the columns can be found at fourthingsmywifehates.com. I’ll be posting new columns each week and periodically posting some of the older columns. This is also the very early prelude to publishing a second collection of the humor columns that explore the trials and tribulations of raising sons and being a parent. My expectation is that the next book will be out sometime toward the end of this year, but I’m not really working on any specific timeline.

I’m also working to get the columns into at least one publication, and I expect to be able to make that announcement in the near future.

So if you like the columns, please visit the website fourthingsmywifehates.com. If you’re on Facebook, there’s also a Facebook page for the columns, and that’s probably the easiest way to get notified when new columns get posted. In general, I’ll be posting new columns late in the afternoon on Wednesdays.

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Robert’s Father’s Day gift to himself that he didn’t have to pay for

Robert and the box of bullets that were his Father's Day gift to himself that he arranged to not have to pay for.

Robert and the box of bullets that were his Father’s Day gift to himself that he arranged to not have to pay for.

My column this week for The Oconee Leader.

We don’t make a big deal out of holidays like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day in our house, and we never have. A couple of funny cards, an inexpensive gift and a meal off the grill or at a favorite restaurant is about the extent of what we do.

So it was with more than a little surprise that I accepted the lavish gifts bestowed unto me by my sons this year.

I knew something was going on by the way my 14-year-old Robert kept going into my closet and making furtive phone calls to his grandfather. Later in the day I saw Harrison, my 20-year-old, handing Robert cash.

Giving up of cash is not the sort of thing that happens easily in our house. My sons, like their father before them, are notoriously tight fisted, especially when it comes to each other. So my suspicions were dramatically increased when I saw Harrison voluntarily passing money to Robert.

The obvious conclusion for this sort of behavior the day before Father’s Day was that my sons were colluding to get me a gift. But, as I noted earlier, this isn’t the sort of thing for which there is historical precedence.

Then Saturday afternoon my dad came by the house and got Robert, and the two of them went off on some sort of shopping expedition.

If there is zero historical precedence for my sons to get me a gift, there is even less historical precedence for my dad to go shopping.

What I should have known was that Robert was not colluding with his brothers to get me a gift as much as he was colluding with his brothers to get a gift that he would enjoy.

The mystery was settled Saturday afternoon when Robert walked into the house and handed me my Father’s Day gift: A box of 50 rounds of .40 caliber bullets.

The boys and I go shooting from time to time, and the last time we went we used up all my practice rounds. We all enjoy shooting, but none of us enjoy shooting like Robert does. The last several times he has asked to send some lead down range, I have answered him that I’m all out of practice rounds. And the ammunition I do have is too expensive to shoot just for fun.

Of the 50 rounds Robert and Harrison bought me for Father’s Day, I reckon I’ll fire five or six shots. The other rounds will be distributed between Robert, Harrison and Nathan.

During the brief gift giving ceremony, Nathan complained that he’d been left out of the transaction, and he was made to look like the bad son because he didn’t pitch in on the gift.

So a little while later, Jean took Nate to the Golden Pantry, and when they returned he had a 4-count package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

I felt bad for Nathan, who felt guilted into buying me a Father’s Day gift, especially knowing that the gift from his brothers was more for them than it was for me.

Harrison wasn’t around, so using both hands I counted up the number of people in the house – me and Jean and Robert and Nathan – and realizing there were four of us and four Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, I decided to divide up my second Father’s Day gift – giving everyone a peanut butter cup.

So it was a successful Father’s Day for me. A box of bullets and a Reese’s cup made me feel like I’d been pretty successful as a father.

On Sunday we went with my parents to lunch, and there I learned that if I thought I’d done pretty well on Father’s Day, it was nothing to how well Robert did.

My mom got me a gift certificate to a shooting range some time ago, and I haven’t used it because the boys and I shot up all my practice rounds shooting at a cardboard box in a field.

Apparently, she said something to Robert about using that gift certificate and he somehow connived to get her to make a wager about me using that gift certificate.

When it’s all said and done, Robert will have gotten Harrison to chip in on the box of bullets, he’ll get to go shooting, and he’ll get his grandmother to pay him (from their bet) for his investment in the bullets. And to top it off, he managed to get a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

I’ve celebrated Father’s Day as a father 21 times now, and somehow, 14-year-old Robert, who doesn’t even have a girlfriend, much less children, has managed to top me in Father’s Day gifts.

Rob Peecher is author of “Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings,” available at Amazon.com.

Field marshaling at the Oconee Cup

My favorite keeper collecting a bouncing ball as it comes into his box.

My favorite keeper collecting a bouncing ball as it comes into his box.

My weekly humor column (which will also appear in this week’s Oconee Leader):

I’m not sure if the by-laws of the Oconee Cup require that it be held on the first really hot day of the summer or if the Old Farmer’s Almanac determines that the first really hot day of the summer must be the same day as the Oconee Cup, but it doesn’t make any difference whether the chicken or the egg came first because the Oconee Cup always coincides with the first really hot weekend of the summer.

This year’s Oconee Cup was no different.

We’ve been attending Oconee Cups for six years now, since our oldest son was a rising freshman.

For those whose lives do not revolve around high school soccer, the Oconee Cup is a pretty big tournament of 7 v. 7 soccer for high schools in Georgia. This past Saturday we had nearly 50 teams involved in the tournament.

Our middle son, Nathan, was playing with Oconee County High School in the tournament, and Jean and I both volunteered to help (Jean took two slots by volunteering as a field marshal for a couple of hours and in the concession stand and I spent a couple of hours as a field marshal).

And it was so hot. And we all got so sunburned.

It’s not a complaint, though. I love soccer. After the Oconee Cup, we came home and watched back-to-back professional games on television. I never complain about soccer – even soccer on the first hot day of the year. And the truth is that my absolute favorite kind of soccer game is the soccer game one of my sons is playing in.

To watch my sons play soccer I have melted, baked, frozen, and even been soaked to the bone, and while I haven’t always enjoyed the weather, I’ve always enjoyed the game.

Nate played in four games on Saturday, and I’d have loved to have stood in the sun and watched another four (although, at some point Nathan might not have been ready for a break).

I also had fun spending time as a field marshal.

Field marshals at soccer tournaments have incredible amounts of responsibility and authority. Typically, I don’t like to volunteer to be a field marshal because I am a firm believer that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and I don’t want to be absolutely corrupted.

But when my wife guilts me into volunteering, I generally go for field marshal duties rather than concession stand duties because I’m lousy at customer service.

We met at 1 p.m. to receive our equipment: A little blue vest that identified us as field marshals and a walkie-talkie so we could call for medical assistance if necessary.

Darrell was serving field marshal duties with me, and we’ve both been to enough soccer tournaments that we’re old hands at field marshaling.

Nevertheless, Julie gave us our equipment and our instructions: “Just walk around the fields. There is a jug of water at every field, so just make sure those have water. If they don’t, tell the rec department staff and they’ll replace the jugs. Make sure the referees aren’t having any problems with anybody. We haven’t had any problems today, and I don’t expect to have any. If someone needs medical help, the medical tent is over there.”

Now, I’ve field marshaled enough that I know my authority as a field marshal extends well beyond these rather insignificant duties outlined by Julie. For instance, Constitutionally, I believe soccer tournament field marshals fall just below Speaker of the House for succession to the presidency. But Julie probably failed to mention all these other responsibilities because she knew Darrell and I had it covered.

So for two hours I walked the fields looking for parents who were fighting or coaches who needed to be escorted out of the park for arguing with referees, but I saw none. I suppose it was too hot for tempers.

I checked the jugs of water on each field – and I cannot tell you how thrilled I was when I found two that were nearly empty. I ran from one end of Veterans Park to the other to inform the rec staffers that I had discovered two nearly empty jugs of water, and they both were in tears thanking me and congratulating me on a field marshal job well done.

I found no medical emergencies, but twice a ball from one field rolled onto the field where another game was being played, and I ran onto the field to kick the errant ball back to its proper field.

The end of my two hours of field marshal duties were nearing an end and I’d not yet had a serious situation or emergency to deal with, and I was growing a little frustrated that the only official action I’d taken as a field marshal had been to find a couple of empty jugs of water.

Just then my walkie-talkie emitted a loud, long screech. Someone had pressed and held the call button of their walkie-talkie. An eerie wind blew across Hog Mountain Road, and there seemed to be an ominous hush that fell over the fields. I had a strange sense of impending doom, and – like Spiderman sensing danger – I had a premonition that I was about to have to summon all my field marshal powers.

I held my breath as I waited to hear what message would follow the screeching emergency sound from my walkie-talkie.

“Who called?” someone else said into their walkie-talkie, and I could hear the same sense of urgency in his voice that I myself was feeling.

Still I held my breath; the walkie-talkie in my hand; my eyes scanning the fields looking for the emergency that had caused one of my fellow volunteers to press and hold the call button on their walkie-talkie. Had a player broken a leg or taken a knock to the head? Did a fan fall out from heat stroke? Were parents fighting? Was a coach on a rampage?

“This is it,” I said to myself. “This is what you’ve trained for!”

Finally someone else came over the walkie-talkie.

“Sorry, it was me. I hit it by accident,” the voice said.

The situation defused, I went back to checking water jugs.

Next on our soccer itinerary is the Habersham 7 v. 7 tournament, always held in late July and, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, it will coincide with the hottest day of the summer.

Rob Peecher is author of Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings, available at Amazon.com.

Best sales month yet

In a month when all of my other books sold pretty well, Iron Curling Ale performed very poorly. Nevertheless, I love this little book and I'm still glad I wrote it.

In a month when all of my other books sold pretty well, Iron Curling Ale performed very poorly. Nevertheless, I love this little book and I’m still glad I wrote it.

Over the past month I’ve managed to put together my best month of sales and my best single day of sales for my books.

As I’ve said many times, sales of my books aren’t going to get me on any New York Times lists, and I’m not making anything more than date-night money off the books, but sales of the books give me something significantly more valuable than cash in my pocket.

There really is nothing more gratifying to a writer (at least, this writer, I shouldn’t try to speak for anyone else) than to see that someone is willing to drop $4.50 on one of my books. And especially when it’s the later books in the series. That suggests that someone has read one of the books and liked it enough to come back for more. That’s the best part.

So, this month was a good sales month for me.

The book of my humor columns, “Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings” had a mini resurgence. Never a book to draw much interest from readers, several people bought it this month and one of them left a new 5-star review.

I’m grateful for that! All indie authors understand that reviews help sell books, and so a new review really helps.

The Jackson Speed books sold very well, also, and I’m really thrilled to say that all four of the novels and the new novella sold, which is great. Some months I’ll sell a few of one book and a few of another, but I don’t always sell copies of every book in the series every month.

One thing that was really cool, on my best single sales day yet, I sold at least one copy of all five of the Speed series!

In the big picture, that’s not a big deal, but it was a little milestone that I was happy to celebrate.

I also sold a fair number of paperbacks, and that very rarely happens. I go some months without selling any paperbacks, so that was also a nice surprise.

My sales this month were a happy mixture of sales from the United Kingdom and the United States. As always, I am grateful that so many people in the United Kingdom enjoy reading about a cowardly scoundrel in 19th Century America.

Sadly, Iron Curling Ale achieved another month of zero sales. I don’t mind saying that I’m disappointed with Iron Curling Ale. When I wrote it, I thought maybe it would be the sort of book that would pick up a following. It was only ever going to appeal to a narrow niche of readers, and I always understood that the audience for Iron Curling Ale would be limited.

It’s a rough story all about drugs and sex and drinking and a cross country road trip, and you probably had to have spent time drinking with me in college to even begin to enjoy this book (but, as my wife pointed out, the people who drank with me in college may very well outnumber those who did not).

But Iron Curling Ale is sort of like my offspring – no matter how much it might disappoint me with its sales, I’ll still always love that book. That little book has a piece of my heart.

Meanwhile, to all those who are reading about my actual children in Four Things and those who are following Jackson Speed’s adventures, I remain grateful to you for your interest.

A primer on Rob Peecher’s fiction

As an independent author writing and selling books for fun, I often find myself tweeting or Facebooking links to my books with smart marketing phrases such as, “Please read my books!”

Last week I posted something about my books on Facebook, and a friend said something like, “What are your books about?”

I realized that while I might eat, sleep and breathe my books, a lot of people – if they aren’t paying particularly close attention – may not know anything about them.

So if you’re new to the world of Rob Peecher’s fiction, I thought I’d provide a primer.

Currently I have two separate series I’m working on: The Jackson Speed Memoirs and the Moses Calhoun Potboilers.

Jackson Speed

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00067]The Jackson Speed novels are set during 1800s America and hold themselves out to be the memoirs of a great officer from the War Between the States.

However, readers learn from the memoirs that Speed was truly a coward and a womanizer. His only motivations in life are getting into the dress of some Southern Belle and saving his own skin (often as not, from an enraged husband).

Jackson Speed, as a character in a novel is very similar to Harry Flashman of the classic George MacDonald Fraser series of Flashman novels. In truth, the more I write the less Flashmanesque Speed becomes, but I’ll never be able to deny the similarities between Jackson Speed and Harry Flashman.

The first Speed novel “Jackson Speed: The Hero of El Teneria” is set during the Mexican-American War and introduces readers to a young Speed who is just starting out on his path of roguish adventures.

Meticulously researched and footnoted, the Jackson Speed novels are a labor of love for me. I’m able to meld together the two things I most enjoy: Storytelling and History. I would hope these novels would appeal to most history buffs who enjoy fiction and I would also hope these novels would appeal to most rogues who enjoy history.

Moses Calhoun

missing wife finalThrough the course of my career in newspapers I spent a long time covering what journalists would call the “cops and courts” beat. I had a pretty amazing career in newspapers in terms of the access I had to local police as well as the some of the stories I got to cover.

The Moses Calhoun short stories are a sort of manifestation of some of the things I witnessed covering the cops and courts beat with a little Southern Gothic thrown in for literary fun.

The stories are sort of like Robert B. Parker meets Flannery O’Connor.

Moses Calhoun is a grizzled, hard-boiled sort of deputy sheriff who returns to his hometown after a divorce and there he finds his town is overrun with meth heads and corruption.

These stories are very short. I like to write them in a few sittings. As I said, a lot of them are very loosely based on things I’ve seen.

Other Stuff

Outside of Jackson Speed and Moses Calhoun, I’ve published two other books.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00065]“Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings” is a collection of the columns I’ve written at The Oconee Leader.

“Iron Curling Ale” began life two decades ago as a short story I wrote while I was in college. Some time ago, I began rewriting the story. It’s still very short – just 20,000 words – but it was also a labor of love. It has a lot of drinking and drug themes, the language is very rough and it’s not going to be to everyone’s tastes.

“Iron Curling Ale” is the story of a drunken, cross-country road trip. It’s a tragically beautiful love story, and I’m a big fan of this book.

I’ve got books to write

Probably I should be passing the time at book release parties in New York City, sipping champagne and accepting attaboys and back pats.

But the truth is, I’m feeling a little under the gun.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00067]On Good Friday I published the second of the Jackson Speed Memoirs. Jackson Speed and the Blood Tubs is now available through Amazon.com.

On Easter Sunday the folks at The eReader Café were kind enough to publish an author interview with me. Thankfully, I’d published Blood Tubs just in time that they were able to use links and cover images in the interview. Whew!

And on Monday, April Fool’s Day, I published Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings & Other Collected Stories.

In the span of four days, I tripled the number of books I’ve authored and published.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00065]So I am kind of a big deal.

It was chance and chance alone that brought the culmination of both these projects over the same weekend.

My extraordinary editor, India Powell at Lightswitch Communications, finished editing the Blood Tubs a couple of weeks ago. I was going through her edits and formatting the chapters into the book as I received the chapters back from her, so it was all ready to go. Last week, Kate Sherrill – the unbelievably talented artist who did the cover illustration for the Blood Tubs – finished the painting and provided me with a high res digital file.

I also finished editing and formatting my columns for “Four Things” last weekend. The cover photo was shot in December and all that needed to be done was put the pieces together.

My beautiful and talented wife, Jean, who does the cover designs for my books, ended up being the one who decided which book would be published first because she decided to design the Blood Tubs cover and then work on the Four Things cover.

Even though it was by chance, it was still a lot of fun to see the completion of two big projects on the same weekend. I’ve been in one stage or another of working on both of these books for several months, and especially in the last few weeks I was getting increasingly excited to finally have them completed.

So today, as Four Things went live on Amazon, I was sitting here admiring the vast array of books available if you do a search for Robert Peecher on Amazon.com, and that’s when I realized what a dreadful spot I’m in.

I’m dropping books like it’s easy (it’s not, and, oddly enough, it is), but I’ve also got a timeline for the next two Jackson Speed books.

My intention is to have both of these books coincide with the 150th anniversaries of the battles during which they are set.

Jackson Speed on the Orange Turnpike (which sees our reluctant hero stepping out of the woods just in time to send the entirety of the Army of the Potomac back across the Rappahannock) takes place at Chancellorsville. The 150th anniversary of Chancellorsville is now just a month away.

The next book, Jackson Speed at the High Tide, sees Ol’ Speedy fighting for both the Federals and the Confederates at Gettysburg. The sesquicentennial for Gettysburg is only three months away.

The Orange Turnpike is essentially written. High Tide is not quite half done.

I can do it. But it will not be easy. I don’t know about my editor and my illustrator and my designer, but my hope is to get all of them equally excited about sesquicentennials.

Anyway, I shot an email to my social secretary and I told her she was going to have to postpone the New York City parties and the champagne sipping and the attaboying and the back patting.

I’ve got books to write.