‘Fugitive Slaves’ now in print

First released only as an ebook, "Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves" is now available in print as well.

First released only as an ebook, “Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves” is now available in print as well.

I published the Kindle ebook version of Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves a couple of months ago, and debated back and forth with myself on whether to release a print version now or later.

Because “Fugitive Slaves” is a shorter novella, initially my thought had been to write a couple more shorter stories and include three stories in one printed book but release each of the novellas separately as ebooks.

Then a couple of weeks ago I got a letter from Ketchikan, Alaska. The man who wrote the letter said he had enjoyed the first three Jackson Speed books but was having difficulty getting the fifth book (I’m assuming that’s because he reads the printed books rather than the ebooks).

Getting that letter was a big deal to me. I’ve gotten several emails from Speed fans and some Facebook messages and messages through my website, but I’ve never before gotten a real, old-fashioned, hand-written letter from a reader before.

I was thrilled! A letter in the mail! I thought only bills came in the mail. What an awesome thing that someone I’ve never met would read some of my books and feel compelled to write me a letter. Maybe it seems silly that I would be so excited about it, but it felt like a big deal to me.

Any time I get an email, I respond to it, so of course I was going to respond to the letter. But I didn’t want to send my friend in Ketchikan a letter trying to explain how “Fugitive Slaves” will be available as a printed book when I have two more short stories finished. So I decided to go ahead and format the story for a printed book, finish out the cover and publish it.

This week I got the first copies of the printed book in the mail, and today I sent a letter to Ketchikan along with a signed copy of “Fugitive Slaves.”

This is the long way around to announce that “Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves” is now available in paperback.

It’s the first printed book to have the new cover design (I still intend to change out the covers on most of the other books, but haven’t done it yet) and I’m really happy with the way it looks. I’ve opted for the matte finish (which wasn’t available when I started publishing Jackson Speed novels), and I far prefer that texture and look.

I’ll also add that I learned something new today.

I sometimes mail off signed books to readers for book giveaways or folks who contact me and want a signed copy. In addition to the book headed to Alaska, I was mailing some other books today, too. The Postmaster (or is she a Postmistress?) asked if the packages contained books. When I told her they were books, she told me that the Post Office has a rate specific for books. I had no idea! It cut the price of postage in half, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

And finally, let me encourage you to watch this space, especially if you’re a fan of the Speed books and are curious about some of the historical context. In the next few weeks I’m going to be shooting some video where I talk about some of the events that are depicted in the books.

So many of the Speed fans are in the United Kingdom or spread out across the United States, and all of the author talks I have done so far have been pretty close to home, so most of the fans of the books don’t have an opportunity to hear me talk about this stuff. So what I thought I’d do is shoot video of me saying the things I say in author talks and post it online. I would expect the first one to be up by the end of the month or the first of October.

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Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves now available

Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves is now available on Kindle.

Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves is now available on Kindle.

The fifth book in the Jackson Speed Memoirs series is now available on Kindle!

This novella finds our rascally hero in the unlikely role of conductor on the Underground Railroad. And you’ll know it was a woman who led him down this improbable path.

I’m excited about getting this story written in part because it explores a time in Speed’s life that I’ve only touched on in the past.

In my mind, Speed’s life divides into four distinct periods.

The first is what I think of as the Mexico and California years – his service in the Mexican-American War and his adventures in the California Gold Rush. Obviously, the first book in the series takes up a portion of this time of his life.

The second period in Speed’s life is roughly the 1850s – the decade between the Gold Rush and the Civil War. This is a strange time in America’s history and an equally strange time in Speed’s life. Bizarre events, little known today, occurred on a national scale during this time, and Speed will eventually be involved in a fair number of them.

The third period in his life is the Civil War, and most of the Jackson Speed novels, so far, are all about this period of his life. Of course, this was the defining time of anyone who lived through it, so it’s right and proper that three of the first four novels are set during or just before the American Civil War. And there are more to come.

The fourth period of Speed’s life is the post-war period. I’ve written nothing about this time yet, but those stories will come, too.

This fifth book – Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves – is set in 1853, so takes place during that second period. The only other thing I’ve written in this time period is the short story Jackson Speed and the Da Ponte Diamond (found at the front of Jackson Speed on the Orange Turnpike).

I am simultaneously writing about the California Gold Rush and writing other shorter novellas that fall around the same time period as Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves, and I’m hoping in the next few months there will be a lot more Jackson Speed stories out there. And, if you’ve been following the blog, you know I am also working on a re-brand of the books. I’ve finished changing out the covers for all the Kindle books, but I still haven’t finished changing the print versions yet.

As always, if you enjoy the story, please give it a review on Amazon.com and feel free to reach out to me. I love hearing from readers!

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.