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If you have enjoyed reading any of my novels, I’d be grateful if you would sign up to join the Robert Peecher Posse Newsletter.

I’m in the process of switching some things around with my website, so to sign up for the newsletter you have to click here to move over to my new site.

You should get a pop-up window that gives you the form to sign up for the newsletter, but the form is also available at the top of the sidebar to the right.

I won’t spam you or sell your email address or anything nefarious, but I will send you a couple of emails a month to let you know what I’m working on and when I’ve got new releases coming out.

I really hope if you’ve enjoyed my novels that you’ll sign up for the newsletter.

Also, if you do sign up for the newsletter you can get a free copy of the fourth installment of the Two Rivers Station series, “The U.S. Brand.”

It’s a fun, quick read with Jack Bell.

A Reader Companion for Robert Peecher’s Western novels

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.



Too Long the Winter

Cowboy In The Rockies

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.

Trulock’s Posse

TRULOCKS POSSE COVERSet 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.



Two Rivers Station Westerns

BOOK 1 FRONT FINALJack 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.

Lodero Westerns

1 LoderoA 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.

Jackson Speed

At The High Tide Final

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

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.

New author bio on Amazon

rodney david rob

I’ve never been particularly happy with my author bio on Amazon.

It has undergone numerous revisions since I first started publishing back in 2012, but thanks to my buddy Rodney Carr (who doesn’t read Westerns) and a Western writers group that doesn’t want me as a full member, I think I’ve finally come up with an author bio I’m happy with.

Rodney is the friend mentioned. Though he doesn’t like reading Westerns, he does enjoy paddling rivers and playing soccer, so I’ve posted with this a photo of us with David Smith during one of our river trips. That’s me on the left, David center, and Rodney – not reading Westerns – on the right.

Some (what I have quoted below) of the new bio comes directly from a letter I wrote to a Western writers group.

I decided a couple of months back that it would make sense for me to join an association of writers dedicated specifically to the genre of Westerns.

I’m in several writers groups, but none of them are specific to what I write.

I went to one of the most prominent organizations of Western authors and discovered that because I self-publish my novels I am ineligible for full membership. I can be an associate member (paying the same dues as a full member), but to be a full member of this group you have to be traditionally published.

I’m pleased to say that I have been approached by traditional publishers (one of whom said he would publish “any and all” of my books). But at this stage in my career, that’s not something I’m interested in doing. This is purely a business decision on my part because I believe I can earn a better living on my own than through a publisher.

So I self-publish by choice (which has not always been the case).

I sent this organization a letter asking that they waive their membership criteria and allow me into the group as a full member.

I wrote an impassioned plea and explained to them why, in my belief, a group of Western authors should be the first to recognize Indie authors as full members (for the record, many organizations supporting authors in other genres already grant full membership to independent authors).

I acknowledged that they have every right to exclude anyone they want from their group. And … they decided to exclude me.

I could join as an associate member and pay the same dues as full members but have fewer rights within the organization.

But the impassioned letter provided me with the guts of my new author bio, so there is no loss.

If you are left wondering whether or not I am bitter or angry about not being allowed into the club of Western writers, the answer is no. It doesn’t bother me. If you are left wondering whether or not I am bitter that my friends do not read Westerns, again the answer is no. I am perfectly okay with the notion that my books are not to everyone’s tastes, and the worst thing that can happen to one of my books is that the wrong reader finds it.

Only two people in this world have an obligation to read my books whether they want to or not. Those are my wife and my mother. And they both do.

Below is the passionate part of my letter to the writers organization I tried to join. If you want the rest you’ll have to visit my author page at Amazon. Please feel free to buy a book while you are there, but only if you want to.

I am drawn to Westerns because it is the only genre that embodies the ideals that I consider to be truly American: Ideals of freedom, of rugged individualism, and of independence of spirit.

The heroes of Westerns are men and women who understand that justice and the law are sometimes two different things. They are people who make their own way by their own means, they are prideful and stand by what they say.

Readers of Westerns, I think, typically hold dear those same values.

They are “my people,” and I consider it a privilege to write stories for them.

No time or place better exemplifies these ideals than the American West of the 19th and early 20th Centuries. This is why I love reading Westerns, and this is why I love writing Westerns.

When I write Western novels, I’m very aware that these principles are not simply tropes in a genre but dearly held beliefs of a certain caliber of people, Americans generally, Westerners specifically, and me individually.


Trulock’s Posse now available on Amazon

TRULOCKS POSSE COVERAfter a few days of some kind of glitch that prevented the cover from showing up in searches on Amazon, I’m pleased to announce that my 14th book “Trulock’s Posse” is now live on Amazon.

Trulock’s Posse is a standalone work and not part of a series.

While it is full of the kind of action you’ll find in my other Westerns, I think it is much more character-driven than some of my other books.

It features a dozen-man posse consisting of business owners and ranchers who chase after a gang of desperadoes after they murder a town marshal.

The conflict is driven in part by the members of the posse themselves and also the action that takes place around them.

The question I’ve gotten from almost everyone who has read it so far is this: “Is Profanity a real place?”

Profanity is a real place name.

Near Escudilla Mountain in Arizona there is a “Profanity Ridge” marked on the maps, a truly beautiful place that slopes down into a large stand of quaking aspen with big ponderosa pines behind. It’s a really lovely spot.

But the outlaw town of Profanity as described in the book is pure invention.

However, these outlaw towns along the border of Arizona and New Mexico territories in the late 1800s were real.

Most of them are gone now. The small town of Luna, New Mexico, is one of the few that still exists.

Ike Clanton (of OK Corral fame) was hiding out in one of these outlaw towns when he traveled to Springerville, Arizona, and was shot and killed there.

I love this notion of an outlaw town and may well write about one again. Maybe I’ll even resurrect Profanity as a setting in another book.

I really enjoyed writing the characters in “Trulock’s Posse.”

I also like that the title character is not the main character and the main character is not the hero.

Among fiction writers, we talk about ourselves as either “plotters” or “pantsers” (ie: Those who plot their books and those who write by the seat of their pants).

Some books I carefully plot while others I pants.

Trulock’s Posse was definitely a pantsed book.

As such, the roles of the characters unfolded for me much in the same way they will unfold for readers. When I started writing, I couldn’t have told you where it was going. I also didn’t know who the main character was going to turn out to be, nor did I know which character was going to be the hero.

Trulock’s Posse was also a “surprise novel” in that I had no plans to write it. The idea came to me for the novel, and I just started working on it. I put everything else aside and even changed my publishing schedule for 2018 to accommodate “Trulock’s Posse.”

I had already developed one of the characters who appears in Trulock’s Posse for a different novel, and when I started writing Trulock’s Posse it was not in my mind to include that character.

So my “surprise novel” also had a “surprise appearance” by a character from another book that isn’t even written yet.

When you write fiction, any damn thing can happen, and my experience is that the best books are the ones where any damn thing does happen.

So if enjoy reading Westerns, I hope you’ll give Trulock’s Posse a read. It’s very much in the vein of Louis L’Amour or Robert B. Parker Westerns.

If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to read one of my novels but you don’t want to make the commitment of a series, Trulock’s Posse is a great option.

Another really good option Is Too Long the Winter. If you’re curious because you know me personally and want to know what I’m doing at 3 a.m. but you don’t even want to commit to a full-length novel, Too Long the Winter is a good option because it is much shorter than Trulock’s Posse.

If you’re fully committed and you want to jump into a series, the Two Rivers Station series is currently three novels deep and will be growing soon. Two Rivers Station is a traditional sort of Western. I’ve told people it’s my “Gunsmoke” series if you’re familiar with the old James Arness TV show.

The Jackson Speed Memoirs is my first series. Those books are much longer and there are currently six of them. Jackson Speed, set in the 19th Century in events like the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and the California Gold Rush, is similar to traditional Westerns in terms of themes and settings, but the character is not a traditional Western character (that’s your fair warning).

And if you don’t have any interest in reading a novel or a shorter novel or a series and you don’t care what I’m doing on my computer in the middle of the night, then why are you still reading this?

You can find all of my novels at

Answers to the podcast actually given


A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed for J.C. Hulsey’s Wild West Showdown podcast.

As I noted before, my plan was to talk about my new Westerns and avoid talking about Jackson Speed, and of course all I did was talk about the Jackson Speed novels.

All the same, it was a fun interview and I enjoyed doing it. If you’d like to give it a listen, check it out here. My interview begins at the 13-minute mark.

I didn’t have any kind of picture that made sense to go with the interview, so I posted a photo of me paddling backwards through a shoal.

Tearing down the Confederate statues


I remember as a child riding through Southern towns with my parents, and always searching for the statue of the Confederate soldier. When I was very young, my father had pointed them out to me and told me on road trips to look out for them.

To me, the statue was a tangible and expected memorial to the history of the War of the Rebellion, the war my father studied in the books sitting the table beside his chair; a war my great-great grandfathers fought in. The statues, to my young imagination, were a representation of my great-great grandfathers, one of whom donated his arm at Vicksburg to the cause of liberty.

I craved the statues of soldiers rather than a plain obelisk bearing only names, because in the faces of those statues I saw the faces of the dead in the old photographs from my father’s books. I frequently would lie on the floor and look at those picture in the books and try to imagine the lives of the corpses scattered on the recent battlefield; I would try to imagine who they had been and what they had lost.

The South was thoroughly beaten in the war. Sherman cut a swath through Georgia and the Carolinas, destroying property the entire way. The Army of the Potomac, and not much less the Army of Northern Virginia, ravaged the Virginia countryside. Veterans returning home near the battlegrounds in Virginia easily got lost as they found themselves in a landscape that in no way resembled the homes they had left in 1861. The men felled entire forests in service to their respective armies. Towns and homes and farms – all the familiar landmarks – were leveled.

Nearly all the battles fought happened in the seceded Southern states. Gettysburg and Antietam being the primary exceptions, the biggest fighting of the war occurred in Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi.

Like any beaten nation, the states that comprised the Confederacy suffered long after life in the Northern states returned to normal.

The Southern states were occupied and governed, at least initially, in the way that any victor would occupy and govern the land of a beaten foe.

Many efforts were made for swift reconciliation, and for some, that swift reconciliation came. Many of the South’s leaders went on to occupy elected office in the states or even the federal government. Others commanded black troops in service to the United States government.

But deep wounds festered in the South.

Politically and economically the South would not recover for two generations or more. Much of the South suffered in poverty for decades after the war. The blame, or much of it, can be laid not at the feet of the conquering Yankees, but at the feet of the Southern politicians who discovered that their political power was sustained by a weak and poor population. But so long as the Southern black was poorer than the Southern white, Southern politicians could be guaranteed reelection. Deepening the divisions of race to deflect attention from the solidarity of poverty was good business for white politicians.

Of course, the boll weevil and store credit played no small part in rural Southern poverty, but economics has a multi-faceted nature.

As the Confederate veterans aged, it became proper that they – and those who did not age – would be memorialized.

It does not require a vivid imagination to understand the motivations. Men and women who lost friends, cousins, brothers, sought to honor them. The sons and daughters of the aging Confederate veterans took up collections to raise statues to their fathers.

They did not erect statues to honor nameless and faceless heroes of the past, but to honor the people they knew and the people they lost.

In some instances, surely, the statues went up at the expense of the taxpayer and likely as not these were cynical (and successful) appeals for votes. Undoubtedly these statues also were intended as a defiant gesture against the Yankee government when Southern Democrats regained political control. That the statues were also intended as a message to freed slaves and their sons and daughters should not be ignored. That very defiance to the Yankee government told another tale to Southern blacks, a Jim Crow tale, and a warning of continued political oppression.

And so the question we must ask ourselves is whether it is right to continue to honor these Confederate dead, knowing as we do that their memorials in public places were often erected with the dual intention of telegraphing a message of defiance and oppression.

As much as some might want these statues to be lasting symbols of heritage and culture, the sad fact is that for many of our neighbors and our fellow Southerners, these statues are a constant reminder that their heritage at one time was the oppression of a people who equaled under the law only three-fifths of a man.

I cannot help but reach the conclusion that these statues should be removed from public squares and parks. I hate this, because for me personally these statues represent a tangible connection to the not-so-distant past, a past that thoroughly obsesses me.

But knowing that the statues hold a very opposite meaning for so many of my fellow Southerners, and believing that their view of these statues cannot be reconciled with mine, I see no way forward where everyone can be made satisfied and these statues left in place.

But it should not be the work of angry mobs, nor of politicians craving to garner the same cynical votes they craved a century ago.

The solution should come from the very people who erected the statues in the first place.

The Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy, the ones to whom the statues represent heritage and culture, should be given first right of refusal to receive back the statues they bought. And they should then mount the statues in private parks, or in museums or donate them to the Civil War Trust to put on battlefields where it might make sense.

And in places where these statues were erected by governments and not by private organizations, paid for by taxpayers, the Civil War Trust should be given the statues to put in appropriate places.

Whatever else these statues might have been, they are now forever a part of our history, a history that is complicated and often means vastly different things at the same time. The statues themselves are a part of our history beyond just what they represent. And history should not be lost nor ignored. But the place these statues occupy in our present should not be the places they presently occupy.

Public places – government places – must be places of equal access, and having statues of Confederate soldiers standing guard at courthouses and town squares is an inappropriate use of public property.

Two years in the making, “In the Rush” is now available

My wife, and first reader, Jean models the Kindle version of “Jackson Speed In the Rush.”

I wrote the first Jackson Speed novel in 28 days. It was a mad dash of late nights, early mornings, writing at the dinner table. My wife Jean thought I had lost my mind, and she worried she had lost her husband.

Over the years I’ve started and never finished a lot of novels. Back in the mid-1990s I was writing a novel I was really excited about. I spent months writing the novel. It was an enormous tome. I don’t know for sure, but if I had to guess, it was probably around 150,000 words (by way of comparison, most of the Jackson Speed novels are fewer than 100,000) and it was not even close to being finished.

Then I lost interest and quit writing.

And I’ve done that a lot with different ideas I had for novels. For many years, I didn’t even try any more.

But when I first had the idea for the Jackson Speed novels, it was like an epiphany. I can’t describe how excited I was about the concept, and I was just desperate to get the story written. And I was worried that if I stopped long enough to take a breath I would lose my momentum, and poor Ol’ Speedy would go the way of all the other novels I’d ever started.

So I wrote feverishly and didn’t stop to take a breath.

It was a weird month.

I’m not saying that writing El Teneria in 28 days made it a better book, but I finished it. And published it.

Five years later, I’m really pleased to announce that I’ve now published the sixth book in the Jackson Speed series.

Jackson Speed In the Rush was two years in the writing.

It was not the feverish, non-stop writing marathon that El Teneria was.

When I first envisioned Jackson Speed – that morning I had the epiphany – there were four very specific books I planned to write about Jackson Speed’s life. I knew there would be (or could be) many others, but I had four specific episodes in mind.

In the Rush is the last of those four.

I knew I wanted to start Speed in the Mexican-American War. I knew I wanted him to be a Pinkerton spy saving Lincoln from the Baltimore plotters. I knew I wanted to put him at the Battle of Gettysburg. And I knew I wanted to send him to California as a Forty-Niner.

I also generally knew the story before I ever started writing it.

It’s hard for me to say, then, why this particular book took so long for me to write. One reason might be that I had to do more research for this novel than I have for the others.

Prior to writing Jackson Speed, my knowledge of the American Civil War was already vast. I’d read countless books on the subject, visited battlefields, watched documentaries. I am, obviously, what they call a “history buff,” and before Jackson Speed was ever an idea in my mind I had already done the bulk of the research for any novels set during the Civil War.

But In the Rush takes up episodes in history that were less familiar to me. My knowledge of the California Gold Rush and the Cherokee’s early days in Oklahoma was only surface knowledge. When I wrote Orange Turnpike and High Tide, ever bit of research material I needed was already on my book shelf in my office. But for In the Rush, I had to buy or borrow several books, and I spent countless hours on the Internet doing research.

In the Rush is slightly longer than High Tide, which up to now was the longest of the Jackson Speed books.

In the Rush is almost like two novels in one, with two distinct and separate stories being told. So readers may come away feeling like they’ve just read two novels.

If you’ve enjoyed the previous Jackson Speed novels, I don’t think you’ll find anything disappointing about Book 6 of the series. If you haven’t enjoyed previous Jackson Speed novels, you’ll like this one even less because it is a little bit longer.

And if you haven’t read the previous Jackson Speed novels, what are you even doing reading this? – Get yourself over to Amazon and start reading them!

So, if you’re ready for Book 6 of the Jackson Speed Memoirs, click here to get the Kindle version.

Sherman jokes are indeed too soon

Cump Sherman

With the fire and collapse of a section of bridge on I-85 yesterday, there’s been a lot of posting about William Tecumseh Sherman in the last 24 hours.

Sherman makes an appearance in the soon-to-be-released “Jackson Speed in the Rush.” Sherman biographers will know that the Yankee general made famous for burning Atlanta on his March to the Sea will know that in 1848-49 the young Lieutenant William Tecumseh Sherman was in California and played a small role in the California Gold Rush.

I learned some interesting things about Sherman during my research, not least of which is that his friends all called him “Cump,” a shortened version of his middle name.

I’ve seen lots of jokes floating around Facebook about Sherman and the burning of Atlanta. My favorite is the photo of Sherman with the caption: “Police have released this photograph of a suspect in the I-85 fire.” Invariably, someone will post: “Too soon.”

But I think it’s important to remember that for many people, these jokes are “too soon.” My personal authority on the Old South has many times reminded me that when Sherman and those damn Yankees marched through Georgia they devastated lives and property, and generations later some have not forgotten. In fact, my personal authority on the Old South has told me how he used to hear stories from the old-timers (who got it from older-timers) of how the Yankee soldiers entertained themselves.

It was common back in the old days that peacocks roamed the streets in some small Southern towns. Some people kept them as pets and allowed them to roam at will. In fact, I used to live down the road from someone who had a couple of peacocks as pets, and they were constantly coming into the yard, honking and aggravating my dog.

My friend and Old South authority said that when Sherman came through, the Yankee soldiers entertained themselves by shooting these peacocks for sport.

“They shot the peafowl,” he says, and the generational sorrow is thick in his voice.

I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t be able to have their fun on Facebook or that there’s not some humor to the joke that Cump Sherman set the fire that shut down I-85, but don’t dismiss those who say it is “too soon” as idle jokers. Some wounds take hundreds of years to heal, and Sherman’s gash across the face of Georgia is still a raw scar.

They shot the peafowl.

Researching travel in the 1800s

Toll house and toll road from the 1800s.

Toll house and toll road from the 1800s.

As I research and write the Jackson Speed Memoirs, one of the things that really fascinates me is the transportation of the era.

Anyone familiar with the books will know that typically the books unravel along a physical journey, and Speed rarely finishes a book in the same place he started it. So I end up spending a lot of time figuring out how a 19th Century scoundrel would get from here to there.

Transportation in the 19th Century was a crazy slow mixture of ingenuity, resourcefulness, and determination.

For instance, in the earliest days of train travel, it was not uncommon to have a bolt in the floor of the train car come loose from the vibrations and shoot into the air. Train passengers were sometimes injured by these flying bolts. And those early trains did not have cushioned seats, so passengers bumped and jerked over rails while sitting on flat wood benches or chairs. I imagine train depots probably presented a comical sight of stiff-backed travelers trying to stretch out the kinks.

The very first trains, going back to the early 1800s, consisted of nothing more than stagecoaches hooked to an engine.

Water, of course, was hugely important to travel. The rivers truly were our first highways.

I once came across some information about a river that I frequently travel in my canoe. The Oconee River, which runs from north of Athens, Ga., to South Georgia where it helps form the Altamaha River and goes out to the Atlantic, is a narrow river full of shoals and sandbars, and once or twice a month I can be found in my canoe paddling the Oconee around Athens.

In the early 1800s, the Oconee had significant boat traffic from the sea up to Dublin, Georgia. Above Dublin, the Oconee passes through Milledgeville (which was the antebellum state capital).

For more than a decade, every spring, tens of thousands of dollars and countless man hours were wasted trying to clear the Oconee of obstacles from Dublin to Milledgeville so that boat traffic could move up to the state capital. Typically in a season they would only be able to float a small handful of ships up river. The river north of Dublin was just too shallow for boats. They would dredge the sand and clear deadfall and even blast rocks, but the work would only clear the river long enough to allow a few boats to get to Milledgeville.

In Indiana there was an even bigger boondoggle in the making.

In the mid-1830s the Indiana general assembly passed a bill allocating $3.5 million to the construction of the Indiana Central Canal. Intended to run 296 miles from the Wabash and Erie Canal to the Ohio River, only 9 miles were ever completed (near Indianapolis) and another two dozen miles were dug. The project nearly bankrupted the state.

In the 1900s, the completed portion of the canal at Indianapolis was used to provide drinking water for the city, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

In researching the Jackson Speed novels, I dig pretty deep into the history of transportation, and I am constantly amazed by what I learn. Mostly, I am amazed at the ingenuity of the human race.

In Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves, Speed flees slave hunters aboard a flat boat.

Big rivers – the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and others – were littered with these flat boats. They were large barges built almost like house boats, and farmers would pack these boats with livestock and produce and float them down the rivers (Abraham Lincoln once floated a flat boat down the Mississippi).

Typically when they arrived where they were going, these farmers would sell their boats and walk home. Sometimes the boats would be dismantled and the lumber used to construct homes or barns. Sometimes people would live on the boats on the river. Sometimes they would hitch the boats to steamships and carry them back upstream.

Especially in the novels set prior to the Civil War, my ability to get Speed from one place to another is very limited. I have several period maps I use that show the rail lines in the 1840s and 1850s, and the railroads of the day were a bizarre mishmash of ties and rails. Particularly as a line was being constructed, it was possible to arrive halfway along your journey only to discover that to complete your trip you would have to find some other mode of travel because the tracks had not yet been laid all the way to your destination. Speed encountered this particular dilemma when he arrived in Chattanooga in Fugitive Slaves.

But of course there was always some other way. A canal, a steamship, a stagecoach, or a horse would get you where you needed to go.

Another aspect of travel at the time that interests me is that most of the roads of the early- to mid-1800s were toll roads that were privately owned. While toll bridges proved to be successful private ventures – because evading the toll was quite a challenge when crossing a river – toll roads were less successful as private ventures. Toll jumpers, known as “shunpikers,” were common, and the roads were often chartered by the government with lots of regulations. People who lived within a mile of the tollhouse were not to be charged; people on normal family business were not to be charged; people going to and from church were not to be charged.

Between the no-charges and the shunpikers, private toll roads struggled to make money.

By the early 1900s, local and state governments were taking over roadways and the private toll roads were soon to be a thing of the past.

The history of travel in the United States is fascinating to me, and it’s easy for me to get lost in the research as I try to move Jackson Speed from one place to another without benefit of interstates, cars driving 75 mph or airplanes.

In some of the novels, such as Jackson Speed and the Fugitive Slaves, the physical journey the characters make is as important as to the story as anything, but in other novels, the travel is merely a necessary part of the story. In Fugitive Slaves, I spent hours and hours researching roadways, river and train travel of 1853.

In the novel I’m currently writing, Jackson Speed in the Rush, Speed makes one of the biggest journeys in the history of our nation – the Overland trip to California. I spent a massive amount of time researching the trip, but the novel is not about that journey and it only takes up a chapter of the book.

I think my fascination with early travel stems from a family story I heard many years ago. There is a letter that survived from when my Peecher ancestors moved from Virginia to the Midwest in the early 1800s (before the war). In the letter, one of the women making the journey wrote of traveling over the Appalachian Mountains, and she noted that one evening as they camped they were able to see across the valley to the spot where they had camped the previous night. It was a long, slow process to travel any distance.

And while I certainly don’t lament the advances and improved efficiency of travel from those days in the 1800s when Jackson Speed was traipsing about, I do find a certain nostalgia in the slower, simpler modes of travel of 150 years ago.

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.