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.

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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.