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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Book 6 of the Jackson Speed series is now available

Jackson Speed In the Rush is now available to Kindle and Kindle app users!

The print version of the book should be available in the next couple of days.

I am massively pleased with this book, and very excited for Speed fans to get a look at it.

The Jackson Speed books do not follow the chronological order of his life, and this one – the sixth book in the series – actually takes readers back to where the first book left off. In Jackson Speed In the Rush, readers find Speed returning home from the war in Mexico, but as Bugs Bunny might say, Speed took a wrong turn in Albuquerque (actually, his wrong turn was in Dallas) and instead of returning to Georgia he goes off seeking gold in California.

But for Speed to get from war in Mexico to gold in California, he has to take an adventurous detour that leads him to the Spavinaw River in northeast Oklahoma. There he meets and spends time with the famous Cherokee chief Stand Watie.

Watie is an interesting person to me, and I really enjoyed writing the first half of the novel where Watie plays a role.

As I have noted previously, this book required a good bit more in-depth research than I usually have to do, and for about a month I was studying up on Watie quite a bit. I got caught up reading a great deal of his correspondence, and it was truly fascinating to me. I knew I was going to like the guy, though, when I discovered early on that he was the last Confederate general to surrender. I have big respect for anyone who is willing to stand his ground even when everyone else has thrown in the towel.

All of the books in The Jackson Speed Memoirs have a cast of characters of real people who really did some or all of the things depicted in the books.

Included in previous novels have been people like Devil Dan Sickles, Jefferson Davis, Ben McCulloch, Allan Pinkerton, Stonewall Jackson, Fitzhugh Lee and even Abraham Lincoln. I thoroughly enjoy writing about these historical people in the Jackson Speed novels. Pinkerton is probably my favorite historical person to write into a novel, but I really enjoy the process of discovering more about these individuals and trying to resurrect them on my pages.

In the Rush has another wonderful cast of characters joining Stand Watie.

Jesse Chisholm makes an appearance or two in the book. Chisholm, of course, lent his name to the famous cattle trail. Most interesting to me about Chisholm, though, was that he routinely adopted children who had been kidnapped by Plains Indians. The Comanche even purposefully kidnapped kids just so they could sell them to Chisholm. Jesse tried to find the families of the children he rescued, but when he could not, he just took them as his own.

John Rollin Ridge, a tragic character if ever there was one, also appears in the novel. I felt a deep connection to Ridge because he, too, was a journalist and novelist. I’m convinced the novel does not do justice to Ridge as a person, but I needed him to play a specific role in my novel and then I needed to leave him in Fayetteville, but it was always a nagging shame to me that I could not incorporate Ridge into the novel in a bigger way.

My own seventh great-grandfather shows up in the novel, though I’m afraid he isn’t cast in the best light. Great Grandpa Nathan Boone was about 70-years-old in 1848 and by then his health wasn’t great and he was in the habit of drinking heavily and reminiscing even more heavily. I think my portrayal of Boone is fair, but he’d have acquitted himself much better if we’d have caught him at a younger age.

Obadiah Bush, an ancestor to two U.S. Presidents, also makes a convenient cameo in the novel. I was able to find very little factual information about Obadiah Bush that would allow me to draw him out as an accurate character, and so the Obadiah Bush in the Jackson Speed novels is mostly fantasy. Sometimes when I incorporate historical people into my novels, the novel bends around the historical character. Sometimes when I incorporate historical people into my novels, the person bends around the plot of the novel. Obadiah Bush does all the bending here.

And finally, Joaquin Murrieta and Three-Finger Jack (Manuel Garcia) provide Speed with the antagonists he needs so that he can do that thing he does second best: Run like hell!

This isn’t the first time that Murrieta has appeared in fiction, so he’s pretty darn good at it. He’s quite a bit more of a villain for Robert Peecher than he was for John Rollin Ridge, but I think you’ll like him anyway.

I’ll note, too, that Slim and Brother were a couple of guys I knew in college. They were roommates in Beeson Hall at Georgia College, and I used to hang out some with Slim and Brother. They provided inspiration and nicknames for a couple of the characters in the novel.

So, with a cast full of fascinating historical people, I hope In the Rush is as fun and entertaining as it is informative.

To get the Kindle version, click here: Jackson Speed In the Rush.

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.