The Lost Mine Trail, the third book in the Big Bend Country Mysteries series, is in production. That, of course, means weeks of revising, editing, and proofreading. And there's a cover to choose, pages to design, front and back matter to write, and so on.

But the story is complete—a complex tale of murder and revenge. New characters of course, but favorites from previous books return too: Clayton Shoot and Claire Harp, of...

Cowboy poets copy_a copy.jpg

Cowboy poets returned to Alpine, Texas, on February 21-22, 2020. While the gathering had a new name and management, the tradition of singing songs and reciting poetry of the American West continued, drawing an enthusiastic crowd—and more young people than ever before. Such gatherings occur annually all around the country.

And such an event also plays a big part in the third Big Bend Country Mystery, The Lost Mine Trail,...


In December 2019, I announced the epigraph for my forthcoming book The Lost Mine Trail.

Guess who cites the same Machiavelli quotation in his just-published (March 2020) novel Long Range? Best-selling author C J Box! I guess we've both been exploring the theme of retribution. (I'm sticking with Machiavelli.)

The manuscript of The Lost Mine Trail just pushed past 50,000 words, its progress slowed a bit...


I've told this story a number of times to friends. In December 2018, as I was closing in on the final chapters of The South Rim Trail, my nine-month old schnauzer pups—left alone in the house—tore apart the sole copy of my detailed outline for the book.

Of course, any author of mysteries needs tight control over who is doing what to whom when. So I'd prepared a scene-by-scene description for my story using the...


Early copies of The South Rim Trail shipped with an error on the spine. New books now come with the correct spelling. Many eyes missed the seemingly obvious gaffe, mine included, of course.


Look closely at the selfie that accompanies my Facebook posts or Amazon reviews (as JRAlpine) and you'll see this painting in the background. It plays a huge role in The South Rim Trail. Of course, you'll have to read the novel to learn all the details.

Terlingua Townhouse is a work in a style called plein air, and if you don't know what that means, that's yet another reason to read the novel. And if you do...


Copyediting can be every bit as tough as composing. When I wrote textbooks, my manuscripts went through at least two or (more often) three levels of professional review to get every detail right—and even then errors slipped through.

I don't have that luxury now. Just one copyeditor and so many reviews of the manuscript on my own that I know parts of it almost by heart. And there's he rub. Very soon, I'm reading what I think...


With theThe South Rim Trail now available, I made a list of places or sites in Big Bend Country mentioned in the book. Authors often take liberties with locales and geography, but part of the fun for readers of series like the Big Bend Country Mysteries is recognizing familiar places or discovering new ones. Let me know if there are any West Texas spots I should take my characters to in future books.


Just finished the important task of synching the upcoming book in the Big Bend Mysteries series The South Rim Trail with the first book in the series The Window Trail. I made dozens of small changes in the latest manuscript to be certain the community introduced in the first book jibes with the one in the second. For example, one character had changed eye color (fixed).

I also revisited sites in Big Bend country to be...


Mystery writer J.A. Jance pays attention to the cars her characters own. In Kiss of the Bees, it matters when a new tribal attorney on an Arizona reservation pulls up in a Saab 9000 rather than a Chevy or Ford pickup. Everyone notices.

So characters living in Far West Texas can’t drive just anything either.

With the nearest supercharger 100 miles away, Teslas are rare as Ferraris—though I’ve seen both out here recently....


J J Rusz discusses The Window Trail and The South Rim Trail in an interview with Charlotte Canion for Indie Beacon Radio (February 12, 2019 from Alpine, Texas). Rusz explains his experiences as an author, his process of writing, and the ideas behind the Big Bend Country Mystery series. (30.27 minutes / 12 February 2019)

Also listen on:...

At Big Bend National Park

It's time my Big Bend Country Mysteries have a website of their own, now that The Window Trail has been named Texas Authors 2019 Best Mystery/ Thriller. And the second book in the series The South Rim Trail is now available too.

Both novels can be purchased in eBook or paperback form—and they are available on Kindle Unlimited, if you subscribe.

As you might guess, all the Big Bend Country...