But a publisher’s mix-up delayed his books.
The newest release, The Ballad of Weesatch, arrived the day before he and his wife were set to leave for Tucson.
She was taking a job as a veterinarian, and he was going to work at the University of Arizona as a researcher.
This book signing wasn’t his idea. It was that of Connie Sugarek.
Sugarek first met Hartman as he was reading a book one Friday night at the restaurant. She was at the cash register and was at his table.
They struck up a conversation.
“When he told me about his book, I ordered it and read it,” she said. “I thought it was pretty exciting. I haven’t ordered any of his other ones yet, but I am going to do that.”
It was Sugarek who spurred on the signing. She had hoped it would be earlier than it was, but fate, or misfortune, intervened – the books came late, and Hartman was leaving that next day.
Charlie Moreman, one of the owners of the Chisholm Trail in Skidmore, said that is when Connie, an employee, approached her about the book signing.
“We met Randall, because he always came in on Friday nights to eat,” she said. “He said he had written a book.
“We read it. We liked it.”
Hartman grew up as a Navy brat, so moving was nothing significant for him.
As an adult, he and his wife, Dr. Carlotta Groves, had been living together in the Virgin Islands for some years and had enough.
Groves had been working there since 2007 for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“The crime was so bad in the Virgin Islands we weren’t going to stay there,” he said.
They found themselves in Skidmore because of his wife.
Flash back a couple of years, and many people will remember Groves coming to Bee County.
She got a job working as one of the veterinarians at the Beeville Veterinary Hospital, and the couple settled down just outside of town.
While she cared for animals, Hartman worked on his novel.
“I just sort of found work and wrote that book,” he said, adding that he was also a member of the volunteer fire department in Skidmore. “That is the sixth book I have written.”
His book is set in the time described by him as the precursor to the Wild West, when the rebellious Weesatch Sixsmith rode into the Republic of Texas with his bounty hunting partner, and fellow ex-Dragoon, Wendell Sykes.
“As they attempt to settle into the newly established territory, they discover that this is a land to which many other misfits and outlaws are drawn,” his writes in his description of the book.
“With the help of a colorful host of characters, including a discrete Voodoo priestess, a sly card shark and a half-Irish Comanche chief with a penchant for show and tell, the bounty hunters hazard into second guessing a maniacal killer marauding his way towards the border.
“In a chaotic chain of events, the situation becomes tense and dire.”
Hartman, who goes by the pen name Randall C. Von Hartman, said that he was thrilled to sell half of his books that Friday, Aug. 24, with such short notice of the signing.
“I got second billing to the all-you-can-eat catfish,” he said jokingly.
He never knows just how well a book will be received, so having people ready and willing to purchase one always brings a smile to his face.
“It is just a hobby I do on the side. I don’t know many people that make a living as an author,” he said. “If it ever really takes off — great.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.