New Installment Coming Soon!

The Will Nickerson Mysteries series will soon have a new member of the family, to be titled What’s Up In Wyoming.  Since it is not yet published, I won’t go into any details as of yet, but as the title suggests, of course, Will Nickerson of New Oslo, ND makes a trip to Wyoming.  I have visited that state numerous times myself, so I was inspired to write about it in my newest novel.  As with my previous books in the series, I’ve included a lot of background details relating to the geography, history and nature of the setting, as well as a mystery to be solved by Will and the gang.  Perhaps we begin to see a bit of a rivalry starting to brew between Will’s two on-again, off-again romantic interests, Jenine and Laurel.  More details when the new book hits the presses.  Stay tuned!

R. L. Anderson, Author, Will Nickerson Mysteries:
Ranch Park
It’s A Place For Trees
Viking It Is
Let’s Make It Merry Christmas
*****COMING SOON***** What’s Up In Wyoming*****

Check ‘em out on (Kindle and Createspace), plus Nook and Kobo.

P.S.  I’m on Twitter now.  Follow me @AuthorRollie.


Sorry I haven’t posted anything for awhile.  It’s been a busy summer for me–and–oh yeah, excuses, excuses!!  Not much motivation to sit at the computer when it’s been nice weather to be outdoors, albeit a bit cooler than I’d have liked this year.  My sheep shearing business kept me busy much of the spring and summer, plus I’ve had my hands full with yard work and repairs to the house (repairs made necessary by the severe winter we had last year).  But now I’m back at the computer and have a new installment in the Will Nickerson Mysteries coming soon.  More on that next time!

R. L. Anderson, Author, Will Nickerson Mysteries:
Ranch Park
It’s A Place For Trees
Viking It Is
Let’s Make It Merry Christmas
***COMING SOON*** What’s Up In Wyoming

Check ‘em out on (Kindle and Createspace), plus Nook and Kobo.

P.S.  I’m on Twitter now.  Follow me @AuthorRollie.

The Badlands aren’t bad at all!

“We could be on the Moon–or Mars,” Jenine said.  “It’s so–alien.  But it’s beautiful, too.”
“Look, there!”  Will pointed to the bright-red Jeep Cherokee in the little parking area by the roadside.  He pulled in beside it.  “Yep.  That’s hers, all right.”
“I guess she’s here.”  Jenine’s voice was less than enthusiastic, but she climbed out and fetched her backpack out from under the tonneau cover.
Will grabbed his backpack, too, hoisted it into position, and slammed the tailgate shut.
They paused for a look at the austere stone shelter house, looking like a toy with the sweeping vista of the Dakota Badlands as a backdrop.  The Little Missouri River slashed like a knife wound through the scenery, far below the shelter’s lofty perch.  “This is so awesome!”  Jenine kept saying.
“Wait’ll you see the view from the shelter house.  C’mon on.”
They hiked the rest of the way to the rocky little pavilion, a relic of the 1930s’ CCC make-work program, and found a girl seated on one of the rocks at its base, her waist-length dark hair swirling in the stiff wind.  She was staring out at the river, calmly munching on a sandwich.  On another rock by her side was a backpack with a Smokey Bear hat partially shoved underneath, so as to keep it from taking off in the wind.  The kind of hat worn by park rangers and naturalists.  She appeared to be lost in thought, almost as if meditating.  With her back turned to the newcomers and the wind whistling in her ears, she did not sense their approach.
“Angie?” Will spoke in the softest voice he could muster, so as not to startle her.
He startled her anyway.  She turned sharply, jarred from her reverie, and stood up to face them.  “Will!”

From Ranch Park, Chapter 25, “Where Badlands are Good Lands”.

One of North Dakota’s undiscovered gems is Theodore Roosevelt National Park, consisting of two units, the North Unit located near Watford City and the South Unit near Medora.  Both are operated as one park–which is said to be America’s least visited National Park.  That’s not a bad thing.  Lreast visited means least crowded.  Least spoiled.  A great way to experience the beauty of the famous Dakota Badlands without the mobs of tourists you’d be more likely to see at South Dakota’s more highly publicized Badlands National Park.  The location is near where Theodore Roosevelt had a ranch for a few years before he became President, and it left a lasting impression on him, to do all that he could as President to protect the beauty of the West before it was too late.  My imaginary characters Will and Jenine enjoy a visit there, as I enjoyed my visit to this great park.

R. L. Anderson, author, Will Nickerson Mysteries

Check out Ranch Park on for the paperback and Kindle editions, and also on  Nook or Kobo.  Click on the book icon on any of the sites for a free “try before you buy” preview.

Oh, the Joys of Being a Landlord!

As they approached the fence marking the northern boundary of the Ranch Park, Will felt a chill go up and down his spine as he glimpsed an enormous black Ford F-450 Super Duty pickup, the kind with extra rear tires and crew cab, bumping along on the other side of the fence.  It was a  macho truck, the kind that said I rule the road, and get outta my way.  Harlan Plachkow!  The man Will considered his arch enemy.  Plachkow owned the land on the north and west sides of the Ranch Park and leased several hundred acres of wheat land to the east.  A few years ago, while he was building his house, a couple of miles to the north, he had rented one of the two condos that Will owned in New Oslo–the same one where Alastair and his mother Shirley Pienaar now lived.  The condos were intended to be an investment–an investment to be cashed in, which would form the bulk of the downpayment on a ranch.  In fact, Will had his eyes on a nice thousand-acre spread a few miles east of the Ranch Park–not a huge property by western standards, but he felt that by using rotational grazing, it could easily run a hundred cow-calf pairs.  Plachkow had a six-month lease on the condo–and refused to pay a single penny of it.  Will tried in vain to get him evicted–and when he finally moved out, he had completely trashed the place.  The repairs cost more than the condo was worth–especially replacing all the flooring to get rid of the stench left behind by Plachkow’s three Irish Setters.  The downpayment on the ranch was gone–and so was the ranch.  It was purchased by the Plachkow family before Will even had a chance at it.  So he landed right back where he had started, back in the office supplies business and back to playing rancher at the Ranch Park–when he should have been on his own ranch.  It was hard not to feel bitter. He did not wave at Plachkow and hoped Jenine didn’t, either.  He didn’t dare turn around to look.

From Ranch Park, Chapter 3, “On Safari–North Dakota Style”.

When I wrote that in Ranch Park in 2009, I had no idea that I would have a similar experience as a landlord.  The Tenant From Hell came my way late in 2012, and as Harlan Plachkow did to Will Nickerson in fiction, this guy did it to me in reality.  The guy stopped paying his rent about a year ago, and after months and months of agony he’s gone at last–and so is the rental property.  Completely trashed–a tragic loss of my investment.  I hope to recover at least a portion of it, however, in court.  There may be some successful landlords out there reading this–and if you’re one of them, consider yourself lucky, and I hope your luck continues.  As for me, however, there will be no more rental property investing in my future.  Instead of gambling on that risky business, I’ll stick with doing what I do best.  Fiction writing.  I guess I could write a great nonfiction “How-To” kind of book sometime.  How ‘bout How To Invest In Rental Property, by R. L. Anderson.  It would have only one word in it: DON’T.  Anyway–the hassle of cleaning out the condo and getting rid of it has been taking most of my time these last few weeks, which is why you haven’t seen any new posts on my blog lately.  Hopefully that will all be behind me soon and I’ll be back to blogging once again, all about the Will Nickerson Mysteries–and back to work on the next volume in the series.

R. L. Anderson, author, Will Nickerson Mysteries

Check ‘em out on for the paperback and Kindle editions and also on Nook and Kobo.  Click on the book icon for a free preview.

It’s the Peace Garden State

“It’s so beautiful here!”  Jenine exclaimed.
“Stand right there,” Will directed her.  “One foot there.”
“Like this?”
“Perfect.  And one foot there.”  He backed off.  “Now you’re straddling the border.  You’ve got one foot in Canada and one foot in the United States.  And so do I.”  He extracted his camera from its case.  “Now let me take your picture.”
“Not again!” she protested.
“Why not?”  It did seem to him that she was more self-conscious about having her picture taken than she was at Ranch Camp.
“All these scratches and bruises.”  She bent over and rubbed her legs.
“Oh–I hadn’t even noticed.  And besides, I’ll fix ‘em on the computer.”
“Well–if you say so.”
He took a few shots.  “Good.  I got you standing on the border, with the Peace Tower in the background.”  He showed it to her on the camera’s viewscreen.
“Now you have to let me take one of you.”  She pulled her phone out of her pocket.
“It’ll break your phone–but OK.”

From Ranch Park, Chapter 23, “Straddling the Border”.

One of the coolest things you can do in North Dakota and Manitoba simultaneously is stand with one foot in Canada and one foot in the US.  The International Peace Garden, which gives the Peace Garden State its nickname, is a magnificent monument to peace and friendship between two great nations.  And, for added realism–and to encourage visitors to consider a stop there on their next vacation–why not send Will Nickerson and Jenine Mescall there?  As my fictional characters do, I enjoyed my visit to the Peace Garden several years ago, taking in all its many beauty spots.  The US side is the cultural side, with venues for music, sports, lectures and the arts, while the Canadian side is the natural side, with hiking trails, forest and great wildlife habitat.  Exquisite gardens line both sides, and in the true spirit of peace, the ones on the Canadian side are tended by North Dakota civic organizations, while the US gardens are tended by Manitoba civic organizations.  Having great Canadian friends and a deep affection for all things Canadian (well–except for the weather!!), I was angered by the US government’s decision to require passports for Canada.  It felt like a slap in the face to our best friend and neighbor.  But unfortunately passports are the law, so be sure to take yours with you when you visit the Peace Garden.  You won’t need it to go in–and while you’re in the Peace Garden you can wander freely between the two countries.  But–when you exit the Garden, a right turn takes you to US Customs and a left turn takes you to Canada Customs–and there you will need that passport.  It’s worth it, though, as North Dakotans and Manitobans know–and for those, like myself, from other areas, discovering all that the prairies have to offer, be sure to include the International Peace Garden on the itinerary.  You won’t be disappointed.

R. L. Anderson, author, Will Nickerson Mysteries

Check out Ranch Park on for the paperback and Kindle editions, and also on  Nook or Kobo.  Click on the book icon on any of the sites for a free “try before you buy” preview.

The Scenery Along The Way

Much farther to the south, he could see, shimmering in the distance, Lake Sakakawea, which took its name from one of the most influential women in American history, Sakakawea, Sacagawea, or Sacajawea, as she is known in most other parts of the country.  The name meant ‘Bird Woman’ in the Shoshone Indian language.  She had been honored as well by the US Mint which placed her likeness on a dollar coin.  A member of the Shoshone tribe, she was still a teenager, but already had a husband, French Canadian fur trapper Toussaint Charbonneau, and a son, when she joined up with the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804 near the site where now stands the dam that created the lake from a portion of the Missouri River.  Garrison Dam, for the site of Lewis and Clark’s garrison.  Sakakawea became an integral part of the expedition, contributing her talents as guide and interpreter.  It was certainly a stroke of luck that Lewis and Clark met her, for without her help, the expedition would have been doomed to certain failure.  This was country steeped in Lewis and Clark history–in fact the highway that ran between the Ranch Park and the lake was named Highway1804 in honor of the year that the great explorers entered what is now North Dakota.  On the opposite side of the lake, there is a Highway 1806, named for the year of their return journey eastward…

From Ranch Park, Chapter 3, “On Safari–North Dakota Style” as Will Nickerson takes in the scenery from his vantage point on the tractor seat as he takes Jenine’s camp group on a Ranch Safari hayride.

Although my stories are fiction–all the characters are made up–and there are no such places as Dakota Ranch Park and New Oslo, ND, I want them to be true to the overall areas where they take place.  I wanted especially to capture the spirit of North Dakota in Ranch Park–so of course some of the reality of the state had to come into play.  Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota’s Great Lake, is one such place, and I treat it and the history associated with it with as much accuracy as possible.  By incorporating the reality of North Dakota into the novel, I hope to make the story more realistic–and show readers what this great state is all about.  North Dakotans can take pride in the state–and maybe, perhaps, non-North Dakota readers can be persuaded to consider it for their next vacation.  There are, in fact, places I’ve wanted to go after reading about them in fiction.  Ranch Park is a murder mystery–but it’s all set amid the sweeping backdrop of the prairies and Badlands of this truly magnificent state.

R. L. Anderson, author, Will Nickerson Mysteries

Check out Ranch Park on for the paperback and Kindle editions, and also on  Nook or Kobo.  Click on the book icon on any of the sites for a free “try before you buy” preview.

The Plot Thickens…

Sorry, guys!  Been away from the blog for awhile–among other things, watching the Olympics, and weren’t they great?  Although I’m not really a huge TV watcher, when the Olympics come on, it’s hard to get me away from it.  So here I am back at the blog–and let’s see…where did we leave off?
Will and Jenine–is it love at first sight when they meet in the opening chapters of Ranch Park?  Check out the book and see what you think…

Anyway–the setting and the core characters are in place, so now we need a plot.  I had been reading lots of murder mysteries, so I decided to try my hand at writing one myself.  And I must admit that concocting a fictional murder had me feeling guilty!  I wonder how it is with other authors of crime stories when they plot the perfect crime in fiction.  Does everyone feel a sense of guilt as they plot out what the bad guy in the story is up to?  I don’t know–but in order to write a murder mystery you do need a murder, and it’s gotta have a motive.  In the interest of not spoiling the story, I won’t share that with you in the blog, however.  You’ll just have to read Ranch Park and the rest of the series to find out whodunit and why.

I started out writing with the beginning and end in mind and wrote that down in my notes.  The middle of the story was a mystery to me.  That’s the real adventure.  How to get from Point A to Point B.  I knew a few things I wanted to happen–but not exactly when and where.  But as I started writing, the ideas flashed like fireworks in my brain.  The characters began to take over and Ranch Park materialized right before my very eyes on my computer.  The story seemed to write itself.  At this point I wasn’t even thinking about publishing.  Five years ago I hadn’t even heard of Kindle!  And I was only vaguely familiar with as an online bookstore.  I wrote for the therapeutic value it gave me.  An escape from the frustrations that came my way.  Frustration and hard times can morph into creativity, as so much of the world’s great literature, music and art has come to be in the face of personal difficulties plaguing the artist.  And while I make no claim to any of my works being great literature, the same holds true for everyday authors such as myself, as well.

Ranch Park is in paperback and Kindle editions on and is also on Nook and Kobo.  Check it out–and you can get a free preview online.  Click on the book icon and read the opening pages on your computer or e-device.  It’s North Dakota all the way!

Is It Love At First Sight?

“HI,” SHE GREETED him, with a cheery smile.  “Are you our hayride driver?”
“You bet.  I’m Will.”
“Jenine.”  She held out her hand.  It was a soft and moist hand and yet had a firm and capable feeling at the same time.
“Nice to meet you.”  A bit uneasy, he groped for the proper words to introduce himself.  “I’ve signed up to drive all the Ranch Camp rides this summer.”
“All of them?”  She looked puzzled, as if reading ‘Volunteer’ on his nametag and wondering how an adult would be volunteering away from work in the middle of a weekday and on a regular basis at that.  Unless–perhaps he was a teacher on summer break?
“I’m self-employed; so I can take time off from work.”
No, he was not a teacher. “Cool.  What d’you do for your real work?”
“I have a small office supply store in New Oslo.  Nickerson Office Supplies.”
“I don’t get to New Oslo very much; but when I do, I’ll have to check it out.  Maybe you’ve got something I could use for school.”
“Where d’you go to school?”
“Just finished at UND.  But now I’m a teacher.  Or will be as soon as I get a job.”  She gestured toward the Pavilion where Kalen and Alisha were dishing out scoops of ice cream to the kids.  “We’re running a little behind schedule; so how ‘bout havin’ some ice cream with us?”

From Ranch Park, Chapter 3, “On Safari–North Dakota Style”, as our two main characters Will Nickerson and Jenine Mescall meet for the first time.


R. L. Anderson, author, Will Nickerson Mysteries.

Available in paperback and Kindle editions on  Also on Nook and Kobo.

Casting the Story

OK–we’ve got our star performers.  But now we need more characters.  Lots of them.  This is a murder mystery, so we need a variety of suspects, each with a plausible motive.  One is the murderer.  And a good murder mystery is a puzzle.  Gotta keep the reader guessing–and hopefully keep things deliberately confusing so as to surprise the reader when the guilty party is finally revealed at the end.  In Ranch Park I actually changed the murderer from the one I had originally planned, since it was obvious from the start that this character was the murderer.  So–I decided about halfway through the book, he’s NOT.  Of course we need a victim.  Or maybe more than one victim.  We need characters in supporting roles, too.  And how ‘bout a few background characters, just to add some ‘depth’ to the story.  As the ideas for my first novel began to flow, I started creating characters.  I did it in outline form, describing how they look, their ages, their personalities, type of work they do, types of vehicles they drive, whether they’re smokers or nonsmokers, all to bring them to life in my mind–and hopefully also potential readers’ minds as well.  With each one I tried to imagine what it would be like to meet them and whether or not I would like them as friends.  I based them not on specific individuals, but rather on types of people I’ve known, often composites of various types of people.  Names can be a challenge.  But as I geared up to write Ranch Park, I drew on a variety of sources of inspiration.  For some, I dipped once more into my family tree–for example the sheriff of Sakakawea County is named Edmund Harshman.  The Edmund came from an ancestor in the Mescall lineage of our family, and the Harshman name came from a German ancestor who Anglicized his name to Harshman from Hirschmann.  I needed lots of good Norwegian names, too, for an area of the country with a large Norwegian ethnicity–so I picked out at random Norwegian names I had heard during my time as a North Dakota ranch owner.  Names from the Williston phone book.  Names that appeared on the plat maps I had for the area.  For my South African character, I needed an Afrikaans name (South African Dutch, although Afrikaners do not like to be referred to as Dutchmen).  So I asked a couple of friends in South Africa for suggestions, and one came up with Riaan Pienaar.  Very typical Afrikaans.  So–why not?  Riaan Pienaar it is.  Other names simply popped into my head spontaneously.  Some names I picked just because I like the name–such as Laurel, who is a major character in my second novel, It’s A Place For Trees.  Then there are some names I picked because I don’t like them.  Those, of course, are applied to some of the less likeable characters in the story. Characters don’t always perform as expected!!  It can be fascinating to see how they come to life and have minds of their own.  Often a character that I had planned to have in a minor role will come on strong and demand to be in a more important position.  Ragnvald ‘Raggy’ Haakonson is a prime example.  Other characters always crop up as the story progresses.  Sometimes a new character will arrive on the scene spontaneously–one being Chuck Halvorson, owner of a garden center, who meets up with Will and Jenine at the Peace Garden in Ranch Park.  That has happened in all of my books so far, including the new one I am working on now.  But now I’m getting ahead of myself.  The cast starts with a core base of performers to place on the stage that is my book.  Other ones come along during the writing process.  But now, with the core base of characters all lined up to start with, we need the stage for them to perform on.

R. L. Anderson, author, Will Nickerson Mysteries

Check it out on for paperback and Kindle editions.  Or, if you’re a Barnes & Noble fan, we’re on Nook, too, and the Kobo editions are the newest.

Meet the Leading Lady

Jenine Mescall stood up and gingerly made her way down the bales, saying “everybody’s going to get a chance.  I want you to line up over here.”  She directed them into a single-file line behind the cow.
Unlike Emily, Jenine was truly beautiful.  Nearly five feet nine, perfect oval face, with delicate features that gave her a look of elegance; coal-black hair, tied back in a long ponytail, that contrasted nicely with her blue eyes and very fair Celtic complexion. She was indeed a beauty.  She wasn’t skinny, however, like the proverbial emaciated fashion model, but rather had the sleek and sturdy athletic build of an Olympic champion.   She had in fact excelled in sports as well as in all of her academic studies at the University of North Dakota, in Grand Forks, where she had just received her Master’s in Early Childhood Education.  She had passed her State Boards and now possessed teaching certificates for both Dakotas, Minnesota, and Montana, and hoped to land her first real career job in the fall.  She had sent applications in to every school district in these four states–but no replies–yet.  It was good to be working as a camp counselor for the Ranch Park’s summer daycamp program, however.  At least that brought her in contact with children and added experience to her portfolio.  And it sure beat waiting tables as she’d done for the past four summers.  For two years it had been the prestigious but snobbish Meriwether’s at Sakakawea Shores Country Club.  At first she had liked the atmosphere of this exclusive fine dining establishment.  The white table linen, the classy clientele, and being surrounded by golf and tennis and the proximity to water were all reminiscent of her home state of Florida.  But the manager, a real witch of a woman, seemed to have it in for Jenine right from the start.

From Ranch Park, Chapter 1, ‘Ranch Camp’, as we meet the leading lady of the story, Jenine Mescall, Will Nickerson’s number one romantic interest in the first novel of the series.

Jenine isn’t patterned after any one person I know or have known in the past–but rather she’s a composite character, combining traits that I would be attracted to, myself, in a romantic interest.  She is intelligent, adventurous, attractive, elegant–and at times “delightfully kooky”, such as liking ketchup on ice cream (I once met someone who actually said she did).  I named her Jenine because that was the name of my first “serious” childhood crush–and I gave her the last name Mescall, since that, like Nickerson, was an ancestral name in my mother’s family tree.  As it says in Ranch Park, Mescall is in fact an Irish name, found mainly in the west of County Clare, where one of my great-great grandmothers came from in the 19th Century.  The original Gaelic version of the name was O’Meiscill.  On a visit to County Clare a few years ago, we found that there are still Mescalls living in the city of Kilrush.  Jenine and Will don’t always agree on everything–but they complement each other nicely as their on-again-off-again relationship progresses through the series.  Overall, he wants a wife–while she wants a friend.  A good close friend–but definitely platonic.  For now, at least.  And that’s the way I want to keep it in the series.  The door is open to other romantic interests, perhaps for them both, to keep things interesting in the romantic department.  The romances in the Will Nickerson Mysteries series are always light ‘n breezy and are woven into the fabric of each novel in a tasteful way, not only for Will and Jenine, but for other couples as well, such as Riaan and Stacie in Ranch Park and Craig and Katherine in Let’s Make It Merry Christmas.  These are not mushy love stories.  They are rural based mysteries, first and foremost, with a touch of romance running through them at times.  An appropriate topic with Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching…

R. L. Anderson, author, Will Nickerson Mysteries.

Available in paperback and Kindle editions from  Also on Nook and Kobo.