Tuesday, September 15, 2020



Thursday, January 28, 7 p.m.

Rick has an upcoming virtual appearance at Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville to talk about Journeyman.

Tuesday, September 8

Journeyman launched.

Thursday, August 20, 6:30 p.m.

Rick was recently featured as a guest reader for the season finale of Spalding at 21c: Voice and Vision, which celebrated newly published and produced authors for its August virtual edition. The annual reading series runs through the summer months in partnership with Spalding University's School of Creative and Professional Writing and 21c Museum Hotel.


Greetings, Fellow Book Lovers. By now, I had hoped to be starting a book tour to promote my debut novel, Journeyman. Sadly, with the world plagued as it is by the corona virus, that is not possible. So, I am safely sheltering at home in Louisville with my wife. But if you have a book club, literature class, or similar group, I would be thrilled to join your Zoom session discussion. I love my readers! Or email me some questions to answer: journeymanpate [at] gmail [dot] com.


FROM THE NEW, INDEPENDENT Fleur-de-Lis Press of The Louisville Review

Retracing the westward peregrinations of Kerouac and Cassady

In his just-released novel Journeyman, by singer, dramatist, and former teacher Rick Neumayer, PATE MERWIN both uses his head and longs for magic in resolving his questions about how-to-live meaningfully (and simply how to survive). Like Huck Finn, he lights out for the territory—thumbs his way with a faithful friend from mid-America to the prairie, to the mountains, cross the deserts, to the sea, San Francisco & Haight-Ashbury, after its heyday.  His and ours is a country scarred by its original sins of both the deep past and the present: the treatment of African Americans, Native Americans, women, children, and all those who would speak peace to unwarranted foreign wars.

And, what’s more: structurally, this book is a two-layer cake of past and present—just like the lives we live, right? Presented to you with a stunning cover of original art (titled Almost Home) by Corie Neumayer, Journeyman could well join the ranks of classic, always-need, must-have literature.

Sena Jeter Naslund, editor; author of Ahab’s Wife, Four Spirits, Abundance & seven others

Rick was recently featured as a guest reader for the season finale of Spalding at 21c: Voice and Vision, which celebrated newly published and produced authors for its August virtual edition. The annual reading series runs through the summer months in partnership with Spalding University's School of Creative and Professional Writing and 21c Museum Hotel.

Journeyman is currently available in paperback for $16 in store and online at Carmichael’s Bookstores in Louisville, where Rick also has an upcoming virtual appearance to talk about his new book at 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 28. His new novel is available in paperback for $16 at: The Louisville Review's website (https://mailchi.mp/a2e74329364a/fleur-de-lis-press-announces-new-release-by-author-rick-neumayer), in store and online at Carmichael’s, and online at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and your local independent bookstore.


 —[at] RickNeumayer.com

 On Facebook

 journeymanpate [at] gmail [dot] com



Rick Neumayer has published short fiction in many literary magazines, and three of his full-length Broadway-style musical collaborations have been produced. Journeyman is his debut novel. Rick co-edited River City Review literary magazine and has reviewed books for the Louisville Courier Journal. The Louisville native, resident, and Male High graduate has had a wide variety of experiences, including working as a newspaper reporter. After retiring from a thirty-year teaching career, he began writing full-time while earning an MFA in creative writing at Spalding University. He also holds degrees from the University of Louisville (MA) and Western Kentucky University (BA). Rick is open to interviews and available to speak with journalists. For a review copy or more about Rick’s writing, art, and travels, please visit his website: RickNeumayer.com.


Rick Neumayer is a Louisville native and has lived here all his life, except for four years in California as a child. Although a teacher by trade, Rick has had a variety of experiences, including traveling abroad in thirty countries and studying in Scotland, Spain, and Ireland. In college he worked as a journalist, summer interning at the Courier-Journal & Louisville Times and then for two years was a part-time reporter for The Park City Daily News in Bowling Green. In 1971, he hitchhiked across the country with a friend, an experience which inspired Journeyman. Later that year, Rick married his wife Corie, whom he had met in the teacher’s lounge of a junior high while subbing.

After a year as a food stamp social worker, he went back to grad school and later took a job at Jeffersonville High, where he spent the next three decades until retiring from teaching in 2004. He also taught writing part-time at both the University of Louisville and Jefferson Community College, co-edited River City Review literary magazine, reviewed books for The Louisville Courier-Journal, and began winning a few contests and publishing short fiction in small literary magazines.

Somehow, Rick found time to indulge interests in classic private eye mystery fiction (creating a series of his own still in progress), scuba diving, mini-marathoning, and weightlifting. He also loves music and sang in the Glee Club at Male High. In the 1980s, he became lead singer and front man for a local cover band. For the next fifteen years he spent weekends and some nights singing classic rock and blues at bars and weddings. That exhilarating experience led to co-writing hundreds of original songs and eventually full-length Broadway-style musicals, three of which have been produced. Others are in the works.



Journeyman is a coming of age novel about an idealistic, alienated young teacher looking for answers and experience during the turbulent aftermath of the 1960s. Pate Merwin begins his teaching career as a permanent substitute with troubled inner-city middle school students. He also falls in love with Deborah Johnson, an African American bank teller and single parent. When his relationship with Deborah and his teaching career founder, Pate agrees to hitchhike across the country with his friend Stan Hicks, a Navy vet who is now against the Vietnam War.

In Denver, the two stay with Pate’s old school mate Matthew Duncan, an acting student, and his wife Rebecca, who is putting him through grad school. Domestic discord ends Pate’s visit with his friends. He and Stan resume hitchhiking on a southwest course to see cliff dwellings and sample magic mushrooms. During a fierce mountain storm, they are picked up by an older couple with a psychedelic camper. They are stunned to find Matthew is a fellow passenger.

Pate and Matthew rescue Stan, who has foolishly risked his life out on The Great Sand Dunes. Then at Mesa Verde, Pate is smitten by a young Ute woman named Johona, who believes in the spirit world. The couple sleep together in the desert following a deeply spiritual and hallucinatory experience produced by taking psilocybin. Stan severely injures his ankle trying to climb a cliff face in the dark. In the morning, Matthew reveals that he has been using Stan and Pate to model for a hippie role in a soap opera and departs on his own for Hollywood. Stan, upon hearing that Johona’s cousin is a shaman, agrees to have him perform a healing ceremony. Johona and Pate take Stan on horseback to an isolated cliff dwelling ruin in the desert, where Stan is healed.

Pate is broken-hearted when his brief love affair with Johona ends. He presses onward with Stan to San Francisco. In Haight-Ashbury, they meet Willow, a free-spirited macramé artist, who invites them to stay in her commune. As time passes, Pate and Willow become an item. Pate becomes disenchanted with free love, however, and wants a monogamous relationship. When he finds out that Stan has bedded Willow, Pate beats up his friend. Stan says he did it to save Pate from loving someone who would never love him back.

Unable to fit into the civilian world, even in the counterculture, Stan re-enlists in the Navy. Pate, at loose ends, begins painting the big Victorian communal house’s trim for beer money. When Stan is killed while hitchhiking, his dying words are that he loved Pate like a brother and hoped for his forgiveness. Pate is crushed by the news and plans to leave the commune. But first he decides to finish the paint job and, in so doing, comes to acknowledge human selfishness, blindness, and uncertainty in himself and others. He realizes that Stan has taught him a precious lessonthat human beings are all imperfect and in need of forgiveness.


Based on a true but wholly fictionalized experience, this novel will appeal to anyone who has ever wanted to hitchhike across the country or has had an interest in the 1960s. It adds a missing piece to the literary portrait of the U.S. during the Vietnam War viewed from half a century later. Its protagonist probes the original American sin of white cruelty and injustice to African Americans and Native Americans. The natural world, the highway, and San Francisco as the promised place all figure in Pate’s quest for authenticity and connection.


Rick Neumayer

Paperback / $16 / 258 pages

ISBN-10: 0996012044

ISBN-13:  978-0996012041

Publisher: The Louisville Review Corp. and Fleur-de-Lis Press (September 8,2020)

Available in paperback for $16 at: The Louisville Review's website (https://mailchi.mp/a2e74329364a/fleur-de-lis-press-announces-new-release-by-author-rick-neumayer), in store and online at Carmichael’s, and online at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and your local independent bookstore.


Rick Neumayer's Journeyman tells a timeless tale of youth striving to define not only itself but the world it inhabits. Who lives and who dies and why? What new and old values to reject or embrace--and at what point in the journey? A journeyman in earlier lingo was a tradesman who was no longer an apprentice but not yet a master of his trade. This honest, funny, and heartbreaking novel

delivers everything a reader could wish for in the way of action, characters who are convincing and engaging, and ideas worth pondering.

Sena Jeter Naslund, Author of Ahab's Wife, Sherlock in Love, Four Spirits & seven other titles

Two intrepid young men set out from Kentucky to retrace the westward peregrinations of Kerouac and Cassady, twenty years after the fact, with tragic results for one and life-changing consequences for the other. Journeyman is the survivor’s stirring, multi-layered account of their travels and travails, interwoven with recollections of the life he left behind. Rick Neumayer’s writing is direct and purposeful, and it propels us through these misadventures as though we were along for the ride.

Ed McClanahan, author of The Natural Man, Famous People I Have Known, and other books

Journeyman is an affecting and well-wrought story told against the backdrop of a war that shaped a generation of Americans. Rick Neumayer’s good-natured narrator hitchhikes with his friend across the United States during the sixties, and the friendship between these two young men is a lively, steady stream running throughout the book. Both are complex, vulnerable, imperfect human beings who make you ache with their youthful desire to find a meaningful direction in their lives and to create a better, more just world. If you lived through the Vietnam War era, you will recognize the deep truth of this novel; if you were not alive then, you will fathom the chaos and hope and heartbreak of those years and how they laid the foundation for the world we’re living now. This is a timely, generous book that deftly captures a powerful, heady, mind-bending time.

Eleanor Morse, author of White Dog Fell From The Sky


Rick Neumayer's Journeyman immerses the reader viscerally in the America of 1970-71, with a quixotic hitchhiking pilgrimage from Louisville to a San Francisco commune at its narrative center.  It's a moving and provocative story of initiation during a time, not unlike our own, when the energy and possibilities of youth rub up against the complicated realities of a country divided by racial mistrust, generational misunderstanding, political fractiousness, and domestic and international instability.

K. L. Cook, author of The Art of Disobedience and Marrying Kind



1: Our Own Private Walden Pond

June 1971. King and both Kennedys are dead, Nixon's in the White House, and the Beatles have broken up, anything and nothing seems possible. I’m leaving my old Kentucky home with my friend Stan, waiting beside the already warm blacktopped edge of I-64 with our thumbs pointing westward.

"Hitchhiking is illegal in Kentucky, Stan. Did you know that?"

"Only if you’re standing in the road. Standing on the side of the road is okay.”

“And you know this how?” I say, over the highway noise.

“Have faith, my brother.”

A half hour goes by with us still gazing at Louisville’s familiar skyline, and my faith tank is sitting close to empty. I ask myself why I let Stan talk me into this. The answer comes almost immediately in the form of a faded green Dodge van with Missouri plates. As it pulls over, I grab the rucksack containing my worldly possessions and rush toward the flashing tail lights.

The driver, a bearded young guy like us with hair down to his shoulders, leans over to the passenger window. “Where you headed, man?”

“Haight-Ashbury,” I tell him.

“Far fucking out. I can take you as far as St. Louis. Jump in.”

The big heavy side door, which slides instead of opening on hinges, is stuck. I manage to screech it open, but I do not heedlessly climb aboard. There are rules for hitchhiking, perhaps not written down, but rules just the same, and only fools ignore them. Rule number one is never set foot inside a strange vehicle without first checking out the driver and any passengers.

Stan apparently never has learned this rule because he immediately yells, “Shotgun,” and jumps into the front seat.

The van’s driver is alone, fortunately, which keeps the odds in our favor, and he looks okay, garbed like us in jeans and a tie-dye. Also, I can smell dope clinging to the carpeted floor. I pitch in my gear, duck down, and clamber aboard. There’s no back seat, so I just flop in an empty space between the bulging trash bags and cardboard boxes overflowing with clothing.

“Looks like you’re moving,” I say.

I just flunked out of UNC Greensboro,” he says. “My deferment’s gone. I’m going home to find a job until I get drafted. What’s your name, man?”

“Pate Merwin,” I say.

“Stan Hicks,” says my pal.

“I’m Norm.”

“Thanks for picking us up, Norm.”

“Wish I was going with you guys.”

            “What’s stopping you?” Stan asks.

“My lottery number is seventy-one, so I’m pretty sure my ass is gone. What about you?”

“I was in the Navy,” Stan says. “But I’m against the war.”

“Cool. What about you, Pate?” Norm peers at me in his rear-view mirror.

“Draft dodger.”

“No shit. How do you do that?”

“I have my ways,” I say, cagey since I just met this guy.

Norm surprises me by pulling out a joint. He lights it, passes it around, saying, “It’s a little harsh, but it’ll get you off.”

Indeed it does, as the rich sweet scent of burning pot fills the van. We’re already away from the city. The low wooded hills and farmlands of southern Indiana have never looked so green to me. I’m fascinated by how the road cuts through shelves of limestone, where rivulets of spring water drip from exposed ledges. Everything is so interesting.

Keeping our speed at a steady sixty-five, Norm says to me, “I don’t want to go to prison. And I can’t get C.O. status because I’m not religious. So what else can I do?”

“Tell them you’re a Quaker,” I say, as the turbulence from an eighteen-wheeler throws us across the lane line.

            “Or a fucking Jehovah’s Witness,” Stan adds.

“I’m not sure what I believe in anymore,” Norm says, “except maybe love.”

“All you need is love,” Stan says.

“Thank you, John Lennon,” I say.

“Why’d you go into the Navy, Stan?” Norm asks.

“I was stupid. If I had it to do over again, I’d go to Canada or Sweden.”

“Don’t think I could ever leave the country.”      

“Better than being in the military,” Stan says.

A hawk is circling overhead, flapping its enormous wings, gliding smoothly through the air, perhaps hunting for small ground game to kill with its claws and beak. Pointing it out to the others, I say, “Stan and I once were hawks. I was in high school R.O.T.C. He served two years on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific. Now we’re doves.”

“Once the military’s got you,” Stan says, “you’re theirs. If you run, you’re a deserter. That means they can shoot you or throw you in the stockade. You wouldn’t stand a chance in there, Norm, not with those Marine pricks for guards.”

We’re starting down a long, steep hill that offers a sweeping view of farmland and woods. America, the beautiful.

“You could pretend to be crazy,” I say, “or a drug addict.”

“Wouldn’t be much of a stretch in either case,” Norm says grimly. “Wish I’d just passed chemistry and French. How’d you get out of the draft, Pate?”

I’m not sure I want to tell him. After all, we only met fifteen minutes ago. But they can’t put me in jail just for saying what I did. And by telling Norm, I might just keep him from getting killed. “I took speed and stayed awake for three days.”

“Wow.” Norm wants more details, which I provide as the miles roll by and the landscape levels out. Norm listens intently. When I finish, he offers heart-felt thanks. From there on, we mostly listen to music until we reach the Gateway Arch. We expect Norm to drop us off at his exit. Instead, he takes us all the way through town and to the corn fields beyond. Before leaving, he writes down his phone number and lays a fresh doobie on us.

“For the road,” he says.

“Two-hundred and fifty miles,” I say, at the foot of an off ramp. “Not bad for a first ride.”

 We only have another half hour or so of daylight, so Stan suggests stopping here for the night. I agree. At a nearby 7-Eleven, we load up on supplies, including beer and snacks. Then we cross the two-lane road into a field thick with chest-high rows of corn. In the middle where we’ll be invisible, we stop and unroll our sleeping bags. Stan pops the top off a newly acquired beer and lights up Norm’s going-away present.

“I thought that dope was for the road,” I say.

“This is the road. What, are you saving up for a rainy day?”

“Forget it.” I’m still a little pissed at him for jumping in the way he did. “But how about the next time we check out our ride before getting in?”

Twitching his droopy moustache, he dips his head in consternation. He always reminds me of bearded Neptune when he does that. Neither of us says anything for a minute. Then he looks back up.

“You worry too much, Pate.”

“Maybe you don’t worry enough.”

            But when he offers the joint, I inhale sharply and lie back with my fingers clasped behind my head and watch the cornstalks turn gold.

“How far is it to Denver?” I say.

“I don’t know. Another seven hundred miles?”

“Listen, I know some people there. Maybe they’ll put us up.”

“Sounds good,” Stan says.

As the stalks become dark shapes, I start to wonder what Deborah Johnson, the woman I’d been living with, is doing right now. If she is happy without me. Why things turned out the way they did. She wanted to settle down, but I wasn’t ready. Guess I’m still not. I muse on this until a slice of moon appears.

“What do you want out of life, Stan?”

“A little sleep, maybe. What do you want?”

“Man, I’ve been asleep my whole life. It’s time to wake up. I want to think like I’ve never thought, feel like I’ve never felt, and do what I’ve never done.” As I listen to the crickets’ cries as never before, I imagine the wonders that lie ahead: purple mountains, sagebrush-dotted deserts, and the city by the bay.