Sneak Peek of the Winston & Baum and the 7 Mummies of Sekhmet cover

We’ve finally put the final touches on the revision of the 2nd Winston & Baum adventure:  Winston & Baum and the 7 Mummies of Sekhmet.   My cover artist has begun creating the cover for this book.  Below is the inked cover, more updates as it progresses toward completion. 

Winston and Baum 2 Inked Cover

Thanks for reading and keep checking back for more updates.

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A Scrambled Caper (A Lollipop Jones & Pecan Sandie Adventure)

With Easter approaching, I thought it was time for another story featuring our two fearless detectives.  So for your enjoyment:

Lollipop Jones & Pecan Sandie

In

A Scrambled Caper 

 

It was only a few days before Easter. Lollipop Jones and Pecan Sandie found themselves walking down the sidewalk, surrounded by pastel colored clothed people. “I’ve always liked spring.” Lollipop announced to her partner.

Pecan made a non-committal grunt. The detectives were not dressed in the soft colors of the rest of the city. No matter the season, Lollipop could be found with her trench coat and Pecan was wearing jeans and combat boots. “So what do you suspect our mysterious phone call was about?” Lollipop asked around the quickly dissolving sucker in her mouth..

“A case.” Pecan answered, his gravelly voice rumbling. “No idea why they wanted to meet at a diner.”

“I don’t mind, I’m hungry.” Lollipop responded.

Entering into the “Broken Egg Diner”, Lollipop and Pecan saw their prospective client. The farmer was wearing a well-worn ball cap and dusty overalls. Sitting down across from the man, they each gave a curt nod to their client. Looking over his steaming coffee cup, he returned the nod. “You them detectives?” The farmer asked.

“You Billy Collins?” Pecan rumbled.

“I am.” Billy answered. “I sure am hoping that ya’ll can help me.”

“Can you tell us what it is we’re supposed to help you with?” Lollipop asked.

“I’m the head of a small union of egg farmers near the city.” Billy explained. “We’ve all been hit by a thief.”

“What did they take?” Lollipop asked, taking a notepad from her coat pocket.

“Eggs!” Billy exclaimed. “What else do you think we have?”

Pecan chuckled. “Is there a big market for eggs?”

“At Easter?” Billy asked, stunned. “No better time to have a barn full of eggs.”

“Anyone that you can think of that would want to steal these eggs?” Lollipop asked.

“No.” Billy answered. “None of us has any enemies and without those eggs we’ll go bust.”

“Where’s your farm?” Pecan asked.

Billy gave them the address and then left. Lollipop and Pecan stayed to order breakfast, but with the egg shortage that had hit the city, most breakfast foods were gone. Lollipop decided to have a blueberry sucker, Pecan just scowled. Frustrated at the lack of omelets and pancakes, the detectives decided to get to work and pay a visit to the farm.

 

The multiple acres that stretched before them was filled with chicken coops. Short, white buildings that were temperature controlled, moisture controlled, and filled with rows of the little clucking birds. “Jeez, I feel like we’re in a Space Odyssey.” Lollipop said, referring to the futuristic look of the coops.

“Yeah.” Pecan agreed. The large mountain of man pointed towards a red building that stood taller than the others. “Egg barn.”

“Probably.” Lollipop agreed, as they started to walk between the rows of chicken buildings.

Arriving at the large barn, they saw that while its outside appeared to be red wood, the inside resembled a cooler. The large open door revealed a massive space that was almost completely empty. “Ya’ll made it quick.” Billy commented from the inside of the barn.

“Is this where the eggs were stored?” Lollipop asked.

“Yeah.” Billy confirmed. “Nothing’s been touched since we found it this morning.”

Stepping into the large interior, Lollipop and Pecan separated to inspect the floor of the barn. “Hey!” Pecan called.

Lollipop hurried to her partner. “What’d you find?” She asked.

Pecan held up a few feathers in his hand. Lollipop gave him a inpatient look. “Those are chicken feathers.” She stated. “The eggs come from chickens, so it’s safe to assume that these feathers are from around here.”

“What about these?” Pecan asked, revealing his other hand.

He had several brown and black feathers in it. “What are those?” Lollipop asked.

“Geese feathers,” Billy answered from behind them.

“Do you have any geese on property?” Pecan asked.

“No.” Billy answered.

“What about these?” Pecan asked, showing the chicken feathers.

“Those didn’t come from one of my chickens.” Billy stated.

“Why not?” Lollipop asked.

“All my hens are golden.” Billy explained. “Those are white and clearly have not been tended to. You can tell by the dirt on the tips.”

“So your chickens can’t get dirty.” Lollipop stated, disbelief clear in her voice.

“Each of our coops is hermetically sealed and our workers wear complete hazmat suits to prevent getting any outside bacteria near the eggs.” Billy replied. “We have the cleanest eggs anywhere in the world. It’s what makes them taste so good.”

Lollipop started to look at her partner and scoff, but when she looked at Pecan the big man was no longer standing beside her. Turning around, she found her partner standing at the barn door. He was kneeling down and looking at something. Leaving Billy staring at the vast empty space, Lollipop knelt next to her partner. “What’d you find?” She asked.

“Tracks.” Pecan answered. “Something big, tractor trailer maybe.”

“Getaway vehicle?” She asked.

“Most likely.” Pecan replied. “Also found this.”

Raising a large hand, Pecan opened it to reveal three eggs, each crudely painted. Lollipop took a moment to appreciate that the giant hands of her partner were able to crack open pecans, but were gently cradling the eggs. “So what does this mean?” Lollipop asked. “Someone’s trying to get a head start on their Easter eggs.”

Pecan shrugged. “Maybe nothing.” He answered.

Following the tire tracks, they discovered more of the horribly painted eggs. “I don’t know who did these, but they are terrible.” Lollipop commented.

“Yeah, I’d leave them hidden.” Pecan agreed.

“Although I do like a good hardboiled egg once in a while.”

“Bill Murray only eats Cadbury crème Eggs.” Pecan stated.

The muscular man’s obsession with Bill Murray was almost fanatical. “Does he?” Lollipop asked.

“Yeah, Bill Murray can get them whenever he wants.” Pecan agreed. “He has an agreement with the Cadbury bunny.”

Bill Murray recounting his experience with the Cadbury Bunny

Bill Murray recounting his experience with the Cadbury Bunny

“Right.” Lollipop said, stretching out the word. “And maybe I can get an agreement with the Easter bunny.”

As they headed down the trail, they found another group of amateur painted eggs. These eggs were misshapen and odd looking. Pecan picked them up. “We need to go.” He proclaimed.

“Why?” Lollipop asked.

“Because these are rocks.” Pecan said, clanking two of them together. “We need to follow these tracks.”

“I’ll bring the truck around.” Lollipop said, heading towards the large, four wheel drive beast, which was her truck.

Turning the key, Lollipop smiled, as the engine roared to life. She maneuvered the vehicle over beside her partner. Pecan climbed up into the cab. “Follow the tracks.” He instructed.

“You know, I never learned tracking.” Lollipop admitted.

“Why not?” Pecan asked.

Lollipop just shrugged. The Fighting Sisters of the Closed Fist had raised the detective and taught her the greatest hand to hand combat techniques ever known, but she had never taken an interest in their tracking lessons. It just hadn’t seemed as fun.

“What’s that?” She asked pointing at the large thicket of bushes ahead of them.

“It must be the path.” Pecan answered cryptically.

Lollipop eased on her brakes. “Keep going.” Her partner instructed. “We’ll find the thieves on the other side.”

Giving an unsure look to Pecan, Lollipop decided to trust him and eased the truck forward. The large tires rolled towards the thicket, then as they were about to roll into it, the greenery parted around them. A lush paradise of shade trees and green grass stood before them. Still pools, scattered across the distance. “The Enchanted Thicket,” Pecan marveled.

“So the Easter Bunny did it.” Lollipop stated.

“Doubtful.” Pecan replied. “Why would he start stealing eggs now, I think he might have some unwanted guests.”

Shaking her head, Lollipop turned off the truck and exited. Pecan dropped down on the other side a moment later. “Well since you’re the expert here, where do we start looking?” Lollipop asked.

Pecan pointed to a large, pastel pink dome, nearby. The detectives made their way to the structure, seeing a jagged, yellow line, painted across the center of the dome. Reaching the base, the detectives split up and started walking in opposite directions around the dome. Meeting on the other side, they found a small door and two windows. Flowers bloomed in two organized beds underneath the windows. “Let me guess, the Easter Bunny’s house.” Lollipop guessed.

“Yup.” Pecan said, as he pushed open the little door.

They were greeted to signs of a struggle. There were overturned cups of light pastel paints, the small furniture had been shifted around, and a pile of carrots sat on the floor, underneath them were the broken pieces of a plate. Crouching to enter the egg shaped house, Pecan and Lollipop started to search the diminutive structure. After finding a room filled with cans of paint, and another that was a pantry of cabbage, lettuce, and carrots, they found a small bedroom. A small straw mattress sat upon a tiny wooden frame. On the other side was a small brown and white shape, tied up with ropes. Lollipop, able to move easier than her bulky partner, hurried over the bed, to the small shape. As she touched it, two long ears rose up and a perfectly adorable bunny stared at her.

A thin strip of fabric had been wrapped around his cute little bunny mouth and nose. Lollipop quickly removed the gag. “Is that better?” She cooed at the rabbit.

“A great deal, yes, can you please untie my hands and feet?” The rabbit asked in a high-pitched voice, sounding like someone having taken a great gulp of helium.

“You can talk?” Lollipop stammered.

“Of course I can talk. I’m the Easter Bunny.” The rabbit explained. “But you can call me Hopster.”

“Hopster, what happened?” Pecan rumbled from the other side of the bed.

The rabbit let out a little giggle. Lollipop looked at her partner, huge and deadly, crammed into the tiny space and realized just how ridiculous it looked. Not looking him in the eye, for fear that she would laugh as well, she quickly untied the rabbit. “I can’t tell you too much.” Hopster said. “A group of geese came in and tied me up. I’ve been here for the last several days, occasionally they bring me a glass of water and some food.”

“Geese huh?” Pecan asked.

“Yes, they dress funny.” Hopster admitted.

“Well geese are mean.” Lollipop admitted.

Geese are a-holes!

Geese are a-holes!

“These are the worst geese I’ve ever seen.” Hopster stated. “And they work for someone, someone that’s not a goose. I think it might be a chicken.”

“Why?” Pecan inquired.

“All the clucking.”   Hopster explained.

“Any idea where they are?” Lollipop asked.

“If I had to guess, I’d say they’re out by the big painting table.” Hopster said and then pointed the way.

“Stay here.” Pecan instructed. “We’ll come back when its safe.”

Hopster nodded and started straightening out his tiny house. Pecan and Lollipop left the little guy to his work and went in the direction that he had pointed. It did not take them long until they came to a large table, almost as long as an airplane runway. There were a large number of geese standing around, trying to paint the eggs. These geese were dressed funny, even funnier than a normal goose would, wearing clothes.   They had loose baggy kid’s pants on and dark colored bandannas and skull caps covering the small heads. “The Loosey Gooseys!” Lollipop gasped.

Pecan turned towards his partner, waiting for an explanation. “This is the worst bird gang in all the inner cities. Worse than the Dove Lords, or even the Pigeon Kingpins, I wonder who brought them into this little venture.”

“I did!” Proclaimed a small chicken behind them. The detectives turned at the sound. “That’s right I did it. I’m tired of that little rodent taking all the credit for eggs. Who lays those eggs? Chickens! After the bad press I received about the sky falling, I wanted to do something to restore my good name and bring the recognition back to chickens for Easter.”

All Pecan and Lollipop heard was a bunch of squawks and clucks, but they knew what it meant. This chicken was a bad egg and needed to be taken out. As the detectives approached the small white fowl, it let out a single “Cockle doodle doo,” which is chicken for “ATTACK!” Before the detectives could capture the chicken, the Loosey Gooseys swarmed around them. One of the gang geese stepped forward. It swaggered up to Lollipop Jones and jumped into the air. It planted a webbed foot on her leg and continued its spin. Flapping its wings, it backed away from the detectives. “Did that goose just round house kick me?” Lollipop asked Pecan.

He looks like the type to Roundhouse kick, doesn't he?

He looks like the type to Roundhouse kick, doesn’t he?

“Looked like it.” Pecan answered.

“Oh I don’t think so.” She said, throwing the empty sucker stick from her mouth. She dug in her pocket and retrieved a flavor that was perfect for a fight, sour apple, and took a step towards the offending fowl.

A few of the geese pulled switchblades with their wings, but given the lack of fingers they were having too much trouble holding onto them to really pose a threat. Reaching behind him, Pecan took his folded battle axe from its place. With a flick of his wrist, the weapon was fully extended and ready for use. A small group of the geese circled the large man, while the others circled up around Lollipop. It did not take long before they all rushed forward towards the detectives. Little did they know that they faced a full inductee into the Fighting Sisters of the Closed Fist, the keepers of the Uber-Death Punch, which could vaporize the bones within a human body. It had a very different effect on the geese. The first one that received the Uber-Death Punch, knocked all the feathers from the bird and when it had stopped rolling it looked like it was perfectly ready to go into the oven for dinner.

It had been no chance of fate that the first goose to fall had been the one to round house kick Lollipop. As the fight continued and the feathers flew, Lollipop pulsed through her enemies like Colonel Sanders through chickens, which works as an analogy because you know, geese are tasty birds too. After the last of the attacking geese had been reduced to an oven ready entree, Lollipop turned to find her partner. There was a large mass of geese and feathers. Rising out of it was the largest goose that Lollipop had ever seen. The bird towered over her. It raised up a battle axe and wiped its face with the back of a hand. Lollipop laughed as she saw Pecan Sandie covered in goose feathers. “What happened?” She asked.

“I worked up a sweat, the feathers stuck.” He explained. “What about the chicken?”

“He’s probably going back for Hopster.” Lollipop exclaimed, as the detectives rushed off towards the bunny’s house.

They saw the small pink dome and the door, standing open. Arriving on the scene, they watched the chicken come staggering out, his face an array of pastel colors. Hopster stepped out from the house. He was wearing a leather harness that held different paint brushes and a basket with a few eggs in it. “If you ever try anything like this again, you’ll think that acorn was the best thing to ever happen to you.” Hopster proclaimed.

He might be cute, but the Easter Bunny means business.

He might be cute, but the Easter Bunny means business.

The chicken ran off, the detectives weren’t sure, but could chickens cry, because they thought this one had been. As Hopster led the detectives back to their truck, he explained the missing eggs. “I’ll have those stolen eggs returned tomorrow. I have a contract with an egg conglomerate in Indiana, they’ll be here in an hour. My “would be” successor did not know that. If there’s anything I can do, let me know.” Hopster offered.

“Can I get the Bill Murray deal?” Pecan asked.

“That’s Cad’s domain. I can’t make any promises, but I’ll ask and see what he can do.” Hopster offered. “How about you, Ms. Jones? Want hard boiled eggs every month?”

“No, I’m fine but thank you.” She replied as she climbed into the truck.

Pecan climbed in beside her. “Well this was definitely a new one.” He stated.

“Yes it was, but tomorrow we should be able to get those omelets.” She said.

“But first, let’s see that Loosey Gooseys do some community service.” Pecan offered. Lollipop raised a questioning eyebrow at him.

 

The next morning the city’s food kitchen had a delivery. All the Uber-Death Punched geese were dropped off. As Pecan arrived back at his place, there was a small basket sitting on the coffee table. A small note sat on top of it. The basket was filled with Cadbury crème Eggs. Opening the note, Pecan read the message:

 

Pecan,

            Hopster told me what you did. I’ll give you one basket a month, nobody but Bill Murray gets the Bill Murray special.

           -Cad

 

Pecan smiled as he opened the gold, red, and blue wrapper. It was going to be a good Easter.

 

THE END

The Easter Bunny sculpture is courtesy of my wife, Caralyn.  You can find the bunny and her other creations here.

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Tips for Writing Short Stories

As I promised last week, I have written a blog for some of my techniques for writing a short story. These are by no means comprehensive or concrete rules, but they are a set of guides that have helped me to grow in my short fiction process. (A quick note, for me a short story is any work under 20,000 words).

First and most important, keep it simple. I realize that short stories are a great way to introduce character’s and the depth of your world building, but if you cram too much information into your short story, what will most likely happen is you will overload the reader or risk information dumping. (Information dumping is when an author just runs through facts rather than bringing them up organically in a story.) If you are writing a short story as an introduction into a bigger world, then what you want to do is give the reader a taste. A short story that serves as an introduction should be like an appetizer, something small and delightful, which will maintain an appetite, not the entrée where you are filled afterwards. So reveal what details are pertinent to the story and leave your reader wanting to discover more. When writing, I do not try to cram a novel’s worth of content into a short story.

Now that you are keeping it simple, remember to have a rewarding ending. Before I start a short story, I already know my ending. It gives me a goal. I include this tip because I have read a lot of short fiction that had a fantastic story and characters but you could tell the author did not know the ending, so we have this great adventure and then it just ends. Abrupt, unfulfilling endings are just as bad as a boring story. Sometimes a simple ending is the most appropriate ending, where your hero lives to fight another day by escaping or defeats the villain. However an ending that feels like the writer just gave up or ran out of good ideas is extremely harmful. Not to mention, if you are using your story as an introduction, this last impression will keep some people from looking for the full work. So always be mindful that your ending is rewarding for your reader and appropriate for the story. In my opinion, classic pulp masters H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Howard excelled at this. Their endings always fit the story and left me satisfied.

Finally, even if you are writing a short standalone story, make sure that it is compelling. Your characters should still be believable characters, with flaws, and backstory. Even if you don’t reveal it (because you are keeping it simple), it is important for you to know them. It’s difficult to write a consistent character if you don’t know what events influenced their lives. Also keeping the conflict simple does not mean weak. A problem I see with short fiction is that the author has tried too hard to keep it simple and watered down the story until it’s mundane. You can keep a story simple while still presenting a good plot, compelling conflict, and interesting characters.

Again this guide is not comprehensive or concrete but it has helped me. If you would like to see my short fiction click on the covers below to be taken to their Amazon pages.

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Action & Peril! Great Tools to Use

I really enjoy writing action scenes and what I could call scenes of peril. As a result I try to put lots of these into my stories. For me, I try to remember two things.

If I’m doing lots of action, I like to change up the formula. What I mean by this is that if I am writing something action heavy, the Winston & Baum books for instance. I try to always change up the challenge. Because Winston & Baum are exterminators of the Strange & Weird, it allows me to have a wide range of adversaries to throw at them. For these steampunk themed adventures, our intrepid exterminators tend to find themselves facing off against beings of great power with minions at their disposal or an alliance of fiends. This allows me to switch up what creatures they are facing and it also means they have to keep on their toes, because not all monsters can be killed in the same manner.

Winston & Baum allows me to throw multiple threats at the characters and it creates a more action filled adventure. However, When I was writing my first novel, Friedkin’s Curse: A Werewolf Tale of Terror, I did not have characters that fought the supernatural everyday as the center of the story. Rather, I focused on a group of friends stuck at a school fighting werewolves. Instead of relying on the variety of adversaries in Winston & Baum, I was forced to place a much greater deal of peril on the characters. I still put action into the story and there is plenty of violence and gunplay, but I added a different element to the mix. Since I did not want to add additional types of creatures to the story, I relied on a much more realistic challenge: distrust. Our main characters cannot trust the majority of the people around them. The other characters trapped at the school or the military, which has shown up chasing the werewolf. Any of them could have become a werewolf and won’t show until moon falls. Also the military seems to be more concerned with capturing the werewolf than saving lives. As a result there is less action in the story but a much greater sense of danger.

A quick note, Winston & Baum is a steampunk adventure, therefore it needs to be adventurous, hence lots of action and adventure. Friedkin’s Curse is a horror story and it isn’t nearly as effective if everyone is properly armed and trained. So your genre can also define how you go about creating the atmosphere of your story as well as whether you want to be heavy handed on the action or the peril.

Both of the works mentioned here are novels. I’ll be writing a blog soon about short story writing. So please stay tuned for that and if you’re interested, click on the pictures below to visit the amazon page for my books.

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It was a good Saturday

As most of you good people may have heard, I had a book signing this past Saturday. I wanted to share some pictures for those who could not make it. Also I wanted to offer a great big thanks to Susan at the Book Worm. She gave us a great place to set up and the opportunity to meet some awesome people in the community. Thanks to everyone that came out and for those of you who couldn’t make it you can contact the Book Worm to purchase an autographed copy of Winston & Baum and the Secret of the Stone Circle. Also keep checking back, I’m hoping to be able to do more signing for other local book stores and would love to go back to the Book Worm after the release of the second Winston & Baum novel. Anyway, on to the pictures!

Our lovely booth

Our lovely booth

book_signing_(5)

Book Signing Action Shot!

Book Signing Action Shot!

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Pick a Card, any Card!

Hello out there, my business cards arrived yesterday. So it’s official, I’m legit, too legit. I’ll have these with me at the book signing this weekend. So come by this Saturday (March 22) and pick one up along with our free bookmarks and a signed copy of Winston & Baum and the Secret of the Stone Circle.

And behold my awesome business card, designed by my awesome wife Caralyn.

business_card_front

business_card_back

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The Lepre-con (A Lollipop Jones & Pecan Sandie Adventure)

Hello all, with today being Saint Patrick’s Day, I thought this would be a fun little jaunt for our detectives.  So without further ado.

Lollipop Jones & Pecan Sandie

in

The Lepre-con

Lollipop Jones and Pecan Sandie sat in their office.  March had stolen April’s showers and was dropping a steady drizzle onto the city.  The two detectives were waiting until their office hours were done so they could go get dinner.  Pecan Sandie was busy building a small cabin from sporks and sugar packets.  The hulking behemoth looked across the small office and saw Lollipop Jones with her feet propped up on her desk, her head resting on the headrest.  He knew she was asleep.  Sandie thought for a moment about waking her.  Shrugging, he went back to his utensil construction.

Lollipop snorted and a short creak was followed by a loud crash.  Pecan Sandie watched as his desk shook and the cabin collapsed in on itself.  Glancing up, he saw Lollipop jumping to her feet.  She came up in a fighting stance, looking to make sure that no one was attacking them.  Having been raised by the nuns of the Fighting Sisterhood of the Closed Fist, she often awoke fully alert, ready for an attack.  Satisfied that there was no danger, she yawned.  Opening the top drawer of her desk, she retrieved one of the round suckers and promptly popped it into her mouth.  “Still no clients?”  She asked.

Pecan shook his head as he scooped up the sporks and sugar packets and returned them to their place beside the small coffee maker. 

Lollipop watched as her partner, a mountain of muscle, deposited his building materials to their original position.  Sandie’s nickname “Pecan” came from the fact that he could crack open the nut with his bare hands.  Jones never understood why he tried to do delicate work, in all the years they had been partners, he had never been able to make a single thing.  Mainly, because she would fall asleep in her chair, topple over, and shake his desk, but that was a fact the astute detective was blissfully unaware of.  Sitting back down, the duo looked at the plastic clock on the wall.  “Ten minutes.”  Sandie stated in his gravelly manner.

Both of them would be glad to have the mundane day behind them.  Then came a knock.  Looking, both detectives watched as the door opened and shut seemingly on its own.  Loud footsteps sounded across the floor toward their desks.  Someone politely coughed to get attention.  Slowly rising, the detectives looked down and saw a short man.  He was dressed all in green with squared toe, buckled shoes on his feet.  A thin pipe was pressed between his lips and his red beard was beginning to go gray.  “Can we help you?”  Lollipop asked, looking at the diminutive figure. 

“I certainly hope so.”  The small man stated.

His face looked tired and he walked to the chair in front of Lollipop’s desk.  “As you can see I’m a. . .”

“Leprechaun.”  Pecan interrupted.

“Aye.”  The Leprechaun agreed.  “I can see you must be the brains here.”  Rolling his eyes, the man turned his attention back to Lollipop Jones.  “I’ve been robbed.”

“Robbed?”  She asked.  Despite having seen Bigfoot, ninjas, and Santa Claus, the detective was skeptical of the leprechaun.

“Do you see my pot of gold?”  He asked.  “They took it from me last night.”

“Who?”  Pecan asked.

“I don’t know I didn’t exchange niceties with them.  I’m Bailey McFists.”  He said stretching his small arm across the desktop.

“Lollipop Jones and that’s my partner Pecan Sandie.”  Lollipop introduced them.

“I’ve heard good things about you.”  Bailey stated.  “Can you help me?”

“We can look into it.”  Lollipop answered, looking at Pecan for confirmation. 

The behemoth nodded.  “Why didn’t you come here sooner?”  Pecan asked.

“I was unconscious.  It was only after I came to, that I noticed what had happened.”  Bailey explained.  “Then I came straight here.”

“Okay.”  Lollipop flipped up the top of her notepad.  “Start from the beginning.”

“I was walking past Thirteenth Avenue when this man asked me if I’d be wanting to join him for a bit of the creature.  Not wanting to be rude, I gladly accepted.  As soon as I was in the alley, they wrapped me on the head with something and grabbed me pot of gold.  Locked it up behind their big steel door.  After that, I stumbled away and must have succumbed to me head and blacked out.” After taking down the part of town that Bailey had been attached in and his address, Lollipop and Pecan put the leprechaun into the back of a cab and started their investigation. 

THE CREATURE!

THE CREATURE!

 

 
Their first stop was the alley where Bailey said he had been accosted.  “So what do you make of our client?”  Lollipop asked. 

Pecan shrugged. 

“Any insight at all?”  Lollipop asked, glancing at her partner. 

“He’s short.”  Pecan stated.  “Don’t know if I trust him.” 

“Well, he seems honest enough.” 

Searching the alley, they found signs of a scuffle.  Several of the trash cans had been overturned and their contents lay covering the alley.  “Several pair of footprints.”  Pecan announced.  “Lot of footprints coming from the alley.  Hard soled, square toed shoes, left most recently.” 

“Well we know who had the square toed shoes.”  Lollipop stated. 

Leaving the alley, Pecan started walking away.  Lollipop followed after him. 

“Well what now?”  She asked. 

“You know Bill Murray’s Irish.”  Pecan stated.  Lollipop knew that her partner’s fascination with the comedic genius was that of a zealot.

“Okay, I’ll bite.  How does that help us?”  She asked.

“For relaxing times, make it Suntory times.”  Pecan answered. 

 Suntory_times

“Lost in Translation!”  Lollipop exclaimed. 

Pecan put a finger to his lips and started walking.  Lollipop, not sure what was happening, followed.  At the next block, Pecan stopped in front of a graffiti tag that read Suntory Times.  “I don’t get it.”  She announced.

“This was the alley.”  Pecan explained. 

Stepping into the street, the duo saw the large steel door.  It was the third door down the alley.  “What do you think this place is?”  Lollipop asked. 

“Don’t know.”  Pecan answered.  “Doesn’t matter, gold should be on the other side of that door.”

“We’ll hope.”  Lollipop said to her partner.  “So tell me how do you know this is the door?”

“Sometimes you just have to trust in Murray.”  Pecan replied.  “So let’s go get that pot of gold.”

Lollipop popped her knuckles, as she tossed the empty sucker stick into a nearby trash can.  She quickly replaced it with another of the sugary globes in her pocket.  “Hey what are you doing?”  One of the local homeless population asked.  The dirty figure stepped from the shadows.  “This is my alley and you got to pay the toll.”

With a quick move of her hand, Lollipop had rendered the man unconscious on the ground.  Pecan frowned at her.  “Don’t worry.”  Lollipop comforted him.  “The Fighting Sisters used this technique all the time.  He’ll be out for an hour and wake up feeling great.  It’s a common technique to use before going into a battle.  Besides we need to get in here.”

Smiling, Pecan reached back for his flip up battle axe.  “I doubt you’ll need that.”  Lollipop scolded him.  “I know you like it but really this guy sucker punched a leprechaun, doesn’t sound like much of a threat.”

His smile fading, Pecan left the weapon strapped across his back.  “You’re no fun.”  He stated.  “Would you like to knock?” 

“No.  Knocking’s not really my style.”  She answered.  “Give me two minutes.”

Pecan watched as Lollipop scaled the wall of the building.  She disappeared over the edge of the roof. 

Once on the roof, Lollipop did a quick check for any sensors.  There did not seem to be much in the way of security.  Prying the grate off the ventilation system, Lollipop slid through the ducts.  She moved silently, like the air circulated through the vents, only with the ability to deliver the Uber-Death Punch and atomize all the bones within a body, but otherwise just like the air.  As she peered through the slat grates inside the building, she saw several armed men.  Guards most likely, every two bit thug had them.  There were only three of them.  The door that Pecan was waiting outside of was behind them.  A quick glance to her watch told her that she only had a few seconds to wait. 

With a powerful knock, Pecan sent the door off its hinges and onto the floor.  As the men turned their attention to the fallen door, Lollipop popped through the vent to stand behind them..  “Okay guys.  Where is it?”  Lollipop asked.

“Where’s what?”  The guard nearest her, asked.

“Pot of gold.”  Pecan growled. 

The presence of the angry, large, scary man in the room, helped rouse all three of the men into a more cooperative state.  “Over there.”  One of the men answered, pointing. 

Looking, Pecan and Lollipop saw a black lock box.  Reaching into it, Lollipop pulled up a piece of the gold.  “Nice.”  She stated.

One of the men pulled his pistol.  He was trying to aim at Lollipop.  With a roar, Pecan backhanded the man, sending him crashing through the wall into the employee bathroom.  The other two men had also drawn their own firearms.  With lighting speed, Lollipop dropped one of men.  He was clutching the shattered bones of his forearm.  The last man looked to the deadly beauty and the hulking monster in the room.  He dropped the gun and raised his arms.  “I surrender!”  He proclaimed. 

“Good call.”  Lollipop confirmed.  “So where’d you get the gold?”

“I don’t know.”  The man admitted.  “We just work here.  We guard this place.  I mean we’re security guards.”

“Then why pull the hardware?  I thought security guards were supposed to observe and report.”  Sandie asked, referring to the guns. 

“Why do you think they give us guns?”  The guard asked.  “They aren’t for decoration.

The guy looked between the two detectives, shocked.  “He’s right.”  Lollipop said.  A quick push just below his shoulder and the man collapsed.  “He won’t be doing anything for a few days.”

Pecan raised a questioning eyebrow.  “It’s just a nerve.  He won’t be able to move or talk for at least fifty-four hours.” Lollipop explained.

“We don’t know who’s behind this.”  Pecan stated.

“Yeah I know.”  Lollipop agreed, exasperated.  “We weren’t hired for that though, we found the gold.   Let’s go give it back Bailey.”

Hailing a taxi, Pecan and Lollipop exited in front of a small cottage.  “I know we’ve been by here a dozen times at least, I’ve never noticed this place.  Have you?”  Lollipop asked.

Pecan shook his head.  “We only let those we want see us.”  A leprechaun said, stepping from the front door.  He was dressed identical to Bailey but his beard was still a bright and vibrant red.  “I see you found the pot.”

“Yeah, about that. . .”  Pecan started.

“Bailey’s me father, I’m Brian McFists.  He’s getting a bit up in age, his mind isn’t wonderful these days.”  The leprechaun explained.

“Me gold!”  Bailey shouted, running from the front door to collect the black lock box from Lollipop.  “Thank you both kindly.”

 

A satisfied client

A satisfied client

Turning from the detectives, Bailey walked back into the cottage.  There was a noticeable skip in his step.  “Sorry about that.  He wandered off a few nights ago and showed up last night in a taxi.” 

“Yeah, so what really happened?”  Pecan grumbled.

“His mind’s getting weak.  Normally he finds a nearby pub, this is the first time he’s ever went farther than a few blocks and taken the gold.  It’s also the first time he’s been mugged.”  The leprechaun looked down at the ground.  “We didn’t mean to inconvenience you.  Sorry for the trouble.”

The diminutive man flicked two coins toward the detectives.  “For your trouble.”  He said, as he stepped back into the cottage. 

Each detective caught a coin.  They were gold.  Looking up, the duo was shocked to find themselves standing in front of an apartment building.  “How did . . .” Lollipop started.

“Magic.”  Pecan answered the unfinished question. 

Going to their office the next morning, they found a short bald man in a rumpled suit sitting across from their door.  “Can we help you?”  Lollipop asked.

“My goodness yes.”  The man exclaimed, scrambling to his feet.  “I’m Tim Irving, I run the gold exchange downtown.  We were burglarized last night.”

“Calm down.”  Pecan said to the excited man. 

Lollipop opened the door to their office.  “Why don’t you come in and have a seat?” 

Tim sat down in front of Pecan’s desk.  “What was taken?”  Sandie asked.

“Gold, a big case of it.  Just the gold, none of the diamonds were touched.”  He explained. 

Pecan and Lollipop were both getting a sick feeling in the pits of their stomachs. 

“Where is this gold exchange?”  Lollipop asked.

Tim gave the address and the detectives eyes locked. 

“Any guards or surveillance?”  Pecan asked.

“The two guards that are talking, can’t remember enough to be helpful and one of them is in some kind of shock.”  Tim stated.  “All our cameras are in the show room, not the lockup in the back.”

“Stay right here, we might be able to help.”  Lollipop instructed. 

Both detectives left the bewildered man in their office.  “I can’t believe it.”  Pecan growled, the veins on his neck standing out as he become angrier.

“Calm down.”  Lollipop cautioned.  “You know the rules, you’ve got to catch a Leprechaun to get its gold.  How do we get back to them?”

“Only one way to be visited by the little people.”  Pecan answered. 

Lollipop gave a questioning look at her partner.  “Follow me.”  He said, mysteriously. 

Down the street they entered an authentic Irish Pub.  “Whiskey.”  Pecan said, stepping up to the bar.  “Three bottles.” 

“What kind?”  The bartender asked.

“Irish, good stuff.”  Pecan instructed. 

Smiling, the bartender put three bottles onto the bar.  Paying, Pecan swept up the bottles and walked to Lollipop who had stayed by the door, unsure of what was happening.  “So what’s the plan, challenge them to a drinking contest?”  Lollipop asked.

“No.”  Pecan answered.  “If you’ve had enough of the “creature”, you’ll see them.  Kind of like enough Gin opens up the realm of pink elephants.”

“Yeah, that place is weird.”  Lollipop stated. 

 

“Yeah.”  Pecan said, stopping a taxi. 

Lollipop gave the cabbie the address.  Pecan pulled the cork out of the bottle and turned it up.  The amber liquid disappeared down his throat.  Amazed Lollipop watched as her partner drained the entire bottle without taking a breath.  Dropping the empty bottle onto the floor of the cab, he handed a bottle to Lollipop.  “Get started, I don’t think I can do this on my own.”  Pecan admitted. 

“Cheers.”  She said, opening the bottle. 

The strong scent hit her nostrils and made her pull back.  She knew this was going to burn going down.  Pecan was already draining the second bottle.  Closing her eyes, Lollipop put the bottle to her lips and began to drink.  Despite the smooth taste of the whiskey, Lollipop’s pallet was not prepared for the strong flavor.  She fought back the urge to cough as Pecan dropped his second bottle to the floor.  Preparing herself, Jones turned the bottle up and took several great big swallows.  She could feel the alcohol affecting her equilibrium.  A giggle escaped her lips.  Pecan took the bottle from her hands.  “Perfect.”  He said, draining the still mostly full bottle. 

For some reason she felt very giddy, another giggle escaped her lips.  The driver stopped at the address that he had been given.  Paying the man, the two detectives stumbled from the taxi. 

“Bailey!”  Brian called from the front yard. 

The other leprechaun stepped from the cottage.  “Well, look there.  It’s the muscle man and the dainty detective.  Guess they thought they’d come back and see us.”

Both of the little men started laughing.  “Well too bad for them, they’ll never find us now.”  Brian proclaimed between laughs. 

Pecan’s large hand wrapped around Brian’s throat and he lifted the leprechaun into the air, stifling the laughter in his throat.  “Faith and Begorrah!”  Bailey exclaimed.  “They’ve been at the creature.” 

“Aye!”  Brian squeaked as Pecan’s breath brought tears to his eyes. 

“Dainty!”  Lollipop shouted as she rushed towards Bailey. 

The older leprechaun stepped into the cottage and closed the door.  “He’ll be going to fetch my brothers.”  Brian said smiling.

“I’ll pull your head from your shoulders first.”  Pecan growled.

“He will.  I’ve seen him do it before.”  Lollipop said, letting loose another giggle.  “It’s terrible.”

“We caught you, give us the gold.”  Pecan demanded, tightening the pressure around Brian’s throat. 

“Ye’ve got to catch all of us.”  Bailey challenged, stepping from the cottage.  Six other leprechauns followed after him.  “Now put me boy down and I’ll let you get out of here peacefully.” 

Pecan smiled.  “Gladly.”  He said as he launched Brian McFists at the rest of his family. 

With eyes wide, the leprechauns watched as their brother hurtled towards them.  They all fell like bowling pins upon impact.  Only Bailey jumped to safety.  Pecan fell upon the little leprechaun brothers.  The few that were squirming quit with a thump to the top of their head.  Bailey tried to run but Lollipop was in his path.  “Move princess!”  He threatened.  “You don’t want to mess with a riled leprechaun.”

He tried to punch the female detective.  The leprechaun did not realize that he faced a full inductee of the Fighting Sisters of the Closed Fist.  Even inebriated, she was more than a match for this magic midget.  Blocking the punch, Lollipop slammed her fist into his jaw.  As his feet left the ground, she spun planting her foot into his soft doughy stomach.  Landing in a heap, Bailey McFists coughed and fought the urge to vomit.  “Well princess!”  Lollipop taunted.  “Give us the gold.” 

The police arrived and found Lollipop Jones and Pecan Sandie sitting on the sidewalk in front of an apartment building.  Eight little men in green suits sat beside them, chained together.  The black lock box with the gold was in front of them.  “Good work.”  Police Chief Alyssandra Mendez said.  “You’ve done it again.” 

“Thanks.”  Lollipop said, trying to keep her head from exploding.  She swore to never touch another drop of whiskey if her head would just stop hurting. 

Pecan seemed to be fine, watching as the leprechauns were loaded into a police van.  Bailey was the last one sitting beside them.  “Why’d you do it?”  Pecan asked.

“How do you think we get our gold?”  Bailey asked.  “We get someone to steal it and then we never see them again.  You know how hard it is to find a pot of gold!”

“Not so loud.”  Lollipop said.

“Fine.”  Bailey continued in a whisper. 

“Come on short stuff.”  A policeman said, leading Bailey away. 

A new car arrived and Tim Irving climbed out of the back.  “Thank you.”  He said shaking Pecan and Lollipop’s hands furiously. 

After everyone had left, Pecan and Lollipop walked back towards their office.  “You were right not to trust him.”  Lollipop stated.

“Yeah, Bill Murray might be Irish but all Irish aren’t Bill Murray, clearly.”  Pecan added.

Lollipop just groaned.

 Bill_Murray_Irish

The End

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It’s a Banner Day!

Hello all.  With the book signing just 8 days away, Caralyn and I have been busy trying to get everything ready.  Yesterday, my banner came back from the printer’s in all its banner like glory.  So rather than make you wait until the signing to see it, here’s a picture:

Yep, it's a banner

Yep, it’s a banner

 

Many thanks to Caralyn for designing it for me.  And hope to see all of you at the Bookworm on the 22nd.

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Free Bookmarks

As most of you know, I am having a book signing on March 22 from 1-3pm at the Book Worm in Powder Springs. I can’t wait to see you guys there. Caralyn and I have been busy making a banner for me, business cards, and something we’ll be doing for the book signing, free bookmarks!!! These are for Winston & Baum and the Secret of the Stone Circle. We have three different designs.

Winston

Winston

Baum

Baum

and Brackish!

and Brackish!

So come out on the 22nd and pick up a signed copy of Winston & Baum and the Secret of the Stone Circle, and grab a set of bookmarks. Thanks and we’ll see you on the 22nd.

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The Moment You’ve Been Waiting For!

Hello everyone! It’s a great day, we finally have the date for my very first book signing. I will be signing copies of Winston & Baum and the Secret of the Stone Circle at the Book Worm in Powder Springs on March 22 from 1pm to 3pm. Also I will not be alone, my cover artist & wife, Caralyn, will also be there selling prints of her art. You can check her out at http://www.mysticreflections.com. If you don’t have a copy of Winston & Baum and the Secret of the Stone Circle, you can buy a copy at the Book Worm or by clicking on the cover below.

For more information about the book signing, such as addresses and the such, just look at this awesome flyer Caralyn made for the occasion.

Come on down and see us!

Come on down and see us!

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