Tag Archives: publishing

#FridaysWithBQB – Interview #6- Sydney Everson – Young Adult Novels, Children’s Books and Sweet Romance

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Author Website

Hey 3.5 readers. Your old pal Bookshelf Q. Battler here. Today’s guest on #FridayswithBQB is Sydney Everson, a writer of children’s books, young adult novels and sweet romance. She’s also a recovering lawyer who ditched the old rat race to focus on the more important things of life, namely, raising her son and concentrating on writing.

Seriously, readers. Take your elbows off the tables and suck in your guts, there’s a respectable lady present.

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QUESTION #1 – Sydney, welcome to my blog. My apologies. It’s a mess around here. I’d pick up, but honestly, I don’t want to. You seem too good of a person, much better than the usual pack of vagrants who hang out around here, so I’ll try to get you on your way as quickly as possible.

We first virtually met on Twitter when we had a quick little chat about concentrating on one writing topic. I don’t recall what exactly was said, but generally, we were talking about how it’s not the best idea to deviate from one idea to another. A certain amount of stick-to-itiveness is required to get the job done, even when you’ve been working on an idea a long time and feel the need for a break.  It may seem satisfying to scratch that itch of a new project, but you’ll never get your old project done if you do.

You’ve completed several projects. What keeps you sticking to it?

ANSWER – I know the temptation well – you’re working on your baby, this book idea you’ve fully developed and thrown yourself into writing, but now you’re editing, you’re on draft two or three, and it’s starting to become a slog. Out of the blue, a bright, shiny new idea comes along to tempt you. It’s so fresh and exciting and you want to start on it right away. For me, I know if I chase the “shiny” I’ll never come back and finish the current project, I just won’t have the motivation anymore. But I do want to keep this nascent, fragile spark of an idea alive for when I can work on it, so I make notes. I start a new file where I jot down the ideas that come to me for the next book – plot, scenes, characters, anything that comes to mind, I jot it down and save it. Meanwhile, I keep plugging away at the current project and when it’s done, I’m ready to start on the “shiny” and already have some headway made.

QUESTION #2 – On your website, you mention you’re a member of a writer’s group in your community. Personally, I despise most people and prefer to live the life of a hermit rather than converse or share my thoughts and/or feelings with anyone. Also, I just feel I am a genius who is so intelligent that people with lesser brains could never possibly tell me anything I don’t already know, and I say that with all humility.

But, for all the normals out there, would you recommend joining a writer’s group as a means to share ideas, get feedback, stay motivated, that sort of thing?

ANSWER – Absolutely, but it may take a bit of “shopping around” to find one that’s the right fit for you. If you go to one and aren’t feeling it, don’t force yourself to keep going, but don’t give up either. Try to find another, or start your own! I’ve been to meetings of a few where I knew those just weren’t for me. Whether it was the writers’ personalities, differing goals, or even just different ideas about what the group’s purpose was, they weren’t a fit, but I’m currently in two that I love. In one group, the writers have become very good friends and are a wonderful source of support and advice. The other is a critique group which I find very helpful. Sometimes the advice is good, and sometimes it’s not, but the main thing is, by writing for it once a month, I’m forcing myself to step out of my current project for just a moment and knock out something short, quick, and creative. I find that really helps reset me sometimes and get the creative juices flowing again, especially when I’m in editing mode on one of my projects. So I guess the short answer is yes, they can help you stay creative and they can support an author’s journey to publication, but you have to find the right group for you and your goals.

QUESTION #3 – Let’s talk about young adult fiction. I don’t care for that genre myself. I mean, seriously, all these kids running around with zero life experience yet somehow they manage to save the day in the end, while leaving time for blossoming romance? Seems unrealistic to me as these kids aren’t worried about paying mortgages or credit card bills or finding the cheapest yet most effective brand of hemorrhoid medication. Don’t even get me started on what it takes to get a good life insurance policy these days.

Oh, wait a minute. I think I figured out why I don’t like young adult fiction. It’s because I’m an old adult and after a lifetime of seeing every dream I ever had flushed down the crapper, the idea of a happy ending seems like fiction to me.

You seem like a better adult than I am but still, is it hard for an adult to turn off that “adult” switch in order to put him or herself into the shoes of young characters? How do you do it?

ANSWER – I think there are a number of reasons adults enjoy young adult literature, both reading and writing it. The themes in YA lit are often ones we “adults” still struggle with, like figuring ourselves out and why we’re here, what we’re meant to be doing with our lives. I’m [censored]-ty years old and yet in some ways, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Even as adults, we’re not stagnant. We change, adapt, and evolve based on our experiences and the people we meet in life. The heroes and heroines of YA lit are doing the same. The things they struggle with are not exclusive to teenagers – acceptance of self and others, expressions of our individuality, issues with our families or friends, how we handle crises, etc. Those aren’t just kids’ issues, adults wrestle with them too.

Also, I think there’s an element to youth we as adults want to experience again through literature, and that is this sense of possibility. Do you remember getting in a car with your friends when you were seventeen or eighteen years old on a weekend evening and feeling like literally anything was possible –adventure, love, who knows what, but the whole world was out there and anything could happen? It’s an amazing feeling and one adults get to relive through books. Let’s face it, at my age, if I go out for an evening my friends, I know will have a glass of wine, be home in sweats by 9:30, and wake up tomorrow with a wine hangover from that one glass of chardonnay. Through YA lit, I get to relive that magical sense of open-ended possibility.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: I prefer to eat a bag of Chips Ahoy alone while watching old re-runs of “The Golden Girls.”  Blanche is such a card.  I’d invite friends over but then I’d have to share my cookies and I don’t want to.  I’m at an age where I value cookies over friends.  Also, I have no friends.

QUESTION #4 – You also write children’s picture books. What advice do you have for a writer who wants to get into that genre?

ANSWER – This is one I’m still trying to figure out. A lot of people think knocking out a quick picture book is easy because it’s so short, but it’s actually incredibly difficult. You have to get an entire story across in very few words and do so with heart, humor, whimsy, and, oh yeah, you might need to write the whole thing in verse. That’s insane. I’d suggest doing some research first. Publishers create picture books in fairly rigid formats, so your words and pictures may need to fit a predesigned layout of, for example, thirty-two pages. It’s a good idea to create a “dummy” layout and see how your wording fits.

QUESTION #5 – Suppose you want to write a children’s book but you have zero artistic skill. You’ve got the words planned out, but how do you go about getting the artwork? Collaborate with a designer? Are there resources out there for writers who need some illustrations for their picture books?

ANSWER – Many picture book publishers want to have the flexibility to choose the illustrator to go with the manuscript they like, so I’d say if you aren’t an author-illustrator, which I’m definitely not, you probably don’t need to worry about finding an illustrator and pairing up before you submit to a publisher as the publisher may want to choose their own illustrator. If you do want to team up with an illustrator though, a great place to start is the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). They are a wonderful resource.

QUESTION #6, Part 1 – I’m toying with the idea of writing a children’s picture book called “Get a Job and Stop Being a Terrible Financial Burden on Your Parents.”

Page 1 = Mommy and Daddy fighting over bills.
Page 2 = Kid gets a job as a bus station janitor.
Page 3 = Kid gets a job as a short order fry cook.
Page 4 = Kid gets a job as a bus driver. How he got a license I don’t know.
Page 5 = Kid gives his hard earned money to his parents who don’t have to worry about bills anymore.

The End.

Do you think I’d make a mint with that book or should I not quit my day job

ANSWER – Haha, sounds good to me! You never know what will find the right market and appeal to people. I mean, Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortés’s book, “Go the F*** to Sleep” was a huge hit, so who knows?

QUESTION 6, Part 2 – OK. There was actually a method to my above madness. You probably have to have a special source of optimism to be a children’s book writer, right? I assume you have to think positive thoughts and bottle up joy and happiness and distill that onto the page? Cynical schmucks like me shouldn’t apply, but how do you do it? How do you beam so much positive reinforcement out there into the world?

ANSWER – I’m a big fan of escapism. The real world can be a hard, depressing, difficult place to live sometimes, in fact, rather often, so escaping into a book either through writing or reading, is a wonderful thing. I love creating worlds people can escape into and feel love and joy, and while there’s usually some peril, I always deliver a happy ending. We don’t get enough of those in real life.

QUESTION #7 – Let’s talk about your foray into the genre of sweet romance. Personally, I’ve never experienced a romance that didn’t end with a woman spending zero amount of her time with me while she spends one hundred percent of her time with fifty-percent of my stuff. I should have hired you to be my lawyer. You could have talked those women down to forty-five percent of my stuff easy.

But I digress. For those of us who are romantically challenged, please explain what the sweet romance genre is. Bonus points if you tell us what inspired you to get into it as a writer.

ANSWER – Sounds like you may need a little of that escapism into a sweet romance too! Sweet romance is basically just a love story without things getting steamy. (Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with steamy, I have several good friends that write awesome love stories with plenty of heat). For me though, sweet romance is kind of like the Disney version of love stories, where in the end, the characters realize they are in love and seal it with a kiss. I think the fun is in the falling. I love stories that bring characters close, but then pull them apart until they finally come together in the end. I jotted down ideas for romances for a while, but never wrote them out until I learned that Hallmark was starting to publish sweet romances in the vein of their Hallmark Channel movies. I’m a not-so-closeted addict of Hallmark Channel’s movies so I decided I had to give it a try! Whether ultimately Hallmark likes my sweet romance manuscripts, or another publisher does, or I self-publish remains to be seen, but I definitely enjoy writing them.

QUESTION #8 – I notice on your website you mention you are querying many of your projects. How’s that process going and what advice do you have for anyone out there trying to do the same?

AMAZON – Well, the website implies I’m continuously querying when really it’s more in fits and starts unfortunately. I tend to finish a project, send out a handful of queries, and then follow that “shiny” I talked about earlier. In my eagerness to work on the next project, I tend to neglect querying a bit so if I give advice here, it’ll be something I need to learn to take myself. Writing is so much more than writing, it’s plotting, outlining, editing, querying or self-publishing, and marketing and every author knows how difficult it is to find time for all of that.

Nevertheless, it’s important to make time to get your work out there if you want to be traditionally published. No one’s going to publish your book if you don’t ask. So ask, and keep asking. Rejections are a part of the process. I would be shocked if there is any published author out there who hasn’t been rejected at least once, most get rejected many times. But it just takes one – one agent or editor who believes in your story and will champion it so that it gets into readers’ hands. I’d recommend researching successful query letters, find a format that works for you, and research agents, making sure they are a good fit for your story. Manuscript Wish List is a great site for finding agents who are looking for books like yours. Then keep at it! (I’m talking to myself here too).

QUESTION #9 – Have you ever thought about self-publishing? Ever since I made a whopping 12 cents off of a book I self-published, I have become a self-appointed ambassador for the self-publishing industry, trying turn as many converts as I can. Come on over, the water’s fine and Jeff Bezos is passing out entire cents like candy! “One of us! One of us! Gooble, gobble, one of us!”

AMAZON – Definitely. I have quite a few author friends in the self-publishing world. I’m watching what they do very closely to try to learn what works and what doesn’t as far as marketing. My goal right now is traditional publishing, but self-publishing offers a lot of perks so I am definitely not ruling that option out.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: Since conducting this interview, I made another staggering, astounding, earth shattering 35 cents!  So many cents!

QUESTION #10 – Sadly, every author who submits to an interview on this poor excuse for a blog must explain how he/she would escape a scenario of doom using three unlikely items. Don’t worry, one day you’ll have an entourage who will keep you away from such nonsense. Until then, here’s your scenario:

You’re riding a train to wine country because, who wouldn’t? Wine country is fabulous this time of year. Suddenly, the lights flicker off. When they’re turned back on, you learn that everyone who had been sitting in your general vicinity was a werewolf the entire time, and they’re looking at you like you’re a fresh bowl of kibble.

You reach under your seat, hoping to find a weapon but alas, you find a) a half-full can of spray-on silly string b) a rolled up poster featuring the grim visage of Vegas crooner Wayne Newton and c) a tin of Altoid mints.

How will you use these items to extract yourself from this fury feeding frenzy?

ANSWER – I’m on a train full of wine-loving party animals headed to wine county. This isn’t as dire as it may seem. First, I’ve been noticing two of the passengers, now revealed to be werewolves, eyeing each other throughout the trip so far, so I give the mints to one and suggest he make his move. I do enjoy a good love story after all. That takes care of two of them. Then I spray silly string on my jaw like mutton chops and hold up the Wayne Newton poster to indicate that I’m clearly one of them. I mean, with those sideburns, was there really ever any doubt about Wayne? They’re warming up to me, but not yet convinced, so I offer to pay for their wine tastings which puts them in a cheerful mood and then I distract them with a heated debate over which is better, oaked or steel-casked chardonnay? They take the bait, follow the “shiny,” and before the day’s out, we’re all half wine-drunk, best of friends, and invited to the wedding of the cute were-couple on the train. See, aren’t happy endings great?

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: I’ve run this answer through my supercomputer and it has determined a 94.8% chance of success, so well done.  Werewolves love wine country and Wayne Newton is a werewolf.  Surely, that explains his longevity.  You heard it here first.

Fun fact, this is the second time an interviewee on this blog has escaped a doom scenario using a sticky novelty substance and a celebrity photo.  Readers may remember Robert Bevan used spray cheese to paste a photo of Bea Arthur to his face in order to scare away a cavern full of monsters.  Read more about that tried and true sticky situation extraction trick here.

Thank you for stopping by, Sydney, and 3.5 readers, if you enjoyed this interview which, frankly, if you twist my arm and ask me to brag about my interviewing skills then I’ll tell you this puts anything Barbara Walters ever did to shame, then be sure to give our guest a shout out on Twitter.  “One of us, one of us…”

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My Book is Free This Weekend!

Hey 3.5 readers.

I know.  I’ve become “that guy.”

The guy that repeatedly tries to give away his book instead of coming up with something new and interesting to say.

I can’t help it.  I’m like a proud father and this book is my baby.  So, just reminding you all it is free this weekend – totally FREE, so download your copy today and check it out.

That’s it.  I’ll zip my lip about it for a while.  Well, I might remind you tomorrow, possibly Monday, but that’s it.  Scout’s honor.

DOWNLOAD MY BOOK FOR FREE!

Bookshelf Q battlers for Amazon

 

 

 

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BQB’s Writing Prompts Book Coming Soon

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

Keeping my fingers crossed, hoping my first book will be self-published on Amazon at some point this week.

Hope you will check it out.  I need all 3.5 of you to read it.  Thanks.

Bookshelf Q battlers for Amazon

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 79

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The sun beat down on Rusty and Sharon as they trudged through the Grover County Forest Preserve. Sharon swigged from a bottle of water and wiped her brow.

“An alligator?” Sharon asked.

“I shit you not,” Rusty answered. “Longer than a super duty pick-up truck and it must have weighed just as much.”

“And you’re sure you weren’t…”

“What?” Rusty asked.

Sharon pantomimed tipping an invisible beer up to her mouth. “Glug, glug, glug?”

“No,” Rusty said. “OK yes. But so was Gordon. That didn’t matter. We both saw it. If he were here, he’d tell you the same thing.”

“”You have to admit it’s a pretty unbelievable story,” Sharon said.

“You think I want to believe it?” Rusty asked. “I’m telling you, thoughts of that giant monster will haunt my dreams forever. And just like I told Hammond, Buford is somehow behind it all.”

“So what are you saying?” Sharon asked. “Buford controls the alligator like he’s some kind of pet?”

“Yeah,” Rusty said. “Only they were having some kind of squabble, like the gator wasn’t listening to Buford and trying to do its own thing.”

Sharon sighed. “A misbehaving alligator.”

“Talk to Britney Chase,” Rusty said.

“The holes in the floor at the bathroom scenes inspected would, in theory, be commensurate with a large alligator busting through,” Sharon said. “But still. An alligator coming up through a toilet to eat an unsuspecting bathroom user? I thought that was an old wive’s tale.”

“Apparently not,” Rusty said.

“How could an alligator even fit into the pipe that connects the toilet to the sewer?” Sharon asked. “There’s no way he could squeeze into a space that tight.”

“I don’t know,” Rusty said. “But it makes sense when you think about it, doesn’t it? How else could a killer have gotten to three separate locations in such a short amount of time unless he had a means of travel other than a traffic clogged highway like, say, a sewer system?”

“I guess,” Sharon said.

“And how could he sneak into a bathroom, kill the victim, not just kill but totally splatter them everywhere?” Rusty asked.

“I’d been thinking a woodchopper was involved,” Sharon said. “But I suppose a big set of gator jaws would do.”

“These were the biggest I’d ever seen,” Rusty said. “Chock full of razor sharp teeth.”

Sharon sighed. “I want to believe you but…”

“But what?” Rusty asked as he slapped a mosquito that was buzzing around his neck.

“This is so…unlikely,” Sharon said. “There’s got to be another explanation.”

“I wish there was,” Rusty said. “Believe me, I wish there was.”

Rusty and Sharon stopped near a big swampy mud puddle to catch their breath. As they stood quietly, the frame of a man slowly emerged, commando style, from the mud behind them. When the man was on his feet, he was completely covered with mud, save for the whites of his eyes, which he used to stare intently at the intruders. The handle of a big, jagged knife sat precariously between his teeth.

The man removed the knife from his mouth. “Halt! Who goes there?”

Startled, Rusty and Sharon turned around. Rusty squinted at the mud caked man. “Moses?”

“Rusty?” Moses asked. “Sharon? Aww hell.”

Moses looked down to the mud puddle, where a hollowed out bamboo shoot was being used to provide air to another underground dweller. “False alarm, Felix!”

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 70

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Britney sat back in her hospital bed, too nauseous to even look at the jello on her tray table. Rusty stood by while Bishop read from his notes.

“So you’re telling me you saw something that was green, at least fifteen feet long, four legs, must have weighed over eight hundred pounds, enormous teeth…”

“And it hissed at me,” Britney said.

“Ma’am,” Bishop said. “I don’t mean to sound rude but had you been drinking that night?”

“No,” Britney said.

“Drugs?” Bishop asked.

“No,” Britney said.

“A little coke, perhaps?” Bishop said. “A little marijuana?”

“No,” Britney said.

“It’s cool,” Bishop said. “I know what college is like.”

“I wasn’t on anything,” Britney said.

“Ma’am,” Bishop said. “I know you might think you have to say you weren’t because we’re law enforcement officers but honestly, I have no interest in busting you for a little bit of drug dabbling. I just need to know the truth.”

Britney grew frustrated. “That’s the truth!”

“That you saw an enormous alligator?” Bishop asked.

“Yes,” Britney said. “No. I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” Bishop asked.

“It looked like an alligator,” Britney said. “But it was so big. I’ve seen alligators at the zoo before but nothing this big. I don’t think they normally get that big do they?”

“I have no idea,” Bishop said.

“So all I’m saying is it must have been bigger than a regular alligator,” Britney said. “Like it must have been a dinosaur.”

Bishop scoffed. “A dinosaur?!”
Britney closed her eyes. “Whatever. You asked. I told you.”

Bishop nodded. “Have you told me everything?”

“Yes,” Britney said.

“Are you sure?” Bishop asked.

“Yes!” Britney said.

Bishop reviewed his notes. “You and the other kids were arguing while Chad Becker was defecating on the toilet. Next thing you know, wham, you’re on the ground and the last thing you see is some type of prehistoric alligator-like beast, possibly a dinosaur due to its abnormally large size.”

“You got it,” Britney said.

“Miss Chase,” Bishop said. “None of the other kids reported seeing this alleged creature.”

“I don’t know,” Britney said. “I just know what I saw.”

Bishop looked at his notebook. “Then again, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt in that you’re the only one whose head wasn’t pinned under the bathroom stall wall.”

“See?” Britney said. “There you go.”

Rusty looked at Bishop, presumably making a silent request to speak up. Bishop nodded in the affirmative.

“Britney,” Rusty said. “You mind if I call you, ‘Britney?’”

“I guess,” Britney said.

“What are you studying at Sitwell?” Rusty asked.

Bishop looked confused as well as curious as to where Rusty was going with this line of questioning.

“Nursing,” Britney said.

“You putting yourself through school?” Rusty asked.

“Yes,” Britney said.

“Job?” Rusty asked.

“I’m a cashier at Price Town,” Britney said.

“You like that kind of work?” Rusty asked.

“No,” Britney said.

“Why not?” Rusty asked.

“Little old ladies come up to me all the time to bitch me out over the price of everything,” Britney said. “They’re all like, ‘I could get this for half the price down the street’ and I feel like saying, ‘Well, why don’t you move your ass and go down there then, bitch?’”

Rusty smirked. “Family commitments?”

“I’ve got a little brother I have to babysit when he gets home from school,” Britney said. “Both my parents work.”

“So you don’t live on campus?” Rusty asked.

“No,” Britney said.

“That’s kinda sad,” Rusty said.

“It is?” Britney asked

“Yeah,” Rusty replied. “You’re missing out on the party scene.”

Britney shrugged her shoulders. “I’ve been to a few parties. Every time I go thinking it’ll be fun. Every time I leave because it’s just a bunch of drunk losers grinding on each other and puking all over the place. That last one, that’s the last one I’ll ever go to. I’m done with college parties.”

Rusty turned to Bishop. “That’s all I’ve got.”

Bishop drummed his fingers across the armrest of the chair he was sitting in. He pondered his next move for a moment before asking a question. “Do you know of anyone with a reason to hurt Chad?”

“To hurt Chad?” Britney asked.

“Yeah,” Bishop asked. “Someone who hated him, despised him.”

Britney laughed. “How much time have you got?”

“The list is that big?” Bishop asked.

“He used women and threw them away like they were nothing,” Britney said. “Pretty much every woman on campus had a reason to hate him.”

“Yourself included?” Bishop asked.

Britney sighed. “I hated him for awhile but then I just started feeling sorry for him, like there must have been something broken inside of him that he could have that much sex with so many different women but still never feel satisfied, you know?”

“Tell me about it,” Rusty blurted out.

Seeing that no one found his joke funny, Rusty slinked back into the corner of the room.

“You kept hanging out with him after the break-up?” Bishop asked.

“Yeah,” Britney said. “I don’t know. That was stupid I guess. I was just hoping that maybe he’d change but deep down, I knew he never would.”

“Anyone else with a grudge against him?” Bishop asked.

“He was rude to practically everyone,” Britney said. “He’d walk down the halls and just shout out insults to people. If you were short, or fat, or ugly or whatever. He’d find something to make fun of.”

“Sounds like a dick,” Bishop said.

“You don’t know the half of it,” Britney said.

Britney looked around the room and took a deep breath, apparently scared to mention something else. “He dealt drugs.”

Bishop lit up. “He did?”

“Marijuana,” Britney said. “Everybody on campus knew. He was the guy everyone went to.”

“He have any after him for that?” Bishop asked. “Disgruntled customer? Maybe a supplier he cheated?”

“I have no idea,” Britney said. “I never found out about that until after we broke up. I wouldn’t have dated him had I known. I never asked him about it after. I didn’t really want to know. I just know what I heard around campus.”

“Huh,” Bishop said as he stood up. “Alright then. Take care of yourself, Miss Chase. Hope you feel better.”

Rusty and Bishop exited the room and headed down the hallway.

“What do you think?” Rusty asked.

Bishop pinched his thumb and pointer finger together, then put them up against his mouth and made a sucking sound, as though he were enjoying an invisible doobie.

“You think she’s a druggie?” Rusty asked.
“Of course,” Bishop said. “Give me a break that she didn’t know her boyfriend was a dealer. She’s just trying to cover for herself.”

“I don’t know,” Rusty said. “She seemed pretty solid, a little more mature than the average college kid.”

“How so?” Bishop asked.

“She’s got a job that she hates but goes to anyway because she needs the money,” Rusty said.

“Welcome to adulthood,” Bishop said.

“Exactly,” Rusty replied.

The duo reached the elevator. Bishop pushed the call button. The doors opened and they headed for the ground floor.

“She lives at home and takes care of her brother,” Rusty said. “Probably has parents nagging on her. Probably doing her best to work hard and save up so she can get out on her own.”

“Not one of these kids whose content to sit on Mom and Dad’s couch until they’re forty-five,” Bishop said.

“Exactly,” Rusty said.

“So OK,” Bishop said. “Maybe she didn’t have a drug induced hallucination. Maybe she just hit her head really hard on the floor and it scrambled her brains.”

“You think?” Rusty said.

“Well,” Bishop said. “The only other option is that an actual dinosaur sized alligator jumped up though the toilet and ate Chad Becker. You think that really happened?”

Rusty and Chad stared at each other blankly for a few seconds, then burst out in laughter together.

“Aww shit,” Rusty said. “Toilet gator. That’s a good one.”

The duo reached the ground level. They stepped out of the elevator and walked through the lobby.

“So, what now?” Rusty asked.

“Buford Dufresne,” Bishop said.

“What about him?” Rusty asked.

“He’s our only real lead,” Bishop said. “It was odd that he was at his mother’s house in the middle of the night. Odd that he was screaming about how he tried to warn her about something. We never really got an answer to any of that.”

“That guy’s always been the town weirdo,” Rusty said. “Never really grew up because his rich Daddy always took care of him.”

“Sounds like a guy with a lot of time on his hands,” Bishop said.

“Time to plot something big?” Rusty asked.

“That’s what I’m thinking,” Bishop said.

“Aww but,” Rusty said. “I can’t go anywhere near that kid. He’s the Mayor’s boy and Hammond is the Mayor’s bitch. Those two are tighter than a pair of skinny jeans.”

Rusty unlocked his cruiser and hopped into the driver’s seat. Bishop took the passenger’s side.

“Don’t worry about it,” Bishop said.

“I am worried about it,” Rusty said. “He already fired Cole. I don’t need to be sacked too.”

“I’m a federal investigator and I’ve commandeered your services,” Bishop said. “If Hammond gets up your ass, I’ll swat him down.”

“Huh,” Rusty said as he backed out of his parking space. “I like the sound of that. Where to?”

“Let’s look around town,” Bishop said. “See if we can’t find out what Buford is up to.”

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 67

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Adult Buford laid on the motel bed and put on his headset. He adjusted the attached microphone, raising it to his lips.

“Skippy,” Buford said. “You got your ears on? Over.”

Silence.

“Skipford J. Dufresne,” Buford said. “I know you can here me, over.”

More silence.

“Fine,” Buford said. “Then I’ll talk, Skippy, and you listen. Look, I get it. You had a good reason to hate Momma. She didn’t realize how kind and sweet and sensitive and intelligent you are. She thought you were just a dumb man eating animal, so she flushed you. And you ate her, so now you’re even. Do you really feel any better about it?”

Silence.

“I was angry about what happened to me on prom night for years,” Buford said. “I thought Sally would be my special lady, that we’d be together forever on account of how neither of us were much to look at, that she was just some kind of evil bitch for choosing Chad’s looks over my brains and I wanted to make everyone pay for hurting me, even Mr. Hogan. But you know how I’ve felt ever since you ate them?”

Silence.

“Worse than ever,” Buford said. “You know Skip, they say a man who goes in search of revenge should dig two graves because, you know, I don’t know, he’s going to get himself killed while he’s in the process of killing whoever done him wrong.”

Silence.

“This is just how life is,” Buford said. “People are mean. People are rude. People are shitty. People hurt each other. It took a gigantic prehistoric sized alligator devouring my enemies to make me realize that I’m not the only person in this world, that my feelings and emotions don’t matter more than anyone else’s.”

Silence for a moment and then….”Raarga.”

“What do you mean I sound like I should get a shrink?” Buford said. “Shit. Momma said that too.”

“Raarga.”

“Skip,” Buford said. “All I’m trying to say is that sometimes we see a bad side of a person and when that’s the only side we see, it’s easy to think there’s no good in that person but there is. There’s good in everyone. Even the worst, most awful people have some good parts about them.”

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“I thought Sally was a bad person for rejecting me for a man that made fun of her weight,” Skippy said. “But who knows? Maybe that fumble she had with Chad out in the football bleachers gave her the confidence she needed to lose weight and get eye surgery and finish her orthodontia treatments so she could become Countess Cucamonga, who brought joy to the world with her big butt songs.”

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“It was fake?” Buford said.

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“Huh,” Buford said. “She lost more weight than I thought then. But see what I mean? She was bad to me but she was good to the world. She donated to charity and visited sick kids in hospitals and made people happy so you know, she didn’t deserve to end up in your belly just because she hurt me.”

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“I know it was my bright idea,” Buford said. “No one’s blaming you.”

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“And Chad was a dick,” Buford said. “But then he ended up spending ten years on a two year degree than even I finished in a year and a half so honestly, now that I think about it, I feel sorry for the guy. Maybe he beat me up because he knew right then and there that he had peaked in high school and it was all downhill from there. He was just venting his frustration.”

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“Yeah, I know,” Buford said. “Mr. Hogan should have helped me but he was getting old and close to retirement. After teaching kids for forty years, he just stopped caring. But is it right to judge him for the one kid he did not help when he helped so many over the years?”

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“Was it right to eat Momma when she was just worried that one day you’d eat me?” Skippy asked. “Or her shirtless wrassling customers?”

“Raarga, raarga,” Skippy said.

“Yeah,” Buford said. “I know they weren’t really there to wrassle. I put two and two together last year when I rented a film starring Julia Roberts as a prostitute with a heart of gold. But still, Momma let those men do unspeakable things to her so that I could have all the video games and potato chips I wanted and so I don’t think it was fair that you ate her, young man.”

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“So listen,” Buford said. “It’s time to stop.”

“Raarga?” Skippy said.

“That’s right,” Buford said. “Cold turkey. No more eating humans.”

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“Hell yeah I understand it’s gonna be hard to get you on the wagon but I’ll be with you every step of the way, buddy,” Buford said.

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

Buford sighed. “Skippy, do you realize what you’ve done?”

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“You brought the heat down on me,” Buford said. “Sally. Chad. Mr. Hogan. No one would have ever begun thinking about me until you went and ate Momma. By doing that, you got the coppers taking a look at me.”

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“I know no one told me to go to Momma’s house but I was trying to save her,” Buford said. “And those cops, they grilled me all night.”

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“Snitches get stitches?” Buford said. “What a way to talk to your best friend.”

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“Oh whatever,” Buford said. “If you can find anyone willing to befriend a gator the size of a truck then be my guest.”

“Raarga, raarga, raarga,” Skippy said.

“Skippy, here’s the thing,” Buford said. “Daddy got me off the hook. The cops have hit a wall. You relax, stop eating people, and this whole thing will just blow over. We’ll get away with it. Scot free.”

“Raarga,” Skippy said.

“But if you keep eating people,” Buford said. “You’re eventually gonna slip up and lead the police back to us. You need to come to your senses, quit while we’re ahead, and get your ass back here and lie low with me in this sweet ass, slightly busted up motel room while we rent pay per view porno and charge it off on this credit card I stole from Daddy three months ago and he still hasn’t figured it out yet.”

Silence.

“Skippy,” Buford said. “You do realize that if you eat Daddy, that’ll be two victims with a clear, obvious connection to me, right?”

Silence.

“And then it’ll just be a matter of time before even a bunch of dumb cops start asking around and finds out about the prom incident, connecting me to the other victims?” Buford asked.

Silence.

“If you eat Daddy, then that’s it,” Buford said. “Game over. Prison for me and I dunno…alligator prison for you I suppose.

Silence.

Buford sighed and popped open a bag of potato chips. “Kids. They never listen.”

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 53

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While Paul stewed in silence, Sharon was once again sitting in Cole’s office, behind his desk. Gordon stood off to the right, while Buford was seated across the desk.

“Mr. Dufresne,” Sharon said. “My name is Agent Sharon Walker. This is my partner, Gordon Bishop. We’re with the FBI, investigating a high profile case in the area. Perhaps you’ve heard of it as the media has dubbed the perpetrator as, ‘The Toilet Killer.’”

“Helluva thing those toilet killings,” Buford said. “No one should ever have to go while they’re going, if you ask me. You think the Toilet Killer got my Momma?”

“It looks that way,” Sharon said. “And though I’m sure it doesn’t offer you much consolation, I am sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you,” Buford said. “Momma was a real ornery spitfire, but a sweet old gal. Hell, she kept her prices low just to keep all the local perverts happy.”

Sharon made an odd face. It was a half-smile, half-grimace. She had no clue how to respond to Buford’s statement, so she moved on.

“Mr. Dufresne,” Sharon said. “Chief Walker has reported to me that when you arrived at your mother’s trailer, you shouted, and I quote, ‘I tried to warn her!’”

“I don’t remember that,” Buford said.

“What were you trying to warn your mother about?” Sharon asked.

“Again,” Buford said. “I don’t remember saying anything like that.”

“Chief Walker stated to me that when he pressed you on this, you said that you had tried to warn your mother about smoking while the pilot light of her stove was on,” Sharon said.

“That’s right,” Buford said.

“So you don’t remember saying you tried to warn her?” Sharon asked.

“Right,” Buford said.

“But you do remember saying that you tried to warn her about smoking?” Sharon asked.

Buford’s face turned red. “Oh Gee Whiz, now you’ve gone and messed with my brain, ma’am.”

“Mr. Dufresne,” Sharon said. “I suppose what I’m trying to get at here is the issue of whether or not you were trying to warn your mother about something more disturbing than a cigarette…”

“What?” Buford asked. “Like one of those computerized vape-o-majigs? Momma didn’t like those, no ma’am. She tried one once and said it felt like she was giving a blowjob to the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz.”

Sharon smiled. “Your mother sounds like she was a real character.”

“Oh yes, ma’am,” Buford said.

“Were you two close?” Sharon asked.

“Sure,” Buford said.

“Did you approve of your mother’s profession?” Sharon asked.

“You mean stripping and prostituting?” Buford asked. “Wouldn’t say I’d go around bragging about how proud I was of Momma for doing that but hell, it paid the bills and it’s not like she had any kind of an education or skills to fall back on.”

“So the idea of your mother and all those men…”

Gordon cut his partner off. He stepped forward and towered over Buford. “If losers were fucking the woman that gave birth to me for pennies on the dollar, I know it would piss me off.”

“She may have had discount rates but I wouldn’t call it, ‘pennies,’” Buford said.

“Not the point,” Gordon said. “The point is that it must have made you mad, the idea of all those dirty, disgusting men, flopping around like a bunch of diseased, out of water flounders on top of your mother.”

Buford’s upper lip trembled. He gritted his teeth. He began to sweat. He took a deep breath and then calmly answered. “No sir. That was between them and Momma. I could care less.”

Sharon shuffled through a file folder. “Mr. Dufresne, when you arrived on the scene…”

“Ma’am,” Buford said. “You wouldn’t happen to be thinking something crazy like, oh, I dunno, that an angel like little old me had something to do with my own mother’s death, would you?”

“I didn’t say that,” Sharon said.

“Y’all seem to be implyin’ it,” Buford said. “I’m in mourning, here.”

“I know,” Sharon said.

“I have lost my dear sweat Momma,” Buford said. “That woman was my rock, my best friend, my whole reason for being.”

“Your whole reason for being?” Sharon asked.

“Shit,” Gordon said. “My condolences.”

“I’m sorry,” Buford said as he stood up. “I can’t think straight what with my Momma gone. I need to go home and lie down.”

Gordon stared Buford down, silently indicating the fact that leaving wasn’t a valid option.

“Y’all can’t keep me here,” Buford said. “I know my rights!”

“Mr. Dufresne,” Sharon said. “No one has accused you of anything.”

“I have a right to a phone call,” Buford said.

“This is all very unnecessary,” Sharon said. “We’re just trying to establish some facts that will help us find your mother’s killer.”

“I want my phone call,” Buford said. “I want to call my Daddy!”

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 46

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It had been a strange day for Paul. In the mere span of a day, he’d gone from being his fraternity’s dork Beermeister to a big time marijuana salesman. Sure, he missed his drinking buddy Chad, but the fat stacks of cash that had been rolling in all day more than made up for it.

Earlier that evening, he decided to celebrate his newfound success with a trip to Big Ray-Ray’s House of Fancy Funbags. He’d intended to purchase the extracurricular services of the prettiest stripper in the entire club, which, by Big Ray-Ray’s standards, usually meant the one that was walking the most upright on the particular day in question.

However, Paul’s father was an accountant and he’d always given his son one important piece of advice – “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Sure, Paul would have had more fun with a lady of the evening closer to his age, but in the end, there’d be the same amount of shame in the morning, so he decided to save a few bucks and go with Roxy.

In fact, the young lad was starting to feel right at home in Roxy’s trailer at the Impoverished Arms Motor Court. Roxy had fixed the boy a good, stiff drink and even cut the tension with a quip about that being “how she likes her men” as well.

Paul played with the ruffles on a throw pillow as he sat on Roxy’s couch. Just a few feet away, the old hooker was sitting in a recliner, wearing a stained bathrobe, puffing on a cigarette as she talked to her son on the phone.

“Buford,” Roxy said. “Slow down. You sound like a crazy person. Uh huh…yeah..that’s…no…son, that’s foolish talk. Yes, I’ve seen the news! Oh, you know how that junk is, bunch of primetime phonies trying to scare everyone so they keep watching the TV….what? No…no….you listen to me, young man, I am your Momma and I will take a shit whenever I damn well please! No…no…you do not get to tell me what to do, Buford! I…I…listen, I got to go, I’m entertaining a paying customer….that’s…you’re being ridiculous, Buford. I’ve got to go! Goodbye!”

Roxy hanged up her cell phone, then got up and took a seat next to Paul. “Where were we, darling?”

Paul sweated profusely. He grew so nervous that he choked up. “Umm…uh…”

The old gal rubbed her hand up and down Paul’s leg.

“Whoa, mama,” Paul said.

Roxy leaned in close. Her breath reeked of cheap booze and stale cigarettes but that didn’t matter to Paul, as this was the most action he’d ever gotten in his two decades of life on earth. A woman was touching him. That’s all that mattered. Still, he tried his best to block the fact that Roxy was roughly the same age as his mother out of his mind.

“You’ve never done this before, have you sweetheart?” Roxy asked.

Paul shook his head no.
“You’re so sweet.” Roxy slapped the boy’s knee and grabbed his hand. “Let’s go!”

“Where are we going?” Paul asked.

“Where do you think?” Roxy said. “To the bedroom. Come on, grab your little bat ‘cuz Old Roxy’s gonna teach you how to knock it out of the park.”

As soon as Roxy stood up, her stomach gurgled. “Uh oh.”

“Are you ok?” Paul asked.

Roxy tapped her smoke out into an empty liquor bottle. “I’m fine but, you know…when I stood up I think it knocked a hot one in the chamber loose.”

The old gal sashayed her way to the bathroom. “I’ll just be a minute, lover. Old Roxy’s got to drop the Cleveland Browns off at the Super Bowl.”

“Take your time,” Paul mumbled. The kid was out of his mind. Here’s a synopsis of what was going inside of the kid’s head:

“Really? Am I really going to allow my first time to be with a geriatric hooker who is taking a dump this very moment? Aww, but then again, how long am I supposed to wait? College is almost over and none of the girls on campus will have anything to do with me because I’m a dweeb. But wait! Wait! I have weed, now! Hot girls my own age will do anything for free pot! Huzzah!”

Paul looked for an escape route. He tried to open the front door, but it creaked loudly. Roxy heard this and called out, “Are you leaving, honey?”

The kid knew he should have just run, but damn it, he was too polite. “Uh, no! No uh, just getting some fresh air.”

The sound of Roxy blowing ass into the toilet traveled through the trailer. “I’m sorry, doll. Can you smell it all the way out there?”

He could, for the trailer was small. He pulled the top of his shirt over his nose but still, he was too polite. “Nope! Not at all.”

“Oh good,” Roxy called out. “Because you know kid, between you and me, I’m not as fresh as a daisy like I used to be, you know.”

Paul spotted a window. He opened it slowly and to his delight, it didn’t creak. “Oh no. You’re fine, ma’am. Everything’s fine.”

The kid was about to jump through the open window when a terrifying sound frightened him. “ROAR!”

The next thing Paul new, the whole trailer was being flipped over. Chairs, the couch, the TV, all the furniture, all the knick knacks, it was like they were all raining down as the surface that had once been the ceiling became the floor.

Paul fell and banged his head, knocking him out cold.

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 43

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Cole, Rusty, Sharon and Gordon gathered around Maude’s desk, reviewing the giant stack of reports she’d taken throughout the day.

“This guy thinks the Toilet Killer is an alien from outer space,” Cole said.

“Check this one out,” Rusty said as he read part of a report out loud. “The Toilet Killer is my mother-in-law and even if it is, you cops should feel free to pin it on her and put her away forever because that bitch is cray cray.”

“I can relate,” Cole said.

“I beg your pardon?” Sharon asked.

“Huh?” Cole said. “Nah, I was just saying, in general, most people could relate to that. I can’t, because your mother was great. A saint, really.”

Rusty coughed into his fist. “Cough, cough, pussy! Cough!”

Gordon read from a report in his hand. “The Toilet Killer is a hitman hired by the CIA.”

“Not impossible,” Rusty said. “Although personally, I still don’t think we’ve paid enough attention to the possibility that this might not all be the work of the Al Qaedas.”

“It’s not the Al Qaedas, Rusty,” Cole said.

“We don’t know it’s not, not the Al Qaedas,” Rusty said.

Sharon read from a report. “The Toilet Killer works for the Al Qaedas.”

“Rusty,” Cole said. “Did you submit an anonymous report?”

“How dare you impugn my character, sir?” Rusty asked.

Sharon kept reading. “You may think this is not the work of the Al Qaedas, but keep in mind we don’t know this is not, not the Al Qaedas.”

“This is ridiculous,” Gordon said. “Just a bunch of attention seeking crackpots.”

“Tell me about it,” Maude said as she returned to her crossword puzzle.

“Well,” Sharon said. “The trail’s cold and these are the only leads we have so we better…ow…”

Sharon grabbed her head.

Cole and Gordon rushed to Sharon’s side and asked, “Are you OK?” at the same time.

“I’m fine,” Sharon said. “Just, Gordon and I have been at this mess twenty-four hours straight now. My head’s pounding.”

“You should get some rest,” Gordon said.

“You um, want to crash at my place?” Cole asked.

Sharon hesitated. “Really?”

“Sure,” Cole said. “Why not? I’ll give you my key. You know where everything is.”

Rusty coughed into his hand again. “Cough! Pussy! Cough, cough!”

“No,” Sharon said. “That wouldn’t be right and besides, Gordon needs a rest too.”

“Not gonna lie,” Gordon said. “I could nap.”

“Come on,” Sharon said. “We’ll charge a room off to the FBI.”

“One with room service,” Gordon said. “I’m starving.”

“Wait,” Cole said. “You’re leaving?”

“You’ve got my number if anything happens,” Sharon said. “In the meantime, maybe you and Rusty could run down some of those leads. I’d stay and help but…I’m beat. Come on, Gordo.”

“Way ahead of you,” Gordon said.

The agents walked out of the door. Cole looked around. He’d been left with Rusty, Jeff the computer guy, and a few random agents and officers who were hustling about.

Rusty slapped Cole on the back. “You’re a better man than I am, my friend.”

“What?” Cole asked.

“I know I’d lose my cool if a musclebound jock like that made it clear he was going to plow my ex-wife right in front of me,” Rusty said.

“No one’s banging anyone in front of me,” Cole said.

“I know,” Rusty said. “But he was talking about it.”

“He was not,” Cole said. “No one’s banging anyone. They’re just co-workers.”

“Whatever you say,” Rusty said.

“I do say,” Cole said.

“Fine,” Rusty said. “And I sympathize. If a giant weightlifter was about to repeatedly jam a hog that was much bigger than mine into the only woman I’d ever loved, I’d try to deny it too. The mind has all sorts of mechanisms like that to keep us from flying off the handle.”

“He’s not…” Cole shook his head and sat down. “They’re not having sex. And how do you know his hog is bigger than mine?”

“I don’t have proof or anything,” Rusty said. “And I don’t believe that NN1 report about you having a micro dong but…”

Cole blew up. “Never speak of that report again!”

“Fine,” Rusty said. “But look at the dude. He’s totally built. Like Schwarzenegger in his prime. I’m not saying your hog is below average. I’m saying his there’s a strong likelihood that his hog is above average.”

Cole dropped his head down on Maude’s desk with a thud. “Maude?”

“Yes, dear?” Maude asked.

“Wanna settle this?” Cole asked.

Maude sighed. “You want the truth?”

“I guess so,” Cole said.

Maude reached her old hand out and stroked it through Cole’s hair. “That man has a giant hog and he’s minutes away from giving it to the love of your life. I’m sorry, dear.”

“It’s OK,” Cole said. “These things happen.”

Maude lit up a cigarette. “Coffee, dear?”

“Yes, please,” Cole replied.

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How to Make Big Money in Self Publishing

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Anyway, enough out of me.  If you want to learn how to get rich quick in the world of self publishing, click here.

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