The Case of the Pirate Pocket

Once upon my former days as an elementary school library media assistant, I apparently had fewer piles of urgent business to tend to than usual, because I took a few minutes to compose and e-mail the following report to my sister, closely based on the entirely true events of that morning. During a recent de-cluttering of my room, I came across a printed copy of the only very slightly embellished account, and realized that – with the barest of line edits and removal of alienating inside jokes – I had myself a bloggable short story! So, for your reading pleasure, I do hereby present…

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The Case of the Pirate Pocket (Wednesday, February 24, 2010, 8:49 AM)

Ten minutes after arriving to work, I received my first assignment of the day.

I was engaged in your usual detective work – keeping tabs on the comings and goings of the local characters (or, more accurately, their books) – when… she walked in.

It was the mysterious lady down the hall. Short; bright hair; slow with numbers. (I oughtta know: She had me on a mean case of algebra tutoring, back before the start of this debacle.) She was in a jam, as usual. A real pickle. A cucumber picked in a jam jar.

Fortunately, when it comes to cukes, I am always cool as one.

“Ms. Shipley,” she said breathlessly, ‘cause that’s me – D. Shipley, P.I. (Well, okay, L.M.A.; but that looks too much like “llama”, and an elementary school librarian’s life is a road of tears, so I prefer to go the P.I. route. But I digress…)

I noticed that she kept one hand restlessly patting a certain rear-endish area of her anatomy. It made me wonder what was coming next. I wasn’t kept waiting long.

“Do you have anything I can stick here?” she asked, and I resisted using any of the crudely clever quips that sprang immediately to mind.

“Something to stick, eh?” I said. So this was a sticky situation. They always are. And when you need to stick it to a sticky sitch, sometimes it’s best to stick with the stick you know.

Chomping on my cigar (don’t smoke, kids), I observed, “Sounds to me like you need a note to get you out of trouble, sweetheart.”

“A note?”

“Yeah.” I reached into my desk and pulled out solution number one. “A sticky note.”

But a second look at the problem told me that this wasn’t gonna cut the mustard. Maybe if it had been mayonnaise, but no.

“That won’t fly,” she said.

I asked, “What will?”

Her answer was ominous. Not that she actually said the word “ominous”. That would have made no sense, and I would have been obliged to tell her so. No, what she actually said, in an ominous whisper, was, “The Jolly Roger.”

Pirate Pocket

She removed her hand from her back end, and at last I saw the cause of her distress: Embroidered on the back pocket of her jeans, a skull and crossbones.

“You’re right,” I said. “That won’t fly. …Well, on a brigand ship, it would. But this is an elementary school.”

She nodded tearfully. “I know. Oh, whatever will my employer say if she sees this?”

“ ‘Aargh!’?” I suggested.

She continued the tearful nodding. “Maybe.”

“You got any safety pins?” I asked, thinking on my feet, although I happened to be sitting down. “We might be able to pin some paper over it.”

She didn’t have any pins. I didn’t have any pins. Between us, we were pin-less. And I didn’t trust my stapler as far as I could throw it – although, the way it acted up whenever I tried to staple something, I could see myself throwing it pretty far.

“A sticky problem indeed,” I mused. “But,” I suddenly remembered, “my drawers are full of tape!”

“Sounds like I’m not the only one with pants problems,” she remarked.

“Not those drawers, toots – the drawers in my desk. We’ll use the tape in my drawers to tape paper to your pirate pocket.”

Just to show off, I said that ten times, fast.

Her pants were as black as the heart of the pirate who would dare fly such a flag on their ships and/or pockets. Not everyone would have matching black paper on hand. I personally had nothing on my hands except sanitizer and a stylish mole or two. But I did keep construction paper of many colors in my office, black included, so we gave that a whirl. After that, we got around to trying to tape it to her pants.

But like a sorry excuse for an alibi, the tape just wouldn’t stick.

“What about masking tape?” she asked.

“It’s not the tape we’re trying to disguise,” I reminded her. “It’s the skull and crossbones on your pocket. But using tape to mask the pocket might not be such a bad idea.”

The custodian was just then coming down the hall. Using my expertly subtle interrogation skills, I asked if she had any masking tape. The custodian denied the whole thing, just as I’d know she would. She liked to play hardball. But she wasn’t the only one in a playful mood. While her information played hard-to-get, I played a round or two of distract-the-custodian-while-my-client-rummages-through-said-custodian’s-mailbox-and-uncovers-the-masking-tape.

Once we were rid of the custodian, I masked old Jolly Roger, and the case was solved.

“Thank you, Ms. Shipley,” she said gratefully.

“Just doing my job,” I said, even though we were both aware that neither of my job descriptions – neither my real one as an L.M.A., not my fictional one as a P.I. – made any mention of handling my coworkers’ wardrobe malfunctions.

But hey. I’m easy.

The [Nut]case of the Nader Sequel

Burdin of Choice Banner

When I agreed to let Will Scarlet interview author Alexander Nader as part of the blog tour for his novel debut at the start of this year, I had no idea Will would take this to mean that all Beasts of Burdin-related interviews are now his turf. Guess I’m naïve, like that. So, here we are, with the Burdin sequel on tour. Cue the sketchy saxophone music.

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“Alex Nader. We meet again.” Out of the murky gray of a shady back alley steps the trench-coated, red-fedora-ed figured of Will Scarlet, faux private eye. His smile flashes white in the shadows. “I hear you’ve been busy, but you know me. Rumor and hearsay’s not good enough; I like my answers direct from the source.” He gestures through the door behind him. “Care to come in and answer a few questions?”

Alex*Shakes nervously* I, uh, suppose so, but does that light have to be so bright? I’m sweating over here.

“Oh, sure. Hang on a sec.” Will bends down to fiddle with a mess of cables and gives the fog machine inside the doorway a thump, toning the atmosphere down a few degrees. “There we are,” he says, circling his desk to drop into his chair. “Make yourself comfortable. Now then: Word on the street is Ty Burdin is back. …Well, I say ‘on the street’,” he says, withdrawing a Burdin of Choice paperback from his coat’s inner pocket. “More like ‘in the blurb’. Can you confirm this? Is the hunt for demons back on?”

Alex: It’s true, it’s all true. There’s always a few demons that could use a little off the top. And by little, I mean a lot. And by a lot, I mean their head. It’s a decapitation joke, because, you know, it kills everything and all that. *Laughs nervously, drums fingers on desk*

Will grins and gun-finger salutes. “I see what you did there. Glad to hear Burdin’s trilogy is carrying on apace! My source in the field” – this said with a wink for Danielle who, as ever, is on hand to do the note-taking – “tells me that writing a Book Two can be a whole different animal, compared to writing Book One. What was your experience, as far as Beasts vs. Choice? Which posed the greater challenge?”

Alex: Choice was definitely the bigger challenge because I had expectations to live up to. When I wrote Beasts I had never been published and had nothing to lose. With Choice I have a few fans and people I didn’t want to let down, so that caked on the pressure. Luckily Ty let me borrow some scotch and it really smoothed out the ol’ nerves.

Will’s brows rise. “Generous of Ty, considering he keeps his friends close and his liquor closer. But then, every street-smart character knows that what’s good for the author is good for us all. Speaking of characters, while nosing around Goodreads, I uncovered a review of the book naming Burdin’s secretary Nora as a favorite, using such descriptive terms as ‘absolutely gorgeous’ and ‘nutty as a fruitcake’.” Will coughs a laugh. “I’ve been called both on multiple occasions. From where you stand as author, does it look like Nora’s got the makings of the trilogy’s breakout star, a la that brilliant scarlet swordsman of ‘Outlaws of Avalon ’?”

Alex: Nora is definitely a big part of the series. When I started writing the first book, she didn’t play a very big role, but my first readers loved her so much I decided to step her role up in the series. She’s a lot of fun to write and super important in Ty’s life. He’s a bit of a screw-up and needs people like Nora and Hartnet *clears throat, nudges Danielle* to keep him grounded.

Danielle: Hi-i-i, Hartnet!

“Keep it together, Danielle. I’m on a case. Now,” Will says, turning back to his interviewee, “I don’t wish to alarm you, but I caught some punk on the corner sporting some suspicious swag.” His hand in and out of his coat’s pocket once more, Will extracts a number of photos zoomed in on a colorful flask, a compact mirror depicting a lounging tattooed female, and a beer mug reading St. Sebastian’s Bar & Grill. “Says he got the merch from your e-store. Is he legit?”

Alex: Yup, it’s true. Anyone can go to zazzle.com/Nader_Swag and pick up some awesome Burdin merch. I’ve seen pictures of one of those compact mirrors out in the wild already.

Will’s face lights up. “I was hoping you’d say that. Oy, Danielle! Can we get a poster?”

Danielle: When I’m less broke.

“Sweet! All right, I think I’ve got all I need from the horse’s mouth. Thanks for taking the time to set the record straight. Be seeing you, Nader. And watch out for demons!”

Alex: Hahahaa, I fooled you. I made it almost an entire interview sounding like a real person. You will never know my secret, Scarlet. NEVER! *Slaps interrogation light, runs out front door wearing only boxers and a t-shirt that says, ‘Demons are all in your head’*

Will blinks. Several times.

Danielle: What… just… happened?

“Honestly,” says Will, sweeping his pile of evidence into a desk drawer, “pretty much just business as usual, around here.”

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BurdinOfChoice_web

Title: Burdin of Choice (Beasts of Burdin #2)

Author: Alexander Nader

Publisher: J. Taylor Publishing

Release Date: November 10, 2014

Keywords: Urban Fantasy

About the Book: Ty Burdin is back. Back to drinking and back to avoiding demons. He is, of course, the leading expert in his field. In both subjects.

That’s probably why, when a customer offers him way too much money just to locate a missing car and some mysterious cargo, he readily agrees. The dude is human after all—Ty’s prime target client base.

Along with the money comes a slew of disappearances which Ty tries to ignore while tracking down that car, because, of course, those missing people might be demon related, and as he’s said before, that’s agency business. Not his. Period.

Until today.

Ty Burdin is to back drinking as well as everything he vowed never to get involved with again.

Question is, which one will kill him first? The booze, the demons, or the Agency?

Alex Nader

About the Author:

Alex lives in the tourist infested hills of east Tennessee with his amazing wife/muse and three superb children. He would tell you more about how awesome they are, but you probably wouldn’t believe him. When he’s not hanging out with them he’s making pizzas and occasionally he jots a few words down. He’s a big fan of good music, good storytelling, and fun, lots of fun.

He once wrote a short story about pirates to his wife via text message that blossomed into a full length novel and never stopped after that.

Goodreads  /  Twitter / Facebook  /  Website  /  Blog

“Burdin of Choice” is newly available via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. This-a-way to add “Burdin of Choice” on Goodreads, and that-a-way to enter the tour-wide Rafflecopter giveaway.

Burdin 2, Launch ‘n’ Review

Know what day it is? Huh, huh? Do ya, do ya? Release day for a friend o’ mine’s sequel, that’s what!

BurdinOfChoice_web

The Book: “Burdin of Choice (Beasts of Burdin #2)” by Alexander Nader

Ty Burdin is back. Back to drinking and back to avoiding demons. He is, of course, the leading expert in his field. In both subjects.

That’s probably why, when a customer offers him way too much money just to locate a missing car and some mysterious cargo, he readily agrees. The dude is human after all—Ty’s prime target client base.

Along with the money comes a slew of disappearances which Ty tries to ignore while tracking down that car, because, of course, those missing people might be demon related, and as he’s said before, that’s agency business. Not his. Period.

Until today.

Ty Burdin is to back drinking as well as everything he vowed never to get involved with again.

Question is, which one will kill him first? The booze, the demons, or the Agency?

My Thoughts: Ty’s stubborn determination to turn his back on demons, this time around, was good news/bad news for me as a reader. On the one hand, there was the off-color entertainment of Ty repeatedly letting everyone around him know just how far down under the Agency could stick their agenda, as far as he cared. But on the other, his avoidance of anything that even smelled of demon amounted to him avoiding much buildup of a plot. It took most of the book before there was any real edge-of-your-seat action of the sort that kept pages turning in the first volume of the series. Nonetheless, the smart-aleck narration did a bit to help smooth over the pacing issues and kept me from boredom; I continued to enjoy Ty’s relationship with colorful secretary Nora and cool cop brother Hartnet; and the concluding chapters suggest that there’s plenty in store for Burdin and company in the trilogy’s final installment. I’m looking forward to it!

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Well, if you’re looking for your Burdin fix after Book One, you’ll have a long wait for Book Three if you don’t, now won’t you?  And/or, y’know, you could just gaze at this seriously awesome Beasts of Burdin swag, for a while. (Nader’s set up an online store, yo! Somebody buy something with “Danielle E. Shipley” on the cover so I can blow cash on that poster!)

“Burdin of Choice” is newly available via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And make sure to come back next Tuesday (not tomorrow; the Tuesday after that), when Alex will find himself once again grilled under the interrogation lamp of a certain scarlet private eye.

“Beast” or “First Look at ‘Beasts of Burdin’”

It’s a cover reveal day!

For “The Stone Kingdom (Book Two of The Wilderhark Tales)”?!

No, that’s coming in about a week-and-a-half. This reveal is for the debut novel of fellow J. Taylor Publishing author Alexander Nader. After the blurb, keep on scrolling to get an eyeful of the totally beast cover of the urban fantasy due out on February 10th, “Beasts of Burdin”.

Back of the Book:

Demon hunter Ty Burdin hung up his guns, knife, trench coat and fedora a year ago. Bags packed, hands washed of all demon politics, he’s done. Forever.

In fact, to get far far away, he dragged Nora, his rockabilly secretary, from Miami to the Tennessee mountains where he’s lived a life of peace—if peace can be defined as drowning in scotch and taking private eye jobs to keep the lights on. Jobs for real people. Not demons.

No demons.

He’s retired from that. Remember?

Demon hunters aren’t a dime a dozen, though, and when Ty’s brother asks him for a favor—just one—what’s a brother to do? Agreeing to take down one hillbilly demon shouldn’t take that long. In. Decapitate. Out. Favor complete. Back to the office where Nora and his bottle of whiskey are waiting.

Unfortunately for Ty, staying retired doesn’t seem to be in the cards, and an avalanche of bad luck draws him right back to an agency he despises and the career that nearly cost him his sanity.

This time, Ty has no way out and will have to face his own demons just to survive.

Front of the Book:

BeastsOfBurdin_AlexNader_blog

About the author:

Alex lives in the tourist infested hills of east Tennessee with his amazing wife/muse and three superb children. He would tell you more about how awesome they are, but you probably wouldn’t believe him. When he’s not hanging out with them he’s making pizzas. When he’s not doing that he’s working at a bookstore and occasionally he jots a few words down. He’s a big fan of good music, good storytelling, and mixed martial arts.

He once wrote a short story about pirates to his wife via text message that blossomed into a full length novel and never stopped after that.