Here is a small sample of my book. I'm allowing you to read it on three conditions. Are you ready to hear them? Well, here they are, ready or not.
1. You promise to tell other people about this book. This is a new venture and I really want everyone to read this and start making their fun.
2. If you know (or even just kind of know) anyone in the publishing world, please send them this link. I'm hoping to get this book published in print and your friend might be a perfect match.
3. Do not ignore conditions 2 & 3. Bad, bad things will happen to you, very bad things.
4. Oh, and now there is a fourth condition: sign up for the newsletter, like us on facebook, and follow us on twitter.
OK, I realize that I'm asking for a lot. Sorry. Hope you enjoy my book.
Here are links to my query packet, query letter, & story summary.
Chapter 1: Caught in a Trap
There are times in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep. You try everything: counting sheep, picking your favorite toe, and counting back from 173,836,927. But nothing works. I was a victim of many sleepless nights until I found something that calms the beast inside me: ham. That’s right, ham. Any type will do: smoked, cubed, chopped, steak, bone-in, boneless, fried, sliced, rolled, aged, cured, or canned.
This particular night, my love of ham brought me to the kitchen in hopes of a sleepy-time snack. Nothing, not even ham, could have prepared me for what I saw once I flicked the light switch. On the counter stood my mother, crouched with a feverish look in her eyes. Her wiry hair moved with every long, deep breath. In her hand was a rolled up magazine. I think it was Today’s Mothering.
“Dewey, stop right there and be very quiet,” said my mom. She did it in one of those loud whispers that people use to talk across a room.
“You know, you’re pretty loud yourself.”
She gave me a loud, “SHHHHHHHHH!”
“Mom, what are you…”
Again, “SHHHHHHHHH!” Then she answered, “He’s under the T-A-B-L-E.”
When my mom spelled the word “table” it made me think she was talking about my four-year-old brother Chuck, but when I bent down to see what was under there I saw a small tan mouse with a single brown spot under an eye and pink ears that looks like frisbees. It nibbled a Skittle and didn’t look the least bit scared, or even notice anyone—especially the lunatic on the counter.
“Why did you spell table, mom? It’s a mouse. They don’t understand English.”
With a loud whisper she said, “Dewey, SHHHHHH! This little mouse just made a big mouse-take.”
I apologize in advance for my parents’ horrible jokes, puns, and stories. They are never funny.
She continued, “That scurrying fur ball keeps eatin’ all of our food. I can’t afford to have him eating everything in our closet. Remember those dried prunes I was able to buy for only twenty-five cents with my coupons?” I didn’t answer. She continued, “Well, that thing ate a hole right through the bag and ate ’em all. That was a once in a lifetime deal. Not to mention I haven’t been regular since then.”
That lady loves her coupons. She really does, probably more than me. About five years ago, right before Chuck was born, she started “Holi-days later.” This is where we celebrate every holiday a week late. Her idea is that after a holiday, all of the items you buy to celebrate it go on clearance sale. My mom did this just so we can save a few bucks on candy hearts, turkeys, and fireworks. Thanksgiving is always early December, the Fourth of July is on July 11th, and New Year’s Eve is, well you get it. Of course Mother’s Day is still celebrated on its actual date.
We watched in silence as the mouse ate. I guess it would be more accurate to say I watched, my mother waited. She squeezed her magazine. I could tell she wanted to play Whac-A-Mouse. A sound came from the hallway, and then my brother Chuck walked in. My mom tried to give signals to Chuck to be quiet. They didn’t work. He said, “Look at mousey, mommy.”
Mr. Mouse looked up and saw what I can only imagine was the scariest thing it had ever seen, my crazy mother. It hit the brakes as my mom jumped down from the counter. “I got you, mousey.” My mother stood between the mouse and his freedom. She smiled with winning excitement, but then the mouse did a u-turn and ran away from my mom, and his hole. The expression on her face changed. She dove at the mouse, but missed with a loud thud and slid under the table. With my mom stuck on the floor, the mouse looped back around and reached did another u-turn and ran around her toward its home.
Franklin, my dog, poked his head around the corner to see what all the noise was. My mother tried to get to her feet, but couldn’t quickly enough. “Franklin, get him. Sic ’em boy.”
Franklin turned his head slowly sideways. He did nothing else.
The mouse jumped over a mousetrap and reached freedom. I was impressed.
My mother slammed her fist against the floor. Chuck said, “Look, mousey made mommy maddy.”
“I know what I need,” said my mom. “Dewey, let me borrow your BB gun. I’ll buy a hundred more mousetraps, set them up everywhere on the floor. Then I’ll sit quietly with your BB gun. I’m goin’ mouse huntin’, ya’all. Oh, let me see if I have a coupon for mousetraps.”
This mouse was special. It didn’t fall for easy tricks and traps. I didn’t want him to meet his maker, especially if his maker was going to be my fanatical mother.
I grabbed some mail from the table and triggered the mousetrap by the mouse hole. The metal bar came down across a thin cheese slice placed over a cheap decal of a cartoon mouse with Xs for eyes and the words “Mouse Killer 3000” written across the bottom.
My mother panted, paced, and said, “Every morning I find the traps sprung and no cheese. He’s making a fool of me.”
The trap was way too sensitive and this mouse must have learned how to trigger it without being caught. He’s smart and doesn’t deserve death. That being said he doesn’t deserve making our food closet into an all-you-can-eat buffet.
I stood up straight and said, “I can catch the mouse.”
“You really think you can?”
I smiled. “Without a doubt I can make a better trap. No problemo.”
All of a sudden the room turned dark, lightning exploded from the ceiling, and thunder billowed as my sister Janice came into the kitchen. (Ok, maybe some of that was made up.) She started, “Oh really, you think you can catch the mouse? What, with one of your crazy and dangerous inventions? Don’t burn the place down, or ruin Dad’s stereo again.”
“That was a long time ago,” I said. “Longer than when you left your curling iron on.”
Janice ignored me once she heard her text tone go off. Who is texting her at midnight?
After her thumb danced over her phone she replied, “Whatevs, I need my beauty sleep. Mom, try and make sure Dewey doesn’t wreck the place. Laters.”
Beauty sleep? She’ll have to wake up next decade to see any results.
Janice spun half-way around on one foot and used the other to stop. She left the room while humming a perfectly annoying song.
Every trap needs something to first attract the mouse and second to keep it. Once on TV they said that mice don’t really like cheese as much as people think. It was a myth created by French cooks. They would steal cheese after work from their restaurants, and then blame it on the mice in the morning. Instead of cheese, I’ll be using peanut butter. According to the internet, it should work better, especially if the mouse is lactose intolerant. I grabbed an old shoebox sketched my design.
As long as I can remember, I have loved science and building things—or making. The reason is very simple: “Ranger Danger”—the action-packed TV show on Sunday nights. You know it, right? The opening credits call the good ranger, “a one-man wrecking crew for terrorists, ne’re do wells, derelicts, hoods, and hooligans.” In every episode, park ranger extraordinaire, humanitarian, and former Navy Seal, Ranger John Danger always finds himself in crazy situations, but all he ever wanted to do was just take care of the animals in Arcata State Park. As you can imagine, something always gets in the way. Maybe Ranger John Danger is on vacation or maybe visiting an old park ranger friend. Right before the first commercial break, something goes wrong. Afterwards we see the local police start their investigation. John Danger offers his expertise in karate, science, engineering, and trapeze. The head honcho laughs and says something like, “The moment we country folk need some help from a big city can of sunshine like you is the day I retire.” Ranger John Danger walks away politely. This is where it gets really good. The local sheriff underestimates what they are dealing with and has to eat his words. Danger agrees to help, despite the danger. There is usually a pregnant chick or someone who needs a doctor immediately involved, too. He starts with a great plan, but something always goes wrong. The pregnant chick goes into labor or the guy with the bad heart complains of chest pains. Everyone starts to freak out, but John Danger says something like, “People, calm down. Danger is my last name.”
Now, telling you like this, well, I guess it sounds super cheesy, but in the moment, it is epic. With only moments to go Ranger John Danger finds a way to save the day with something simple like a paperclip, a calculator, and a lemon. Everyone is saved and the town loves him. They offer him money, cars, land. The head honcho’s daughter winks at him. And then the episode ends with him saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, all I’d like to do now is relax. Where is your local library?” Awesome, right?
Ever since I watched my first episode three years ago, I have wanted to be able to make gadgets just like Ranger John Danger. I’ve enjoyed science class more ever since. I even won last year’s Science Fair with a solar cell phone charger that I added to my book bag. It was pretty easy to make out of a few parts from the dollar store.
[You will learn how to make this in the AKA Detective Manual.]
After some thought, I placed the shoebox up-side-down and cut two squares out on each side. I taped the cut-out pieces back in place. This way they became like a swinging door. On the inside I taped a straw that was wider than the door, so it only opens inward. I added a cardboard toilet paper tube as a chimney. On the side I wrote, “Cheese Factory: Mice Welcome.” This will keep the mouse trapped.
With a spoon I dug out a clump of Christo Chunky Peanut Butter and let it drop on the linoleum floor with a thump. This will attract the mouse, hopefully. It was hard to see the peanut butter since our kitchen floor was the same color. I placed my mousetrap on top and aligned it with the fake tile pattern.
Enjoy it? Feel free to tell me.