ARCHIE’S GOLD (children’s crime suspense) Twelve year old Archie Crane has a dream to be reunited with his estranged father, and shining shoes in front of a hotel in a tough blue-collar town is the only way. Every nickel and dime dropped in his can goes toward a bus ticket to leave his mom and sister. The mean streets get a whole lot meaner when Boogy, a local rink rat, is determined to wrest the shoe-shine spot away from Archie by any means. After one busy night riding his bike home, Boogy pushes him into traffic. Archie awakens in the hospital with two detectives at his bedside, very curious as to how a stolen gold coin ended up in his money can. It’s a mystery to Archie, too. Looking like a failed lab experiment from his injuries, Archie pedals his smashed bike around town trying to discover the mystery of the coin while fighting off Boogy. One stolen gold coin is a curiosity, but when Archie stumbles upon 42 of them, his simple world is turned upside down. The two cops catch gold fever, determined to find all the coins. Caught between holding stolen coins and finding someone trustworthy to turn the coins into cash proves difficult and dangerous. Enlisting the aid of an ex-con might be a bad idea, but he’s running out of time. As the walls begin to tumble and the police close in, Archie’s hope of rejoining his father may only be a dream.
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/75759 (scroll down to read an excerpt )
What’s been said:
“We’re interested in publishing it…” “Our editorial department enjoyed it.” –Tundra Books This was part of a verbal agreement to publish between Tundra Books and myself. They kept me hanging on for two years, continually delaying a publishing date before inexplicably dropping it. They are not to be trusted. A verbal agreement is only as good as the paper it’s written on.
“The plot characters and interactions between children and adults are all things editors look for.” – Specialty Book Marketing
“A spellbinding juvenile mystery novel that is sheer magic. I hope this marks the beginning of a long and mutually beneficial relationship.” – Michele Rooney Literary Agency
“…a thoughtful and compelling book.” – The Genert Company
“The suspenseful story is full of well-drawn characters in a tough world.” – Heacock Literary Agency
“A fun story with a good voice.” – Langton’s International Agency
“The plot sounds a little tough for middle grade fiction, but sometimes different can be a strength.” – Catt LeBaigue, agent
“…I was charmed by Archie.” – The Rights Factory
“Great stories. Send the rest of Archie’s Gold and Ransom.” – Helm Publishing
“Well-written and interesting.” – Carolyn Swayze Literary Agency
excerpt – “OW-W-W!”
“You long-haired little snot!”
The man grabbed a mitt-ful of my thick mop of hair and uprooted me from the tiny saddle on my shoe-shine kit. That’s when it struck me why Willy had told me to get my haircut before I took this job. My foot slammed against the kit; scattering supplies and spilling my money can across the sidewalk.
“You sh-sheated me, kid!” The stocky man slurred his words, drunkenly wavering before me. A gust of wind could easily blow him over. His warm breath reeked of whiskey. His unzipped blue windbreaker had several greasy stains near the pockets. Patches of hair, like two small shaving brushes, poked out at odd angles from each nostril.
“Did not! Le’go my hair!” I howled, readying a kick to his shins.
He opened his dirty palm revealing the coins I had given him for change on a buck.
“Sh-shange is ninety-five, brat–not…eighty-five.”
He needed a bar of soap and clean clothes more than a shine.
My short experience had taught me that the longer they sat in the smoky, beer-smelling Station Hotel, the worse they could count, or even see, the blur of silver coins in their hands. Only my integrity kept me from taking all their loose change.
The man tugged me higher, almost to my feet. I dropped my buffing brush, feeling the roots in my scalp about to be yanked like unwanted crabgrass.
“Hey! That’s enough!” warned a voice from behind my tormentor.
The man turned to it, twisting my head at a painful angle.
The voice belonged to the Indian man, rolling up the sleeves on his white button shirt, giving it all the drama of a surgeon gloving-up for a heart transplant. There was no question as to his intention. As he folded up the right sleeve, a slithering dragon revealed itself on his powerful forearm. The long creature, tattooed in green and dark blue ink, had eyes like finely-cut red gems.
A muscle flicked under his skin below one cheekbone. His skin was the color of burnt leather as if he had spent all his days working outdoors. There were plenty of Indians in my hometown up north, but he was definitely the finest looking Indian I’d seen; looked like a cheif to me.
“And who the heck are you?” asked the man, adding a hiccup.
Light bulbs flickering from the hotel sign above our heads reflected like sparks in the Indian man’s menacing eyes.
“I’m his father,” replied the Indian man in a deadpan tone.
The man laughed. “You?” He turned back to me, squinting in a blurry-eyed examination. I nodded as best I could from my contorted angle.
“The boy’s a shhheat.”
“And you’re very drunk,” said the Indian man, putting the finishing touches on his sleeves. He flexed his fingers and rested his hands on his hips, waiting. His dark eyes sized up the man, top to bottom, very slowly like a butcher selecting the best part. The challenge was issued. End of Chapter one.
The pic below is the shoe shine crew working up a sweat at Toronto airport. They are all adults. Few kids in North America shine shoes these days. They still exist in Asia and Latin America.