Dumb Sheep Screwed by Keith Buckley

[Keith Buckley’s new Paragraph Line Books release, The Orphic Egg Caper, follows the antics of Osborne Yesterday, barely sober and brain-damaged private investigator, as he stumbles along the trail of a fabled talisman. You can find his book on Amazon in either paperback or Kindle eBook here: The Orphic Egg Caper.]

I first met the late Osborne Yesterday on Tuesday, March 2, 1976, during the second semester of my junior year at Indiana University. My directing professor, Richard Scammon, was reviewing the requirements of our final scene assignment when one of the theater department’s administrative assistants walked in the room unannounced, closely followed by two very serious, very button-down Establishment guys. Obviously Feds, and most of us had grown accustomed to these interruptions—several members of the Symbionese Liberation Army had met at I.U. before moving to the west coast, and the extremely dead Angela Atwood had been a theater major. Scammon had already bragged several times to us that he had inside knowledge about Atwood because she had been a student assistant director on one of his productions. He grooved on the attention and seemed happy enough halting class and waltzing off with the two G-men. I was getting an extremely weird vibe off the shorter, uglier one, who stared intently at me as he followed Scammon and his partner out of the room.

At least half of my fellow students seemed content to wait around and see if the agents would be finished with our teacher before the class was over. Not me: I shoved my notebook and coffee thermos into my backpack and bolted. My guts were tightening with sickening jolts of paranoia. I shared a house with three enterprising drug-dealers, and all I could think about was a rumored quantity of dope coming into town that evening. Even though I lived on a floor below the miscreants and kept my nose relatively clean, I wanted to give them fair warning and also be as far as possible from any possible busts. I ran outside, scrambled on my bike, and nearly got myself killed running every stop sign between the Theater Building and our house on North Prow. The house was empty when I got there, so I left large warning messages on all three locked bedroom doors on the second floor. Then I stuffed my backpack with homework for the rest of my classes and made the return trip to campus, this time heading for the Main Library, where I intended to stay until closing time.

I’d pretty much peeled myself off the ceiling by 9 p.m. that evening. Several calls back to the house on library payphones (way before cellphones, boys and girls) informed me that my roommates had taken delivery of five pounds of Oaxacan weed without incident, although they took the precaution of shuttling the dope to a girlfriend’s apartment for weighing and bagging. I felt safe and secure up there by myself on the 11th floor of the library’s graduate tower; the elevators only went up to 10, and nobody ever seemed to want to climb the extra flight of stairs. I was just beginning to mellow out over a reading for my Buddhism class when I heard the door from the stairway open. I didn’t hear any footsteps, though, and the next thing I know, the beady dark gray  eyes of the hideous Fed are drilling into me again, intense yet also deeply serene and he pushes a badge in my face, and he says softly and distinctly “I am FBI Special Agent Osborn Yesterday and I need to know where’s the Tibetan you’ve been studying with, Keith Allen Buckley of 510 Prow Avenue.” 

As a true child of the Nixon era, my first impulse is to deny being this Keith Buckley dude. Yesterday nods his chin at me and says “You’re a bad liar, Keith Allen Buckley and there’s your tell—you’ve folded your hands in what the Tibetan has taught you is the mudra ngang ring po, abiding patience” and he points at my neck. “It’s not doing shit for you, Keith Allen Buckley, because your pulse is now over 100, so just cool down because I am not here about those dope-dealing jokers you live with,” and then his dark eyes narrow. “Unless the Tibetan is using these dimwits to move Golden Triangle junk through this hole,” he says, and I just about piss myself blubbering “Honest to God, Officer Yesterday, my roommates don’t sell heroin and they don’t know anything about the Tantric group and Dzogchen Tulku Rinpoche or even where—“ and he picks up my backpack from the floor and tosses it on the carrel, and says “Yeah, I know. And I don’t care about them. You are going to take me to wherever he and his crew have been watching you dumb sheep screw for them. Right now.” 

Little did I realize that the Rinpoche, who’d been leading a group of us through some wonderfully nasty so-called Tantric rituals, was a murderous opium trafficker who would escape Yesterday on this occasion, and whose return to Bloomington would trigger the events Osborne narrated to me and which would become the newest book from Paragraph Line Books, The Orphic Egg Caper. 

[Keith Buckley lives in Bloomington, Indiana. When Osborne Yesterday retired from the FBI and moved to Bloomington as a private detective, Buckley worked as his amanuensis from 1990 until shortly before Yesterday’s disappearance in 2014. Aside from the 29 cases Buckley compiled and edited for Yesterday, he is also a writer, and is currently working on Welcome To Friday Noon Edition, which will contain a more detailed narrative of his first meeting with Osborne.]

Out Now: The Orphic Egg Caper by Keith Buckley

We’re pleased to announce the release of Keith Buckley’s new book, The Orphic Egg Caper. Keith is the newest addition to the Paragraph Line Books stable, although you may remember him from his previous story published here, back when we had the time and patience to publish short fiction online.

On the book:

Osborne Yesterday, ex-CIA and barely functional private investigator, is headed for rock bottom when a scared graduate student in a world of trouble sends him staggering into a web of lies that will bring him face to face with an old and deadly enemy bent on vengeance. No one gets in Ozzie’s way and nothing is more important than debauchery … with the possible exception of the constant threat of serious brain trauma.

This books a great mashup of a hardboiled detective story mixed with some serious weirdness in a way only Buckley could serve up. An added bonus to Hoosier expatriates such as myself is that it’s set in an early 90s Bloomington.

The Orphic Egg Caper is available for purchase in print and ebook formats at Amazon.com: https://amzn.to/31CnIZM

Latch Key Kids Playlist

Before I can write a book, I have to create a playlist. It’s part of my process.

When I was a youngster in Sarasota, Florida (former Spring Training home for the Chicago White Sox), before I developed my current musical taste, I obsessively listened to WKXY, the local top 40 AM station that played the same ten hits every hour.

Latch Key Kids, one of two planned prequels to my only semi-successful novel (Small Town Punk), takes place in the mid-1970’s. It features proto-punk Buzz Pepper and his prematurely world-weary sister Sissy Pepper. These two characters are based on me and my sister. Most of what happens in the book happened, in one form or another, in real life.

Why write a novel then? Why not write a memoir? Because, as we’ve all learned in 2020, real life makes zero narrative sense.

Most of the secondary characters in Latch Key Kids are composites of real life people. Most of the events in Latch Key Kids happened in real life. But they’re all rearranged and compressed into a coherent narrative.

Here’s my playlist for Latch Key Kids.

Out now: Latch Key Kids by John Sheppard


We’re pleased to announce the release of John L. Sheppard’s new dark coming of age novel, Latch Key Kids. Released by Paragraph Line Books in September 2020 the book is already receiving rave reviews from readers and reviewers.

Latch Key Kids, the long-awaited follow-up to Small Town Punk, chronicles the enduring impact one life can have on another.

Resilience and the power of sibling friendship combine into a surprising, ingeniously layered comic novel about a boy inventing himself.

In Latch Key Kids, Sheppard strips the flesh from the bone. He makes you laugh by combining searing wit with keen social observation.

Latch Key Kids is available for purchase in print and ebook formats at Amazon.com: https://amzn.to/35xvVj4

The book is also online for reviewers, booksellers, librarians and media professionals to access at

http://netgal.ly/AQD93N
https://booksprout.co/arc/48425/latch-key-kids

Hey, remember 2019?

You’d think that given I can’t leave the house anymore, I would update this more often than every two years. Ugh.

OK, so 2019 in review: Baby Yoda, bottle cap challenge, that big cathedral in France burned down, The Big Bang Theory finally fucking ended, there were 167 different documentaries about the Fyre Festival, everyone wanted to go to Area 51, some weird Japanese woman with an annoying voice urged us to throw out half our shit, and there were something like 19 Marvel movies. And of course, all of you remember where you were when you heard the McRib was coming back on October 7th. #neverforget

We had two books published last year, which I neglected to mention here. Better late than never:

  • Needs Work, by John Sheppard – Once upon a time in Cleveland… Phil Derleth, a former Army “combat cartoonist,” comes home to Cleveland, Ohio after a messy divorce. Phil is brain-damaged from a war wound and there are holes in his memory. His father Larry, a stone mason living on disability, takes him in. Soon enough, Phil finds himself embroiled in all sorts of trouble, including dodging the Ohio Department of Transportation, blood-stealing tramps, the ghost of his dead mother and stray dogs who are more than they appear to be. One stray in particular will show Phil the way back to a life that he may have forgotten.
  • Ranch: The Musical, by Jon Konrath -Absurdist writer Jon Konrath returns with a new collection of flash, micro-fiction, and other gonzo, neo-dada, post-apocalyptic weirdness. This new hoard of twenty-one bite-sized pieces is reminiscent of Konrath’s weird underground zine work, such as Mandatory Laxative and Air in the Paragraph Line, intermixed with longer bizarre stories. Includes  You Can’t Cure Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Two Pounds of Grade-D Hamburger Meat, The Curse of the Van Hagar Enema Bag, ALSO MAKES A GREAT DIP!, and Brutal Kevin and the Mandatory Laxative Printing Mishap.

Anyway, there’s more on the way in 2020, so stay tuned. It would be a good time to follow us on our Facebook page, which we also don’t update in a timely manner. I’m working on it, honest.

Doug Liberty Presents Bandit the Dancing Raccoon

Chaos! Drunkenness! Florida! A talking raccoon!

Wait, what?

We’re proud to announce the latest from John Sheppard. It’s called Doug Liberty Presents Bandit the Dancing Raccoon. It’s a farcical romp that tells the tale of instant fame in the internet age.

Out now on Amazon in both print and kindle format. Check it out here.

 

 

Out now: Book of Dreams by Jon Konrath

We’re proud to announce our latest release, Jon Konrath’s Book of Dreams.

Konrath is back with more of his nonlinear absurdity, in the form of a journal of 125 different dreams. It’s a joyride through a surreal post-apocalyptic landscape, full of nightmarish randomness and laugh-out-loud madness.

Available wherever you buy books, provided that’s Amazon. It’s in print and kindle. Check it out here.

Yes, we still sell books

So we used to have this giant page of all the books we sell. It had pretty pictures and descriptions and reviews and links to amazon.

The thing is, this was driven by a WordPress plug-in. Their business model was that all the links to Amazon to buy the books were affiliate links, and they got a cut of each book sale. That’s fine I guess, because they wrote the plug-in, but of course it would be nice if we got a cut of that, or if we could just price the books cheaper. But that’s another story.

The problem with this plug-in is that, like many other WordPress plug-ins, it was a piece of garbage. And it was basically a vector for virus writers to hack sites, which happened multiple times. I finally had to give up and remove this plug-in, delete the list, and put at the bottom my to-do list of 768 items a note that I should someday fix this.

I have not come up with a good replacement yet. But I did just put up a list of all of our releases. It has links to the Amazon entries for each book. It doesn’t have pictures or descriptions or anything. Maybe I’ll get to that soon, but I’ve got a lot of other things brewing right now.

Here’s the list: Our Books

When I made this list the other day, what amazed me is that it’s been ten years since we officially started doing books for Paragraph Line. And if you include our next release, in that ten years, we’ve put out 23 books, which isn’t too shabby for two guys with full-time jobs.

About that 23rd release – more news soon. I’m up to my eyeballs in production work, so I should get back to it.

New podcast: Do Better Ep #14

Sometimes, when we aren’t writing or betting on demolition derbies while eating excessive amounts of cheese, we talk to other human beings. It’s rare, but it happens.

Recently, Jon Konrath was on a podcast done with Joshua Citrak. It’s called Do Better, and he is on episode 14, which is here:

http://dobetter.libsyn.com/ep014-jon-konrath-authorpublisher-0

They talk for about 90 minutes about censorship, word police, getting doxxed, the stasi, the futility of publishing, AI taking over the world, living in a surveillance state, suicide, mental health, and drugs. Cheery stuff. They also talk about Konrath’s newest book.

Check it out, and check out the rest of the episodes, because there’s some great conversations with other writers and artists.

Also, it’s been a while, but The Koncast still has some great episodes for you to listen to, in case you’re sick of reading, which pretty much describes everyone these days.

I ASSURE YOU WE HAVE NOT BEEN HACKED

God damn it, WordPress.

OK: so about a year ago, this site got hacked. One of our fine contributors had their password set to “password” and someone in a basement office in Asia figured it out. They edited several pages, adding links and keywords to various boner pills. And nobody noticed it, because nobody reads this site.

Some time later that Google’s webmaster tools thing sent me a nastygram saying our site was hacked. I reset passwords, edited pages, and submitted forms back to Google saying yes, we were hacked; yes it was under control. Weeks or months later, they replied, and all was well. But in the interim, any google search results on the site said we were hacked. (Ultimately not a big deal, because nobody reads this site, and definitely nobody is searching for it.)

A year went by. We published three books. We posted here four times. I think a total of seven people visited, five of them looking for boner pills. It was a banner year.

Then, yesterday, another stern warning for Google. Site hacked. Turns out one page still had some mentions to boner pills, buried away in an invisible frame no human could see, but that Google could. Edit, resubmit to Google, wait. Luckily, as I said, nobody reads this, no big deal.

WordPress is horrific. The back-end interface is ugly, outdated, impossible to use. When you ask WordPress experts about this, they will tell you that it’s fully extensible, you can get plugins to change anything. You then search, and find plugins written a dozen years ago that never work, and don’t really do what you want. You also find people more than willing to charge you thousands of dollars to write plugins that never work, and don’t really do what you want. Meanwhile, you get a site that looks like the pinnacle of technology in 2004.

The advantage to WordPress is that everyone uses it. This is also an advantage to people in Russia who spend all day hammering web sites looking for security holes. Once they find an exploit in a WordPress version, they can easily jump from site to site and crack them open like walnuts. And because WordPress was written by a bunch of volunteers and random teenagers, it’s full of security holes. They remedy this by issuing a stream of updates, which then constantly break plugins, or flat out don’t work, and lock up your site entirely. It becomes a full-time job updating WordPress. And yeah, if your full-time job is fucking around with WordPress, this is trivial. But my full-time job isn’t fucking around with WordPress. I have too many other full-time jobs to deal with adding another.

The best alternative to WordPress is something that nobody uses that is probably about to not be maintained anymore because its author is graduating college next year. Or, it’s something about to be bought by Google and shut down. And before anyone says “you should be using…” note that I have no interest in taking a month of my life schlepping over hundreds of posts and reconfiguring .htaccess files and answering emails from authors who haven’t talked to me since 2006 because the link to their story broke.

I don’t have time to do much with this site anymore. I want to do something with it, but I’m working, writing, and PL has been receiving no attention, other than maybe a monthly “I should do something on the PL site” and then… nothing. This isn’t some announcement that I’m closing the site. It will continue puttering along. It’s just an admission that I’m lazy and burned out.

I won’t even get into the futility of posting things here and hoping people buy books based on it. Or attracting new readers. Or getting people to write stuff here. Jesus, just thinking about this is depressing.

Could be worse. There’s a woman out in Indiana who killed her husband and lover and fed pieces of them to her neighbors at a barbecue. Always good to see my home state in the news.

Anyway, we haven’t been hacked. Go buy my last book. And go buy John’s book. And while we were fucking off, Fiona Helmsley wrote a really good book and got it published at a real publisher, so go buy that first.

Thanks for reading.