Tuesday, November 18, 2014

RELEASE DAY: Dean Lombardo "Donkey Sense"


Eleven-year-old Timmy Unterkanz suffers the death of his dad, and then extreme bullying in a new town. Timmy’s in serious trouble – that is, until Pedro steps in. You see, Pedro’s not your ordinary friend and bodyguard. He’s a talking donkey and he’s got a feisty attitude, similar to that of his owner, a former Texas ranch-hand named J.T. Atkins. Pedro and Mr. Atkins teach Timmy the ropes, like how to defend himself when there are no adults around. Timmy also meets Kelly, his eccentric voice of reason and confidence. Timmy’s safety and happiness will come down to one final showdown against his tormentor, the bully Eddie. Can Timmy turn his life around by proving to girlfriend Kelly – and to himself – that he’s not going to withdraw from a sometimes cruel world? That he’s going to be as feisty and stubborn as a donkey.



Dean Lombardo was born in Norwalk, CT, and now resides in northern Virginia. He is an author and avid traveler who makes it a point to explore many of the same settings where his fictional characters can be found. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and a natural curiosity about the universe and many things in it.

“Donkey Sense” is Dean’s third published novel, his first for a younger audience. His previous two novels include the sci-fi/satire "Space Games” (Kristell Ink, 2013) and the sci-fi/horror novel "Vespa" (Active Bladder, 2007). When not writing or researching his novels, Dean works as a writer and editor in the information technology industry, with a focus on software products. Prior to that, he served as an editor and reporter for several newspapers and magazines in New York and Connecticut. Besides writing and traveling, he enjoys hiking and reading suspenseful novels and mainstream scientific journals.

Dean lives with his wife Karen and their two children and one dog.


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Chapter One

“HEY, SHRIMPO UNDERPANTS!” shouted a big, beefy thirteen-year-old named Eddie Batts. “If you give yourself up like you did the last time, we’ll go easy on you!”

Timmy Unterkanz dropped his book bag and leapt from the sidewalk, leaving behind the four seventh-graders who’d followed him out of school after dismissal.

One of them called after him: “Hey! Slow down Underpants!”

Timmy ran across the parking lot.

“Hey!” another shouted.

“Get him!” Eddie yelled.

The sound of their footsteps followed him and Timmy shivered in terror.

Gotta make it home, he thought, huffing. He forced his wheezing, gasping self to run even faster, but already his legs were tired; weakening.

The second day of school had just ended and, as a fleeing Timmy reached School Street’s sidewalk, he wished he’d never had to come to Richfield, Pennsylvania, in the first place, to this school where older students greeted small newcomers with—

“You are so dead, Underpants!” Eddie hollered. “You better stop running!”

Timmy Unterkanz—or Shrimpo Underpants as some of his schoolmates were already calling him—glanced back at the four bullies chasing him. They’d gained on him and the quick peek back sent Timmy into a zigzag pattern costing him additional time. Focusing all of his attention on the sidewalk ahead, Timmy pumped his short, skinny legs and planted his feet as far and as fast as he could.

Eddie Batts’ voice came again, out of breath. “Hey Shrimpo Underpants, if you keep running away… it’s only gonna get worse.”

Timmy refused to look back. Despite being nearly exhausted, he pushed himself. “We’ll go easy on you,” and “it’s only gonna get worse,” was what Eddie had said the last time, and Timmy wasn’t going to let the four bullies slap and spit on him and then push him down again like they’d done on the first day of school during recess. They hadn’t used their knuckles, and by the time Timmy had found the nearest teacher to report the bullying, all of the bright red spots where they’d slapped him and the shiny wet spots where they’d “loogie-tized” him had mostly vanished. Then Eddie Batts, Joey Jergens, Ralph Bacchio, and Stew Pressner had lied to Mrs. Folson and said they hadn’t touched Timmy. Mrs. Folson, despite inspecting the accused boys with a suspicious eye, had let them off with a warning.

Worst of all, because Timmy had told on Eddie and his accomplices, the four boys were now trying to hurt him really bad. He’d seen it in their eyes just before he’d dropped his book bag on the school’s front sidewalk and bolted toward home. If only his mother could have picked him up after school today.

Timmy broke into a sprint, nearing the intersection between School Street and Main Street with Crabapple Farm on the other side of the highway, beyond the fence.

“Get him!” Eddie hollered again and Timmy heard the gang’s thumping footsteps getting closer. His heart racing, he scrambled to the end of the street then checked both ways for speeding cars before crossing to the opposite side of Main Street. Without slowing, he raced up the bank. When he reached the sidewalk, he turned left and gave it all he had, his feet flying, the soles of his sneakers smacking the concrete sidewalk, his breath coming in wheezes.

Almost home.

Timmy checked over his left shoulder and gasped when he saw Joey, the fastest of Eddie’s gang, sprinting diagonally across the street and heading straight for him. Behind Joey, the other three boys had just started to cross. It was going to be a footrace to Timmy’s front door and Timmy realized in a sudden panic that, one, he hadn’t even reached the end of Crabapple Farm’s pasture yet, and two, that Joey could run a lot faster than he could.
Timmy was hyperventilating, something his mom said happened whenever he got too excited or the weather was too humid, both of which were the case now. His mom always told him it was all on account of his asthma. Mom, where are you now?

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