Deadly Junk

I’m about halfway through the first book of my new Deadly Junk series and this weekend I had an experience that will give you a behind the scenes look at Deadly Junk and what’s coming this fall.

One serendipitous thing about this title is that it keeps taking on new meanings for me as I work through the story. Usually my book titles have at two meanings, one apparent and one that you understand a little more when the book is finished. This time around I’m finding meanings around every corner.

This weekend my brother held up something for me and said, “Now this is Deadly Junk.” He was right.


Doesn’t he look like an action hero?

Lorado, the main character in Deadly Junk, is modeled after my brother’s life. He’s involved in two very different worlds . Bringing them to life has really been an eye-opening experience for me.

The first world is junk. Yard sales. Estate sales. Stuff people leave on the side of the road. You name it. If it has value, my brother can spot it at thirty miles per hour.

Each book in the series talks about several valuable things he’s found while I’m writing the book. I incorporate them into the story and tell you a little about what they are, why they are valuable, and how you can find them for yourself. If you are an eBay junkie, or can’t help stopping at yard sales, you’ll enjoy the antiques and collectibles mentioned in the books.

Today’s topic is something for the kids.

About two weeks ago my brother was offered a collection of toys that would make any ten year old boy lose sleep for a month. Someone had been saving Matchbox army vehicles and plastic figures for years and decided it was time to get rid of them.

When he told me how many pieces I was amazed. There were 8 bins brimming full of cars and army men.

In July I’m going to visit some good friends who also happen to read my books. One of the boys is having a birthday, so I decided to combine the parents’ love of books with the boy’s birthday present and give him something straight out of Deadly Junk. Here is the collection I assembled.


Notice the heap of green men in the background!

The 2,000 men and dozens of vehicles didn’t make a dent in my brother’s collection. But it took over an hour for us (yes I had some help!) to set the pieces up for these photos.

Here are some more action photos:


Great detail on these tanks.

I loved these crawling guys



Playing with these guys brought back memories for me. When I first saw the collection I was in awe of the sheer numbers of pieces. The shiny helicopters, all in mint condition, grabbed my attention first. When you are a kid, you get a helicopter, maybe two. This collection held fifty identical helicopters! What kid wouldn’t want them for his airbase?

My brother has spent days with these toys, but he wasn’t excited about the pieces he had fifty or a hundred of. He spent his time researching rare models. The thing I’ve learned about buying large lots is that there are a few pieces mixed in that are valuable. In this case, one piece paid for the entire lot of 50,000+ pieces. The trick was finding that one piece and a few more like it.

When you read Deadly Junk this fall, you’ll learn about finding the treasure mixed in the chaos. I hope you’ll join me then.

So, did you play with toys like these? Or were you a Barbie girl?


14 Comments on “Deadly Junk”

  1. Wow. Does this post bring back memories for me. I played with Army soldiers, trucks and the rest as well as Barbie. A well-rounded kid, that. LOL. Thanks for the great story about your brother, CJ. Can’t wait to read this when it comes out. -Susan.

  2. Sue says:

    I am “pre-Barbie” era : ) In fact, I had one of what I believe to be the first fashion dolls on the market – a Revlon Doll. But I LOVED playing with my cousin’s army men! It was a blast! He would have given his eye teeth for a collection as nice as you are showing here. That is one lucky little boy who is going to have a VERY memorable birthday!! And I am also looking forward to reading the story about your brother! : )

    • cjwestkills says:

      Thanks Sue. Glad you enjoyed those guys. I might have to do another post on the fun we used to have with them.

      There are some great antiques mentioned in the book. I’m learning a bunch about what is a great find and what’s just old.

  3. Looks like you were reliving your childhood! It takes lots of patience to set that all up-never would have happened with a little one. Looks like lots of summer fun! 1 month!

  4. Love yard sales. I think I’d like your brother!

  5. Kim Mullican says:

    Oh man, I was such a tomboy, mom had to threaten me with the belt to get me in a dress. I only asked for one doll my whole life and it was a cabbage patch kid…uh, that I never ended up playing with. I had army men, played outside, fished and well… I was surrounded by boys, so I thought I WAS one for a long time. Oh well. I like being a girl, who can shoot a gun, tie on a Carolina Rig, change a tire, oil and wear a miniskirt like a champ!

    My son loves my old army men. He says I rock!

  6. Marcia says:

    I was a Barbie girl and I played with army men. My best friend was a boy…he’s still my best friend next to my hubs…so I played what he played. We loved rainy days. It made the war they fought more challenging with the mud! I would have loved a set like this! Can’t wait for your book now!

    • cjwestkills says:

      Thanks for the great story Marcia. It’s funny that the girls often played what the boys wanted to play. It’s like being female gives you a freedom males don’t have.

      Playing with dolls will get you thrown out of the man club. Interesting how that works.

      • Marcia says:

        I was thinking the same thing when I wrote my comment. It’s really too bad boys generally don’t have the freedom to play in the same way girls do. Although I’ve had a couple of friends whose boys played with My Little Pony growing up. I worried how other boys would judge those kids. They seemed to have grown up without any scars from it! 🙂

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