Odell author finds success with his first e-book

Randy Fox’s ‘Dust Pan Girl’ proves popular on Amazon with readers of adult thrillers

It may be an e-book, but it’s still a page-turner.

Randy Fox’s adult thriller “Dust Pan Girl” is giving the Odell author (writing as James Fox) a boost into the electronic publishing world, and he has his daughter, Hailey, to thank.

“Dust Pan Girl” lasted three weeks on Amazon’s Top 100 Crime Thriller List.

The book came out June 25 and within a month sales picked up fast. Fox said his book “is selling really well for an indie book.” He worked on the manuscript for five months before sending to an editor before the book was made available on amazon.com

“I found every opportunity in the morning or at night. It was kind of a tough time, finding the energy to work all day.”

He dedicated the book to Patty Rowan, now retired, his English teacher at Hood River Valley High School, where Fox graduated in 1999.

He has worked with the Fox family orchard operations for the past six years. He earned his business degree from Portland State University after serving for five years in the Marine Corps doing mapping intelligence.

Fox manages Mt. Defiance Cold Storage in Odell, a separate company connected to Fox Orchards. The facility was built in the spring and summer of 2013.

The “Dust Pan Girl” plot sprung from his own daughter Hailey’s toddler-years affection for a dust pan, and he drew on Hailey’s nickname, Comet, for his protagonist’s name. Hailey, now 8, has a brother, Connor, 3.

“Hailey was helping in the kitchen and she got hold of the dust pan and just loved it. She has a room full of toys but that dust pan was what she wanted to play with most,” Fox said. “So I had this ‘what if?’ idea about the character of a little girl, in a very real situation, and I just started in to see what would happen.”

What happens is this plot of his new book:

Eight-year-old Comet Estevez is stabbed in the dark by her own deranged father. Her mother, Janet, races her to the hospital only to find out she is okay.

She saved herself by carrying her most prized possession in her coat. It is an old metal dust pan. A reporter snaps an iconic photograph, and the story quickly becomes national news.

It brings the attention of a con man of unquestionable skill. He exacerbates the situation for his own profit.

As the action escalates, Comet must become the hero she imagines herself to be.”


Randy Fox could turn to his military experiences for future plot inspirations.

He joined the Marines as a geospatial specialist, “a fancy term for mapping,” first serving in Virginia, and then stationed in Japan. From there, he did on-the-ground GPS surveying, and computerized mapping, along with training of military personnel in countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Korea, and the world’s richest nation, the Sultanate of Brunei, with its $39,000 per capita GNP.

“We were in Brunei, which is a great little country, very small, incredibly rich, very nice people, with the nicest people you could ever meet, and (the Army) took us on a little hike,” Fox recalled.

“We were under a triple canopy jungle, and we could hear rain for over an hour, up in the trees but we didn’t feel it, until eventually it came down to the jungle floor, and it was a monsoon.

“We were going through the dark, through jungle, up and down hills, and we were at the top of one hill and the sergeant said, ‘No way we’re walking down,’ and I sit down with my rifle and pack, and he puts a boot in my back, and it was a muddy water slide about 850 feet down. It was fun.

“The neat thing was it was pitch black in the jungle and a green glow popped up all around: it was the algae in the jungle. It was pretty cool.”

Another time, Fox and his mates had to help remove a 24-inch millipede from inside a soldier’s shirt, and in the Indonesian jungle they dealt with a 16-foot anaconda that wrapped up the corpsman’s arm.

These days Fox wrangles paragraphs and plot developments, along with bins of pears, apples and cherries.

“I love Hood River. Hood River is home. I’ve been to some great places Singapore is a gorgeous city, and Hong Kong is a fantastic place to have fun, but there is nothing better than Hood River.”

To order, search amazon.com for the title.

This is an adult thriller with no sex, R-rated violence, and “virtually no expletives,” Randy Fox said.

He was selected as a debut author in a new publishing company called Uncovered Books, and he plans a sequel to “Dust Pan Girl” via Samhain Publishing.

They have an app out for iPad users to aid in discovering new indie authors.

“I’ve tried it out and it is really cool,” said Fox, who is himself a book reviewer for TheKindleBookReview.Net, SelfPublishersShowcase.Com, and Tartsweet.com


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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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