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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Reflecting on the Further Decline of The KC Star

I'm not sure why opening my Sunday Kansas City Star today and learning that it would be the last time I would read The Kansas City Star Magazine filled me with...dread.

Part of the feeling was personal. I had been proud to have three freelance pieces used as cover stories for The Star Magazine. One of them, on Linda Hall Library, reintroduced that little appreciated Kansas City gem to readers. It took me six months of work and I received a princely sum of $200 for it. But one value for me was that I felt my name had joined the list of so many writers who contributed to the magazine and represented some of the best in reporting and writing talent the Star has had to offer since 1970. Too many of them have and are drifting away and being cast away.

Part of the deep sadness was the demise of the magazine after a life of only 45 years was one more sign that my local newspaper is becoming, well, not MY local newspaper anymore. I like sports. I listen to sports radio every day. The Royals success last year was like a drink of cool water for this fan who had been wondering in the desert for so many years. But sports is sports and the front page of the paper is the front page. Rarely should the two meet. Certainly not take up three-quarters of that valuable press real estate for a story on Yordano Ventura, love though I did the story and how well it was written by Vahe Gregorian. I read every word. But I would have read every word had it been in its proper section—the sports section or, imagine this, placed in The Star Magazine.

The state of the Arts and Entertainment section is in deep question. Folks, art writer Alice Thorson provided really good and knowledgeable pieces about the art scene in our city. More downsizing, I understand, means more stories by outside freelancers. That will cost the Star less, but will it give readers more? I was particularly offended there was no note from The Star's publisher, Mi-Ai Parrish, nor its editor, Mike Fannin, on why the magazine was being killed off, nor what their vision is for the future of The Star. It could well be there is only one vision: survive.

Last Sunday, my paper lacked the color comics section. I realized this greatly bothered me and then I was disturbed even more by how greatly I missed it. It made me question: why DO I take the Star?

The answer I came up with is the one that is at rock bottom: I want a reliable source about local news: government, police, courts, business, politics—the working necessary guts of our society.

Good newspapers do this while providing an environment where the best writing and photography can thrive.

Ready for that dread part?


I am not the reader the Star wants. It wants young eyes that poke at that phone/tablet thing, not these old ones that read print while sipping morning coffee.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Maybe You'll Want to Become a Bobbite, too

I started writing Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America before 1984. I had a notion that when 1984 rolled around, there would be a lot of attention given to George Orwell's famous novel by that name and that I might get some attention for mine. I'd call it "2084." Nice idea, but the novel didn't get written. I had envisioned a long, complex novel that would create the characters that showed how the religious right gained political power over the United States and what they did with it.

Never been good at long, complex stories. So I cut to the chase and went right to the year 2084.

Then I created a manageable set of characters and let them live their lives in an environment where pastor governors and the Pastor President rule with a Bible in each fist and the computer in your hovel. But I wrote myself into a corner with Bobby. It took me a while to realize I had to let Bobby perform his miracles.

Best explanation of what Bobby is all about comes from an early review by one of Amazon's top 500 reviews:

I expected a few things when I started reading this book. I expected to be amused by a satirical take on the Fundamentalists that are doing their utmost to take over this country - sadly, it is difficult to make amusing, because the idea of Fundamentalists taking over this country and turning it into an Evangelical theocracy is absolutely terrifying. I expected to be outraged by the excesses of Fundamentalist leaders who grow rich, while the common people live in poverty. What I did not expect was to be profoundly moved. I did not expect goose bumps or a profound feeling of "rightness" to come over me while reading.

12-year-old Bobby Crowley is special. He has an amazing memory for Bible verses, and a strangely wise way of saying just the right thing at just the right time. And he has been carefully watching the formation of a significant alignment of stars in the sky, including a new star that just appeared three months ago, which are forming a cross. On a Friday like any other Friday - one that would see the stoning to death of a 6 people - Bobby takes his place among the great religious leaders of the world when he steps forward and speaks the words "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" and in the process saves the life of a beatific young woman: he gains a following and begins performing miracles, and providing proverbs of hope, peace and love.

Caught in his wake are a number of people; they go into Rabbletown, the slums of Topeka, where Bobby spreads the way of peace, love, acceptance and kindness, rather than the hate and manipulations used by those in power. And in a world where the leaders all emulate the practices and beliefs of the disgusting Fred Phelps, those sorts of teachings are threatening. Bobby and all who believe in him and his miracles are declared anathema and the Inquisition is sent after them.

This book does two things: it exposes the horror of a theocratic, fascist Evangelical Fundamentalist power structure, and it provides hope for redemption for anyone who chooses to live a truly good life, and follow the basic teachings that so many modern-day dogmatics seem to forget are the only two rules laid down by Christ - you know, the one Christians are supposed to emulate? 1) love each other and treat others like you would like them to treat you; 2) love the Higher Power of Creation, in whatever form you choose to comprehend It. This book - reading this book - will cause a profound shift in perception and I believe, honestly, that the world would be a better place if everyone followed the example set by Bobby. We all need to become Bobbites. Read this book and see if you don't find these truths to be as profound as I did.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The 41st Sermon Discounted Until Jan. 22

Starting today and for a week The 41st Sermon will be discounted on Amazon from $4.99 to $0.99 and then in increments go back to original price. So if you think you have an interested in reading this literary work about a Episcopal priest at mid-life and mid-faith crisis, now's the time. Father Talley goes on his annual solo vacation where he also outlines the sermons for his coming year. This time he encounters a beautiful, blonde parishioner who snares him into her phony kidnap plot. If you know Walker Percy, the great Southern writer who burst upon the scene with "The Moviegoer," my novel has a connection to him. You can read about that here.

Here's the Amazon URL for The 41st Sermon

One reviewer:
Wow. Rarely do I find a book that twists as much as this one. I would have rated this 5 stars had it not started off so slowly during the character set up. Personally, I enjoyed it, the plot twists and presentation was excellent, the characters were well developed, and the content a bit taboo. I would recommend this book to any open minded individual.

An excerpt:
"The Greeks were honest," Father Talley told her. "They had a god for everything. A god of love and of war and even drunkenness. And isn't there something godlike in drunkenness, a power to be celebrated? And the power of sex? They accepted and celebrated all these elemental powers in a human being instead of trying to deny them the way Christianity has. Christianity used the Jewish god, a god who is everything, and by being everything ended up being a big, fat nothing. I should be sacrificing a lamb to Aphrodite for sending you to me. Instead, I'm supposed to feel guilt. I don't feel any guilt at all. I feel alive."

Monday, January 12, 2015

Are You a Kindle Unlimited Subscriber?

Kindle offers for $9.99 free access to hundreds of thousands of books. Thought I would list the works I have enrolled in that program:

Novel: Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All Set in Lawrence, KS and The University of Kansas during that turbulent spring of 1970

Novel: The 41st Sermon Episcopal priest at mid-life and mid-faith crisis gets involved with beautiful blonde parishioner and her phony kidnap plot

Sci-fi short story By Pain Possessed Can the weakest human save us all?

Short story about a solo round of golf: Downswing



Sci fi novella: A Match Made in Heaven The Mormons leave Earth to populate the Planet Moroni and discover their destiny among the stars and themselves

Literary novella: One More Victim Because the Holocaust is a critical element in this three-part story, it has broken through the top 100 in world literature>Jewish

Collection of shorts: Hospital Days 14-year-old boy learns some life lessons working as a candy striper in a small town hospital

Short story. The Richard Dary Weight Loss Institute The best weight loss program is the one you can't remember


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Three-Day Discount 99 Cents for 3 Novels: Blow Up the Roses, Tortured Truths, SPILL

Starting today for three days my publisher CuriosityQuills  will be offering a 99-cent sale on many of its authors' works. Three of mine are included.


"Disturbingly brilliant..."
*** 
"After reading the first two paragraphs of this book, I wanted to stop because I knew it would be disturbing. I continued reading because I've looked at my neighbors' homes and thought about the possibility that they're hiding terrible secrets in their basements and attics and no one will ever know. Apparently, Attwood has also. Thought about it, I mean. I hope."
 ***
"Horrifyingly compelling read! You know from the get-go that Mr. Brown, the quiet and fastidious tenant, is doing off-kilter things in his basement...corpses are piling up alarmingly on this quiet suburban Kansas City cul-de-sac of duplexes. You naturally want to blame all the monstrous acts on Mr. Brown, but some of them are just not exactly his style. You'll turn the pages to discover the horrible secrets of each of the main, male protagonists in the story: Mr. Keene, who walked out on his long suffering wife, Betty, turns out to have a pretty disgusting habit; Mr. Griswald, the Amway dealer and general woo-woo crystal guy, feels he needs to do all the females on the block; and Mr. Califano, who develops a promising relationship with Betty after her husband deserts her. Oh no, not him too! After you read this book you will start eyeing your neighbors with suspicion. It seems like every page turns up yet another creepo. I enjoyed the sudden twist at the end. Randy Attwood, you are one sick little puppy!"

Find at
or at
Amazon  



"Atmospheric and philosophical, Tortured Truths is a skillfully written journey into a wounded mind searching for peace. A thoughtful commentary on power and corruption, and an asset to any library."
***
"Attwood has crafted an intoxicating tale of circumstance and choice. A harrowing abduction by Hezbollah militants leaves Phil McGuire disillusioned with his journalism career, he searches for comfort in the place he once felt safe.Back home, he molds his  dream of owning a bar into a tangible reality. His bare hands work old damaged wood as they knead the sorrow out of his soul. Fate is a whimsical mistress, and he soon finds himself under the spell of his reporters' instincts when bodies turn up and the CIA starts sniffing around a quiet little town in Kansas."
***
"I really, really enjoyed this book. I usually stick to genre fiction, but sometimes a good mystery thriller hits the spot. The characters are great and the emotions run high through this fast and twisted story."

Find at
or at
Amazon  



"Attwood's done it again with Spill -- a knife-edge ride on a political snowball thundering downhill at high speed. It's the story of a decent-enough guy scraping his living together who finally reaches the breaking point over the ever-escalating price of fuel. He devises a way to get back at them and make some money along the way. His allies are the unlikeliest "think tank" you could imagine. Sarcasm drips from these pages in wide, viscous streams. Like all of Mr. Attwood's other political writing, you're laughing out loud at the moment you begin to understand he's making a point here. Spill is a must-read for anyone who has had it with the lobby-spin that is running out lives and the self-righteous pols who reap its rewards. If we're not laughing, we're crying, so we might as well laugh. And think."
*** 
"Just finished reading SPILL in one sitting - once I started, I couldn't put it down. The more I read, the funnier it was, until I was laughing so hard my husband could hear me from the other end of the house....this should be made into a screenplay, it would be a hilarious movie."

Find at
or at
Amazon  


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Suggestions For Your Holiday Gift List

Gift giving time. You might consider sending some Attwood fiction. Amazon makes it easy to give these works to someone on your holiday list. For ebooks, you just need an email address; for paperbacks, a mailing address. Here's the cover of each work, along with one review that might tempt you grab a read yourself and/or gift someone.


Crazy About You
Having spent my formative years in Larned, Kansas, and also having worked briefly at the state mental hospital there, I can tell you that Attwood's descriptions of life at the state hospital are totally spot-on! The story line is also good--but I won't spoil it for anyone. Funny, sad, poignant. And suspenseful! All of the elements of a well-written book. I would recommend this book to anyone, Larnedite or not!





Attwood's done it again with a knife-edge ride on a political snowball thundering downhill at high speed. It's the story of a decent-enough guy scraping his living together who finally reaches the breaking point over the ever-escalating price of fuel. His pockets are so regularly plundered by Big Oil, which, in a flash of clarity, he devises a way to get back at them and make some money along the way. His allies are the unlikeliest "think tank" you could imagine. Sarcasm drips from these pages in wide, viscous streams. Like all of Mr. Attwood's other political writing, you're laughing out loud at the moment you begin to understand he's making a point here. SPILL is a must-read for anyone who has had it with the lobby-spin that is running out lives and the self-righteous pols who reap its rewards. If we're not laughing, we're crying, so we might as well laugh. And think.

Randy asked if I could assign a genre to The 41st Sermon, but honestly, I can't think of any genre it fits into neatly. There is a bit of mild erotica, there are definitely lots of different themes - finding yourself, redemption, finding faith, learning what life is all about - but none that relates itself to a specific genre other than general fiction. I really liked the book, though - it had a lot of good things to say, and I thought the story was one in which many people could find enjoyment, once they get past feeling shocked about some of the issues that come up. I warn that you need to be open-minded about the story, but if you are willing to do so, you should find something in here to love. Check it out!


is an intoxicating tale of circumstance and choice. A harrowing abduction by Hezbollah militants leaves Phil McGuire disillusioned with his journalism career, he searches for comfort in the place he once felt safe. Back home, he molds his dream of owning a bar into a tangible reality. His bare hands work old damaged wood as they knead the sorrow out of his soul. Fate is a whimsical mistress, and he soon finds himself under the spell of his reporters' instincts when bodies turn up and the CIA starts sniffing around a quiet little town in Kansas. Atmospheric and philosophical, Tortured Truths is a skillfully written journey into a wounded mind searching for peace. A thoughtful commentary on power and corruption, and an asset to any library.

Attwood lavishly, with great respect, brings forth the mystical Navajo legends and thought and brilliantly entwines mystery and suspense with a twist of Native American history unknown to most....The written words in Heart Chants flow with ease keeping the reader always turning one more page seeking the treasures and secrets each offers. Attwood has an flawless ability to create characters that capture the reader's attention...an exciting novel that is in my opinion arguably one of the best releases of the New Year. Heart Chants is an impeccably written novel with a truly unique plot that is a must read.


Ironically, I read Rabbletown between Good Friday and Easter. The book projected the reader into a future world of Evangelical Fundamentalism morphed into a neo-Fascist world government. The author retraces an all-too familiar tale, yet in a style and context that holds the reader and keeps the pages turning. One is left in the grasp, along with the well-defined characters of this tale . . . of those sanctimonious hypocrites who use religion to gain power, wealth, influence and control over others who believe in them, as a matter of simple "faith." 



If you were alive during the late 1960s, then you will totally relate to this story. If you were not, chances are you have heard about the 60s all your life, most likely from your own parents, maybe grandparents. Well, here's your chance to immerse yourself into the world of the late 1960s, on one of the most beautiful and respected college campuses in the nation--the Kansas University at Lawrence, Kansas. Yet, Then and Now is not unique to KU, but typical of the social revolution that took the youth of this country, and around the world, to challenge and defy the "man" . . . government of all forms. As a heady blend of drugs, acid, jazz, rock & roll, sex, the draft, Vietnam, and many other issues compelled them into the ubiquitous search for "it." 

After reading the first two paragraphs of this book I wanted to stop because I knew it would be disturbing. I continued reading because I've looked at my neighbors' homes and thought about the possibility that they're hiding terrible secrets in their basements and attics and no one will ever know. Apparently, Randy Attwood has also. Thought about it, I mean. I hope. The plot in Blow Up the Roses is clear and easy to follow, the setting painted a vivid picture in my mind - as I read, I could see the characters. The subject is cringe-worthy but the author's skill in telling a story is worth the read.


The human mind can be very curious, weird, and often bizarre. Get ready for a roller coaster ride inside Randy Attwood's mind! A gifted storyteller, who never fails to engage the reader with stunning characters, situations, and stories--Attwood delivers again in Very Quirky Tales. This collection of short stories ranges from a young punkster woman who transmits radio signals from all her pierced metal contacts in "Tell Us Everything"; to a surreal self-encounter in "It was me"; and the amazingly shocking mind-bending psycho-thriller--"The Notebook"; plus the final three stories--all lock in the reader and hold tight. My favorite was the novella, "A Match Made In Heaven" a tale of Android love that stretches the mind and imagination to realize the future world, or worlds . . . that may await us . . . HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

I'm an older gentleman living out in the boonies, so sometimes I forget that the world has seemingly sped up, even as I've slowed down. Having said that, this book felt like a dust storm packed in a tornado and wrapped in a hurricane. And I say that in the most flattering way. Attwood (this is my first experience with this author, and I'm pleased to say a surprisingly delightful one) manages to include so much back story in such a short space that I couldn't help but feel a bit rushed...and yet it didn't feel rushed. It was well constructed. The story itself was such a delight to discover. One More Victim left me breathless.