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Monday, November 30, 2015

Rabbletown Closing in on Crazy About You as My Best Selling Novel; New Review Arrived

One more month to go in 2015 but with 11 months finished, Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America is but five sales away from overtaking Crazy About You.

I'm a member on Goodreads, a reader-oriented site that was so popular that Amazon bought it out.

I received an email yesterday that someone named Lee had left a comment about Rabbletown so I clicked on that link and there was nice, long and thoughtful review. I copied it, fortunately, because when I went back to the link today there was nothing there. So I'm a bit mystified. But here is the comment:

"Even the Wicked Witch wouldn't like Kansas anymore."

Rabbletown is a short novel set in what was once Topeka Kansas, seventy some years in the future. Nuclear War has wiped out much of the world. A fundamentalist Protestant Christian theology has taken over what is left of the US."

"The story is full of passionate energy, and is written with the fury an avenging angel."

Rabbletown sets out explaining this new society, starting with the hierarchy of the new leadership class. A kind of hereditary priest class, (or rather Pastor class) is in charge. It is Americana, with Church secretaries who take care of the 'holy stress' of the Pastors, Inquisitors who handle public security, and of course a huge underclass, that is broken, dysfunctional and forced to breed incessantly. Security is handled with torture, stonings and burnings. It is nominally the story of one poor family from the slums, the Crowleys, with Bob, his wife and 13 children, one of whom, Bobby, is holy in a way that doesn't fit into existing Church doctrine. Bob, an abusive drunk, is a master mason, helping to build the great cathedral that is to be the center for the New Christianity."

"As I read the novel I tried to place it as a 'type' of book. Of course I thought of it as a satire of Kansas today, often called Brownbackistan, after the fundamentalist governor who has striped government of the ability to provide basic services, (such as education) and has created a living hell for poor women who find themselves with unwanted pregnancies. I read the book as if it were in the style of WS Burroughs' “Naked Lunch”, or even Vonnegut's “Cat's Cradle” or “Mother Night”. As I continued to read, I saw it in a different light, written with an English like early medieval Latin, a language fallen from the standards of literature of Classical Rome. I imagined the writer as an isolated Frankish Monk, who has access to only a few books, such as Gregory of Tours describing early Merovingian Gaul, trying to tell the story of a society that had fallen very far from where it had once been. But then, toward the end, I saw “Rabbletown” as a new Apocrypha, a book of a new Bible for the coming Dark Age. Perhaps it is all of those. It seems like it was written fast and covers a lot of ground, not wasting time on scene or description beyond the political and social situation. It appears to have been written on the fly, and not edited, with long sentences that lose focus, but that is clearly a stylistic choice, (Attwood is a veteran journalist), to give an added sense of desolation to the story."

"Most of all I see it as a battle cry from Attwood, a lifelong Kansan who is clearly furious with the changes that have overtaken his state. I know a bit about it, because I lived in Lawrence Kansas myself for five years in the late sixties, early seventies as a student and a laboror. So I get most of the satire. He has the heirs of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Jerry Johnston (a Kansas Megachurch preacher) as the leaders of this new Jerusalem. The Catholics are forced into monasteries and nunneries, where they weren't suppose to breed, (but do anyway). The Jews are no longer around, as one would imagine in Germany if the war had ended differently. The descendants of recent Kansas political leaders, such as Brownback and Fritzel (who you wouldn't know if you never lived in Kansas) are also skewered. And of course Fred Phelps, the dead leader of that hideous Topeka Church that preaches, 'God Hates Fags” is memorialized as a saint."

"It packs a punch. It is unlike most recent novels, and that makes it interesting and a good read."

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Reduced Prices and One Free on Three Novels Published by Curiosity Quills

My publisher Curiosity Quills is using Black Friday through Cyber Monday to offer discounts on their books. They're offering Tortured Truths, the first in my Phillip McGuire mystery/suspense series for FREE. Two other works, Blow Up the Roses and SPILL, are discounted to 99 cents.

Time to get 'em if you want 'em!

Tortured Truths 

Blow Up the Roses

SPILL: Take That, Big Oil

Monday, November 23, 2015

Exploring New Ways to Promote My Fiction

I've been exploring more ways to promote my fiction using visuals and thought I'd share some here:

 One More Victim
 Kristen Garlow Piper is a wonderful photographer in Hutchinson, KS and has made an extraordinary collection of photos featuring the same location in various sunset and storm situation. The beginning of the novella One More Victim begins with a thunderstorm so I couldn't resist using this recent photo of thunderstorms.
 Rabbletown has been getting some sales in Canada and Great Britain lately. Hope it continues to find readers in areas outside the United States. More US readers would be nice, too. The GOP nomination process makes this dystopia seem closer and closer. I set it in the year 2084. Perhaps too far into the future.
Foodies got their pairings and I created a series of photos showing mine. Good idea to have a few stiff drinks while reading the dark suspense novel Blow Up the Roses.
No reader yet has foretold the ending to this thriller novella The Notebook. Fellow Larnedite Jared Wingate took this photo of his wife and did the manipulation for the image.

Here's another "pairing" using Then and Now. It's set in the spring of 1970 and is a fiction retelling of that turbulent era at The University of Kansas in Lawrence, Ks.
 Lot about Taoism going on in Then and Now.

First in the Phillip McGuire mystery/suspense series. Tortured Truths originally had a working title of Heal My Heart So I May Cry. I still rather like that title. Publisher didn't. Thought it sounded like a romance title.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Readers Like This You Gotta Love!

Reader wrote me a really nice email how much she enjoyed Crazy About You She keeps a journal to write down sentences from books that affect her and she had written six from mine. So I had to ask which ones. Here they are:

(p.63) "...isn't that why men exist: to try and make women happy for a while and then, having learned we can make them happy, make them miserable as the price?"
(p. 64) "Wasn't that the awful corollary formula? We men believe we need a woman to make us happy. When we get one, we conclude it was the getting, not the having, that brought happiness."
(p.66) "... the most effective lie is the one you want to believe yourself."
(p. 81) "You can't summarize what you are, only what you've done, which is why so many of us feel so empty - what we've done is never even close to what we are."
(p. 107) "Why is it that the most frightening force that can be applied against Man is the violence of his fellow Man?"
(p. 132) "Maybe failure in our lives is simply an inability to recognize when a new starting point has presented itself. We have chances to start over all the time. We just fail to do so."

Friday, October 30, 2015

Got to Love It When a Reviewer Really Gets it! SPILL: Take That Big Oil!

Great five-star review for SPILL just in from Valerie on Amazon:

A fun and funny social commentary October 28, 2015

In this clever, hysterical novel, by Randy Attwood, absolutely nothing is sacred. Sometimes political spoof, often a parody on big business, Atwood even takes a swipe at the health/insurance industry. ALWAYS a satire on life, Attwood takes us on a riotous journey that begins with one man, Fred Underwood's, dream for riches. This means running for political office. His scheme gets him far more than he bargained for but it is not the center point of this plot.

His running platform is "we don't trust big oil." This becomes a near mantra, not only to Fred's political career...I love the debate scene... but to a whole new, young generation by sending them the message in the form of a video game--a language they understand--which may sound sad, but I believe they are a stewing pot just waiting to boil. All it will take is the right person sending the volatile message. And that's how our political system was created, isn't it? It's not set in stone. It is a wondrous creation, a huge social experiment.

But this book clearly shows us how deeply broken this system really is and how close to an oligarchy we truly are. One of my favorite quotes in this book is: "If Jefferson were to hear that football teams worth multi-millions of dollars charge ticket prices high enough that a working family can’t attend a game and couldn’t build their own stadiums without the people’s help, he’d puke."

Can we, little men and women, still win? Will we take back our own governmental reins and save ourselves and the world we are so recklessly destroying in the name of, "Big Business?" I think so, if we just take a giant step away from our own tiny comfort zone and make our collective voices heard and scream..."Take that, Big Oil!"

Click here to go to SPILL

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Highlighting My Titles Available in Paperback

Most of my marketing is ebook based. I thought I should do a message about the ten paperbacks available—eight novels and two collections or shorter works. All can be ordered through Amazon.

Four of the works are published by Curiosity Quills, a small press based in Washington D.C. area.

The first of my works CQ published was Blow Up the Roses, which the publisher called "Disturbingly Brilliant." It's a very dark suspense work, a piece of fiction I almost stopped writing when I realized what Mr. Brown was doing in the basement of his duplex. Many reviewers have said they wanted to stop reading, but couldn't.

The next two works CQ published were Tortured Truths and Heart Chants. These are in the Phillip McGuire mystery/suspense series: Burnt-out foreign correspondent quits journalism after being released by the Hezbollah who tortured him to gain information used in blowing up those Marines in Beirut. Remember that? He goes back to the KU town of Lawrence to own and run a bar. Adventures come his way. The second book in the series starts with missing female Haskell Navajo students and the novel contains, I believe, the best, most complete retelling of the amazing Navajo creation story. Heart Chants has been favorably compared to Tony Hillerman's work, and several readers like it more. High compliment.

The last of CQ published works is the political comedy, SPILL. (Yep, my fiction is a smorgasbord of genres.) Comedies don't seem to be terribly popular, but those who have gotten into SPILL haven't forgotten it. It's laugh-out-loud funny. Plot is pretty simple. Fired atheist English teacher scams the political system by running on a campaign to nationalize the oil industry and other unpopular stands such as banning hand guns. But he gets the money, the girl and a killer cool skateboard multi-play computer game. For the newspaper folks among my friends, SPILL offers a lot of newsroom shenanigans:

The paper upon which Reginald and Rhonda worked was large enough that different sections were edited by different editors, most of whom hated each other. There was no one person who read all the sections before they went to press. Thus, the right hand was ignorant of the left hand until the paper was printed. This became painfully obvious the next morning when the paper got plopped on driveways, porches and sidewalks.

The rest of the paperbacks are self-published, but two of them are my most popular works.

Write about what you know, they say. I grew up on the grounds of an insane asylum because my father was the dentist at Larned (KS) State Hospital and we were provided housing on the grounds. Thus resulted Crazy About You. Brad Adams will have a week that grows him up far faster than that high school boy could have ever wanted. Its a coming-of-age, murder mystery, terror suspense work. Has an ending that twigs the tear ducts for many readers.

Second most popular work has a title that pretty much sums it up: Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America. Are you one of those that gets a bit queasy with politicians who appeal to the religious right? This dystopia sent in Topeka in 2084 shows what kind of society might result if they gained complete political control. One reviewer, at that time a top 500 Amazon reviewer called it the BEST book she had EVER read.

The 41st Sermon features an Episcopal priest at mid-life and mid-faith crisis. If you know who Walker Percy is, you'll be interested in the note that great Southern writer set me about part of the manuscript I sent to him.

Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All is set in Lawrence, KS and the University of Kansas during that turbulent spring of 1970. Student shot and killed. Student Union bombed and burned. National Guard comes to town to enforce curfew. It's a fictional recounting with many of the facts changed, but the mood of time recreated, I hope.

The two paperback collections of shorter works are One More Victim and Very Quirky Tales.

One More Victim takes its title from its first story. This novella took me 30 years to finish. The Holocaust is a critical element in the plot and so gets categorized as Jewish literature and has several times cracked the top paid 100 in Amazon ratings. The four other short stories I also consider to literary ones.

The six stories in Very Quirky Tales have a sci-fi, fantasy, horror aspect to them. Tell Us Everything is my homage to Philip K. Dick. It Was Me (I) is Rod Serling-esque The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley is my homage to HP Lovecraft and one reviewer said it "Out-Lovecrafted Lovecraft."

All the short stories are also available as stand alones in ebook format.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

"Heart Chants" Sometimes a Reader Communicates and the Writer Gets Goosebumps

Received a wonderful email comment about "Heart Chants," one of those messages that makes this writer's flesh get goosebumps:

Dear Randy,

I purchased a copy of your book, Heart Chants.  I have just recently finished reading it and I enjoyed every word.

As a KU alum, I smiled at the references to downtown Lawrence, the Bierstube, Jayhawk placemats and the sandbar in the Kaw River.  My husband and I remarked  that while we were aware of Haskell, we don't remember seeing any Indians around Lawrence.  Did we really not see any or did we see them and look through them--as they were not then on our radar screens?  It is both sad and embarrassing to admit that we probably looked right through them.

Before I started the book I spent some time reading about the Navajo creation story.  It is an overwhelming amount of information.  The way you presented it--the creation as told to Ko-yo-teh by his father, and the description of the sand painting--made it easier to understand and appreciate.  I enjoyed the way the two stories were interwoven.

 " He would be there always for any true Dine to find anytime they had the eyes to see and a heart to understand".  Very powerful stuff.

I read one of the reviews of the book that said you not only went up against Tony Hillerman, but you surpassed him.  I would have to agree.