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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Marketing My Kansas-based Fiction

I lived a year in Italy. I lived 18 months in Japan. Yet almost all my fiction is set in Kansas, the state where I was born and lived so many of my years. Some of these mention Kansas; many don't. I tried to write pieces set in Italy and in Japan. Didn't work. Too forced; too faked.

Thought it time to market Kansas-based stories. Even if you're not from the Land of Oz, you might find these 12 works interesting.


At age 14, I went to work as a male candy striper at St. Joseph's Memorial Hospital in Larned, Ks. I learned many things. The ten stories in Hospital Days resulted.

Living on the grounds of the insane asylum at Larned State Hospital because my father was the mental institute's dentist gave me many unusual experiences. Blue Kansas Sky was a first attempt to create a story based on that background.

Innocent Passage opens with the line: "The skies were cloudy all day," which should immediately connect with any Kansan who knows the state song. Don't know anymore how many non-Kansans are familiar with Home on the Range. The short story continues the description of the Kansas land and the surprises it can contain.

The Saltness of Time depends upon Kansas winter weather to set its scene. And what a scene unfolds as the stories within stories get told.

Crazy About You was a novel that resulted from trying to recreate the environment and characters at Larned State Hospital. It's young adult; it's a mystery; it's suspense. It's my best seller.

One More Victim doesn't mention Kansas by name, but a tornado, or rather the memory of one, gets things started. Took me 30 years to finish this novella.

The Notebook, likewise, doesn't mention Kansas, but the university town sure could be Lawrence.

Speaking of Lawrence, my two Phillip McGuire suspense novels (Tortured Truths and Heart Chants) are both mostly set in Lawrence because that burnt out foreign correspondent returns to his university town to own and run a bar where adventures come his way.

I went to the University of Kansas during those turbulent 1960s and was there that spring of 1970 when the night curfew was enforced by the National Guard. Student union burned. Students were shot and killed. Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All is my fictional recreation of those times.

My dystopia, Rabbletown:Life in These United Christian States of Holy America is largely set in Topeka. Don't miss Stoning Fridays in Fred Phelps Plaza.

Blow Up the Roses, a very dark suspense novel, was inspired by horrific events that occurred when I was managing editor of The Olathe (KS) Daily News.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Update on Reaction to Political Comedy "SPILL"

I wrote SPILL in a state of major creative doubt. My fiction wasn't having any traction with agents or publishers. I thought the stuff was pretty good, but I could be self-delusional. I had always been reluctant to share my fiction with friends because if they said they liked it, could I believe them? If they didn't like it, could they tell me? Seemed unfair to put a friend in that position.

So, I pursued an idea for a comedy, a form I had never tried. A bar friend was working as a small package contract delivery person and he came into the bar and related how that day he had delivered the head of a dog to the vet school for rabies testing. That image stuck in my head and so I started with that scene. Dang thing wrote itself in three months. Nothing had taken such a short time. I thought if I wrote something that made people laugh, then you couldn't deny the writing was successful.

SPILL was released Sept. 11 by the small press Curiosity Quills. Here is a comment that came from a former co-worker, a wonderful writer and excellent editor:

"Hi Randy - "I 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."

And here is the first review placed on Amazon: "Randy 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. His pockets are so regularly plundered by Big Oil, that 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." -- Richard Sutton

Curiosity Quills helped me do a giveaway of a copy of SPILL through Goodreads. Go there if you want to enter.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

SPILL: Take That Big Oil Now Published

Curiosity Quills released my political comedy, SPILL, today.

Here's what John Marshall, veteran Kansas newspaper guy, had to say about it:

"Think all politicians are creeps, the rules are locked in against you and the world is forever in the grip of big politics and Bigger Oil? Think again. Attwood has. SPILL is a what-if adventure, starting with a  couple of insurgent citizens who con the establishment and get rich along the way. In Attwood's world, all the old clich├ęs are real and the system is rigged from the start - until it's un-rigged by good guys bad to the bone - the funny bone. From page one to the end, SPILL enlightens, amuses and instructs us that, one day, someone just might game the system - and get away with it. Attwood, brilliantly, shows us how."





Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Nice Peek at "Blow Up the Roses"

Nice to have horror/suspense novel "Blow Up the Roses" featured on Sneak Peak

Gives the potential reader a really good look at what it publisher Curiosity Quills called "brilliantly disturbing."


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"One More Victim" Took Thirty Years to Write; It was Worth the Wait. Hope You'll Agree.

In the early 1970s I looked out the window of the back door of our small house in Hutchinson, Kansas, where I was working at the newspaper, to see crows ripping into our black plastic trash bag to peck out its contents. The scene started in me a poem and an idea for a story.

The poem got started:

"In February the crows come,
"To pick though my garbage,
"Make holes in the black plastic sack
"And scatter its entrails over the snow.

The story did too:

"The most important summer of my life began with a house-shaking thunder-boomer that woke me up on a Thursday night in 1958 near the end of my fifth-grade school year."

The story stalled. So did the poem.

Years later the story picked up again and I finished the section from 1958. Years later, I finished the section from 1968. Thirty years later, I finally finished the section set in 1992; found the last verse of the poem that started the whole thing and would now end the novella. It's a boy-finds-girl; boy-loses-girl story. And then again. And then one final time.

One More Victim is a literary novella in which the Holocaust is a critical element, so gets sub-categorized as "world literature, Jewish." When offered free (and I'm not going to do that anymore) went twice to #1 free Amazon ranking As a paid ranking, it twice hit #92. I think that gave me the right to call it a best seller, but that is term much abused these days. It has a strong romance element, too. And it can be considered a coming-of-age, young adult work, as well. My writing touches many genres.

Here's what some reviewers had to say:

Anthea Carson

I could not put this book down. It was absolutely mesmerizing. First of all, I have a thing for books about loves that start in childhood, so it had me hooked right there. But also, this writer is just amazing. The way the language flows makes you want to keep reading. There is something very erotic in the story too, even though it was not cheap eroticism. I like that, when a book is sexy without overdoing it

Nicola Lawson

This short story packs so much into a short length it's hard to believe. It's very well written. I wish there was more of it, not because the story doesn't satisfy because it definitely does. I guess I'll just have to get some more of the authors work.

CJ

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 just the right back story and it was well constructed. The story itself was such a delight to discover. It left me breathless.

An excerpt:

Her face at that moment is still the sweetest vision I have ever seen. It was full of yearning, yet already satisfied. Her complexion mirrored the innocence of her heart, untouched yet by the cruelty of the world and the far greater cruelty of the expectations we have for ourselves in that world.




Nook 



Almost all formats here 


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Different Kind of Look at Some Fantastic Reviews for Popular Novel "Crazy About You"

CRAZY ABOUT YOU is my most downloaded and popular work. It's received 23 Amazon reviews and 18 of them are five-star guys. I thought I'd try to categorize them in areas important to potential future readers:

VERSIMILITUDE

I found this story so captivating that I couldn't stop reading once I started. I happen to work at the state hospital depicted in this story and it is incredible fact or fiction; the detail that was written I could see everything he wrote so I was able to follow it with such ease and enjoyed it very much. A very believable story that seemed so familiar. I have recommended this to everyone that I know. I only found one issue with the story and that was, that it wasn't longer......Thanks, Randy, for such an absolutely amazing read!!!

***

Having spent my formative years in Larned, Kansas, and also having worked briefly at the state mental hospital there, I can tell you that his 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!


STYLE

What I loved best about this book was, truly, the writer’s style. He has a laid-back, very easy-to-read way with words that bring his characters alive quickly. Sometimes he’s dead serious as when he documents the history of mental institutions; other times, he’s tongue-in-cheek, outright funny and his main character, Brad, is so likable and real that this book could be subtitled “Another Brad Adams Escapade.” It reminds me of the Hardy Boys books I read as a teen, but with an approach far more suited to today’s young readers.

***

I cannot think of an author that I can compare Randy with. He is just unique. Randy has the skill to shake your nerve and give a direction to forethought process like no other. OK . I guess there are going to be more books by him on my shelf.


PLOT SUMMARY

CRAZY ABOUT YOU, set in 1964, is a coming age story that mixes fact with fiction to reveal one brilliant book. Brad, a teenage asylum brat, lives and works on the grounds of Larned State Hospital. His father, the asylum's dentist, is the reason why Brad's family is given housing on the grounds of the hospital growing up alongside the other children of asylum workers. These children are referred to as the asylum brats.

While living on the grounds and working in the hospital cafeteria, Brad befriends a female patient, Suzanne, who he believes he is in love with. As a typical teenage boy with hormones though, he begins to date a fellow student, while still confessing his love for Suzanne and promising to help her battle her demons and save her from her father's molestation.

While dealing with his raging hormones, Brad also has to contend with his sanity, brutal staff workers, and death. In the span of a week Brad has to do a lot of growing up and the events that happen that week forever remain with him and impact his life.

***

The story involves brutal staff, many of whom are more twisted than those they are supposed to care for, a sad young woman who was victimized by her father and than by the system, unfortunate souls who need professional help that is seldom available to them, the local juvenile delinquent, and a couple of teenage girls whose hormones are as out of control as only teenage hormones can be. The author brings them and others together to weave a story that will keep you turning the pages and that you won't soon forget.

***

CRAZY ABOUT YOU defies categorization, but suffice it to say that those looking for pure excitement and good story telling will not be disappointed. Nor will those who thrive on the deeper layers of psychological tension. Although the novel often deals with forces out of the protagonist's control, it also tackles tough moral choices that indelibly shape our lives, all within the context of a fantastical drama that will leave the reader musing for days. But ultimately, this is a story about absolution. If you have not laughed out loud often and shed a few tears by the end, you'd better see a shrink.


READER CAPTURE QUOTIENT

I sat up till 3:30 a.m. reading CRAZY ABOUT YOU. Couldn't put it down. Have a few more pages to complete but I must tell you, I am now a fan of Randy Attwood's writing. Can't wait to begin a second book and read through his entire works. Easy read, humorous, good story line and left me wanting more.

***

I'm so glad this book was recommended to me. I have been reading indie books for years with so much disappointment, but this but was amazing. The pace was great, the plot was awesome, and the characters were so very believable. I loved that Atwood really dug into the mind of Brad, and let me know everything he was thinking. It was everything I imagined the mind of a teenage boy to be at times, and some thoughts so profound it made me feel like he was in my head.


DEEP IMPACT

CRAZY ABOUT YOU is the second book by Randy Attwood I have read, and my admiration for his writing skills grows with each page as I read. This story takes the reader for a trip into the strange space between the sane and insane--a mist-blurred world full of angst, mystery, surprises, plus bizarre and unpredictable behavior . . . with an array of characters that are so well developed your heart reaches out to them. Well, most of them...but there is much more. An evil presence drives the story into even darker places that you expect, at a pace that turns the pages as fast as you can read. This is an engaging and compelling coming-of-age tale that will haunt the reader for days and leave you wishing for more. Yet, it is also satisfying and fully resolved in a way that touches your heart.

Download options:
Nook
Kobo

In Kansas City area, available at Mysteryscape, Prospero's Uptown,  Inklings


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bobby's Beatitudes

Bobby's Beatitudes

Blessed are those who live in hovels, for God will give them palaces in heaven.
God weeps when anyone kills in his name; kill not.
God hates hate; hate not.
God loves love; love more.
You need not trust in God; you need hope that God will trust in you.
You are your own master. The way is within you.
Giving is the way. Taking is not the way.
Follow the way and it will lead you to God. Jesus is the way.
The way is in each of you. You are your own master and savior.
Woe to the Inquisitors, for Jesus will inquire unto them!
Blessed are the rabble, for they shall know God.