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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Seven Shorter Works Each 99 Cents

I've got seven shorter fiction titles available on Amazon and priced each at 99 cents. They fall into two categories: literary and science fiction.

LITERARY

The Saltness of Time
26 pages

Reviewer: "We have a modern day slice of Chaucer here, with four traveling friends marooned in a small hotel because of a blinding blizzard in the plains of Kansas.  In the main room by a comforting fire, they meet an elderly gentleman who offers to tell them a story from his youth, when he, too, was becalmed in the home of an elderly woman, also due to a raging snow storm. From his geriatric host, he learns the story and secrets of her life. The whole thing is like a matryoska doll … a story within a tale within a narrative."

Excerpt: "Emotional truths? Emotional truths are the deepest levels of reality inside of us. They're not rational. That doesn't mean they are irrational, it just means they don't comply to rational thinking. For example, you can't argue yourself in love or out of love. Feelings just are or they are not, whether you should have them or not. And people who were important to you who die, but you dream about them for the rest of your life. These people aren't dead to you at all; they are part of your emotional truth. I wonder what kind of dreams Gabrielle had."

Hospital Days
13 pages (Ten stories)

Reviewer: "This is a different type of read. It takes the reader into the life behind the scenes of a hospital. It is not like a TV show with heroics and handsome doctors getting all the attention. This is the grittier side of life with a true feel to the happenings as the reader is shown the life of a candy striper at first would like to be a doctor, but after what he sees in the real raw world a change of occupation might be in order."

These are some of the first stories I ever wrote. No plot really. Flash fiction slice of life things. I recently learned there is a Japanese literary term for these things: kishōtenketsu

Innocent Passage
9 pages

Reviewer: "When two young men (boys) try their luck at digging through old houses looking for ghosts they find a lot more including the loss of innocence and maybe a little guilt they will have to live with for the rest of their lives. I wish the story was longer but the writing and the idea was really interesting."


Excerpt: Haunted house hunting we called it. The legal term was breaking and entering. The county sheriff had warned us that he knew we were responsible for the summer rash, but couldn’t prove it. If he caught us, he’d “throw your asses in jail,” as he so quaintly put it. We hunted anyway.

8 pages

Reviewer: This is the latest short story from Randy Attwood and will bring me up to date again with his works. I like to stay abreast of Randy's writings, because he has such a terrific and interesting style, each book unique, but containing a familiar voice. Now, I had to wonder exactly how he would make golf interesting, especially in just eight pages, but I shouldn't have worried. Listen to this description of placing a ball on a tee:

And eighteen times this easy gesture, this stooping over with the tee between the fingers, the ball hidden, protected in the perspiring palm, the insertion into ground the wooden link to earth the ball would soon be contacting - all this, for me, had given the gesture a quality of sacredness.

Isn't that gorgeous? The story is full of beautiful prose like that. Who thought that a short story about golf could be so intense, so vivid and so engaging - I literally walked out to the mailbox with my Kindle in my hand, reading. You don't want to miss this latest from Randy Attwood - go get it, and his other works while you're at it. You really won't regret it.

SCIENCE FICTION

A Match Made in Heaven (Mormonism explored in a sci-fi sort of way)
33 pages

Reviewer: "I have never met a Randy Attwood book that I haven't loved; he has a real talent for bringing his characters to life and creating an environment that is realistic and detailed without going overboard. This is the first science-fiction story he has published, so I was quite interested to see how he did in this story environment. And it was... brilliant!

"This is a short story, maybe it could be considered a novella - it took me about an hour to read it through. I am not sure where, exactly, Randy came up with some of the ideas he used in this story (I'll have to ask), but I found the ideas presented evocative and thought-provoking. There are questions of consciousness, how to truly access God (in whatever form that power takes for you), the humane treatment of others, etc. Like all of his books, I highly recommend this terrific story."

By Pain Possessed
15 pages

Reviewer: "I enjoyed this dark little story very much. Nowadays, we don't see much traditional science fiction as used to be the case, and Attwood takes to the genre like a natural with a beautifully drawn portrayal of aliens. Aliens are hard to write - it's not easy to make them really alien. Attwood has done a great job; his aliens are believable and consistent without being in the least human, and he avoids the trap of trying to put in too much background. A very successful venture into traditional SF by a seasoned and professional writer."


The Richard Dary Weight Loss Institute
11 pages

Reviewer: "This book freaked me the hell out. There, I said it. I can't tell you much about it without giving you spoilers, but the ideas that Randy expressed in this book scared the living daylights out of me. The sort of things that were done to the narrator of this story, Peggy, were inhuman. All in her attempts to fit in with modern societal standards of being thin. This made me think a little bit of the book I read earlier today, Saga of a Middle-Aged Vampire. What is it about modern society? Why are all the women expected to be anorexic-thin? It infuriates me. Healthy is one thing, but the modern goal is outright emaciation, and often extremely unhealthy methods are employed in the search for this. It actually frightens me that little girls are starving themselves to try to look like supermodels, who are (in my opinion), mostly freaks of nature."

PAPERBACK OPTIONS

The literary works, except Hospital Days, are available in One More Victim.
The science fiction works are available in Very Quirky Tales.








Sunday, April 5, 2015

"The Fat Cat" Ready for Beta Readers

Done with what I think is the final re-edit of The Fat Cat and I like it rather a lot. But then, just about every writer likes what he has just finished. Time for those so-called Beta readers: persons who would read the work not looking to edit or proof but to give general feedback on the thing, point out any holes or glaring errors.

I started this as a noir mystery, but with its ending I'm not sure what it is. The novel's other problem is its length. It's only 37,000 words, which is way too short for a traditional novel. But I sure like the protagonist, Ellie McCrary. She's been working the last five years as the bartender/manager of a gentlemen's club because she ran away from the city where she worked as a television reporter. She ran way because two things happened. Finding out about those two things is the plot line for The Fat Cat.

The name of the club where she works is called The Fat Cat. Seems obvious the image of a dancer should be on the cover and I've got a Kickstarter project to go live soon to accomplish creating that image. Should be a lot of fun. Let you know later when it's ready to view (and ready for donors!)

But for now, before I hire an editor/proofreader, I need general reader feeback. Be nice to have both male and female reactions. I've written from female points of view before and I think I do it pretty well, but it's best to have a female give feedback.

If you're interested in being a Beta reader, just email me if you have my email address or put in the comments section below a way I can contact you. I'd be sending you a .doc file.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Major Stage Fright for Not a Poet

OK, I'm a little...no...I'm freaked out here. My local Kansas City NPR station, KCUR, announced a couple of months ago that it was inviting local authors to submit short writings that could be recorded and played on their station. Under three minutes. So I submitted a poem "Sipping Gin." And I am NOT a poet. Am I?

Got an email back asking me to submit the poem as a recording. I borrowed a high tech tape recorder from friend John Tygart and started trying to record said poem. I am so bad at this stuff. Finally, after I don't know how many tries and hating hearing my voice, got something to send. Today, I'm informed they'd like me to come in next week to record the poem and...do I have another poem as well! I do, bless my soul. "In February the Crows Come," a poem that ends the novella One More Victim. A poem that took me thirty years to find the last stanza that ends the story that took that long to write.

Stay tuned, folks. I fully expect that when I go to the studio for the recording I will collapse in a garble of gasping incoherence and they will sort of shake their heads and show me the door.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Happy to Have Former Rejected "Blue Kansas Sky" Included in Anthology Titled "Rejected"

Pleased to have a short story of mine, Blue Kansas Sky, included in an anthology whose premise you've got to love. Rejected includes stories that have been rejected. You had to submit your proof of rejection along with your story. I was hoping they would also print the rejection. My story "Blue Kansas Sky" is number five in this collection. It was rejected by the defunct Kansas Quarterly. It would have meant so much to me in my youth to have had that story accepted. Wasn't to be. Hope you'll check out me and my other former rejectees. If you use the Look Inside function, you can read the first four stories and part of Blue Kansas Sky. If you just want to buy Blue Kansas Sky, you can find it by itself, here.



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Works Available for Apple Users

Finding my works for reading on Apple devices is not straightforward. What is available is downloadable via iTunes. You should know, if you don't, that you can download a free app that will let you read kindle books on your Apple device. But here are the works that can be had via iTunes:

Crazy About You
My most downloaded work. Novel is set on the grounds of an insane asylum and creates one week in the life of a high school boy that will grow him up faster than he could have ever wanted.







Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America
This dystopia is my second most downloaded work. The title pretty much sums it up. The religious right have won the day and the Pastor President and pastor governors rule with a Bible in each fist and the computer in your hovel.







The Notebook
Novella has received a lot of positive reviews. No reader yet has been able to foretell the ending of this horror/suspense work.








Innocent Passage
Short story.

The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley
If you like H.P. Lovecraft, this is my homage to him. One reviewer said I "Out-Lovecrafted Lovecraft."


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.