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Friday, August 3, 2018

Like Novels That Creep You Out?

From time to time I pick one of my novels to promote. Decided I'd spend some time on Blow Up the Roses. I have to admit I was surprised when the small press Curiosity Quills accepted it for publication. I believe it was one of their first choices. It's a very dark work, but the CQ founder thought it also the kind of gem a small press could discover.

Here's what one reviewer had to say:

Blow Up the Roses is a very dark story about murder, kidnapping, rape, pedophilias, and a variety of other human conditions of the most debase, debauch, perverted and deplorable nature. While this story is very, very disturbing . . . it is no more so than many movies that touch on the same themes. So, a reader should be aware of what you are getting into before you take up this book. Yet, Mr. Attwood is a master storyteller and his characters are genuine and authentic, even when they are monstrous. But, within this hellish, perhaps even demonic cast of characters, love literally blooms, and a story of hope, comfort, renewal and healing emerges in the midst of a nightmare. The story takes the reader to places you cannot begin to imagine and leads to an outcome that is terrifying, yet satisfying, too.

I have never known the end of a book when I start it. I always felt knowing the end was a fraud upon the reader. The characters should discover their own ends. In Blow Up the Roses, I didn't know why Mr. Keene deserted Mrs. Keene. I didn't know the horrible truth about Mr. Brown, who rented the other side of the duplex from the Keenes. I didn't know why Mr. Califano had this recurring nightmare of a rose garden blowing up around him. I didn't know why I didn't trust Mr. Griswald and his Amway sales program.


When I found out, I almost stopped writing the book. But sometimes characters demand their lives be put on paper. And sometimes it is far easier to create characters than destroy them -- until they destroy themselves.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Four Novels Discounting to 99 Cents


Over the next four days a different title will be discounted to 99 cents for a week. The commonality of the novels is that they were all published by the small press Curiosity Quills.

First up July 18 will be Tortured Truths, the first in the Phillip McGuire series that I was inspired to write because of my admiration of John D. MacDonald and his Travis McGee series. You read that mystery/thriller series not so much for the story but because you wanted to hang out with Travis again. I was hoping to create that kind of character. Mine is a burnt out foreign correspondent who returns to his college town to buy and run a bar. Adventures come his way. In this first series we learn how his hand got mangled and how he coping with a mangled psyche. It’s not often you get to meet the person who tortured you, but Phil gets that opportunity.



On July 19 the second in the series, Heart Chants, goes to 99 cents. Two Navajo girls have gone missing from the local Indian college and Phil is asked to harbor a Navajo girl. He’s also met an interesting woman from China and the plot interweaves the two. Heart Chants contains, I believe, the best, most complete retelling of the Navajo creation story available in a work of fiction. Several Tony Hillerman fans have said they like my book better than Hillerman’s works, and that high praise.

(I’m at work on the third in the series and it’s off to a good start. I hope to complete it this fall.)


Next up will be SPILL on July 20. SPILL is a riot to read. Fired English teacher who has failed at about everything comes up with a scheme to run for his state legislature in his rock solid red city as a Democrat. He gets his enticing bartender to also run so there will be a primary. He runs as an atheist, anti-gun guy also calling for the nationalization of Big Oil. He theorizes that Big Oil and the NRA will donate to his opponent and they can split the money. Works better than he could have imagined. This was great fun to write and many readers have found it great fun to read.




Blow Up the Roses is the first book of mine Curiosity Quills published. It’s a very dark read and between SPILL and Roses you get a feel of the range of my fiction. Mrs. Keene lives on a cul d’sac where many terrible things are happening, including the disappearance of her own husband. But what her renter is doing in the basement of his side of the duplex is chilling. Several readers said they almost stopped reading, but felt compelled to continue. Goes to 99 cents on July 21 for seven days.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Very Quirky Tales at 99 Cents for a Week


Next up in this summer of discounting my works to 99 cents for seven days is a collection of quirky tales aptly titled Very Quirky Tales. Six stories are in this collection, each with a back story. Here they are:


During my binge reading of science fiction in high school I discovered Philip K. Dick, long before he became the mega star of the sci-fi genre. One thing I admired about his writing was how quickly he could snare a reader and keep them turning the page. Tell Us Everything is my homage to PKD, as he is known to his fans. Its main character was inspired by a pretty quirky bartender at my local watering hole.

I suppose most of us have had someone tell them that they saw a person that looks just like us. Sometimes we run into someone who does look like us. At one point in my life I was told I looked like Woody Allen and indeed when we went to New York I kept wondering why people were looking at me. It didn’t help when a friend who was traveling with us called out when our car to the airport arrived: “Woody! The limo’s here!” Anyway, I got to wondering what it would be like if you saw someone who did look like you, but the you when you were 30 years younger. It Was Me (I) is Very Twilight Zone-ish or something the Outer Limits may have done (which, if you haven’t seen, can be found on YouTube).

I went to the University of Kansas and once rented a house with several other people. My room was the windowed summer porch at the back of the house and in the hallway was the access pull down stairway to the attic. I really did store, for what reason I can’t remember, a notebook up there. Years later when I drove by the house I got to wondering if the notebook was still there. That prompted The Notebook. No reader yet as foretold its ending.




I don’t remember what piece of fiction I had finished but I remember I wanted to write something in a completely different style. H.P. Lovecraft was also an early favorite of mine. I loved the moods he was able to create and the dark, complicated situations in which his characters found themselves. We had just moved into the house were we still live here in Kansas City near Loose Park. There was a stately brick house near the park where a brother and sister lived. One night, the brother beat the sister to the proverbial bloody pulp. The paper reported at first appearances the brother sat at his bench banging his head against the back rest. That night he died in jail. Later the paper reported the results of the autopsy that he had died of “total system collapse,” a cause I had never seen before or since. The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley resulted. Facebook is full of HPL fans now and one reviewer said I had “out-Lovecrafted Lovecraft.” High praise.
 
Mormonism has always fascinated me. The founding story is so preposterous. Joseph Smith finds these golden tablets written in an unknown language but he is able to decipher them and create The Book of Mormon. And then the tablets are lost! How could anyone believe that? Yet thousands did and today more thousands do. I was thinking of trying to do a series of stories based on the idea that a group of people could buy a planet and emigrate en mass to it to set up a society strictly based on their beliefs. I wondered what such a world would then look like and A Match Made in Heaven resulted.



While working as Managing Editor at The Olathe (KS) Daily News I took an evening writing seminar at the University of Kansas from the classic and highly successful science fiction writer James Gunn. He was an excellent teacher. By Pain Possessed was written for that class and Gunn actually provided its ending sentence. One favorable reviewer noted how difficult it is to create a true alien and that I had done so.



Friday, June 1, 2018

Some 99 Cent Special Offers this Summer

Over the next few weeks I've scheduled reduction in price of some of my novels to 99 cents for a week at a time. The first which started yesterday and ends June 7 is for The Fat Cat. I began "The Fat Cat" as a noir novel, but I never know the conclusion of a work when I start. I don't think it ended up as a noir piece. I don't know what it is. I hope a good read. Ellie ran away from the city where she worked as a TV reporter because two things happened. Now, managing a gentleman's club, one of those things is happening again. (You know you're curious what goes on at a strip club, now aren't you?) By the way, cat fans, Gibson, an orange tabby, is the mascot of the strip club called "The Fat Cat." He's also saves the day.




June 8 to 15 StopTime is at 99 cents. It's set in an alternate future history in the Kansas City Plaza Enclave. The barbarians are outside the walls. Also living in Scumtown is a Wiccan healer who has a spell that stops time. And that could change everything. Especially for a student artist living inside the Enclave.









June 15 to 22nd is the 99 cent slot for Dark Side of the Museum. Set in an unnamed art history museum somewhere west of New York City, Dark Side offers a touch of paranormal and a pinch of time travel for an outrageously fun read. Objects conservationist Edgar finds an strange object inside an antique piece of furniture that will take him on a ride he could never anticipated. Meet the Director and curators of the museum who are cast of unforgettables in their own right. Don't miss the cheesecake contest day. (You know you're curious about what goes on behind the scenes at an art museum, now aren't you?)





July 4 (my birthday!) to July 11 Crazy About You is on sale for 99 cents. Write about what you know, they say. I grew up on the grounds of Larned State Hospital because my father was the dentist for that 1,500 patient nut house and the State provided housing on the grounds. My first job was working in the cafeterias dish washing room. Crazy relates one week in the life of a high school junior that will grow him up faster than he could have ever wanted. Several readers have asked me how much of it is real. Upset me at first. Did they think it was just journalism or memoir and I had no creative imagination. Then I realized it was a high compliment. The writing created a reality for them. And that's always been my goal with fiction.


July 11 to 18 I'll feature Very Quirky Tales, a collection of sci-fi and other, well, quirky tales. Tell Us Everything is my kind of homage to Philip K. Dick. It's also centered around an unnamed academic medical center and health professionals should find it fun. It Was Me (I) would have made a neat Rod Serling Twilight Zone episode. The Notebook is a story no reader yet as foretold the ending. The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley is my homage to H.P. Lovecraft and one reviewer said it "out-Lovecrafted Lovecraft." A Match Made in Heaven is a tale of the Mormons emigrating from Earth to the Planet Moroni where they discover their destiny. By Pain Possessed: Can the weakest human save us all. It has an ending which the sci-fi writer James Gunn actually provided me when I submitted the story for his class.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Categorizing Some "Crazy About You" Reviews


I grouped excerpts from some great reviews for CRAZY ABOUT YOU.


VERISIMILITUDE

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.

***

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.

***

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.

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.


PLOT SUMMARY

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.

http://amzn.to/2mpHT64



Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A Review of Attwood's Collected Works

Short stories (under 8,000 words)
     Tell Us Everything: Goth girl discovers how to plug herself into the world of the real and tell its secrets, much to the dismay of those who populate the world
     It Was Me (I): Driving home from work, Timothy looks at the driver in the next car and sees himself, not the person he is today, but the person he was 30 years ago. Are there start overs? Timothy is about to find out.
     The Notebook (see below)

Bless Me, Father, For I Am Sinning: Two teenage boys take on the Catholic Church.

Blue Kansas Sky: Even if you've never played snooker, you'll get the message of this short story.

By Pain Possessed: Can the weakest human save us all?

Downswing: Reviewer: An absolutely gorgeous story, voluptuous descriptions that just beg for someone to paint the scenes in oils. Who thought that a short story about golf could be so intense, so vivid and so engaging?

Hospital Days: A fourteen-year-old boy wants to be a doctor and thinks it makes sense to go work in the small town's hospital as a male candy striper. Many lessons await him.

Innocent Passage: A tale of innocence lost, as two adventurous boys discover tragic hidden secrets and their own true nature.

The Richard Dary Weight Loss Institute: The best program is the one you can't remember.


Novellas
One More Victim: "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."

A Match Made in Heaven: The Mormons have left Earth for the Planet Moroni to discover their destiny among the stars and themselves.

The Notebook: When Jeremy stops by the house were he had an apartment when he was a college student and asks if he might look in the attic to see if a notebook he left there still exists, Sarah lets him in. They both discover truths they had rather not known.

The Saltness of Time: A Kansas snowstorm forces a car of college students returning home for the holidays to take refuge in the hotel of a small town where they encounter a fellow traveler, who also seeks shelter, and has a story to tell about the consequences of another snow storm decades before when a hideous truth is revealed about an old woman.

The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley: a Lovecraftian style tale of the horrors that surround the simple draining of a park pond and the modern day research that leads back to the Civil War and the discovery of an undead zone.




Novels
Blow Up the Roses: How much pain, horror and anguish can one cul d'sac endure? Why is so much murder, mystery and sexual brutality condensed among the few duplex homes built so close together on the Elm Street cul d'sac?

Crazy About You: Service brats grow up on military bases. Asylum brats grow up on the grounds of mental hospitals where their parents work. Both juveniles and adults will be riveted by the story of high school asylum brat Brad's week in 1964 that tests his sanity and grows him up faster than he ever wished.

SPILL, in which a fired English teacher scams the political system, gets the girl, the money and a killer skate boarder video game.

The Fat Cat: Five years ago Ellie ran away from a city where she was a TV reporter because two things happened. Now managing a strip club, one of those things is happening again.

Dark Side of the Museum: A pinch of paranormal. A dash of time travel. A deliciously outrageous look at the inner workings of an art museum.

The 41st Sermon: When a 45-year old Episcopal minister suffering from mid-life and mid-faith crisis gets involved in a phony kidnap plot with his sexy blond parishioner, the result is a supercharged novel of sex, payback for decades-old double-dealing, and a despair, which only cynicism or God can cure. Satan's complications are never easy; God's grace is never free.

Phillip McGuire Series I, Tortured Truths: "Once a journalist, always a journalist." Until the Hezbollah get a hold of you and show you just what a coward you are. Philip McGuire was already a burnt-out foreign correspondent before the Hezbollah kidnapped him in Beirut and, under torture, got him to give the layout of the Marine compound he had visited. They blow it up, killing those 237 Marines. His psyche blown to smithereens with guilt, he returns to his college to buy a bar and try to hide.

Phillip McGuire Series II, Heart Chants: A second Navajo girl comes up missing from the Indian College and ex-journalist now bar-owner Philip McGuire finds himself in the middle of the search for answers, which are easy if you are Ko-yo-teh and have found a way to open the gate to the Holy People.

Rabbletown: Life in These United ChristianStates of Holy America: Reviewer: Not since 1984 by George Orwell have we had such a chilling warning of what the future could be.

STOPTIME: This Wiccan healer can’t travel through time, but she can stop it. And that could change everything.

Then and Now: The Harmony of theInstantaneous Now: Reviewer: Anyone interested in aspects of the 60s’ culture and events, and/or interested in how people relate to each other and learn about themselves should find something to love in this story. I was engrossed in it throughout and read it straight through... Like all of Randy’s works, I can highly recommend this book to just about anyone.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Seven-Day Holiday Sale on 4 of My Novels

For seven days, starting Sunday Dec. 17, my publisher Curiosity Quills will have a 99-cent sale on the ebook versions of the four titles I have published with them.

Blow Up the Roses: How much pain, horror, and anguish can one cul d'sac endure? Why is so much murder, mystery, and sexual brutality condensed among the few duplex homes built so close together on the Elm Street cul d'sac? 









SPILL, in which a fired English teacher scams the political system, gets the girl, the money and a killer skate boarder video game. 











Phillip McGuire Series I, Tortured Truths: "Once a journalist, always a journalist." Until the Hezbollah get a hold of you and show you just what a coward you are. Phillip McGuire was already a burnt-out foreign correspondent before the Hezbollah kidnapped him in Beirut and, under torture, got him to give the layout of the Marine compound he had visited. They blow it up, killing those 237 Marines. His psyche blown to smithereens with guilt, he returns to his college to buy a bar and try to hide. 






Phillip McGuire Series II, Heart Chants: A second Navajo girl comes up missing from the Indian College and ex-journalist now bar-owner Phillip McGuire finds himself in the middle of the search for answers, which are easy if you are Ko-yo-teh and have found a way to open the gate to the Holy People.