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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Categorizing Some "Crazy About You" Reviews

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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"Bless Me, Father, For I Am Sinning"

Bless Me, Father, For I Am Sinning is my 15th shorter work of fiction published via Amazon. It’s a short story just in time for Christmas reading, with, I think, an appropriate theme and ending. I’ve categorized this one as literary and Christian. It will be added to the list of my works you can read on whatever device you use for a mere 99 cents.

I was enamored with the Roman Catholic Church at a young time in my life. I fell out of love, and this is my nostalgic memory.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"Dark Side of the Museum" is now live

When asked where I get my story and novel ideas and I have to admit I have no clear idea. Not so with Dark Side of the Museum. I remember when I told my father that I was majoring in art history he replied, “What are you going to do with that?” Towards the end of my adult career I was hired as the media relations officer by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art here in Kansas City. Unfortunately, my father had died decades before so I couldn’t call him and tell my art history major paid off.

The Nelson-Atkins was a fantastic place to work with amazing people for colleagues. I really enjoyed it. One day I was looking at a large piece of furniture from the workshop of a Salem furniture maker National Gould. I stared at one of the finials on top of the piece and wondered if it was possible that something could be hidden there.

I had come to the museum from the University of Kansas Medical Center where I had been Director of University Relations. This mean that what was going on around me really was often a matter of life or death.

The professionals I found myself with at the museum worked with the same intensity in what they were doing as I had encountered at the medical center. I came very much to admire the curators with whom I got to work. Their knowledge, articulation and judgment really impressed. But I have quite a bit of fun with the curators in Dark Side, none of whom are based on any real person.

When I wrote my one comedy SPILL I found a writing voice that I quite liked and I wanted to visit that voice again. I don’t know if Dark Side is a comedy or not, there certainly are some laughs in it, at least there were for me. Dark Side is an outrageous exaggerated work in which I get to have fun with a bit of paranormal and time travel.

I am grateful for the many great experiences working at the museum provided for me and the extraordinary environment in which I found myself. Here’s a sampling:

 You get to meet some of the nicest people and work in the most interesting and beautiful of environments. One shot down there is from the roof of the museum when Jacques de Melo came from New York for a photo shoot.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Dark Side of the Museum for Preorder

I'm set to publish my 11th novel November 15, but it's available for preorder now. Dark Side of the Museum is a deliciously outrageous look at the inner workings of an unnamed art museum located somewhere west of New York City. I had a lot of fun writing this one and it's full of fun characters and interesting happenings. At least that's the writer's hope. I titled each chapter and those give a peak inside the book:

Edgar Makes a Discovery and Gets Fired.
Agenda: A More Interactive Museum
Edgar Performs a Desecration.
The Symbol That Could Not Be.
Agnes Hebenstreit Makes a Momentous Decision.
The Chinese Consult Makes an Astounding Proposal.
Local Art Critic Is In the Building.
Decision Time for Ambrose
Edgar Makes Another Discover, Two Actually.
Several Plots Thicken.
Go. See. Know.
Decisions, Decision.
Emily Needs to Pee.
The Day of the Cheesecake Competition Arrives.
Theodore Washington Gets Discovered; Ambrose is Told the Scroll is Ready; Edgar Gets Schooled on Nicolai Tesla and Kurt Goden. Whew!
The Director Catches Edith as She Faints.
Ambrose Waits; the Director Gets to Work.
Canities Subita, RFG, Xenoglossia
A Room for Beatrice
The Director's First Night in His New Digs
Getting Rid of Robbie
Moving Things Along
Re-entombing Meryre
Tying Up Loose Ends, Sort Of

(A thank you to Kansas City photographer Roy Inman for letting me use his image as cover art.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"The Deep Blue Good-By" Group Read

I joined The Busted Flush - A Group For Fansof John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee administered and I think started by Chris Lueloff on Facebook‎. Recently, the idea was floated that the group read a McGee novel a month starting with The Deep Blue Good-By. As a writer, I know I’ve learned a lot from JDM and my novels Tortured Truths and Heart Chants resulted from trying to create my Travis McGee character and pay homage to MacDonald’s achievement. I’ve read through the series more times than I can remember. This time, I thought I’d pay attention and look for specific lessons for a writer. I posted those on the group page and thought I’d assemble all of them here. Warning, these comments are intended for the reader who has finished the book. So there are spoilers below.

Chapter Uno

By the end of Chapter Uno, McGee's task is set. What I found unusual in rereading it was the amount of space that was given as basically a monologue from Cathy, Catherine Kerr, explaining her situation. This is an extremely long piece of dialogue with only one interruption from McGee the listener. Go look at your James Patterson or Lee Child and just about any suspense action writer and I don't think you'll find such a long monologue from one character. It works for me. You find out the situation quickly and jump right in. It will be interesting to me to see if in this book or any future book there is such a long monologue by one character.

Lesson for this writer: when a character wants to talk, let them talk.

Chapter Dos

Ah, the promise of sex. Not hard to imagine Chook in that big tub. But look at this gorgeous sentence: "...female, deep and glossy, rounded--under the tide little fatty layer of girl pneumatics--with useful muscle." Delicious writing.

But McGee doesn't have sex, though certainly invited, with Chook because he smells something wrong and he turns out to be right. He walks her to her car. Much of fiction is getting a character from point A to point B. With JDM it's never boring. He uses every opportunity to fill in the scene or teach us about the character. "I heard the lisping flap of water against the hull..."

Then we get one of what I call a McGee editorial, this on the Playmate age.

In some forums I've seen female readers don't like McGee and think him a simple chauvinist. I hope female readers here chime in with their opinions.

At the end of chapter Dos, McGee has struck out in the sex departmesrent and decided to take on  the Cathy project.

Lesson this writer takes away from this chapter: When moving a character from point A to point B don't miss the opportunity to do much more.

Chapters Tres, Cuatro, Cinco, Seis

Hmm... my plan was to make a comment after every chapter, but then JDM does what he does so well. Pulls you in and you can't stop reading.

We get introduced to the much modified Royals Royce Miss Agnes who "...retains the family knack of going eighty miles an hour all day long in a kind of ghastly silence." How gorgeous is that! And we learn how he acquired the Busted Flush. Then we get into standard McGee procedure. Go see people and learn what you can from them about the situation and ruminate upon it.

Writer lesson here when we are introduced to Cathy's sister, Christy. This is really a throw away character. Fills a slot. Probably won't hear from her again. Who knows. But JDM doesn't treat her as such. He gives her description full attention with this wonderful summation: " the sultry dignity of she-lions." Love it.

Lesson for writer: There are no minor characters. Just as with people, each character has a soul. Try to find and express it.

Then we get to the creation of an amazing creature, Mrs. Atkinson. McGee first introduces us through the house she occupies which ends with "...they have the look of places where the blood has recently been washed away." And such is Mrs. Atkinson.

I don't know. At this point things seems too contrived. I've never know a woman like Mrs. Atkinson who could be turned into a kind of zombie through sex and submission. I have known some women in abusive situations who get out of them and then seem to seek out the same kind of man. Do hope women readers step in here and comment.

But what JDM creates he carries out to the full and in the end it works.  Her character takes us through 20 pages to chapter siete (I forget when we learn why the Spanish chapter numbers, we'll find out). The lesson for this writer: Don't worry when a character seems bizarre, just go with the flow. The reader will follow right along.

Chapters Siete, Ocho

Travis is still in his fact-gathering stage and travels to NY and then Texas. In Texas we learn that in the search for facts, Travis isn't above a bit of torture. But in creating these fact-gathering trips he gives us a slice-of-life look at his environment and times. In Texas, he becomes a focal point of a family drama.

The lesson for this writer is to remember that when you do scenes so your protagonist and reader can learn something they need to learn you also have the important opportunity to show the world in which that protagonist lives and make it richer for the reader.

Also in these chapters I see what I call McGee Editorials. He has a credit card and hates it. In his diatribe he writes: "In the stainless nurseries of the future, the feds will work their way through all the squalling pinkness tatooing a combination tax number and credit number on one wrist..." Sort of assumed JDM was expressing his own views in these little editorials and he may have tried to limit himself early on. Not later. Those editorial comments are part of what create the Travis McGee mood. We'll see more of them in upcoming novels.

OK, we're getting to the stage where we all know this is headed: that showdown with Junior Allen.

Chapter Nueve

The trio of the three girls we've been introduced to, Chook, Cathy and Lois come together when Cathy gets the shit beaten out of her by, guess who. This Junior Allen, he's somethin' else.

In this chapter some firsts happen in the McGee series. JDM uses a ploy he often will by having Travis remember he has a friend or acquaintance who has just the particular knowledge base into which he needs to tap. This one is a "sly elderly angle-player" in New York who is able to research the local gem market.

And the other first thing that happens. Travis has sex! He's turned it down in the book up to this point and turns it down again when Lois creeps into his bed. Then we get at first blush what seems pretty phony to me. Travis feels all gallant and his amateur psychologist kicks in and determines that, well, Lois does need sex and with someone as caring, gentle as himself. It happens. All works out fine. And it's some pretty great heated prose. JDM creates these scenes really well "...a creature in endless movement, using all of herself the way a friendly cat will bump and twine and nudge and purr." That's pretty good stuff. Anyway, after, Lois seems cured. Seems phony. Then he has a self revelation and realizes that indeed he has several international records in just that description.

Writer's lesson here is all about sex scenes. Try to find analogies. That cat stuff is gold.

Chapters Diez, Once, Doce, Trece, Catorce

Okay, I'm clueless why JDM numbered the chapters in Spanish.

Be that as it may, Travis does his sleuthing and with the help of Lois's memory gets a great lead on where Junior Allen's boat will be. We know the encounter is coming and JDM draws out the tension of waiting like a tightly strung violin string over which he plays the anticipation bow until it sets up a scream of "get to it!"

And that acquaintance? That gem guy in New York. He comes through with a critical piece of deception Travis needs to fool Jr. Allen. And a nifty trick it is, indeed.

But first we get introduced to the new set of lost young souls Jr. Allen will prey upon: forlorn little rabbits. There is a clueless male among them. Travis shakes his hand and we get this beauty: "He had a dead handshake, like a canvas glove full of hot sand."

Travis has a beautiful plan to discover where Jr. Allen has hidden the gem stones on his boat and it works to a T. Another plan to use a sap to knock the guy out works out great, too. Then Trav does a stupid thing and it almost gets him killed and it does get Lois killed. I think I cried foul at this point. That was just a bit too slick of a way to get rid of this new burden in his life.

I wanted to pay particular attention to the fight scenes. JDM does them with direct, straightforward description. "He hooked his left around my neck and began hammering me with his free hand." But pay attention to the verbs: planted, stuffed, heaved, ripped, bounded up, snorting, gouging, kneeing, clambered, straddled. It this succession of different descriptive verbs that makes the description of the fight flow.

So in the end, Travis is successful in recovering some of the treasure. Had he not done the stupid thing he would have had it all and Lois would be alive.

Things felt thin and empty to me at the end. But then I realized Travis had just been birthed into the fictional world and we were watching him grow up and JDM start to know him better for all his many good points and also the questionable ones.

I know the books are just going to get better and Travis even more interesting.

Comments welcome.