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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.

Monday, September 7, 2015

When Sleep Enters the Scene....

Maybe because I'm feeling sleepy. But I became curious about the use of the word "sleep" in my various works of fiction and came up with these:
From "It Was Me (I)"
Sleep came; the damn nightmare did, too.

From "The 41st Sermon"
Before dawn, Father Talley turned on the table light to look at Molly. Her face was innocent in sleep. She lay on her back. Slowly, he pulled the sheet off her body.
From "Blow Up the Roses"
When he went back to sleep that night, the old nightmare came to Frank Califano, the nightmare the therapist couldn't figure out, the one he hadn't had in several years, the one in which he was standing in a rose garden, only it was blowing up all around him.

From "Rabbletown"
“Go to sleep you God-damned shits or I’ll beat your heads in!” That quieted them, but he saw the hatred in Lila’s eyes. The way she looked at him reminded him of the eyes of the feral cats that roamed the work site. A mason would sometimes lob a stone down at them from those many stories above and occasionally squash one. It made the survivor cats look up from time to time with hatred in their eyes at those who let such things fall upon them.
From "Heart Chants"
We didn't get that second scotch and later I found out what it was like to go to sleep with the smell of her hair making its way into my heart.

From "One More Victim"
Sleep, I later learned, can be a reaction to trauma. I never told Dad the tornado was my first memory because it seemed wrong that I could remember the storm that killed Mother, but I had no memory of her.

From "The Saltness of Time"
It turned out that Stephie and I shared a bed that night, as did Ted and Kristin. I don't know about Ted and Kristin, but Stephie and I didn't make love. Yes we did. I held her in my arms as she went to sleep and, against my body, felt the slowing rhythm of her heart, and counted, individually, each. precious. beat.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Excerpt from Novella: "The Saltness of Time"

I've always liked this part from The Saltness of Time:

"The quiet was remarkable. I had never known quiet could have such intensity. The wind had stopped. No tree limbs creaked. The highway was shut down, so no rumble of distant semi-trucks existed. I started thinking how I had never heard such a silence before when I realized I was feeling vibrations. Sensory deprivation will cause hallucinations. Maybe it was the lack of sound that made me believe the acres of snow had become a vast sounding board stretching over the prairie and bringing to me the vibrations of its past. But there was no doubt to me then, nor is there now, that I heard Indian ponies passing in the night, and I could feel the heart throbs of a terror-struck pioneer family, huddled, praying for God to protect their lives in a dismal soddie. I heard, then, too, the shouts of children in an ancient Pawnee settlement, ignorant of what would follow a Spaniard's search for gold. I heard a shovel scoop out earth to make room for a tiny coffin, and sobs tore at my heart. My body was rocked by the thuds of buffalo bodies, one after another, hitting the prairie as a hunter decimated a herd. And then I actually felt the vibrations as the first plow ripped the sod and make the entire prairie sigh. It sighed the word 'land.' Land, it's a word as magic as the sea, isn't it? There even reached to me the sounds of monster fish from when Kansas was, for thousands of years, a great inland sea, only to dry up, like dreams, and leave beds of salt and shark's teeth for a Kansas boy to wonder at."

And look at that. A sentence ending with a no-no: "at."

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Reader Writes Down Lines That Affected Her From "Crazy About You" Here They Are:

Reader wrote me a really nice email how much she enjoyed Crazy About You she bought at recent author event. Said 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."

Crazy About You

Friday, July 31, 2015

Two Works Nominated for Local Literary Honor

Happy to report that I'm among 25 authors nominated for a respected local literary honor here in Kansas City, the Thorpe Menn award sponsored by the American Association of University Women-Kansas City. Two works published by Curiosity Quills--the political comedy SPILL, and Heart Chants, no. 2 in the Phillip McGuire mystery/thriller series--were both accepted as nominees.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hey, It's Okay to Admire What You've Written

Well, sometimes you reread something you've written and say, "Damn, that's good:" From One More Victim

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 our expectations for ourselves in that world. She opened her eyes and leaned her forehead to rest against my lips. I whispered her name as though it were magic. We were in another world.