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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Drug of Free Download and One More Victim; 815 Hits, Each One a Rush

I enrolled "One More Victim" into the Kindle Select program. This puts it on the list that Kindle subscribers, who pay a certain fee, can then download for free and the authors get a percentage from a pot based on how many times their work was downloaded. Kindle promised promotions and all that. "One More Victim," which has a little bit of Holocaust in it and a lot of growing up going on, is an odd book and, like most of my stuff, doesn't fit easily into any genre, so, I thought, why not.

The book is still available for regular sale (at $2.99), but an author can do a five-day free promotion. I plunged. Wow. First night 40 downloads labeled up as "sales." "Victim" starts flying out the window, ranking by sales climbs impressively.

Who are these people? Nothing sells better than free, I know. And then you start to think, well, if they read it and like it, they might come back for more of my works and pay for them. We'll see. One encouraging sign: a downloader sent me a wonderful email and wrote a very nice review

Maybe more will come.

I have no evidence as of this posting that any downloader has then purchased any other book of mine. But I'm sure there is a lot of "download now and read later" going on. So, we shall see.

Checking back on download stats and seeing them increase is quite a high. Probably a dangerous drug. It's right now at 606 downloads. One day to go.

The great marketing question is: How do you reach all these new ereaders who have just both their Kindles and Nooks and tablets? How do you reach the ones willing to pay?

Because the Holocaust is a critical element of the story, I added a "Jewish" tag and it was downloaded enough times to make it the number two ranked downloaded books among free ebooks with a Jewish theme. Go figure.

Last update: 800 downloads; each one for me a separate "high." No additional reviews. Two downloads on other books, but who knows if they are related. I think Amazon holds all the keys to the information kingdom.

Time to move on now and market other works. If by chance you are a downloader and see this blog entry, would love to see your comments on the whole experience.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Gift Time

Decided to offer a free download code to the work of your choice. AND you can send it on to friends as your gift to them. The coupons will expire 12/27. You need to email me which work you want:

Available works can be viewed here:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"One More Victim" my "Heart of Darkness"

One More Victim is now live on Amazon

In many ways, One More Victim is the oddest work I've done. I'm not sure it's wise to write about the genesis of a story.

Joseph Conrad did so in a series of fascinating introductions for a collection of his stories. And I think of One More Victim as my own sort of Heart of Darkness, not that I would ever try to compare myself to that great master. I remember circa 1975 looking out the back door of our house in Hutchinson, KS, in February, and seeing a group of crows pecking holes in our black garbage sacks. It started a poem in my head. The poem stated the essence of a story that took me almost 30 years to finish as I found the tale that expressed the poem and then finally wrote the last stanza of the poem that ends One More Victim.

The Holocaust is critical to the plot, not so much the atmosphere. Deep love -- not betrayed, but deep love not fully realized -- is an emotion most people don't want to explore. Writers do.

Genre? Description? I have no idea You tell me.

I want to acknowledge the photographer who took the picture that is now the cover art. Jared Wingate's work is very worthy of viewing. His website is:

Katy Soezeva is an indefatigable reader, prolific reviewer, and an excellent editor. She deserves much thanks from me for her careful and sensitive editing and suggestions about this story. Her blog is:

Epublishing has put me in contact with more and more creative people throughout the world. In terms of human expression, I think epublishing is an amazing evolution along the lines Mr. Guttenberg started. Otherwise, I doubt you would have ever encountered this story. And, I hope, you'll find the encounter worthy of you time.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Saltness of Time is Now Live

The Saltness of Time, an 11,000-word novella, is now live on Smashwords. I wrote parts of it when I was in my 20s; I returned to it in my 40s after I had finished the novel, Crazy About You. I wrote that in the first person point of view using a technique of the narrator looking back to tell his story. I thought that technique gave me the needed distance element The Saltness of Time had lacked. I had been trying to tell the story in the simple present tense and was unhappy with the result. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness had always been a favorite of mine. I liked how Marlow told his story on the ship outside the Thames as he and other passengers waited for the tide to change. So I created my Marlow (simply by aging one of the characters) and then indentured my audience. Those captive listeners, it turned out, became much more active in the tale than were Marlow’s. One of them gave to me the best ending sentence that I have ever written.

The Saltness of Time, by the way, is a phrase that comes from Shakespeare ("Some smack of age in you, some relish of the saltness of time," Henry IV, part II). I was thinking more of the salt beds of the dried up inland sea below the rich soil of Kansas prairie. And, of course, the salt beds, too, that are within each of us.

The cover design for this novella presented several challenges, but Erin Billingsley, whose family also hails from my high school town of Larned, and she from nearby LaCrosse (where my grandfather once practiced as a physician), suggested a Kansas snow scene, and I quickly concurred. Her choice of an understated typestyle works well. She describes herself as a "Jane of all trades" and examples of her work can be found at:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Emma Sullivan may read Rabbletown

Emma Sullivan is the Kansas student who has gone from about 40 twitter followers to more than 10,000 because Gov. Brownback's staff monitoring social media saw the disrespectful text she sent while in his august presence and notified her school. I sent her an email with free download code to Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America and got this response!

"Thank you for the code, I downloaded the book. I look forward to the chance to read it. Thank you for the email and your support!"

I so hope she finds time to read it! What's interesting is that in this future dystopia, in which the religious right wing rules the country, people use computers that are closely monitored for improper thinking and actions. They communicate and confess to their PPC, Personal Pastor Counselor programs. And here we have the staff of the Governor checking on how He is referred to in social media. And ACTING on that information.

In Rabbletown, instead of a FBI or a KBI, we have the Inquisitors. Very effective group. Oh, and in this Topeka of 2084 there is a plaza named in honor of Fred Phelps, where stoning Fridays are held. Bring the family. Great fun! Feel righteous.

If you haven't kept up, it's now Brownback who has apologized for his staff to Emma.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Brownbackistan Incident May Help Rabbletown

A marketing opportunity came along for Rabbletown, thanks to Gov. Sam Brownback's staff, some of whom evidently constantly monitor what is said about him on social networks. A Kansas high school student, Emma Sullivan, was with a group visiting him and she texted a tweet that wasn't nice. Brownback's staff caught it, complained to her principal and she got called on the carpet. Story and update are here:

Brownback, who killed the Kansas Arts Commission and has eyes on the U.S. Presidency, has already had people calling Kansas Brownbackistan. And this little incident didn't help. If you search Brownbackistan on Twitter or Brownback Sucks, you'll see the storm this has caused.

So I've been promoting Rabbletown to as many of these folks as I can. After all, it's set in Topeka, Ks. And. although the Pastor Governor is named Brownback, there is a Pastor Senator from Wichita who is. I hope now I can get a Brownback staff member to buy the book! I'm such an opportunist. Maybe I should run for office!

Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America can be found here:

Kindle folks:

Nook readers:

Other formats:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cool review of Rabbletown

Discovered Jim's Blog after he put up a cool review of Rabbletown. I intend to spend some time delving into "The Herscher Project" as it seems our strange minds run down some of the same alleys.

Tim Miller, who is Chair of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, sent me a nice note after reading Rabbletown; "I thought it was one of those Satires that is a bit too close to reality to be entirely comfortable." He thought it was appropriate that he got the book just before Halloween, "'s real enough to be scary."

Monday, November 14, 2011

More Good Comments on Blow Up the Roses

I've put Blow Up the Roses on a Harper website that uses internet reader reactions to decide which books they will consider for print publication. If you go to their site, you'll be able to read the book for free and leave comments and rank and that sort of thing:

Here are some of the comments so far:

Read the first four chapters. Very creepy. Kind of reminded me of Tom Harris from the Hannibal Lector series. I like how you build suspense with Mr. Brown and whatever he's got cooked up in his duplex. The way you use Mr. and Mrs. adds a coldness to the writing that prevents the reader from getting comfortable. I think this is a great book.

This writing is very assured, very competent, very chilling. That first chapter is the most disturbing I've read for a while. I think you have your genre totally pegged. Rivetting stuff.

This is so it so far. Will let you know when I have read more.

I think this book will do very well.
The first chapter was deliciously short, left me wanting more, more, more, needing to know the details of the man's wickedness.
The second was completely different but very well written. The first half gave me all I needed to know about Mrs Keene, and then kind of sagged a bit in the middle before picking up again as Mr Brown is threatened with eviction! A great way to end the chapter to keep the interest going.

This writing is very assured, very competent, very chilling. That first chapter is the most disturbing I've read for a while. I think you have your genre totally pegged. Rivetting stuff

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blow up the Roses most requested

That first Blog Hop, now ended, was great fun. Of the 10 works offered, seven were requested. The most requested was Blow Up the Roses, the one about a serial killer, and here is a review one requester has posted on Smashwords:

"At the end of the first paragraph I had to decide whether I was brave enough to continue. I wasn't sure I wanted to know what happened next. I did read the whole story and enjoyed Mr. Attwood's characters; a veritable crazy quilt of unlikely neighbors who maintained a strange sort of formality despite the ugly reasons for their interactions. I would remind the reader that the most frightening parts of a story are those we fill in with our own imaginations."

Monday, November 7, 2011

My First Blog Hop

Blog hop ends midnight tonight. I'll be asleep before that happens. Will honor straggler requests when I wake up tomorrow. Hope your autumn tree colors are as pretty as what we have in KC just now. Goes great with barbecue!

What I'm offering to visitors who come here is to send them a free download code to any one of my works, which are now on Smashwords. Just email me ( the work of your choice and where I should send the download code. All reviews appreciated. My works don't fit easily into genres, but they come from my heart, which never fit into any genre either.

Here are the works available and my bio:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Stasis mode

I seem to be in one of those stasis modes. Things to do but don't do them. One is looking at the edits and suggestions an editor has made on a novella that I call my Heart of Darkness. She thought it was an amazing but heartbreaking read. I know every time I go back through it, it sort of crushes me. Now I have to go through it very carefully and examine potential changes. Cover design will be tough. I've found a photographer whose work I like and have asked him to see if he has anything to propose.

I have found a Navajo graphic artist who is reading what I call my Navajo book. It's a mystery/thriller and contains what I think is one of the best retellings of the extraordinary Navajo creation story. I don't know if the Navajo artist will want to do the cover (and I'm clear I don't want anything like the Tony Hillerman covers; not because I don't like Hillerman. I do. It's just I'm not doing what Hillerman did).

I have another novella that is awaiting potential cover design work which seems to cry out for a photo of a snowy Kansas field. Will I have to wait for the snows to cover Kansas? Maybe so. Waiting is okay. This novella has been do that in my file cabinet all these years.

Received my first payment from Amazon and one should soon arrive from Smashwords. Whenever, and those times have been rare, I get money for fiction those dollars seem odd to me. I feel like I should do something special with it, but never know what. Splurge on a good bottle of bourbon and sit outside in this gorgeous blue sky fall weather we are having in KC just now. Stare up at that blue Kansas sky. Not a bad way to spend a stasis.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Publishing Update: Ten Works Now Live

I now have ten genre-defying works epublished. Thought it was time to list them and give a quick guide for selecting which one(s) you'll want to read.

Crazy About You: Set in Larned, Kansas, and its nearby mental hospital, so if insanity fascinates you, this is the one.

SPILL: Need a laugh at the expense of the political system and Big Oil? This is the one.

The 41st Sermon: Know who Walker Percy was? He liked this book's first chapters. Adult language here.

Rabbletown: Life in The United Christian States of Holy America: Title pretty much says it all for this dystopia future history set in 2084. Hate Fred Phelps? You love (be terrified) by this book.

Blow Up the Roses: Serial killing going on here.

Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All: Old enough to want to relive the 1960s or curious about them? This is set in the turbulent spring of 1970 at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

3 Very Quirky Tales: Philip K Dick fan? You'll like these.

The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley: Like H.P. Lovecraft? You'll feel at home here.

Blue Kansas Sky: Even if you don't play pool (or snooker really) you'll find you can relate to this story.

All can be found at or

Monday, October 17, 2011

First guest blog post

Eleanor Sullivan, former Dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Kansas Medical Center and writer of mysteries and other fiction asked me to submit an excerpt from Crazy About You on the history of the treatment of the mentally ill. My first guest blog post.

Eleanor did a lot of research into medical care practices in the 19th century for her new novel: Cover Her Body

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nice review for SPILL

10/07 Katy Sozaeva gave 5 stars to: SPILL by Randy Attwood 
bookshelves: ebook, read-review 
recommended for: anyone
status: Read in October, 2011 — I own a copy
recommended by: Randy Attwood

Fred Underwood, a former English teacher and current delivery carrier, is fed up with the high price of gas. He believes the oil companies are price gouging and decides to take a stand. Together with his friend Zoe X. Quinn (that X is important – read the book and you’ll understand), he hatches a plot to not only get some attention to the problem with the oil companies, but to make a bit of money in the process. What he doesn’t expect is for the Big Oil companies to sit up and take notice …

Filled with intriguing characters, and an amusing subplot involving skateboarding gamers, “Spill” is a comic tour de farce that I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys political satire, generally humorous story-lines, and great writing. Randy has outdone himself on this one – give it a read as soon as possible! 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tell Us Everything included in Oct efiction mag

Very happy to have Tell Us Everything, the lead story in 3 Very Quirky Tales, included in the October issue of efiction magazine!

Tell Us Everything is a story that got written rather more quickly than most things I do. I think because I'd read so much of Philip K Dick and always admired how quickly he could get a story started that I was off and running with this story of a Goth girl with a lot of piercings who finds herself plugged into reality and has to broadcast those truths to the rest of the world. And, boy, do they start paying attention! Listen up, world, here's what's really going on, whether you want to know about it or not.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All

Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All is now live and again with another nice cover design by Michael Irvin.

Parts of this novel were written in my 20s, not long after that extraordinary spring of 1970 at the University of Kansas. It took me years, decades, to come up with the right point of view and technique for its telling. It works for me. It will be interesting to find out if it works for anybody else.

In terms of reality: I really did participate in the occupation of Memorial Stadium during the ROTC parade, which shut that event down. (I watch Occupy Wall Street happenings and, boy, am I taken back.) I really did see the Kansas Union burning. I really was a philosophy grad student (only one year, having quickly realized the limits of my poor brain's abilities in that area). I really was a pretty good pinball player. I really was in Lawrence and violated curfew when the Kansas National Guard occupied the college town.

The driver of a fully loaded propane truck really did find a package of dynamite sticks wedged between his dual rear tires before he took off one morning for his deliveries.

I really did, but as a journalist, follow the casting, recitals and performances of the Orestia. In the book, as Stan Nelson tries to write his head out of the 1960s, he contacts the play members to show them what he has written to see if he's gotten things right. Now that Then and Now is published, I'll really be trying to do that, too. I still have the program and the names and with Facebook, etc., I may find them and get them to read this novel. If it works for them, I really will have achieved something.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Note from Walker Percy about The 41st Sermon

"The 41st Sermon" is now live on Smashwords and Amazon. Again, Michael Irvin has come up with wonderful cover art.

In Dec. of 1989 I sent the first three chapters of a novel I had written to Walker Percy. Shortly after, I received his handwritten response on my cover letter: “Randy: It reads well — I’d be glad to look at rest, but must tell you I’ve had to give up finding agent or publisher for unpublished writers — I’d be doing nothing else. Everybody in South is writing a novel – Best, W.P.” I sent the MS to him and waited and waited and then in May the following year woke up one morning to read his obituary in the paper.

"The 41st Sermon" is about an Episcopalian priest in mid-life and mid-faith crisis. He 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 despair, which only God can cure. Satan's complications are never easy; God's grace is never free.

Here's the book cover and then the Percy note:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Katy Sozaeva's Summary of Her Six Reviews

"While I have, certainly, before spent a weekend reading more than one book from an author, only once before have I spent the weekend reading EVERY published book from an author (a few weeks back when I read the most excellent Pact Arcanum by Arshad Ahsanuddin). However, that was only 3 books - this was 6. True, only two of them were long enough to be considered other than novellas at most, but Randy's style is intense, his plotting brilliant. Each of his stories was a brilliant gem of a thing - and each was very different. You first saw my review of "Rabbletown," which was one of the most amazing things I've read in ages. I spent most of the book in goosebumps, astonished and unbelieving about how much this book was affecting me. You will probably also note that this led to the longest review! Not that I didn't like the subsequent books, just that "Rabbletown" had the strongest impact upon me. That was quite a book! "Crazy About You" was an interesting coming of age story, filled with lots of intriguing information on the history of the treatment of mental illness that I found to be fascinating. His short works: "3 Very Quirky Tales," "Blue Kansas Sky" and "The Strange Tale of James Kirkland Pilley" are the sorts of things that are perfect for reading during a break at work, or an evening where you don't have a lot of time, but want to read something complete in and of itself. Then there was "Blow Up the Roses," which I discovered had just been uploaded when I went to post one of my other reviews on Smashwords. In fact, Smashwords is the ONLY place where you can find all 6 of Randy's currently published works - check it out:"

Katy's blog is at:

Friday, September 2, 2011

Great Perceptive Review of Rabbletown

Wow, Katy posted a wonderful review of Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America. It can be found on

In an email thank you to her she wrote back:
 I was literally in goosebumps for probably the last 1/2 - 1/3 of the book. 

Review by: Katy Sozaeva on Sep. 02, 2011 : star star star star star
I expected a few things when I started reading this book. I expected to maybe be amused by a satirical take on the Fundamentalists that are doing their utmost to take over this country – sadly, the concept is difficult to make amusing, because the idea of Fundamentalists taking over this country and turning it into an Evangelical theocracy is absolutely terrifying to anyone who wants to live in love and Light. I expected to be outraged by the excesses of Fundamentalist leaders who grow fat and rich off the tithing of their flock, while the common people live in poverty and squalor. I expected to be terrified by the idea of an Evangelical theocracy in general. What I did not expect was to be profoundly moved. I did not expect the overwhelming desire to make this book required reading for everyone. I did not expect goose bumps or a profound feeling of “rightness” to come over me while I read this book. I did not expect to want to take to the streets to preach the word of Bobby – to propose that the world would be a better place if we all became … Bobbites.

You see, 12-year-old Bobby Crowley – the son of stone-mason Bob Crowley, who is working to build a cathedral in Topeka, KS that will be larger and more glorious than any other cathedral in the world – 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 coming into a cross-like shape. And on a Friday like any other Friday – a Stoning Friday that would see the stoning to death of a “heathen, a whore, a pair of adulterers and a pair of faggots” - 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. Many people believe he is the second coming of Christ.

Caught in his wake are a prostitute, his teacher (himself gay and who has been forcing himself up the weaker boys in his classes), the young woman who had been accused of being a whore and set to be stoned, a seller of banned books, a Catholic friar and many more; they go into Rabbletown, the slums of Topeka, where Bobby spreads the true way – 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 revere and emulate the practices and beliefs of that disgusting scumbag Fred Phelps, those sorts of teachings are threatening to the power structure. 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? Yeshua Christos told his followers to follow two simple rules: 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. It doesn’t matter what religion, creed, belief structure or lack thereof you choose to affiliate yourself with, these simple rules are common across almost every single one, and are the only rules that are really necessary to create a world in which everyone would like to live. 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.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My First Digital Author Interview

I met Katy Sozaeva through She is a prolific reviewer of books with 177 reviews to her credit just since she joined the site in June of this year. She's interested in my work and has reserved this weekend to read four of them. She's calling it her "Randy Attwood Weekend." In preparation, she sent me a list of questions, which I answered, and then some more and follow-ups. That interview is now posted on her site:

An update on SPILL: one friend, who is a wonderful copy editor, returned his markings to me and I've made corrections and followed his suggestions. Some of his catches truly terrified me that I could make these kinds of mistakes: melodious went I meant malodorous (and in a situation that was really a howler) and shown when I meant shone. I fear I've developed some sort of aural dyslexia. I have another friend who has partially finished his careful reading and I'm waiting for him to chime in. He's already given me his corrections for the first 76 pages and so I could compare the two readers. One catches things the other does not. The second friend caught officious when I meant official. Lesson here: you can't have too many friends who are good copy editors. At least I can share the final cover design that John Yuelkenbeck of Alias Creative Group did. It's a dandy. Projected release date: next week.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Outstanding review for Crazy About You

Mark Shoup has given Crazy an outstanding review and can be seen on the Amazon page for Crazy here:

If the folks over at the New York Times Review Of Books are looking for fresh novels by other than established writers or well-connected new ones, they should dust off their keyboards and surf over to Amazon's Kindle Book Store, where they'll find an astonishing new novel by Randy Attwood.

Crazy About You is set in the most unlikely of places, in and around a state mental institution in west central Kansas. Attwood's protagonist, a high school student nearing the end of his junior year, is at once naïve and wise beyond his age. These qualities, combined with growing up on the "asylum" where is father works, have created within him a gut-wrenching combination of empathy and Everyman's selfishness that shape him forever and come to a head during one wildly dramatic week when his father and estranged mother are out of town.

Given the protagonist's years, one might dismiss this as a coming-of-age story. It is not. Less a psychological thriller than a psychiatric adventure, the novel fearlessly reveals ways in which human beings face their choices and emotions and those of others -- from loyalty and deceit to cruelty, despair, and joy -- things we all sometimes learn to deal with but never totally control. It is at once gripping, brutal, and tender.

Crazy About You defies categorization, but suffice 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.

While Attwood's style and story-telling skills are very much his own, John Irving fans will enjoy this book immensely. New York Times, heads-up! 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blow Up the Roses: Warning! Warning!

This is strange. I need to warn you away from this book. It's not pornographic or erotica, although I will install what smashwords calls the prude factor and also make sure it's listed as erotica on Amazon.

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. Outlining never worked for me. 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.

Blow Up the Roses is now on Take a couple of days to get loaded on But smashwords has the Kindle format.

Reader, you've been warned. Actually, I think it fits into one of the Romance genres. Please let me know.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

And Some Vindication

I am feeling and the word I'm searching for here is somewhere close to vindication. Not because I'm selling a lot of books. I'm not, but I'm doing okay. I feel vindicated because of the comments from people I don't know from Adam who have read and reacted so positively to Crazy About You.

There is very much a sense in their comments that they lived the reality I tried to create with words. That's what fiction writing is all about: creating a reality that others can experience. You get a few people who don't know you, have no reason to lie, let you know they stepped into and experienced the reality you created – wow.

Thank you, LM Hornberger, who wrote:

Overall, I was extremely glad I read this book! If I were to write a book, this is exactly the type of book I would love to write -- a book to make people reflect.

Her full review is reposted earlier in this blog.

Thank you Joan LaMonte who first wrote me this email

Well, not only did I get it, but I took this hot humid day and turned it into a reading day. I literally couldn't put your book down. Was any of it true? Brilliant...I loved it. Give me until Monday to write your review. I'll be giving it five stars but want to think about what I want to write.

I loved her question about if any of it was true. Greatest compliment to receive. Here is her succinct review received today

Riveting, fast paced, heartfelt; Randy Attwood's Crazy About You is a brilliant account of a coming of age teen whose caring and courage extends well beyond his years. I literally could not put this book down. Crazy About You is a must read for teens and adults alike. I can't wait for the movie.

Thank you, Kristina Akers

Awesome Awesome Awesome book!!! It was sooooo cool to be able to read and know exactly where you were all the time!!! Have to admit... the end kinda scared me enough that I was too scared to get up at 1am when i finished and go to the bathroom!!! Great job Randy!!!

Thank you Bobby Cavalier

Bought the book and read it in one sitting. Could not put it down. I loved it.

All of these comments provide a wonderful confidence booster and helps me move forward to get more of my works epublished. Several are just around the corner.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reflections from an Aging Writer

I started trying to create fiction in college in the 1960s. Reynolds Price was guest lecturer during one of my creative writing classes. I didn't have much to show him, but he called the few paragraphs I gave him, "lovely." But then he was a lovely Southern gentleman.

I did that young man in Europe thing. Florence. Short stories. Very short. Some not bad.

Best thing for me was I went to work for a newspaper whose publisher/editor wrote a wonderful column. I got into doing columns and editorials along with reporting and editing. Doing the column helped me find my writing voice.

Ideas came. Longer pieces were tried. Nothing really worked. Everything seemed forced. In my 40s things finally started to click. I was up by 5 a.m. and my eight-year-old son was up, too, practicing the piano (Koji Attwood, google him). I'd write for two hours and go to work at the paper. Then you start to try and get published and query letters to agents, some interest, no cigar. I had an address for Walker Percy. I sent him a letter and the first two chapters of "The 41st Sermon." "Reads fine. Send rest" he responded. I thought I might finally get a break. I waited and waited. Three months later I read his obit in the paper.

Keep writing. New idea worth pursuing. Opening scene worth getting on paper. See where it might go. Characters get born and you wonder what will happen to them. Keep exploring.

Writing conferences, small literary magazines, writers groups. None of it turned out right or helpful for me.

Internet arrives. Easier to email queries. Web based magazines appear. Some accept my work. Got paid $150 for one story. Found a couple of agents, amateurs it turned out. And work and life and all that brought a long period in my life where I shoved the fiction aside with a "I tried. I couldn't have written any better than I have."

Got laid off near 60. Freelance writing helped, not financially, but the ego. Interesting consulting work developed. Re-approached the whole effort of finding an agent. Nada.

Could be self-delusional. Maybe my stuff is junk. Time to test myself with comedy. If you could make a reader laugh, you've succeeded. Had an opening scene idea and the damn thing almost wrote itself in three months. Never had anything come that fast. I have a novella that took me 30 years.

Finally snared an agent. "Reminds me of Hiaasen." Nice. Work got before editors at good houses. Close, but no cigar. Recession hits, Kindle happens, publishing business turned upside down.

Never wanted to self-publish. Seemed like admitting defeat. Then the agent says a couple of editors urged self-publishing. Now they can use author-paid test marketing.

So here I am. And now semi-retired so I have more time to pursue all this and plenty of completed works beside the agented one to promote. It actually feels pretty good that my stuff can find a home outside my file cabinet. Now it's up to me to go out and find an audience for them. What a brave new world that is.

I wonder how young writers do it now. I spent a lot of time with my writing and my ideas. Rereading, rethinking, rewriting. The internet is a huge distraction. Especially when you're involved in self-promotion. To create, I need a lot of stare-off-into-space time. But now I bounce around websites and follow tweets and Facebook messages and blogs. Overload.

Thanks for giving me your eye time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How do you sign an Ebook?

Three of my works have made it through the Smashwords process and now are available for Nook users on Barnes and Noble site. So....I created three separate promo cards for each work using the cover design and adding "Kansas City Author" and "Available on Nook." I took the cards today into our Plaza branch of Barnes and Noble and chatted up the young man at the Nook booth as soon as you enter the store. He was interested and used the display Nook to verify, indeed, that one of the works was now available for download (Crazy About You) and left that as the image on the display Nook instead of Vonnegut (wouldn't he have loved all of this!). I suggested it would be helpful for all involved if when a customer came in and saw the booth offering the Nook they also saw a display case which held cards such as I had in hand promoting local Ebook authors. "We do author signings..." How do you sign an Ebook? "Hmmm....I'll show these to my manager."

Fellow Ebook authors: create thy thee own promo cards and get theeselves to thy Barnes and Noble Nook booth!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

3 Very Quirky Tales

If other authors are happening to read this blog and need a cover designer, get to know Michael Irvin. He's good, he's fast and he gets it. He showed me this design this morning and it was bang on for what I had called "Three Very Quirky Tales" and now call "3 Very Quirky Tales" because it works better typographically. I've never been able to find a genre niche for my fiction other than quirky, so I stole that word for the title of these three stories. Two were written within the last few years to show the old geezer can still put pen to paper.

 "Tell Us Everything" reads as fast as a crotch rocket. If you like Philip K. Dick, I think you'll like this tale. Goth girl with a lot of piercings plugs into the reality of the world and starts broadcasting those truths to a world that doesn't really want to hear them.

"It Was Me (I)" finds Timothy Thomas looking over at the driver in the car beside him and recognizing himself, but not the person he is now but the person he was 30 years ago. Are do overs possible? Timothy's going to find out.

And "The Notebook." Well, I did leave a notebook in the attic of an old house where I had rented a room when in college and always wondered what was in it. My character Jeremy finds out. "3 Very Quirky Tales" is on Smashwords. Haven't placed in on yet. Here's Michael's wonderful cover. If you'd like to contact him, leave me a message how I can get him in touch with you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Geezer goes back to his slush pile

Nice thing about being a geezer writer is that you've got so much stuff in the slush pile you sometimes forget what is there and then you come across it, start reading and say, "You know, this is pretty good!"

So, you reformat for Ebook requirements and print it out to edit and proof it once again after all these years and go, "Christ, this is good. How come some agent didn't want to represent this?"

So I'm going to get "Then and Now: the Harmony of the Instantaneous All" ready for Ebook distribution. It's set in the 1960s, University of Kansas. Actually, it's from the viewpoint of someone writing from later and looking back to the 1960s and trying to get his head out of that whole time slot and it ain't easy for him for a lot of reasons. It's got a really cool point of view. I look forward to turning it loose.

I meet Thursday with Michael Irvin, who designed the cover of Rabbletown and now is working on the cover of "Three Very Quirky Tales," a compilation of three short stories, two of them written recently to show that, well, I can still put pen to paper. The first story, and the one that will be the basis for the cover, is called "Tell Us Everything," about a punk rocker nutcase Goth girl who starts doing radio broadcasts from her apartment and, boy, does she tell some truths! If this story works for readers, I owe it to one of my favorite writers, Philip K. Dick. That guy could set a scene and get things moving faster than anyone else.

I've been spending a lot of time marketing "Crazy About You" with some success. A facebook page has been set up that is getting some good traffic.

Let me put a plug in for a very friendly author's page:
It's new enough to be a welcoming place for writers. Some of the established sites are anything but. I've got the bruises to prove it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Very nice and thoughtful review for The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley on Amazon

This review is from: The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley (Kindle Edition)
Back in college when everyone seemed to be reading Tolkien, I was entranced by the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft was one of the writers from an earlier era who depended more on a creeping feeling of unease instead of over-the-top gross-out effects that seems to be favored by modern writers. 

Now Lovecraft has been reborn for a new generation in Randy Attwood's The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley. The story has no vampires or werewolves that seem to proliferate in modern thrillers. Instead, it follows the path laid out by Lovecraft. There's the modern every-man who slowly descends into increasingly weird situations. There's the "bad guy" who may not be really bad, just a bit toys-in-the-attic crazy. Then there's the setting ... in this case, as in some many of Lovecraft's stories, a passage that goes further and further into the earth toward ... well, to say more would spoil the story. (I always wonder what Freud would say of Lovecraft's frequent use of damp, dark underground settings, but I digress.) 

Amping up the creepiness factor are a Civil War backstory, hordes of workers who seem kin to zombies and the dry rattle of bones coming from cells along the passages of this underworld. Together is makes for top-notch story telling. This isn't the type of horror that makes you gag on grossness. Instead, it's the kind of story that's the literary equivalent of a shudder caused be a cold hand brushing against you in the dark.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Crazy gets a five star review!

I do not know who Linda H is but I want her to know how very much I appreciate this nice review of Crazy About You. It's on the page for Crazy:

Review by: Linda H on July 25, 2011 : 
While the very core of this story is simple -- a teenager becoming a man -- the actual story is anything but simple. A high school boy begins to care for a young female inmate at the asylum where his father works. In the nearby town, an older woman is murdered, and an inmate is suspected. The young man's feelings for a high school girl, his friendship with his father's new girlfriend, and a terrifying encounter with an inmate all complicate his life further and lead him to interesting insights into what it means to be an adult. 

This book has a lot to recommend it. The plot moves the story along briskly with many surprises. Admittedly, with the location being in or near an asylum, one would expect a few unusual events. The writing is wonderful. The sentences are carefully crafted and have a natural cadence to them. The background on the history of asylums is expertly woven into the story and adds to the richness of the novel. The main character, Brad, a high school student, is real, not just a flat created person, and comes alive in the pages.

As far as negatives, sure, one or two typos, but that's it.

One thing that should be mentioned is that this book is not a light read. It does explore several dark topics and made me uneasy or uncomfortable in several places, which is something I do enjoy in a book. Also, there are a couple of brief violent and sexual scenes, which were tastefully done and truly necessary for the story.
Overall, I was extremely glad I read this book! If I were to write a book, this is exactly the type of book I would love to write -- a book to make people reflect.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cover of NYT Book Review today drew my attention

Cover of the New York Times Book Review section today drew my instant attention. It was for Sherwin Nuland's review of "An Anatomy of Addiction Sigmund Freud, William Halstead, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine."

Reason is simple. Here is the cover my friend came up with for "Crazy About You."

Crazy, by the way, is now available for half price through July at

Friday, July 22, 2011

RABBLETOWN: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America

Remember in 1988 when Pat Robertson was running for president? I do and it scared the bejesus out of me. The whole religious right still terrifies me. I've always said that if fascism comes to America it will be through the pulpit. The year 1984 had passed with all its references to George Orwell's book and it got me wondering if the religious right won the day and had its way, what America would be like in 2084. I started fiddling with time lines, seeing how many generations of Robertsons and Fallwells it would take to get to 2084. I figured that economic stimulus programs would be church-based. Abortion would not only be a capital offense, pregnancy would be mandatory for married women of child-bearing age. I started the story from the viewpoint of a mason working on the Great Christian State of Kansas cathedral project, who lived in a former duplext that now housed his family of 11 children and six other families.

The book proceeded and then stalled. I had written myself into a corner. From time to time, I would return to it and really liked its opening. Some very interesting things were going on, especially what happened to the Roman Catholic Church. The rise of Islamo-fascism provided the final prod and semi-retirement provided the time. I revisited the manuscript and found my way out of the corner. It came in the shape of a boy with a remarkable memory for Bible verses.

Shortly after I completed the manuscript, I got together with a former KU colleague, Michael Irvin, who is now doing freelance design work, and asked if he would look at the book. He agreed, liked it, and did the cover design.

It's live now on and Smashwords.

Short novel, about 40,000 words. Hope you'll give it a read.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Crazy About You now on Kindle

Crazy About You is now available for Kindle users on

In the early part of this book is an embedded essay on the history of the treatment of the mentally ill placed as a writing assignment done by the protagonist for his high school English class. The teacher tells Brad it's one of the most interesting essays she's ever read, but can only give him a B because of too many spelling errors. Here's the essay, with the spelling errors, I hope, corrected.

If you judged a civilization by how it treated its insane, it would modify your opinion of how advanced we were. And are.
At first the insane were allowed to roam at will and whipped out of villages when they became a nuisance.
When Dante was writing The Divine Comedy, the insane were believed to be possessed and were burned at the stake. In The Divine Comedy the word “bizarre” first appeared to describe a madman.
When Galileo was proving that the Earth went around the Sun, the insane were given holy water to drink from a church bell. If that didn’t work, they were burned at the stake. Want to guess how many times it worked?
About the time that Heidelberg and Cologne Universities were founded, Bethlehem Hospital in London became an institution for the insane. It was so poorly funded that its inmates were given licenses to go begging for food. The hospital was such an ungoverned mess that the way Bethlehem was pronounced, Bedlam, became a word for uncontrolled madness.
In the years Shakespeare was writing his plays, you could take your family on an outing for six-pence and view the madhouse chamber of horrors where the restrained violent, often egged on by visitors, would snap and snarl at you, or you could be entertained by inmates who believed they were Oliver Cromwell, Julius Caesar, and even the Virgin Mary. Great laughs.
In France, while Lavoisier was proving that air was a mixture of mostly oxygen and nitrogen, the inspector general of French hospitals reported that thousands of lunatics were locked up in prisons without anyone even thinking of administering the slightest remedy. The half-mad mingled with the totally deranged. Some were in chains. Some were free to roam. He called them the step-children of life.
Life for normal people in France wasn’t all that healthy, either. Out of 1,000 live births only 475 reached age 20. Only 130 reached age 60.
It was kind of an irony that our own Pinel Building for the Criminally Insane was named in honor of the French doctor during the French Revolution who freed the insane from their shackles. But ironies abound in the history of insanity.
While Harvey was developing his proof of circulation, the inmates at Bedlam were treated en mass. At the end of each May they were all bled, then made to vomit weekly, then purged. The attendants must have dreaded that time of the year.
Into the beginning of the 1800s, when John Dalton introduced the atomic theory into chemistry, the insane were treated with such loony cures as plasters of mashed up Spanish fly, or had the veins in the forehead cut so the head could be bled. Later, on an opposite theory, inmates were strapped in a chair called the gyrator that spun the inmate around so more blood would circulate to his head.
In the late 1800s when society was really getting civilized, Dr. David Yellowless of Glascow developed a surgical attack on what was then called masturbatory insanity, which alienists believed was at epidemic proportions. Dr. Yellowless inserted a silver wire in the foreskin, making erections so painful it would eliminate the crazy-causing things. Other methods called for safety pins to be used on uncircumcised men so that their foreskins were pierced by the silver-coated (to reduce infection) pins through the glans of the penis, also causing pain during erections, another method for eliminating the damnable things.
The Rush Building, where Suzanne was housed, was named after Benjamin Rush, honored as the father of American psychiatry, who firmly held to the belief that masturbation caused insanity. Oh, and he was the fellow who invented that gyrator. And he also believed that blacks were black not because God created them that way but because they suffered from a congenital form of leprosy, mild, to be sure, but enough so it resulted in excess pigmentation.
Rush wrote in his Medical Inquiries upon Diseases of the Mind that masturbation produced seminal weakness, impotence, painful urination, emaciation, pulmonary consumption, indigestion, dimness of sight, vertigo, epilepsy, hypochondriasis, loss of memory, idiocy, and death. A French physician, Pouillet, concurred. Masturbation posed a grave threat. Pouillet wrote: “Of all the vices and of all the misdeeds which may properly be called crimes against nature, which devour humanity, menace its physical vitality and tend to destroy its intellectual and moral faculties, one of the greatest and most widespread -- no one denies it -- is masturbation.”
Freud, too, regarded adult masturbation as a pathologic practice and part of the cause of neuroses.
But, in one of the great turnabouts in the history of psychiatry, therapists later would prescribe masturbation as healthy to the mind and body.
For women, it was once believed that mental disorders were caused by pelvic excitations and clitoridectomies were tried, especially in cases of epilepsy.
Later, sex therapists would recommend masturbation for women, too, as a way to healthy sex.
In the Soviet Union they tried prolonged sleep therapy on the insane. America used hydrotherapy, placing agitated patients in hot water for days so that blood flow increased to the body’s largest organ, its skin, thus lowering respiration and blood pressure and creating a state of relaxation.
In the 1930s the increase of admissions of patients diagnosed as schizophrenic was so high it was theorized there must be a schizococcus germ that could pass on schizophrenia to an offspring. In 1936 a committee of the American Neurological Association hoped that American physicians could someday emulate the clinical efficiency of the Germans in their treatment of eugenics. Germany had over 200 courts to determine which psychiatric and neurological patients should be sterilized. During Hitler’s Reich more than 400,000 sterilizations were counted.
The most effective sterilization is death and the Nazis tested methods of mass murder first on mental patients before they applied them to other undesirable populations. At the start of the Third Reich there were 200,000 patients in mental hospitals. At the end of the Third Reich there were 20,000. An interesting twist in early Nazi civilization is that it was deemed humanitarian to euthanize incurable mental patients, but not Jews. Jews were considered subhuman and so not worthy of euthanization.
From 1909 to 1934 in the civilization called America, California sterilized 15,000 psychiatric patients. Twenty-seven states adopted sterilization laws. They were used often against the retarded.
One attempted treatment for schizophrenia, as well as depression and psychosis, was -- what many people regarded as a kind of euthanasia -- the lobotomy. Its main American proponent, Dr. Walter Freeman, would make driving trips across America to stop at state hospitals and perform the procedure he had simplified to the point he felt that a sterile field wasn’t even necessary. First you anesthetized the patient with electro-shock, rolled back his eyelid, place the tip of instrument, a leucotome, which was a modified ice pick, against his tear duct (which is 98 percent sterile) and drove it through his eye socket with a hammer whack, shoved it into the brain and wiggled it around. Forty-thousand people were lobotomized between 1945 and 1955 in America. In 1949, the Portuguese doctor who first did lobotomies was the co-winner of the Nobel prize for medicine and was cited for discovering the value of freeing the brain from the disturbing effects of its pre-frontal lobes.
Larned State Hospital came from a time when a concern grew that the rate of insanity in America was way too high: one out of 262 persons compared to a rate of one out of 1,000 in Europe. Blamed then was the rapid acquisition of wealth in America, that with luxury, insanity kept pace. It was the price of civilization, some reasoned. The quicker you go rich, the more likely you were to get nutty, too.
So what those patients needed was order and discipline restored to their lives. Asylum superintendents spent much of their time planning, and writing detailed papers on, how a hospital and its buildings and grounds should be laid out. How high the ceilings should be, how boring its wards. How a patient’s day should be structured. Then they rivaled each other by announcing cure rates. A person was cured if he was released back into society. Sometimes a person would be cured five times because they would have to be re-admitted, cured, released and have to be re-admitted. But it upped the cure rate.
Shortly after World War II, when we had learned of the horrors the Nazi’s afflicted on the Jews in the concentration camps, “The Baltimore Sun,” in 1949, printed a series of articles called Maryland’s Shame, which detailed how that state treated its mentally ill. More than 9,000 inmates were crammed in fire-trap institutions designed for 6,000 patients. Few received any treatment. Thousands lived like animals. Many rolled in their own excrement. Others slept nude in the winter because there were no blankets. Attendants, paid less than prison guards, stole patients’ money, got drunk on duty and raped female patients. Sex offenders and small children were housed together.
Oh, and while man was making his great scientific and engineering achievement of walking on the moon in 1969, lobotomies were still being performed.
In 1976, “The Philadelphia Inquirer” would win a Pulitzer prize for a series of articles it ran about the conditions of Farview State Hospital, the institution of last resort for the criminally insane in Pennsylvania. Here, too, hundreds of patients who had no work to do did nothing but sit in ward chairs all day long. Only three percent received any real psychiatric care. Men died after beatings by guards or by other patients, egged on by guards. Such deaths were certified as being caused by heart attacks. There was an unwritten code among guards that all guards present had to hit a patient if one guard hit him. Commitments to Farview were so easy that cases were recorded of a 30-day disorderly conduct sentence turning into a 30-year sentence.
The history of commitment procedures makes for interesting reading, too. For example, in France, in 1737, a father had his son committed because the son was heavily in debt and had been dismissed from the army and so had disgraced himself and his family. In 1697, a French woman was committed because she was the mistress of a nobleman who had practically abandoned his wife, family, and duty because he was so nuts over the skirt. In other words, people were committed as insane who disturbed the social order. When society didn’t have the basis to bring criminal legal proceedings against those who offended it, they found ways to get rid of them by using nut houses to throw them in, nut houses that were such hell holes that, as the old saying goes, if you weren’t crazy when you got there, you would be after you stayed.
Back in the Farview case, all it took was the signature of two physicians, and they didn’t need to be psychiatrists, to certify to a court that the subject was mentally ill and in need of treatment to get him committed. That didn’t secure treatment, but it did secure incarceration, sometimes until the patient died of old age. Finally, a court case was successful that freed the patients based on the cruel and unusual punishment clause in the Constitution. Patients were transferred to civil hospitals or back into the community. A follow-up study showed only a fourteen percent recidivism rate among these 500 patients previously designated by Farview as criminally dangerous.
In 1964, the year I was a junior in Larned High School and living on the grounds of Larned State Hospital, we were living in what one author called the “enlightened fourth phase” of dealing with the insane. Society had moved from 1) being afraid of the mentally ill because they were possessed of evil spirits to 2) simply protecting itself from the insane by chaining them or locking them up to 3) treating them in a humanitarian way by placing them in asylums where they were harbored but not really treated and so suffered chronic anonymity to 4) now seeing mental illness as an illness to be treated and cured.
It’s just we still didn’t really have a clue how the hell to do it.
Later, we’d just give up and send them back into the streets to roam at will, beg for food, be beaten by police, and again be housed with criminals. Some evangelicals would return to the possession theory and try to drive the demons out. This time in front of television cameras.
And some theorists would suggest that it wasn’t the insane who were insane, rather it was the sane who used such people to mark the boundaries of their own sanity. The so-called insane were the people we used to sort of pee on so we could mark the territory of our own smug, mentally secure property.