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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My First Digital Author Interview

I met Katy Sozaeva through Goodreads.com. 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:
http://katya-s69.livejournal.com/22568.html

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:


http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-About-You-ebook/dp/B005DC623E/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1311167216&sr=1-3


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 Smashwords.com. Take a couple of days to get loaded on Amazon.com. 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 Amazon.com 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: http://authors.efictionmag.com/
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.