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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dive Into Your Own Slush Pile and Look at What You Can Find!


Going through the slush piles of writing ideas (some pursued and then stalled; some not pursued, but maybe worth trying) I came across enough stuff to keep me busy.

Several ideas for novels involving:

Cancer researcher who can cure brain cancer in rats

Future history in which a witch's ability to stop time figures prominently

Newsroom-based mystery thriller

Art museum-based comedy

Novel set in Japan: "Wanted: Native Speaker"

And some shorter works:

Lovecraftian-toned story. Let's see if any mathematicians or physicists are reading this blog. Plot will involved the formula that T(seconds) equals 2pi divided by the square root of g times the square root of L. That should key the Poe work this story would invoke, except it will be set in a grain elevator.

Sometimes you come across an opening line that just begs to be explored: On advice of my psychiatrist I have decided to try to learn the language of the woman who keeps appearing in my dreams and is so obviously imploring me to understand her strange words.

Always wanted to write a short story about an itinerant writer of those prophesies used in fortune cookies.

Like this opening scene: Car accident leaves traveling salesman in dazed condition in rural area. He staggers to what seems to be an abandoned farm house where he breaks a pane of glass so he can reach in his arm to undo the lock only to have his hand grabbed and the arm pulled in and raked against the shards of glass.

GOOD NEWS! Happy to report that two, new five-star reviews popped up for Crazy About You. Here is excerpt from one of them and here's the url.

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. I love psychology, so all the references were great and spot on, yet only given enough that even the lay reader would find some good information yet not be badgered down by it.

Just the kind of review this writer needed to get him revved up for the new year! Thank you Tonia L. Ramos, whoever you are!


Monday, December 24, 2012

New Year's Resolutions? Me? Yep. It's Time.


I've never done New Year's resolutions before. I thought them rather silly. Now, however, the time seems right. First a look backward.

I started in the spring of 2011 self-publishing my works of fiction, knowing nothing about how to move forward on cover designs, formatting, pricing, marketing. Here it is the end of 2012 and I have 16 works live on Amazon and other platforms. Just a couple of months ago I completed my seventh paperback POD: five novels and two collections of stories. I've had two signings of these physical books here in Kansas City (both at bars: the famous Kelly's in Westport and the infamous Chez Charlie's in Midtown). They went very well. The books are available at Prospero's new bookstore location near the Uptown Theater. And I have one work that is not self-published, Blow Up the Roses brought out by Curiosity Quills.

The works have found a small, but appreciative audience. They received 32 five-star and 7 four-star reviews on Amazon. These are honest reviews: not purchased, not traded for, not from relatives nor close friends, but from people I don't know from Adam.

But I have found myself spending way too much time on Facebook and other social media and just generally on the internet. I also check my sales and rankings way too often. Time for discipline. Time to pledge to check those numbers twice a month at most.

Time to devote serious blocks of time examining past projects that stalled to see if they have any life in them, seriously pursuing some new ideas, staring into space and pondering, and then, yes, writing. Enter again that lonely place where your only companion is self doubt.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pretty Cool to Find a Video Trailer You Didn't Know Was Done for One of Your Books

Sometimes the internet just stuns me. Using the search feature in Youtube to go to my channel, I saw a video trailer I didn't know existed for one of my works! Turns out that the Mooresville (Indiana) Public Library produced a video trailer for one of my story collections: "3 Very Quirky Tales." This must be the ebook version because I added several more stories for the paperback edition, which is called "Very Quirky Tales." I must contact them and thank whoever produced this really nicely done little piece for my benefit and also learn more about how libraries chose ebooks and how they distribute them. But what a wonderful surprise it was to stumble across this. Very nice Christmas gift to me. Thank you, @Mooresville Public Library! Here's the link to the video.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Another BookS Signing Friday at KC Midtown Bar, Chez Charlie's, 3809 Broadway

On Friday, December 21, the day the world is supposed to end, I'll have a bookS signing starting at 3 p.m. at my local watering hole, Chez Charlie's, 3809 Broadway, here in Kansas City. I say bookS signing because I'll have seven, and perhaps eight, titles available. I'll be selling them for $10 each. Image shows the seven titles that will be available. The added value is that this Friday date is when the bar is having its holiday party. Free eats! At Charlie's that means meatballs and sausage on white bread and cracked olives on the side. It's usually an eclectic gathering and having my bookS signing then should make it even more so. If you are in the KC area, hope to see you there! The bar is the door at the south end of the building. The next building over to the north is Big Dude's, but don't park in their lot. They tow. Wait a minuted. If it's the end of the world, you won't need a car!

Can't make it? You can always buy my books for either ereader or in paperback, here.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Holiday Blog Hop Offers Free Ebook of the Dystopia "Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America"


I'm new at participating in Blog Hog Giveaways. Please leave a comment to have your name submitted to receive a free download from Smashwords for the ereader platform of your choice. I'll do at least one free download. If I get more than 10 comments from different readers, I'll do two; more than 20 comments, three; and so on. Please leave an email address where I can send the code.

Rabbletown: Life in these United Christian States of Holy America is a dystopia. George Orwell's great 1984 deeply affected me. It was my first introduction to the dystopia genre, although it wasn't called that then. The phrase "future history" was used. In the 1970s, I started to become concerned when Evangelical Christianity entered the political arena. I feared that if fascism ever came to America, it would be through the pulpit. So I wanted to write a 2084 as a cautionary tale. I envisioned a big book: One that followed all the political steps that would lead to 2084. Wrote a few scenes, but nothing ever really clicked.

Then I realized I should just cut to the chase and get to 2084. The building of a huge cathedral is the economic stimulus program for this society. The Pastor President and pastor governors rule with a Bible in each fist and the computer in your hovel. There are enforced pregnancies. I set it in Topeka. Sinners who commit abominations are stoned on Fridays in Fred Phelps Plaza.

A stone mason who works on the cathedral has a son, Bobby, who has an amazing memory for Bible verses, and he provides the redemption this book needed. The story stalled on me for many years until I realized that I needed to let Bobby work his miracles.

One reviewer, a top 500 Amazon reviewer who has published more than 2,000 reviews has called "Rabbletown" the best book she has EVER read. How's that for a compliment. She's become what she calls "a Bobbite." You can see her recommendation here.

Rabbletown is available as an ebook and a paperback on Amazon.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

BookS Signing at Kelly's Westport Inn 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9


I can't think of a cooler place to have a books signing that Kelly's Wesport Inn here in Kansas City. And yes a bookS signing because I'll have not one book available but six works of fiction: four novels and two collections of shorter works. 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9. I'll be selling them for $10 each, or get the entire six-pack for $50. Can't imagine anyone out there doesn't know where Kelly's is, but here's the address: 500 Westport Road, 64111. You can find all my works here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Real Readers Giving Real Reactions


Here's the best thing about this whole self-publishing business: Over the internet, promoting your work, you encounter real readers you don't know from Adam who have real reactions. Thought I'd list a couple here.

I don't remember how Katy Sozaeva found my work. But find my work early she did and even devoted a weekend to reading it and reviewing it on her blog. She's become an ambassador. (In the interest of full disclosure, I use her editing and proofreading services to do the final polish on my works before I put them into print. I learned the painful way what a poor editor and proof reader I am of my own works. But all the reviews Katy wrote were before I ever hired her.)

Rabbletown resonated with her and she has called it THE (caps here justified) BEST BOOK SHE HAS EVER READ. She provided audio and I put together this Youtube video.

Preston McConkie I met through eFiction, a wonderful effort to create eMagazines for this internet age. It reminds me of the sort of magazine I understand HP Lovecraft wrote for, and without pay. You find kindred souls who write kindred stories and you share. Preston and I, despite our canyon gaps in politics, are kindred souls. Imagine that! Much of my work has resonated with him. Here's a look at Preston. You want to disagree with this guy? You can follow him on Facebook.

Here's what he's had to say about some of my work.


"...Attwood manages to out-Lovecraft the original Lovecraft."

That is high praise, indeed. Link to the entire review can be found at the bottom of this post.

When Preston sent me this note after reading Crazy About You, it bowled me over:

"Having finished Crazy About You, I realized you are a prodigy, and that you may soon join my top ten favorite writers, a group including Mark Twain, Neal A. Stephenson and Robert Heinlein. You've got it, bro. Have you shopped Crazy around? If so, it boggles the mind that it hasn't been accepted by a major publisher."

Would that Preston worked for a major publisher.

Publicly, on Facebook, Preston wrote this:

"To my literary friends: The best value I can recommend in books today is "Crazy About You" by Randy Attwood. It's $4.99 for the Kindle at Amazon, also available through Smashwords and, I think, Nook (for you losers who have a Nook). I honestly can't think of a better novel in its size--full novel, but not a very long one--and price range, and NOTHING better from the self-published world. It's a coming-of-age tale about a young man living on the grounds of a state asylum and driven by motives both admirable and animal. I couldn't set it down, and that's perhaps the second book in two years I could say that of. Attwood has ascended into a tiny group of living authors whose prose I consistently love."

Recently, Preston called Tell Us Everything, the opening tale in 3 Very Quirky Tales here as an ebook and in Very Quirky Tales here as a paperback, "One of the greatest SF shorts ever written."

Okay, and now one funny phony endorsement. This one for Blow Up the Roses.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hail Mary Pitch for Kickstarter Project


Seems appropriate to talk about the history of The Saltness of Time, the novella I want to turn into a print book using a letterpress and funded through Kickstarter. That campaign ends Dec. 3 and I'm nowhere near my goal. Very much appreciate those who have donated. If the goal isn't reached, Kickstarter will refund your donation. I even received $100 donation from this person: Алексей Ухловский.  Anyone translate that for me?

But if you're interested in reading this work, even without donating, no problem. The Saltness of Time, is available as an ebook and it is also included in the paperback collection of stories, One More Victim. I consider them literary works and worry: does that label turn off many readers? Does it you?

Here's the back story on Saltnesss. In my 20s (in Lawrence, KS, and in Florence, Italy, and in Oiso, Japan) I was writing. Trying to write. Probably the Hemingway Nick stories influenced me. But I had a vision of creating a series of linked stories featuring myself in high school and my best friend I called Fred. Some Fred stories worked out (those are in the One More Victim collection, too). Some stories you learn to give up on; some you go back to. The Saltness of Time was one that kept pulling me back. But it wasn't until my 40s that I reentered it in a serious and productive way.

***
An aside here: young writers, be patient; let things fester inside you. Don't think you've failed before you have. Don't think you've succeeded before you have. Many stories are like wine: they need time in the cask. Don't get drunk too soon on them; don't give up on them either. Or, don't listen to me at all. Seems plenty of young writers are doing much better than am I in this epublishing business. Maybe the best route is to ignore geezers like me.
***

Writing the novel Crazy About You, I discovered a technique that seemed to work for me. It was in first person, but allowed a kind of leaping forward for the character so he could look back upon himself. Just because you are in first person doesn't mean you have to stay in the present.

An example from Crazy:

At the drive-in, Gwendolyn and I both had chocolate malts with our cheeseburgers. Was beef better then? Was milk sweeter? Why is it that a chocolate malt and a cheeseburger is never as good as it was in high school? As we get older do our tastes become jaded, too, the way our ideals do?

The main character in The Saltness of Time is relating his story to a captive group of listeners in the present. But he's talking about the past.

That made Saltness complicated to write. The reader learns the story through the narrator who is one of the listeners, but 90 percent of the story is listening to what the main character says. And then the story teller tells a story that was told to him, so there is a story within a story. This technique created interesting tensions. It also provided the listening narrator in the present with opportunities to comment on the speaker of the tale.

Maybe this taste will clarify the above mush:

He was a little spooky. But I figured he was harmless. And there were myself and Ted to protect the girls, snuggling against us as we sat on the divan. We both had our arms around our respective women, sharing the commingled warmth of our young bodies in front of the fire, the only source of heat in the hotel. Sleeping arrangements had yet to be worked out. We had taken two rooms and, by looking at Ted, I could tell he was sharing the same hope I had: that we would take our girlfriends to our own beds, as we each certainly had done in the past, but neither of us knowing if the sisters would acknowledge that fact to each other through the act of allowing it to occur again in the presence of the other. The alternative was unappealing: sharing the narrow, double bed with Ted.
The stranger sat in an overstuffed chair near the fire, getting up as needed to feed it new logs.
"I haven't told many people this story. Perhaps you'd rather not hear it. I know how hard it is for young people to listen about what rocked the hearts and flamed the passions of old people when they were young. It seems so long ago it's hard to believe lives back then were blood and bone real. And what happened to me that night reached back into the last century. I mean, Gabrielle was born in the 1880s. No, wait, might as well get it right. She was eighty-nine when we ran across her and that was in 1963, so she would have been born in..." He stopped briefly to calculate in his head and Stephie, the little math whiz, spoke up with the answer, "1874."

This approach, too, gifted to me the best ending sentence I've written for any of my works. (Shame on any of you who get The Saltness of Time and skip to the ending!)

The phrase "saltness of time" 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 the Kansas prairie. And, of course, the salt beds, too, within each of us that we develop with time.

But back to the whole Kickstarter business. Don't you think this would be a wonderful read in a print book from a letterpress book, hardbound by an old fashioned bindery? Hope you do. $100 donation would get you that book.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blow Up the Roses 99 Cents Until Sunday

Curiosity Quills, the publisher of my dangerous suspense/thriller Blow Up the Roses that's been called brilliantly disturbing, is doing their Black Friday thing putting their ebooks at 99 cents until Thursday.

Check out this endorsement for Blow Up The Roses!

Here is a list of CQ books that are on sale.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

DC Small Press Releases Blow Up the Roses with label Dangerous Suspense/Thriller


A small press in D.C. has published this novel, what they call a "dangerous suspense/thriller." Blow Up the Roses is indeed that. Publisher Eugene Teplitsky at CQ described the book as "disturbingly brilliant."  Doing an interview about the novel, Sharon Bayliss at the publishing house asked me to send to her some of my favorite lines from the book. I was stumped. And it was strange. In any other story I could have found easily sentences I considered lyrical or interesting or funny. But the writing style for Roses has a different feel, almost as if I didn't want to get too close to what was going on. I was keeping it at arms length. I don't outline or plan out books. A scene comes to my mind, a character, a quote and I create those scenes and characters and see what they do. When I realized what one of them was doing I almost abandoned the book. But characters, once created, have a way of demanding they live out their lives. So many secrets to be revealed by the characters in this book. Why did the husband of the protagonist, Mrs. Keene, just abandon her and disappear? What is her renter in the other half of the duplex doing in his basement? Why does neighbor Mr. Califano have a recurring nightmare that he is in a rose garden and it is blowing up all around him?

The language of flowers can be terribly blunt.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Taoism, Anti-Vietnam War Protests, Student Union Burning, Lawrence and A Lot More


In Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All I try to deal with Taoism. As the protagonist says in that work: The great thing about trying to explain the Tao is that you can't fail because you can't succeed. I've just realized that I have other stories that have Tao lessons embedded in them and didn't realize it at the time. Oddly enough, they revolve around two sports: golf (Downswing) and snooker (Blue Kansas Sky). Each story is available as an ebook; both are included in a paperback collection of stories, One More Victim.

But this is more of a promo post for Then and Now because it just became available as a paperback. At dinner with friends the other night I was asked what Lawrence, KS and the University of Kansas were like in that turbulent spring of 1970 when I was there: the burning of the Student Union, the curfews, the National Guard patrolling streets, the shooting of a student just outside of where is now the KU Alumni Association.

The questioner noted that his daughter, currently a student at KU and interested in creative writing, was thinking about attempting a novel about that time.

"Tell her I've already done it," I told him and laughed.

That's what Then and Now is all about. It's a fictional rearrangement, but a lot of it isn't fiction either. I started working on it in my 20s, gave up, went back, gave up. Then I found a method that clicked for me. Hope it clicks for other people. I summarize it this way:

Stan Nelson is mired in nostalgia for the 1960s and the woman he lost then. He figures his only way out is to write about why he is so frozen. He creates in words the times and characters of the Then. He locates those characters in the Now so they can comment on the veracity of his words about Then – except for the Chinese woman who first introduced him to the Tao. And it turns out understanding the Tao of building a tea hut in the Now just may be his release from the Then.

It has, I think, a pretty sweet romance story embedded in it and since 1970 is now 42 years ago I've taken to place it in the "Historical Romance" genre. I don't really know into what genre it fits. You tell me.

One side note. During the writing, I remembered an incident from the time that was buried in the Lawrence Journal World at about page 6 or 8 in the police reports. A propane gas delivery truck driver was checking his vehicle before pulling out from his house for his day's deliveries when he noticed a packaged wedged between the truck's dual back tires. The police found it to be a sack of dynamite sticks. Speculation was that had he driven off, the weight of the truck pressing the wheels together would have ignited the truck and ignited the fully load truck and flattened a one-mile radius. You know how memory is. Had I really remembered that or was it urban myth? I spent time at the microfilm reader and found the story. So that little event, so underreported at the time, has a role in Then and Now.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thank You Note for Crazy About You

Thank you note arrived in the mail today from Marcia Epstein, who is the director of Headquarters Counseling Center in Lawrence, KS. When Crazy About You came out as a paperback I sent her a copy because I've been donating $1 from every ebook sale (and will continue to do so for ebook and paperback) to HQCC because these wonderful folks, among other things, work the Suicide Prevention Hotline for this part of the United States.

I wish Crazy were selling better so I could donate more. But, you know, a small donation every month adds up over time and can become significant. It's good to find a cause you can donate money to regularly. Makes you feel better about yourself every month you do so.

I'll put a scan of the note below but here is a text copy:

Thank you for your support of Headquarters Counseling Center through your regular donations from book sales, as well as the dedication to the book. That was amazing, so touching to be right there with your father.

Thanks for sending us a copy. I grabbed it first -- and didn't want to put it down til I finished it. Then I  puzzled over how much was your experience. Although parts are disturbing, all of it kept me reading. Thanks.

Work is hard. Support for local services is hard to obtain. But what we do is important. So we keep on.

Thanks for helping us.

To which I say: thank you for being there so I can help. I wish I could do more.

Commercial time! Buy the book folks. $1 goes to these dedicated people. But if you want to donate directly go here.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The 41st Sermon Now Available as Paperback

I am taking the steps to turn my ebooks into paperbacks. The latest work available is The 41st Sermon.  I've doing what I should have done from the front: pay an editor/proofreader to correct the manuscript. The errors I make are embarrassing to me when I see the corrections. I find I have a kind of dyslexia. I know the difference between brake and break and wondering and wandering and yet I make those bone-headed goofs.

As I get corrected manuscripts for the print books, I also resubmit the ebook files so that the corrected ones are available for Kindle readers.

The 41st Sermon has a connection to Walker Percy, that great Southern writer. I won't repeat it here, just refer you to an earlier blog. In the paperback edition, I was able to include an image of the note from Percy to me about the manuscript.

Here's the back cover text for the paperback:


When a 45-year old Episcopal priest, 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 despair, which only God can cure.

Father Christopher Talley, spends a week each year at a resort in the Ozarks. This gives him a chance to escape the constraints of his life as a minister – to fish, to drink, to cavort. He also writes his sermons for the coming year. This year, while at the resort, he runs across one of his parishioners, the lovely Molly, who says she is thinking of divorcing her husband, but has a different plot in mind.


...a strange story...lots of different themes – finding yourself, redemption, finding faith, learning what life is all about... I really liked the book, ... it had a lot of good things to say, and I thought the story was one in which many people could find enjoyment, once they get past feeling shocked about some of the issues that come up.... you need to be open-minded about the story, but if you are willing to do so, you should find something in here to love. Amazon Reviewer










Monday, October 8, 2012

Arrowhead Controversy Prompts Publishing This Excerpt from SPILL


In my comedy SPILL: Bil Oil + Sex = Game On the owner of the local football team sells the team to someone who will move it to Oklahoma City. Fans are not pleased, even though it's been a losing team for years. This is from the scene of the last game before the team is moved.


Game day Sunday, unfortunately, was unseasonably warm, clear, dry and pleasant. The police were hoping for a blizzard, maybe even give them cause to shut down the roads to the stadium. But, no. God, showing Himself or Herself or Itself for the humorist He, She, or It must be, provided weather that encouraged every rabid-mad fan to get his, her or its sorry ass out to the stadium to get drunk at tailgate parties and be prepared to riot.
Fans who couldn't afford tickets or even parking fees in the past now came in droves. Wiser season ticket holders stayed away. Tailgating quickly got out of hand. Police, for example, stopped one group playing tag football that was using a baby as the ball, forward passes and everything.
Open seating to the stadium quickly filled its 78,000 seats and another 10,000 fans were angry outside that they wouldn't be let in.
The assembled mob cheered the opposing team and booed when the Sharks were introduced. Ushers knew things were not going to be pretty when some fans started ripping off their plastic seats from their bolt mounts.

Book can be found here:



Sunday, October 7, 2012

Kickstarter Project Features Realism Artist


One reason I was delighted to collaborate on the Kickstarter project with Kansas City artist Nick Naughton is that his art work embraces realism. The Saltness of Time is a story much suited for realism. One of the scenes I hope he'll use for an etching illustration is this one:

It was a house made for another era, another place, a set of dreams beyond my understanding. In the failing light, and in the shadows of the trees, the air around the white, three-story mansion had a bluish tinge, the color of my own cold lips. The house needed painting. And what a job that would be! Wide eaves above the attic windows that were above that third floor. Fancy-cut posts, gables, and columns. The entire front porch of the house was screened in. It had the look of a plantation mansion, and I wondered if the porch might not contain a misplaced southern gentleman in a white suit and Panama hat, frozen in mid-stride while smoking his after-dinner cigar.

Below is an image of one of Nick's works. If the project get's funded, the DVD we're going to do to provide will document the letterpress and bindery process and  also show Nick working on the illustrations for the book.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Letterpress Project on Kickstarter is LIve!

Got through all the hurdles at Kickstarter, it was really pretty easy, and the project to turn The Saltness of Time into a printed book using letterpress technology and a local bindery is now live on Kickstarter


http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/625805028/letterpress-printed-book

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Update on Letterpress Project: Promo Video Ready

Couldn't upload promo video here, but was able to upload to facebook page. What fun! Looking to go live soon with this Kickstarter project and turn The Saltness of Time into a print book done on a local letterpress and hard-back bound by a local bindery. Just leave me an email address if you'd like to know when this goes live on Kickstarter.

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10151209526046122&notif_t=video_processed

Monday, September 17, 2012

The 41st Sermon Up for a Vote of Confidence

The 41st Sermon is one of  nine books first offered by bookkus for reviewers to read, review, and vote on if bookkus should publish it. Entry portal here, I hope.

We are seeing many different publishing efforts in this epublishing age. This is one that I guess you would call crowd-deciding. I suppose it means I should go out there and ask friends, family etc. to vote for my book. Consider yourself asked.

Actually, if it gets you interested in the book, that's what is important to me. I've just done a major re-edit of the manuscript before sending it off for professional editing and proofreading before turning it into a paperback POD. I like The 41st Sermon a lot. But the ebook hasn't done very well. It has a Walker Percy connection, which I've commented on before.

It's also told from the third person POV, but with a lot of thoughts presented by that character in first person. I've now put those in italics. That simple change has given the manuscript a new tension and drama, I think. Much more powerful.

It's a good story and quite erotic. Episcopal priest in mid-life and mid-faith crisis gets caught up in a phony kidnap plot with a blonde parishioner who seduces him and turns out to be the daughter he didn't know about. And that that's just part of Satan's complications!

Here's a non-erotic taste from the beginning and then one from near the end:


He looked up. Phosphenes danced in the pale blue sky the way they did when he closed his eyes. Do people look up at the sky so much because they are curious about the weather or because they are looking hoping to see God up there? Maybe they looked up in fear, afraid that God was up there looking down and seeing everything they did. Maybe we're damned either way. Damned if He isn't up there – damned in the morass of own humanity – and damned if He is up there because we deserve His condemnation.

And so, for the first time in his life, The Reverend Christopher Talley, rector of St. Philip's Episcopal Church, offered up a real prayer to God. A prayer not taken from the Book of Common Prayer, a prayer with neither fine phrases nor elegant, wonderful sounding words, but a prayer without words taken from the book of his own newly discovered soul.







Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bitterness, Bitterness, Bitterness. But a Happy Last Realization: Elie Wiesel and Me


Let me see if I can set this scene. I come home and find a message on the phone. It is the editor of JewishFiction.net telling me that they love my story, One More Victim and want to publish it in their online journal, but I have not responded to their emails.

What? I sort of remember submitting that novella to a Jewish publication because the Holocaust is a critical element in the story, and it is classified as world literature Jewish in Amazon.

Long ago, I stopped keeping track of where I submit stories. Takes so long to hear back, and usually it's a rejection. Why bother? And was this publication worth it anyway? I go online and check them out. Holy Crap. Their latest issue has a piece by Holocaust survivor and Nobel winner Elie Wiesel! I could have a story in a journal that published Elie Wiesel?

I check my spam folder. Sure enough, there it is. Email saying they love the story and want to publish it, and here is the attachment with the contract.

Download contract. Read same. No pay. That's okay. But, oh, oh. Can't have been published in English in any other format. And I just have in my hand a paperback POD of the story that is the title work of a collection that contains it, another novella, and three short stories. AND it has been epublished for many months now. It even had broken through the 100 top paid downloads for Jewish literature a couple of times.

So I email back, explain, offer to unpublish from the internet. Guess what? They don't want it anymore because it's been epublished. Won't bend the rules. Even though they were offering no payment for publication. Deprive their readership of s story they loved just because I had epublished it! Bitterness, bitterness! To have been able to say I was published in the same online journal as Elie Wiesel! What an honor that would have been.

Wait a minute. I can say, with complete honesty: the same journal that published Wiesel, accepted One More Victim for publication. That feels very good, indeed, even with the bitterness. As one of my favorite authors used to say: "So goes it."

Three Books Now Available as POD Paperback

It feels quite wonderful to have physical books in hand. I now have three works in paperback, which are available for POD download. Two novels: the coming-of-age, Young Adult, mystery-thriller, Crazy About You; the dystopian work, Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America; and a collection of two novellas containing the title work, One More Victim, and The Saltness of Time and three shorts stories. All can be found here.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lovecraftian Tale Recommended by Respected Lovecraft Scholar, William Hart


Nice recommendation for my Lovecraftian Tale from a respected Lovecraftian scholar, William Hart: "I received your excellent story today, The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley, read it, and having found it to be a marvelous tale that touches upon Lovecraftian mood, and events somewhat similar to those in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, with your own original spin on the past haunting the present; I now also recommend it as a bargain to download in a Kindle format from Amazon. Search for The Strange Case of James Kirkland PilleyThe Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley and you'll be pleased too.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Letterpress Project Update


Did today, I hope, final filming on promo video for upcoming Kickstarter project to turn "The Saltness of Time" into a print book done on a letterpress here in KC and bound at KC bindery open since 1885. "If they didn't do it in 1885, we don't do it now" heard the owner say over the phone. This filming took considerable courage on my part. I absolutely hate to see a photograph of myself and now there I am in hi def video. I hate my voice, too. Yech. But had to be done. Nick Naughton, KC artist and printmaker, is going to do the printing of the book and also provide illustrations. This is a really cool project and I look forward to giving more details. If you are curious about this story, which, I'm sorry, is in that awful genre of "literary" the single story can be found here and it is also contained in a paperback collection to be found here.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Crazy About You Now in Paperback

Crazy About You has now joined Rabbletown and One More Victim as being available in paperback as a POD on Amazon. Much as I am beholding to ebooks and what they have done for me, it's great to have a physical book in my hands. But I'm glad I did ebook first because it gave me a chance to receive some positive reviews I could excerpt from for the back cover.

Graphic designer Michael Irvin improved on the cover for Crazy


Nice thing about a physical book is that you can autograph it and add a message. However I just got my first request for a digital inscription and signature. Check this service out: http://www.kindlegraph.com


Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Business, a Hobby or a Calling?


From time to time, seems wise to publicly assess where I am with all this Getting Attwood Published stuff. This musing was prompted by the remark of a good and long-time friend and fellow author:

"I can tell you what is wrong with your book. It is too truthful. People want fantasy disguised as reality."

Early on, someone would point to a nearby writer who was successful writing romance novels and suggest anyone could do that, so why didn't I? I used to turn my nose up at such suggestions. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that it was wrong for me to deprecate such work. You have to create characters. You have to move them from point A to point B. Something has to happen to them. The reader must be engaged. None of this is easy.

But it can fall into a formula and I just could never do that style of writing.

My writing projects had to fully engage me. When I was working as a journalist, writing a news story was as easy as sitting in a chair. It didn't really engage me. You got the facts assembled, found a good first sentence. Maybe gave it little, cute tweak here or there; and it was done -- published and forgotten.

Not so when I wrote fiction. I had many sides of myself I showed to my family, my friends, my work colleagues, my bar acquaintances. I felt only truly integrated when I was working on a piece of fiction.

There is a metaphysical aspect to much of my fiction. And there is realism. I used to be offended when a reader would ask how much of a story was real. Then I came to realize it was the highest sort of praise: the words I had written had created a reality for that person.

And now, after publishing through ebooks (slowly turning them into paperbacks), I'm getting the following truly gratifying type of comment. It's in reference to the paperback version of One More Victim, which also contains the novella The Saltness of Time and three short stories:

"One More Victim" is an amazing, heartbreaking, beautiful story (says so right on the cover) - but then, those are my words, the words I said right after I finished editing it - I cried while I was editing it, and I'm not the sort to easily become overly sentimental about a story. It is a coming-of-age story, a story of realizations, a story about beginnings and endings - it is a story I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a well-spun tale.

This whole venture with epublishing has not made me much money. I think I'm just about even. But it's not a business for me and it's not a hobby. It's more like a calling. And the rewards for a calling aren't measured in dollars, but in knowing you've communicated deeply with another human being.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"One More Victim" Now in Paperback

A collection of two novellas and three short stories is now available in paperback. It begins with One More Victim and the book carries that title. It also includes The Saltness of Time and three short stories: Innocent Passage, Blue Kansas Sky and Downswing.

Crucial to the story line in One More Victim is the Holocaust so it is labeled as Jewish world literature and when I offered it for free it reached the #1 free download rank. As a paid book, it has broken through the #100 ranking a couple of times.

The short story Innocent Passage has not been published elsewhere, yet. When I get cover art finished I'll provide it as a 99 cent ebook.

One More Victim now joins Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America on the paperback shelf. Soon to join them will be Crazy About You, just need to complete that cover art. It's good to have physical books in hand. I'm so glad I've found Edwin Stark, who does formatting of interior and cover at such reasonable prices.

Amazon page with all available works is here.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Reality of Rabbletown is Getting Closer

Folks. You just can't believe it. This guy, Todd Akin, talking about legitimate rape really could be the US Senator from Missouri. Do please go find the dystopian novel "Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America" and see where these right-wing, religious nut cases are taking us.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Rabbletown Now in Paperback Edition


Okay, I need to hype this one more time (not promising it won't be the last). Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America is now available as a printed paperback through Amazon. Just received my copies today and everything looks great. In print form, it came out at 131 pages. It sells for $7.99.

Here's the back cover description:

When religion rules, society enters a new dark age...

The year is 2084. The place is Topeka, Kansas. The Church of the Evangels run the country through the Pastor President, who rules with a Bible in each fist. Abortion isn't just outlawed; pregnancy is mandated. The Church uses the computer-based social networking systems we know today to spy on its members. If you don't fit into this brave new society, you try to make a life in Rabbletown.

And then the son of a mason reminds everyone what redemption is all about...



Here are excerpts I used from positive reviews:

PRAISE FOR RABBLETOWN

"...one of those satires that is a bit too close to reality to be entirely comfortable."

Tim Miller, chair, Religious Studies, The University of Kansas


"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... 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."

Katy Sozaeva, Amazon top 1000 reviewer


"Not for the proselytizers among us, but for those who will be intrigued by an Orwellian America ruled from the pulpit." Attwood's Rabbletown won't disappoint."

Jill Garza, Smashwords reviewer


(PS.  Katy, your copy is coming soon!)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Letterpress Kickstarter Project Advances


What a fun day today!

Noted videographer John Tygart and I began filming at the Crossroads studio of printmaker/artist Nick Naughton for the Kickstarter project we are going to do that will turn The Saltness of Time into a print book using the letterpress in Nick's studio. I did the intro and then we filmed Nick explaining the steps involved and watched his foot-driven letterpress do its thing.

We need to make a decision about what kind of paper we're going to use, and then we'll have the final financial piece of information we need to form the budget.

I am so excited that Nick, who also teaches at the Kansas City Art Institute,  is going to create from four to six etchings to illustrate parts of the story. He has embraced realism and that approach is perfect for this story. You can see some of his work here and he has promised to soon update his website so more work can be viewed. 

After that, we went to Engle Bindery on Southwest Boulevard to meet with David Haynie and filmed some of the antique machines David will use to stitch the pages together and create the cover. Nick and David discussed various stitching options and settled upon what is known as Smyth stitching or binding. We watched his massive Seybold cutter chopping through the heavy cardboard used for a book's cover. Engle has been in business since 1885. While we were waiting to talk to David, he was on the phone and I heard him say: "If it wasn't done in 1885, we don't do it."

In this digital age, it was wonderful to see all this old technology and sturdily made machines that have lasted decades and will last many more. I'll share images as they are available.

After that, it was lunch at Manny's, one of the best known Mexican restaurants in KC.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rabbletown Review and My Response

Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America received a really interesting review from the writer Nancy Griffis on her blog. I hope you will go there first to see her review and then return here to read my comments below.


Dear Nancy,

Thank you for a fascinating review.

It made me ponder my own book and why I wrote it the way I did and I thought you'd be interested which of your comments got me to thinking and what those thoughts were.

Character development and plot:

I think effective character development (or character creation, as I call it) comes from seeing what a character does and his/her interactions and dialogue.

I don't outline. I try to discover characters and learn who they are and what they are doing and that usually leads me to a plot. And a plot is really a road down which characters travel. When I started this book in the 1980s I knew I had a stone mason working on a cathedral and I knew the religious right had dominated the society. I knew Bob Crowley would have a wife and many children.

And so I created other characters through which we could explore what kind of society had been created. My first working title for Rabbletown was 2084. I was working on the book close to the year of 1984, the date that is, in my opinion, also that most famous of dystopian works, Orwell's masterpiece.

I discovered Bob's son Bobby had an incredible memory for Bible verses. I explored the ways Evangelical Christians reached an accommodation with the Catholics and used their technical skills with computers which turned into spy machines. Then the book stalled on me. I couldn't get it to move forward until the late 1990s. I let Bobby perform his miracles. I let him be a Christ figure.

That is one reason there isn't a point of view from Bobby. Imagine if we had a point of view from Jesus in the Gospels. His presence is much stronger when his actions are reported on by others. That it why the stigmata scene is reported from so many different points of view. And just as Jesus is important to so many individual people; so it is with Bobby and his preaching and sayings.

Nancy, reading your comment you were "...kinda jealous I didn't write this one myself," is the highest compliment. I thank you for it!


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Really, Really Close for SPILL, but no Cigar


As you can imagine, I have really mixed emotions about this reject notice for SPILL my agent sent me from an imprint with one of the Big Six traditional publishing houses:

"Thanks so much for thinking of me and of **** for Randy Attwood’s political satire, SPILL, which I enjoyed digging my teeth into. Fred and Zoe share a kind of chemistry on the page that goads the imagination and leads the reader to be genuinely interested in the outcome of their electoral shenanigans, and Attwood very capably lampoons contemporary aspects of America’s current political situation, like the oil industry, gun regulation, and unemployment. Unfortunately, as compelling as I found this read, in the end it just didn’t capture my heart and attention to the degree where I would feel confident taking it on. Attwood has a sure command over language—my overarching issue, though, is that that language seems to be employed towards the end of being current; my instinct tells me SPILL exists less in and of itself and more for the audience it is fashioned to attract, and so I am sadly going to have to pass on this one. Attwood clearly has an accomplishment on his hands, and I wish you and him the best of luck finding a home for this debut elsewhere."




Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Crazy About You" Next for Print Publication

Rabbletown print copies arrived today. So very happy with them. Problem with the back cover, but looking to resolve that. It's readable. Interior is fantastic. Really looks professional. Moving forward on Crazy About You as a POD. Interior file almost done.

It made me go through all the reviews Crazy has gotten and compile excerpts and, wow, I forgot how rewarding they are. Getting the interior proofs back made me reread it one more time and, damn, I love that book. I hit the end, and it brought tears to the author's face. I also decided I'd dedicate the book to the memory of my father.

Thought I'd share the review excerpts and the dedication:


PRAISE FOR CRAZY ABOUT YOU

"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....gripping, brutal, and tender.

"...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!"
Mark Shoup


Having grown up in the area where this book is based, Randy hit all the right "notes." Great development of all the characters; well developed story line. Will remain in library (i.e. is a read again)!!
Nancy on Amazon


There may be other novels about coming of age on the grounds of a mental hospital in the middle of Kansas, but Randy Attwood's Crazy About You seems singular to me. Thoughtfully written, it captures life in the Larned State Hospital, a psychiatric facility, just west of the town of Larned, Kansas.
R. Buchanan


"...a story that will keep you turning the pages and that you won't soon forget."
Nick Russell Amazon best-selling "RVing Author"


"`Brilliant' and `original' are about how I would sum this sweet tale up....While the main character is a young adult this is no kid's story! The tightly woven script is replete with humor, thrills, tension, mystery and the occasional flashes of inspired insights into the true definition of insanity that left me wondering if `normal' is really as normal as we like to think."
Vered Ehsani


"Randy reminds us that the patients in a mental health facility are people first and should be treated with respect. My hat's off to Randy for a great read and a great reminder to society."
Dean from Kansas


"Very good and enlightening book! I have suffered from severe depression - therefore I have spent time in the mental health wing of the hospital.... Thankfully I am no longer depressed. This book caught my attention because it was about an asylum and from my experience I know that not everyone inside is scary crazy or dangerous, and the author does a good job of explaining this as well. ...The story is a good one and the main character Brad is someone the reader can root for..."
 Pamela Wells



"A coming-of-age novel in the hands of a master storyteller....Attwood’s involving style and wealth of information make this a highly engaging and interesting read, especially for those who, like me, have always had a fascination with insanity."
K. Sozaeva (top 1000 Amazon reviewer)


"Coming of age in small town America in the mid-60's is not a new theme, but coming of age on a funny farm in small town America is. ...riotous, nostalgic, and entertaining."
Jill Garza


"With just enough fact and fiction this story was spellbinding for someone who lived in Larned during the time line of this tale. Well written and enthralling."
Mickey Hicks


"Riveting, fast paced, heartfelt;... 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."
Joan LeMonte


"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. 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.
Linda H

DEDICATION

In memory of my father John Kenneth Attwood, DDS,
and all who worked, and work, in the struggle against mental illness.




Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rabbletown Live as a Print Book

Rabbletown: Life In These United Christian States of Holy America is now live on Amazon as a print book. I've priced it at $7.99. I found a really good designer/formatter who prepared the pdf and cover files for me to use. His name is Edwin Stark (esterkus@hotmail.com). Very reasonable. Couldn't be happier.



Seems to make sense to move forward now on getting my two most downloaded works available in print: Crazy About You and One More Victim.

Crazy is a novel size. One More Victim is a novella, so I'm going to use that as the collection title and wrap it together with another novella, The Saltness of Time, and then three short stories: Blue Kansas Sky, Innocent Passage, and Downswing. That will bring the word count to around 48,000, which seems reasonable. Innocent Passage hasn't been published yet. I'm looking for a photo of an abandoned farm house to use as the cover art. Open for submissions.

Get into the print business and dedications suddenly pop into one's mind. Here's the one I'll be using for Crazy About You:


DEDICATION

In memory of my father John Kenneth Attwood, DDS,
and all who worked and work in the struggle against mental illness.

I donate $1 of every sale of this book to Headquarters Counseling Center, Lawrence, Kansas. Those wonderful folks work the Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How We Live in the Epublishing World Today


Seems a good idea, from time to time, to sit back and reflect on where I'm at with this whole epublishing business.

Curiosity Quills is at work getting Blow Up the Roses ready for ebook and POD publication. I hope that will happen in August or early September. I'm very anxious to see how they market a book. They're building an impressive community.
 It appears more of these operations are starting up. I've submitted Crazy About You to Jaffabooks in Australia.

Curiosity Quills has right of first refusal on my next two works so I've sent them Heal My Heart So I May Cry and A Heart to Understand. I've also submitted them to Paradon, which is also a new book publishing venture.

I've been very happy in my dealings with Curiosity Press so far. They seem to be reputable and talented people. I have no way to judge with Jaffa and Paradon. Just have to see if they are interested and offer a contract and then study the contract. If that bombs at both places, I'll self-publish. I have a growing list of Twitter friends who are Navajo and I'm most anxious to start marketing and getting reactions. Several have replied to the blog about book covers.

Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America has been professionally edited and proofed. I am always aghast at the errors I make. I've read each of my works dozens of times, and I still miss stupid things like waver for waiver. And trying to parse grammatically where commas go gives me a rash. Rabbletown is being formatted now so I can use Amazon's Createspace to produce a POD book. So that may be my first work actually available in print. Katy Sozaeva who did the edit and has become an ambassador has written on her blog that it's the best work she's EVER read. I kid you not.  Here is the comment.

If Jaffa doesn't respond soon regarding Crazy, I'll get that one in print next.

I'm tempted to bundle One More Victim, The Saltness of Time and The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley into one volume for a POD.

One More Victim got a really nice comment from a Goodreads reviewer, Anthea Carson:

"It is so rare to find a book you can't put down. That's why I am so happy I discovered this writer. I couldn't stop reading this and my only disappointment with it was that it ended. It is the intriguing story of kids discovering things that people throw away. A young romance develops between two kids rummaging through trash cans and discovering things. The things they discover in those trash cans would haunt them forever and change their whole lives. Amazing book. Can't wait to read the next one by this author."

This is a young writer worth keeping track of. She's already developed her own writing voice and putting it to good effect.

The Saltness of Time has also been professionally edited, so it is ready as we move forward on the Kickstarter project. I'm working with local artist/printmaker Nick Naughton, who teaches at the Kansas City Art Institute. W want to use his letter press to turn The Saltness of Time into a fine art book with great paper and locally bound. That is, if we can fund it through Kickstarter. Nick's been very busy this summer so this will probably be a fall project. He would also do etchings for illustrations and, wow, is that guy good, and he likes realism. Former KC television news photographer John Tygart has agreed to do the video work for the promo spot with Pete Wilkerson doing the sound and editing. Then if we get funded we'll include costs to use them to document the process so that backers can receive not only the book but a DVD about the process.

Haven't heard from my agents for a long time about SPILL: Big Oil + Sex = Game On. Always afraid to press them because the news may be bad. I still have hopes one of the traditional publishing houses will publish that book. They still have the big marketing connections that are so important in this whole game. I think the day is far down the road when you might see a self-published ebook reviewed in the New York Times.

An odd thing has happened with SPILL. Its Facebook page has received a lot of likes from some hotties in India. I know it has "Sex" in the title, but is that all it takes to get attention? And from women? I have no evidence that a single one of them has bought the book and read it. So what is going on? Some of them even post it on their info pages as books they like. The whole thing baffles me. But I enjoy looking at their profile photos. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spill-Big-Oil-Sex-Game-On/134440113311148

Best news is I've started writing again. I found a project I stalled on several years ago, but think I can move it forward. It's a science fiction work set in the near future here in KC on the Plaza. It's one of those stories where time stops for everyone except the protagonist. That's been done, but I think I have an interesting twist.