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Monday, May 28, 2012

Letterpress Project Update

I've made contact with a print artist, Nicholas Naughton, who has a letterpress studio in the Crossroads area of KC. An interview with him can be found here. Nick is being exhibited just now at a show the KC Artist's Coalition is putting on. Details here. I haven't gone to see the show yet, but hope to soon. Nick's works are the first on the page and I am so impressed with them. He's got the postures of these workers nailed. It's great to see a revival of realism, and realism would be the approach I'd want to see for illustrating some scenes in The Saltness of Time. Nick is putting together cost numbers for the art, design, layout and production of a letterpress printed book.

I'm researching paper. Would love to do handmade paper and have found some sources to explore, but nothing local. Be great to keep everything local, but may not be possible. If anyone reading this knows of a Kansas City area handmade paper maker, do contact me or leave a comment.

Book cover printing needs to be explored as well. I've found one local custom bindery, so we may be able to keep that local.

When we have the numbers together we'll make a Kickstarter proposal. Video is important and I have sources to do that video work and think that making a video of the entire process and offering that with the book would be wise. This whole project would showcase the beauty of letterset press capabilities.

The Saltness of Time is a story so very well suited for this project. Will provide updates as they develop.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Two Short Works Free for Two Days

I had a couple of free days left in two works still in Kindle Select program. Friday and Saturday they will be free downloads for kindle users. As works come off the 90-day Select program, I'm not renewing, but re-posting to other platforms, such as the Nook.

The works are:

One More Victim, a perennial favorite.

By Pain Possessed, a sci-fi short story that was well received.

Friday, May 18, 2012

"Brilliant and Orignial" Crazy About You

Gotta like a review that starts like this for Crazy About You:

`Brilliant' and `original' are about how I would sum this sweet tale up. And I don't use those words (or 5 star ratings) without meaning it. Seventeen year old Brad lives on the grounds of an insane asylum with his sister and Dad. When Dad goes on a work trip, Brad has no idea that he will spend the week grappling with questions about sexuality, sanity and death. And some of the answers aren't pretty.

While the main character is a young adult, this is no kid's story! The tightly woven script is replete with humour, 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.

The reader is a South African now living in Kenya. I  find it wonderful that a story set in Larned, KS can have impact all around the world.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Attwood manages to out-Lovecraft the original Lovecraft

For me, it is extraordinarily gratifying to receive a "wow-he-really-got-it" review from a pure reader (i.e. a person I don't know from Adam or Eve and who bought the work). I met D. Preston McConkie (is that a great name or what, must steal it for future use) on eFiction, a very writer friendly site where participants also produce a digital magazine that is quite good. At least they published one of my pieces, so they must have good taste. Bear with me. Let me digress.

The great horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft considered himself an amateur writer. This did not mean he thought what he was doing was amateurish, rather it meant that to take money for writing fiction was, well, unseemly. Not the sort of thing an English gentleman (and Lovecraft was an anglophile) would do. He, and like-minded gentlemen and ladies, published in small magazines produced by like-minded folks. Golf had this phase, too, where gentlemen were amateur golfers, i.e. did not play for money (though I imagine there were plenty of side bets.)

Later, fiscal realities made Lovecraft quite happy to accept money for his stories. Reality has a way of trumping ideals.

In this new epublishing world, we are seeing again writers submitting stories for no pay to digital magazines:  eFictionmag is one of them and worthy of your attention.

Through eFiction, I made Preston's acquaintance. Here is the bio he sent to me about himself:

Preston McConkie is a Gulf War veteran, former truck driver, news reporter and editor who now works as a freelance writer in Southern Utah.

My correspondence with him has convinced me he is even more than that summary and has a fiction voice that should serve him well.

The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley is my homage to Lovecraft. So when a reviewer as honest as Preston tells you, you have "out-Lovecrafted...Lovecraft," you sit up and pay rapt attention:

If you'd like to contact Preston, let me know and I'll put you in email closeness.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reviewer: Another Outstanding Novel

Long review for CRAZY ABOUT YOU, but this author isn't complaining!

Randy Attwood, author of a favorite novel of mine (BLOW UP THE ROSES) has written another outstanding novel. Written in first person narrative, CRAZY ABOUT YOU allows the reader to be privy to how the protagonist in this novel (a 16-year-old teenager named Brad Adams) deals with the tumultuous hand of cards he has been dealt in his lifetime and what choices he is forced to make in this deeply meaningful novel.

The reader can't help but love the main character (Brad) because not only is he coming of age in this novel but because of his circumstances he must grow up real fast -- and does! The myriad of Brad's experiences gives him great "character" as an individual and that is a very fine thing and hard to come by. Much of our world is sadly absent of people with good "character." I wouldn't exactly put this novel in a "coming-of-age" category because it is deeply charged with many adult themes but I can't completely exclude it as that either.

The setting takes place, for the most part, on the grounds of an insane asylum. That is enough to draw in most any suspenseful thriller reader ... myself included! The novel is made more real with the fact that the insane asylum is actually a real asylum/state hospital that opened in 1914 and is still open today -- located in Kansas. Brad's father is employed as a dentist for the Larned Insane Asylum in the 1960s and, as such, he resides on the grounds of the campus with his son (Brad) and his daughter (Sally). But there are many more "settings" whereby Brad (main character) finds himself -- in high school, in love, at the mercy of a madman in the asylum, as a witness and so much more .

The author does a brilliant job picking each and every situation and describes in detail, as well as from Brad's first-person view, somewhat insurmountable experiences and how Brad has to act with each and every incredibly unique situation. Funny situations, very serious situations and life or death situations. Dull moments are few and far between in this psychological adventure always leading the reader to want to know what is next and what choices Brad will make -- as a boy and as a man. He is a young man with broad shoulders made necessary by many unexpected situations and emergencies in this novel.

When Brad's father has to leave for a dental convention for a week Brad is left home on the grounds of the State Hospital with his wild and somewhat-slutty sister and whom he is trying to look after while his father is away. Their mother left the family a while ago and Brad finds himself forced into the protective role of keeping an eye on his sister (only a year older than himself) and her roaming ways. He must play mother, father and brother at the same time for the week that his father is gone. Which is somewhat of a small task compared to the circumstances he falls into in just one week. Brad also works in the cafeteria of the State Hospital and sees and experiences more than any other teenager could possibly imagine. He takes on the burdens of getting to know some of the younger patients and falls into the role of caring for them too. He listens to them in a way others cannot. Especially one patient in particular. That "one" being a teenage girl named Suzanne whom Brad thinks he has fallen in love with. He knows that she is not crazy but, instead, a molestation victim. Like with his sister, Brad will go to the ends of the earth to try and protect Suzanne also. Mostly from herself.

If that is not enough (and I have already left out a lot) Brad also has much UP FRONT AND PERSONAL knowledge of -- and experiences with -- many of the adult loonies that know Larned State Hospital only as their home. For Brad, the hospital is his home away from home not only to work at the cafeteria there but to get to know and befriend the staff and just how nuts some of THEM are too. A certain percentage of the staff do not fall under the diagnosis of "crazy" but they are far cries from persons giving back to society. Of course there are exceptions and one of the nurses on staff is his father's girlfriend. A kind woman who Brad rather admires and who later helps Brad during his toughest of times. Although, in this novel, there really is no escape for "tough times" for Brad.

To add insult to injury to Brad's extraordinary circumstances and burdens while his father is away for a week ... an elderly lady in the town is brutally murdered and her daughter is missing to complicate things further. The elder lady had been a good presence in Brad's life over the years before her gruesome demise leaving him grief stricken as well as wondering who could possibly have done such a terrible thing. With Brad's broad and wide knowledge of many of the people in the community and on the grounds of The Hospital he is able to assist the authorities in finding the guilty party. Especially when a couple of her body parts are found in the cafeteria food.

Brad is at that awkward stage between being a teenage boy and a young man. Because of the myriad of circumstances Brad is presented with in CRAZY ABOUT YOU and, in most cases being the victim of circumstance, the reader can relate to him more on an adult level. He has more responsibilities than most adults do, he has a great capacity beyond his years for compassion, empathy, positive morality, and wisdom. Yet the fact remains he is still a teenager dealing with the pressures of high school and those raging hormones. A girl from his school becomes smitten with him and she is far from being a prude and let's Brad know it. She is absolutely crazy about him which is a great turn on for Brad. Yet his heart strings are pulled all the while back to the girl in the asylum who is there for the wrong reasons and whom he cares for deeply. What is a guy to do? The author pens the sexuality of a teenage boy into the storyline when he could have just left it out. Had the author left out that sexuality "Brad" would have been some unbelievable teenage superhero in this novel. Having said that, however, Brad does become a hero in many many ways in this novel. Spiritual ways, secular ways, tangible ways , etc. and all expertly crafted by the author so that it is not too over-the-top (the entire storyline).

CRAZY ABOUT YOU is a tale of a young man's physical journey as well as an internal one. By being written in first person narrative the reader FEELS and intimately knows all of Brad's struggles. Brad literally has to fight for his life in this novel when he gets thrown into the cell of a gorilla-sized madman in the asylum while at the same time experiencing an internal discovery of himself and what choices need to be made. TOUGH CHOICES.

The reader is given a first-hand account of Brad's journey through the realism of the institutionalized, the burdens of circumstance, and asking and understanding the human psyche from cradle to grave. The book also weaves together many of the states of affairs and the signs and times many eras and societies go through (or crumble down to). For instance, whole generations suffering from lenient child rearing. As well as the questions we all ask ourselves from time to time including Brad. Like what "being IN love is." Do we create our own cosmos or our own little worlds? Brad himself ponders that and he answers that very question for himself and much more. He understands, at such a tender age, the great lessons that life teaches you. And, throughout this novel, ANY READER just may look at life a little differently when several pages in this novel devotes theories and opinions on human psychology.

This novel is more compelling, more gripping and convincing page after page. Give it a try! The storyline will be crazy FOR YOU!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Favorite lines from One More Victim

Her face at that moment is still the sweetest vision I have ever seen. It was full of yearning, yet already satisfied. Her complexion mirrored the innocence of her heart, untouched yet by the cruelty of the world and the far greater cruelty of our expectations for ourselves in that world.

One More Victim

Monday, May 7, 2012

Retirement Gloat and a Hint of a Good Thing

Retirement gloat: Woke up this morning and knew I could stay in bed and sleep another hour. Raining. Lovely to listen to as had coffee and read the KC Star and NYT. Rain stopped. We took a rather long walk. Simple lunch including fresh lettuce salad from the garden. Sun came out. Spent some time on the computer promoting my works and providing files requested from a yet-to-be-named house that is going to publish Blow Up the Roses. Mowed back yard making garden look gorgeous. Tomatoes planted early all have flowers and some have set. 3 p.m. arrives. 70 degrees. Mix Boodles martini. Up. Drink same in back yard while reading Evan Connell's "A Long Desire," which found at estate sale. Time to start grill and cook those chicken wings been marinating all night and also the first ears of corn in their husks. All was yummy. Finish off with a Manhattan, on the rocks. Ahh....retirement.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Golf Story, Well Received...What a Review

I published Downswing a few weeks ago thinking it would only appeal to golfers, and golf fiction must be a really narrow niche. Dear Katy loved it. And here is her review. Golf widows, read and learn:

This is the latest short story from Randy Attwood and will bring me up-to-date again with his works. I like to stay abreast of Randy's writings, because he has such a terrific and interesting style, each book unique but containing a familiar voice. Now, I had to wonder exactly how he would make golf interesting, especially in just eight pages, but I shouldn't have worried. Listen to this description of placing a ball on a tee: And eighteen times this easy gesture, this stooping over with the tee between the fingers, the ball hidden, protected in the perspiring palm, the insertion into ground the wooden link to earth the ball would soon be contacting - all this, for me, had given the gesture a quality of sacredness. Isn't that gorgeous? The story is full of beautiful prose like that.

"It's just a stupid game," my wife had always told me. How could I explain it was more than just a game...It was the celebration of a kind of mystery; the fusion of the mechanics of physics and the feeling of soul." That quote sort of covers the overall idea behind the story. There is also a subtext regarding the golfer coming to terms with a change in his life, but I won't go into details on that to avoid spoilers.

An absolutely gorgeous story, voluptuous descriptions that just beg for someone to paint the scenes in oils. Who thought that a short story about golf could be so intense, so vivid and so engaging - I literally walked out to the mailbox with my Kindle in my hand, reading. You don't want to miss this latest from Randy Attwood - go get it, and his other works while you're at it. You really won't regret it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

First Live Web Radio Interview Done

Well, that was a hoot. It was supposed to be an hour interview and it went to an hour and 15 minutes. I had no idea I could babble on so. I don't know about you, but I hate listening to my own voice, but now I"ve done so and I don't think I embarrassed myself too much. If you want to listen to it, it's here:

I have no idea how many listeners there were, but I have taken the attitude that the fewer listeners there were, the more precious they are to me.

I was nervous as hell. My shirt was soaked afterward. I 'd do it again in a heart beat. It's like I'm finally talking about what I've been wanting to talk about all these years.