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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:


" 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:


"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


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