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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Suggestions For Your Holiday Gift List

Gift giving time. You might consider sending some Attwood fiction. Amazon makes it easy to give these works to someone on your holiday list. For ebooks, you just need an email address; for paperbacks, a mailing address. Here's the cover of each work, along with one review that might tempt you grab a read yourself and/or gift someone.

Crazy About You
Having spent my formative years in Larned, Kansas, and also having worked briefly at the state mental hospital there, I can tell you that Attwood's descriptions of life at the state hospital are totally spot-on! The story line is also good--but I won't spoil it for anyone. Funny, sad, poignant. And suspenseful! All of the elements of a well-written book. I would recommend this book to anyone, Larnedite or not!

Attwood's done it again with a knife-edge ride on a political snowball thundering downhill at high speed. It's the story of a decent-enough guy scraping his living together who finally reaches the breaking point over the ever-escalating price of fuel. His pockets are so regularly plundered by Big Oil, which, in a flash of clarity, he devises a way to get back at them and make some money along the way. His allies are the unlikeliest "think tank" you could imagine. Sarcasm drips from these pages in wide, viscous streams. Like all of Mr. Attwood's other political writing, you're laughing out loud at the moment you begin to understand he's making a point here. SPILL is a must-read for anyone who has had it with the lobby-spin that is running out lives and the self-righteous pols who reap its rewards. If we're not laughing, we're crying, so we might as well laugh. And think.

Randy asked if I could assign a genre to The 41st Sermon, but honestly, I can't think of any genre it fits into neatly. There is a bit of mild erotica, there are definitely lots of different themes - finding yourself, redemption, finding faith, learning what life is all about - but none that relates itself to a specific genre other than general fiction. I really liked the book, though - 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. I warn that 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. Check it out!

is an intoxicating tale of circumstance and choice. A harrowing abduction by Hezbollah militants leaves Phil McGuire disillusioned with his journalism career, he searches for comfort in the place he once felt safe. Back home, he molds his dream of owning a bar into a tangible reality. His bare hands work old damaged wood as they knead the sorrow out of his soul. Fate is a whimsical mistress, and he soon finds himself under the spell of his reporters' instincts when bodies turn up and the CIA starts sniffing around a quiet little town in Kansas. Atmospheric and philosophical, Tortured Truths is a skillfully written journey into a wounded mind searching for peace. A thoughtful commentary on power and corruption, and an asset to any library.

Attwood lavishly, with great respect, brings forth the mystical Navajo legends and thought and brilliantly entwines mystery and suspense with a twist of Native American history unknown to most....The written words in Heart Chants flow with ease keeping the reader always turning one more page seeking the treasures and secrets each offers. Attwood has an flawless ability to create characters that capture the reader's exciting novel that is in my opinion arguably one of the best releases of the New Year. Heart Chants is an impeccably written novel with a truly unique plot that is a must read.

Ironically, I read Rabbletown between Good Friday and Easter. The book projected the reader into a future world of Evangelical Fundamentalism morphed into a neo-Fascist world government. The author retraces an all-too familiar tale, yet in a style and context that holds the reader and keeps the pages turning. One is left in the grasp, along with the well-defined characters of this tale . . . of those sanctimonious hypocrites who use religion to gain power, wealth, influence and control over others who believe in them, as a matter of simple "faith." 

If you were alive during the late 1960s, then you will totally relate to this story. If you were not, chances are you have heard about the 60s all your life, most likely from your own parents, maybe grandparents. Well, here's your chance to immerse yourself into the world of the late 1960s, on one of the most beautiful and respected college campuses in the nation--the Kansas University at Lawrence, Kansas. Yet, Then and Now is not unique to KU, but typical of the social revolution that took the youth of this country, and around the world, to challenge and defy the "man" . . . government of all forms. As a heady blend of drugs, acid, jazz, rock & roll, sex, the draft, Vietnam, and many other issues compelled them into the ubiquitous search for "it." 

After reading the first two paragraphs of this book I wanted to stop because I knew it would be disturbing. I continued reading because I've looked at my neighbors' homes and thought about the possibility that they're hiding terrible secrets in their basements and attics and no one will ever know. Apparently, Randy Attwood has also. Thought about it, I mean. I hope. The plot in Blow Up the Roses is clear and easy to follow, the setting painted a vivid picture in my mind - as I read, I could see the characters. The subject is cringe-worthy but the author's skill in telling a story is worth the read.

The human mind can be very curious, weird, and often bizarre. Get ready for a roller coaster ride inside Randy Attwood's mind! A gifted storyteller, who never fails to engage the reader with stunning characters, situations, and stories--Attwood delivers again in Very Quirky Tales. This collection of short stories ranges from a young punkster woman who transmits radio signals from all her pierced metal contacts in "Tell Us Everything"; to a surreal self-encounter in "It was me"; and the amazingly shocking mind-bending psycho-thriller--"The Notebook"; plus the final three stories--all lock in the reader and hold tight. My favorite was the novella, "A Match Made In Heaven" a tale of Android love that stretches the mind and imagination to realize the future world, or worlds . . . that may await us . . . HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

I'm an older gentleman living out in the boonies, so sometimes I forget that the world has seemingly sped up, even as I've slowed down. Having said that, this book felt like a dust storm packed in a tornado and wrapped in a hurricane. And I say that in the most flattering way. Attwood (this is my first experience with this author, and I'm pleased to say a surprisingly delightful one) manages to include so much back story in such a short space that I couldn't help but feel a bit rushed...and yet it didn't feel rushed. It was well constructed. The story itself was such a delight to discover. One More Victim left me breathless.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Great Shouts, Starting with "Stop the Presses!"

At a newspaper where I once worked, I had the occasion to run into the pressroom and yell “Stop the presses!” The effect was immediate. Ink-smudged men, who before had barely grunted an acknowledgment of my existence as night editor, scrambled. Buttons were pushed. The roaring noise of the press subsided. The run of papers through the Goss machinery had just begun so we did not lose too much money by pulling one of the plates and to correct a gross error (mine) in a headline that would have made us the laughing stock of the town.
Ever since, I have ruminated on the event, remembering how the phrase “Stop the presses!” had by itself bellowed with magnificent authority from my own terrified lungs. More remarkably, the words galvanized pressmen into immediate requisite action. I realized they reacted not because of any authority I possessed, though in editorial control, but rather the authority of the shout itself. There was no doubt about it. “Stop the presses!” was a Great Shout. I had discovered a new linguistic category.
Great Shouts share will all shouts a right-now urgency about them. But regular shouts are mere visceral reactions. “Ouch!” “Hey!” “Don’t!” or “Big dummy!” and “Yo momma!” are shouts that can be yelled with effect in certain situations, but a Great Shout is a specific phrase voiced in the particular situation that demands it be shouted so that the moment is described and requisite reaction understood. “Stop the presses!”
“Fire in the hole!” is perhaps the greatest of the Great Shouts. It relates the essence of the situation and leaves it to you to assess that situation and decide within the next second or three, how you should react.
“Timberrr!” is likewise a Great Shout. If you are in the woods and hear it with enough volume to know t may affect your actions in the next few seconds, you will cast your glance rapidly around you. “Timberrr!” shows the economy with words Great Shouts possess. A kind of genius, really. It’s pretty easy to imagine how “Stop the presses!” originated. Two editors probably looked at each other and said, with shock showing in their eyes, “My God, Fred, we’ve got to stop the presses.” They probably marched back to the press room, found the foreman, and -- with presses roaring n the background -- each issue coming off adding to their sweat -- said to that foreman bending his ear close to understand what they were saying, “Bob, we’ve got to stop the presses.” Bob probably said, “What?” At which point one or both of the editors yelled at the top of their lungs, “Stop the presses!”
How did “Timberrr!” arise? “Tree about to fall!” must have died an early death. “Falling tree!” is beneath the dignity of any lumberjack. Some spark of insight realized that the act of cutting the tree, its falling to earth, was making it into timber and so the new Great Shout rang forth in the forests.
“Timberrr!” is in the warning category of Great Shouts. I don’t think “Heads up!” is a Great Shout, although when yelled by a gym teacher will bring attention from his young charges. War, however, has given us some forceful warning Great Shouts. “Hit the deck!” for example. But since economy of words is the hallmark of a Great Shout, “Incoming!” from the Vietnam War is a beaut. It really says it all. You can’t beat “Dive! Dive!” when accompanied by klaxons for romance, although “Bogey at three o’clock!” isn’t bad. Perhaps the oldest Great Shout from war is simply “Charge!” And it will still give order and direction to a gang of boys in a snowball fight. “Hey Rube!” accomplished the same thing for circus workers.
I can’t think of any Great Shouts from the entire arena of sports, which is filled with yelling. But the yells are visceral, reactions of the diaphragm to actions on the field. Baseball has many great silences, for example when you wait to see if a ball will make it out of the park. “Going! Going! Gone!” may be an apt descriptive shout, but not a Great Shout. Linebackers do have “Draw! Draw!” and “Pass! Pass!” they shout at each other, but those lack pungency of situation.
By pungency of situation I mean, for example, if you were on board a ship and heard “Man overboard!” you would help pass the cry forward to the helm. “Thar she blows!” culminated days and weeks of searching. Then after months on the water, “Land ho!” must have been a beautiful Great Shout to hear. Great Shouts cut through the essence of communication.
Yes, the publisher the next day had some of his shouts for me for having to stop the presses, none of which I judged to be great.

I concentrate more on fiction these days. Here's that smorgasbord.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How To Be A Column Writer

For the 16 years I worked in newspaper journalism in addition to reporting, editing, writing editorials, and managing staff, I wrote a column at least once a week. I've been revisiting some of the columns and thought I'd share some of them here.

– Never lie. In print.
– It's okay not to know what you're writing about as long as you don't know about it in an interesting way.
– The longer the column, the greater the number of important sentences it must contain, and not only do column writers not have a great number of important sentences in their heads, readers can't deal with too many of them anyway.
– The hardest thing to attain in a column is your own individual voice: try to force it and it cracks; fail to search for it in every sentence and it disappears.
– Truth, that bastard child of reality and perception, shines brightest unadorned.
– When all else fails, do satire, and then repent.
– Political columnists have it easy, they only have to write with their heads. But when intellect takes over prose, prose loses is poetry.
– Comic columnists are fun to read, but comedy reaches truth only through the door of dark cynicism.
– The sources of inspiration are too fragile to explain; leave them alone.
– Love thy neighbor for his foibles; they give you something to write about.
– Gather criticism and compliments in the same crucible of skepticism.
– A column that disturbs no one has no mark to hit; a column that disturbs everyone has missed the mark.
– Learn the columnist's prayer: "God, grant me the courage to complain about that which I cannot change."
– Learn the columnist's confession: "God, forgive me for complaining so much."
– Learn to write aphorisms; they'll get you through another day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Golf, the Supreme Sport

This is the newspaper column I wrote that led me to compose the fiction short story Downswing.

Golf, of course, is the supreme sport. I use sport here in the truest sense of the word. More people may watch baseball or football. Youth baseball and beer-belly, adult softball may its legions. More sweat may be produced on the tennis courts. Golf shines as the pinnacle of sports and self-involvement.
In the first place, a normal physique is more than adequate for the game. To play football, you have to be bear. To mash home runs you need forearms the size of Easter hams. But, even the most svelte of forms can learn to knock the golf ball a respectable distance. The over-muscled and large-sized man who tries to use his force alone to crush the golf ball will find it dribbling off the tee in mockery or whizzing in a slice lost amongst the trees.
Timing, rhythm, grace, and balance are the qualities to make a golf ball sit up and take notice. Grip the golf club too hard and you destroy the muscular fluidity golf requires. Bad shots bring tension; tension leads to more bad shots. Golf teaches the blend of mental balance and muscular control.
No other sport requires the full range of using one's muscles: from crushing a drive to tickling a delicate putt ,the small "plunk" in the hole the required sound so the previous satisfyingly crack of the drive has real meaning.
Baseball players who can knock the ball over the fence tell me that feeling is nothing compared to the glory of a long drive. "It makes you shiver all over."
Other sports require umpires and referees. The dishonest golfer suffers in his own hell: taking gimmes on putts he's not sure could make, not counting strokes he ought, playing Mulligans. There are hundreds of ways to cheat at golf, but the one who is cheated is the golfer himself. Most learn this soon. Most beginners soon find satisfaction in honestly breaking 100 on a decent course, breaking 100 with no gimmes, no Mulligans and all the penalty strokes counted.
You've seen baseball, basketball, and football players whine, cry, shout, argue with officials about penalties called. The real golfer, with only God as his witness, calls penalty strokes on himself.
In what other sport does the key point of action before a crowd bring that crowd to absolute silenced? It exemplifies that key element in golf that makes it supreme – courtesy.
Talk about your game of inches! After traversing 440 yards on a long par four, the game, the tournament, one's wits may come down to the small white ball taking one more roll to plop victoriously into the hole – or sit in abject misery at its edge.
In golf, you can play along or with friends, with strangers, or with enemies. And you learn something new about yourself – and them – every time.
Golf is a sport that will last your lifetime. You can begin it young and finish your life with it as an old man. What other sport, besides fishing, can be your lifetime companion?
Golf is a harsh but lovely mistress: lulling you, exciting you, embarrassing you.

Ben Hogan once noted that it should be perfectly possible for someone to birdie every hole, yet no pro has ever shot 18 under in a PGA tournament. Golf has no master. The best you can hope for, dream for, dedicate your life to, are those precious moments of sacred bliss when individual shots work and you are left alone in the universe with your humble glory.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Let's See What One More Swing Would Do To Downswing's Amazon Ranking

Hope you might help me with a fun experiment.

I have a short story, Downswing, aimed at golfers. Got it priced at 99 cents. Had a few sales, then it languished for a long time. Yesterday, had ONE sale. And Downswing's ranking soared from the basement of 1,672,213 into the stratosphere of 111,558. At that moment, ONE sale put its ranking at #66 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 15 minutes (1-11 pages) > Literature & Fiction

What would one more sale do? 

Willing to help me find out? Be that one more sale?

Downswing is more than a story just about golf. Buy it. Let's see what happens. I'll report back.

PS: It's easy to google and find a free app so you can read Kindle ebooks on any device you are using.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reviews for Phillip McGuire Mystery/Suspense Series are Many and Wonderfully Positive

Reviews for the two books in my Phillip McGuire series, published by Curiosity Quills, have been wonderfully positive.

McGuire is a burnt-out, foreign correspondent who was kidnapped by the Hezbollah in Beirut before they destroyed the Marine base, killing 299. Phil, under torture that mutilated his hand, gives up all the details of the compound he visited. Released after the explosion, he is taken to Wiesbaden for surgery. After that, he renounces journalism to return to his university town, Lawrence, where he buys a bar and runs it. Adventures come his way. His past comes back his way, too.

First in the series is Tortured Truths, which introduces Phil.

Review excerpts:

The plot thickens and excitement ascends to a shrieking climax with every word in this thriller. Gruesome and colorful text flows into a string of scenes that coalesce inside the reader's mind with each turn of the page. Character's are vividly displayed through dialogue and narrative giving the reader a sense of being in the thick of the action.
Tortured Truths keeps you turning the pages, but the very interesting thoughts have you highlighting and underlining passages to come back to. This is a great stand-alone mystery story, but it also an intriguing thought-provoker when the main character reflects on the whys and wherefores.
Randy Attwood has crafted an intoxicating tale of circumstance and choice....Atmospheric and philosophical, Tortured Truths is a skillfully written journey into a wounded mind searching for peace.
Philip is a good character to follow around. His mind is interesting and since he’s been a journalist for years he’s knowledgeable. The torture itself is not on page. The story begins right after and how he deals with his mutilated hand, the surgeries and rehab. Then his quest to open a bar and the renovations are all interesting. Then s*** gets real with killings in his new/old town. When someone he knows is killed he can’t help but dig into the reason why. Along the way he finds a lovely brash lady, meets old and new friends, builds a business and, most importantly, faces his past. The story is not a fast-paced thriller, but is a slow build, one brick at a time, providing a solid story with a solid character. I would definitely read more about Philip and all of his friends.

Second in the series is Heart Chants.

Review excerpts:

In Heart Chants, Randy Attwood reintroduces us to Phil McGuire shortly after the events of the first novel in this series - Tortured Truths. Phil is laid up at home after trouble, in the guise of a woman, finds him again.

Two young Navajo students from the local university have disappeared and the local authorities think they've wandered off on their own. With no one believing claims of foul play, Phil lets another Navajo girl stay at his place to keep her safe. Both of the other missing girls were the daughters of tribal singers, a coincidence too significant to ignore. Before long, the efforts of the trickster draw him into the world of Navajo mysticism and traditions as old as the world.
Heart Chants draws upon the Navajo creation tale, bringing the reader into a rich and detailed canon depicted with masterful and immersive storytelling. While no expert, I found the depictions of rites and cultural lore to be deep and engaging. This was an excellent read, and it kept the pages (electronic as they may be) turning. By the time the action reached its peak, I was reading too fast, and had to back up and reread several pages―I wanted to know what was going to happen.
Heart Chants is an enticing novel rich in Native American lore and steeped in mystery. ..From beginning to end Heart Chants is an exciting novel that is in my opinion arguably one of the best releases of the New Year.
...a riveting mystery with a nice dose of romance. His research into the Navajo culture is impeccable while remaining respectful and sensitive. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Native American culture and appreciation of a good story. Well written and researched, Attwood has done a gutsy thing. He has gone up against the legacy of Tony Hillerman in the second novel of his Philip McGuire crime series. Even better he wins the bet, not because his crime novel is better than any of Hillerman’s, although it might be and probably is, but because he has the good sense to play off Hillerman in a novel that delves more deeply into Navajo cosmology than any Hillerman novel I’m familiar with ever went.
Attwood pulls the various story lines and conceptual elements together in a most satisfying and compelling conclusion. If you like hard-boiled mysteries or Hillerman or novels with multi-ethnic subplots, this is a book for you.
If you live in New Mexico, you've been exposed to Hillerman's novels about Navajo life. Except that they don't really tell you much about Navajo life and beliefs. I found Heart Chants much more satisfying in this regard than the Hillerman novels I've read. And there's an interesting plot, as well!

Very intriguing story with a fascinating story line, and interesting subject matter as well, with the Navajo culture and mysticism factoring in to the plot. Heart wrenching history of the Navajo people revealed in the story. Suspenseful, fast paced, unique.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rabbletown Has Sold Well After Midterm Election; Dystopia Just Around Corner?

I started writing Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America long before 1984. I had watched the Religious Right enter politics and worried that one day they might gain real political control. I wondered what that would be like. The novel got started and stalled. I returned to work on it over the years and one day realized I needed to let Bobby, the Bible quoting son of a brick layer, perform his miracles. The book has been doing well since the midterm elections. I think because others, too, are starting to see the real danger in front of us as more radical, right-wing religious Christian zealots get elected. I worry that I set this dystopia too far in the future. It feels like it's just around the corner.

Here is a teacher in the Church of the Evangels giving a history lesson:

"Great strides had been made by Christians in winning elections to the U.S. Congress and state legislatures after the devil Muslims attacked our country in 2001. Our country came to its senses, and recognized that the Islamo-fascist-communist-socialists wanted nothing more than the eradication of Christianity. Good Christians woke up and gained vast, political majorities. There were a few hold-out areas that still elected liberals who claimed to be Christian, but of course you couldn't be both..."

Tim Miller, chair, Religious Students at The University of Kansas, said about Rabbletown: " of those satires that is a bit to close to reality to be entirely comfortable."

Another reviewer: "Not since 1984 have we had such a chilling warning of what the future could be."

And a top 500 Amazon reviewer called Rabbletown the best book she has EVER read. Here is a trailer with her audio.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The 41st Sermon Discounted to $1.99 until November 12. Reviewer: "Content a Bit Taboo"

The 41st Sermon will be discounted 61 percent from $4.99 to $1.99 until November 12 on Amazon as a Kindle download. It's an erotic, emotional, and -- get this -- theological ride!

Father Talley, a married Episcopal priest, is in mid-life and mid-faith crisis when he goes on his annual self retreat to fish, drink, and write the outlines of his sermons for the upcoming year. Only this time he gets caught up in the phony kidnap plot of a lovely blonde parishioner.

One reviewer had this to say about The 41st Sermon:

Wow. Rarely do I find a book that twists as much as this one. The plot and presentation was excellent, the characters were well developed, and the content a bit taboo. I would recommend this book to any open-minded individual.

If you are a fan of Walker Percy, the great southern writer who burst upon the scene with "The Moviegoer," in 1961, you'll be interested in the Percy connection to The 41st Sermon. Details here

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Marketing My Kansas-based Fiction

I lived a year in Italy. I lived 18 months in Japan. Yet almost all my fiction is set in Kansas, the state where I was born and lived so many of my years. Some of these mention Kansas; many don't. I tried to write pieces set in Italy and in Japan. Didn't work. Too forced; too faked.

Thought it time to market Kansas-based stories. Even if you're not from the Land of Oz, you might find these 12 works interesting.

At age 14, I went to work as a male candy striper at St. Joseph's Memorial Hospital in Larned, Ks. I learned many things. The ten stories in Hospital Days resulted.

Living on the grounds of the insane asylum at Larned State Hospital because my father was the mental institute's dentist gave me many unusual experiences. Blue Kansas Sky was a first attempt to create a story based on that background.

Innocent Passage opens with the line: "The skies were cloudy all day," which should immediately connect with any Kansan who knows the state song. Don't know anymore how many non-Kansans are familiar with Home on the Range. The short story continues the description of the Kansas land and the surprises it can contain.

The Saltness of Time depends upon Kansas winter weather to set its scene. And what a scene unfolds as the stories within stories get told.

Crazy About You was a novel that resulted from trying to recreate the environment and characters at Larned State Hospital. It's young adult; it's a mystery; it's suspense. It's my best seller.

One More Victim doesn't mention Kansas by name, but a tornado, or rather the memory of one, gets things started. Took me 30 years to finish this novella.

The Notebook, likewise, doesn't mention Kansas, but the university town sure could be Lawrence.

Speaking of Lawrence, my two Phillip McGuire suspense novels (Tortured Truths and Heart Chants) are both mostly set in Lawrence because that burnt out foreign correspondent returns to his university town to own and run a bar where adventures come his way.

I went to the University of Kansas during those turbulent 1960s and was there that spring of 1970 when the night curfew was enforced by the National Guard. Student union burned. Students were shot and killed. Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All is my fictional recreation of those times.

My dystopia, Rabbletown:Life in These United Christian States of Holy America is largely set in Topeka. Don't miss Stoning Fridays in Fred Phelps Plaza.

Blow Up the Roses, a very dark suspense novel, was inspired by horrific events that occurred when I was managing editor of The Olathe (KS) Daily News.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Update on Reaction to Political Comedy "SPILL"

I wrote SPILL in a state of major creative doubt. My fiction wasn't having any traction with agents or publishers. I thought the stuff was pretty good, but I could be self-delusional. I had always been reluctant to share my fiction with friends because if they said they liked it, could I believe them? If they didn't like it, could they tell me? Seemed unfair to put a friend in that position.

So, I pursued an idea for a comedy, a form I had never tried. A bar friend was working as a small package contract delivery person and he came into the bar and related how that day he had delivered the head of a dog to the vet school for rabies testing. That image stuck in my head and so I started with that scene. Dang thing wrote itself in three months. Nothing had taken such a short time. I thought if I wrote something that made people laugh, then you couldn't deny the writing was successful.

SPILL was released Sept. 11 by the small press Curiosity Quills. Here is a comment that came from a former co-worker, a wonderful writer and excellent editor:

"Hi Randy - "I just finished reading SPILL in one sitting - once I started, I couldn't put it down. The more I read, the funnier it was, until I was laughing so hard my husband could hear me from the other end of the house."

And here is the first review placed on Amazon: "Randy Attwood's done it again with SPILL -- a knife-edge ride on a political snowball thundering downhill at high speed. It's the story of a decent-enough guy scraping his living together who finally reaches the breaking point over the ever-escalating price of fuel. His pockets are so regularly plundered by Big Oil, that in a flash of clarity, he devises a way to get back at them and make some money along the way. His allies are the unlikeliest "think tank" you could imagine. Sarcasm drips from these pages in wide, viscous streams. Like all of Mr. Attwood's other political writing, you're laughing out loud at the moment you begin to understand he's making a point here. Spill is a must-read for anyone who has had it with the lobby-spin that is running out lives and the self-righteous pols who reap its rewards. If we're not laughing, we're crying, so we might as well laugh. And think." -- Richard Sutton

Curiosity Quills helped me do a giveaway of a copy of SPILL through Goodreads. Go there if you want to enter.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

SPILL: Take That Big Oil Now Published

Curiosity Quills released my political comedy, SPILL, today.

Here's what John Marshall, veteran Kansas newspaper guy, had to say about it:

"Think all politicians are creeps, the rules are locked in against you and the world is forever in the grip of big politics and Bigger Oil? Think again. Attwood has. SPILL is a what-if adventure, starting with a  couple of insurgent citizens who con the establishment and get rich along the way. In Attwood's world, all the old clichés are real and the system is rigged from the start - until it's un-rigged by good guys bad to the bone - the funny bone. From page one to the end, SPILL enlightens, amuses and instructs us that, one day, someone just might game the system - and get away with it. Attwood, brilliantly, shows us how."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Nice Peek at "Blow Up the Roses"

Nice to have horror/suspense novel "Blow Up the Roses" featured on Sneak Peak

Gives the potential reader a really good look at what it publisher Curiosity Quills called "brilliantly disturbing."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"One More Victim" Took Thirty Years to Write; It was Worth the Wait. Hope You'll Agree.

In the early 1970s I looked out the window of the back door of our small house in Hutchinson, Kansas, where I was working at the newspaper, to see crows ripping into our black plastic trash bag to peck out its contents. The scene started in me a poem and an idea for a story.

The poem got started:

"In February the crows come,
"To pick though my garbage,
"Make holes in the black plastic sack
"And scatter its entrails over the snow.

The story did too:

"The most important summer of my life began with a house-shaking thunder-boomer that woke me up on a Thursday night in 1958 near the end of my fifth-grade school year."

The story stalled. So did the poem.

Years later the story picked up again and I finished the section from 1958. Years later, I finished the section from 1968. Thirty years later, I finally finished the section set in 1992; found the last verse of the poem that started the whole thing and would now end the novella. It's a boy-finds-girl; boy-loses-girl story. And then again. And then one final time.

One More Victim is a literary novella in which the Holocaust is a critical element, so gets sub-categorized as "world literature, Jewish." When offered free (and I'm not going to do that anymore) went twice to #1 free Amazon ranking As a paid ranking, it twice hit #92. I think that gave me the right to call it a best seller, but that is term much abused these days. It has a strong romance element, too. And it can be considered a coming-of-age, young adult work, as well. My writing touches many genres.

Here's what some reviewers had to say:

Anthea Carson

I could not put this book down. It was absolutely mesmerizing. First of all, I have a thing for books about loves that start in childhood, so it had me hooked right there. But also, this writer is just amazing. The way the language flows makes you want to keep reading. There is something very erotic in the story too, even though it was not cheap eroticism. I like that, when a book is sexy without overdoing it

Nicola Lawson

This short story packs so much into a short length it's hard to believe. It's very well written. I wish there was more of it, not because the story doesn't satisfy because it definitely does. I guess I'll just have to get some more of the authors work.


I'm an older gentleman living out in the boonies, so sometimes I forget that the world has seemingly sped up, even as I've slowed down. Having said that, this book felt like a dust storm packed in a tornado and wrapped in a hurricane. And I say that in the most flattering way. Attwood (this is my first experience with this author, and I'm pleased to say a surprisingly delightful one) manages to include so much back story in such a short space that I couldn't help but feel a bit rushed...and yet it didn't feel rushed. It was just the right back story and it was well constructed. The story itself was such a delight to discover. It left me breathless.

An excerpt:

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 the expectations we have for ourselves in that world.


Almost all formats here 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Different Kind of Look at Some Fantastic Reviews for Popular Novel "Crazy About You"

CRAZY ABOUT YOU is my most downloaded and popular work. It's received 23 Amazon reviews and 18 of them are five-star guys. I thought I'd try to categorize them in areas important to potential future readers:


I found this story so captivating that I couldn't stop reading once I started. I happen to work at the state hospital depicted in this story and it is incredible fact or fiction; the detail that was written I could see everything he wrote so I was able to follow it with such ease and enjoyed it very much. A very believable story that seemed so familiar. I have recommended this to everyone that I know. I only found one issue with the story and that was, that it wasn't longer......Thanks, Randy, for such an absolutely amazing read!!!


Having spent my formative years in Larned, Kansas, and also having worked briefly at the state mental hospital there, I can tell you that his descriptions of life at the state hospital are totally spot-on! The story line is also good--but I won't spoil it for anyone. Funny, sad, poignant. And suspenseful!


What I loved best about this book was, truly, the writer’s style. He has a laid-back, very easy-to-read way with words that bring his characters alive quickly. Sometimes he’s dead serious as when he documents the history of mental institutions; other times, he’s tongue-in-cheek, outright funny and his main character, Brad, is so likable and real that this book could be subtitled “Another Brad Adams Escapade.” It reminds me of the Hardy Boys books I read as a teen, but with an approach far more suited to today’s young readers.


I cannot think of an author that I can compare Randy with. He is just unique. Randy has the skill to shake your nerve and give a direction to forethought process like no other. OK . I guess there are going to be more books by him on my shelf.


CRAZY ABOUT YOU, set in 1964, is a coming age story that mixes fact with fiction to reveal one brilliant book. Brad, a teenage asylum brat, lives and works on the grounds of Larned State Hospital. His father, the asylum's dentist, is the reason why Brad's family is given housing on the grounds of the hospital growing up alongside the other children of asylum workers. These children are referred to as the asylum brats.

While living on the grounds and working in the hospital cafeteria, Brad befriends a female patient, Suzanne, who he believes he is in love with. As a typical teenage boy with hormones though, he begins to date a fellow student, while still confessing his love for Suzanne and promising to help her battle her demons and save her from her father's molestation.

While dealing with his raging hormones, Brad also has to contend with his sanity, brutal staff workers, and death. In the span of a week Brad has to do a lot of growing up and the events that happen that week forever remain with him and impact his life.


The story involves brutal staff, many of whom are more twisted than those they are supposed to care for, a sad young woman who was victimized by her father and than by the system, unfortunate souls who need professional help that is seldom available to them, the local juvenile delinquent, and a couple of teenage girls whose hormones are as out of control as only teenage hormones can be. The author brings them and others together to weave a story that will keep you turning the pages and that you won't soon forget.


CRAZY ABOUT YOU defies categorization, but suffice it to say that those looking for pure excitement and good story telling will not be disappointed. Nor will those who thrive on the deeper layers of psychological tension. Although the novel often deals with forces out of the protagonist's control, it also tackles tough moral choices that indelibly shape our lives, all within the context of a fantastical drama that will leave the reader musing for days. But ultimately, this is a story about absolution. If you have not laughed out loud often and shed a few tears by the end, you'd better see a shrink.


I sat up till 3:30 a.m. reading CRAZY ABOUT YOU. Couldn't put it down. Have a few more pages to complete but I must tell you, I am now a fan of Randy Attwood's writing. Can't wait to begin a second book and read through his entire works. Easy read, humorous, good story line and left me wanting more.


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.


CRAZY ABOUT YOU is the second book by Randy Attwood I have read, and my admiration for his writing skills grows with each page as I read. This story takes the reader for a trip into the strange space between the sane and insane--a mist-blurred world full of angst, mystery, surprises, plus bizarre and unpredictable behavior . . . with an array of characters that are so well developed your heart reaches out to them. Well, most of them...but there is much more. An evil presence drives the story into even darker places that you expect, at a pace that turns the pages as fast as you can read. This is an engaging and compelling coming-of-age tale that will haunt the reader for days and leave you wishing for more. Yet, it is also satisfying and fully resolved in a way that touches your heart.

Download options:

In Kansas City area, available at Mysteryscape, Prospero's Uptown,  Inklings

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bobby's Beatitudes

Bobby's Beatitudes

Blessed are those who live in hovels, for God will give them palaces in heaven.
God weeps when anyone kills in his name; kill not.
God hates hate; hate not.
God loves love; love more.
You need not trust in God; you need hope that God will trust in you.
You are your own master. The way is within you.
Giving is the way. Taking is not the way.
Follow the way and it will lead you to God. Jesus is the way.
The way is in each of you. You are your own master and savior.
Woe to the Inquisitors, for Jesus will inquire unto them!
Blessed are the rabble, for they shall know God.

Monday, July 14, 2014

When You Get Sleepy You Do Odd Things

Why? I don't know why. Maybe because I'm feeling sleepy. But I became curious about the use of the word "sleep" in my various works of fiction and came up with these:

From "It Was Me (I)"
Sleep came; the damn nightmare did, too.

From "The 41st Sermon"
Before dawn, Father Talley turned on the table light to look at Molly. Her face was innocent in sleep. She lay on her back. Slowly, he pulled the sheet off her body.

From "Crazy About You"
We men drown in the smell of single woman. They don’t seem to realize we want to get past the smell of their perfume and know the real smell of themselves. (Okay, "sleep" comes later in this paragraph.)

From "Blow Up the Roses"
When he went back to sleep that night, the old nightmare came to Frank Califano, the nightmare the therapist couldn't figure out, the one he hadn't had in several years, the one in which he was standing in a rose garden, only it was blowing up all around him.

From "By Pain Possessed"
He was sure he wasn't dreaming because his worst nightmares were of being strapped in a chair and tortured with ice picks poking into his body. Those nightmares brought him screaming from his sleep, his body soaked in sweat. He wasn't sweating, so he wasn't dreaming.

From "Rabbletown"
“Go to sleep you God-damned shits or I’ll beat your heads in!” That quieted them, but he saw the hatred in Lila’s eyes. The way she looked at him reminded him of the eyes of the feral cats that roamed the work site. A mason would sometimes lob a stone down at them from those many stories above and occasionally squash one. It made the survivor cats look up from time to time with hatred in their eyes at those who let such things fall upon them.

From "Heart Chants"
We didn't get that second scotch and later I found out what it was like to go to sleep with the smell of her hair making its way into my heart.

From "One More Victim"
Sleep, I later learned, can be a reaction to trauma. I never told Dad the tornado was my first memory because it seemed wrong that I could remember the storm that killed Mother, but I had no memory of her.

From "The Saltness of Time"
It turned out that Stephie and I shared a bed that night, as did Ted and Kristin. I don't know about Ted and Kristin, but Stephie and I didn't make love. Yes we did. I held her in my arms as she went to sleep and, against my body, felt the slowing rhythm of her heart, and counted, individually, each. precious. beat.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

“Meet My Character” Blog Tour Stop

I selected a character from "Heart Chants" because this half-white, half-Navajo character really fascinated me. Heart Chants is second in my Phillip McGuire mystery/suspense series. The first book "Tortured Truths" placed burnt-out journalist into Lawrence owning and running a bar where adventures come his way. For the second book I knew that two girls were missing from the Haskell Indian University in Lawrence. That meant researching the school where I learned the most represented nation was the Navajo. That meant researching the Navajo. Wow, what I encountered. A great people, a great history, a fascinating creation story.

1. What is the name of your character? Is s/he fictional or historical?

We never know his "legal" name. He is the son of a Navajo medicine man and a white missionary. But the man he thought was his Navajo father tells him his real name is "Ko-Yo-Teh"

2. When and where is the story set?

Koyoteh lives on the Ramah Navajo reservation near Grants, NM. Life will take him to Lawrence, KS and Haskell University

3. What should we know about him?

He is a witch. The art of witchcraft was given to the Navajo along with other gifts from the Holy People when the Dinè (the Navajo name for themselves) were created. Who he thought was his father was a witch and his father was a witch and his father was a witch.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

Koyoteh is attempting to complete the mission his Navajo father revealed to him: create the largest sand painting that has ever been created, reopen the gates to the Holy People and receive new gifts so the Navajo can finally rid themselves of the White Man. But this will require awful acts to obtain the materials necessary to create that sand painting.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

To open the gates to the Holy People and trick them into giving him new gifts.

6. Is there a working title for this novel and can we read more about it?

The title is "Heart Chants" and it has been published by the small press Curiosity Quills.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

It's available right now:

I'd like to add that if you are interested in the Navajo people, this is the book for you. I believe it contains the best, most complete retelling of their amazing creation story. It has been favorably compared to Tony Hillerman's works and some reviewers have found it better.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Milestone of Sorts for CRAZY ABOUT YOU

I don't know if this is really a milestone, but it feels like one for me. I published Crazy About You in 2011 and it just passed its 600th download either as a digital or print-on-demand sale. I once offered it free and had 352 downloads. I failed to keep an accurate count of how many paperback copies I've sold myself. I've ordered 111 copies and have ten on hand. Have given away some copies but imagine I've sold about 80.

"Crazy About You" is my most reviewed work with 23 Amazon reviews, 18 of them five star. On Goodreads, it has 18 ratings with a 4.5 star average and 11 text reviews.

A publisher is now considering picking up this book and others that I have self-published.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Favorite Lines from Several Works

Crazy About You

Dad had worked on his teeth and found him to be perfectly normal. “Now that he’s killed his family.” 

"Christianity used the Jewish god, a god who is everything and by being everything ended up being a big fat nothing...." 

I believe what I did was right, but why does it sit still so heavily upon my soul? 

“We’ve got to fornicate again tonight, Bob.”

“So soon?” 

I wanted to go to her, to touch her, touch her in that manner any of us will want to touch a person we are with who is near death. But that natural instinct, I have to tell you, was wiped away by a palpable fear, a fear that if I went near her at that moment, the blast from her open soul would sear my own. 

"And when did you fall in love with me?"

"I woke up with it the morning after I met you." 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Beginnings I Like from Five Novels

When Michael Keene reached the interstate, a few blocks from his home, he turned left instead of right and headed south, steering his nifty little gray Honda Civic against the direction a group of geese were flying overhead. Thinking he might hear the honkers, he opened the window of the car, but they were too high, or
maybe the wind carried their calls away from his ear. Or maybe they just were traveling silently, as was he.

Later, on that chilly morning in April, when Mrs. Keene received the call from the office asking if her husband was ill, she first thought of an accident, then car trouble, then foul play, then desertion. She should have thought first of desertion because when Mr. Keene didn't show up the next day or the one after that, the police investigator put on a smile deep with practiced kindness as she mentioned the possibility that Mr. Keene had been kidnapped and said, "Ma'am, I'm sorry, I've seen this before. Were you having any marital problems?"

Children who grew up on military bases are called Army brats. Asylum brats were those few of us who grew up on the grounds of state insane asylums where our parents, who worked there, had housing provided by the state. We weren't shoved from base to base, state to state, country to country, so we couldn't claim we didn't put down roots. Instead, we were buffeted between the bizarre personalities among whom we lived, if we chose to know the lives of those mostly benign inmates–excuse me, patients–from whose lunacy our parents earned their livings

Bob Crowley, drunk and very tired, almost tripped over the broken toy truck before kicking it out of his way then trudging around the side of the house to the back of a former duplex that now housed six families of 50-some Christian souls. Work on the Great Christian State of Kansas Cathedral went on from dawn to dusk, almost a 14-hour, hot, summer day. After Bob had made the long climb back to the ground, he stopped at one of the small booze-holes at the edge of Rabbletown to drink its oily-smelling, stomach-wrenching, blessedly mind-numbing alcohol before going home.

Now, in the doorway to his basement apartment, he burped and smelled the sour acid of his empty stomach. Pulling the burlap sack of tools off his shoulder and dropping it to the floor when he entered, the noise of his own household assaulted him. The twins came, screaming their welcome, and he picked the bag of tools back up, swung, and caught one of them on the side of the head, sending him sprawling sideways and setting up a wail of tears and pain that caused his wife to yell, “Stop beatin’ the kids, will ya?”

“Well keep the little retards away from me.”

At seven-thirty on a fresh, cool Monday morning in the forty-fifth spring of his life, under a sky the blue of which General Motors used for its 1957 Chevrolet, the Rev. Christopher Talley looked into the trunk of his BMW, aimed his thick, index finger at the objects stored neatly away, and stuck up his thumb.

"Bang," he said, as he pointed his finger at the portable typewriter, depressed his thumb, and heard the knuckle crack. He shifted to take aim at a stack of reference books, and then in rapid order went "bang, bang, bang, bang," at the dictionary, the thesaurus, the Bible, and the Book of Common Prayer. Father Talley aimed the finger next at the large, expandable file and, with the loudest mental bang of them all, blasted that well-worn cardboard structure and all of the pieces of paper the damn thing contained.

He thought about pointing the finger at his own head, but reached down instead to caress the fly rod case, pat the tackle box, and run his hand across the stack of journals on studies into ancient Greece he had bound together with cord. He closed the trunk lid, listening to its satisfyingly solid click.

This side of the hill on Betty's land looks to the west. She built her house on the other side that looks to the east. Her windows catch the morning sun and then are shaded from the heat of the afternoon summer sun. The house is tucked real neat into the hill so that north winds in winter hit the rise of the hill, go over, never touch the house.

Would that I were so protected.

But it is late fall, late in the day and I am standing on the balcony of this tea hut I have built on the side of Betty's hill that faces the west. I get to enjoy the sight of sunset over the last of the leaves still on the trees and listen to the sounds they make as the wind rustles through. Listen to the sounds of me.

Oh, Betty, I love you so.

Why has it taken me so long to know it.

So long to say it.

I had to leave the 1960s first.

It wasn't easy.

In the box on the table inside this tea hut you don't even know exists on your own land is my deliverance from those times. God, how I hate to leave them. It was hard work.
You'll just have to read and find out how hard.

Everything is ready now for that....Everything is ready.