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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Let Amazon Wrap and Mail These Books to the Readers on Your Holiday Gift List

If you've read one (or more) of my books that you liked, then there's a good chance you know a friend or family member who also would like them. Holiday gift item! Easy to send via Amazon as a gift. They'll even do the wrapping and mailing for you. Here are my paperbacks available through Amazon.

For the noir fiction lover: Five years ago Ellie ran away from her job as a TV reporter because two things happened. Now, running a gentleman's club, one of those things is happening again.

For the coming-of-age, thriller reader: High schooler Brad lives on the grounds of an insane asylum because his dad is the institution's dentist. One week in Brad's life will grow him up faster than he could have ever wished. 

For the Dystopia reader: The Religious Right has won and the Pastor President and pastor governors rule the country with a Bible in each fist and the computer in your hovel.

For the mystery/suspense reader: Burnt-out foreign correspondent quits journalism to return to his college town to buy and run a bar. Adventures come his way including a visitor from his own tortured past.

For the mystery/suspense reader: When two Navajo women go missing from Haskell Phillip agrees to shelter a third. And then a mysterious, beautiful Chinese woman stumbles into his life. Meanwhile, Coyote is trying to reopen the gates to the Holy People.

The reader of dark fiction: Why is so much murder, mystery and sexual brutality condensed among the few duplex homes on the Elm Street cul d' sac?

For the reader of political satire: atheist runs for state legislature on a campaign to nationalize big oil. He gets the girl, the money and a killer skateboard computer game.

For the literary reader: Episcopal priest at mid-life and mid-faith crisis.

For that old hippie: Stan Nelson is mired in nostalgia for the 1960s and the woman he lost then. His way out takes him back to that turbulent spring of 1970 in Lawrence, Kansas.

For the reader of shorter stories: five literary works.

For the reader of sci-fi and horror stories: six stories will remind you of Philip K. Dick, Rod Serling, H.P Lovecraft

Dark Side of the Museum

For that reader who likes a bit of paranormal. Every curious about what goes on behind the scenes at an art museum?


For the reader who likes alternate future histories. This Wiccan healer can't travel through time, but she can stop it. And that could change everything.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

STOPTIME, a post-apocalyptic tale, now published, set in an alternate Kansas City

StopTime had a really tortuous creation path. I don't keep logs on my writing. I think the idea of the novel was planted in my head when I read an item in The New Yorker that I used to open the novel:

We are not poor as a people, yet somehow we have become bankrupt as a society. We are—to use an old-fashioned word—ruined. And yet how this ruin is possible—how it has come about—no one can explain.....we have come to accept that...violence, impoverishment, squalor, and cruelty will rule, and that the most we can do is to keep them at bay...
Notes and Comment
The New Yorker
Aug. 5, 1991

It really felt in 1991 that things were falling apart. I envisioned a post-apocalyptic story, which are now rampant, but mine would have an odd twist. Inside a protected enclave―and of course I chose the Kansas City Plaza area―would be a student artist, a realist painter, who suddenly encountered a stop time experience. Everything around him had stopped in time. The only other example of using that device in fiction at that time that I knew of was John D. MacDonald's The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything.

If you have a stop time event, there must be some plausible reason and I chose a Wiccan healer outside the walls of the enclave that is called Scumtown. She casts a spell using one of the longest palindromes in Latin, a special candle, and a particular painting. It turns out the student artist in the enclave painted the canvas and thus is unaffected by the spell.

In fiction, when you create a world instead of describing the world we are in things get tricky. You want the new reality to be believable. That took time to figure out. The number of characters also grew and that gets complicated, too. Then I had to throw in a steam engine train expedition out of the KC Enclave into the wilds of Kansas where it goes through Herrington and encounters a different kind of Roman Catholic community and finally reaches Hutchinson where in the salt mine storage spaces it finds unbelievable treasure.

Creating the society of the KC Enclave, the warring factions outside, the odd events that can occur during and after a stop time event, well, it took a long time. I finally finished it (although the ending seems to beg for a sequel) last summer. And just let it sit. I had, have, many doubts about it. We'll see what the response is. If there is a response to StopTime.

Meanwhile I'm deep into another work that looks promising. A sort of comedy I've tentatively titled Dark Side of the Museum, set in an unnamed art museum somewhere west of New York City.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Time for this Funk to End; Kicking Myself in the ....

I've been in a funk most of this summer and reached a point in my work in progress, tentatively titled Dark Side of the Museum. It's set in an unnamed art museum somewhere west of New York City. Love the characters I've created. Some very funny stuff. A dash of paranormal, a pinch of time travel and I hope a ton of fun. But I just hit a wall. I think I'm breaking it down. Sat outside now that the weather is nice and started listing plot possibilities and there are a lot of them. And realized I had to make a major change and wonder how many readers will understand this: When the mummy gets unwrapped what gets discovered is not evidence of a link to the Dirlewanger group but to the Ahnenerbe group. Yes! That's the ticket. Stay tuned for more.

I'm very disappointed with sales of The Fat Cat, but local readers do say they like it a lot. So hard these days for a book to catch on via the internet. So much competition. Marketing is really difficult and it is easy to lose money on promotion schemes that are just that. It has always been true that the way to make money in self publishing is to prey on people who self publish.

But I persist. The Fat Cat is a fun, interesting and I hope engaging tale well told.

Waiting for cover art for StopTime, my next work that I hope will hit the streets this year. It's a sci-fi sort of alternate history starting about 1992 and leading to a much different Kansas City.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Great Photographs Lead to Good Covers

I've been fortunate in being able to find and use various images from photographers for covers of many of my works. The first photographer I came across, Jared Wingate, is from my old home town of Larned, Kansas. Jared now lives in Texas and has made an impressive name for himself as a photographer of popular rock groups. I was stumped for what image to use on the literary novella One More Victim when searching through Jared's online portfolio I saw the image of a woman floating over a bridge. It seemed to capture the mood of One More Victim. The model is Jared's wife. The image is now used on the paperback of a collection of literary short works in which Victim is the lead story.

Later, I ran across Karen Garlow Piper, a photographer in Hutchinson, KS, who has a special love of sunset and weather shots. A couple of lightning storms play critical roles in the novella, so for the single story digital offering of Victim I used Karen's image.

Another of her landscape sunset shots seemed perfect for the short story Innocent Passage, a most unusual coming of age tale.

The Notebook is a longer story in which a professor returns to his old campus for a seminar and Jeremy remembers he left a notebook in the attic of the house where he lived when a student. He wonders if it might still be there. He rings the doorbell and meets Sarah. This is a story the end of which no reader has foretold. Jared's photo manipulation, again using his wife as model, seemed perfect.

I'd known Ray Inman from his years as a photographer at The Kansas City Star. I was fortunate he was the photographer who came to take my picture for a short item about me in a local magazine. A portrait he took of me is the one I most frequently use. I've used two different covers for The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley, a Lovecraftian novella that many Lovecraft fans have praised. I've never been happy with either cover when Roy searched his portfolio and came up with a shot he manipulated that does a wonderful job of piquing the curiosity of potential readers.

And in the post before this one you'll see another use of a photograph for cover, this one for a non-fiction piece of prose, The Rita Chronicles, with photo by KC news video news reporter John Tygart.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

First Bit of Non-Fiction Published

Rita is rather a famous bartender here in Kansas City and I have followed her to the various bars she has worked. She is also a gifted fabric artist and I like to describe her as a joie de vivre connoisseur. The Rita Chronicles were an attempt to capture and share the unique qualities that are Rita. Only 99 cents.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Enter to Win Free Copy of The Fat Cat

I'm doing a Goodreads Giveaway of three paperback copies of The Fat Cat. ENTER HERE

Here's how it starts:

I hadn’t seen that good-lookin' motherfucker for almost a year when he walked into The Fat Cat with his partner to ask me about the dead dancer found that morning in our dumpster.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Now Available in Paperback

The Fat Cat is now available in paperback. Only two reviews so far: one good and one bad (didn't get changing point of view) I sure would like your opinion of this noir mystery.

Friday, July 1, 2016

July 4th Bargain: The Fat Cat Goes to 99 Cents July 1 through 5

Yep, I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy. Born on the 4th of July. My birthday gift to you is dropping the price of The Fat Cat to 99 cents starting July 1 through July 5. It's a quick and, I hope, intense read. I call it a noir mystery, but after you reach the end you may decide otherwise. You tell me. This fitting my stuff into genre categories always grates.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"The Fat Cat" Now Live on Amazon

I think I know why I don't make date notations on a manuscript when I'm working on a fiction project. Be too depressing to see how long it takes me to complete stuff. I think The Fat Cat started around 2010 or so when the idea of a dead dancer found in the dumpster of a strip club came to me. And I wanted to write it from the perspective of a strong female protagonist. I named her Ellie McCrary and made her bartender/manager of a gentleman's club. This first sentence came to me that introduced Ellie:

I hadn’t seen that good-lookin' motherfucker for almost a year when he walked into The Fat Cat with his partner to ask me about the dead dancer found that morning in our dumpster.

So the point of view would be first person from Ellie's eyes. And heart. So I started wondering about Ellie. How did she become a manager of a strip club? One thing led to another. It's a short book, barely 40,000 words. I wanted to do a noir mystery, but if you read it and get to the end, you tell me what it is.

But I like Ellie. I like the world I created for her. I feel empathy for her pain and I admire how she works her way out of it. I think there are a lot of interesting discoveries and characters awaiting a reader of The Fat Cat. Hope you might be one of them.

A huge thank you to Kansas City graphic designer Kirk Buster (pictured here) for coming up with the book cover: a typographic visual approach I never would have dreamed up. But that's why we should use professional designers.

Monday, May 23, 2016

To Celebrate Walker Percy's Birthday Price of "The 41st Sermon" Dropped to 99 Cents

May 28 is the 100th year anniversary of the birth of one of my favorite Southern writers, Walker Percy. I've had a lot of ups and downs in my writing life and in 1992 Percy delivered an extraordinary high point. I had sent him the first chapters of The 41st Sermon hoping he would be willing to read the whole manuscript. I received a note back from him that what I sent read well and I could send the rest. Do so. Waited. Waited. Then a few months later read his obit in the paper. In honor of his 100th birthday I've lowered the price of The 41st Sermon to 99 cents. Episcopal priest is in mid-life and mid-faith crisis.

Read the whole story and the note in previous post here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Glad To See Ted Cruz Out Of The Picture, But The Self-Sanctimonious Jerk Was Useful To Me

Ted Cruz scared me more than Donald Trump, so I'm glad to see Cruz is out of the POTUS picture. However, Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America is all about the danger if the religious right really gained political control of America. So a little photoshop work by my friend and KC photographer Dave Kaup gave me a new cover to use to promote Rabbletown.

It was fairly successful. At one point Rabbletown reached No. 35 in its subcategory and overall the highest ranked book I've ever had.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

My Homage to John D MacDonald's Travis McGee

From time to time I get on a re-read kick and the last week it took me back to John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series (The one with a different color in each title, such as The Empty Copper Sea). Reread five in about that many days. We had a wonderful spell of weather here in KC and I could sit outside and read and sip--along with Travis--Boodles gin on ice.

That series was good. I had enough distance (and poor memory) to forget the details of many of the plots, but what I enjoy most is not the story, it's being with Travis again. Through Travis, MacDonald creates a reality for the reader easy to enter. Creating reality with words is my goal in fiction writing.

I wanted to create my own Travis type of character. His name is Phillip McGuire. Instead of a beach bum who lives on a houseboat in Florida and makes money doing various kinds of salvage work (and most of that salvage for Travis was healing people), my guy is a
burnt-out foreign correspondent who gives up journalism to return to his college town to buy and run a bar.

I have two books about McGuire published by Curiosity Quills: Tortured Truths and Heart Chants. If you are a Travis McGee fan, I hope you'll check them out and let me know what you think.

True story here: I was driving in the car and listening to the radio news when an AP report told me that:  "Travis McGee, the creator of the John D. MacDonald series, died today." I kid you not. My God, how both the creator and the created would have loved that.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Like to get "creeped out?" Blow Up The Roses recommended

An interesting, but not uncommon, review came in for Blow Up the Roses the other day. This reader is not the first to acknowledge not wanting to continue the story, but being so captured they couldn't quit.

Here's that most recent comment:

"I had put off reading Blow Up The Roses. I wasn't sure I wanted to read it.  When I started, I wasn't sure I wanted to continue.  But like all of your books, I couldn't put it down.  The story grabbed me, even as I didn't want to know what happened next. We all know there is evil in the world, but this kind of reality is almost too evil for words.  Any parent feels fear at the stories of children being lured into a car.  We can't even begin to contemplate that something like this could happen to our children.

"You think you know your neighbors.  What a frightening prospect!  I guess everyone has skeletons in their closets but this was a truly scary story.  And, of course, I really enjoyed it."

Here are some other similar reactions:

"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."

Here's another:

"At the end of the first paragraph I had to decide whether I was brave enough to continue. I wasn't sure I wanted to know what happened next. I did read the whole story and enjoyed Mr. Attwood's characters; a veritable crazy quilt of unlikely neighbors who maintained a strange sort of formality despite the ugly reasons for their interactions. I would remind the reader that the most frightening parts of a story are those we fill in with our own imaginations."

We'll end with this high praise:

"Read the first four chapters. Very creepy. Kind of reminded me of Tom Harris from the Hannibal Lector series. I like how you build suspense with Mr. Brown and whatever he's got cooked up in his duplex. The way you use Mr. and Mrs. adds a coldness to the writing that prevents the reader from getting comfortable. I think this is a great book."

So if you like a dark read and to get "creeped out," here ya go:

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Notebook: No Reader Yet Has Foretold the Ending

I think it's one of my more arresting ebook covers. A couple of times it has popped into the top 100 in its Amazon category but I hate to divulge which one because that gives too much away too early. No reader yet has foretold the ending.
Reviewer for The Notebook wrote:
"Two people connect over their losses, brought together by an unbelievable confession and a mysterious notebook hidden in an attic. Impossible to describe this story without spoiling it, but it is very powerful. The ending has a twist you'll never see coming."

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Two Author Signing Events Upcoming

I have two author signing activities in the near future. The first is a multi-author event sponsored by the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library. That will be Saturday, Feb. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the West Wyandotte Library, 1737 N 82nd Ave in KCK. Details here. They have also arranged for authors to read briefly from their works and I'll be reading from the intro of Crazy About You. Public reading and speaking has become a real challenge for me. I get extremely nervous in front of a group, but I've managed to pull it off in the past. My time slot to read is 10:10 a.m., shortly after the event opens.

My fiction is a smorgasbord of various genres from literary to comedy to mystery to thriller to science fiction. It's been difficult for me to find my brand but recently a reviewer wrote the following which I much appreciated:

Each book by Attwood has shared one common thread--his gift for creating a cast of diverse and interesting characters, and then weaving their lives together in a plausible, realistic series of events toward the most unpredictable and so often amazing outcomes.

The second event will be setting up my book display at Behind the Vintage Door March 4,5 for First Friday weekend activities at 1222 West 12th, KCMO, in what is known in these parts as the West Bottoms. I had a great time there last month and the foot traffic was excellent. I meet a lot of great people and sold books to diverse readers. The area is sprinkled with antique shops and flea markets and First Friday brings out the crowds and is a destination stop for gal-pal outings. There are plenty of food trucks for snacks and lunch. I'll be there by 10 a.m. both that Friday and Saturday.

I always like to publicly thank KC photographer Roy Inman for the black and white photo he took of me in my writing space. I've gotten a lot of use from it as you've seen above.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February 14 and Love is in the Air

How's this for a quick way to send a gift to your valentine? Go to Amazon and you'll see how easy it is to send an ebook. All you need is your valentine's email address. Among the buying options near the bottom you'll see a bar that reads "Give as a Gift." All under $5.

Here are those among my offerings that depend on a love story in their plots.

First the novels:
Heart Chants: Former foreign newspaper correspondent Phil McGuire has love drop into his lap in the most unexpected of ways. But will he be able keep her when her country, China, beckons her home?

From Heart Chants
Those special moments with a woman: the first kiss, the first caress, the first penetration. Each an individual cherished sweetness.

Crazy About You: Brad is a junior in high school when hormones get mixed with compassion and empathy overcomes reason. 

Where were the definitions and axioms and corollaries that would order the geometry of my feelings into some sort of a figure I could look at and understand and accept? Where was the E=MC squared of my life? Freud tried to come close with his id, ego, and superego. But he never came up with a formula. I think he made it too difficult. I think it all has to do with sex, fear, and love. Love of sex and fear of sex. Love of love and fear of love. Fear of fear and love of fear. Love of success and fear of success. Fear of failure and love of failure. Sex as a sign of success. Sex as a sign of love. Sex as a way of overcoming fear. Heck, Einstein had had it easy.

Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All: Stan Nelson is trapped in the 1960s and the girl he lost then during the tumultuous spring of 1970 on the campus of The University of Kansas.

From Then and Now
"And when did you fall in love with me?" she leaned back in my arms after the kiss and asked.
"I woke up with it the morning after I met you."


One More Victim: The whole story revolves around a childhood love lost and then recovered.

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. She opened her eyes and leaned her forehead to rest against my lips. I whispered her name as though it were magic. We were in another world.