MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Dublin Conference Special: The Power Of Storytelling with Dr. Ken Atchity

Techniques For Becoming A Best Selling Author


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The Dublin Conference Special: The Power Of Storytelling with Dr. Ken Atchity


On this episode, Ken Atchity talks about the how story-telling is changing the world and the path to follow if you want to turn your book into a movie.

 
Dr. Ken Atchity (Yale Ph.D.), movie producer, author of over 20 nonfiction books and novels is our special guest. He has spent his lifetime helping writers get started with and improve their careers and has worked in nearly every part of the entertainment and publishing industries. He’s produced nearly 30 films in the past 25 years for major studios, television broadcasters, and independent distribution.

Ken Atchity will be also having a work-shop at this year's Dublin Writers Conference about the power of story-telling.


The Dublin Writers' Conference Specials is brought to you by
With Andrea Billig after our interview
booksgosocial.com and Laurence O'Bryan. The show is hosted by A.G.Billig, author, radio host and PR expert.





Read more at The Seductive Writers' Diary


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Guest Post: The Open Secret – Art Johnson

  The Open Secret by Art Johnson, author of Deadly Impressions, and The Devil’s Violin

Art1

I am an American by birth. In 2002 my wife and I moved to Nice, France where she had spent her childhood. I have remained in the region ever since. The term ex-patriot is not comfortable. I prefer to think of myself as a transplant.

I was part of the vast music scene based in Los Angeles from 1968 through the early 80’s; recording on jazz and pop albums, as well as T.V. and film music for various companies like A&M Records, Twentieth-Century Fox, Warner Bros, and Universal.

The pressure of real-time-perfection in the recording studios, aware of executives gathered around debating the relevancy of every note you played, would occasionally tempt one to break away from studio politics. A phone call from the management of a top recording artist, heading out for the road, would be just the ticket. Touring the globe was a fantastic experience, but it is not the romantic picture that most of the public conjures up. You are constantly on the move with just two or three days in each city, never having the time to adjust: packing/unpacking, airports, noisy hotel rooms, late meals, useless sound-checks, even more useless rehearsals, and the ever-changing itinerary surprises. Unlike the pressure in the studios, the perfection demanded in live performance offered the musician the opportunity to react with a thing called an audience: playing in real-time for people who paid to get in the door, always offers an honest appraisal of the performance moment.

Aside from wine, women and song, the greatest pastime for touring musicians in the days before IPads and the internet, was reading. Most touring musicians were very well read individuals. With hundreds of hours of flight time and anonymous hotel rooms, reading became a psychological necessity. Dashing through LAX, one early morning, late for a flight, I ran into a fellow road-warrior who, of course, was also a few minutes behind schedule. As he ran past, he tossed me a book, “This is perfect for you,” he shouted, fading into a crowded corridor. The book was William Butler Yeats’s, Mythology’s, and it was perfect for me. This seminal gathering of Irish folk tales and Yeats’s veiled, dream-like memories of the poet’s time spent in mystical contemplation and magical ritual with groups who studied Transcendental Magic, in the late 19th century, sparked my interest.

devil's violinFor the next few years, throughout the 80’s, I read and wrote poetry, essays and kept intricate journals for hours each day as I gathered a small, but powerful library of rare treatises on Hermetic subjects: tomes that Yeats and his circle drew inspiration from.
In 1988, a book of forty poems was published in Los Angeles, by Silent House Publications, a small, intimate publishing house which is no longer with us. As I was delivering coordinated lectures and readings, the slender volume sold surprisingly well. After the excitement faded, I continued to write and study, but a life in music was taking most of my time as a performer, lecturer and educator.

Nearly twenty-five years later, I was transformed into a fiction author of detective/mystery-suspense novels. I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but I soon realized how much those years tucked away in a garden apartment, with a library and candles, contributed to the task of constructing a novel.

art2All poets earn by their hard work, acute powers of observation. The constant sifting through images, gathered into the mental-emotional state, brings about the distillation and re-defining of experience, which can be compared to the complexities of an alchemical formula—the tearing down and re-combining of elements.

A few years ago my wife and I were visiting relatives in Italy. One night, just before going to sleep, a half-dozen names came to my mind, with brief descriptions of each character. I turned out the light, confident I would recall these characters in the morning. Two minutes later I was sitting up in bed taking notes: as a poet, you learn to never trust your memory to recall an image received from those supposedly, unknown sources.

Art JohnsonThe following morning, I sat for breakfast, with just a cup of coffee, a pencil and my notebook. Six roughly outlined chapters for, what would eventually become, The Devil’s Violin, were written then. Because I wasn’t eating, the Italian grandmother asked my wife why I didn’t like her cooking. She told her I loved her cooking, but right now I was beginning a new book. Everyone at the table smiled, except for grandmamma: she kept trying to shove an overflowing plate in front of me every time I set the pencil down to take a sip of coffee!


A life spent creating, has taught me that all imaginative endeavors, no matter what the genre—music, literature or the visual arts, derive their inspiration from the same source. This vision; the will-power and desire of an individual, relies on the ritual of transformation, guided by faith and belief in the self. Art and Magic are nothing more, or less, than making the invisible—visible.
Transition is an open secret.

Deadly Impressions, and The Devil’s Violin by Art Johnson are available here.

 Reposted from BooksGoSocial 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Filmmaker David Lynch Picked to Receive Yoga-Inspired Namaste Award

More than 200 yogis are expected at the posh Malibu fundraiser.


Glenn Hunt/Getty Images


There's an award ceremony for pretty much every walk of life in Los Angeles — even yogis.

Filmmaker David Lynch will receive the Namaste Award at Yoga Gives Back's 5th annual gala fundraiser, titled "Thank You Mother India," scheduled for Sept. 25 in Malibu. According to the organization, the bronze trophy simply "recognizes those who serve others." Lynch will be only the second recipient of the prize, following in the footsteps of previous honoree Malika Chopra, daughter of Deepak Chopra.

Lynch, best known for Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway and Blue Velvet, is being lauded for his "noble and humanitarian efforts" through his David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which makes transcendental meditation accessible to children and adults all over the world. (Lynch has been practicing TM since 1973 and has been a vocal advocate of the practice in the decades since.)

YGB Founder Kayoko Mitsumatsu said in a statement: “While it’s common for many to perceive yoga as a physical exercise, the ultimate goal of the practice of yoga is to unite with the Divine Self—and meditation plays an important role in achieving this. ‘Namaste,’ which means ‘the divinity in me salutes the divinity in you’ in Sanskrit, symbolizes Yoga Gives Back’s mission, which is to help others, and is the inspiration for the Namaste Award.”

More than 200 guests from the local yoga community are expected to attend the event at the Pacific Coast Highway estate of philanthropist Amarjit Marwah. Oh, and the invites promise "a generous gift bag" to go with the $200 tickets.

 Read more at the Hollywood Reporter


Monday, June 20, 2016

Celebrating Disappointment by Kenneth John Atchity



Are you disappointed? We all get disappointed by life from time to time and, in these “interesting” times, no doubt more often than usual.

Maybe because I savored my Roman Catholic upbringing, I was drawn to a profession in which rejection became not a daily occurrence, but an hourly one—until the email era, in which rejections come in once every few minutes! As an intellectual property manager, I try to tell my rejected clients that every no is a step further to the one yes we’re looking for. I remind them of a story I was once told:

There’s a big blackboard in the sky. On it are all the NOS you or your dream project will ever get. And there too is the final YES.

The only problem is that you can’t see the blackboard.

Since this is the case, what does the dreamer do? Only three things:

Never give up. You never know, but the YES may be lurking behind the NO that makes you want to throw in the towel. There’s only one way to find out: Persist. As long as you live and breathe. My definition of a happy death is dying in the middle of your dream.

Get through the NOS as fast as you can.

Don’t think negatively about them. Do you really wish your dream was accepted by the WRONG person? That’s what a NO is, a wrong person for your dream. Nothing would be worse, believe me, than having your dream partnered with someone you talked into it when they didn’t see it in the first place.

Celebrate each NO as a step forward toward making your dream come true. No successful dreamer has succeeded without dealing with rejection over and over. Edison….

Disappointment and celebration. To live a happy life, you can’t have one without the other. Think of them as life’s teeter-totter, disappointment on one seat, celebration on the other.

Imagine that you’re on that teeter-totter (because you are) but don’t understand how it works. Every time disappointment has the upper position, you sit there like a lump on a log and bemoan your fate.

That will literally get you nowhere, allowing disappointment to maintain the upper hand. I went to an ashram outside of Delhi some years ago, to check out for myself whether a certain guru was all my current girlfriend believed he was cracked up to be.

I have to admit I was nodding during most of the program, but during the question and answer period I came awake as I heard a distraught westerner lament that she tried so hard to lead the path of perfection and serenity but, because she was only mortal, kept falling. “What shall I do?”

He looked at her with that infinite ennui that teachers who have heard it all a thousand times experience, and said:

“Pick yourself up and keep going.”

“Master, I try to do that,” she lamented. “But I am weak, and I only fall again. How many times can I pick myself up?”

“Sister,” the wise man replied, “how many times can you fall?”

That’s when I decided he was indeed a wise man.

You’re sitting there on the ground, disappointment in the air, wondering your glass of life is half-empty. Finally you get tired of the half-empty glass. Or you figure it out—or you remember--and you use your legs as pistons and celebrate your ability to return to the top of the teeter-totter where your glass of life appears to be more than half full!

That’s celebration in action, countering disappointment. That’s optimism, the only logical program to adopt for life. It’s logical because it either proves to be justified—by success; or you’ll actually never know because you remain optimistic to the end. That’s why, in The Godfather, we all loved the Don Corleone’s last words as he fell to his knees with a massive stroke in the tomato garden: “La vita é cosí bella…Life is so beautiful”—optimistic to the un-bitter end.

Don’t think I’m not as bad as the woman at the ashram in terms of sitting at the bottom of the teeter-totter wondering what happened to put disappointment in the cat bird seat. I am as good at lamenting as the next guy, maybe even better! One day I was complaining to my best friend (you need to be careful who you complain to, by the way) about a clump of setbacks that happened one after another, yet another reflection of the turmoil of our times. I recited them to my friend and explained why I questioned whether life was still worth living.

He said, “So some deals fell through, and so it’s hard to earn a living.

“But you don’t have mongoloid children, but two kids who are earning a living and leading an okay life. You go back and forth to New York whenever you want to. You have a beautiful Japanese wife who cooks, takes care of the house, works hard, has her own non-profit, loves you. Loves you. Your brother is not in jail, but is a millionaire who leaves you alone. Your sisters aren’t drug addicts, but doing okay. You aren’t pushing a walker, you ARE playing tennis 3 times a week. You’ve been involved in a whole bunch of books that have your name in them. You’ve been involved in a bunch of movies. You have a bunch of projects that are still viable. You have friends who haven’t killed you yet. You’re not driving a junk heap but a luxury sedan with air conditioning. You have a view out three sides of your apartment in L.A. You have a cat who loves you. You meet Hollywood people and literary people all the time. You’ve developed your companies in a whole new direction and had the best year in six years last year. You have several major feature films nearing production. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR ATTITUDE?”

One thing about attitude: you’re entirely in charge of it. Celebrate that. Celebrate that the problems you have are the ones you asked for. The cost of admission to the stage of your life.

Reposted from Tome Tender

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Marketing Ideas That Can Help Authors Increase Sales: Create Box Sets and Bundles


Bundle the first few books in a series. Include the first two or three books of a series in a box set to promote a full-price book later in the series. This can be a way to hook readers and make them invested in the characters so they’re willing to pay full-price to know how the tale ends. Promote the next book in the series in the box set’s back matter.

Create a box set for standalones. Bundling standalones can increase loyal readership or drive sales of a new release if you launch your box set when your new release is published. You can strategically choose standalones to package together that include similar themes, whether by sub-genre, location, point in time, similar protagonists, holiday setting, or something else.

Include exclusive content in your box set. Adding a novella or short story to your box set could entice readers to buy the box set instead of just purchasing the first book in the set. This may also help convince your existing loyal readers to purchase the box set in addition to the individual titles they’ve already purchased.

Publish a multi-author anthology. Partner with other authors to create an anthology of novellas or short stories. If you promote the collection to your audiences, you can each increase your exposure by reaching the other authors’ audiences.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Write Your Novel to Be a Film by Kenneth Atchity


Novelists seeking representation complain that none of their books have been made into films. At any given moment, we have literally stacks of novels from New York publishers on our desks in Los Angeles. Going through them to find the ones that might make motion pictures or television movies, we — and other producers, managers, and agents — are constantly running into the same problems:

    “There’s no third act... It just trickles out.”
    “There are way too many characters and it’s not clear till page 200 who the protagonist is.”
    “I can’t relate to anyone in the book.”
    “At the end, the antagonist lays out the entire plot to the protagonist.”
    “There’s not enough action.”
    “There’s nothing new here. This concept has been used to death.”
    “We don’t know who to root for.”
    “The whole thing is overly contrived.”
    “There’s no dialogue, so we don’t know what the character sounds like.”
    “There’s no high concept here. How do we pitch this?”
    “There’s no real pacing.”
    “The protagonist is reactive instead of proactive.”
    “At the end of the day, I have no idea what this story is about.”
    “The main character is 80, and speaks only Latvian.”
    “It’s set in Papago...in the 1960s, and is filled with long passages in Uto-Aztecan.”
    “There are no set pieces.”

Of course anyone with the mind of a researcher can list a film or two that got made despite one of these objections. But for novelists who are frustrated at not getting their books made into films, that should be small consolation and is, practically speaking, a useless observation. Yes, you might get lucky and find a famous Bulgarian director, who’s fascinated with the angst of octogenarians, studied pacing with John Sales or Jim Jarmusch, and loves ambiguous endings.

But if you regard your career as a business instead of a quixotic crusade, you should be planning your novel from the outset to make it appealing to filmmakers.

Give us a strong (preferably male) lead who, good or bad, is eminently relatable — and who’s in the “star age range” of 35-50 (where at any given moment 20 male stars reside; a star being a name that can set up the film by his attachment to it).

Make sure a dramatist looking at your book will clearly see three well-defined acts: act one (the setup), act two (rhythmic development, rising and falling action), and act three (climax leading to conclusive ending).

Express your character’s personality in dialogue that distinguishes him, and makes him a role a star would die to play.

Have someone in the film industry read your synopsis before you commit to writing the novel.

Etc.

Though I’ve observed the phenomena for several decades now, it still surprises me that even bestselling novelists, even the ones who complain that no one has made a film from their books yet, don’t write novels dramatic enough to lend themselves easily to mainstream film. It’s a well-known phenomenon in publishing that, with very few exceptions, the more books a novelist sells the less critical his publisher’s editors are of his work. So time and again we read novels that start out well, roar along to the halfway point, then peter off into the bogs of formless character development or action resolution.

A publisher invests between $25,000 and $100,000 or more in publishing your novel. A low-budget feature film from a major Hollywood studio today costs at least $40 million. There is, from a business point of view, no comparison. Risking $40 million means the critical factor is raised as high as can be imagined when your book hits the “story department” — much higher than the critical factor of even the finest publishers. Hollywood studies what audiences want by logging, in box office dollars, cents, and surveys, what they respond best to.

If you want to add film to your profit centers as a novelist, it would behoove you to study what makes films work. Disdaining Hollywood may be a fashionable defense for writers who haven’t gotten either rich or famous from it, but it’s not productive in furthering your cinematic career.

Follow Ken Atchity on Twitter

Best First Sentence Contest at this year's Thrillerfest 2016!




Best First Sentence Contest
 
Please submit your very best first sentence to bestfirstsentence@gmail.com before May 31, 2016 for a chance to win a critique from one of the Master CraftFest teachers. What a fabulous opportunity! Master CraftFest teachers will be given a blind list of all the submissions, and each will chose their favorite opening sentence. The winners receive a critique of ten pages of their work from the teacher who chose their sentence.


Master CraftFest
 
Join our stellar group of teachers on Tuesday July 5, 2016 at Master CraftFest, a hands-on workshop for writers of all levels. It’s an intense but extremely helpful day. Each class, which is limited to 10 students, will allow you to work with a best-selling author on your manuscript in progress.

Our instructors this year are: 

Steve Berry
David Corbett
Grant Blackwood
Meg Gardiner
Heather Graham
Andrew Gross
Richard Krevolin (Screenwriting)
Gayle Lynds

Limited openings remain, and time is short. You'll need to submit a questionnaire and a 10 page writing sample by May 2nd. Click below to register, or if you're already registered and want to add Master CraftFest, email registrar@thrillerwriters.org.