Wednesday, August 16, 2017

KEN ATCHITY: Never Give Up!

What are the ingredients of a New York Times Best Seller? Ken Atchity has the answers and they are not what you expect. He is a movie producer, author of over 20 nonfiction books and novels. He has spent his lifetime helping writers get started and improve their careers. Writing was in his blood from the beginning. ‘I never understood writers’ block because I never had it,” he says.

What is the right mindset for being successful as a self-published writer?

It’s about what Winston Churchill said: “Never give, never give, never give up!” Don’t doubt yourself, keep working and learning more about your craft.

You wrote over 20 non-fiction books and novels. Are you still learning?

Yes, I am. I am always learning. I love writing because it’s a way of focusing your learning. I write the book first, then I do the research and spend years revising the book.

Some writers confessed that they don’t read books when they work on something new…

While you write your first draft, there is no need for you to read something else.The time to start reading other things is after you’ve finished it and improved it. You can always study yourself to death and never finish the first draft. And that’s the danger of it, or being influenced by other voices. It is much better to get your voice clear in the first draft and then give yourself a limited amount of time to do further research to make sure things are accurate. You would be surprised how often your imagination gets things pretty much right.

What do you appreciate most in a book?

I love books that take you to another world and keep you there the whole time. A storyteller who knows his craft will do this by not making a single mistake. A mistake is something that takes you suddenly out of that world.

You helped several authors to make the New York Times Best Sellers list. What are the ingredients of a bestseller?

That list is a victim of the changing times we are living now. In today’s world, a person needs to be famous or write about someone who is. The most recent three NY Times Best Sellers were about John Kennedy. But this list is not the only judge. Selling books on the Internet is a direct and immediate way to see if you could find an audience for your book.

Read more

Monday, August 14, 2017

MJ Magazine Reviews Michael A. Simpson's "Sons of My Fathers"

Sons of My Father: Michael Simpson: Reminding Us of our country


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Within the pages of this book you will meet members of the Simpson family within two distinct time periods. Both stories will come full circle and are told in separate narrative forms by one of the characters relating their struggles, joys and high jinks that were indicative of the Simpson family. This journey will introduce you the reader to the many generations of this family and give you a close profile of the author. In the past during the time of the Civil War you will meet Ulysses Simpson who along with his father Baylis and Uncle Eon join forces bent on revenge that will place them in danger with the Confederate Army, other soldiers as they forge ahead on many unknown territory with a wagon with feeble horses pulling them hoping to find the right burial ground for the men they are hauling in the back of their wagon. In the present we meet Ron Simpson who enlists in the Army following his father’s path. His father was as you will see in one of the pictures shared in the book was a WWII Marine Corps combat veteran. He was one of the legendary fighting forces combat veteran and one of the of elite instructors as noted on the back page during the Korean War.

In the present we get to know Ron, Michael and their close friend Alex Granger who along with Ron is somewhat of an upstart you might say. Loyal to Ron but yet never surprising readers with his pranks, strong armed ways and of course at times making Michael feel out of place. Their antics become well known, their trouble they get into while in the armed forces at times might get them in the brig or with some type of court martial yet when Michael is attacked at a dance when he innocently asked Diane, who he likes to dance, they rally around him making sure the bullies meet with their just desserts. Diane broke up with Chuck and even though he has a new girlfriend he seems bent on destroying Michael’s interest in her any violent way he can. Michael is the head lifeguard at the beach and Diane is one of the guards.

In the past we meet Baylis, Ulysses and Milton who takes along with them. He’s a teacher and has lost his job. As they travel together they realize they might be from different worlds but have much in common. 

When they finally reach their destination Ulysses and Baylis ask to rejoin their regiments to fight and Milton decides to become a missionary of some sort to help the people who have lost families and loved ones. But, when a guard starts to kill and maim those he feels are deserters, the Captain who Milton knows along with Baylis and Ulysses make their point in a very graphic and poignant way.

In the present we learn more about Ron and his stint in the army trying to learn to fly a specific type of plane. He wants to fly unarmed medavac helicopters during combat. These type of missions and helicopter flights have a high mortality rate but instead Ron finds himself flying a Huey gunship. Both Michael and Ron seem to be fighting personal wars within themselves as each one tries to find a place where he will be recognized in their own way. Remembering the past and what happened to the girl that wound up dead will this ever come out? Michael relished his role as head lifeguard until something happened to change it all.

When Julie Lacey drowned and his friend Kenny froze he tried to save the young girl but blamed himself for the failure. Helping a woman come into the club he realized that his boss was prejudice and quit. As Ron realizes that he would fly a Huey Gunship and was being sent along with his friend Alex to Vietnam. Haunted by what he sees on television and the deaths he witnesses himself, Ron is plagued with nightmares that never seem to go away. Alex finds it different and is more hardened to what happens during this war. Michael and Diane seem close for a time as Ron realizes that his enlistment was not what he expected and something snaps within him and goes back in time to his family’s past and might lose everything in the present.

Baylis and Ulysses and Milton bond in the past and then returning to face the Confederates and hoping to make it home to his family alive. As the rape of his daughter and the murder of his niece as too haunt Baylis the book begins with this incident and the burial of Melissa. Can a soldier find himself questioning is service? “Soldier’s of conscience” who would want that title and want to be called that would Ron?

The Civil War and the Vietnam War should be thought of as Civil Wars as both our nation and that of South and North Vietnam were torn apart. As in the past Baylis and Ulysses fought for the North hoping to defeat the South and the present the Vietnam War that most still feel should not have involved our country at all.

There are many issues that are brought to light within this true story and drama as the family is torn apart at the start and fights to find those who killed his loved ones, family loyalties, star crossed lovers, sense of obligation to your role in the army as opposed to patriotism, and conscience in war and a family secret that has been buried for years.

Two wars fought during two different time periods as Baylis and his son fight a war within the confines of their own country and Alex finds the battles terrifying and the end result if tragic for everyone. Ron realizes that he has found God and can no longer justify fighting in a war and killing people. His actions might cost him more than he is willing to give up as he decides to go AWOL. His family is alerted about this desertion but what will the final outcome be? Will he go across the Canadian border or will he return and face the consequences? Baylis too finds a new meaning in God but no one understands why he would let this carnage happen during both time periods.

Listening to Ron’s plight and meeting Vicki who changes his life will he come home when he learns his mother is ill and in the hospital? While Michael and his family are struggling with cold shoulders and being shunned by friends because of his desertion, Harold his own father loses his and things take on more of a tragic turn. While in the past you can smell the cannonballs, the fire, the death and the stench from the holes that many soldiers find themselves hiding in and taken prisoner.

Author Michael Simpson paints a grim picture but a realistic and true picture of two wars fought by his family members each one a civil war among people that wanted their own type of freedoms. The Bluecoats were dangerous and knowing they wanted to blow up Baylis’s regiment and his men would they be able to stop it before more men died? Alex’s death destroyed Ron in many ways and his mother Ginger seemed to withdraw from life while his mother Carlotta faced a different if not more powerful grief.

Baylis faces the soldiers and those that are captured will be sent to prison until the end of the war but General Sherman shows up and demands that one man be executed. The injustices are many and the fact that his men go along with it makes you understand the cruelties of war first hand as one man takes the bullets for the rest accusing himself of being guilty of a crime that was anything but one. In the present Ron comes home but will he be placed in jail or court marshaled?

Some endings prove to revert back to the beginning as the time line of events in each time periods brings to a close the dramatic end to both wars and what happens to Baylis and his son and then Michael and his family as lives end but some start over but how and where?

There are different ways we honor our country and Ron decided that his was to fly the medvac planes that were unarmed. His decision to state he was a conscientious objector caused him to be denied the right and he left to cross the border to Canada. The ending will explain his fate and Baylis’s convictions that he learned when he did a favor of a Confederate soldier who granted him his freedom in a way he would never forget. The ending brings us full circle to the beginning when Ron, Michael and Alex were best buds and got into all sorts of trouble as they relate the story to someone. “ I do solemnly swear in the presence of the Almighty God that I will henceforth and forever faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Union of States thereunder…” as Baylis made his sons take it to understand the meaning of loyalty to your country. This is a great reminder of what everyone needs to remember today. The documents added, the letters at the end and the pictures bring the story full circle and to life thanks to author Michael Simpsons and the Sons of My Father. As Ron explains the rationale behind the Vietnam War and is feelings about why it was about time to end it and go home. A true story of two wars that cost too many lives.

Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine

Saturday, August 12, 2017

More Story Merchant August Amazon eBook Deals!

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Shoot It Again Sam by Michael Avallone, An Ed Noon Mystery!

“It was all so simple, really. My assignment. I had come to kill the President of the United States." Ed Noon, Private Eye

For an old movie buff like Ed Noon, escorting the corpse of his favorite movie star to the west coast for burial was a sentimental journey. But then the coffin lid opened, the corpse sat up, the lights went out and Noon was on a terror trip past the wildest nightmares of the Hollywood dream merchants. Ed Noon is kidnapped, brainwashed and sent to assassinate the President of the United States, in one of his most mind-bending and intense adventures.

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She skis sightless, a monster at her heels!

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An American neuroscientist becomes embroiled in an international mystery that explores the meaning of miracles.

Monday, August 7, 2017

We all need to listen to this: Is truth still a relevant concept? How do we determine it?

The more we read and watch online, the harder it becomes to tell the difference between what's real and what's fake. It's as if we know more but understand less, says philosopher Michael Patrick Lynch. In this talk, he dares us to take active steps to burst our filter bubbles and participate in the common reality that actually underpins everything.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Larry D. Thompson's Dark Money is a finalists oin the 2017 Red City Review Book Awards!

Dark Money is eligible to receive the Fan Favorite award! Anyone can vote between now and August 15th.

To vote, you must tweet at us by mentioning @redcityreview and write the name of the book and author you want to nominate. Please also use the hashtag #redcityreviewfanfavorite.

One vote per Twitter account. Votes that do not follow these guidelines will not be counted.

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"Dark Money is a delightful detective yarn but, more than that, it brings to light the terrible . . . corruption of American politics. Highly recommended." 

~ Dain Dunstone.

Jack Bryant, a millionaire plaintiff lawyer, is caught up in the collision of money and politics when he receives a call from his old army buddy Walt Frazier. Walt needs his assistance in evaluating security for Texas Governor Rob Lardner at a Halloween costume fundraiser thrown by one of the nation’s richest Republican billionaires at his mansion in Fort Worth.

Miriam Van Zandt is the best marksman among The Alamo Defenders, an anti-government militia group in West Texas. She attends the fundraiser dressed as a cat burglar, wounds the governor, and murders the host’s brother, another Republican billionaire. She is shot in the leg but manages to escape.

Jack is appointed special prosecutor and calls in the Texas DPS SWAT team to track Van Zandt and attack The Alamo Defenders’ compound in a lonely part of West Texas. Van Zandt’s father, founder of the Defenders, is killed in the attack and Miriam is left in a coma. The authorities declare victory and close the case—but Jack knows better.

The person behind the Halloween massacre has yet to be caught. When Walt and the protective detail are sued by the fundraiser host and the widow of the dead man, Jack follows the dark money of political contributions from the Cayman Islands to Washington to Eastern Europe, and New Orleans.

Dark Money is a thriller, a mystery and an expose for fans of John Grisham and Joseph Finder.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Kenneth Atchity on What is Coverage? Dublin Writers' Conference

The Hollywood decision-maker who receives your story submission rarely has time to read it him- or herself. They assign it “for coverage” to the story department, and receive back a coverage. “Coverage” is the term used in Hollywood for the document that determines the fate of most story submissions. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017



By John Pfordresher 

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If I had read this admirable study by John Pfordresher, a professor of English at Georgetown University, of the enormous amount of lived experience Charlotte Bronte put into her novelistic Magnum Opus “Jane Eyre” even a few months ago, I would have thought it a little bit superfluous. After all, more than any other novel I have read, it strikes one with such immediate force, inducing a visceral reaction, an immediate empathy with the eponymous heroine.

Reading about the powerful emotions, even more powerfully expressed, in its opening which the bullied, scorned child Jane feels while locked in that infernal room, you would have to have the stoniest of hearts not to be moved to your very core.

But recently at an academic symposium, I had to sit and listen while a professor at a prestigious British university bloviated — seemingly endlessly — about what a ludicrous provincial figure Charlotte Bronte cut in London literary society.

In an insufferably superior manner, he mocked her Yorkshire accent, her dour demeanor, the paucity of her conversational skills, all the while paying lip service to her as a great writer. His whole point, insofar as one could grasp it amid the excess verbiage, was how could this ridiculous creature have produced such great books?

Had I been able to get a word in edgewise, what I would have said was “you just don’t get it, man!” And what I was thinking was “pity your poor students whom you are so misleading.” Didn’t he realize that perhaps the central point of “Jane Eyre” is that a small, unprepossessing young woman could possess a strength of character and of will so powerful as to be all-consuming and literally terrifying?

After all, when she does eventually get the once so formidable Mr. Rochester, who had deceived, teased and tormented even as he bewitched her, he is much reduced and physically as well as emotionally in her power. Make no mistake, it is the small, plain woman who has the upper hand now.

So if there are people like this strutting their false stuff in the groves of academe, Mr. Pfordresher’s students are fortunate indeed to have a guide like him to Charlotte Bronte’s life and oeuvre who understands how intricately they are intertwined. And so are the readers of this book, which now seems to me a good deal less redundant and a great deal more necessary than I might previously have thought.

This is indubitably a teacher and a critic who has enormous respect for Charlotte Bronte. And he knows how to express it through the words of those who actually knew her:

“When the well-known critic Harriet Martineau visited the family home in Haworth in later years she felt ‘something inexpressibly affecting in the aspect of the frail little creature who had done such wonderful things, and who was able to bear up, with so bright an eye and so composed a countenance, under not only such a weight of sorrow, but such a prospect of solitude. In her deep mourning dress (neat as a Quaker’s), with her beautiful hair, smooth and brown, her fine eyes, and her sensible face indicating a habit of self-control, she seemed a perfect household image.’ “
And how to add his own penetrating insight to this perceptive, respectful portrait:

“Reading ‘Jane Eyre’ we know how much of a personal victory Bronte had achieved through that self-control and how many secrets her composed countenance had concealed.”

That sentence, with which Mr. Pfordresher concludes his fine study, is nothing less than the distillation of his thesis and the multiple demonstrations of its validity.

Although Mr. Pfordresher gives due attention to Charlotte Bronte’s other works like “Shirley” and “Villette,” it is no accident that his title and subtitle enshrine “Jane Eyre” as her masterpiece; and rightly so.

It needs emphasizing that, just as the academic canon has come to elevate Jane Austen’s “Emma” on grounds of its structural perfection over her masterpiece “Pride and Prejudice,” it has tried the same legerdemain (albeit less successfully) with “Villette.” Here, the author demonstrates convincingly that although this last of Bronte’s novels published in her all too short lifetime draws more directly on her thwarted love for her teacher Constantin Heger in Brussels, Jane’s obsessive love for Mr. Rochester draws even more strongly on it.

And it is important never to lose sight that, however accomplished “Villette” is, “Jane Eyre” is, in addition to its manifold intrinsic virtues, probably the single most influential English novel ever written. Think “Rebecca” among so many other novels that could not have been written but for this magnificent precursor: a true and fruitful masterpiece indeed.

• Martin Rubin is a writer and critic in Pasadena, California.

Read more at The Washington Times

Monday, July 31, 2017

R.I.P. Sam Shepherd

“When you hit a wall – of your own imagined limitations – just kick it in.” 

― Sam Shepard 

Help Make a Thrilling Movie About a Stolen Election Because America Needs to Understand the Risk

Sanford (Sandy) Morganstein is looking for people to get involved.

He plans to raise the awareness of the vulnerability of our election process to hacking and foreign influence by creating an entertaining, thrilling movie (or TV series) based on the novel Cassandra, Chanting written in 2008, a novel about how America's enemies could steal an election and what would happen. Sound familiar?

Check out the trailer on Kickstarter and, you can

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Story Merchant Books Amazon August eBook Deals

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Michael A Simpson​'s Sons of My Fathers

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Based on the true story of the author's family, a multi-generational journey that intertwines two dramatic stories set one hundred years apart.

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The Renaissance Reader

As the transition period between the Middle Ages and modern times, the Renaissance is perhaps the most distinguished age since that of Classical Greece. Part of Harper Reference's successful Reader series, Kenneth Atchity's Renaissance Reader is a unique volume that provides a vast and varied collection of primary source documents and artwork of this fascinating period of history.