Monday, October 20, 2014

Kenneth Atchity Featured in The Visionary

Get The Visionary in print or for your iPad, Kindle, Nook, or Kobo.

"You cannot fail at being yourself, which means doing with all your might what you were born to do with your light, your vision, and your time.”

There is no such thing as was—only is,” William Faulkner wrote. “If was existed, there would be no grief or sorrow.” Time is a human creation.

Time keeps then now. Time causes aging, not age. A mayfly has no time to realize its lifecycle is mere hours; fellow mayflies don’t remind it or post countdown clocks on its walls. By and within ourselves we are ageless. And time is what we make of it. We must make the time to do what we do best, what we were born to do.
Light is the universal mind revealing its potential. “Let there be light,” the creator said, and his very words were the light “that shineth in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Without the darkness whence it came, there would be no light; darkness is the chaos created by fear, unease with the universe—but also the womb of love and light. Light begets perception, and perception at its brightest is what we call vision.
Let your voice rise to the heavens called the Elder and the voices of the group rose strong and clear to greet the First Ray to celebrate its arrival in the cycle of this new lifetime as the ancients called the day this new journey of the Earth around the axis of its heart, to welcome it with outstretched arms and hearts wide open yes here the Light loved to shine
Reading Birgitte’s words makes me rejoice anew in that time of first light that I’ve sought throughout my life to dedicate to vision. Born on a farm, I’m happiest when I awaken an hour or two before dawn. This is my time, spent with a cup of savory coffee and a half-hour of reading inspirational words like these; followed by attending to my latest “visionary” project. Currently, that’s the completion of a family chronicle; prior to that it was my novel The Messiah Matrix, which explores the origins of Christianity from an unusual and little-discussed historical perspective.
I believe in the power of stories to change the world. My passion for stories has not only changed my life; it has been my life—hundreds of books sold to publishers or published by Story Merchant Books, two dozen New York Times bestsellers, thirty movies produced to date, several television series sold. All stories I felt needed to be told. It’s been my beloved vocation to inspire storytellers to reach for their maximum audiences. The books and movies we’ve developed have reached millions worldwide and it’s the best feeling to hear, on a plane from Hong Kong to Tokyo, that a complete stranger saw “Hysteria” or “The Kennedy Detail” and loved it.
Each day I’m ready for the sunrise, facing it with an exhilarating sense of promise and potential—and the power to choose how I fulfill it.
Vision weaves light and time into patterns, drawing our attention to them as confidently as male peacocks spread their tail feathers, young bucks clash with their antlers, or sea anemones vibrate color, drawing attention to the lifeforce’s need to replicate itself, thereby overcoming time and dancing with love and immortality. 
What is the purpose of this cosmic dance? we wonder. What is the purpose of life? Just as a California poppy bursts open with hues brighter than the rainbow, an antelope leaps across the Colorado prairie because she can, or the alpha lion’s mane grows shaggier with power, the purpose of life is simply to fill our human experience with forms we create to celebrate the splendor and beauty of the universal mind. 
One of those forms is time, the first expression created by humanity in response to the universal creation of light. While we wait for life to make its ultimate expression known to us, we ourselves reach for it by bathing in the light the universe sends to remind us of its eternal promise.
No matter how far we ever are from reaching that highest expression of ourselves, let us remember the words of Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset: “I think the only immoral thing is for a being not to live every instant of its life with the utmost intensity.” That’s what Mahatma Gandhi meant when he declared, “Full effort is full success.” 
Birgitte’s mellifluous prose reminds us that you cannot fail at being yourself, which means doing with all your might what you were born to do with your light, your vision, and your time.
~ Ken Atchity
Dr. Kenneth Atchity is an American producer and author who has worked in the world of letters as a literary manager, editor, speaker, writing and career coach, columnist, book reviewer, and professor of comparative literature. Called a "story merchant" by a visiting ambassador to the United States, Ken's life passion is finding great storytellers and turning them into bestselling authors and screenwriters.
A member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Ken has made numerous radio and television appearances and given keynote speeches at conferences throughout the world. He has produced over 30 films, including the Emmy-nominated “The Kennedy Detail,” and received awards and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation.
Following studies at Georgetown (A.B., English/Classics) and Yale (M.Phil. Theater History, Ph.D. Comparative Literature), Ken has served as professor and chairman of comparative literature and creative writing at Occidental College; editor of Contemporary Quarterly: Poetry and Art; columnist-reviewer for The Los Angeles Times Book Review; Distinguished Instructor, UCLA Writers Program; and Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Bologna.  

Learn more about Ken and his work at

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Big Thrill Interviews Dennis Palumbo author of The Phantom Limb, A Dennis Rinaldi Mystery Thriller

By Cathy Perkins

Phantom Limb by Dennis PalumboPalumbo’s fourth novel in the series, PHANTOM LIMB, opens with psychologist and Pittsburgh police department consultant Daniel Rinaldi’s new patient: Lisa Campbell, a local girl whose lurid, short-lived Hollywood career sent her scurrying back to the Steel City. Now married to one of the city’s richest tycoons, she comes to Danny’s office with a challenge: talk her out of committing suicide. Though he buys some time, she’s kidnapped right outside his office. The search for Lisa pits the police—and Danny—against a lethal adversary. At the same time, he tries to assist a friend’s brother, a bitter Afghan vet who lost a leg in combat, whose own life now appears at risk. Or is it?

Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter (including My Favorite Year and Welcome Back, Kotter), Dennis Palumbo is now a licensed psychotherapist and author. His acclaimed series of crime novels (MIRROR IMAGE, FEVER DREAM, NIGHT TERRORS and the upcoming PHANTOM LIMB) feature psychologist Daniel Rinaldi, a trauma expert who consults with the Pittsburgh police. All are from Poisoned Pen Press.

You’ve had a fascinating career—screenwriter to psychotherapist to novelist. As a psychotherapist, do you find this background provides insights into human behavior and/or helps develop the hero, villain, and perhaps the victim in your novels?

Definitely! I think the merging of my two careers—seventeen years as a TV/film writer and nearly three decades as a psychotherapist—has benefitted both the writing in general, and my exploration of human behavior in particular. Certainly my ongoing study of trauma has contributed to my understanding of the psychological issues with which the crime victims in my novels grapple. As for my hero, psychologist and trauma expert Daniel Rinaldi, my experience as a therapist in private practice—as well as time spent working in clinics and a psychiatric hospital—has given me a unique perspective on what might motivate a guy like him. As it turns out, he and I share a lot of the same ideas about the flaws in the mental health system and how psychotherapy is practiced. Go figure.

Although officially set in Pittsburgh, your Daniel Rinaldi series has avoided the “Cabot Cove” (kill everyone in town) effect through varied locations for the four books. How important do you believe setting and secondary characters are to a series?

I’m glad that you noticed how varied the locales are in the novels, even though they’re ostensibly set in Pittsburgh. Over the course of the four books (so far!), the stories have taken readers to rural Pennsylvania, as well as parts of Ohio and West Virginia.

I think this gives me greater freedom in the writing, since I’m not forced to situate all the action in Pittsburgh proper. Especially since I believe setting is crucial to giving visual interest and narrative vitality to the story. Just as I believe having interesting, believable secondary characters are crucial to the success of any long-term series. They add realism and context to the world of the hero. In fact, their interaction with my lead character actually helps define him. Moreover, if the emails I get are any indication, readers seem to enjoy watching the series’ secondary characters grow and change. I know I sure do!

As a follow up, I noticed Rinaldi’s love interest has a background role. What place do you see for relationships in action adventures or in suspense in general?

Again, I think the exploration of relationships is crucial to giving any suspense novel realism, depth, and relevancy. If the characters, and the ways they interact, aren’t compelling, why should we care what happens to them? The way I see it, good writing of any type depends on conflict, which derives from the expression of strong emotions. Moreover, if the stakes aren’t high—personally or professionally—for your characters, the reader’s investment in the story won’t be very high, either.

Daniel Rinaldi is a non-law enforcement protagonist who often takes on an independent investigative role, generally chasing the villains in superb action adventure scenes. How do you balance the fine line between a driven character and a reckless risk-taker?   

In Rinaldi’s case, I’m afraid there’s not much of a fine line. Practically every person in his life decries his “hero complex.” One of his colleagues on the force, Sgt. Harry Polk, is constantly reminding Rinaldi that he’s not a cop. But one of the things I strive for in the writing is to show how his emotional wounds, his own personal demons, compel a good deal of Rinaldi’s actions. And how this behavior is the counterpoint to his clear professionalism as a therapist.

Your books are known for well-written action and pace. Do you find this emphasis the nature of the genre or do you think it reflects a larger society or perhaps today’s shorter attention span?

Wow, that question may be above my pay grade! I do think a modern crime thriller needs thrills as well as crime, as long as the action scenes are realistic and seem to emerge naturally from the situation. So as not to seem to dodge the broader question, I do think crime novels reflect society, and have always done so. When I think of 1880s London, my reference point is the Holmes canon. My image of the Boston underworld is half George V. Higgins, half Dennis Lehane. The author Tom Wolfe said that the novel—any novel—has always served to describe a culture’s “status details,” the issues, trends, and mores of the society that the particular novel depicts. This is as true of crime novels as it is of general fiction.

Going back to your psychotherapist role, I found you’re described as a specialist in creative issues. Could you expand on that role?

After all my years as a TV and film writer, as well as a novelist and short story writer going back to the 1970’s, I figured that specializing in creative issues made sense when I started my therapy practice. Though most of my patients are writers in the entertainment industry, I also have novelists and journalists in my practice. As well as some musicians and actors. In my experience, creative people all tend to struggle with the same kinds of issues, regardless of medium or genre: “blocks,” procrastination, fear of rejection, anxiety, depression, and so on. Not to mention the havoc that having creative ambitions can play on relationships! As Robert Frost said, “The one thing all nations on earth share is the fear that a member of the family is going to want to be an artist.”

Tell us something about PHANTOM LIMB that isn’t mentioned in the publisher’s synopsis.

The character of Skip Hines, a returning vet who lost a leg to an IED in Afghanistan, suffers from “phantom limb” syndrome: the strange sensation that his missing limb is still there. That it itches sometimes, and feels the cold. As I got deeper into the writing, I realized that his phantom limb symptoms were a metaphor for the felt sense of loss we all experience sometimes in life. The death of a loved one, a painful divorce. That feeling that the person is not really gone from our lives. That their presence is still with us, as though a tangible thing. Given that Daniel Rinaldi’s wife was murdered, and his father died of alcoholism, he can really relate to Skip’s feeling that something that is gone is still, uncannily, there. At least in his mind.

Okay, enough with the business questions! How about some fun stuff? You know, just between the two of us. If you could travel anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, to do onsite research, where would it be?

Easy. Two places I’ve already been and am desperate to re-visit. The first is Nepal, where I trekked for weeks in the Himals. The landscape is breathtaking, the Nepali people the kindest and most generous of spirit I’ve ever encountered. The second place couldn’t be more different: Oxford, whose history and architecture really speaks to the Anglophile in me. I’d love to spend my dotage sitting under a thousand-year-old gargoyle, in some shadowed, forgotten corner of some shadowed, forgotten gothic building, with a glass of Pinot Noir and a good book.

What are you reading now for pleasure?

THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt. What an amazing writer!

What’s next for you?

Diving into the fifth Daniel Rinaldi novel. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of trouble the poor guy is going to get into next.

Reposted from The Big Thrill

Thursday, October 16, 2014

14 definitions of a “classic”

Why the classics should be read.


That’s exactly what beloved Italian writer Italo Calvino addresses in his 1991 book Why Read the Classics? — a sort of “classic” in its own right. In this collection of essays on classical literature, Calvino also produces these 14 definitions of a “classic”:

  1. The classics are those books about which you usually hear people saying: 'I'm rereading…', never 'I'm reading….'
  2. he Classics are those books which constitute a treasured experience for those who have read and loved them; but they remain just as rich an experience for those who reserve the chance to read them for when they are in the best condition to enjoy them.
  3. The classics are books which exercise a particular influence, both when they imprint themselves on our imagination as unforgettable, and when they hide in the layers of memory disguised as the individual's or the collective unconscious.
  4. A classic is a book which with each rereading offers as much of a sense of discovery as the first reading.
  5. A classic is a book which even when we read it for the first time gives the sense of rereading something we have read before.
  6. A classic is a book which has never exhausted all it has to say to its readers.
  7. The classics are those books which come to us bearing the aura of previous interpretations, and trailing behind them the traces they have left in the culture or cultures (or just in the languages and customs) through which they have passed.
  8. A classic is a work which constantly generates a pulviscular cloud of critical discourse around it, but which always shakes the particles off.
  9. Classics are books which, the more we think we know them through hearsay, the more original, unexpected, and innovative we find them when we actually read them.
  10. A classic is the term given to any book which comes to represent the whole universe, a book on a par with ancient talismans.
  11. 'Your' classic is a book to which you cannot remain indifferent, and which helps you define yourself in relation or even in opposition to it.
  12. A classic is a work that comes before other classics; but those who have read other classics first immediately recognize its place in the genealogy of classic works.
  13. A classic is a work which relegates the noise of the present to a background hum, which at the same time the classics cannot exist without.
  14. A classic is a work which persists as a background noise even when a present that is totally incompatible with it holds sway.

    Reposted From Brain Pickings



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Happy Birthday e.e. Cummings


For E. E. Cummings’s birthday: a letter he wrote to Ezra Pound in October 1941, larded with gossip, political commentary, neologisms, and mordant pseudonyms. (Look out for Archibald MacLeish and William Carlos Williams, among others.) Pound and Cummings first met in Paris in 1921; this letter and others from the expansive Pound-Cummings correspondence appeared in our Fall 1966 issue, with Cummings’s “often eccentric punctuation and his verbal byplay intact.” 

October 8, 1941

whole, round, and heartiest greetings from the princess & me to our favorite Ikey-Kikey, Wandering Jew, Quo Vadis,Oppressed Minority Of one, Misunderstood Master, Mister Lonelyheart, and Man Without A Country

re whose latest queeries

            East Maxman has gone off on a c-nd-m in a pamphlet arguing everybody should support Wussia, for the nonce. “Time” (a loose) mag says Don Josh Bathos of London England told P.E.N. innulluxuls that for the nonce writers shouldn’t be writing. Each collective choisi(pastparticiple,you recall,of choisir)without exception and—may I add—very naturally desires for the nonce nothing but Adolph’s Absolute Annihilation, Coûte Que Coûte (SIC). A man who once became worshipped of one thousand million pibbul by not falling into the ocean while simultaneously peeping through a periscope and sucking drugstore sandwiches is excoriated for,for the nonce,freedom of speech. Perfectly versus the macarchibald maclapdog macleash—one(1)poet,John Peale Bishop, hold a nonce of a USGov’t job;vide ye newe Rockyfeller-sponsored ultrarumpus to boost SA infrarelations. Paragraph and your excoed Billy The Medico made a far from noncelike W.C. of himself(per a puddle of a periodical called “Decision”)relating how his poor pal E.P. = talented etc but ignorant ass who etc can’t play the etc piano etc… over which tour d’argent the wily Scotch duckfuggur Peter Munro Jack 5 Charles Street NYCity waxed so wroth he hurled at me into New Hampshire a nutn if not incandescing wire beginning “stab a man in the back but do it three years too late”:’twould hence appear you’ve still some friends, uncle Ezra, whether vi piace or non

now to descend to the surface;or, concerning oldfashioned i: every whatsoever bully(e.g. all honourless & lazy punks twerps thugs slobs politicos parlourpimps murderers and other reformers continues impressing me as a trifle more isn’t than least can less and the later it’s Itler the sooner hit’s Ess. Tune: The Gutters Of Chicago
“make haste” spake the Lord of New Dealings
“neutrality’s hard on my feelings”
—they returned from the bank
with the furter in frank:
& the walls,& the floors,&the ceilings)
As my father wrote me when I disgraced Orne—forsan et haec. And the censor let those six words through
hardy is as hardy does

Reposted From The Paris Review

Monday, October 13, 2014

Miki's Hope Reviews Dennis Palumbo's Night Terrors!

I can almost guarantee that you will not be able to see the ending of this book coming! What a roller coaster ride! The characters come to life and are extremely believable.

Daniel, a psychologist who sometimes is an outside consultant for the police is always getting into trouble-he just can't let the police do their jobs-and he has the bruises and broken bones to prove it. He just has to get involved in the investigations, much to the consternation of the police officers--some of whom he doesn't exactly get along with!

This is the third book in the Daniel Rinaldi Mystery series. It can definitely be read as a stand alone. I have a feeling that I am going to try to get the first two books as well as the 4th!!!!

About the Book (from Amazon)

After twenty years spent inside the heads of the nation’s worst serial killers, retired FBI profiler Lyle Barnes is falling apart mentally. Psychologist and trauma expert Daniel Rinaldi thinks he can help Barnes through his terrible night visions. Barnes, however, is also the target of an unknown assassin whose mounting list of victims paralyzes the city and lands Lyle in protective custody. When Barnes flies the coop, he draws Daniel and the joint FBI-Pittsburgh PD Task Force into a desperate manhunt.

Meanwhile, a second case competes for Daniel’s attention. The mother of a youthful confessed killer awaiting trial is convinced that her son is innocent and appeals to Daniel for help. Against his better judgment, he becomes involved, and soon suspects that much about the case is not as it appears.

Daniel is faced with a number of questions. Can he and the law officials find the missing Barnes before the killer does? Will the danger closing in around him begin to affect his personal life, such as his deepening relationship with Detective Eleanor Lowrey? And are these two seemingly unconnected cases somehow linked?

Read a couple of chapters here

Purchase the book here

Friday, October 10, 2014

Guest Post: My grandson just uttered his first word, and it's not what we expected by Jerry Amernic

My daughter has a one-year-old. His name is William, he’s a cute little guy and we all love him to death.

He has dimples in his cheeks when he gives us his four-tooth smile (two uppers, two lowers). The week after his birthday he did two things for the first time: He walked by himself, and it was something to behold – a cross between Frankenstein and Jimmy Cagney – and the other thing he did was utter a word, but it wasn’t Mama or Dada.

Here’s the story. In our dining room we have this pendulum wall clock, and every time it gongs, William takes note. If he is visiting us at noon and hears 12 gongs, he sits up, completely mesmerized, with his mouth ajar, until the string runs out. He doesn’t even blink. If he’s in his high chair in the kitchen and we ask, “Where is the clock?” he knows where to look and sometimes he points to it.

The other day he finally said it. Clock. It was his first word, only he didn’t quite capture the consonant blend, and so, it came out minus the “l”. Kapeesh?

Now, of course, he’s saying it all the time and my daughter, his mom, is beside herself. She has a book where she records such things as his height and weight at birth, when his first tooth appeared, and his first word. But she is still leaving that one blank.

I am sure he says it when she’s out shopping with him at the grocery store. Or when they visit the other grandparents. Or when they have friends over to the house. It must be embarrassing.

I play old-timers hockey with the guys. The thing about men’s hockey leagues is that when you’re in your 20s and 30s, dressing-room talk is always about women – wives, girlfriends, barmaids. In your 40s, it’s about family and kids. In your 50s, colonoscopies and other bodily issues are the rage, so any opportunity to inject humour into the proceedings is welcome.

When we were getting dressed for a game the other night, the guy next to me, a big defenceman who happens to be a police officer, announced that he just became a grandfather. After offering congrats, I mentioned this little story about my grandson.

Bob – that’s his name – said it’s a good thing William’s initial foray into language didn’t refer to the female anatomy.

Could you imagine? It got me thinking. Can a one-year-old be charged with creating a public disturbance?

I should ask Bob, he’s a cop. But no. I’m sure that a little kid can’t be charged with anything. But the adult who’s running the show certainly can, and that goes for mothers, fathers and grandfathers.

Since I’m the one who got him interested in that wall clock by making a fuss whenever it gonged, I feel responsible, and now it’s obvious that I created a monster.

Because of me, William says “clock” (minus the “l”) when you shove your watch in his kisser.

Because of me, he says “clock” (minus the “l”) when you put him down to play with that Fisher-Price toy that has the round face with the big hand and little hand on it.

Because of me, he says “clock” (minus the “l”) whenever he sees any kind of clock at all.

On his last visit to the house I spent a lot of time with him. We were both looking at his parents’ wedding portrait hanging in the hallway.

“Mama,” I said over and over, pointing to my daughter.

“Dada,” I said, pointing to my son-in-law.

Mama. Dada. Mama. Dada.

Nothing. Not even a glimmer of recognition.

Just then the pendulum wall clock in the dining room issued a single gong, signifying arrival of the half-hour.

“C[l]ock!” William said out loud, turning to the sound. It was as clear as the proverbial bell.

Satisfied, he smiled from cheek to cheek, dimples and all.

I was toast.

Orginally Posted on The Globe and Mail

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Five Star Review for R. Lee Walsh's Irin on Reader's Favorite

purchase on

Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite

R. Lee Walsh's fantasy novella, Irin: The Last Scribe, is about an ancient race of supernatural beings known as Irin. They don’t age, get sick or wounded like normal humans do. They walk freely in society, easily overlooked as someone unimportant. They protect the world against those who intend to corrupt and terrorize humankind’s existence. In Irin: The Last Scribe Prequels Book 1, we meet Riley Storm, an Irin enforcer who is seeking his missing partner. His search brings him to Los Angeles, where he discovers a disturbing secret behind the city's most violent criminals.

Irin is a novella that easily rivals a lengthy novel. It is less than 70 pages, yet the back story is enough for readers to familiarize themselves with the ethereal existence of the Irin race, particularly Riley Storm and Peach. It is captivating right from the beginning – it only took two pages for the story to fully hook my interest, and I easily immersed myself in every vividly written scene. The challenge of writing a fantasy fiction is getting the readers to understand the concept of the story, its world and be fascinated by its ethereal characters. I personally think that Walsh nails this prerequisite element of the genre.

On the whole, The Last Scribe is definitely a series that fantasy fans would love to follow. It is fascinating, action-packed and very readable. The plot is original and has substantial depth. Walsh’s talent as a writer is definitely a laudable one. I would certainly keep a lookout for her next work. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

UBAD Writers & Readers Festival October 1-5, 2014

web program launch

We are delighted to share with you the full program for Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, October 1-5, 2014.

With over 150 writers from more than 25 countries it’s truly a celebration of global issues, big ideas and extraordinary stories. This year’s theme, Saraswati: Wisdom & Knowledge is an exploration of the wisdom to be gained by creative expression.

A number of the Festival’s writers are no strangers to prizes – such as Hassan Blasim (Independent Foreign Fiction Prize); Eimear McBride (Baileys Women’s Prize) and Cyrus Mistry (2014 DSC Prize) – to name a recent few.

Queen of Crime and creator of much-loved series Wire in the BloodVal McDermid will be jetting over from Scotland, while master novelist Amitav Ghosh joins us along with Pulitzer Prize-finalist Deborah Baker (they’ll also lead an exclusive post-Festival Komodo Islands cruise).

With wandering in their blood, the program features British travel writing great Colin Thubron; memoirist Robyn DavidsonTim Cope; and Carl Hoffman.

Rayya EliasKate Holden and poet Kosal Khiev are all survivors of different stripes, while star of Spike Lee’s Inside ManCarlos Andrés Gómez is also an acclaimed spoken-word poet and writer.
Leading the vanguard for avant-garde Asian fiction is Chinese writer Can Xue and Japanese novelist Minae Mizumura, while ex-pat Malaysian Tash Aw continues to delight us.

From Indonesia the Festival has invited publishing pioneer Goenawan Mohamad, intellectual Azyumardi Azra, art patron Agung Rai and Festival favourites Debra YatimAhmad Fuadi and Ketut Yuliarsa‘Truman Capote with a machete’ Made Wijaya joins the line-up, as does How to act Indonesian YouTube hit sensation Sacha Stevenson, plus many more.

Ardent human rights activists and social commentators are plenty, from one-time UN Representative in Sudan Mukesh Kapila, to frontline journalist Pallavi Aiyar, author of TheWisdom of Whores and Indonesia etc. Elizabeth Pisani, and Polish editor and journalist Adam Michnik. On the environmental front we have Keibo OiwaNadya Hutagalung,Willie Smits and more.

In addition to our Main Program and Special Events, we’ve added exciting extras: Yoga; Digital Dialogues; Surf; plus of course Environment Day and The Kitchen. We hope you enjoy exploring.

With literary lunches, workshops, in-depth conversations,children’s and youth events, twilight performancesfilm screenings, poetry slams, cultural masterclasses, art exhibitions, book launches and more, be sure not to miss this world class event set in Bali’s cultural heartland.
Full program HERE.

Purchase your Festival Passes HERE.

Please note: Sir VS Naipaul will unfortunately no longer be joining the 2014 line-up. More information here.

Author101 University event in Los Angeles Oct 23 -26 in Los Angeles

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"Exciting twists in this thriller will keep readers guessing until the surprising conclusion."

Reviewed by Tanzey Cutter

As a Pittsburgh Police Department consultant, clinical psychologist Daniel Rinaldi has been involved in solving several murder investigations, but his favorite job is helping victims deal with the aftermath of violent crimes. He's intrigued by his newest patient, Lisa Harland, ex- Hollywood starlet who's returned to Pittsburgh and married a much-older business mogul; a callous, controlling man. Lisa informs Rinaldi that she's planning to kill herself and he has 50 minutes to talk her out of it. Having accomplished that goal during their session, Rinaldi is shocked when Lisa is abducted and he's knocked unconscious as she leaves his office.

Rinaldi now finds himself part of another police investigation, to the chagrin of several of the detectives, but Lisa's husband insists Rinaldi play an active part in getting his wife back. When the ransom call comes from the kidnappers, they demand that Rinaldi make the delivery -- with no cops involved. It's too late to fulfil that final ultimatum, since the police were called in immediately after Lisa was taken. Of course, things go all wrong during the ransom drop, and thus begins an elaborate and lethal succession of events that will prove fatal for some of those involved. The further the investigation proceeds, the more questions arise about who's involved and why. The answers will be shocking.

PHANTOM LIMB, Dennis Palumbo's fourth exciting Daniel Rinaldi mystery/thriller, moves along at a rapid pace with a distinctive blend of characters strengthening a plot filled with many surprising twists and turns. At the end, Rinaldi is given some shocking, new information about the death of his wife, which should make for an interesting book in the future.


Psychologist and Pittsburgh Police Department consultant Daniel Rinaldi has a new patient. Lisa Harland, a local girl, once made a splash in Playboy and the dubious side of Hollywood before bottoming out. Back home, down and out again, she married one of the city's richest and most ruthless tycoons. Lisa's challenge to Danny is that she intends to commit suicide by 7:00 PM. His therapist skills may buy some time — but, exiting, she's kidnapped right outside his office.

Summoned to the Harland estate, Danny is forced, through a bizarre sequence of events, to be the bag man on the ransom delivery. This draws him into a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a brilliant, lethal adversary. Complicating things is the unhappy Harland family, whose members have dark secrets of their own along with suspect loyalties, as well as one of Danny's other patients, a volatile vet whose life may, like Lisa's, be at risk. What is really at stake here?

PHANTOM LIMB, fourth in the acclaimed series of Daniel Rinaldi thrillers, will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

Reposted from Fresh Fiction

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mystery writer Palumbo keeps his voice set in Western Pa.

In Dennis Palumbo's new novel, “Phantom Limb” (Poisoned Pen Press), a character walks into a therapist's office and puts forth the following scenario: “I plan to kill myself at 7 o'clock tonight. Which means you have 50 minutes to talk me out of it.”

It sounds like a line from a television show or movie, especially given Palumbo's background as a screenwriter for both mediums. But the origin of the scene was not at all pleasant for Palumbo, who is a licensed psychotherapist.

“It would be (comical),” Palumbo says. “Except it happened to me. ... I had been a therapist for about a minute and a half, and a woman came in, who was about 55, and said, ‘I have the pills at home and I'm going to kill myself at 7 p.m. You have 50 minutes to talk me out of it.' ”

“If you can get them to come back, you've got a pretty good shot,” he says.

Palumbo, a native of Penn Hills, has lived in the greater Los Angeles area for 40 years. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, he was a staff writer for the sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter” and wrote the screenplay for the film “My Favorite Year.” “Phantom Limb” is his fourth crime novel featuring Daniel Rinaldi, a psychologist based in Pittsburgh.

The title refers to the sensation that a missing arm, leg or other appendage is still attached to a body. That theme

is woven into a book about one of Rinaldi's patients, a former Playboy model and actress who is the wife of a rich businessman. When she's kidnapped after an appointment with the psychologist (she's the character who threatens to kill herself), Rinaldi becomes inextricably involved in solving the crime.

While Palumbo shares his character's Italian heritage, Pittsburgh background and occupation, he's admits Rinaldi can do things — such as solve crimes — beyond his scope of experience.

“But his point of view about therapy and the mental-health system comes from me,” Palumbo says. “One of the real treats about writing this series is I get to talk about the things I love, like the mental-health industry and Pittsburgh.”

Pittsburgh's prominent role in “Phantom Limb” and the rest of Palumbo's books might seem odd, given that he's not lived in Western Pennsylvania since the 1970s. But that timespan and the distance from California to Pennsylvania have allowed Palumbo to see the city in a new light.

“(Pittsburgh) has a noir quality at night that I think has been unexplored, or unexploited,” he says. “I think the fact I no longer live there allows me to have this feeling. I've been in L.A. for 40 years and to me, writing about Los Angeles would be kind of boring. These are the streets I drive through every day. I don't think it has the same resonance for me.”

What is so very L.A. is Palumbo's clinical specialty: many of his patients have “creative issues.” Often, that's just the tip of their Freudian icebergs.

“Most of my patients are writers and directors and producers and actors and set designers,” he says. “They often come in, presenting with writer's block or procrastination or fear of failure or fear of rejection, garden-variety stuff. But those things are so connected to their personal lives. Within three weeks, we're just doing regular psychotherapy.”

Rege Behe is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

Reposted From triblive

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Guest Post: A little editing leads to happy ending for literary agent by Nancy Nigrosh

L.A. Affairs 
During the 10-plus years I was a single parent, I was consumed by my career as a literary agent. This was the kind of job that involved long-range strategies and 24/7 focus. I didn't have the time or energy left over to date. Instead, I devoted myself to many well-intentioned but futile attempts to rein in my troubled teen, who was moving in a perilously rebellious direction.

As a parent, my heart was breaking and yet as a woman I couldn't shake the persistent and inexplicable feeling that somewhere, at some point, I'd actually met the man I longed for, who'd somehow vanished from view. I often had the uncanny feeling he might be right under my nose, maybe even next door or down the block.
L.A. Affairs

I responded to all of this by putting my sorrow aside and going into a free fall, flinging my heart wide across the 'Net. I became "Ms. Aloft" (a lame reference to the fact I lived in a loft downtown) on a plethora of dating sites.

I checked my inbox with regularity but attracted only respondents who lied about everything from relationship status to height, weight and bank account. When I tried to explain all of this to a friend, I sobbed, and he said, "I know an Internet dating coach. Maybe she can help."

I phoned the expert, and to my surprise, she came right over. "No wonder you're attracting weak men," she said. "We have to do something about that profile picture."

"It was taken for an article I wrote for Variety!" I protested.

As she snapped a new photo with her phone, she explained, "You look like a dominatrix in that picture. Let's have a look at your closet."

I pulled out some of my nicest clothes and arranged them on the bed. She responded by tossing them aside and went right for the lingerie drawer. I could feel my heart pound.

"Put these on," she purred, handing me a pair of modest Chinese silk pajamas "then this … and this," referring to combinations I never would have thought of, snapping away with her phone.

Then she instructed me to close my eyes and imagine the man I sought. "Now, tell me how you feel about him. Be really specific." Words, just like the clothes in my closet I'd never imagine pairing, came pouring out for the first time.

Satisfied, she announced, "OK, now let's rewrite your profile." Though I wanted to reveal my true age, she advised against it: "You're a youthful-looking lady. They'll think your pictures are 10 years old and you're being dishonest. Put down that you're 10 years younger, then add you're actually 'somewhat older' … but 'identify with a younger vibe.' Then add that your pictures were taken this month, this year."

To lie and immediately acknowledge it seemed perfectly honest to me.

Next she asked, "How do you feel about him having children?" I sighed, "I assume every man has children." Flinty-eyed, she continued, "That's not what I asked." So I typed: "Though I have a wonderful 17-year-old, I'm not looking to raise any other children." Saying what I wanted suddenly wasn't so hard.

One evening I noticed a nice-looking face and clicked on his profile. I read about the woman he longed for. He described me to a T.

We made a plan to meet at a popular downtown L.A. spot. I immediately felt at ease, settling into the calm he cast over the tiny table we shared. I told him my true age, which was the same as his. We discovered we'd been classmates in the same school in New York in the same program the very same year. We retraced the steps of our separate journeys in migrating West. As I suspected, for many of the years since college, we'd been living less than two miles from each other in Santa Monica. It turned out that his sister-in-law, who lived in Los Angeles, was a longtime friend of mine. His cousin was an East Coast literary agent with whom I'd co-represented an author only a few years earlier.

He'd never married yet he always believed, as I did, that his destiny was out there, somewhere, and somehow he would find her.

He asked me to attend his nephew's engagement party, where I knew more of the guests than he did. We waltzed through our own private nostalgia ball, also becoming engaged.

Months later, at our wedding on our downtown rooftop, our violinist neighbor played sweet notes that seemed to sum up our long journey. I texted my dating coach: "Life is lived forward but understood backward. What could say 'happily ever after' better than an actual fiddler on an actual roof?"

Nigrosh is a consulting editor for authors and screenwriters in Los Angeles and teaches at UCLA Extension's Writers' Program.

Reposted from LA Times

Monday, September 15, 2014

Guest Post: Enough: How Not to Over-Write by Dennis Palumbo

How to write enough (but just enough) to engage the reader

 Hollywood on the Couch

The inside scoop on Tinseltown, USA.

There’s a great moment in the classic film Key Largo, when gangster Edward G. Robinson is asked—given the extent of his wealth and power—what he could possibly still want. “More,” he famously answers.

More. Kind of the American credo in a nutshell, which isn’t as damning as it sounds. The word "more," when appearing before such other words as individual rights, artistic freedom and access to information, stands as a proud element of the Western imperative. On the downside, more has also fueled global climate change, the growing gulf between people’s incomes, and an almost obscene preoccupation with material things. When it comes to life in general, "more" is definitely a two-edged sword.

I’d argue that the same holds true with the craft of writing. More is not always better. In a screenplay, for example, an overwritten patch of description can bring the reader to a screeching halt, draining the narrative of pace and forward momentum.
Find a Therapist

Or take monologues. Unless used sparingly, and with a definite intent, a monologue in a film or TV script can often make the character just seem wordy. (Exceptions abound, of course. Such powerhouse writers as Paddy Chayefsky, Rod Serling and Quentin Tarantino come to mind. And even they occasionally fell prey to mere self-indulgence.)

In a short story or novel, endless words of description—whether of place, a character’s physical appearance, or in the service of the author’s thematic or philosophical interests—can slow the narrative to a crawl.

Overwriting, it’s safe to say, is by general agreement a bad thing. Then why do so many writers do it?

Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about the normal, expected overwriting that characterizes your first draft. During those explosive, flowing, unfolding bursts of creativity, your inner editor is—you hope—asleep at the switch until you get the myriad ideas, incidents, breath-taking narrative leaps and beside-the-point stretches of dialogue down. The first draft is when you do get to describe a character as “grungy, foul-smelling, disheveled, knuckle-dragging and poorly-dressed.” You can even add, “We are repulsed. Taken aback. Aghast. The camera’s eye wants to turn away.” The more socially-conscious might note: “A grim reminder of the dismantling of the welfare system’s safety net in the past thirty years.”

No matter. All that hooey gets edited out in later drafts. Or should. Yet, for some writers, it feels like tearing a piece of their skin away to delete any of it. Why? Is it because they think every word is golden? Hardly. In fact, it’s the reverse.

In my experience with the writer patients in my therapy practice, those who tend to overwrite are usually struggling, whether they know it or not, with issues of self-trust. Either they don’t feel entitled to be writing in the first place and thus need a cornucopia of words to try to mask this, or else they feel unsure of their talent and craft. If the latter is the case, these writers try to convince the reader of the legitimacy of the idea or emotion or scene being depicted by packing it with adjectives, metaphors and authorial asides. Anything—and everything—to make sure the reader gets it.

On the other hand, writers who trust their skills and/or feel entitled to be writing at all have faith in the narrative and emotional power of the single appropriate phrase, the short though vivid description, the seemingly simple line of dialogue freighted with meaningful subtext.

The ancient poet Gensei wrote: “The point of life is to know what’s enough.” That’s the point of writing as well. Not only does self-trust enable writers to shape their work into its most effective, compelling form, but such writing also has enough “air” in it to allow readers to bring their own experiences to what they’re reading (or seeing onscreen), thus increasing the work’s relevancy.

In other words, good writing is what is evoked in the spaces between the written lines. Good writers have enough trust in themselves to know that there’s something there, and that they’ve written enough (but just enough) to convey the thought that sparks the echoing thought in the reader’s mind. They’ve portrayed enough of the character’s emotional life to resonate with similar aspects of the reader’s inner world. A single descriptive word, such as barren or choked or remorseless, can bring with it a wealth of associations to thoughts, feelings and images waiting to be stirred into life in the reader’s imagination.

How do writers develop self-trust? The way we do in most other aspects of life. By doing. Writing. Risking that our readers will follow us where we’re going; that what we have to say, or what we’ve always felt, or what we openly fear or yearn for, will find a recognizable home in the reader’s heart. Self-trust, like it or not, is born of risk. As are most worthwhile things.

Ultimately, if we believe we ourselves are enough, we’ll believe that what we’re writing is enough, too.

Reposted From Hollywood on the Couch

Friday, September 5, 2014

Anonymous was a woman by Fred Shapiro

Your favorite famous quotation: was it by Voltaire? Yogi Berra? Or some woman you’ve never heard of?

    "I would venture to guess that Anon,
    who wrote so many poems without signing them,
    was often a woman."
    —Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf wrote those words about the entire realm of literary creation, not about that special subset of it called "quotations"—the minting of concise snippets so eloquent or insightful as to be memorable. But those of us who dig deeply for the earliest sources of well-known lines discover, time and again, that here, too, Woolf was right: Anonymous was a woman. Many of the great quotesmiths have been women who are now forgotten or whose wit and wisdom are erroneously credited to more-famous men.

Scholars of sociology, history, psychology, women's studies, and other fields, not to mention writers and thinkers like Woolf herself, have written about why this should be so. I won't seek to tackle that question here. Instead, I present the raw material—or, rather, the fraction of it we know.

The authorship of some of these phrases had been forgotten for years or decades before being unearthed by a researcher. In other cases, the authors were never "lost"—their names have long been known to specialists and can be easily found with a little research—yet they are mostly unknown to the general public. Moreover, the real authors are often obscured by inaccurate attributions that have gained wide currency.

Finally, a few of these lines were crafted by women who are anonymous partly because they worked in professions that tend to be anonymous, such as screenwriting or speechwriting. I've included them nevertheless, because they show the range and depth of well-known quotations by women. The hallmark of almost all these cases, in fact, is that people are surprised to learn that such famous lines were written by such obscure women.

The quotations here are grouped in two categories: the misattributed and the forgotten. Within each category, they are listed chronologically. And after the lists, I offer one more surprise. As it turns out, there have often been anonymous women behind the enterprise of quotation collecting itself—even behind the most iconic male name.

The Misattributed

    "He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men, and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory is a benediction."

This passage is often said to be by Ralph Waldo Emerson or Robert Louis Stevenson. In fact, it was written by Bessie A. Stanley of Lincoln, Kansas, in 1905. She earned $250 as the first-prize winner in a contest sponsored by the magazineModern Women.

The Forgotten

    "No time like the present."

This phrase has become so common that many people assume it is a proverb. In the familiar form quoted here, it originated with Mary de la Rivière Manley (1663–1724), an English novelist and playwright, who used it in her 1696 play The Lost Lover.

Read more at Yale Alumni Magazine


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Toronto: Judy Cairo Heads Back to Fest With ‘Boychoir’

 Toronto: Judy Cairo Heads Back Fest

During the height of the recession, producer Judy Cairo managed to break into the feature film business with a smallish indie called “Crazy Heart” through her Informant Media banner.

Since “Crazy Heart” became a major hit with Oscars for lead actor Jeff Bridges and the song “The Weary Kind,” Cairo’s been able to keep Informant in the business — so much so that she’s making her third trip the Toronto film Festival following “Hysteria” in 2011 and “Stuck in Love” in 2012.

Cairo, Carol Baum and Jane Goldenring are at TIFF this year with another music-based drama, “Boychoir,” starring Dustin Hoffman with Francois Girard (“The Red Violin”) directing. Informant is financing and producing. CAA is handling domestic sales; Embankment has international.

“It does give you confidence as a producer to get chosen for Toronto,” Cairo said. “They are great tastemakers.”

The story centers on a troubled 11-year-old who finds himself at an East Coast school, where he engages in a battle of wills with a demanding choir master, played by Hoffman. Eddie Izzard, Debra Winger, Josh Lucas, Kevin McHale and Garrett Wareing also star.

Embankment Films sold out most international markets at last year’s AFM — something Cairo credited to Hoffman’s appearance. She also praised his ability to make more of the character, above and beyond Ben Ripley’s script.

“Dustin has such a strong sense of improvisation,” she said. “During one scene, he started talking about Handel and opportunities and everyone on the set was in tears.”

Reposted from Varity

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Maryland Shines Spotlight on War of 1812

As we prepare Andrew Jackson—Battle for New Orleans the news begins to serve the project and will refresh American memory about the controversial War of 1812 that ended definitively with Jackson’s defeat of the British at New Orleans.

BALTIMORE—Maryland officials are on a campaign to elevate the profile of the War of 1812, a historically unpopular conflict that ended in a draw with Britain and has long been overshadowed by the Revolutionary and Civil wars.

The state is planning a weeklong festival next month to mark the 200th anniversary of the city's defense in 1814, which inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the poem that later became the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner," the national anthem.

State officials also have awarded $5.5 million in grants for celebrations, educational programs and research, hoping to generate a lasting patriotic buzz about Maryland's starring role in a war that largely has been written off as a historical footnote.

"This is not just about having a party and shutting it down for another hundred years," said Bill Pencek, executive director of Maryland's War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. He said the state is counting on an enduring tourism boost.

If it is recalled at all, the War of 1812, which ended in 1815, is most often remembered for the British burning of Washington and the White House. But some of the lowest and highest points in the conflict actually occurred in nearby Maryland.

The error-filled collapse of American troops in Bladensburg, Md., in August 1814 gave the British easy entrée to the nation's capital. By contrast, the successful defense of Baltimore amid the British bombardment at Fort McHenry helped fuel American patriotism when an oversized American flag stood tall following the siege.

Commemorative coins are displayed for sale at the Fort McHenry gift shop. Melissa Golden for The Wall Street Journal

The war was folly, said Don Hickey, a history professor at Wayne State College in Nebraska who has written books on the subject. Though the U.S. declared war over legitimate British interference with American trade and the seizure of its sailors, it made no sense militarily, he said.

Still, the conflict "helped forge an American identity," Mr. Hickey said, and gave rise to such lasting symbols as Uncle Sam. It also helped propel the political careers of prominent U.S. figures, including future President Andrew Jackson, who defeated a British force near New Orleans in 1815, unaware that the two countries had signed a truce weeks earlier.

The Maryland grants, funded by corporate sponsorships and commemorative coin sales, have been matched by $14 million in public and private contributions. They have financed an IMAX film, improvements to the sleepy waterfront in southern Maryland where British forces landed, the restoration of an insect-ravaged cavalry jacket, and a camera network called KeyCam that gives people the same view of Fort McHenry that Mr. Key saw.

Much of the funding is focused along The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, a 560-mile route tracing the paths of British and American forces in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

On Maryland's Eastern Shore this Sunday, a $93,000 grant is subsidizing the re-enactment of the Battle of Caulk's Field on one of the war's most pristine battlefields.

There, a local militia repelled marauding British troops without help from American soldiers. Among the 14 British killed was Sir Peter Parker, a cousin of the poet Lord Byron, who wrote an ode in his relative's honor.

Even many locals don't know that history, said Bernadette Bowman, director of the Kent County Office of Tourism Development. "This is the forgotten war. We weren't taught this," she said.

Reposted from the Wall Street Journal

Write to Scott Calvert at 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Larry D. Thompson's Dead Peasants Reviewed

Have you ever heard of a Dead Peasant Insurance Policy? I had-but then I have been a bookkeeper for many years. Just in case here is a definition that I copied from The Free Dictionary

A corporate-owned life insurance policy that a company may take out on its employees—often without their knowledge—designating the company as beneficiary. If the employee dies young, the company gets tax-free death benefits. If the employee lives long, it has a long-running tax break (as well as the death benefit)

Jack Bryant, a brilliant lawyer, just won a major case and has decided to retire early. His son will be playing college football and Jack has decided it is time to be more involved in his son's life. He packs up and leaves his lucrative practice and heads to Fort Worth Texas. He has lots of money so astonishes the realtor by taking an expensive, very large house. This is in the middle of the housing crisis, she really needed this sale. He knows he likes her but it takes almost the entire book for them to actually get together.

Eventually, after having the house decorated (by the realtor) Jack gets bored. He decides to do pro bono work for the people in the area who can not afford a good lawyer. He sets up shop on a piece of property he bought in a bad part of town in his RV. At first nobody comes--then one day an older African American woman comes knocking at the door. I seems she had received a check from the post office for 400,000 dollars but it was made out to her deceased husbands ex-employer.

Things really start heating up and more accidental deaths keep happening. I can almost guarantee that you won't be able to put this book down--but if I say anymore I'll give it all away!

About the Book (from Amazon)

“Just terrific… As real as a heart attack, and every bit as suspenseful.”

--John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author of A Plague of Secrets, on The Trial

Veteran trial lawyer Larry D. Thompson has decades of courtroom experience in his home state of Texas on controversial and important trials. Now, in Dead Peasants, Thompson has delivered a fast-moving and suspenseful legal thriller featuring a retired lawyer whose life gets turned upside down when a stranger asks for help.

Jack Bryant, exhausted after a high-profile career as a lawyer, takes an early retirement in Fort Worth, Texas, where he plans to kick back, relax, and watch his son play football at TCU. But then an elderly widow shows up with a check for life insurance benefits and that is suspiciously made payable to her dead husband’s employer, Jack can’t turn down her pleas for help and files a civil suit to collect the benefits rightfully due the widow. A chain of events that can’t be stopped thrusts Jack into a vortex of killings, and he and his new love interest find themselves targets of a murderer.

Gripping, engaging, and written with the authority that only a seasoned lawyer could possess, Dead Peasants is a legal thriller that will stun and surprise you.

Purchase the Book here

Reposted from Miki's Hope

Dennis Palumbo's Phantom Limb Reviewed Booklist

Phantom Limb.
Palumbo, Dennis (Author)

September, 2014. 336 p. Poisoned Pen

Amputees say a missing arm or leg can itch and demand to be scratched, as though it were still there. That’s a “phantom limb,” and its ghostly presence is one of the keys to this lively novel.

The premise is conventional enough: a has-been film star, married to a gazillionaire coot, is kidnapped. The stock characters are present: the old boy’s bitter, boozy son; officious police and feds; a woman cop who chafes at not being taken seriously; and even the hero, the penetratingly analytical psychologist Daniel Rinaldi. A minor figure, who lost a leg in Afghanistan, waits in the wings as the plot races to its conclusion. But after the kidnap drama ends, there are about 170 pages to go. What follows is a reexamination of the evidence, when the phantom limb makes its non presence known. Could it be that the kidnap-ransom plot was really about something else? We’re on the psychologist’s turf now, and the revelations are more interesting than the author’s attempt to turn this into an actioner. It’s about fragmented people’s attempts to be whole.