MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

‘Buffy’ Movie Star Kristy Swanson Joins UP TV’s ‘Angels in the Snow’

TheWrap



Ken Atchity with Kristy Swanson on the set of Angels in the Snow

Christmas offering will revolve around two families trapped in a cabin by a blizzard

Kristy Swanson is moving on from vampires to angels.

Swanson, star of the film “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” has signed on for the UP TV Christmas movie “Angels in the Snow,” which began production last week in Vancouver, Canada.

Based on the Rexanne Becnel novel “Christmas Journey,” the domestic drama revolves around two very different families who find themselves snowbound together in a luxurious cabin during a Christmas blizzard. The affluent yet troubled Montgomery family is headed by workaholic real estate developer Charles (played by Chris Potter of UP’s “Heartland”) and his wife Judith (Swanson) a former New York fashion editor who he’s trying to mend fences with.

The couple bring their three cell phone-dependent, squabbling kids — Alexandra, Jennifer and Emily — on a getaway to the cabin that Charles has built. However, when a snowstorm makes them a prisoner of their “dream home,” the parents start fighting, and Emily makes a wish to keep her parents together.

Meanwhile,the Tucker family show up on the doorstep of the cabin, exhausted and in need of shelter after their van slides off the snow-covered road.

As the families wait out the storm, it soon becomes evident that the Tuckers offer an example of love, togetherness and caring that is seemingly gone from the Montgomerys’ lives. But perhaps the Tuckers’ example — and friendship — can reignite the Montgomery family’s spirit this season.

“The UP premiere movie ‘Angels in the Snow’ is a captivating family drama with heart; strong, diverse characters; and more than a couple of surprises,” UP’s senior vice president, original programming Barbara Fisher said. “Starring fan-favorite Kristy Swanson and popular ‘Heartland’ star Chris Potter as the struggling Montgomerys, the drama is our first Christmas film to go into production this year, and will be a key component of our popular, annual Christmas programming slate in 2015.”

The cast also includes Colin Lawrence (“The 100″), Catherine Lough Haggquist (“Continuum”) and Nick Purcha (“iZombie”), among others.


MarVista Entertainment and Odyssey Media are producing “Angels in the Snow,” with Norman Stephens, Ken Atchity, Kirk Shaw, Keith Shaw executive producing, Chi-Li Wong co- executive producing. Ken Atchity, Chi-Li Wong and Julie Brazier wrote the treatment of Becnel’s novel, with Brazier (UP’s “My Mother’s Future Husband”) responsible for the adapted script.

George Erschbamer (“My Mother’s Future Husband,” “My Name Is Sarah”) is directing.

Reposted from The Wrap


Guest Post: How I got to be a history junkie by Jerry Amernic

Some people get high on alcohol and drugs, but I prefer history. That’s right. I get high on history. My son once said that whenever something was on TV about the Romans, I got excited, and it’s true. The Romans always fascinate me because of how advanced they were on so many fronts. On the other hand, in some areas they weren’t advanced at all. Sounds like today, doesn’t it?

The thing about history is that it’s really about people, and if you don’t find people intriguing then reading books, never mind writing them, isn’t for you.

My first novel Gift of the Bambino was about baseball in the days of Babe Ruth. It was the New York Yankees and the Roaring Twenties. Sure, the story involved a little boy and his grandfather, but the book was full of history. My new novel, complete with flashbacks, is The Last Witness which is about the last living survivor of the Holocaust in the year 2039. The next one, called QUMRAN, soon to be released, is well wouldn’t you know it about an archaeologist who just happens to be an expert on the Romans.

When I was in school, history was my favorite subject and I naturally gravitated to books about a certain people in a certain place and time. In another life I would choose to be an archaeologist or paleontologist or something of that ilk. It’s in my blood, which explains why I’m a member of the local museum and watch the History Channel. Indeed, the idea of holding a fossil that’s 100 million years old, or walking around a site where a community thrived thousands of years ago always gets my juices flowing.

I felt like that exploring the old Viking settlement in Bergen, Norway. I felt like that at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. I felt like that standing in the middle of the Colosseum in Rome.

Who’s to blame? We can probably start with legendary author James A. Michener. Patron saint of the epic historical novel that runs 500, 600 or even 1,000 pages, Michener was a master at taking a place and time, then creating people and putting them in situations that keep you glued to the page, even for many hundreds of pages, and that’s no mean trick.

He penned historical novels like The Source, Centennial, Chesapeake, Mexico, Texas, Poland, and many more. I’ve read just about all of them, and some more than once. Now no one would call Michener a writer of thrillers, and he wasn’t, but if you take history and add spice in the way of suspense – think Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett – presto! You have the historical thriller.

It’s all about doing a little learning while being entertained, which is just the sort of book that keeps people like me reading in the wee hours.

About the book:


The year is 2039, and Jack Fisher is the last living survivor of the Holocaust. Set in a world that is abysmally ignorant and complacent about events of the last century, Jack is a 100-year-old man whose worst memories took place before he was 5. His story hearkens back to the Jewish ghetto of his birth and to Auschwitz where, as a little boy, he had to fend for himself to survive after losing all his family. Jack becomes the central figure in a missing-person investigation when his granddaughter suddenly disappears. While assisting police, he finds himself in danger and must reach into the darkest corners of his memory to come out alive.

Note from the Author:


My research included spending time with real-life, former child survivors. To illustrate the point of this novel, we produced a video and went around asking university students in Toronto where I live what they know about the Holocaust and World War II. The level of ignorance out there is incredible. Have a look.

http://youtu.be/CRC_T07dwZo

The Last Witness on Amazon: http://amzn.to/14jlgXQ


Author Bio:


Jerry Amernic is a Toronto writer who has been a newspaper reporter and correspondent, newspaper columnist, feature contributor for magazines, and media consultant. He has taught writing and journalism at college, and is the author of several books.

His first book was Victims: The Orphans of Justice, a true story about a former police officer whose daughter was murdered. The man became a leading advocate for victims of crime. Jerry later wrote a column on the criminal justice system for The Toronto Sun, and has since been a contributor to many other newspapers. In 2007 he co-authored Duty – The Life of a Cop with Julian Fantino, the highest-profile police officer Canada has ever produced and currently a member of the country’s federal Cabinet.

Jerry’s first novel Gift of the Bambino (St. Martin’s Press, 2004) was widely praised by the likes of The Wall Street Journal in the U.S., and The Globe and Mail in Canada. His latest novel is the historical thriller The Last Witness, which is set in the year 2039 and is about the last living survivor of the Holocaust. The biblical-historical thriller Qumran will be released next. It’s about an archeologist who makes a dramatic discovery in the Holy Land.


Reposted From JC's Book Haven



Monday, February 23, 2015

Angels in the Snow Photo Gallery

It took twenty years to make this happen!



Angels in the Snow

With leading lady Kristy Swanson and fellow Executive Producer Kirk Shaw at excellent Blue Water Cafe on Hamilton.
— in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Night Terrors In Adults: When Sleeping Turns To Terror After Dark Quotes Author Dennis Palumbo

Night Terrors Vs Nightmares


Night terrors are often mistaken for nightmares, but doctors warn parents that there are telltale signs that can help distinguish the two. Nightmares often occur during the second half of the night when dreaming is most intense during REM sleep. They are “horrific dreams that we recall after awakening, and originate from dream sleep, so dream images are vivid and specific,” says Dr. Peter Fotinakes, medical director of St. Joseph Hospital's Sleep Disorders Center in Orange County, Calif. Night terrors on the other hand, are often not remembered on waking. That’s because in most cases, non-REM dreams (such as night terrors) primarily consist of brief, fragmented impressions that, compared to REM-state dreams (such as nightmares), are less emotional and less likely to involve visual images.


Despite the common belief that children just “grow out of it,” sleep terrors can persist well into adulthood. Dennis Palumbo, a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, Calif., has several adult patients who report night terrors. He believes more adults are suffering from chronic fatigue and emotional fatigue, which may account for the upsurge in sleep episodes he’s seen in his private practice. Anxiety suppressed during work life, or deep-seeded issues, takes a toll on a patient’s sleep quality.

The literature on night terrors in adults is scarce since the parasomnia is commonly associated with children. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates 6.5 percent of all children are affected by night terrors, followed by 2.2 percent of adults, while it remains a rare occurrence for those over the age 65. In adulthood, the sleeping disorder is suspected to be triggered by a strong genetic and family link, but there has yet to be clear empirical evidence to establish this link.

A 2014 study published in the journal Sleep found although nightmares and night terrors are a normal part of childhood development, it may also be an early indicator of mental health issues in adolescence. Children who have a frequency of nightmares before age 12 are about four times more likely to have psychotic experiences during adolescence, while those who have experienced night terrors in this group double the risk of these problems, according to the study. The researchers suggest nightmares or night terrors that occur over a prolonged period of time that persist into adolescence can be an early indicator of something more significant later in life, but that has yet to be known.

Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter (My Favorite Year; Welcome Back, Kotter, etc.), Dennis Palumbo is now a licensed psychotherapist and author. His mystery fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Strand and elsewhere, and is collected in From Crime to Crime (Tallfellow Press). His acclaimed series of crime novels (Mirror Image, Fever Dream, Night Terrors and the latest, Phantom Limb) feature psychologist Daniel Rinaldi, a trauma expert who consults with the Pittsburgh Police.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

Guest Post by Jerry Amernic: “Thrillers that are big on historical fiction”



I got hooked on historical thrillers with Ken Follett’s first spy novel – Eye of the Needle. It was a suspense-packed, page turner about a Nazi agent and a lonely English woman, and how World War II depended on what they did. Talk about raising the stakes for the reader! A phenomenal best-seller, it was made into a motion picture.

Follett, one of the world’s most successful thriller writers, later turned to long epics that were full of history and not so much on suspense. They were books like The Pillars of the Earth, which is also a very good read.
As a history nut, I enjoy well-written books that focus on a particular time and place, or a particular place over a long length of time. A good example of the latter is The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough, who just passed away, or any historical epic by James A. Michener. My favorite is The Source, which covers the fictional community of Makor in northern Israel over thousands of years. In a nutshell, it’s a history of the Jewish people.
Those novels aren’t thrillers, but it all depends on your preference. A reader who likes history opts for books about a time and place, while one who’s into thrillers goes for books with great pacing and suspense. Put them both together and you have the historical thriller.

But writing about history requires care. Unless it’s fantasy, the book should be more or less historically accurate. I say ‘more or less’ because authors approach this differently. I’m a stickler for accuracy since I don’t change the year something happened or where it happened just to make things convenient for a character. I choose to take a time and place, then have my characters and situations conform to historical fact. Other writers may be more loose with this.

In writing about the last living survivor of the Holocaust for The Last Witness, I did research that was crucial to the story. Like the Jewish Ghetto in the Polish city of Lodz. And the death camp of Auschwitz. These were important to my flashbacks because the central character is a little boy in those places, but he manages to survive.
Fast forward to the year 2039 when that little boy is 100 years old and the last living survivor of the Holocaust. However, he’s in a world woefully ignorant of the past century. This is where I write about how things may be, but even so, I like to portray a future that is credible. That explains why I recently made a video asking university students what they know about the Holocaust and World War II. It was readily apparent to me that they don’t know much. See for yourself – http://youtu.be/CRC_T07dwZo.

So maybe my future world of ignorance and complacency isn’t such a stretch after all.

– Jerry Amernic

About Jerry’s latest book The Last Witness:

The year is 2039, and Jack Fisher is the last living survivor of the Holocaust. Set in a world that is abysmally ignorant and complacent about events of the last century, Jack is a 100-year-old man whose worst memories took place before he was 5. His story hearkens back to the Jewish ghetto of his birth and to Auschwitz where, as a little boy, he had to fend for himself to survive after losing all his family. Jack becomes the central figure in a missing-person investigation when his granddaughter suddenly disappears. While assisting police, he finds himself in danger and must reach into the darkest corners of his memory to come out alive.

The Last Witness on Amazon: http://amzn.to/14jlgXQ

About Jerry Amernic:

Jerry Amernic is a Toronto-based writer who has been a newspaper reporter and correspondent, newspaper columnist, feature contributor for magazines, and media consultant. He has taught writing and journalism at college, and is the author of several books.

His first book was Victims: The Orphans of Justice, a true story about a former police officer whose daughter was murdered. The man became a leading advocate for victims of crime. Jerry later wrote a column on the criminal justice system for The Toronto Sun, and has since been a contributor to many other newspapers. In 2007 he co-authored Duty – The Life of a Cop with Julian Fantino, the highest-profile police officer Canada has ever produced and currently a member of the country’s federal Cabinet.

Jerry’s first novel Gift of the Bambino (St. Martin’s Press, 2004) was widely praised by the likes of The Wall Street Journal in the U.S., and The Globe and Mail in Canada. His latest novel is the historical thriller The Last Witness, which is set in the year 2039 and is about the last living survivor of the Holocaust. The biblical-historical thriller Qumran will be released next. It’s about an archeologist who makes a dramatic discovery in the Holy Land.

Jerry’s Website: http://thelastwitness.ca/
Jerry’s Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1DuRSdn
Jerry’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/jerryamernic
Jerry’s Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1312217.Jerry_Amernic

Reposted from The Indie Writes SoCal


Thursday, February 19, 2015

My Book, The Movie: Dennis Palumbo's Phantom Limb

Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter (My Favorite Year; Welcome Back, Kotter, etc.), Dennis Palumbo is now a licensed psychotherapist and author. His mystery fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Strand and elsewhere, and is collected in From Crime to Crime (Tallfellow Press). His acclaimed series of crime novels (Mirror Image, Fever Dream, Night Terrors and the latest, Phantom Limb) feature psychologist Daniel Rinaldi, a trauma expert who consults with the Pittsburgh Police.
 

Here Palumbo dreamcasts an adaptation of Phantom Limb:

As before, regarding my previous Daniel Rinaldi novel, Night Terrors, I still favor Anthony LaPaglia for the lead role in the movie version of my latest, Phantom Limb. He’d be perfect for the driven psychologist who consults with the Pittsburgh Police. But I could also see Robert Downey, Jr., for his mixture of intelligence and wry humor. Plus, now that he’s gotten into super-hero shape, I could believe he’s both a veteran therapist and a former amateur boxer.

For the role of Lisa Campbell, one-time Playboy Playmate turned Hollywood horror movie scream-queen, and now a mature woman unhappily married to a ruthless tycoon, my first choice would be Susan Sarandon. She has just the right combination of seasoned sexuality and smart-ass attitude. I think Sharon Stone would also fit the bill quite nicely.

Lastly, for the role of one of the main bad guys, an emaciated, bone-thin black sheep of a wealthy family, I envision the indie director John Waters. While not primarily an actor, he’d be perfect for the cunning, sleepy-eyed Ray “Splinter” Sykes. Though Crispin Glover would also be fine. Or Billy Bob Thornton.

Learn more about the book and author at Dennis Palumbo's website.

My Book, The Movie: Night Terrors.

The Page 69 Test: Phantom Limb.



Reposted from America Reads--Marshal Zeringue 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

To friends in Pasadena-Altadena



Enjoy a rowdy and relaxing evening with my friend and tennis buddy Don Raymond on MARCH 1 at 7 p.m.  At the Coffee Gallery Backstage – 2029 N. Lake  Altadena CA 91001

I’m planning to be there and would love to see you too!



http://www.coffeegallery.com/showsat.htm

Monday, February 16, 2015

New book reveals the story of the lawyer who was one of the last US soldiers to leave Vietnam

Pena (left) and Hagan, ABA Midyear Meeting in Houston. Photo by Kathy Anderson.
In 2003, Richard Pena was on his second tour in Vietnam, leading a delegation from the People to People Ambassador Program. During a visit to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon), he looked at a photo depicting a line of American troops boarding an airplane between rows of North Vietnamese soldiers. In the middle of the photo was a young American soldier carrying a briefcase. That soldier was Pena, and he vividly remembered the scene that unfolded 20 years earlier.

Pena had used the briefcase during his first year in law school at the University of Texas, but his legal education was cut short when he was drafted in 1970 and then slated for duty in Vietnam—not as a legal clerk, as he expected, but as a medical technician in the operating room of the last U.S. military hospital still open as this country’s involvement in the war wound down in the early 1970s.

“That briefcase was my security blanket in Vietnam,” said Pena today at a book-signing reception for Last Plane Out of Saigon, which Pena and co-author John Hagan published in 2014 through Story Merchant Books in Beverly Hills, California. The reception was sponsored by the American Bar Foundation, where Hagan is co-director of the Center of Law & Globalization, during the 2015 ABA Midyear Meeting in Houston.

In addition to the comfort he got from a seemingly mundane item from home like a briefcase—clearly, Pena was a lawyer at heart even then—he also kept a journal to help him through the lunacy of the closing days of the U.S. military’s involvement in Vietnam. The journal entries touch on a variety of topics, including Pena’s experiences at the hospital, political musings and personal reflections. “It gave my real impressions on the ground of the war and my feelings about it,” he said at the book-signing reception.

Interspersed with those entries—left largely intact 41 years after they were written—are chapters by Hagan that put the war in the context of events in the United States and around the world.

At the heart of the book is Pena’s account of that flight out of Saigon in March 1973, when he was one of the very last U.S. troops to leave the country. Two years later, the United States made its final exit when military helicopters rescued diplomatic personnel, along with a handful of Vietnamese, off the roof of the U.S. embassy. While images of that chaotic departure are familiar to Americans—Rory Kennedy’s film The Last Days in Vietnam is an Oscar nominee for best documentary film—the photo of Pena and his comrades boarding the plane is iconic to the Vietnamese.

Pena’s return to the United States and civilian life was not easy. “I was angry,” he said. “I was angry the whole time after I got back. It did pass, but I was cold. I had my walls up.”

Pena returned to law school at the University of Texas, where he received his J.D. in 1976, then went into practice in Austin, where he represents plaintiffs in personal injury and workers compensation cases. He also went on to serve as president of the Austin Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas and the American Bar Foundation, and he served on the ABA’s Board of Governors. He believes his military experience made him a better, tougher lawyer. “I don’t care what people say. What are they going to do, send me back to Vietnam?”

But Pena said his time in Vietnam also left him skeptical about America’s military involvement in more recent wars, especially in the Middle East, and he sees a tough road ahead for many veterans of those conflicts. “War is war,” he said. “It’s an insane existence, and the whole game is to survive, both physically and mentally.” Citing high rates of suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction among veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pena said, “My only advice is, ‘hold it and roll.’ That means do the best you can. Tomorrow may be a better day.”

Last Plane Out of Saigon
Last Plane Out of Saigon
by Richard Pena & John Hagan
purchase on Amazon.com


Reposted from ABA Journal


Friday, February 13, 2015

Guest post on ON WRITING by Jerry Amernic, Author of The Last Witness


Jerry Amernic writes about how he conducted his research for his latest book The Last Witness. It makes for an interesting read!


My novel The Last Witness is about the last living survivor of the Holocaust in the year 2039. The central character, Jack Fisher, is a 100-year-old man whose worst memories took place before he was 5, but he’s caught in a world that is abysmally ignorant and complacent about events of the last century.

Of course, a writer can research any historical event to his heart’s content and read everything about it. But for a subject like the Holocaust I thought it best to actually sit down with former child survivors. And I did.

A group meets regularly in Toronto where I live. I attended some of their meetings and also visited several of them in their homes.

Miriam, now 79, was one of only two dozen children who were found alive at Auschwitz when the place was liberated by the Red Army in 1945. She was nine. She told me about the trains that carried Jews to the death camp – with no windows or place to relieve yourself. She told me about old people who became corpses on the trip. She told me about seeing murders every day.
Gershon, who was only 3 at the time of liberation by U. S. troops, doesn’t remember much. Today he’s a grandfather and has been married to the same woman for decades. But he told me that throughout his whole life he has always been claustrophobic in tight quarters, and he also lives with this fear that those who are closest to him – even his wife – will leave him one day. Because everybody else did when he was little.

Imagine carrying a burden like that around with you.

So, through people like them, I learned something about what it was like to be a child survivor of the Holocaust.

I also made a point of meeting notable people. Like Sir Martin Gilbert. The official biographer of Winston Churchill, Mr. Gilbert is an eminent historian and author of some 70 books, including The Holocaust. He was most helpful and kind.

But most of my research involved finding specifics about what I needed, which meant reading. For example, my character Jack was born in the Jewish ghetto in the city of Lodz, Poland. He was a hidden child because if the Nazis found him, they would have taken him from his family. I learned how little children sneaked into the Aryan side of the city to steal food for their family. I learned about families living in the sewers below the streets to try and avoid detection. Indeed, I read  whatever I could find about that Jewish ghetto and about Auschwitz – where my flashbacks are based.

It was an experience and a journey, and I only hope this novel is the same for my readers.

About the book
The Last Witness
The year is 2039, and Jack Fisher is the last living survivor of the Holocaust. Set in a world that is abysmally ignorant and complacent about events of the last century, Jack is a 100-year-old man whose worst memories took place before he was 5. His story hearkens back to the Jewish ghetto of his birth and to Auschwitz where, as a little boy, he had to fend for himself to survive after losing all his family. Jack becomes the central figure in a missing-person investigation when his granddaughter suddenly disappears. While assisting police, he finds himself in danger and must reach into the darkest corners of his memory to come out alive. 
Note from the Author
My research included spending time with real-life, former child survivors. To illustrate the point of this novel, we produced a video and went around asking university students in Toronto where I live what they know about the Holocaust and World War II. The level of ignorance out there is incredible. Have a look here.